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Warning of ‘no robust economic recovery’ unless pandemic brought under control

The virus has infected 7.2 million people worldwide and killed at least 411,000, according to official figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University.

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A man begs at a roadside during a lockdown in Pakistan (Muhammad Sajjad/AP)

A man begs at a roadside during a lockdown in Pakistan (Muhammad Sajjad/AP)

A man begs at a roadside during a lockdown in Pakistan (Muhammad Sajjad/AP)

The coronavirus crisis has triggered the worst global recession in nearly a century – and the pain is not over yet even if there is no second wave of infections, an international economic report has warned.

Hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs, and the crisis is hitting the poor and young people the hardest, worsening inequalities, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“It is probably the most uncertain and dramatic outlook since the creation of the OECD,” secretary general Angel Gurria said. “We cannot make projections as we normally do.”

In the best-case scenario, if there is no second wave of infections, the agency forecast a global drop in economic output of 6% this year, and a rise of 2.8% next year.

If the pandemic is not brought under control, there will be no robust economic recoveryAngel Gurria, OECD secretary general

If the coronavirus re-emerges later in the year, however, the global economy could shrink 7.6%, the OECD said.

“With or without a second outbreak, the consequences will be severe and long-lasting,” the report says.

Mr Gurria argued that “presenting the problem as the choice between lives and livelihoods, meaning a choice between health and the economy, is a false dilemma”.

He added: “If the pandemic is not brought under control, there will be no robust economic recovery.”

In case of a second wave of contagions, the OECD forecast that the average unemployment rate across the 37 developed countries that it represents would double this year to 10% and see “little recovery” in 2021. In the more optimistic scenario, the figure would be 9.2%.

The agency urged governments to tackle inequalities by investing in healthcare systems, global cooperation on medical supplies, vaccine and treatments and retraining people whose sectors are the hardest-hit.

The virus has infected 7.2 million people worldwide and killed at least 411,000, according to official figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University. The true toll is believed to be much higher.

Figures show the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa has surpassed 200,000.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said the 54-nation continent has 202,782 cases and 5,516 deaths.

While Africa still represents a tiny percentage of the world’s total Covid-19 cases, well under 5%, officials in South Africa and elsewhere have expressed concern because the number of infections continues to climb.

South Africa leads the continent with 52,991 cases, with almost two thirds of them in the Western Cape province centred on the city of Cape Town. Egypt has 36,829 cases and Nigeria has 13,464.

In Pakistan, coronavirus infections have soared past 5,000 as the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged the government to impose a two-week lockdown to stem the relentless spike in new cases.

Pakistan has recorded 113,702 confirmed cases and 2,255 deaths.

Until now, Pakistan’s daily testing rate has hovered around 25,000, but the WHO said it should be double that.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has come under criticism from political opponents and health professionals for easing lockdowns despite soaring numbers and no progress in tracking Covid-19 outbreaks.

In Europe, more nations have announced plans to welcome visitors again amid the prospect of a bleak summer tourism season for many.

Beginning on June 16, Austria will open up to all European neighbours with the exception of Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Britain, meaning that visitors from 31 countries will no longer be required to undergo a two-week quarantine upon arrival.

Greece, another European holiday hot spot, will allow tourists to fly to Athens or the main northern city of Thessaloniki from June 15.

PA