• International Monetary Fund predicts that this "crisis like no other" will plunge global GDP by 4.9% this year, and $12 trillion over the next two years
  • IMF says that 2nd wave could do even more damage to world economy than currently predicted
  • China will be only country to see growth, but it will only be by 1% this year

The United States on Thursday battled a resurgence of coronavirus cases in a number of states including Texas, while the World Health Organization warned that several European countries were also facing dangerous upticks.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic apologised for organising the Adria Tour tennis exhibition series Photo: AFP / Andrej ISAKOVIC

The reminder that the pandemic -- which has claimed more than 480,000 lives around the world -- is far from over came amid more grim news for the world's airlines.

Australia's Qantas announced it was cutting 6,000 staff and Germany's Lufthansa moved closer to a $10 billion state rescue when the plan was approved by the European Union.

IMF growth forecasts
IMF growth forecasts for 2019-2021 for world regions and selected countries. Photo: AFP / Gillian HANDYSIDE

In the United States, after hitting a two-month plateau, the rate of new cases is now soaring in the south and west, with the confirmed infection rate nearing levels last seen in April.

Texas was among the most aggressive states in reopening in early June after months of lockdowns.

IMF says virus has affected low income countries
The IMF said the coronavirus pandemic would particularly affect low-income countries and households. Photo: AFP / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE

Republican Governor Greg Abbott had been confident that Texas had escaped the worst of the US outbreak that has taken almost 122,000 lives, by far the highest toll in the world.

Infections could surge in Europe
A heatwave has hit much of Europe, with experts warning it could lead to a surge in infections. Photo: AFP / Ben STANSALL

But Abbott was forced Thursday to halt the state's phased reopening and moved to free up hospital beds.

"The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses," said Abbott, a close ally of President Donald Trump, who has faced stark criticism for his handling of the crisis.

No masks were worn during WWI commemoration
No masks were worn by participants -- and few by spectators -- at a huge parade in Moscow during World War II commemorations. Photo: AFP / Alexander NEMENOV

"This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread."

Twenty-nine states are now facing a rebound in cases.

France experiences heatwave
As France experiences an early summer heatwave, beach-goers bask in the sun at Cap Ferret. Photo: AFPTV / Camille CASSOU

Experts blame a patchwork of responses at the official level, the politicisation of face masks and physical distancing, and the widespread onset of "quarantine fatigue" among restless Americans.

COVID-19 testing centre in California
A driver drops off her coronavirus test at a COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles, California. Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

US health officials now believe based on antibody surveys that some 24 million people may be infected -- 10 times higher than the officially recorded figure of around 2.4 million.

They say the demographics of the outbreak are changing as younger people engage in more risky behaviour out of a desire to return to their pre-pandemic "normal."

Spread of coronavirus
World map showing official number of coronavirus deaths per country, as of April 20 at 1900 GMT. Photo: AFP / Simon MALFATTO
Mass testing for COVID-19 in Beijing
Mass testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus is held in Beijing. Photo: AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI

In search of that sense of normality, a few dozen tourists braved scorching heat in Paris to climb the Eiffel Tower's iron stairs as it reopened to tourists -- without the lifts, deemed too small for social distancing.

"I'm tearing up, but they're tears of joy," said Therese, 60, from the southwestern city of Perpignan.

Medical team of the Brazilian Armed Forces
The medical team of the Brazilian Armed Forces arrives at the Cruzeirinho village, near Palmeiras do Javari, Amazonas state, northern Brazil, to assist indigenous population amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: AFP / EVARISTO SA

Norway, which has some of the most severe travel restrictions still in force, said Thursday it would aim to relax the measures with Schengen and EU nations by mid-July.

And in Britain, some took the new relaxed regime too far, with thousands crowding the beach in the English coastal town of Bournemouth to soak up the sun.

The local council declared a major incident and said the beachgoers' behavior had been "just shocking."

The joyous reopening of tourist sites and beaches was nevertheless tempered by a new warning from the World Health Organization that Europe is not yet in the clear.

WHO regional director Hans Kluge warned that in 11 nations, "accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again in Europe."

Parts of Lisbon reinstated lockdown measures, following in the path of two western German districts.

However, Europe's current caseload compares favorably with that of the Americas, with the US and Brazil continuing to lead the world in confirmed cases and deaths.

Governments are still struggling to balance the public health needs of fighting a virus that has infected at least 9.5 million people with the devastating global economic impact.

The International Monetary Fund is the latest to quantify the economic harm -- predicting that global GDP will plunge by 4.9 percent this year and wipe out $12 trillion over two years.

And the problems suffered by Qantas and Lufthansa reveal the pain felt in the airline industry -- and more broadly, the tourism sector.

Governments have been desperately trying to keep firms from laying off staff -- Spain on Thursday extended its state-funded furlough scheme until the end of September, three months longer than it had planned.

The EU gave a boost to the prospects of antiviral remdesivir on Thursday by recommending it for use -- the first treatment to be given the green light in Europe.

But until a vaccine or treatment is found, experts have warned that restrictions on economic activity -- and spiralling death tolls -- could remain the norm.

Iran's death toll surpassed 10,000 on Thursday, with health officials recording more than 100 fatalities for the seventh consecutive day.

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