WHO Warns Two Million Virus Deaths Possible As Europe Clamps Down

The World Health Organization warned Friday that coronavirus deaths could more than double to two million if infection-fighting measures are not kept up, as European countries tightened the screws faced with mounting cases.

Global deaths had reached 985,707 according to an AFP tally around 1800 GMT Friday, from more than 32.3 million cases.

“One million is a terrible number and we need to reflect on that before we start considering a second million,” the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told reporters when asked how much higher deaths could mount.

But he added: “Are we prepared collectively to do what it takes to avoid that number?

British pubs and bars were to start closing early after the government imposed new virus curbs
 AFP / Tolga AKMEN

“If we don’t take those actions… yes, we will be looking at that number and sadly much higher.”

The WHO warning came as Spanish officials expanded a lockdown in and around Madrid on Friday to cover one million people.

Madrid’s health authority said new rules largely banning tens of thousands from leaving their districts — in addition to the 850,000 already living under similar restrictions — would be enforced from Monday.

Graphic highlighting the countries with the largest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths September 18-24.

Graphic highlighting the countries

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RBI scraps Rs 10,000-crore OMO, plans to conduct Operation Twist

The (RBI) on Thursday refused to go ahead with its planned bond purchase from the secondary market, even as it received more than six times the bid for its Rs 10,000-crore open market operation (OMO).

Instead, the central bank announced a special OMO of Rs 10,000 crore, to be conducted on October 1, where it would simultaneously buy and sell bonds to keep system liquidity intact. In such special OMOs, the RBI buys long-term papers and sells short-term securities, an exercise also called ‘Operation Twist’ in market parlance.

Thursday’s exercise was, however, an outright purchase OMO, where the central bank received bids of Rs 66,473 crore. This was the first outright OMO purchase planned in this financial year. The last outright OMO purchase was done on March 26 when the central bank bought Rs 15,000 crore.

Since then, the favoured mode of yield management has been special OMOs where more often than not the central bank bought more than it sold.

Bond market participants were disappointed because the central bank in the past has refused to sell 10-year bonds at rates the market

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Massive fire at ONGC’s Hazira gas plant in Gujarat hits gas output

Three consecutive blasts led to a massive fire at Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC’s) Hazira gas plant in Gujarat on Thursday morning. Unless operations are restarted soon, this is likely to impact the overall natural gas production in the country as Hazira contributes around 45 per cent to ONGC’s gas production. According to industry sources, the fire, which was caused by a pipeline rupture, disrupted supply to key sectors such as power and fertiliser. The company said it was investigating the cause of the fire.

“Of the 45 million metric standard cubic meter per day (MMS­CMD) of gas coming from the western offshore region, around 32 M­M­SCMD is processed at Hazira. The plant is temporarily shut for safety reasons,” said a company official.

GAIL said about 30 MMSCMD of natural gas supplies into GAIL’s north-western pipeline network was immediately shut by the upstream major to contain any further damage. The total natural gas production by was around 70 MMSCMD in FY19. The major consumers of the western offshore production are from states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

In the force majeure event triggered by

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Record Infections In France As Restrictions Spark Outcry

France reported a new record for daily coronavirus infections on Thursday a day after the government announced new restrictions on bars and restaurants in major cities which have provoked an outcry from local politicians and business owners.

Figures from Public Health France showed that 16,096 people had tested positive for Covid-19 over the last 24 hours, a record — even though experts advise that testing during the first coronavirus wave in March-April captured only a fraction of cases.

The centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of new measures on Wednesday to try to slow the spread of the disease, including the closure of all bars and restaurants in Marseille and earlier closing times in Paris and elsewhere.

Faced with criticism from the mayors of Paris and Marseille, legal challenges and calls from some bar owners to defy the new orders, Prime Minister Jean Castex called for “responsibility” and implied his opponents were playing politics.

“What I don’t want is that we go back to March,” he said, referring to one of the strictest national lockdowns in Europe in which French people were required to fill out forms to leave their homes.

The southern port city of Marseille

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