Health or wealth? Calls grow to ease curbs

MADRID: As the pandemic leaves millions of people out of work and devastates economies around the world, governments struggle with the delicate balance between keeping people safe from a highly contagious virus and ensuring that they can still earn the life or even have enough to eat.

Workers in some nonessential industries were returning to their jobs Monday in Spain, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic, while in South Korea, officials warned that new infections could erode accelerated progress in the fight. against the virus as restrictions. to ease.

Decisions are complicated because each nation is in its own coronavirus arc, and places like the United Kingdom, Japan, and parts of the US. USA They continue to see increasing levels of daily deaths or infections; France and New York expect them to stabilize, albeit on a plateau of deaths; and the most affected nations such as Italy and Spain are seeing decreases in the rates of increase.

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Seeking to restart manufacturing by allowing workers to return to some factory and construction jobs, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said his government must balance its response to the virus crisis that threatens to destroy lives and at the same time destroy the economic fabric and social of our country. However, some experts and politicians argued that it is premature to ease restrictions in a nation that has suffered 17,489 deaths and reported 1,699,496 cases. But Spain reported its lowest daily growth in cases in three weeks on Monday.

Italy's daily increase in new cases was one of the lowest in weeks, reinforcing a generally downward trend. However, the number of daily deaths, 566, increased, from the 431 new deaths recorded on Sunday. In Veneto, one of the country's most infected regions, officials are losing some movement restrictions as they enter a phase that the governor, Luca Zaia, called a blocking light.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said Monday that the nation is facing an increase in the number of seriously ill patients and urged officials to mobilize resources for the worst-case scenarios. In a conference call, Putin emphasized the need to prepare to move medical personnel, ventilators, and protective equipment between regions to respond to the rapidly changing situation. Russia has recorded more than 18,000 coronavirus cases and 148 deaths. Meanwhile, Moscow and the surrounding region have accounted for about two-thirds of all infections. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued a global plea to the world's richest countries and international financial institutions to provide debt relief to poor countries, where forced closings are paralyzing already troubled economies. . His government has launched an ambitious $ 8 billion program to help millions close to the poverty level. Last week, Khan relaxed his country's blockade to allow the construction industry to reopen.

Ger many Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has urged a cautious approach to loosen restrictions, will hold a video conference with regional governors on Wednesday, after the governor of the state with the most infections asked for a roadmap to back to normal. .

In South Korea, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said officials were discussing new public guidelines that would allow certain levels of economic and social activity while also keeping their distance to curb the spread of Covid. South Korea's caseload has slowed since the beginning of March, when it reported around 500 new cases daily, but authorities have warned of a wider silent spread in places like bars, which are still open. President Moon Jae-in pledged on Monday to focus on saving jobs and protecting the economy amid a sharp rise in the number of people seeking unemployment benefits.

In Sri Lanka, the government announced plans to reopen schools and universities in May. Japan, the world's third largest economy, has seen new infections grow rapidly and now has 7,255 cases. Japanese companies have been slow to switch to working remotely and many people are still on the move, even after a state of emergency was declared for seven prefectures, including Tokyo.