The world grappled with the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic Thursday as bitterly divided EU leaders tried to hammer out a rescue package and US jobless claims soared to a staggering 26 million.
European Central Bank boss Christine Lagarde warned her colleagues against “doing too little, too late” but Europe remains deeply split between virus-hit southern nations like Italy and Spain and richer northern countries.
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Worldwide, governments are trying to balance pressure to ease lockdowns and repair almost unprecedented economic damage, against dire warnings that moving too fast could unleash a second wave of coronavirus cases.
Other nations are still in the early stages of the fight against a disease that has killed more than 180,000 people and infected 2.6 million worldwide, even as it appears to be peaking in Europe and the United States.
Despite the announcement of vaccine trials including one starting in Britain Thursday, experts warn that any real cure is more than a year away, and that confinement measures will be needed for a long time to come.
Spirit of solidarity
In the United States — the hardest-hit country on earth — data showed another 4.4 million US workers filed claims for jobless benefits, bringing the total since the pandemic struck there in mid-March to 26.4 million.
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The total for the past week was a drop from the previous three weeks but remains at stunningly high levels due to government-ordered shutdowns to stop a virus that has already killed more than 46,500 and infected nearly 840,000 Americans.
In Europe, the worst-hit continent with 110,000 deaths, leaders are set to haggle via video conference on a giant economic recovery package estimated at around one trillion euros.