Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
US overtakes China
There are now over half a million coronavirus cases reported across 202 countries and territories globally and the United States has overtaken China as the country with the most infections.
Of the 531,000 cases reported, over 60,000 were added in the past day, and 2,532 new deaths in 59 countries brought the total death toll to over 24,000, according to a Reuters tally at 0200 GMT on Friday.
It has been the single most deadly day for the disease since the outbreak began, with Italy and Spain reporting over 700 deaths each. The United States, the United Kingdom, Iran and France reported over 100 fatalities each.
The United States contributed roughly one-third of newly reported cases, as testing in the country expanded, with over 17,000 cases in the past 24 hours, and 281 deaths, the highest single-day case load of any country since the outbreak began.
China, which announced plans to close its borders to foreign citizens from Saturday, reported 5 deaths and 55 cases, and said that all but two of the new cases were from outside the country.
Cases in South and Central America surpassed 10,000 as of Thursday, with major outbreaks in Brazil, Chile and Ecuador, which are each reporting over a thousand cases.
Countries which experienced outbreaks in February or earlier are reporting higher recovery rates.
Record US jobless claims
The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record 3.28 million last week, in the clearest evidence yet of the coronavirus’ devastating impact on the economy.
Strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic have brought the country to a sudden halt, unleashing a wave of layoffs that likely ended the longest employment boom in US history.
When is a bull not a bull?
When it comes in the middle of a bear.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s surge of over 20% from its coronavirus-induced recent low this week, by one definition used on Wall Street, suggests a new bull market. The surge came on hopes a $2 trillion stimulus measure would flood the country with cash in a bid to counter the economic impact of the intensifying pandemic.
But that definition should be treated with a large piece of caution. The very definition of bull market is debatable, and given the market’s volatility on news about the pandemic, some said that calling the move upwards a “bull market” was tantamount to missing the forest for the trees.
Coronavirus can get you out of jail or land you in it
While countries like Afghanistan and Canada are releasing inmates to prevent the spread of the virus in the tight confinement of prison facilities, other places are increasing punishments for flouting the rules.
Anyone claiming to have coronavirus who deliberately coughs at emergency workers’ faces being jailed for two years, Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions said on Thursday, after recent reports of such incidents. Those responsible could face charges of common assault.
In Singapore, famous for its strict rules, anyone caught intentionally sitting less than a meter away from another person in a public place or on a fixed seat singled out not to be occupied under new, more stringent social distancing rules, can be fined up to S$10,000 ($6,990), jailed up to six months, or both.
How far is a normal bike ride?
As more countries adopt stringent lockdown policies to try to stem the spread of the virus, a debate is bubbling over what limits there should be on regular exercise.
In France, citizens have been told not to venture further than 1 km from their homes. In Israel, the guidance suggests 100 metres should be the maximum. In Britain, people are allowed to visit parks near where they live, as long as they maintain a distance of at least two meters from others.
In Belgium, a nation of cyclists, some want a limit of up to 70 km so they can get in a proper bike ride. The interior minister says that is far too much.
Soap, not guns
A deeply conservative tribal region of Pakistan is spreading an animated, Pashto-language video to warn its population about the coronavirus – and taking a shot at its gun culture in the process.
In the video protagonist Pabo “Badmash”, or Pabo the Thug, is setting out to defeat the virus. Villagers offer him a wooden bat, a pistol, a sword and even a rocket launcher.
But Pabo astounds them by refusing, saying he will defeat the enemy with his “bare hands”. He then proceeds to wash his hands with soap – and even checks to ensure he has lathered them for 20 seconds, as recommended.
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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.