Experts warn COVID-19 could trigger the deepest global recession in generations

PARIS: The coronavirus pandemic is battering the world´s major economies and could trigger the deepest global recession in generations, experts warned Wednesday, as rising death tolls in Europe and the US dampened hopes for a quick turnaround.

While the Chinese city where the virus was born has been released from its nearly 11-week lockdown, much of the West remains in the throes of a crisis that has killed more than 80,000 people worldwide.

The hardest-hit countries, among them Italy, Spain, France and the US, are wrestling with how to balance public safety with the devastating impact of lockdowns that have shuttered whole sectors of the economy and erased millions of jobs in a matter of weeks.

The economic forecasts are dire.

The fallout “may well be the deepest economic recession or downturn of our lifetimes”, warned the chief the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo.

Global trade growth could fall by up to a third this year, the WTO said.

France has already recorded its worst economic performance since 1945 during the first quarter, shrinking some six percent.Germany’s economy, the biggest in Europe, is also expected to fall into a “serious recession” and contract by nearly 10 percent in the second quarter, leading researchers warned.

Yet health experts stressed it is too early to loosen restrictions.

They say premature moves could accelerate the spread of a disease that has already infiltrated every layer of society, from refugees to royals to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was reported to be “stable” during his third day in intensive care.

“Now is not the time to relax measures. It is the time to once again double and triple our collective efforts to drive towards suppression with the whole support of society,” said the World Health Organization’s Europe director Hans Kluge.

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