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Thursday April 15th, 2021 7:49AM

The Latest: IMF OKs $4.3B emergency loan to South Africa

By The Associated Press
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JOHANNESBURG — The International Monetary Fund has approved a $4.3 billion emergency loan to South Africa as it reels under the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has the world’s fifth largest virus caseload, and confirmed cases are approaching half a million.

The fact that Africa’s most developed country for the first time approached the IMF for a loan is the latest sign of pain. Unemployment is above 30% and rising, and major state-owned enterprises were already in poor shape.

The IMF says South Africa is seeing a “sharp economic contraction,” though authorities responded swiftly to this latest crisis. The government weeks ago announced a historic $26 billion economic relief package.

Other African nations are watching how the country of 57 million responds to the pandemic as cases begin to climb in many parts of the continent.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Virus-linked hunger tied to 10,000 child deaths each month

— Unemployment assistance, eviction protections and other virus relief at stake as Washington negotiates aid package

— Virus exacts a heavy toll in the NYC neighborhood of Corona

— Chinese CDC head gets injection of experimental vaccine to persuade the public to follow suit when one is approved

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MADRID -- An economic downturn in Spain amid the coronavirus pandemic wiped out more than 1 million jobs in the second quarter of this year.

The country’s official statistics agency, INE, said Tuesday 1.07 million fewer people were in work compared with the first quarter. The number does not include furloughed workers.

The biggest job losses were in the service sector, the INE said. The worst-hit areas were Catalonia, Andalusia and Madrid, with all age groups affected amid a strict lockdown.

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa is closing in on a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases as the country posted nearly 300 deaths in a single day.

South Africa now has 452,529 cases and 7,067 deaths, making up more than half the reported cases on the African continent. It has the fifth highest caseload in the world.

Like many others, the country has struggled with trying to ease lockdown restrictions and then seeing cases rise. But businesses have expressed frustration as unemployment is now above 30% and likely to keep increasing.

And corruption related to pandemic aid is a problem as the president has warned that now, more than ever, persistent graft puts people’s lives at risk.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s daily COVID-19 infections has dropped below 1,000 for the first time in three months.

The country on Tuesday counted 936 new cases reported in the last 24 hours throughout the country of 220 million people

Dr. Zafar Mirza, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, tweeted praise for Khan urging Pakistanis to wear masks as the "most effective practice to reduce the transmission of the disease.”

Khan on national television Monday demonstrated the proper use of masks and explaining that shutdowns will result if the disease spikes again. Medical professionals and Khan’s political opponents have criticized him for reopening the economy. He has said a total shutdown would hurt the poorest and instead pursued what he called “smart” lockdowns narrowly targeted at the hot spots of infection.

Still Mirza warned there was no room for complacency particularly as Pakistan readies to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha at the end of the month.

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HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam has locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after 15 cases of COVID-19 were found in a hospital.

Public transport into and out of the central city of Da Nang was cancelled. Over the weekend, thousands of mostly Vietnamese tourists had to end their summer holidays in the popular beach destination.

Authorities estimated several thousand people would be stranded by the transportation shutdown and asked hotels to shelter them.

The government on Sunday had ordered social distancing and closing nonessential businesses in the city of 1.1 million population.

The outbreak was detected in patients and health workers at Da Nang hospital.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s coronavirus hot spot Victoria state is restricting non-urgent surgeries so that hospital nurses can be transferred to aged care homes where most COVID-19 deaths are occurring, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Victoria reported 384 new infections and six deaths on Tuesday, down from a record 532 cases on Monday.

Andrews said aged care residents would be moved to hospitals if they were not being adequately protected from the pandemic.

“Some of the stories we’ve heard, some of what’s gone on in some of these settings is simply not acceptable,” Andrews said, without elaborating.

“Where there is no confidence in infection control, where there is no confidence that care can be provided to a suitable standard, then we will do everything we can to move those residents out,” he added.

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BEIJING — New coronavirus cases continue to rise in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, with 57 reported on Tuesday.

The capital Beijing also reported its first case of domestic transmission in more than two weeks, while the northeastern province of Liaoning added another six cases in its local outbreak. Another four cases were found among Chinese travelers arriving from outside the country, bringing the daily total over the past 24 hours to 68.

Despite the new clusters, China appears to have largely contained the virus and the death toll remains at 4,634 among 83,959 cases. Hospitals are treating 391 people for COVID-19, with another 307 being monitored in isolation for showing signs of infection or for having tested positive for the virus without displaying symptoms.

Xinjiang’s outbreak has centered on the region’s capital and largest city of Urumqi, where authorities have restricted public transport, isolated some communities and ordered testing among those considered at risk of infection.

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