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The outlook for global economic growth has improved since June because of the significant coronavirus relief efforts from governments around the world, according to a new report released on Wednesday.

Global gross domestic product is projected to fall by 4.5% this year, before picking up to 5% in 2021, according to a report by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

That projection is an improvement over the June forecast for a 7.6% contraction of the global economy if a second wave of the virus triggered shutdowns and a 6% slump if the second wave was avoided.

The organization attributed the difference to better-than-expected outcomes for China and the United States and responses by governments "on a massive scale."

“The world is facing an acute health crisis and the most dramatic economic slowdown since the Second World War," said Laurence Boone, the OECD's chief economist. "The end is not yet in sight, but there is still much policymakers can do to help build confidence.”

Despite the positive projections, the OECD's latest projections showed that output at the end of 2021, in many countries, will still be below the levels at the end of 2019 and well off the pre-pandemic trend.

The report also added that a strong surge in the virus or harsher lockdowns could cut 2 to 3 percentage points from global growth in 2021, along with even higher unemployment and an extended period of low investment.

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Standoff over Madrids response to virus pandemic continues

MADRID (AP) — After ending a meeting with Madrid regional officials without agreeing on how to tackle a worrying wave of coronavirus infections, Spain’s health minister has pleaded for the third time in four days for tougher measures in the capital.

The national government wants to see existing restrictions against the spread of the virus extended to the entire city while regional officials say that time is needed to see if the current limitations have an effect and that drastic measures would further hurt Spain’s economy.

The disagreement has played out publicly, raising concern among many in Madrid and the rest of Spain.

On Monday, Health Minister Salvador Illa said that data shows that the Madrid region, home to 6.6 million, “has community transmission and the pandemic is not under control.”

“It’s already too late and we need to act with determination,” he told a news conference.

Official data showed Monday that the country’s coronavirus tally has reached 748,266 infections since the onset of the pandemic, 31,785 more since the last update on Friday. There were 179 new fatalities for COVID-19, bringing the total death toll to 31,411, although experts think that the many more deaths haven’t been recorded because of limited testing.

With 290 cases per 100,000 people in two weeks, Spain is by far leading Europe’s infections during this second wave. The rate is particularly high in the capital, Madrid, with 775 new cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days.

While primary care workers complain that they are overwhelmed by the number of people approaching health centers with suspected COVID-19, many hospitals in Madrid have already stopped certain surgeries and some non-essential treatment. Existing ICU wards are already being expanded with new beds, as they were in March during the first wave of the pandemic.

Madrid has limited all social gatherings to a maximum of six people, reduced the numbers of people who can go into shops and restaurants, and restricted access to and from 45 neighborhoods in the region.

The regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has rejected a full lockdown, arguing that the closure of the city is “the easy way” out against the outbreaks.

“Completely confining Madrid was easy during the first stage of the pandemic, but we are still seeing the consequences. We are going bankrupt,” she told Antena 3 television Sunday. “I don’t know how many companies continue to lose jobs and opportunities every single day and therefore we have to apply creative formulas.”

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