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Countries provide economic stimulus to fight COVID-19

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-18 17:09
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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the closing bell in New York, March 17, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

BEIJING - Many countries have adopted new or upgraded measures to bolster their economies, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to send shockwaves through stock markets and real economy globally.

A total of 179,112 cases have been reported as of Tuesday morning, an increase of 11,526 from the previous day, according to the latest daily report released by the World Health Organization.

Economic impact

Driven continuously by uncertainties caused by COVID-19, stocks markets in the United States, Europe and Asia have suffered heavy losses, and the central banks of some countries, such as Morocco and India, has expected a slowdown in the domestic economic growth.

Measures like social distancing, travel restrictions and shutdown of factories to curb the COVID-19 spread also have inevitably led to disruption to economic activities and supply chain.

European leaders voted Tuesday to endorse a temporary restriction on travels to the European Union territory for at least 30 days in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"The rapid spread of COVID-19, and associated government travel restrictions and advisories are having a significant and increasingly negative impact on the demand for global air traffic on almost all routes operated by IAG's airlines," said International Airlines Group (IAG) on Monday.

The British airline Flybe has recently collapsed with all its flights being canceled, and Virgin Atlantic, which sees a "sharp and continual drop in demand for flights," has called on the government to offer a "clear, decisive, unwavering support" for the country's aviation sector.

With new isolation rules for arrivals in Australia, Australian Tourism Export Council on Monday warned of job losses, saying "the damage to our inbound tourism sector across Australia will deliver a significant blow to Australia's economy and, with more than 600,000 people employed in tourism jobs, that will have a dramatic flow on to employment."

With the United States now facing a growing public health crisis caused by the epidemic, Los Angeles and New York City on Monday announced the closure of movie theaters and other live performance venues, causing a dive in ticket sales.

Revenues of the US box offices plummeted 45 percent this week from last weekend's gross, a trend which is likely to continue over the next two to three weeks.

Variety, a US media company, reported that initial cinema closures have resulted in billions of dollars of revenue losses for the United States, Chinese and other film industries worldwide.

Economic stimulus

Noting that many countries will be facing economic hardships due to COVID-19, the United Nations (UN) said Tuesday that it is raising funds for the global fight against the coronavirus.

"We are working closely with UN member states and the private sector to ensure funding and equipment is available to fight COVID-19, both in member states and among the vulnerability community," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The World Bank Group on Tuesday announced an increased $14 billion of fast-tracking financing to assist companies and countries amid the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The package will "strengthen national systems for public health preparedness," including for disease containment, diagnosis and treatment, and support the private sector, the World Bank said in a statement.

"This package provides urgent support to businesses and their workers to reduce the financial and economic impact of the spread of COVID-19," said David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group.

More countries has beefed up measures to cushion the economic impact of COVID-19.

The Trump administration on Tuesday expressed its intention to offer cash payments for working Americans as part of an economic stimulus package amid coronavirus fallout.

"We're looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a White House press briefing.

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg reported that Mnuchin is negotiating with lawmakers on an 850-billion-dollar stimulus plan to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, citing people familiar with the matter.

The British government will provide 330 billion pounds (about 399 billion dollars) of loans to businesses to support firms to get through the difficult moments as the epidemic escalates in the country, said Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Tuesday.

In addition to the enormous financial support package promised, Sunak also pledged to provide funding grants of up to 25,000 pounds (about 30,294 dollars) for small businesses.

The Bank of Japan on Monday decided to introduce additional monetary easing measures in a bid to stabilize financial markets amid recent turmoil caused by the global spread of the virus.

International Monetary Fund has called for "increased coordinated action" to boost confidence and provide stability to the global economy inflicted by COVID-19.

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