Zimbabwe locks down to fight coronavirus amid economic crisis

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe began a 21-day nationwide lockdown on Monday, following South Africa in implementing some of the world’s toughest anti-coronavirus measures likely to hurt an economy already suffering hyperinflation and food shortages.

But unlike neighboring South Africa, where many citizens defied calls to stay indoors, with some clashing with security forces at the weekend, Zimbabweans mostly stayed home.

Zimbabwe has recorded just seven coronavirus cases and one death, but the government announced a range of financial measures to help fight the epidemic and said it was unfreezing 4,000 posts in the health sector.

Central Harare’s streets were deserted. Banks, government offices and businesses were shut. Zimbabwean police, who have a reputation for brutality, manned checkpoints on highways into the capital and questioned the few motorists.

In the poor township of Mbare, vegetable markets and the inter-city bus rank were closed and rows of wooden stalls used by vegetable vendors abandoned.

Nearby, six men sat outside their flat drinking gin. Fox Dhalu, a 36-year-old father of three, complained that some shops had hiked prices over the weekend.

“The government gave us short notice to prepare for this coronavirus lockdown. We are very angry about this,” he said.

A few blocks from the police station in the middle class suburb of Mabelreign, 73-year-old grandmother Angela Nerwande sat on an improvised stool selling vegetables on her stall.

“What will my grandchildren eat if I stay at home? “At my age I am not afraid of dying. If they want to arrest me let them come,” she said.

In a statement, Zimbabwe Police Spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “The law is very clear, those who don’t comply will be arrested and prosecuted.”


In South Africa, many of the most vulnerable people have struggled to maintain the lockdown, and people in poor, overcrowded townships have continued to mingle, sometimes prompting security forces to use water cannon to break them up.

State broadcaster SABC aired videos of soldiers humiliating people, making them do squats and pulling one along the ground with a wire. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the channel they should not use excessive force.

“We want our security services to partner with our communities to stop the spread of coronavirus,” she said.

South African police said a policeman and security guard had shot a man dead during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a bid to ease the impact, South Africa relaxed restrictions on taxis during rush hour and made early social security payments to the elderly.

“We are scared of being sick but there is nothing we can do, what are we going to eat? We are here to get paid so we can buy food,” said Maryjane Jinethi, 66, as she queued in Soweto for her check.

South Africa has 1,280 cases, and two deaths, as of Monday compared with an African total of 4,894.

In Nigeria’s capital Abuja and the main city Lagos, those who could afford to stock up queued at shops ahead of a 14-day lockdown starting at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT). [nL8N2BN5MC]

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Hard times shape speedy Saudi and Kuwaiti coronavirus response

RIYADH/KUWAIT (Reuters) – The world’s last major coronavirus outbreak, in 2012, began in Saudi Arabia, where a faltering response allowed the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to kill several hundred people and spread across the region.

This time around, the kingdom was better prepared, public health officials say. Their experience of MERS meant hospitals had already established separate triage units for respiratory illnesses, with specialized ventilation to protect medics from infection.

At least two hospitals also had drive-thru testing in place, which the United States is scrambling to implement, and seven weeks before the first domestic case, authorities developed guidelines to deal with the new virus.

“Their experience with MERS uniquely positioned them because they learned a lot from that,” said Joanna Gaines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which for years has supplied the Saudi health ministry with its only full-time foreign disease expert.

“They know it’s MERS season and they’re already cued up for that. The preparation and processes … really cuts down on your exposure right away.”

Saudi Arabia and neighboring Kuwait took drastic measures early on to contain the new pandemic, halting air travel, imposing curfews, and quarantining and testing thousands of people.

Saudi Arabia has reported 1,453 infections and eight deaths while Kuwait recorded no fatalities among 266 cases. Initial outbreaks in both countries were linked to foreign travel.

It’s still too early to tell whether those efforts have contained the disease, but the health officials said authorities are doing the best they can by severing the transmission chain.


The World Health Organization said Saudi Arabia’s “whole of government” approach had benefited from the MERS experience and “unique expertise” in emergency preparedness from managing the haj pilgrimage, the world’s largest annual gathering of Muslims.

Riyadh is trying to replicate the kingdom’s haj inter-ministerial coordination in its fight against the coronavirus through the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control, conceived in 2013 but not fully operational until 2018.

“It is a coordination oversight center…that gave more maturity to public health services in the country,” senior Saudi epidemiologist Sami Almudarra told Reuters.

Kuwait also has experience with national health emergencies, from the oil well fires after the 1990 Iraqi invasion to fears of biological and chemical warfare during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

It took precautionary measures soon after reporting its first case on Feb. 24, a week before Saudi Arabia.

The luxury Khiran resort and five-star Al-Kout Beach Hotel have become quarantine centers and the international fairgrounds are being used for testing and as a field hospital.

Kuwait’s parliament, the most outspoken in a region dominated by autocratic rulers, was initially critical of the government response but has since praised the health minister and by extension Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, facing his first crisis as premier.

“Continuous parliamentary pressure made government institutions feel they must perform,” said Nada Al-Mutawa, management professor at the Australian College of Kuwait.

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IMF says ECB, ESM support key to strong EU coronavirus response

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Monday the relaxation of the euro zone’s fiscal rules and support from the European Central Bank and the European Stability Mechanism is critical to a strong regional response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The determination of euro area leaders to do what it takes to stabilize the euro should not be underestimated,” IMF European Department Director Poul Thomsen said in a blog post on the IMF website.

He said large-scale interventions by the ECB and European leaders’ call for the ESM to supplement national fiscal efforts can allow countries with high public debt to react forcefully to the crisis.

Europe’s major economies are losing 3% of GDP output for every month that key sectors are shut down to try to slow the spread of the virus, and “a deep European recession this year is a foregone conclusion,” Thomsen said.

On Friday, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the global economy was already in recession and countries must respond with “very massive” spending to avoid a cascade of bankruptcies and emerging market debt defaults.

Thomsen said in his blog on Monday that the IMF’s main regional concern was with smaller countries outside the European Union, where the lack of depth of financial markets and limited access to external capital will make it difficult to finance large increases in their fiscal deficits.

He said most of the nine non-EU emerging economies in central and eastern Europe – excluding Russia and Turkey – are seeking IMF emergency funding from a $50 billion pool available in rapidly disbursing programs for coronavirus responses.

“More countries are likely to follow in what is already the largest number of requests for assistance ever received by the IMF at one time,” Thomson said, adding that the Fund was “dramatically streamlining” internal rules and procedures to respond with speed, agility and scale to the crisis.

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New Orleans doctors scramble as coronavirus deaths, cases soar

(Reuters) – Emergency room doctor Thomas Krajewski stopped at the hospital room door at 2 a.m. to glance at the chart. He knew instantly the long odds faced by the patient inside: A man in his 70s, with a fever, short of breath.

“Do you mind calling my son?” the patient asked him. “My two grandsons tomorrow morning are going to crawl in my bed because they wake me up on the weekends, and if I’m not there, they will wonder.”

Twelve hours later, the man needed a ventilator. After a day, his kidneys started to fail. In three days, he was dead – one of 151 people who had succumbed to COVID-19 in Louisiana by late Sunday. The state has confirmed 3,540 cases since March 9 – among the world’s fastest-growing infection rates. That pace, Governor John Bel Edwards has said, signals that the state could become the next Italy, with overwhelmed hospitals forced to turn patients away.

Frontline health workers scrambled to prepare for that grim prophecy as patients started to stream through their doors last week. The governor said on Face the Nation Sunday that the state has only a tiny fraction of the about 13,000 ventilators it will need, and that it has yet to receive federal approval to tap a national stockpile. In New Orleans, the state’s epicenter, authorities are setting up a field hospital to handle the expected overflow of patients at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – the same site where thousands of Hurricane Katrina refugees suffered in 2005.

Then as now, many doctors fear they won’t get enough supplies and support to keep up with the deluge of victims. This time they are fighting a pathogen that threatens them – and their families – every time they extend a hand to help a patient.

Krajewski, a 31-year-old Cincinnati native who is just two years out of residency, works the overnight shift at St. Bernard Parish Hospital, in a working class suburb just east of the city. After work, Krajewski comes home to his newborn son, Cal, just three weeks old, and his wife Genevieve. He strips off his clothes on the porch before entering his house. He drops his glasses and phone into a small UV light sterilizer and heads straight to the shower.

“I come home – and I’m horrified,” Krajewski said. “I’m wearing an N95 respirator-level face mask anytime I’m near my child, and that is after I’ve fully decontaminated.”

Doctors across New Orleans are calling colleagues in New York and Seattle, sharing intelligence on the virus. They trade suggestions on how to hook two patients up to a single respirator. Some health workers are renting out apartments to quarantine themselves from their families, said Joseph Kanter, an emergency room physician and lead public health official for the New Orleans area.

“They’re using all these stop-gap measures” to protect themselves, said Kanter, calling it a “damning indictment” of the nation’s lack of preparedness for such a pandemic.


With more than 141,000 infected and nearly 2,500 dead in the United States, health workers in hard-hit places like New Orleans are feeling the strain of taking in hundreds of contagious patients who often deteriorate quickly.

While older patients are by far the most at-risk, some Louisiana doctors say they have been shocked at the severity of some cases in which younger people have just one underlying condition, such as hypertension or diabetes. Some patients in their 30s or 40s have been quickly put on life support, said Jeff Elder, an emergency physician at University Medical Center in downtown New Orleans.

Such cases are worrisome because doctors are still struggling to understand why certain younger patients are hit so much harder than others – and because they make younger caregivers fear for their own safety.

“You treat them and think, ‘If it is happening to him, it can happen to me,’” said Elder, who is 40.


Louisiana’s soaring infection rates mean some hospitals will have to start turning away patients in the next week unless statewide efforts to curtail social contact start to show an impact, Governor Edwards has said. The governor’s pleas for residents to stay home in daily news conferences have become increasingly laced with anger and frustration.

“It’s not that hard to understand!” Edwards said on Friday, talking about what awaits New Orleans. “The trajectory we’re on right now takes us to a place where we cannot meet the demands on our health care system.”

Even as fears rise inside overtaxed hospitals, caregivers are working in an unsettling silence. Many have bans or severe limitations on visiting family members, who normally fill their hallways with conversation, comforting loved ones and waiting on scraps of news.

Patients with COVID-19 suffer quietly, too. In survival mode, they focus almost solely on breathing. Fevers make them sweat through their hospital gowns as they sit upright in bed, the position that makes it easiest to breathe. Ventilators hum in the background.

Krajewski decided early in college to become a doctor, in part because of a self-described hero complex. In his young career, he has thrived on seeing patients get well in response to his treatments.

That’s all changed in the last few days. He has put about a dozen patients on life support, and only one has come off. Five have died.

“There is a sense of gravity when you know you are one of the last people that will talk to somebody,” Krajewski said. “Those conversations are happening more often.”

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You Deserve a Good Lunch

By Sam Sifton

Good morning. Here we go again with the screens and the earphones, another day on the uncomfortable chair, the dog at my feet. The commute wasn’t bad, though, and there was a beautiful, orange-yolked egg for breakfast, nestled in a piece of toast — what some call a Guy Kibbee, after the actor, who made the dish in a film — and a tall glass of cold-brewed coffee to go with it. Pretty grand.

There was the pizza I made yesterday to remember as well, and the grilled lamb from the night before, a boneless leg rubbed in garlic, ginger, oil and Jamaican curry powder, with roasted onions and potatoes. I served it with a sauce of yogurt and lime. There were sourdough waffles to start the day and tuna sandwiches for lunch, a few hours of everyone reading novels in separate corners before a long solitary walk in the gloaming, accompanied by gloved waves across generally empty streets.

This is bad what we’re going through. Cooking good food with what you’ve got in your pantry and freezer can make a difference, I think. The nourishment’s for your mood as much as for your body. So for lunch today, maybe you could log off for a half-hour, make Melissa Clark’s turkey and apple sandwiches with maple mayonnaise, or Nigella Lawson’s easy pea soup (above)? Those spark joy.

Or have you tried Jacques Pépin’s omelet? (Just watching him cook the thing, in the video accompanying the recipe, is a therapeutic affair.) You could always fish out some peanut butter and a few slices of bread, and make merry with the condiments in your fridge.

A dinner idea: sheet-pan sausage with garlicky broccoli, perhaps? Or a soupy Japanese rice bowl with chicken and egg? Some vegetarian mushroom shawarma? Cannellini bean pasta with beurre blanc? If there happens to be a jar of salmon roe in the back of a cupboard (you lucky thing!), try using it to top these baked potatoes from Melissa Clark. Yogurt or sour cream will do in place of the crème fraîche. You might even try it with tinned sardines. That’s an elegant feed.

Hundreds and hundreds more recipes to use and adapt are waiting for you on NYT Cooking. A lot more of them than usual are free to read even if you haven’t yet subscribed. (Of course, we’d be happy if you did subscribe, because that supports our work and allows it to continue.)

There are other ideas for what to cook on our Instagram feed and on our YouTube channel. We’ve also rounded up a collection of our reporters and editors’ favorite cookbooks for fast and easy meals. There’s news to read on our Twitter account. Readers are chatting with us and you on our community group on Facebook, if you’d care to join. Check those out. And, if something should go wrong along the way, with your cooking or our technology, you can always reach us directly at [email protected] Someone will get back to you.

Now, it’s a long canter down the field from braised beans and nut milks, but the London Review of Books has put together a “Diverted Traffic” collection from its archives, of journalism “chosen for its compulsive, immersive and escapist qualities, and also for its total lack of references to plague, pandemics or quarantine.” There’s a lot of good in there. Start, perhaps, with Alan Bennett on Dorothy Farnan’s “Auden in Love,” from 1985.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is on Hulu now, and our A.O. Scott called it “smart and sensuous” so you really ought to watch it. (Me, I’m spending a lot of time watching Jonny King tie flies on YouTube.)

I circled back to John Burdett’s first Sonchai Jitpleecheep novel, “Bangkok 8,” the other day. It’s a startling good piece of writing, thrilling in the extreme.

Finally, let’s have a song. Here’s Merle Haggard, “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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UK snow forecast: Freezing Arctic air grips Britain – ‘Wintry showers’ to strike this week

Temperatures are expected to remain bitterly-cold this week with a new weather system moving in from the north on Wednesday. Thermometers could tumble to as low as 0C overnight in some parts of Scotland, according to the latest weather charts. Meanwhile, conditions are expected to remain chilly for much of the country, as Arctic air dominates through the start of this week.

And, the Met Office’s outlook for Wednesday to Friday suggested “wintry showers” could strike in the far north.

While the latest maps from WxCharts, which looks at the probability of snowfall, showed an increased risk of the white stuff hitting the north of Britain on Thursday.

BBC Weather forecaster Louise Lear admitted that temperatures were “struggling for this time of year”.

She said: “With April just around the corner it is a month that is often characterised by lots of April showers, well we have got that today.

“We are still under the influence of high pressure that we had at the weekend, the winds not quite as strong but they are still coming from a cool source and they are driving those showers in off North Sea coasts.

“As we go through the overnight period, winds are going to fall lighter still and the showers will ease. We will start to get some clearer skies, particularly across the southeast of England, here temperatures are likely to fall to low single figures.”

Moving towards the middle of the week, the BBC Weather forecaster said there would be a “subtle change” with a weather system moving in from the northwest.

She said: “The winds will strengthen, gale-force gusts in Scotland. That is going to introduce some colder air to the north.

“It still stays relatively mild across southern England for a time.”

Meanwhile, the Met Office explained why the UK was experiencing such bitterly-cold conditions.

They said: “An intense anticyclone remains anchored to the northwest of the United Kingdom. Northerly winds will feed showers into the east.

“Best of the sunshine in the west. Another cold day for most. Winds less strong in the south.”

Moving into Tuesday, the weather service said: “As the high drifts south the Arctic air will be cut off, but it will remain chilly and often cloudy.”

The Met Office said on Wednesday the UK would likely be impacted by rain and drizzle to the far north, while elsewhere it would remain cloudy and chilly.

Towards the end of the week on Thursday, another “cold front” will push southwards bringing “rain and strong winds in the north”.

The chilly conditions will last until the end of the week with showers in the north and bright spells elsewhere.

It still stays relatively mild across southern England for a time

BBC Weather forecaster Louise Lear

The Met Office’s long-range forecast from Friday, April 3, to Sunday, April 12, added: “Unsettled conditions across the north are likely to spread southwards”.

The forecast read: “The northwest will see the worst of the weather with spells of heavy rain and strong winds interspersed with sunshine and showers whilst the southeast should stay drier and brighter.

“Towards the middle of April, the weather may turn more changeable with a few days of rain and strong winds alternating with periods of sunshine and showers for much of the UK.

“Any showers may turn to a mix of sleet and snow over northern hills.”

With the bitterly-cold conditions likely to continue, leading bookmakers have slashed odds on next month to go down as the coldest April on record.

Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “Last week’s high temperatures will soon be a distant memory with record-breaking cold weather seemingly on the way.”

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North Korea risks coronavirus eruption by defying UN and sending migrants abroad

And given analysts believe the Hermit state must itself be badly hit by COVID-19, the move risks exporting cases into President Vladimir Putin’s nation. In accordance with sanctions imposed by the United Nations last year to deprive Pyongyang of cash necessary to fund its nuclear and missile programmes, migrant workers were sent back. However, a citizen of Korean descent in Vladivostok, the Russian city close to the border with North Korea, told Radio Free Asia: “The North Koreans who withdrew last year because of sanctions are preparing to enter Russia again.

“We expect that they will be dispatched as trainees and tourists.”

In accordance with the UN measures, North Korean workers were required to return to the country by December 22, and countries are prohibited from issuing new work visas.

However, by admitting them on trainees or tourist visas, Russia can argue it is not in breach of the rules.

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North Korea is preparing to redeploy migrant workers to Russia to reestablish a much-needed source of foreign cash that had been put on hold due to concerns over the coronavirus crisis

“Last week, a senior official from the North Korean diplomatic office, someone I’ve known for a long time, asked me to look for a local company in need of North Korean labour.

“North Korea might send us workers starting in May, so he asked me to look for jobs for them in construction, processing, manufacturing and agriculture.”

The source suggested workers would have been sent across the border even earlier if the outbreak had not happened, explaining: “Most of the North Korean workers in Russia that left in December said they would return in the spring.

“This didn’t happen because of the unexpected coronavirus situation.”

Another source suggested Vladivostok was already prepared for the return of the North Korea workers.

The insider said: “North Korean restaurants here in Vladivostok are currently open.

“The workers are expected to come back soon. In a little while there will be so many North Koreans here.

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In a little while there will be so many North Koreans here

North Korean source

“I heard from a manager at one of the restaurants in Vladivostok that they’ll be dispatched soon.

“He claimed that they are now in preparations in Pyongyang and will begin arriving in May.

“The three-month tourist visa or the one-year training visa cost more because the workers must travel in and out of North Korea often to keep them valid.

“This is why most of the North Koreans can only work in Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, because those cities are connected to North Korea by train.”

Officially, Russia has 1,534 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths, while North Korea claims to be completely free of the disease.

However, speaking earlier this month, former CIA analyst Jung H Pak, who now works for the US-based Brookings Institute, said: “It’s impossible for North Korea not to have a single case of coronavirus.”

Similarly, General Robert Abrams, commander of US Forces Korea, said: “It is a closed-off nation, so we can’t say emphatically that they have cases, but we’re fairly certain they do.

“What I do know is that their armed forces had been fundamentally in a lockdown for about 30 days and only recently have they started routine training again.”

And journalist Roy Calley, who told of his trips to the country in his book Look With Your Eyes and Tell The World, told Express.co.uk in February: “If North Korea has closed its borders to tourists, then you can guarantee it has a problem with the virus as they are still desperate to allow people in.

“Also China is its closest ally, so this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

“As for dealing with it? My sense is that it won’t be able to.”

On Friday, the 38 North website published a picture of construction work on a new hospital in Pyong Yang – although the project got underway in December, before the COVID-19 outbreak, traced to Wuhan in China, had been widely confirmed.

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In Jerusalem, a Palestinian family under coronavirus lockdown

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A Palestinian English teacher, Jizelle Sara, faces a double challenge while observing a partial lockdown in her Jerusalem home during the coronavirus crisis.

Not only does she have to find ways to keep her own children busy, but she has to ensure her pupils are up to date with schoolwork online.

“Teaching online is not easy at all since you have to connect and follow up with the girls remotely and not face-to-face – and besides, the kids are at home 24/7,” said Sara, 42.

Like families staying at home all over the world as part of efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus, the Saras pass the time with their children with online worksheets, exercise, coloring books and computer games.

“You have to keep them busy all of the time,” said Sara, whose children are aged five, six and 11.

Sara’s husband, Victor, a receptionist at a hotel closed by the lockdown, sees a bright side.

“Today we are gathered all together as a family, which is a very positive thing, that the person stays and sees his children, plays with them and cares for them, when work would usually have unfortunately taken us away from our family,” said Victor, 41.

“I think we are stronger than corona. Everyone can be stronger than corona,” said Victor. “Of course there is some boredom, but we shall overcome this boredom and overcome this with good health and peace.”

Israel has reported more than 4,000 coronavirus infections and 15 deaths. Authorities have tightened a partial lockdown, requiring citizens to stay within 100 meters (110 yards) of home and setting sanctions for defying rules.

In the Palestinian territories, 108 cases and one death have been confirmed.

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Wall Street set to open higher as investors weigh stimulus against shutdown

(Reuters) – Wall Street was set to open slightly higher on Monday as President Donald Trump followed last week’s massive fiscal stimulus by extending his stay-at-home guidelines, leaving investors guessing at their economic impact.

The S&P 500 .SPX posted its biggest weekly percentage gain in over a decade last week, while the Dow Jones .DJI its best since 1938, thanks to the record $2.2 trillion in aid agreed by officials.

All three major stock indexes, however, ended Friday more than 3% lower after the United States overtook China as the country with the most number of coronavirus cases.

The crisis has so far knocked $7.4 trillion off the value of S&P 500 companies and without any clarity on how long it will take to quell the outbreak, Wall Street’s main indicators of future volatility remain at high levels.

“There is no way to gauge the short-term direction of markets right now when there is still so much uncertainty,” said David Bahnsen, chief investment officer of Bahnsen Group in California.

“The shape of the inevitable economic recovery is unknown and will be for weeks or months.”

Trump on Sunday dropped a hotly criticized plan to get the economy up and running again by mid-April after White House health experts argued strongly with him to extend the stay-at-home order so the country could start seeing the rates of infection come down.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) said on Saturday it expected real U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to fall 10% in the first quarter and plunge 25% in the second quarter.

The CBOE volatility index dipped on Monday, but was still near levels far above those in 2018 and 2019.

“Until we’ve got some evidence that can help deal with the virus, it’s probably more choppy markets ahead,” said Noah Hamman, chief executive office of AdvisorShares in Bethesda, Maryland.

At 08:41 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 139 points, or 0.65%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 23.5 points, or 0.92% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 78.25 points, or 1.03%.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) rose 4.5% as the drugmaker announced plans to start human testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by September

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) was the top gainer among S&P 500 components, rising nearly 10% after it won U.S. approval for a diagnostic test that can detect coronavirus in minutes.

General Motors Co (GM.N) rose 5% as Trump praised the automaker’s ventilator production after he invoked emergency powers to compel the manufacturing of badly needed equipment to tackle the pandemic.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH.N), Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) and Carnival Corp (CCL.N) slumped after Berenberg slashed its price targets on cruise operators by about a third.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) fell over 2% as U.S. crude prices fell below $20 for the first time in 18 years.

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‘Enough is enough!’ Merkel accused of letting euro collapse after defying Macron’s demands

Angela Merkel has set off a backlash among the EU27 after she was accused of letting the eurozone crumble under the coronavirus pandemic. The German Chancellor was one of the few EU leaders who declined pleas from hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain for so-called corona-bonds that would help soften the economic blow of the pandemic. Marcel Fratzscher, president of DIW, warned that such a bold move risked the collapse of the entire eurozone.

Speaking on CNBC, the economist warned that Germany would have to agree to further integration if Mrs Merkel wanted to save the eurozone.

However, her rejection of corona-bonds may signal that “enough is enough” for the German Chancellor.

The CNBC host told Mr Fratzscher: “Germany has been impatient with other nations, and the way they haven’t been as frugal as Germany and have been more spendthrift.

“Europe is at a financial halfway house. Does it go for more integration on the back of this on the fiscal front, or once the dust is settled does Germany pull away and say enough is enough, we cannot have more fiscal integration?”

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The DIW President responded: “People have to be aware, particularly in Germany, that this would be rising the euro, the common currency.

“If a big economy like Italy becomes unable to finance public debt, this would challenge the euro.

“Germany is pro-European, it is pro-euro, and you have to think about the alternatives in other scenarios.

“If there is no willingness to support weaker countries currently more forcefully and a lot stronger, then you have to be aware that this will risk the euro and cause economic depression across Europe, including in Germany.

“It is a tough decision. Do you want the euro to recover? That means more funding for smaller nations and more integration. That is the choice.”

French President Emmanuel Macron led the charge for Brussels to issue joint European debt bonds to help eurozone economies cope with the impact of the coronavirus lockdown measures.

A total of nine EU member states, including Italy and Spain, made the desperate request.


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However, the Netherlands and Germany quickly rebuffed this idea, raising concern about joining debt with countries at risk of defaulting.

Italy and Spain have become two of the most affected EU member states, with the southern European countries forced to cope with 97,689 and 85,195 cases respectively.

The Italian Government placed the whole country in lockdown nearly three weeks ago and is expected to extend containment measures well into April.

Spain has seen the number of COVID-19 sufferers increase exponentially over the past two weeks, with Madrid reporting 838 people have died in the past 24 hours.

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