Argentina again teeters on default as the pandemic guts its economy.
Argentina is hurtling toward default on international loans in two weeks, a prospect that threatens to revive its reputation as a serial deadbeat and global financial pariah that could haunt the Latin American country long after the coronavirus pandemic is over.
If Argentina defaults, which as of Friday appeared likely, it would be the third time in two decades that the country has failed to meet loan payments after having amassed billions of dollars in foreign debt in a deepening spiral of economic dysfunction. Argentina would join Lebanon as the first defaulters in the financial tumult caused by the coronavirus.
Argentina’s 45 million people already were suffering through the third year of a serious downturn when the coronavirus scourge hit, accelerating the economic pain by forcing a lockdown that closed many businesses and left workers jobless.
That suddenly threw a wrench into the government’s plans to restructure $66 billion in debt owed to a range of mostly foreign creditors that include Wall Street investment banks and other private investors around the world. Some of that debt is a vestige of unpaid loans from Argentina’s default in 2001.
The country faces a $500 million interest payment May 22.
The center-left government, elected just seven months ago, says it cannot afford to meet obligations to international creditors while it is raising health care spending and providing emergency cash to Argentines already reeling from soaring inflation and rising poverty.
The illusionist team Siegfried & Roy dazzled Las Vegas crowds for 35 years, combining the glitz of sequined costumes with smoke-and-laser magic and the circus thrills of exotic animals. Under their spells, a white tiger turned into a beautiful woman, a six-ton elephant vanished, a tiger floated out over the audience and half of the duo, Roy Horn, turned himself into a python.
Mr. Horn died from complications of Covid-19 on Friday in Las Vegas, where he lived, according to his publicist. He was 75.
He and his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, had one of the most successful productions in Las Vegas history. It ended on Oct. 3, 2003, when Mr. Horn, on his 59th birthday, was mauled by a 400-pound white tiger who lunged at his throat and dragged him offstage before a stunned, sold-out crowd of 1,500 at MGM’s Mirage hotel-casino. His windpipe had been crushed and an artery carrying oxygen to his brain was damaged; he suffered a stroke and partial paralysis on his left side.
Mr. Horn began a long recovery. In 2004, he returned to his home in Las Vegas, and within months he was walking again with assistance. In February 2009, Siegfried & Roy made one final appearance with a tiger, a benefit performance in Las Vegas. They officially retired from show business in 2010.
A vote on a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a halt to all armed conflicts because of the coronavirus pandemic was blocked on Friday by the United States, apparently because it contained language indicating support for the World Health Organization.
President Trump has accused the W.H.O., an arm of the United Nations, of a bias toward China and a failure to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, which was first seen in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Mr. Trump suspended American funding of the W.H.O. last month, a significant financial blow to the organization. The suspension was widely criticized by public health advocates who see the W.H.O. as critical in overcoming the pandemic, which has infected nearly four million people and killed more than 274,000.
Diplomats said the Security Council resolution, which had undergone several revisions aimed partly at satisfying American objections, had nearly reached the stage where it could be put to a vote. But the United States delegation informed other council members in an email on Friday that it still could not support the measure.
Even though the resolution does not specifically mention the W.H.O., the diplomats said it expressed the need to support the “specialized health agencies” of the United Nations.
Tensions between China and the United States over the coronavirus have paralyzed any possible action to fight the pandemic by the Security Council, which is the most powerful body at the United Nations. Its resolutions have the force of international law.
Even though the cease-fire resolution would most likely have done little to halt armed conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya and other trouble spots, it was seen as an important expression of backing for Secretary General António Guterres, who has been calling for such a cease-fire since March.
Job losses have encompassed the entire economy, affecting every major industry. Areas like leisure and hospitality had the biggest losses in April, but even health care shed more than a million jobs. Low-wage workers, including many women and members of racial and ethnic minorities, have been hit especially hard.
“What would typically take months or quarters to play out in a recession happened in a matter of weeks this time,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America.
Hoping to stem some of the economic fallout, three mostly rural California counties allowed some businesses to resume in violation of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reopening guidelines. Mr. Newsom warned the counties that they risked forgoing disaster funding if they continued to flout his rules.
He also ordered ballots to be sent to the state’s 20.6 million voters for the November election, making California the first state to alter its voting plans for the general election in response to the pandemic. The decision shows that officials believe the outbreak is unlikely to subside by the fall.
In the new study, published in The Lancet, researchers at six public hospitals in Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong followed 127 adults with Covid-19, including 86 on the three-drug cocktail and 41 in a comparison group.
Their study was a preliminary Phase 2 trial, intended to see if a treatment works. (It does not determine whether the treatment is better than other options, but there are few other options for the coronavirus.)
The patients who were started on the cocktail within seven days of having their first symptoms stopped shedding the virus — meaning they were recovering and no longer infectious — earlier than patients in the comparison group, the researchers found.
The patients on the triple-drug combination also appeared to get better faster, and they had significantly shorter hospital stays than the comparison group, according to the study.
Included in the cocktail were three antiviral drugs: lopinavir-ritonavir (sold under the brand name Kaletra), taken orally; ribavirin, an antiviral drug used to treat hepatitis C, also taken orally; and interferon beta-1b, an injectable drug used to treat multiple sclerosis that regulates inflammation and suppresses viral growth.
Patients given the three-drug cocktail tested negative for the coronavirus within seven days, on average, compared with an average 12 days among those treated with the one drug. The cocktail also cut the duration of Covid-19 symptoms in half, to four days from eight days.
The South Korean soccer league was back underway on Friday, starting just days after the country’s baseball league began its season with international attention and an ESPN broadcast agreement.
The stadium was empty and silent, although crowd noise was pumped in on occasion. Players and coaches on the sidelines wore masks — Jeonbuk’s had team logos. Players bumped fists instead of shaking hands. Even excessive conversations on the field were discouraged. Spitting was also banned, just like in the Korea Baseball Organization.
The league had originally been scheduled to start on Feb. 29 and run through early October. Now it will be extended to Nov. 8. In preparation for the resumption, more than 1,000 players and officials were tested for the virus and cleared to participate. There will be three more games on Saturday and two Sunday, early morning U.S. time.
As soccer got underway in South Korea, the National Rugby League in Australia had a road bump. After a city told a team to stay away, players were fined for going camping in violation of social distancing rules and others tested positive for the virus, a new problem has emerged. At least three players refused to get mandatory flu shots in preparation for the league’s return on May 28.
The players were told by their team, the Gold Coast Titans, that they would not be able to rejoin the squad without the shots. One of them, Nathan Peats, then said he had changed his mind and would get a shot, noting that he was not anti-vaccination, but had been the victim of a bad reaction to a flu shot a few years ago.
Reporting was contributed by Rick Gladstone, Daniel Politi, Robert D. McFadden, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Victor Mather.