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Covid-19: US Congress passes largest relief package in history

The highlight of the package, which amounts to almost 10 per cent of the US gross domestic product, is an outright payment of $1,200 each to most adults in the US and $500 each for children.

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New York, March 27 : Displaying uncharacteristic political solidarity, the US Congress has voted the largest ever economic stimulus package worth about $2 trillion to rescue the nation from the clutches of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After months of confrontation and invective capped by President Donald Trump’s impeachment, the two parties came together to vote the recovery package unanimously on Friday in the House of Representatives, after the Senate had passed it unanimously.

President Trump has said that he will sign it as soon as he gets it.

The highlight of the package, which amounts to almost 10 per cent of the US gross domestic product, is an outright payment of $1,200 each to most adults in the US and $500 each for children.

It includes aid for businesses, allocation for medical efforts against the coronavirus, food assistance and help for states and local governments.

The voting in the House came on a day when the US had recorded 86,012 cases, surpassing China where the pandemic began. In a bleak economic picture, 3.3 million officially registered as unemployed, while there is also a large number of others who have not yet applied for unemployment insurance benefit, many of them from the informal sector.

It was done by voice vote as many representatives were stuck in their constituencies either because of self-quarantine or cancellation of flights.

After the Senate had earlier passed the legislation for the package after more than a week of haggling between the White House and the Democrats, Trump said in a change of tone: “I want to thank Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.”

Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked Republican Senate leaders, with whom she has been at odds on various issues.

Later she said: “We are like families and have our differences” but know what is important and come together.

The apolitical Commerce Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the package with the Democrats because of the toxic relations Trump and Republican leaders had with the Democrats.

High drama preceded the passage of the relief package legislation, even as the nation beaten down economically by the movement restrictions waited for help.

While the initial block came from Democrats, who wanted to ensure that the assistance given to corporations were not used buoy their stock prices or for management payouts, and wanted to increase benefits to workers, the final hurdle came from four Republican Senators opposing extension of unemployment benefits.

Forceful action by Trump and the party leadership made them back down.

In the House, a lone Republican representative threatened to block the voting using procedural tactics. Trump came down hard on him, calling for his expulsion from the party.

In a tweet, Trump even agreed with Democratic Party leader John Kerry who had used an unprintable epithet to describe Representative Thomas Massie.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

Cities

Mumbai cases cross 51K, Maha Covid death toll 2,286

The state’s containment zones decreased from 3,169 to 3,157 on Sunday and 18,490 health teams have carried out a survey of a population of around 70.1 lakhs in the state.

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Mumbai, May 31 : The Mumbai region Covid-19 cases shot above the 51,000-mark on Sunday even as the state death toll reached 2,286, with 89 fatalities – down by 27 from the highest 116 deaths recorded on May 29 – health officials said.

Sunday’s toll includes a whopping 70 deaths in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region alone – the worst-hit in the country, besides 2,487 new positive cases recorded in the state.

This comes to roughly one death every 16 minutes, and an average 104 new cases notched every hour, in the state.

Maharashtra has been recording 75-plus fatalities and new patients over 2,000 daily for the past six consecutive days, with the last highest figure of 3,041 infections on May 24.

With 89 fatalities, the state death toll has touched 2,286 while the total number of Coronavirus patients increased from Saturday’s 65,168 to 67,655 on Sunday.

The health department said of the total number of cases declared till date, 36,031 were active, an increase of 1,150 over Saturday’s 34,881.

The state has notched a recovery rate of 43.35 per cent and a mortality (death) rate of 3.37 per cent, with the patient doubling time improving to 17.5 days over last week’s 11.3 days, against the national average of 15.7 days.

Of the total 89 fatalities on Sunday, 52 were recorded in Mumbai alone, taking the city deaths up from Saturday’s 1,227 to 1,279 now, while the number of Covid-19 positive patients here shot up by 1,244 cases to touch 39,686 now.

Besides Mumbai’s 52 deaths, there were 18 fatalities in Thane (Navi Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali), 9 in Pune, 6 in Nashik (Malegaon), 2 Solapur, and one each in Osmanabad and Yavatmal.

The victims comprised 46 men and 43 women, and nearly 63 per cent of them suffered from other serious ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, heart problems and asthma.

On the positive side, a total of 1,248 fully cured patients returned home on Sunday, taking the number of those discharged from 28,081 to 29,329.

Maharashtra announced a gradual easing of the lockdown from June 1 under #MissionBeginAgain, with specified activities permitted in phases, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in an address to the state on Sunday.

Spelling out cheers for Bollywood, film shootings of all types have been permitted with a set of guidelines, while doorstep delivery of newspapers will also start shortly.

The MMR continued to cause grave concerns with 1,548 Covid-19 deaths and positive cases shooting past the 50K mark to touch 51,397.

Though trailing a distant second after Mumbai, Pune Division fatalities touched 415, besides 9,339 patients.

The next major area of concern is Nashik Division with 163 deaths and 2,046 positive cases, followed by Aurangabad Division with 66 fatalities and 1,838 cases, and finally Akola Division with 48 deaths and 1,010 cases.

There’s Latur Division with 10 deaths and 356 cases, Kolhapur Division with 10 deaths and 866 patients, and finally Nagpur Division with 11 deaths and 744 cases.

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home-quarantine increased from Saturday’s 551,660 to 558,100 on Sunday, and those in institutional quarantine decreased by 940 to 34,480.

In yet another relieving news, there are as many as 72,704 beds available for quarantine in the state.

The state’s containment zones decreased from 3,169 to 3,157 on Sunday and 18,490 health teams have carried out a survey of a population of around 70.1 lakhs in the state.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])

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With 299 new cases, Karnataka Covid tally crosses 3K

In total, 2.93 lakh samples have been tested so far, of which 2.86 lakh were negative.

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Bengaluru, May 31 : Karnataka’s Covid tally crossed 3,000-mark, a record jump of 299 infections in the past 24 hours, mostly constituting returnees from Maharashtra, raising the state’s tally to 3,221, an official said on Sunday.

“New cases reported from Saturday 5 p.m. to Sunday 5 p.m. are 299,” said a health official.

Continuing the trend of past several days, domestic returnees formed the lion’s share of new cases, accounting for 258 or 86 per cent of the cases.

Of the 258 returnees, 252 returned from Maharashtra alone, 98 per cent of the domestic returnees.

Returnees from other states are a miniscule — two from Delhi and one from Andhra Pradesh.

Unfortunately, three young healthcare workers working at an isolation ward in Davangere has also contracted the virus.

There were seven international passengers who got infected on Sunday, four from Doha, two from Malaysia and one from Indonesia.

Incidentally, cases with contact history rose to 34.

In the past 24 hours, cases spiked in Vijayapura, Bengaluru Urban, Raichur, Kalaburagi, Bidar, Mandya, Yadgir, Belagavi, Udupi, Davangere, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada.

Among the new cases, Bengaluru Urban contributed 21, followed by Yadgir (44), Kalaburagi (28), Mandya (13), Raichur (83), Udupi (10), Bidar (33), Belagavi (13), Davangere (6), Dakshina Kannada (14), Vijayapura (26), Uttara Kannda (5), Ballari, Shivamogga and Kolar (1 each).

Of the new cases, 168 are men and 131 women, including 33 children below 10.

On Sunday, two patients succumbed to the virus, a 50-year-old man from Raichur and a 75-year-old man from Bidar.

Across the state, 1,950 are active cases, 1,218 discharged, 51 deaths and 15 patients in ICU.

On Sunday, 221 patients got discharged.

In the past 24 hours, Karnataka has tested 13,358 persons, of which 12,841 tested negative.

In total, 2.93 lakh samples have been tested so far, of which 2.86 lakh were negative.

Top five places with active cases in the state include Yadgir (275), Raichur (214), Mandya (209), Kalaburagi (146) and Bidar (131).

Of the total, Bengaluru Urban has so far accounted for 10 deaths, followed by Kalaburagi (7), Dakshina Kannada (6) and Vijayapura and Bidar (5 each) among others.

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Global COVID-19 cases top 6 mn: Johns Hopkins University

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (33,340), Brazil (28,834), France (28,774) and Spain (27,125).

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Washington, May 31 : The total number of global coronavirus cases has topped the 6 million mark, while the deaths have surged to more than 369,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, the overall number of cases stood at 6,059,017, while the death toll increased to 369,106, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

Currently, the US has 1,770,165 confirmed cases and 103,776 deaths, both tallies account for the highest in the world, according to the CSSE.

Meanwhile in terms of cases, Brazil comes in the second place with 498,440 infections.

This was followed by Russia (396,575), the UK (274,219), Spain (239,228), Italy (232,664), France (188,752), Germany (183,189), India (181,827), Turkey (163,103), Peru (155,671) and Iran (148,950), the CSSE figures showed.

Regarding fatalities, the UK continues in the second position after the US with 38,458 COVID-19 deaths, which also accounts for the highest fatalities in Europe.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are Italy (33,340), Brazil (28,834), France (28,774) and Spain (27,125).

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