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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Picture: IANS

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Picture: IANS

Published Apr 15, 2020


Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

At the height of a global pandemic, US President Donald Trump has halted funding to the World Health Organization, saying it had promoted China's "disinformation" about the coronavirus that likely led to a wider outbreak than would have otherwise occurred.

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The United States is the biggest overall donor to the WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he sympathised with Trump's criticisms, but said the WHO does a lot of important work and Australia was not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Stay off Zoom, Google Hangouts, StanChart chief tells staff

Standard Chartered Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters told managers in a memo last week not to use Zoom Video Communications during the coronavirus pandemic due to cybersecurity concerns, becoming the first global bank to make such a directive.

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He also warned against using Alphabet Inc's Google Hangouts platform for virtual gatherings.

Neither service has the level of encryption included in rival platforms offered by the likes of Cisco Systems, Microsoft Corp or Blue Jeans Network, industry experts said.

Worst economic conditions since Great Depression

The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% during 2020, marking the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

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The IMF, in its 2020 World Economic Outlook, predicted a partial rebound in 2021, with the world economy growing at a 5.8% rate, but said its forecasts were marked by "extreme uncertainty".

False claim: 5G telecoms masts help to spread coronavirus

Britain's biggest free-to-air broadcaster ITV came under fire on Tuesday after veteran producer Eamonn Holmes said no one knew whether a conspiracy theory that 5G masts help spread the novel coronavirus was true or not.

"What I don't accept is mainstream media immediately slapping that down as not true when they don't know it's not true," he said on the "This Morning" show on Monday.

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"It's very easy to say it is not true because it suits the state narrative."

The conspiracy theory, which scientists, phone companies and the British government say is completely untrue and without any basis in fact, has spread across social media. Some telecoms masts in Britain have been attacked and engineers abused.

Losing a year of school

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday urged teachers to return to classrooms across the country, stressing the risk that children from disadvantaged families in particular faced losing a year of education.

"The education of our children hangs in the balance," he said in a video address posted on his official Facebook page.

New Zealand PM takes a paycut

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, government ministers and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months to help mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is where we can take action and that is why we have," Ardern said.


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