What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

A staggering 16.8 million Americans have been thrown onto the unemployment rolls in just three weeks, underscoring the terrifying speed with which the coronavirus outbreak has brought world economies to a near standstill.

Meanwhile, a spike in deaths in Britain and New York and surges of reported new infections in Japan and India’s congested cities make it clear that the struggle is far from over.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care, where he was treated for three days with COVID-19, his office said Thursday.

Here are some of AP’s top stories Thursday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Follow APNews.com/VirusOutbreak for updates through the day and APNews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak for stories explaining some of its complexities.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:

— The coronavirus pandemic will push the global economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression, with the world’s poorest countries suffering the most, the head of the International Monetary Fund said Thursday.

— About a half billion people could be pushed into poverty as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic unless richer countries take “urgent action” to help developing nations, a leading aid organization warned Thursday. Oxfam has urged richer countries to step up their efforts to help the developing world or risk setting back the fight against poverty by a decade and by as much as 30 years in some areas, including Africa and the Middle East.

— African officials objected Thursday to the global jostling to obtain medical equipment to combat the coronavirus, warning that if COVID-19 is left to spread on the continent the world will remain at risk. Equipment in Africa is scarce. The World Health Organization says fewer than 5,000 intensive care unit beds are available across 43 of the continent’s 54 countries.

— The U.S. Strategic National Stockpile’s supply of N95 respirators, surgical masks, face shields, gowns and other essential items desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients is nearly depleted. Documents show that about 90% of all the personal protective equipment in the stockpile has been distributed to state and local governments, with the remaining 10% held back for federal workers.

— The number of Americans getting on airplanes has sunk to a level not seen in more than 60 years as people shelter in their homes to avoid catching or spreading the new coronavirus. One analyst estimated that air travel demand won’t return to pre-outbreak levels until the middle of next year under the best outcome, and it’s likely to be later.

— At the holiest time of year for Christians, churches are wrestling with how to hold services amid the coronavirus outbreak, and in some cases, that has set up showdowns with local governments over restrictions that forbid large gatherings.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Here are the symptoms of the virus compared with the common flu.

One of the best ways to prevent spread of the virus is washing your hands with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first washing with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails before rinsing off.

You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how.

TRACKING THE VIRUS: Drill down and zoom in at the individual county level, and you can access numbers that will show you the situation where you are, and where loved ones or people you’re worried about live.

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ONE NUMBER:

— 6.6 MILLION: With a startling 6.6 million people seeking jobless benefits last week, the United States has reached a grim landmark: Roughly one in 10 workers have lost jobs in just the past three weeks.

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IN OTHER NEWS:

— SERIOUS ABOUT SAFETY: Nova Knight is 5 and very serious about keeping others safe during the coronavirus outbreak. The Fairbanks, Alaska, resident has made a video that’s been viewed more than 18,000 times and drawn the praise of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

— YESTERDAY’S SKILLS: Millions of people who are trying to stay home are being driven by necessity — or boredom — to relearn some old household skills. That means things like mending clothes, cutting hair, baking bread and fixing a dripping faucet.

— WIPED OUT: Finding toilet paper in a global pandemic is a struggle. That’s because it’s part of a very tight supply chain.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Categories: National & International News