Ammon News, World

Coronavirus crisis is ‘like a war:’ IMF

[4/1/2020 10:29:31 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The coronavirus pandemic crisis “feels like a war, and in many ways it is,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a blog post released on Wednesday. The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has increased its spread rapidly across the world. There are nearly 900,000 infections worldwide, with over 42,000 dead. Borders have been closed, businesses shuttered, and people told not to leave home. Now, the IMF has released its assessment of the worst effects of the crisis – and an outline of its plan to survive the pandemic. “People are dying. Medical professionals are on the front lines. Those in essential services, food distribution, delivery, and public utilities work overtime to support the effort. And then there are the hidden soldiers: those who fight the epidemic confined in their homes, unable to fully contribute to production,” the post said. Numerous other analysts and world leaders have recently referred to the pandemic as a war. US President Trump on Tuesday said, “Every one of us has a role to play in winning this war.” Earlier in March, Trump implemented the Defense Production Act to push the private sector into production of equipment to counter the pandemic. The act was passed in 1950 at the beginning of the Korean War to push the private sector into helping authorities achieve wartime aims, and used again throughout the Cold War. “In a war, massive spending on armaments stimulates economic activity and special provisions ensure essential services. In this crisis, things are more complicated, but a common feature is an increased role for the public sector,” the IMF’s note read. The blog went on detail how policy makers need to react to the coronavirus, highlighting that there are two key phases to the pandemic. Phase 1 consists of “the war,” where mitigation measures in place, such as broad lockdowns confining people to their homes, are “severely curtailing economic activity.” The Fund estimates this to continue for three to six months. Phase 2 is “the post-war recovery.” Once the coronavirus is under control, whether it be by vaccine, partial herd immunity, or a less-significant form of containment, the economy can begin to return to normal functioning. “The success of the pace of recovery will depend crucially on policies undertaken during the crisis,” the note read. Policy-makers will need to ensure that all players in the economy survive the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. This includes workers keeping their jobs, homeowners and renters staying in their homes, businesses not falling to bankruptcy, and maintaining trade and business networks, the Fund added. While advanced economies are better suited to the crisis, such as the US Fed’s unprecedented decision to announce that its funding to buy debt and support the economy is virtually without limit, low-income and emerging economies are significantly at threat. “They will require grants and financing from the global community,” the post read. These statements echo calls made at various G20 meetings over the past week where leaders highlighted the plight of poorer nations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged G20 leaders to adopt a “wartime” plan including a stimulus package “in the trillions of dollars” for businesses, workers and households in developing countries trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, several factors need to be managed in enacting these policies. Large economic stimulus packages for industries and corporations have already been announced in some areas, such as aviation. “If transfer of subsidized loans are given to a large corporation, they should be conditional on preserving jobs and limiting CEO compensation, dividends, and stock repurchases,” the IMF said. *Al Arabiya

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France extends coronavirus ‘stay-at-home’ lockdown order until at least April 15

[3/27/2020 2:28:46 PM]

AMMONNEWS - France is extending by two weeks until at least April 15 its stay-at-home order for all people to curtail the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Friday. President Emmanuel Macron had ordered people in France to stay at home from March 17 for two weeks for all but essential tasks. But the scale of the epidemic in the country had made it inevitable that the lockdown would be extended. “In agreement with the president, today I’m announcing the renewal of the confinement period for two more weeks,” Philippe said at the Elysee presidential palace. “Obviously this period will be extended again if conditions require it,” he added. The additional two weeks from April 1 means it would now expire on April 15. Philippe said that lockdown measures were well respected in general, but the few who violate them “will be severely punished as this concerns the health of all of us and, especially, the most fragile.” He also warned that “after the first ten days of confinement it is clear that we are still just at the start of this wave of epidemic.” French authorities said on Thursday that 365 people had been killed by COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, France’s highest daily toll, taking the national total of those who have died in hospital to 1,696. *AFP

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Coronavirus: Spain overtakes China toll with 3,434 deaths

[3/25/2020 7:04:39 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Spain's coronavirus death toll overtook that of China on Wednesday, rising to 3,434 after 738 people died over the past 24 hours, the government said. The spiraling number of deaths came as Spain entered the 11th day of an unprecedented lockdown to try and rein in the coronavirus epidemic that has now infected 47,610 people, the health ministry said. *AFP

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Hackers target WHO as coronavirus cyberattacks increase

[3/24/2020 5:32:50 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Hackers tried to break into the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this month, sources have told Reuters, amid what a senior agency official said was a more than two-fold increase in cyberattacks. WHO Chief Information Security Officer Flavio Aggio said the identity of the hackers was unclear and the effort was unsuccessful. But he warned that hacking attempts against the agency and its partners have soared as they battle to contain the coronavirus, which has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide as of Tuesday. The attempted break-in at the WHO was first flagged to Reuters by Alexander Urbelis, a cybersecurity expert and lawyer with the New York-based Blackstone Law Group, which tracks suspicious internet domain registration activity. Urbelis said he picked up on the activity around March 13, when a group of hackers he had been following activated a malicious site mimicking the WHO's internal email system. "I realised quite quickly that this was a live attack on the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic," he said. Urbelis said he did not know who was responsible, but two other sources briefed on the matter said they suspected a group of hackers known as DarkHotel, which has been conducting cyber-espionage operations since at least 2007. Messages sent to email addresses maintained by the hackers went unreturned. When asked by Reuters about the incident, the WHO's Aggio confirmed that the site spotted by Urbelis had been used in an attempt to steal passwords from multiple agency staffers. "There has been a big increase in targeting of the WHO and other cybersecurity incidents," Aggio said in a telephone interview. "There are no hard numbers, but such compromise attempts against us and the use of (WHO) impersonations to target others have more than doubled." Attacks against the WHO and attempts to impersonate the organisation have soared amid concern over the spread of the coronavirus The WHO published an alert last month - available here - warning that hackers are posing as the agency to steal money and sensitive information from the public. And government officials in the United States, Britain and elsewhere have issued cybersecurity warnings about the dangers of a newly remote workforce as people disperse to their homes to work and study because of the coronavirus pandemic. The motives in the case identified by Reuters are not clear. United Nations agencies, the WHO among them, are regularly targeted by digital espionage campaigns and Aggio said he did not know who precisely at the organisation the hackers had in their sights. Cybersecurity firms including Romania's Bitdefender and Moscow-based Kaspersky said they have traced many of DarkHotel's operations to East Asia - an area that has been particularly affected by the coronavirus. Specific targets have included government employees and business executives in places such as China, North Korea, Japan and the United States. Costin Raiu, head of global research and analysis at Kaspersky, could not confirm that DarkHotel was responsible for the WHO attack but said the same malicious web infrastructure had also been used to target other healthcare and humanitarian organisations in recent weeks. "At times like this, any information about cures or tests or vaccines relating to coronavirus would be priceless and the priority of any intelligence organisation of an affected country," he said. Officials and cybersecurity experts have warned that hackers of all stripes are seeking to capitalise on international concern over the spread of the coronavirus. Urbelis said he has tracked thousands of coronavirus-themed web sites being set up daily, many of them malicious. "It's still around 2,000 a day," he said. "I have never seen anything like this." *Agencies

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Coronavirus: Spain extends state of emergency for 15 more days

[3/22/2020 6:31:22 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Spanish government has decided to extend for another 15 days the 15-day state of emergency announced on March 14 to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, El Pais and El Mundo newspapers reported on Sunday. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez communicated the decision to regional leaders during a videoconference call, the reports said. The nationwide state of emergency bars people from all but essential outings. The death toll from Europe’s second-worst outbreak of the virus jumped to 1,326 from 1,002 the day before, according to Spanish Health Ministry data released on Saturday. The number of cases rose to 24,926 from 19,980. *Reuters

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Al-Aqsa mosque closes as precaution against coronavirus: Report

[3/15/2020 5:44:31 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock will shut their doors as a precaution against coronavirus, Islamic religious authorities said on Sunday, while outdoor prayers will still be allowed at the complex that houses Islam's third holiest site. “The Islamic Waqf department decided to shut down the enclosed prayer places inside the blessed Aqsa mosque until further notice as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All prayers will be held in the open areas of the Aqsa mosque,” the director of Al-Aqsa mosque, Omar Kiswani told Reuters. *Reuters

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Coronavirus: UAE suspends flights to Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Syria

[3/14/2020 9:08:53 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The UAE will suspend flights to Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey as of March 17 as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Saturday. For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page. “The decision to suspend flights to the four countries came after the General Authority of Civil Aviation in the country evaluated the global situation,” the authority said in a statement. The UAE has confirmed 85 cases of the deadly coronavirus. The UAE also announced on Saturday restrictions on visas as additional measures to contain the virus. Since the outbreak, the country has temporarily shut schools and universities, ordered bars and night clubs to close, and closed several tourist attractions. *Al Arabiya

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