Coronavirus News Asia

US passes new stimulus, EU divided as costs soar

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The United States on Friday approved nearly half a billion dollars in new stimulus, but European leaders were divided on their own measures as the world sought to salvage economies ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Governments from South Africa to Vietnam, as well as states in the US, took steps to resume normal life amid debate whether a lockdown that has restricted the movement of half the planet has been in place long enough.

In scenes never witnessed in the tradition-bound US Congress, lawmakers covered their faces with masks and voted in small groups as the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a US$483 billion stimulus plan.

The money will back small businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, and hard-pressed hospitals. It comes on top of $2.2 trillion package enacted in late March.

Click on the link at the top to see a live version of virus information. Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering produced this website, which displays statistics about deaths and confirmed cases of the coronavirus, or Covid-19. Image: Johns Hopkins

The House voted hours after data that another 4.4 million US workers had filed claims for jobless benefits, bringing the total to 26.4 million since the pandemic intensified. The world’s largest economy has been hit by about 50,000 deaths, more than any other country, and saw one of its deadliest days with 3,176 new fatalities in 24 hours.

The new package “is essential to protecting families across America and ensuring more small businesses have access to the resources they need,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. 

President Donald Trump, with whom Pelosi frequently spars, said he would quickly sign the bill, which already passed the Republican-led Senate unanimously.

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