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World coronavirus dispatch: The US' $3-trn incremental response to slump

From a flop technology becoming a life-saver because of Covid-19, to a thread on last 'normal' photo on your phone, and Trump planning to restore WHO funding - read these and more in today's dispatch

Coronavirus | US economy | Lockdown

Yuvraj Malik  |  New Delhi 

Italy, one of the most-hit countries in the Covid-19 crisis, will allow travel to and from other countries from June 3

The US has passed a $3-trillion pandemic relief package to send aid to struggling states and local governments and make another round of direct $1,200 payments to taxpayers. With retail sales plunging and jobless claims mounting, the prospect of more aid from Washington remains uncertain. Democratic leaders have called the $3-trillion measure as their opening offer in future negotiations over the next round of aid. The measure is a sequel to the $2.2-trillion stimulus enacted in March. Read more here.

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total confirmed cases: 4,542,752

Change over previous day: 99,155

Total deaths: 307,696

Total recovered: 1,637,073

Nations hit with most cases: The US (1,443,188), Russia (262,843), the UK (238,004), Spain (230,183), and Italy (223,885).

Source: Johns Hopkins Research Center

Italy to lift travel restrictions: Italy, one of the most-hit countries in the Covid-19 crisis, will allow travel to and from other countries from June 3. Italy was the among the first countries to impose nationwide restrictions when cases began to surface in February. But it began to relax those measures earlier this month, when it allowed factories and parks to reopen on May 4. Read more here.

US store chain files for bankruptcy: JC Penney, one of the biggest departmental store chains in the US, has filed for bankruptcy protection. While the sudden shock from the coronavirus outbreak ultimately undid JC Penney, the chain has struggled for years to ease its multibillion-dollar debt load and keep customers from defecting. Read more here.

Korean firm says it can ship 1 million virus test kits: A South Korean medical diagnostics maker has ramped up production and is aiming to sell millions of virus test kits to the US, where cash-strapped states are scrambling for federal funds to buy them. Osang Healthcare, the first South Korean test-kit maker to receive authorisation from the US FDA in April, is ready to ship its kits. Read more here.

Trump may restore funding to WHO: US President Donald Trump is set to restore some funding to the (WHO) after he earlier suspended contributions pending an investigation into the agency’s coronavirus response.

In April, Trump had ordered a 60-day freeze of US funding for the WHO, saying the organisation took China’s claims about the Covid-19 virus at “face value”. Read more here.


Coronavirus upsets Japan 5G rollout: Japan’s top-three companies – NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank Corp – rolled out 5G services in late March, ahead of Japan's new financial year, which started in April. But top executives were muted about the initial response to 5G in recent earnings calls. "It was a so-so start," SoftBank CEO Ken Miyauchi told reporters. Read more here.

The last 'normal' photo on your phone: The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we live. What was ordinary just a couple of months ago seems almost unrecognisable. The BBC asked readers for the last "normal" photo on their phones, and hundreds replied. Here is a thread of some great pictures, from the time before the world came to terms with lockdowns and social distancing.

The long history of video chat: Video chat is helping people stay connected in But the tech was once a "spectacular flop". There were many advances in technology but the concept of video chatting was not always embraced. In fact, most of its history is a story of failure. Read more here.

In UK, teachers and government in stand-off over reopening schools: The UK’s plan for a phased reopening of schools from June 1 has met with strong resistance. Teachers’ unions have said many black and Asian staff might die as a result. Warning that the government had failed to provide reassurances about the risks to the over-70s and those from minority ethnic backgrounds, the biggest teaching unions said they were not satisfied it was safe for their members to return to work. Read more here.

First Published: Sat, May 16 2020. 13:19 IST