Health or wealth: nations pressured to loosen virus rules
PESHAWAR: As the novel coronavirus throws millions out of work and devastates economies worldwide, governments are struggling with the delicate balance between keeping people safe from a highly contagious disease and making sure they can still make a living or have enough to eat.
The decisions are complicated because each nation is on its own coronavirus arc, with places like Britain, Japan and parts of the United States still seeing increasing daily levels of deaths or infections; France and New York hoping they are stabilising, albeit at a high plateau of deaths; and nations like Italy and Spain seeing declines in the rates of increase.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, meanwhile, issued a global plea to the world’s richer countries and international financial institutions to provide debt relief for poor countries, where forced lockdowns are crippling already troubled economies and causing widespread hunger for the poor.
His government has launched an ambitious $8 billion programme to help the millions near the poverty level.
Prime Minister Imran last week relaxed his country’s lockdown to allow the construction industry, which employs the vast majority of Pakistan’s daily wage earners, to reopen.
The pandemic’s new epicentre is now the US, which has seen more than 22,000 deaths, the world’s highest. About half have been in the New York metropolitan area, but hospitalisations are slowing in the state, and other indicators suggest lockdowns and social distancing are working. - AP