an extraordinary economic, social and health cost ~ #AFP:

While the 350,000 dead mark in the world (more than three-quarters in Europe and the United States) was crossed on Wednesday, the European Union is preparing to unveil an important recovery plan today, a gamble to minus one trillion euros to try to spread the economies of the 27 member countries.

Even in countries where health systems have resisted, economic and social indicators are red.

“I cover my face because I’m so ashamed, I never asked for food,” said 42-year-old Jacqueline Alvarez, a bag of groceries in hand in the working-class district of Aluche.

She stands in line, like nearly 700 others, at the counter of a neighborhood association transformed into a food bank. In Spain, poverty explodes faster than during the 2008 financial crisis, but the whole world is affected.

– “To beg”

According to the NGO Oxfam, the health crisis could plunge 500 million people into poverty.

In Brazil, experts expect a fall of 6 to 10% of GDP this year, with unemployment rates leaping from 12.2% currently to more than 18%.

In France, with a collapse of around 20% of GDP in the second quarter, experts expect a decline of more than 8% over the year. It is “the most significant recession since the creation of the national accounts in 1948”, assures the National Institute of Statistics.

After Argentina and Lebanon, who declared themselves in default, G20 experts fear that the pandemic will cause before the end of the year a contagion of default among emerging countries, unable to honor repayments of their debts.

In South Africa, considered by the World Bank to be the most unequal country in the world, the pandemic has increased poverty and plunged many of the estimated 4 million foreigners, most of them illegal, into destitution.

“Here, a lot of people are suffering from confinement. Most of them are migrants or refugees and they cannot work,” said Alfred Djanga, spokesperson for refugee families in the Mayfair district of Johannesburg.

“Before, they were employed in shops where they sold around the corner. But they are no longer allowed to do so,” said the 50-year-old lawyer. “Without papers, they have no choice but to beg.”

The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on economies, social and health systems around the world, but it also takes a heavy toll on the minds of caregivers, subjected since the beginning of the year to exceptional work overload and stress.

“We have all the ingredients for a major risk of post-traumatic stress,” said Xavier Noël, expert in mental health issues at the Free University of Brussels.

Those who work in intensive care “faced a totally unusual death rate and way of dying, in a more dehumanized context, without the presence of families to relieve them on decision-making,” he said. ‘AFP.

A study carried out in early May among 3,300 caregivers in Dutch-speaking Belgium shows that 15% are thinking of “leaving the profession” against 6% in normal times.

In Spain, a study by the University of Madrid shows that 51% of the 1,200 caregivers interviewed have “depressive symptoms”. 53% presented signs “compatible with post-traumatic stress”.

In South America, there is still time to mobilize, in the face of the ravages caused by the virus on fragile societies and health systems.

The spread of the coronavirus “accelerates” in Brazil, Peru and Chile, warned Tuesday a regional agency of the World Health Organization, calling on these countries not to relax measures to slow the contamination.

“In South America, we are particularly concerned since the number of new cases registered last week in Brazil is the highest in a seven-day period since the start of the pandemic,” said Carissa Etienne, director of the ” Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), based in Washington.

Peru, for its part, recorded a record number of 5,772 new contaminations with the coronavirus in 24 hours, for a total of nearly 130,000, announced Tuesday the Ministry of Health.

– New epicenter –

The daily number of new infections in Latin America has exceeded that of Europe and the United States, making the Latin American continent “undoubtedly” the new epicenter of the pandemic, according to PAHO.

On the other hand, for the third day in a row, the United States deplored less than 700 daily deaths from the Covid-19, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University, which refers, at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (12:30 GMT Wednesday).

In a Europe where numbers and indicators are improving every day, pressure is mounting for a coordinated reopening of borders.

Italy is pushing for a concerted resumption of travel in Europe on June 15, which could become the “D-Day” of tourism, said Monday evening its Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.

His statements are in line with a Franco-German call for the borders to be reopened as quickly as possible, launched on Tuesday by the President of the French National Assembly and his German counterpart.

In France, a decree also announced Wednesday that hydroxychloroquine, a drug with controversial use, can no longer be prescribed against Covid-19 in hospitals, excluding clinical trials.

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Source: VOA-AFP.

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About AFP - Agence France Presse.

AGENCE PRANCE-PRESSE (AFP): is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Agence Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency. AFP has regional headquarters in Nicosia, Montevideo, Hong Kong, and Washington, D.C., and news bureaux in 151 countries in 201 locations.

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