The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
—India coronavirus cases continue to rise with record jump of over 6,500
—South Korea’s central bank lowered its policy rate to an all-time low of 0.5%
NEW DELHI: India sees no respite from the coronavirus caseload seeing another record single day jump of over 6,500 cases at a time when the two-month-old lockdown across the country is set to end on Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is preparing a new set of guidelines to be issued this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas as it promotes economic activity.
The Health Ministry reported a total of 158,333 cases on Thursday, a jump of 6,566 cases in the past 24 hours, with 4,531 deaths, an increase of 194. It said the recovery rate has also risen to more than 42% .
Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, is the worst hit city in the country with more than 33,000 cases and nearly 1,200 deaths. Most of the cases are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states.
An increase in cases have also been reported in some of India’s poorest eastern states as migrant workers stranded returning to native villages from India’s largest cities have begun arriving home on special trains.
India started easing lockdown restrictions earlier this month, allowing reopening of shops and manufacturing and resumption of some trains and domestic flights and vehicles’ movement.
Metro services, schools and colleges, hotels and restaurants are shuttered nationwide.
CANBERRA, Australia — A Catholic archbishop has accused an Australian state government of inequitable pandemic rules by allowing up to 50 people into pubs while church congregations are limited to 10.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher on Thursday encouraged Catholics to sign a petition calling on the New South Wales government to treat churches the same as pubs, restaurants and cafes.
New pandemic restrictions that take effect on June 1 increase the number of customers that such commercial premises can hold from 10 to 50.
“Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential; indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith,” the petition said.
Fisher said he was standing up for freedom of worship “when I see so many double standards being applied to people of faith.”
“We aren’t asking for special treatment, we are asking for equal treatment,” Fisher said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said state governments were working at their own pace in lifting pandemic restrictions.
New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and has been the worst effected by COVID-19. New South Wales has recorded 48 of Australia’s 103 deaths. Catholicism is the largest denomination in Christian-majority Australia.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s central bank lowered its policy rate to an all-time low of 0.5% to soften the pandemic’s shock to the country’s trade-dependent economy, which it says may shrink for the first time in 22 years.
The Bank of Korea’s rate cut on Thursday came about two months after it executed its first emergency rate cut since 2008 to bring the policy rate to 0.75%.
The bank also adjusted its annual growth outlook from a 2.1% expansion to a 0.2% contraction. The country’s economy hasn’t seen an annual contraction since 1998, when it was in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.
By lowering borrowing costs, the bank intends to ease the volatility in financial markets and help pump money into the economy.
But some experts say it’s unclear whether traditional financial tools to boost money supplies would be effective now when the pandemic has damaged both supply and demand.
The Bank of Korea said last month that South Korea’s economy shrank 1.4% during the first three months of the year, the worst contraction since late-2008. Domestic consumption took a hit as more people stayed home to avoid virus transmissions, while exports also shrank amid worldwide lockdowns.
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