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Japan and Europe plan to unveil large stimulus packages.
Two of the world’s biggest economies said on Wednesday that they would pump trillions of dollars into propping up businesses, industries and individuals hard-hit by the coronavirus.
Japan and Europe, both early victims of the global pandemic that have recently begun to reopen after lengthy shutdowns, bucked forces of austerity to enact stimulus plans.
Japan’s cabinet was expected to approve more than a trillion dollars in stimulus funds, according to local news reports. The funds will likely include a combination of subsidies to companies and people.
Japan’s new package follows a trillion-dollar raft of measures that the country passed in April. Taken together, the two packages would be equivalent to 40 percent of Japan’s economic output, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Wednesday morning.
Japan’s economy shrank by 3.4 percent in the three-month period ending in March. In mid-April, the country entered a state of emergency, a sort of voluntary lockdown that continued through this week.
Opposition to an E.U. bailout came from some of the bloc’s wealthiest nations, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Austria, which said the European Commission should not hand out cash but rather offer loans. When Germany and France, the bloc’s wealthiest countries, reached an agreement on grants, the so-called Frugal Four appeared compelled to agree.
Observers say the deal signals a new foray by the European Commission into capital markets, which some have called a step toward creating a “United States of Europe.”
Asian nations try to strike a balance as they reopen.
As countries across the Asia Pacific region gradually open up after months of lockdowns and distancing, officials are struggling to strike that elusive balance between getting people back to work and keeping the virus at bay.
This winter, economists and business leaders in China began warning that lockdowns and other stringent measures were hurting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people — all while contributing little to the containment effort. But after China eventually loosened its lockdowns, new pockets of infection cropped up, prompting the authorities in the northeastern province of Jilin to impose a Wuhan-style lockdown.
Similar tensions, backsliding and calls for compromise are now playing out elsewhere in the region.
In Indonesia, for example, which has 23,000 confirmed cases and counting, President Joko Widodo is concerned that the economic losses pose as much of a threat to the public as the virus. On Wednesday, he outlined plans for what he calls a “new normal” protocol meant to slow the coronavirus while reviving the economy. He called for deploying troops and police officers across hard-hit parts of the country to help enforce existing containment measures.
In Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, the authorities have adopted what they call a “suppress and lift” strategy to alternately tighten and relax measures as transmissions surge and wane. Civil servants, for instance, were ordered to work from home in March — for the second time — after the city saw a new wave of imported cases. And now they’re back in the office.
And in South Korea, the authorities have been easing social-distancing restrictions and reopening schools after successfully reducing what had been one of the largest outbreaks outside China to a trickle.
Still, the country on Wednesday reported 40 new cases, amid fears that an outbreak that started in nightclubs in Seoul early this month was infecting people elsewhere. The new patients in recent days include 11 cases linked to a duck restaurant in Seoul, and 36 linked to a home-delivery logistics center south of the city.
Joining Trump, El Salvador’s leader says he takes hydroxychloroquine.
The president of El Salvador joined President Trump on Tuesday by saying that he, too, takes the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in hopes of warding off the coronavirus.
“I use it as a prophylaxis, President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis, most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” Reuters quoted the Salvadoran president, Nayib Bukele, as saying on Tuesday. (In fact, few if any other world leaders have said they take the drug.)
Mr. Bukele, 38, has a contentious approach to fighting the virus. In March, for example, he sent the army into the streets to enforce one of Latin America’s strictest lockdowns. The nation’s soldiers and police officers have also locked up thousands of people in containment centers for breaking quarantine, and held them for weeks.
Mr. Bukele spoke a day after the World Health Organization said that safety concerns had prompted it to temporarily remove hydroxychloroquine — which Mr. Trump has said he takes as a preventive measure, despite the lack of evidence that it works against Covid-19 — from a global drug trial.
Mr. Bukele told reporters on Tuesday that his government was no longer promoting the drug as a treatment, following the W.H.O.’s advice, but that patients could still opt to take it as a preventive treatment. El Salvador has just over 2,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
“There is still no scientific evidence, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and worldwide,” Mr. Bolsonaro said on his official Facebook page, The Associated Press reported. “We are at war: ‘Worse than being defeated is the shame of not having fought.’”
China’s virus apps may outlast the outbreak, and that’s stirring privacy fears.
At the height of China’s coronavirus outbreak, officials made quick use of the fancy tracking devices in everybody’s pockets — their smartphones — to identify and isolate people who might be spreading the illness.
Months later, China’s official statistics suggest that the worst of the epidemic has passed there, but the government’s monitoring apps are hardly fading into obsolescence. Instead, they are tiptoeing toward becoming a permanent fixture of everyday life, one with potential to be used in troubling and invasive ways.
Zhou Jiangyong, the Communist Party secretary of the eastern tech hub of Hangzhou, said this month that the city’s app should be an “intimate health guardian” for residents, one that is used often and “loved so much that you cannot bear to part with it,” according to an official announcement.
While the technology has doubtless helped many workers and employers get back to their lives, it has also prompted concern in China, where people are increasingly protective of their digital privacy. Companies and government agencies in China have a mixed record on keeping personal information safe from hacks and leaks. The authorities have also taken an expansive view of using high-tech surveillance tools in the name of public well-being.
The government’s virus-tracking software has been collecting information, including location data, on people in hundreds of cities across China. But the authorities have set few limits on how that data can be used. And now, officials in some places are loading their apps with new features, hoping the software will live on as more than just an emergency measure.
Britain proposes to delay international climate talks by a year.
Like the Tokyo Olympics and other major events, international negotiations designed to address the threat of climate change will quite likely be delayed by a full year because of the pandemic.
“Given the uneven spread of Covid-19, this date would present the lowest risk of further postponement and the best chance of delivering an inclusive and ambitious” conference, British officials said.
The gathering is meant to rally world leaders to chart ways to avert the worst effects of climate change, including heat waves and flooded coastal cities.
Delaying the talks by a full year could worsen the problems, some diplomats say. Countries and international financial institutions may now feel freer to enact economic recovery plans without paying much heed to their climate implications.
More than 20 such conferences were held before countries agreed on the landmark 2015 Paris pact, under which they pledged to keep the increase in global average temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels.
‘Appalling’: Canadian nursing home horrors are detailed in a new report.
Grandparents choking on food because they were fed lying down. Residents left in filthy beds and soiled diapers for hours, in rooms with “significant fecal contamination” and cockroaches. Residents screaming for help for more than two hours before anyone answered.
Canadians knew the coronavirus had shred a deadly path through the country’s long-term-care homes, but a report drafted by the Canadian military adds new layers level of horror to the shocking tale.
“It’s appalling, it’s disgusting,” Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, said on Tuesday as he released the confidential report to the public and demanded justice for families.
While nursing homes have been pummeled by the pandemic in many countries, in Canada they seem to have suffered an especially severe blow. Earlier this month, more than 80 percent of the country’s coronavirus deaths were reported to have been tied to long-term-care homes. (That figure has now passed 6,500.)
In the country’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, many centers were so badly hit and so understaffed that the federal government sent in the Canadian armed forces to help last month.
The new report, which pertains to five homes in Ontario, is heart-wrenching.
It cites not just a lack of infection control, but also burned-out employees who worked in a “culture of fear to use supplies because they cost money.” Essential items like wipes and linens were kept under “lock and key,” the report says.
In one home, staff members reported that patients had not been bathed for weeks, and in others, residents were not fed regularly and food was left out of reach.
Calling the report “deeply disturbing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “I had, obviously, a range of emotions of anger, of sadness, of frustration, of grief.”
“We need to take action as a country,” Mr. Trudeau said.
China’s young workers struggle to find jobs, posing a challenge to Beijing.
Millions of workers were laid off or furloughed while China battled the coronavirus outbreak. Many of those who kept their jobs have seen their pay cut and future prospects narrow.
China’s youngest workers, in particular, have entered perhaps the country’s toughest job market in the modern era. The pressure is about to intensify: Nearly 8.7 million more college graduates are waiting in the wings this year.
“When it was April and I still couldn’t start my job, I started to feel worried,” said Huang Bing, 24, who graduated last year from a prestigious Chinese drama school. Her new job, set to begin this past January, ended before it began.
“I began worrying that I may not be able to work this year at all,” Ms. Huang said. “I can’t just keep waiting.”
The resulting damage to the ruling Communist Party could be long-lasting. It derives its legitimacy from its promise to deliver a better life for the Chinese people, one that has become increasingly difficult to fulfill.
Demonstrating the depths of the uncertainty, Chinese leaders who have been meeting in Beijing since last week parted with precedent and declined to set an annual economic growth target. But they have unveiled other goals that indicate their biggest worries, including cutting unemployment and bringing rising food prices under control.
About a dozen U.S. states see an uptick in new cases.
About a dozen U.S. states are seeing an uptick in new virus cases, bucking the national trend of staying steady or seeing decreases — and at least half of the states seeing more infections were part of an early wave of reopenings in late April and early May.
Bucking the national trend of plateaued or decreasing cases, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee are among the states that have seen recent increases in newly reported cases, several weeks after moving to reopen.
New coronavirus cases have also continued to rise in North Carolina, where the Republican National Convention is scheduled to be held. President Trump threatened on Monday to move the convention unless Gov. Roy Cooper provided a “guarantee” that there would be no virus-related restrictions on the size of the event. Mr. Cooper, a Democrat, refused to do so on Tuesday.
The new numbers could reflect increased testing capacity in some places, though they also indicate that the virus’s grip on the country is far from over. Experts have warned that opening too early could lead to a second wave.
In other U.S. news:
Reporting contributed by Russell Goldman, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Elaine Yu, Choe Sang-Hun, Raymond Zhong, Richard C. Paddock, Dera Menra Sijabat, Ben Dooley, Makiko Inoue, Mike Ives, Jenny Gross, Catherine Porter, Somini Sengupta, Alexandra Stevenson and Keith Bradsher
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