US President Donald Trump threatened to cut ties with China over its role in the spread of the coronavirus, as the global death toll from the disease topped 300,000.
Despite fears of a second wave of infections, national and local governments around the world are easing lockdown orders as they try to get stalled economies moving again.
But there were warnings Friday that some of the world’s poorest people remain the most vulnerable, with predictions that a quarter of a billion Africans could be infected without urgent action.
The nexus of poverty and risk was highlighted by the discovery of cases in the world’s biggest refugee camp, where upwards of a million Rohingya live in squalor.
“We are looking at the very real prospect that thousands of people may die from COVID-19” in these camps, Save The Children’s Bangladesh health director Shamim Jahan said.
“There are no intensive care beds at this moment” in the camps at Cox’s Bazaar, Jahan said.
Track and trace teams were fanning out Friday to follow up on two positive tests.
In an interview aired Thursday, Trump again accused Beijing of concealing the true scale of the problem after the virus emerged in Wuhan late last year.
“I’m very disappointed in China. I will tell you that right now,” he said.
Asked how the United States might choose to retaliate against what he has dubbed the “Plague from China”, Trump said: “We could cut off the whole relationship”.
The US and China are the world’s two largest economies, doing hundreds of billions of dollars of mutually beneficial trade every year.
Nevertheless, the US president is keen to make Beijing the bogeyman in an election year when gloomy news has become par for the course.
New figures showed a further three million job losses, taking the newly unemployed to 36.5 million — more than 10 per cent of the US population.
Over a third of them will have trouble paying their bills, a survey has revealed.
States are slashing their budgets because of tax shortfalls caused by the job losses, with California announcing it would have a $54 billion deficit this year.
Germany’s treasury is also expecting a big hole in its budget, with around 100 billion euros wiped off the tax take in 2020.
Europe’s biggest economy has already slipped into a recession, with GDP expected to shrink by 6.3 per cent this year — the biggest contraction since 1949.