EU leaders battled to save a beleaguered 750 million euro ($860 million) virus recovery package at a summit on Sunday, as global deaths past 600,000 and Hong Kong raised the alarm about its growing outbreak.
The USA – the worst-affected country by far – ended a week in which it registered its highest figures for new cases for three days running, taking its total towards 3.7 million infections and 140,00 deaths, which accounts for 23% of the global deaths.
With clusters cropping up from Spain to Australia, officials were again facing the dilemma of imposing lock downs to protect public health or loosening restrictions to save struggling businesses.
Illustrating the shrinking room for maneuver, angry demonstrators took to the streets in Israel to protest against their government’s handling of the crisis.
And scientists too were feeling the pressure, Britain ramping up its tit-for-tat row with Russia on Sunday over claims Kremlin agents hacked into British labs where virus vaccines are being developed? However, in this world, to attribute any kind of computer hackers to any country, it is impossible.
Economic recovery is at the forefront of policymakers’ minds in Europe, with the continent facing a crippling recession and still unable to agree on the terms of its massive package to help the most-affected countries.
I still can’t say whether a solution will be found,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she headed into the third day of an extraordinary summit on Sunday. Should it be a gift, loan or subsidy and to whom must the compensation be directed.
The summit with all 27 EU leaders was supposed to frame the terms of the rescue deal but a handful of countries led by the Netherlands are reluctant to hand over such vast sums to nations they regard as profligate – particularly Spain and Italy.
With tens of thousands of new infections each day and hundreds of deaths, the USA is struggling to frame a consistent response to the crisis – attempting to open up the economy even while the tolls mount.
Other nations are grappling with the same dilemma, Spain opting for local lock downs and non-enforced stay-at-home advice in its Catalonia region.
However, such restrictions have not gone down well with some in Israel – a second wave of infections emerging after the government allowed businesses to reopen en masse in late April and early May.
Police fired water cannon to disperse thousands of protesters overnight. They had gathered in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to register their fury – some at the re-imposition of shutdowns, others with the failure to improve testing capacity.
Police in the German city of Frankfurt said they were met with “a hail of bottles” when they tried to break up an open-air party in the city center involving thousands of young people.
So-called corona parties have broken out in the city’s squares as bars and clubs remain closed to contain the spread of the virus.
While bars, restaurants and other public spaces endure a torrid lock down across the world, sporting and cultural events continue to feel their way back into the public realm.
Japanese sumo is the latest to announce a comeback and, unlike many other sports, fans are now allowed into arenas.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2020.