Roman-Catholic and Protestant Christians celebrate Easter, while the Orthodox celebrate Palm Sunday amid coronavirus lockdown.
Easter. Roman-Catholic and Protestant Christians are celebrating Easter. Because of the coronavirus lockdown, services are held in empty churches behind closed doows and broadcast on the radio, on TV and online. All over the world, all services in the run up to Easter were held without public around the world. In his Easter message, pope Francis spoke about the situation generated
by the coronavirus pandemic, saying that for many, "this is an Easter of
solitude". He said his thoughts go out to those who are sick with coronavirus,
their families and those who died. Today, Orthodox and Greek Catholic Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, which symbolises Christ's triumphal entry in Jerusalem. In Romania, willow twigs are blessed in the church by the priests wearing face masks and gloves, and distributed among the faithful. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week, which commemorates the most dramatic moments from the life of Christ. Orthodox churches are also closed to the public to comply with the restrictions in place, but the services are broadcast live by the media.
Toll. Another 15 people infected with coronavirus have died in Romania, where the
death toll now stands at 306. 6,300 have caught the virus and 852 have
recovered. 696 infections and 44 deaths were reported among Romanian living
abroad. The outbreak is expected to peak over the coming period after a record
500 new cases were reported on Saturday. The authorities emphasise that
restrictions and social distancing norms must be respected now more than ever.
World. The coronavirus pandemic is expected to dominate the agenda of Germany's EU presidency in second half of the year, the German foreign minister Heiko Maas told the daily Die Welt, quoted by Reuters. Maas criticised the US for being too slow and China as authoritarian. The pandemic has now spread to 214 countries and territories. On Saturday, the death toll in the United States rose to 18,860, overtaking Italy. The US has the highest number of infections and on Friday became the first country in the world to pass 2,000 deaths in a single day. New York has seen more than 700 deaths every day for five days in a row. All 50 US states are under a disaster declaration simultaneously, with Wyoming being the final state to get one. This allows local states and governments to use emergency federal funds.
Repatriation. The Romanian ministry of foreign affairs said it facilitated the repatriation of 117 Romanian citizens from France, Belgium and The Netherlands on Saturday. They were in these countries temporarily as tourists in transit, students, sailors, persons in special situations and with medical emergencies, as well as seasonal workers whose contracts were terminated and who did not have the resources to finance their continued stay. The ministry has again called on the population to avoid all non-essential foreign travel to prevent the spread of the virus and has advised Romanian citizens residing abroad to avoid travelling to Romania for the time being.
Recession. 68 countries are expected to go into recession this year for the first time since 2009, corporate insolvencies to increase by 25%, and world trade to drop by 4.3%, according to a Coface barometer. The report also forecasts that the credit risk of companies will rise sharply even if economic activity restarts gradually in the third quarter. This trend would affect the US and all major west European economies, such as Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain, but the shock could be even more violent in the emerging economies, which, apart from the pandemic, are also faced with the fall in oil prices. Coface works in credit insurance, risk management and global economy.