Travel evaporates; streaming makes isolation life bearable


The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Thursday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.


GLOBAL SHOCK: There is no place on earth inhabited by humans that is not being hit by the of the pandemic. The U.S. rolled out a to stabilize the economy Thursday.

— Oxfam is warning half a billion people in the developing world could be pushed into poverty. In the run-up to three key international economic meetings next week, the anti-poverty group is urging developed countries to intensify relief efforts. In a report based on research at King’s College London and the Australian National University, Oxfam is calling for the immediate cancellation of $1 trillion in debt payments due from developing countries this year.

— Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to fall into a recession for the first time in a quarter-century, according to the World Bank. A new report from the bank projects growth across the nearly 50-country region to fall this year from 2.4%, to at best minus 2.1% , but that could hit negative 5%. Countries that depend heavily on oil production and mining will be hit especially hard. And the largest economies — South Africa, Nigeria and Angola — which already were sluggish, will see even more pain.

— South Korea’s top central banker says he expects slow but positive economic growth for the trade-dependent country this year despite worldwide shocks wrought by the coronavirus. Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol’s assessment on Thursday came after the bank held its policy rate at 0.75% despite calls for lower borrowing costs.

THIN AIR: There has never been a more severe disruption to travel, particularly . The devastation in the travel industry has continues to ripple outward daily.

— The number of passengers carried by French-Dutch airline group Air France-KLM plunged by 57% in March compared with the same month a year ago. The group anticipates the suspension of more than 90% of its planned capacity in April and May due to travel restrictions, it said Thursday.

— Portugal halted commercial flights at all five of its five international airports. New restrictions were activated Thursday that would prevent travel or prevent more than five people gathering in one place, essentially a prohibition on travel with other people.

SUPPLY DEMANDED: The need for protective equipment and other medical gear has prompted a broad response from companies to .

— More than 100 companies have submitted legitimate responses to the German government’s calls for protective medical equipment, the country's health minister said. Germany wants to reduce its dependence on Asian manufacturers because surging demand has made supply scarce. The government plans to award contracts for companies to supply it with protective equipment from mid-August at the latest through the end of 2021.

PANDEMIC AND CHILL: Isolation during the outbreak has created a number of shared experiences. Streaming entertainment is one of them. Revisiting old favorites or exploring new genres, there are millions of people Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Disney.

— After launching just five months ago, Disney says it's surpassed 50 million paid subscribers worldwide. The entertainment juggernaut has expanded aggressively during the outbreak, launching streaming services in Italy, the U.K. and Germany over the past two weeks.