WHO warns Rishi Sunak of vicious cycle of economic and health disasters

Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, has issued a stark message to world leaders that lifting restrictions prematurely risks a “vicious cycle” of economic and health problems. At a press conference in Geneva, Dr Ryan also insisted it is a “false equation” to choose between finances and people’s lives.

He said: “This is what we all fear, is a vicious cycle of public health disaster followed by economic disaster followed by public health disaster followed by economic disaster.

“If you reopen in the presence of a high degree of virus transmission, then that transmission may accelerate.”

Britain has the second highest coronavirus death rate in the world with more than 33,000 fatalities and the UK economy is on the brink of a recession.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has partially eased some of the UK’s lockdown measures but has not gone as far as some other major European nations.

From Wednesday the Government has advised millions of Britons to go back to work if they cannot do their jobs from home, but insisted they should avoid using public transport, and abide by social distancing measures.

In addition, two people from different households can now meet outdoors, as long as they keep their distance, and people can also undertake unlimited exercise.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has today warned Government borrowing could hit £298.4 billion by the end of the year.

The fiscal watchdog said this was an increase of £25.5bn on the £272.9bn public sector net borrowing predicted last month.

The OBR also forecast all policy interventions to tackle coronavirus could rise to £123 billion in 2020-21.

Figures for the first financial quarter of the year released on Wednesday revealed the UK economy shrank by two percent in the first three months of 2020.

The UK only began the lockdown in the middle of March and the figures revealed the UK’s GDP fell by 5.8 percent in that month – the biggest monthly fall on record.

The OBR has since predicted GDP will fall by as much as 35 percent in the second financial quarter from April to June.

Following the release on the damning numbers, Mr Sunak conceded it is “very likely” that the UK will face a “significant recession”.

He said: “A recession is defined technically as two quarters of decline in GDP.

“We’ve seen one here with only a few days of impact from the virus, so it is now very likely that the UK economy will face a significant recession this year and we are in the middle of that as we speak.”

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Earlier this week the Chancellor announced a four month extension to the multi-billion pound furlough scheme until October.

Around a quarter of the British workforce – 7.5 million people – are being paid 80 percent of their wages up to £2,500 per month by the Taxpayer.

The OBR has also warned despite the huge success of the job retention scheme unemployment is expected to reach 10 percent by next month.

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