European authorities agreed to spend more than half a trillion euros to mitigate the economic impact of the virus.
On Thursday, European Union finance ministers agreed to drafts of a loan package worth more than half a trillion euros to help the bloc's countries alleviate the severe economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic.
The measures, which must be approved by the bloc's leaders, can total up to 540 billion euros, or US $ 590 million, a show of solidarity as the economic and health crisis caused by the virus creates links between member countries.
The agreement includes 100 billion euros to finance unemployment benefits, 200 billion euros for loans to smaller companies and up to 240 billion euros loaned by the eurozone rescue fund to member states, to cover potentially damaging health-related costs.
Some details, mainly about the terms and conditions of loans to rescue fund countries, were not yet clear and could be controversial. Countries like Italy that are likely to obtain these loans want to ensure that they do not come with austerity conditions.
Ministers did not agree to issue bonds supported by the entire bloc, which came to be known as "coronabonds", in a defeat for Italy and Spain, the two hardest hit countries. Germany, the Netherlands and other wealthier countries in northern Europe strongly opposed the joint issuance of debt.
European Union leaders are due to meet next week to approve the package and detail all the remaining details, as well as deciding whether some sort of joint link can be agreed or whether the idea will be shelved.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson was released from intensive treatment on Thursday, offering relief to a country that faces several weeks under blockade while the number of deaths from coronavirus approaches 8,000.
Johnson was hospitalized on Sunday night after a 10-day attack with the virus, and transferred to the intensive care unit on Monday after his condition deteriorated. On Thursday, his office said the prime minister, 55, had been transferred back to a wing at St. Thomas Hospital in London and was "in a very good mood".
Dominic Raab, Britain's interim leader, did not offer a timetable for the prime minister to resume his duties. He also signaled that the government would extend the country's blockade beyond the next week.
Raab, the foreign secretary, said the government would not lift restrictions on April 13, the date the prime minister had set when he imposed the measures last month. Now, the blockade seems to last a few more weeks.
"Is it time to make the rules easier?" Raab told reporters at 10 Downing Street. "We are not finished yet. We have to continue."
Johnson may still be recovering as the government faces one of the most sensitive decisions in the pandemic: when and how to reopen the British economy. The cabinet plans to make this assessment at the end of next week.
The debate on how to lift the blockade is full of trade-offs. Raising it too soon, experts said, could reignite contagion; leaving it in place for too long can force many companies into insolvency.
With the temperature expected to reach 77 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, the public was urged to stay home. London Mayor Sadiq Khan asked the public on Wednesday to refrain from sunbathing, barbecuing in parks and playing team sports.
Britain recorded its highest number of daily virus deaths on Wednesday, with 938 deaths recorded in hospitals within 24 hours. Nearly 900 were reported on Thursday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed "cautious hope" that the Germans were preventing the spread of the coronavirus from harming the health system and slowing the rate of infection, but warned that the numbers were no reason to abandon severe restrictions on social contact and freedoms personal.
"The latest developments give us reason for cautious hope," said Merkel. "The numbers are an indication that the measures are working."
But with the long Easter weekend approaching and summer temperatures forecast, she warned the Germans not to give in to the temptation to wander outside and gather.
"We cannot be reckless, we cannot be carried away by a false sense of security," she warned at a news conference. "I know this from experience: you have a little hope, then you gain confidence, you get a little more relaxed inside and you get a little reckless."
The daily count of new infections in Germany dropped from 7,000 to an average of 4,000 last week. Other countries hit by Europe have had comparable declines.
German authorities have credited advance planning, widespread testing and a robust health system, resulting in a low death toll compared to neighboring countries. In Germany, more than 2,000 people died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, compared with about 7,000 in Britain, 11,000 in France, 15,000 in Spain and almost 18,000 in Italy, according to a New database. York Times.
The chancellor said her government is working to acquire more masks and protective equipment from abroad, as well as looking for ways to increase domestic production, to meet domestic and European needs.
Not long ago, the only medical masks seen on the streets of Europe were worn by Asian tourists, who sometimes found a Western cultural bias against them. No more.
On March 18, the Czech Republic became the first country in Europe to make public wearing masks mandatory, followed by Slovakia on March 25 and Turkey on Friday.
On Sunday, authorities in Lombardy, in northern Italy, demanded masks. The following day, Austria made them mandatory in supermarkets and drugstores, and this will apply to public transport users next week.
It is a "major adjustment", said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, because "masks are foreign to our culture".
The acceptance of masks is arriving in France, which in 2011 became the first European nation to ban public face coverings, mainly in reaction to Muslim women who wore veils.
On Wednesday, Sceaux, a small town near Paris, became the first French municipality to demand masks in public. The city of Nice, in the south, will make them mandatory next week. The mayor of Paris said on Tuesday that two million reusable cloth masks will be distributed there.
French Academy of Medicine recommended masks are needed across the country. The government did not go so far, but asked people to use them, as did the US government.
This is a turnaround. A few weeks ago, the French government was discouraging the use of masks, insisting that it was useless.
At the beginning of the epidemic, some experts advised that there was little benefit to healthy people wearing masks, but that view changed as the virus spread.
Masks are commonly used in public in much of Asia, and the discussion about them in Europe generally revolves around differences in the way cultures balance individual rights against collective good.
The main oil-producing countries agreed on Thursday to cut production to about 10% less than normal levels, trying to resolve an excess that lowered prices, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and others agreed to the cut in a conference call convened by Saudi Arabia, de facto leader of OPEC, after President Trump spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's top policy maker , by phone.
The countries agreed to cut production by around 10 million barrels a day, and further measures could come from a meeting of the Group of 20 nations on Friday.
Oil prices spun throughout the day, with hopes of a deal rising and falling. News of the deal came in the late afternoon.
Demand for oil fell sharply, with the outbreak closing large areas of the world economy. In addition, Russia and Saudi Arabia became involved in a price war after Moscow refused to accept a Saudi proposal in early March to reduce production to deal with the pandemic.
Mexican hospitals already overburdened are facing a new threat in the fight against the coronavirus: attacks and discrimination against health professionals. In recent weeks, government officials have reported several cases of discrimination and violence against medical personnel by people who fear the virus will spread from hospitals to local communities.
Nurses were expelled from public transport, bathed in chlorine and beaten. In Guadalajara, nurses change their uniforms after the shift to avoid being attacked on the way home. State officials have created special buses to ensure that health workers can travel safely to work.
"Violence should never be tolerated, even if we are afraid of being infected with the coronavirus," wrote Edith Mujica Chávez, head of Jalisco's nurse department, in a letter to fellow health officials last month. "As health professionals, we face disinformation and panic in the community, including physical and verbal aggression."
On Monday, the Mexican government condemned the attacks, noting in a statement that "interfering with the functioning and operation of the hospital infrastructure dedicated to dealing with the health emergency at this time weakens the response capacity that the public needs".
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told a news conference this week that there have been only isolated incidents so far. "Fear produces irrational reactions," said López-Gatell.
Coronavirus cases have risen sharply in Mexico, where testing has been sparse and the federal government has moved slowly to impose measures of social distance. On Wednesday, López Gatell said that although there are only 3,181 confirmed cases in the country, the Ministry of Health estimates …