Indian leaders agree to salary cut
NEW DELHI – Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and other top government figures will take a 30 percent salary cut this year, a government minister said yesterday, as the country tackles the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the economy. Modi has imposed a three-week lockdown to halt the spread of the virus, but it has left millions without jobs and many of the more vulnerable sections of society struggling for food and shelter. The federal cabinet has approved a decree under which Modi, along with president Ram Nath Kovind, state governors and members of parliament, will take the salary cut as part of their social responsibility.
Pace of deaths slows in Spain
MADRID – Spain’s pace of new coronavirus deaths slowed for the fourth day yesterday as the government contemplated a gradual easing of a lockdown in place since mid-March in the country with the second highest death toll from the global pandemic. As with worst-hit Italy, data in Spain is giving cause for hope the peak has passed. Yesterday, it reported 637 fatalities in the previous 24 hours – a 5% increase in total and less than half the pace recorded a week earlier.” The pandemic’s growth rate is slowing down in almost every region,” Maria Jose Sierra, deputy head of Spain’s health emergency committee, said at a virtual news conference. Spain has been in lockdown since 14 March, with streets and famous tourist sites eerily silent. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez said at the weekend that would remain in place until 26 April.
China sees rise in asymptomatic cases
BEIJING – Mainland China reported 39 new coronavirus cases as of Sunday, up from 30 a day earlier, and the number of asymptomatic cases also surged, as the government struggled to stamp out the outbreak despite drastic containment efforts. The National Health Commission said yesterday that 78 new asymptomatic cases had been identified as of the end of Sunday, compared with 47 the day before. Imported cases and asymptomatic patients, who show no symptoms but can still pass the virus to others, have become China’s chief concern after draconian containment measures succeeded in slashing the overall infection rate. Hubei province, the original epicentre of the outbreak, accounted for almost half the new asymptomatic cases. A total of 705 people with asymptomatic cases were under medical observation around mainland China. The surge in asymptomatic cases, which China only began reporting last week, poses a worry as Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, prepares to allow people to leave the city on 8 April for the first time since it was locked down in late January.
UK’s Johnson in hospital for tests
LONDON – British prime Minister Boris Johnson, still suffering coronavirus symptoms 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19, was undergoing tests in hospital yesterday, but the government insisted he remained in charge. Johnson, who had been isolating in Downing Street after testing positive for the virus last month, was taken to hospital on Sunday night because he still had a high temperature and his doctors felt he needed additional tests. His office and ministers said Johnson (55) continued to run the government, that the prime minister was doing well and that he would undergo “routine tests” as a precaution, though Downing Street declined to say which tests he would have.