Tokyo cases increase, WHO warns on Eastern Mediterranean; US cases rise at record pace

CORONAVIRUS ALERT 07/02/2020

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In top stories today:

  • Coronavirus cases increased in Tokyo at the quickest pace in two months, while the World Health Organization warned of the outbreak continuing to affect an area from Morocco to Pakistan. Masks were in the news as US President Donald J. Trump said he now favors them, as infections in the United States rose at the highest daily rate so far. 
  • Coronavirus infections in the United States increased at the highest daily rate so far, with 50,000 new cases, while the death toll exceeded 128,000, The Wall Street Journal reported. Trump, long opposed to wearing a face-covering in public, said he’s “all for masks,” the BBC reported.
  • US payrolls rose by 4.8 million in June, marking an accelerated rebound in the jobs market as the broader reopening of the economy spurred hiring, Bloomberg reported. Economists had expected the increase to be 3.23 million, the newswire said. Still, applications for unemployment benefits remained high last week as the pace of coronavirus infections increased, Bloomberg added.
  • The French government has asked all businesses to stock at least ten weeks’ worth of masks for their workers in case of a second wave of coronavirus, The Associated Press cited Health Minister Olivier Veran as saying on RTL radio. A shortage of masks in March and April is a key element of a number of lawsuits brought against authorities, the news service added.
  • The coronavirus outbreak has been exacerbated by politicization and the flawed response of world leaders including Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, said Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), The Washington Post reported, citing Agence France-Presse.
  • QUOTE: “America as a continent is paying the highest price for this kind of division or not following the advice coming from the scientific community,” Rocca said, The Washington Post reported. “Politicians should learn to speak with one voice. Politicians should start learning to follow the advice coming from the scientific community.”
  • EVENT: How can the international community, and the United States, find a way forward and act jointly to manage the fallout from the pandemic? Join us for an online launch of a report about possible scenarios in the post-COVID-19 world on Tuesday, July 7 at 2:30 pm ET. Details are here.
  • The Eastern Mediterranean, a region that extends from Morocco to Pakistan and includes the Middle East, is at a “critical threshold” as coronavirus cases continue to increase, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, The Washington Post reported. Measures to ease lockdowns in the region could speed up the spread of the virus in the weeks ahead, the United Nations agency warned, the newspaper added. Cases in the region are currently at nearly 1.1 million, WHO said, the Post reported.
  • David Clark, New Zealand’s health minister who was previously demoted for taking his family to the beach during the country’s lockdown, has resigned following criticism of border and isolation facilities, the BBC reported. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accepted the resignation, the broadcaster said.
  • Tokyo, home to 14 million people, recorded 107 coronavirus infections on July 2, the highest daily number in two months, but Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said there was no need to re-impose a state of emergency, Reuters reported. About 70 percent of the people recorded in the July 2 cases were in their twenties and thirties, the newswire cited Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike as saying.
  • A strain of coronavirus that has infected more than three hundred people in Beijing since early in June could have its origins in South or Southeast Asia, Reuters cited Harvard researchers as saying on the preprint website medRxiv.org, with the study still to be peer-reviewed. The outbreak in the Chinese capital has prompted concern about China’s vulnerability to a second wave of virus infections, the newswire added.
  • The statistics say… India reported 19,148 cases of coronavirus in the past twenty-four hours, taking the total to 604,641, of which almost 100,000 were in the past four days, The Associated Press said. The death toll stands at 17,834, the news service cites India’s Health Ministry as saying.
  • Lockdown restrictions have been lifted across Europe. The BBC publishes an explainer by country, covering select countries from Portugal to the Baltic states.
  • The Central Asian country of Kazakhstan will begin a second, more limited lockdown from July 5 to help contain the spread of coronavirus following a surge in cases, Reuters reported.
  • The drop in confidence levels in UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his government’s handling of coronavirus is among the steepest in the world, on par with the falling approval ratings for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, The Washington Post reported, citing YouGov polls. Five hundred thousand merrymakers flouted social distancing on England’s southern beaches, illegal parties have hit London, and soccer fans in Liverpool refused to disperse—and all that before the pubs reopen on July 4, the newspaper reported.

JOBS RESURGENCE?

  • “A predicted surge in US job growth for June might not last” reads an Associated Press headline. US employers probably hired three million workers in June, up from 2.5 million in May, the news service said before the release of data on July 2, citing economists’ forecasts. Still, a resurgence in coronavirus cases, with Texas, Florida, and Arizona among the worst affected, will hamper further gains, The Associated Press added.
  • McDonald’s has paused the re-opening of its dine-in service for at least three weeks because of an increase in coronavirus cases across several US states, The Wall Street Journal said in an exclusive report. About 2,200 of the franchise’s 14,000 US restaurants allow customers to eat inside, the newspaper added.
  • Consulting firm Accenture plans to cut as many as nine hundred jobs, or 8 percent of its UK headcount, as the coronavirus outbreak led to a steep decline in demand, Bloomberg reported.
  • The coronavirus outbreak and its economic impact are hitting women the hardest in both developed and developing countries, the Financial Times reported, citing an interview with Professor Linda Scott, emeritus professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Oxford. The virus has affected childcare, service industries, part-time and lower-income jobs, for instance, all of which have a disproportionate number of female workers, the newspaper cited Scott as saying.

FDA STANDARDS

  • New standards by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on coronavirus vaccine development mean that the first authorization is more likely early next year and not before the US election in November, Bloomberg reported, citing Geoffrey Porges, an analyst with SVB Leerink. The FDA criteria for emergency-use authorization are not much lower than those for full approval, the newswire said.
  • QUOTE: “It is hard to see how those studies could enroll thousands of patients, vaccinate them, and then observe them for safety for six months or more, and then be approved” before the end of 2020, Porges wrote in a note to clients, Bloomberg reported.
  • The world needs more than one coronavirus vaccine, US infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a BBC interview, Bloomberg reported in a separate article.
  • Ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak, Brazil has become an attractive testing ground for a possible vaccine, The Washington Post reported. A shot developed by Oxford University, which the WHO describes as the furthest along of many contenders globally, is being tested on five thousand volunteers in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and an unidentified location in the country’s northeast, the Post said. China’s Sinovac Biotech will soon start trials on a separate vaccine with a Brazilian research institute, and researchers from Italy will probably follow with a third candidate, the newspaper added.
  • Indonesia recorded 1,624 new cases of coronavirus on July 2, the biggest increase since the start of the pandemic, Reuters reported. The Asian nation, an archipelago of thousands of islands, is working on the local development of a coronavirus vaccine, The Associated Press reported.

SEVENTY-FIVE COUNTRIES

  • Travelers from as many as seventy-five countries could be exempt from two weeks of quarantine on arrival into the United Kingdom from July 6, the BBC reported, citing government sources. Some of those countries still have quarantine restrictions in place for UK arrivals, the broadcaster added.
  • An airport in Taiwan has a solution for those starved of travel because of coronavirus restrictions: you check-in, go through security, and even board an airplane, but then go nowhere, Reuters reported. Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport gave sixty people—chosen at random from about 7,000 applicants—that experience on July 2, with more of the same to follow in the coming weeks, the newswire reported.
  • QUOTE: “Can you do social distancing at a bar? Can you wear a mask while drinking?” said Dr. David Hamer of the Boston University School of Medicine, The Associated Press reported. “Bars are the perfect place to break all those rules.”
  • EVENT: Putin seems to close to achieving his goal, guaranteeing his chance to remain president until 2036. Now looking forward, what does the future hold in store for Putin and Russia? Join us for a discussion about the aftermath of Putin’s constitutional referendum on Monday, July 6 at 1:00 pm ET. Details are here.

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