Dhaka Courier

The U.K. government warned of a “significant” recession

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The U.K. government warned of a “significant” recession after official figures showed the economy shrank 2% in the first quarter of the year even though it included just one week of the coronavirus lockdown. The Office of National Statistics found that the slump was getting deeper as the quarter came to an end, with output down by 5.8% in March alone, the month when curbs on everyday life started being put in place by the British government. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the U.K. into full lockdown on March 23, days after closing pubs and restaurants and schools.

The March figure illustrates the scale of the coronavirus slump to come, with the Bank of England, for example, warning of the biggest annual slump since 1706. “With the arrival of the pandemic, nearly every aspect of the economy was hit in March, dragging growth to a record monthly fall,” said statistician Jonathan At how. During March, the only sectors that did grow reflected the needs of a country dealing with a pandemic - IT support, soaps and cleaning products, and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals.

 

The number of people who were killed in a militant attack on a maternity ward in the Afghan capital rose to 24. Mothers, newborn babies and nurses were among the victims. At least 16 people were injured, the health ministry said. The attack on May 12 in Kabul prompted widespread condemnation. No group has said it carried it out. A bombing at a funeral in the east killed at least 32.

President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the resumption of offensive operations against the Taliban and other groups. He accused the militants of ignoring repeated calls for a reduction in violence. The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack on a police commander's funeral in Nangarhar, in the east of the country. It is still not clear who carried out the attack at the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul, and the Taliban have denied any involvement.

 

India has announced a 20 trillion rupee ($264bn; £216bn) economic package to help the country cope with its prolonged coronavirus lockdown. In a televised address Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the measures would support farmers and small businesses. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is due to announce further details in the next few days.

India has more than 70,000 cases among its 1.3bn population and is expected to pass China's numbers within a week. Mr Modi said the package, which is equivalent to 10% of India's gross domestic product, aimed to help people who have lost their jobs and businesses hit by the shutdown. "The package will also focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, medium and small enterprises, labourers, middle class, industries, among others," he said. He also said that strict stay-at-home orders would be extended beyond 17 May with a new set of rules.

 

A 113-year-old woman - believed to be the oldest woman in Spain - has recovered from the coronavirus, officials have said. Maria Branyas was diagnosed with Covid-19 after the country went into lockdown in March. But after weeks in isolation, Ms Branyas recovered, having suffered only mild symptoms. It means she has lived through the flu pandemic of 1918-19, the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and the coronavirus.

"Now that she is well, she is wonderful, she wants to speak, to explain, to make her reflections, it is her again," her daughter tweeted. Born in Mexico in 1907, she moved north to San Francisco two years later and arrived in the Catalan province of Girona during World War One with her Spanish journalist father. She raised three children - one of whom recently turned 86 - has 11 grandchildren - the oldest of whom is 60 - and 13 great-grandchildren. She has lived for two decades at a care home in the city of Olot.

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • Pandemic
  • Significant
  • Kabul
  • Maria Branyas
  • 113 year old woman

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