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Trump, Sanders take solid leads in first primary contests

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Just ten days before the first critical nominating contests, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has taken a commanding lead in Iowa while Bernie Sanders has overtaken Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race.

Real estate mogul Trump led Texas Senator Ted Cruz 37 percent to 26 percent in a new CNN/ORC poll Thursday in Iowa, where both parties hold their cacuses on February 1. Florida Senator Marco Rubio in third place at 14 percent was the only other Republican in double digits.

Self styled Democratic Socialist Sanders, meanwhile, opened up an eight-point lead over former Secretary of State Clinton, leading her in Iowa 51 percent to 43 percent among likely Democratic presidential caucus-goers.

In December, Clinton led Sanders in Iowa by 18 points in CNN/ORC’s polling, 54 percent to 36 percent.

As Sanders shot into the lead Clinton sought to turn his “establishment” attack right back on him-saying he served in Washington much longer than she did.

In a CNN interview, she also attacked his experience and fitness to lead the country, criticising his call during the last Democratic debate to “move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran.”

Earlier at a rally in Indianola, Iowa, Clinton repeatedly referenced Sanders by name and questioned whether his ideas could ever become reality.

“I am not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world,” Clinton said. “I care about making a real difference in your life and that gets to the choice you have to make in this caucus.”

Sanders, on his part, told Time magazine that in national polls “we are defeating Donald Trump, the Republican’s leading candidate, by far more than Hillary Clinton is.”

“So if the question is, can a Bernie Sanders and what he stands for, and the fight for economic and social justice carry over to the general election and millions of working people? I think the evidence is that it can,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, Trump ripped Cruz as a strident and unlikeable figure lacking the skills to negotiate and lead on behalf of the US.

“He had his moment and he blew it,” Trump said at an event in a casino in Las Vegas Thursday after a reading a series of polls showing him surging in states around the country.

“He looks like a nervous wreck,” he added. “He’s going down.” Trump also trashed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as a “lost soul” and “a maniac.”

“We’ve got a bunch of real dummies, I tell ya,” he said adding, “Jeb is down the toilet and Ted is starting to go down.”

He assured the crowd that if Bush halted his attacks on Trump, he would leave him alone.

Disaster

UK PM still showing COVID-19 symptoms: Downing Street

Meanwhile, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, is also continuing to self-isolate and has not given an update on his condition, Metro newspaper reported.

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Boris Johnson

London, April 3 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was still showing symptoms of coronavirus the day before his seven-day quarantine period was supposed to end, Downing Street has confirmed.

The Prime Minister set aside a week to self-isolate on march 27 in accordance with public health advice and has been leading the government via video conference from hs residence at 10, Downing Street, reports the London-based Metro newspaper.

Asked at a media briefing whether Johnson planned to leave on Friday, a spokesperson said: “We’re following the guidelines from Public Health England (PHE) and from the chief medical officer which state that you need to self-isolate for a period of seven days, so no change in that.”/

The spokesperson described Johnson’s symptoms as “mild”.

Meanwhile, the government’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, is also continuing to self-isolate and has not given an update on his condition, Metro newspaper reported.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock left quarantine on Thursday after seven days and gave a press conference setting out a five-point plan to ramp up testing to 100,000 a day.

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UN: Mass spread of COVID-19 in Global South will impact the world

UN officials say every resource must be mobilised to prevent a ‘wildfire’ of cases in fragile states and refugee camps.

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Antonio Guterres

Coronavirus has upended lives and workplaces around the world, with more than a third of the globe under lockdown.

At the United Nations headquarters in New York, where about 10,000 people usually work, a skeleton staff of a few hundred are on site, ensuring the world body’s vital operations continue – such as peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads fast, the UN is critically concerned about those most vulnerable, especially refugees and people trapped in conflict situations.

The UN has launched a $2bn global humanitarian appeal to assist fragile states and those most vulnerable.

It says prevention and suppression of the virus must be a priority for leaders of all countries.

Leading UN officials have also called for all conflicts to cease and warring parties to focus their efforts on tackling the coronavirus.

To discuss the global efforts against COVID-19 and the risks facing the world’s most vulnerable populations, Talk to Al Jazeera speaks to Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general; Mark Lowcock, the under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs; and Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

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Disaster

Coronavirus pandemic to render 18.5mn jobless in Pak

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pakistan coronavirus

Islamabad, April 3 : The Pakistan government has estimated that 12.3 million to 18.5 million people in the country will lose their jobs and the economy will sustain massive losses in just three months due to “moderate to severe shocks from the coronavirus outbreak”, it was reported on Friday.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Planning in a meeting discussed the preliminary estimates, which are based on information received from various government entities and initial research conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, reports The Express Tribune.

Initial estimates have showed that in case of limited restrictions, about 1.4 million jobs will be lost, which are equal to 2.2 per cent of Pakistan’s employed workforce.

In a moderate scenario where private offices and most shops are closed, but essential shops were open, the government has estimated that 12.3 million people would become jobless.

“On employment, we can assess that under moderate restrictions employment loss could be up to 12 million, around 20 per cent of the employed labour force,” Jahanzeb Khan, the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission told The Express Tribune.

In case of a complete shutdown, the government has assessed that 18.53 million people or 30 per cent of the labour force will be unemployed.

In monetary terms, the loss of wages will translate into 561 billion Pakistani rupees for three months alone.

The Ministry also assessed losses at 1.2 trillion Pakistani rupees in a limited lockdown scenario, 1.96 trillion in moderate and 2.5 trillion in case of complete restrictions on movement, which symbolises a curfew-like situation.

“It is widely believed that the impact of the virus and severity of lockdowns on the overall economy may have a severe impact on the economic performance parameters,” Khan added.

The government also expected a sharp slowdown in trade activities.

“On the trade side, there is an expected sharp slowdown in imports from 35 per cent up to 60 per cent, depending upon the severity of the crisis,” Khan told The Express Tribune.

Pakistan has so far reported 2,441 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 35 deaths.

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