The International Monetary Fund slashed its forecasts for global growth and warned of a slump in output this year unparalleled since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It said the “Great Lockdown” is likely to cause a drop in activity more painful than the recession that followed the banking meltdown of the 2008.
A further 778 deaths were recorded in UK hospitals taking the total to at least 12,107. The true extent is likely to be greater because the data do not include deaths in other settings and many hospitals are still collating figures from the bank holiday.
“We think we are at the apex,” the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced after the state recorded a small decrease in its the number (1,600) of new patients coming into New York hospitals on Monday.
Italy, Spain and Austria allowed partial returns to work as countries across Europe report further falls in new cases and begin taking the first cautious steps out of lockdown to revive their battered economies.
Global cases passed 1.9 million, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, whose tally showed at least 1,945,055 people have been infected and 121,897 have died since the outbreak began.
Britain’s economy could shrink by 35% and unemployment rise by more than 2 million people due to the crisis, the official economics forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility warned, as it forecast a 13% fall in GDP for 2020.
Mary Lou McDonald, the leader of Ireland’s Sinn Féin party, tested positive for Covid-19. She says she is no longer deemed to be infected or infectious and hopes to return to work next week. She was tested on 28 March and got the result on Monday, a two-week wait reflecting delays and glitches that have plagued testing in Ireland.
Vladimir Putin warned Russians to brace for an “extraordinary” crisis. As Moscow tightened its lockdown measures, Russia reported its highest daily infection figures yet.
Sweden's coronavirus death toll passes 1,000
Doctors, virologists and epidemiologists in Sweden have denounced their government’s approach to tackling the coronavirus outbreak, as its death toll from Covid-19 increased by 114 in 24 hours, taking its total past 1,000.
Unlike other parts of Europe, including its close neighbours Finland and Norway, Sweden has not imposed extraordinary lockdown orders to stem the spread of the virus, instead calling for citizens to take responsibility to follow social distancing guidelines. The strictest measures implemented so far have been gatherings of more than 50 people and a ban on visits to nursing homes.
But its soft approach has drawn criticism. On Tuesday Sweden’s public health agency said it had recorded a total of 11,445 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,033 deaths. Neighbouring Finland, which has about half the population of Sweden, had as of Tuesday reported 64 deaths, and has closed down restaurants and schools.
In an open letter, a group of 22 doctors, virologists and researchers from Sweden’s top hospitals, universities and research institutes pointed write:
One would like to imagine that Sweden has also had a forward-looking strategy, especially as our country has always had a different way of dealing with the spread of infection than the rest of the world. One would like to imagine that our authorities have prepared well since the epidemic broke out in China, and especially since it was clear that the problem was likely to be global.
… If there was a well-thought-out, well-functioning strategy for Swedish infection prevention work with Covid-19, Sweden would hardly have the same death toll as Italy today, and 10 times higher than Finland’s. If there had been a well-developed, well-functioning strategy, half of Stockholm’s elderly residents would not have been affected by the epidemic - and in some cases over 20% of the healthcare staff would be antibody positive.
… The approach must be changed radically and quickly. As the disease-free virus spreads, it is necessary to increase social distance. Close schools and restaurants in the same way you do in Finland. Everyone who works with the elderly must wear adequate protective equipment. Prior to mass testing of infectiousness on all caring staff and testing for antibodies to sars-covid-2 so that established immune personnel can return to work. Require quarantine by the whole family if a member is ill or tests positive for viruses. Impress in society that anyone can be contagious.