Melbourne restarts city-wide lockdown; virus to take graver toll on Europe’s economy

CORONAVIRUS ALERT 07/07/2020

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In top stories today:

  • The Australian city of Melbourne imposed a new lockdown of six weeks to contend with a spike in coronavirus cases. The pandemic continued to take its toll on the economy, including a gloomier outlook by European officials, while US cases prompted the closure of bars and restaurants in Miami.
  • Melbourne, in the Australian state of Victoria, re-imposed a six-week lockdown and a “hard border” around the city following a surge in coronavirus cases, NPR reported. The measures apply to the city, its suburbs, and the nearby region of Mitchell Shire after a record 191 cases were reported in 24 hours, NPR added.
  • QUOTE: “We are on the cusp of something very, very bad if we don’t take these steps,” said Victoria’s State Premier Daniel Andrews, the BBC reported. “I think a sense of complacency has crept into us as we let our frustrations get the better of us.”
  • The United States registered almost 300,000 new cases of coronavirus in the first six days of July, The Washington Post said. More states and cities re-imposed lockdown restrictions, including Florida’s Miami-Dade County which will shut gyms, party venues, and restaurants, the newspaper said. In Arizona, for instance, 89 percent of intensive-care beds were full on the morning of July 6, the Post added.
  • EVENT: Please join global health official Ambassador Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, and D-10 Ambassadors from Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific for a high-level discussion on the state of the global pandemic and cooperation among allies to defeat the virus, followed by a panel with leading experts to discuss strategies and scenarios to shape a post-COVID future. Tuesday July 7, 2020 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm ET. Further details here.
  • QUOTE: “It’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately,” US infectious-diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a live internet interview with National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, Reuters reported. The country is still “knee-deep” in the first wave of the virus, he said.
  • The death toll from coronavirus in India, home to 1.3 billion people, has surpassed 20,000, Reuters reported. Amid grim economic forecasts and with infections and deaths increasing at the fastest pace in three months, India pushed on with relaxations to its lockdown, the news agency reported.
  • The statistics say… India recorded 467 additional deaths on July 7, taking the total to 20,160; infections rose by 22,252 to 719,665. Still, the country’s death rate per 10,000 people is 0.15 compared with 3.97 in the United States and 6.65 in the United Kingdom, Reuters reported.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell, CNBC reported, citing local news sources including a CNN affiliate. CNBC said it wasn’t able to verify the reports or get official confirmation. Bolsonaro has played down the risks posed by the virus, CNBC added.
  • Just days after reopening on July 4, three pubs in England closed again, two in the south and one in the north, as customers tested positive for coronavirus, Sky News reported. Meanwhile in Sweden, new regulations require more social distancing in bars between separate groups of customers, the BBC said.

EUROPE IMPACT

  • The European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, forecast the bloc’s economy will contract by 8.7 percent this year, a full percentage point more than its previous estimate, because of the slow easing of coronavirus restrictions, Bloomberg reported. Risks are still “exceptionally high and mainly to the downside,” the Commission said, the newswire reported.
  • The Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned against early withdrawal of governments’ employment-support measures at it forecasts joblessness in the world’s advanced economies to be the highest since the Great Depression by the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Paris-based OECD doesn’t expect unemployment to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 at the earliest, the Journal added.
  • QUOTE: “We are basically back where we were in 2010,” said Stefano Scarpetta, director of employment at the OECD, The Wall Street Journal reported. “In three months, we’ve lost all the gains in employment that it took a decade to make.”
  • “Pandemic Set to Spark Biggest Retreat for Meat Eating in Decades” reads a Bloomberg headline. It’s a shift that is happening in all major markets, including the United States, where pre-pandemic levels of meat consumption per capita aren’t expected to return until at least beyond 2025, the newswire said.

FOREIGN STUDENTS

  • Hundreds of thousands of foreign students in the United States will have to leave the country if all their classes are taught online this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported, citing the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Overseas students, who often pay full tuition, are a vital source of revenue for many US universities, Reuters said, adding that it’s not clear how many holders of student visas will be affected. Bloomberg said it’s unclear how many of the 369,000 Chinese students in the US will have to leave.
  • Divergence in major advanced economies’ economic recovery has increased, with Germany, France, Italy, and Spain making the most progress while activity in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States is much slower to pick up, Bloomberg said, citing Bloomberg Economics daily activity gauges.
  • A Spanish study of 60,000 people, thought to be the largest of its kind in Europe, has cast doubt on so-called herd immunity as a way to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the BBC said, citing medical journal The Lancet. About 5 percent of Spain’s population has developed antibodies, whereas 70 percent to 90 percent of a population needs to be infected with a virus to prevent its spread, the BBC reported.
  • QUOTE: “Some early assumptions about Covid-19 no longer add up—and that could be good news for the future progress of the virus,” Allysia Finley, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “There are reasons to think the novel coronavirus began spreading earlier than previously understood, raising the possibility that herd immunity is closer than we think.”

WARP SPEED

  • The US government awarded Novavax $1.6 billion to help the biotech company speed up the late-stage development and manufacture of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, CNBC said, citing a Reuters report. That’s the biggest investment so far through Operation Warp Speed, an effort by US President Donald J. Trump’s administration to speed up the development and production of drugs and shots to fight the virus, CNBC added.
  • Italy suspended all flights from Bangladesh for a week after a “significant number” of passengers on a flight to Rome on July 6 tested positive for coronavirus, Reuters reported. Meanwhile New Zealand said its national carrier will not take bookings for three weeks as the country tries to ease pressure on quarantine facilities by limiting the number of people returning home, the newswire said in a separate article. 
  • London’s Heathrow Airport plans to trial coronavirus testing, a step that may allow quarantine restrictions to be waived for arrivals from destinations including the United States, Bloomberg reported. The pilot program would be a private service, with passengers traveling on to their place of quarantine and receiving test results within twenty-four hours, the news service said.
  • READ MORE: On June 30, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (HSCCC) released its long-awaited reportSolving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America. The Atlantic Council Global Energy Center asked its experts to provide their analysis of the report and highlight its most important takeaways.

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