Global deaths reach 700,000 as Vietnam battles infection rise and Melbourne hunkers down


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The global coronavirus death toll now exceeds 700,000, with an estimate death every fifteen seconds. Infections spread in Vietnam, while the Australian city of Melbourne embarks on the toughest lockdown yet. But even in a pandemic people can’t forgo those little luxuries to keep them going—from coffee to bubble tea or burritos—Bloomberg says.

In top stories today:  


  • The state of Victoria in Australia, which includes the city of Melbourne, reported a record number of new cases and deaths on August 5—725 and fifteen respectively—CNBC said, citing local media. The usually vibrant streets of Melbourne were emptying out as Australia’s toughest ever coronavirus restrictions were coming into force: a ban on non-essential business will put 250,000 people out of work from August 8, The Associated Press said.
  • “What Lockdown 2.0 Looks Like: Harsher Rules, Deeper Confusion” runs a New York Times headline. Melbourne’s experience offers a preview of what many other city residents could face in the weeks and months ahead, the Times said. Hefty fines for flouting restrictions, combined with exceptions for everything from romantic partners to home building has meant countless versions of the question, “So wait, can I…?” the newspaper reported.
  • The statistics say… The United States averaged in excess of 1,000 deaths from coronavirus for the ninth day in a row on August 4, The Washington Post reported. Almost 5,900 people worldwide are dying every twenty-four hours on average, equating to 247 people per hour, or one every fifteen seconds, Reuters said, citing its own calculations based on data from the past two weeks.
  • “Chasm grows between Trump and government coronavirus experts” reads an Associated Press headline. The result, according to the news service, is the public getting mixed messages on a daily basis just when clarity and coherence is most needed.
  • Vietnam’s coronavirus task force declared the outbreak in the central city of Danang as under control but infections have now spread to at least ten cities and provinces after Vietnam went three months without new cases, Reuters reported. Urban centers including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have shut entertainment venues, restricted gatherings, and tested tens of thousands of people since the new outbreak was reported in the tourist city of Danang on July 25, the newswire said.
  • Meanwhile the Czech Republic recorded its largest daily increase in new cases since the end of June, Reuters reported. Nearly a quarter of those 290 infections were in the eastern region of Moravia-Silesia, which borders Poland, where many cases have emerged recently among miners and their families, the newswire said.
  • The White House and Democrat negotiators agreed to try to reach an agreement on a new economic stimulus package by the end of this week to address lapsed unemployment benefits and the issue of evictions for unpaid rent, The Washington Post reported. Democrats reported progress toward a deal on August 4, CNBC said, while The Associated Press leads with Republicans’ complaints that Democrats are taking too hard a line in talks, but there are at least some concessions being made on both sides.
  • The UK government’s decision to keep loose border control in the first months of the pandemic sped up the spread of infections, legislators concluded in a new report, the Financial Times reported. Meanwhile the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said it’s more important to keep schools open than pubs, restaurants. and non-essential shops if there are new local and national lockdowns, the newspaper reported separately.


  • Reuters publishes a special report about BGI Group, the Chinese company that says it sold 35 million rapid COVID-19 testing kits in the past six months to 180 countries, and built fifty-eight labs in eighteen countries. The company’s philanthropic arm has donated some of that, which China’s embassies have promoted as part of the country’s virus diplomacy, Reuters said. BGI also distributes gene-sequencing technology that US security officials say could pose a threat to national security, the newswire added.
  • QUOTE: “Hopes for a relatively quick return to normalcy are riding high on promising news about Covid-19 vaccines,” Karen Mulligan, a fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics; and Karen Van Nuys, the executive director of the center’s Value of Life Sciences Innovation Project wrote on news service Stat. “But we need to be realistic: A vaccine is not a silver bullet. Even if one (or more) is proven safe and effective, vaccines are notoriously difficult to make and distribute.”
  • Germany’s SynLab, one of Europe’s largest diagnostics groups, plans to boost its COVID-19 testing capacity by as much as 50 percent in the months ahead to meet demand amid a potential increase in new infections, the Financial Times reported. The company operates 470 laboratories worldwide and can process 300,000 tests a week, the newspaper added.
  • QUOTE: “While many “anti-vaxxers” rely more on conspiracy than fact, some have legitimate concerns based on past mis-steps,” wrote the editorial board of the Financial Times. “The temptation to cut corners this time around must be resisted.”


  • “This CEO has flown 33 times and spent 160 nights away this year. Here’s his safety routine” reads a CNBC headline. That routine by Mika Manninen, CEO and co-founder of dairy-free yogurt brand Hälsa Foods, includes rigorous cleansing of hotel rooms and excluding cleaning staff for three days at a time, CNBC reported.
  • Fewer people traveled to DisneyWorld in Orlando than Disney had hoped as the coronavirus outbreak in Florida prompted cancellations, The Washington Post reported, citing Disney executives speaking on a call with analysts on August 4. The reopening of the Orlando theme park in mid-July was controversial as it coincided with increasing cases in Florida, the Post added. Walt Disney Co. posted its first quarterly loss since 2001, almost $5 billion, as it suffered from coronavirus lockdowns worldwide even if they boosted demand for the company’s streaming service, The Wall Street Journal said.
  • The aviation industry has become increasingly resigned to years of lower demand as optimism about a speedy turnaround from the pandemic all but evaporates, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. That raises the prospect of a jump in redundancies and forces airlines to think again about plans to resume pre-coronavirus schedules, the news outlet said.  
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways has sought protection from creditors in the United States under Chapter 15 of the US Bankruptcy Code, which allows a foreign debtor to shield assets there, CNBC reported, citing an August 4 court filing in the southern district of New York.


  • Coronavirus is making the path of developing nations much harder, partly because large segments of their economies are hard hit by the pandemic, from construction to tourism, The Wall Street Journal reported. Governments also lack the financial firepower for large-scale stimulus packages, while migrant workers overseas have been able to send less money back home, affecting countries including the Philippines and El Salvador, the newspaper said.
  • Remittances from overseas workers sent back to Mexico hit a record monthly high of $4 billion in March, while in June they increased 4.7 percent month on month to $3.5 billion, the Financial Times reported, citing the Bank of Mexico. US welfare payments have helped Mexicans continue to keep sending money home during the pandemic, the newspaper said.
  • “Pandemic revives Gulf fears over food security” That’s the headline to a long-form article in the Financial Times. Countries that are vulnerable to a shortage of imports are investing overseas and in agritech at home, the newspaper said. The United Arab Emirates, for instance, imports 90 percent of its food, the Financial Times reported.
  • Even as Africa approaches one million cases of coronavirus, Uganda has recorded a little over 1,200 cases and five deaths since March, a tally that Reuters describes as strikingly low for a nation of 42 million people. Its crumbling public hospitals, doctors’ strikes, and corruption scandals make that success all the more surprising, but Uganda also shows what a government can achieve by acting quickly and enforcing a strict lockdown, the newswire said. Critics say a heavy-handed approach has cost jobs, risked pregnant women’s lives, and hurt the economy, charges the government denies, Reuters added.  
  • QUOTE: “A jobless person is better than a dead person,” state minister for health Robinah Nabbanja told Reuters. “The lockdown was completely justified.”
  • The newswire publishes a round-up of the measures African nations are taking, from a ban on alcohol sales in South Africa to mask-wearing in Nigeria and Rwanda. Meanwhile Tanzania hasn’t updated its virus numbers since May 8 and Islamist militants complicate measures to contain the virus in Burkina Faso. Schools are closed nationwide in Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew.  
  • From bubble tea in Singapore to burritos in California or coffee in Melbourne, Bloomberg runs an article on the little luxuries people can’t give up – even during a pandemic.
  • QUOTE: “It’s a ritual,” Levi Fedley, age thirty, who works in marketing, said of the perfect cup of coffee he used to buy in one of Melbourne’s famous laneway cafés, which he now gets as a takeaway without touching anything or anyone, Bloomberg reported. “It’s a very minimal and justifiable luxury.”
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