Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Thursday
- U.S. Commerce Department reports a record-breaking economic plunge.
- Over 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.
- Germany’s economy shrinks by over 10 per cent.
- Health experts warn of second wave, and predict what we should expect.
- Britain prepares for second wave of coronavirus in Europe.
- Vietnam imposes more restrictions as virus outbreak grows.
- Australia’s Victoria state makes masks compulsory after record new cases.
- India registers over 50,000 new cases in past 24 hours for first time.
Spikes in novel coronavirus infections in the Asia-Pacific region have dispelled any notion that it may be over the worst, with Australia, India and Hong Kong reporting record daily cases, Vietnam testing thousands and North Korea urging vigilance.
Asian governments had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the virus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency.
“We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.
Australia for one recorded its deadliest day with at least 13 deaths and more than 700 new infections, mostly in the second-most populous state of Victoria, where the government ordered all residents to wear face coverings outside.
More than half of the country’s confirmed cases are in Victoria and its capital Melbourne, which is under a new lockdown.
Further restrictions on movement would deal a blow to the economy, already in its first recession for 30 years, but failure to control the outbreaks would do more economic harm in the long run, Morrison said.
The U.S. economy also faces a dim outlook. It shrank at a dizzying 33 per cent annual rate in the April-June quarter — by far the worst quarterly plunge ever — when the viral outbreak shut down businesses, throwing tens of millions out of work and sending unemployment surging to 14.7 per cent, the government said Thursday.
The Commerce Department’s estimate of the second-quarter decline in the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, marked the sharpest such drop on record dating to 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction, a 10 per cent drop, occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration.
The contraction last quarter was driven by a deep pullback in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 per cent of economic activity. Spending by consumers collapsed at a 34 per cent annual rate as travel all but froze and shutdown orders forced many restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other retail establishments to close.
The job market, the most important pillar of the economy, has been severely damaged. Tens of millions of jobs vanished in the recession. More than one million laid-off people have applied for unemployment benefits for 19 straight weeks — including 1.4 million last week. So far, about one-third of the lost jobs have been recovered, but the resurgent virus will likely slow further gains in the job market.
Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, took a massive hit during the pandemic shutdowns as well, shrinking by 10.1 per cent during the April-June period from the previous quarter, the official statistics agency said Thursday.
It was the biggest drop since quarterly growth statistics began being compiled in 1970. The plunge far exceeded the previous worst-ever recorded performance, a fall of 4.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 during the global financial crisis.
Tough pandemic restrictions shut down everything from taverns to auto dealerships. The country has cautiously reopened and the economy has started bouncing back, but economists say it is far from the pre-pandemic level and won’t break even until 2022 at the earliest.
British authorities meanwhile are worried about a second wave of coronavirus infections in Europe, and will not hesitate to bring back more quarantine measures — possibly within the next few days — Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday.
WATCH | What could happen when COVID-19 collides with flu season:
Britain last week re-imposed a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving from Spain, a move that caused havoc to plans to reopen the continent for tourism in the summer high season.
“I am worried about a second wave. I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe, and we’ve got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores, and to tackle it,” Hancock said during an interview on Sky News.
“We have significant concerns about the second wave that is coming across Europe. And it’s not just Spain … but there are other countries too where the number of cases is rising. And we are absolutely determined to do everything that we can to keep this country safe.”
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 8:45 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 115,470 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 100,465 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting indicates that 8,954 Canadians have died.
For many health specialists in Montreal, a second wave of coronavirus infections isn’t a matter of if, but when — and how bad it will be.
And some epidemiologists believe the second wave may already be underway.
WATCH | Infectious disease specialist on coronavirus vaccines, back-to-school plans:
Those observations are based on the answers that 170 medical doctors, epidemiologists, public health experts and medical researchers provided to CBC Montreal in an informal survey circulated earlier this month.
Of the 170 who answered, two-thirds indicated that a second wave was “very likely.” A further 24 per cent said it was “somewhat likely.”
Other experts were more reluctant to offer predictions. They stress that because the virus is new, there is a lack of data allowing them to anticipate infection patterns.
What’s happening in the rest of the world
South Africa‘s confirmed coronavirus cases are now above 471,000 as the country with the world’s fifth-largest confirmed caseload makes up well over half the recorded infections on the African continent.
Africa’s 54 countries have a total of more than 891,000 cases as local transmission of the virus is underway in many countries. Severe testing shortages mean the real number of cases is likely much higher. South Africa is also seeing far more “excess deaths” than in recent years.
A new report by the South African Medical Research Council shows more than 22,000 excess deaths from natural causes between May 6 and July 21. Those could be unrecorded COVID-19 deaths or deaths from other diseases, as some South Africans, scared by the pandemic, hesitate to seek care. Strained health resources are also being redirected to fighting the coronvirus.
India has registered more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours for the first time.
The record surge of 52,123 reported cases took the national total to 1,583,792 on Thursday. The health ministry also reported another 775 deaths in the past 24 hours, driving total fatalities up to 34,968.
India has reported the third most coronavirus cases in the world after the United States and Brazil, while the number of recoveries in the country has crossed one million.
The reported deaths from the virus in India, however, mark a far lower fatality rate than in the other two countries.
Vietnam on Thursday reported nine more cases of the coronavirus, as the first outbreak in over three months spread to cities as authorities said they cannot trace its source. The health ministry said eight of the new infections are from hot spot Danang, while the other case was confirmed in Hanoi in a man who returned from the coastal city.
The outbreak has spread to six cities and provinces with 47 cases reported since the weekend. Dak Lak province is the latest to reimpose physical distancing, close down nonessential services and ban public gatherings of more than 20 people.
Danang neighbours Quang Nam and Quang Ngai have closed their beaches and limited businesses. Meanwhile, Hanoi cancelled public events, closed bars and clubs and plans to mass test some 21,000 people returning from Danang. Ho Chi Minh City placed a ban on gatherings of more than 30 people.
China is stepping-up testing for the coronavirus in an attempt to get a handle on new outbreaks that have defied the country’s considerable success in containing the virus that was first detected in Wuhan late last year.
In the northeastern city of Dalian, local authorities have issued a letter to citizens urging all 5.6 million of them to be tested following consecutive days of new cases being reported, largely in the single digits.
As of midnight Wednesday, samples had been collected from more than four million people in the scenic port city in Liaoning province and a second round of tests was being launched targeting people living in what have been categorized as high-risk areas.
Brazil‘s health ministry has reported a daily record 1,595 deaths from COVID-19, though the rise partly resulted from the country’s most populous state reporting two days worth of deaths.
Brazil’s previous one-day record death toll was set June 4, with 1,473 fatalities. Deaths have been ticking upward for five straight weeks as the coronavirus spread into new regions, with deaths averaging more than 1,000 each day.
Brazil’s health ministry has recorded 90,134 deaths so far in the pandemic and more than 2.5 million confirmed cases. Those are the second highest totals in the world.
Poland reported its highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic on Thursday, with 615 new infections, according to the health ministry’s Twitter account.
The health ministry also announced the deaths of a further 15 people.
Poland has reported a total of 45,031 infections and 1,709 deaths so far.