Coronavirus News Asia

European Union readies trillion-euro aid plan

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A one-trillion-euro recovery plan to get Europe back on its feet after the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic was set to be unveiled Wednesday, as badly hit Spain started 10 days of national mourning for its thousands of dead.

The massive European proposal follows other unprecedented emergency measures introduced around the world to rescue economies shattered by the disease, which has claimed more than 350,000 lives with infections rapidly approaching 5.6 million.

While the virus continues to cause havoc in Latin America, Europe has slowly started reopening businesses as outbreaks on the continent slow, but Italy and Spain – two of the hardest-hit countries – lack the firepower of richer European nations to rebuild their economies.

European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen will deliver a one-trillion-euro proposal to the European Parliament on Wednesday, aiming to help the worst-affected countries using a mix of grants and loans.

Click on the link at the top to see a live version of virus information. Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering produced this website, which displays statistics about deaths and confirmed cases of the coronavirus, or Covid-19. Image: Johns Hopkins

That is expected to kick off tough negotiations, as backers try to win the support of some northern EU states that are opposed to paying out aid in grants to nations already under mountains of debt – such as Italy and Spain.

The proposal comes as the continent – which has lost at least 172,000 people to Covid-19 – grapples with the human tragedy and economic destruction.

Spain on Wednesday will begin a 10-day official mourning for the more than 27,000 people who died of the disease in the country, with all flags on public buildings lowered to half-mast.

The Iberian nation and others hit particularly hard such as Italy, Germany, France and Britain have all started easing their lockdowns, as people head to shops, sunbathe at beaches and run in parks after months of confinement.

Russia, meanwhile, said it had passed its peak of infections, promising to hold postponed World War II victory celebrations next month.

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