France second wave “highly likely”; UK includes London lockdown as a contingency

CORONAVIRUS ALERT 08/04/2020

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In top stories today:

  • France faces the “highly likely” prospect of a second wave of infections in the fall or winter, while UK authorities include a London lockdown in their planning to deal with a new upsurge in cases. Australia plans to use big fines to punish those who flout measures to contain an outbreak in the state of Victoria.
  • A second wave of coronavirus is “highly likely” to affect France in the fall or winter, the country’s top scientific body warned, as officials try to contain an increase in cases in the past two weeks, Reuters reported. That comes after the head of the doctors’ union in Germany said the country was already contending with a second wave and was throwing away early success in controlling the virus by ignoring social distancing restrictions, the newswire added. “Poland reports record increases in COVID cases as coal mines hit” reads the headline to a separate Reuters article.
  • Florida, where the virus has surged in recent weeks, recorded fewer than five thousand new infections on August 3, the lowest daily tally since June, with seventy-three fatalities, the Financial Times reported. Other states in the south and west also continued to demonstrate a slowing pace of infections, encouraging signs that actions taken to stem the outbreak are starting to pay dividends, the newspaper said. US President Donald J. Trump urged vigilance in states with low numbers of cases, the Financial Times added.  
  • QUOTE: “It’s Florida, it’s Texas, it’s the Midwest, it’s California, ‘oh it’s back to New Jersey’ is on the rise, ‘oh it’s back to Massachusetts’ is on the rise,” Bloomberg cited New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as saying on August 3. “It will continue, this ricocheting across the country, because that’s what viruses do.” Weekend gatherings that ignored social distancing will lead to the virus spreading, Cuomo said.
  • “Coronavirus cases are climbing in Midwest states with previously low infections” runs a Washington Post headline. Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma are among those worst affected in the past week, the newspaper reported.
  • Mainland China and Hong Kong reported fewer infections on August 4 as measures to contain the spread of the virus seem to be taking effect, The Associated Press reported. Infections hit a record in the Philippines and they continued to rise in Tokyo, Bloomberg said.
  • The statistics say… Mainland China posted thirty-six new cases, from forty-three the previous day; Hong Kong’s seventy-eight cases mark the first time in almost two weeks the tally has fallen below one hundred, The Associated Press said.  
  • Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, plans to fine those flouting lockdown restrictions by as much as 20,000 Australian dollars and will deploy more military personnel to fight the spread of infections, Reuters also reported. Almost a third of those with COVID-19 were not isolating at home when officials checked, state Premier Daniel Andrews said on August 4, the newswire reported.
  • EVENT: Extreme heat threatens people across the globe—What can be done to stop this “silent killer”? Join us for this event on Tuesday, August 4 at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Details are here.

LONDON LOCKDOWN?

  • UK plans to contain further spikes in infections allow for ministers to lock down London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman James Slack said, as authorities prepare for a resurgence in cases in coming months, Bloomberg reported. That follows a Sunday Times article that said ministers could limit travel in and out of the M25 freeway that encircles the capital and ban overnight stays in the city if there’s a spike in infections, the newswire added.
  • QUOTE: “[A]s infections are flaring up from Spain to Australia, it’s worth noting that two of the hardest-hit countries at the pandemic’s peak—Italy and Sweden—are keeping the virus’s spread under control,” Lionel Laurent wrote on Bloomberg. “While Italy’s lockdown arguably saved lives, it came late. Sweden’s, meanwhile, never came at all.”
  • A team of World Health Organization scientists sent to China had “extensive discussions” with counterparts in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak was first detected, Reuters reported, citing a spokesman. That includes updates on research into animal health; China closed a wildlife market in Wuhan at the start of the outbreak after discovering that some patients were dealers or vendors there, the newswire added.
  • UK energy giant BP cut its dividend for the first time in a decade, capping one of the most dire quarters ever for oil companies, all of which posted losses and warned of worse to come as the pandemic continues to dent worldwide demand for fossil fuels, The Wall Street Journal reported. The payout to shareholders for the second quarter was cut by a half to 5.25 cents a share, the Financial Times said.
  • Democrat and Republican negotiators expressed cautious optimism following another day of talks about a new coronavirus relief package on August 3, as pressure increases to replace the federal six hundred dollar a week addition to unemployment benefits that expired on July 31, The Wall Street Journal reported. Progress is slow and multiple obstacles remain, including a roadblock on extending the weekly unemployment benefit, The Associated Press reported. “‘Long days, long nights’: Washington prepares for a prolonged fight over virus relief” reads a New York Times headline.

LONG SHADOW

  • A worldwide resurgence in coronavirus cases will weigh on businesses and consumers for some time, European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane said in a blog on the lender’s website, Bloomberg reported. Lane also cautioned against reading too much into the euro area’s second quarter performance, which was less bad than expected, as the quarter through September also needs to be considered, the newswire added.
  • QUOTE: “These factors help to explain why the economy is expected to take a significant amount of time to recover fully from the pandemic shock, and why significant fiscal and monetary policy support is necessary,” Lane said, Bloomberg reported.
  • Sony, the Japanese electronics and entertainment company, posted a 53 percent increase in quarterly profit to $2.2 billion through June driven by demand at its video gaming and online businesses as people stayed home during coronavirus lockdowns, The Associated Press reported. But consumer demand for electronic products plunged and Sony said its movies business will probably suffer for two or three years as social distancing hits new projects and limits movie-theater attendance.
  • More than one billion students in 160 countries have been affected by closures during the pandemic, and getting them back to school should be a “top priority” once the virus is under control, the United Nations (UN) said, the BBC reported. Even before the coronavirus crisis, 250 million children did not attend school, the broadcaster cited Reuters as saying.
  • QUOTE: “Now we face a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the BBC reported.
  • US colleges and universities have put together large teams to plan how best to organize quarantine and contact tracing in the event of a coronavirus outbreak, including setting so-called hard triggers for a possible shutdown of dining halls and classrooms, The Wall Street Journal reported. That means considering factors such as the death of students or staff, rising infection rates, and full ICU facilities, all with the aim of avoiding the chaos that typified closures in March, the Journal said.
  • The United Kingdom faces a second wave of coronavirus infections this winter twice as severe as the first outbreak if it reopens schools without a better test-and-trace system in place, Reuters said, citing University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. That can be avoided if 75 percent of those with symptoms are found and tested and 68 percent of their contacts are traced, or if 87 percent of people with symptoms are found and 40 percent of their contacts tested, concluded the study, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health on August 4, Reuters said.
  • READ MORE: Leaders from the Western Balkans Six met on July 29 to agree on bold, practical actions to help the region emerge stronger together from the impact of COVID-19 with greater regional economic development opportunities. Read the Chair’s conclusions from the summit.

MINORITY CONCERNS

  • The US government has increased efforts to persuade members of minority communities to take part in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines amid concerns that their historical mistrust of public health officials will limit volunteer numbers, the Financial Times reported. For instance, the infamous Tuskegee study that started in 1932 failed to give adequate treatment to black men suffering from syphilis even after penicillin was introduced as a cure in the 1940s, the newspaper said.
  • Some forty-three passengers who traveled on one of Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten’s ships have tested positive for COVID-19, The Associated Press reported. The owner of the Roald Amundsen ship canceled all trips on August 3 and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks, the news service said.
  • EasyJet accelerated the addition of new flight services after passenger demand picked up more quickly than the airline expected following the easing of lockdowns, Bloomberg reported. The airline said on August 4 that its airplanes flew 84 percent full in July, the newswire added.  

RESOURCES:

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