Coronavirus to bring Asia's growth to a standstill: Live updates

IMF says Asia likely to suffer zero economic growth for the first time in 60 years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The total number of coronavirus cases in the world has surpassed two million and more than 133,000 of them have died, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.

  • US President Donald Trump is set to announce guidelines on reopening the county’s economy on Thursday. Germany has announced first steps to ease its lockdown.  

  • The head of the World Health Organization has said he regrets Trump’s decision to halt funding for the organisation but called for world unity to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the global economy is expected to shrink by 3 percent this year – the biggest contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s. G20 nations agreed to suspend debt payments owed to them by the world’s poorest countries.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, April 16

02:21 GMT – Residents of New York and Maryland told to wear face masks 

The governors of the US states of New York and Maryland and Pennsylvania are ordering residents to wear face masks in public spaces.

“I am issuing an Executive Order today that all people MUST wear a mask or face covering in public in situations where social distancing is not possible,” says Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York. The order takes effect on Friday. 

Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, says masks and face coverings will be required “when inside any retail establishments, including grocery stores and pharmacies, or when riding any form of public transportation in Maryland”. The order is effective from Saturday onwards.

The governors of Connecticut and Pennsylvania are also recommending residents of their states wear masks in public. 

01:38 GMT – South Korea’s governing party set to win landslide victory

South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party (DP) is set for a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, according to preliminary results in a win local media say shows high support for President Moon Jae-in’s efforts to fight the coronavirus.

The DP and its ally are likely to secure 180 seats in the 330-member assembly, the Yonhap news agency reports citing electoral authorities. The main opposition United Future Party is likely to win 103 seats, it adds.

The preliminary voter turnout stands at 66.2 percent, the highest in 28 years.

South Korea has recorded a total of 10,613 confirmed infections and 229 deaths from the coronavirus so far. In February, it had the largest outbreak outside of China, but brought the virus under control with a programme of mass testing and meticulous contact tracing. 

01:26 GMT – China reports new cases of local transmission in Beijing

Health authorities in China are reporting 46 new cases of confirmed coronavirus infections, of which 34 are imported and 12 are domestic transmissions. 

Of the 12 local cases, three are in China’s capital, Beijing, five in Guangdong province and four in Heilongjiang province. 

There are no new cases in Hubei, the province formerly at the epicentre of China’s outbreak. 

00:10 GMT – Asia’s economic growth ‘to drop to zero for first time in 60 years’

The IMF says the coronavirus pandemic is likely to bring Asia’s economic growth to a standstill for the first time in 60 years.

“These are highly uncertain and challenging times for the global economy. The Asia-Pacific region is no exception. The impact of the coronavirus on the region will be severe, across the board, and unprecedented,” says Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

Governments must offer targeted support to hardest-hit households and firms, he says, adding that the crisis requires “a comprehensive and coordinated policy response”. 

The zero growth projection for Asia is worse than the 4.7 percent average growth rates recorded in the region during the global financial crisis of 2008. 

Hello, I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives, with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find all the updates from yesterday, April 15, here. 

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