The International Monetary Fund has lowered its global growth forecast for this year and next in the wake of the pandemic. It now predicts a decline of almost 5% in 2020, substantially worse than its forecast in April. India’s GDP is likely to contract by 5.3% in FY21, the lowest in the country’s history, according to credit rating agency India Ratings and Research. It adds that GDP growth would bounce back in the range of 5-6% in FY22. For rest of the world news, here’s Mint Lite.
Soon, house screening in Delhi
To fight the coronavirus, the Delhi government has come up with an eight-point Revised Covid Response Plan, which includes house-to-house screening by 6 July. Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has also urged Union home minister Amit Shah to roll back the earlier order which requires new patients to visit an assessment centre to get themselves checked since it puts pressure on the government’s facilities. Delhi, whose caseload is currently growing at almost twice the national growth rate, recorded more than 3,000 fresh coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the tally in the city over the 70,000 mark. Karnataka’s health minister B. Sriramulu has, meanwhile, hinted of a complete lockdown in Bengaluru, as the number of fresh cases and casualties linked to the virus continue to increase on a daily basis in the city. Bengaluru recorded a triple-digit surge in covid-19 cases for the third straight day on Tuesday.
North Korea cancels military plan
In a surprise move, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has suspended plans to increase military pressure on South Korea. Kim and his governing party’s Central Military Commission “took stock of the prevailing situation” before deciding to suspend the plans, which were believed to include troop redeployment near the border, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. No reason was given for the decision. The members also discussed documents outlining measures for “further bolstering the war deterrent of the country”, an apparent reference to the North’s earlier threat to boost its nuclear weapon capabilities. Tensions between the two Koreas have been rising for some few weeks over Pyongyang’s objections to Seoul’s inability to prevent defector groups from sending propaganda leaflets into the North, describing them as violations of a 2018 agreement to cease “all hostile acts”.
What worries the world
More than 50% people around the world say that covid-19 is among the biggest issues facing their country right now, followed by unemployment, poverty, healthcare and political/financial inequality (see chart). The countries where people are most concerned about the virus include Malaysia (74%), Japan (73%) and the UK (71%), shows Ipsos’ monthly survey based on interviews with over 18,000 people. Across all countries, concern about unemployment is up seven percentage points compared to last month, taking overall concern to 42% , the highest level seen in five years. Most people say their country is on the wrong track (55%) as opposed to heading in the right direction (45%). The respondents saying their country is on the right track include Saudi Arabia (91%), India (72%) and Malaysia (68%).
Singapore’s snap elections
Just four days after Singapore lifted most coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has dissolved parliament for snap elections on 10 July, months before they are due. In a televised address, Lee said an election “now when things are relatively stable will clear the decks and give the new government a fresh full five-year mandate.” Lee admitted that the decision to hold elections now was because there was “no assurance” the pandemic would end by next April. Singapore was initially hailed as a model for containing the coronavirus, but cases in the city-state, which has a population of 5.8 million, soared to over 42,000, one of the highest infection rates in Asia. Meanwhile, Lee’s estranged brother Lee Hsien Yang has announced he would join an opposition party for the elections, but had not yet decided if he would stand as a candidate.
Spanish opera for 2,292 plants
To mark Spain’s lifting of a three-month lockdown and reopening of cultural venues on Monday, musicians at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house played to an unusual audience, 2,292 plants. The show, Concierto Para El Bioceno, was livestreamed for humans. The event was the work of conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia and included a performance from the UceLi Quartet string quartet. In a statement, the famed opera house, which was forced to suspend its events in mid-March due to Spain’s coronavirus state of emergency, said it “welcomes and leads a highly symbolic act that defends the value of art, music and nature as a letter of introduction to our return to activity.” The plants, which were brought in from nearby nurseries, will be donated to healthcare workers at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. Spain has so far recorded over 240,000 coronavirus cases and 28,324 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
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