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Coronavirus - 16th July


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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 09:12

Summary for Thursday, 16th July

  • The UK shed more than half a million jobs during the coronavirus lockdown
  • The total was not as big as many feared with many workers on furlough
  • China announces a year-on-year increase in GDP as its economy rebounds
  • Another 317 cases were confirmed in Melbourne on Thursday
  • In the US, a new daily record number of cases are confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins data
  • Tokyo announced 280 cases on Thursday - a daily record
  • Globally, there have been 13.5m cases since the outbreak began, with 583,000 deaths

Hello and welcome to today’s rolling news coverage of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Six months ago, the world didn’t know about Sars-Cov-2 at all - now it has affected almost every corner of the Earth, causing unprecedented damage to the global economy and changing the way most of us live and work, possibly for ever.
Throughout the day we’ll be bringing you the latest news about the virus’s impact, scientific developments and advice, analysis from experts in the BBC and elsewhere, tips on how to keep yourself and your community safe and also stories of people supporting each other during very tough times.
As ever, thank you for joining us.

Melbourne and Tokyo cases rise, China bounces back

Here are some of the main stories so far this Thursday 16 July;

  • Melbourne in Australia has warned it may not have hit its peak of new cases. Victoria's capital is under lockdown, but the state has reported 317 new cases in the past day
  • Record numbers of new cases have been confirmed in the US, according to John Hopkins University - it says there were 67,632 new cases in the past 24 hours
  • Japan's capital, Tokyo, has also seen a new wave of infections - Governor Yuriko Koike has told local media she expects more than 280 cases to be reported on Thursday
  • US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has described recent efforts by the Trump administration to discredit him as "bizarre" and "nonsense"
  • There's positive economic news from China - it says its economy grew 3.2% in the second quarter of the year, a sign it could be bouncing back
  • UK unemployment reached 1.3 million in April, but think tank Resolution Foundation has warned that doesn't show the true scale of the problem

Melbourne has driven Australia's curve back up

From April to mid-June, Australia had been celebrating its relative success in suppressing the virus.
It had moved quickly to limit the virus on the island nation – with early border closures, quarantining overseas arrivals and enforcing a tough social distancing regime.
However, the Melbourne outbreak – which became apparent last month – has now driven the nation’s virus curve right back up.
Around a quarter of the country’s 10,500 cases have come from the city in the last two weeks alone.
Here more on that: Why has Melbourne's virus outbreak worsene
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Hundreds of cases reported per day in Melbourne

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Melbourne's iconic Flinders St-Swanston St intersection is usually teeming with people

Infections are still rising in Australia's virus-hit city Melbourne, with 317 new cases confirmed in the state of Victoria today – a new national record.
The past week has seen on average more than 200 infections a day recorded amid aggressive testing in Melbourne.
Australia’s second-largest city was forced back into a six-week lockdown last week in attempt to halt the spread.
There’s been some optimism this week that the lockdown may cause numbers to plateau soon, but it's too early to tell, officials say.
“An out of control outbreak is one where no matter what you're doing, you're seeing an exponential increase. We're seeing an increase, but it's relatively slow,” said chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton.
He’s urged all Melburnians to comply with the lockdown. As reported yesterday, [url= fined for KFC and]hundreds of people have been fined for breaking restrictions.[/url]

Tokyo warns of new daily record to come

Tokyo's Governor Yuriko Koike has said the Japanese capital is likely to report its highest ever number of daily cases today.
She told reporters: "I'm hearing that the numbers will be above 280."
Japan had lifted its nationwide state of emergency in April, but Tokyo has put one back in place as a new surge began in mid-June.
Many of the news cases emerged from the nightclub district, as it reopened, and a lot of those affected are younger people. Tokyo is also carrying out widespread testing to try to rein in the spread.

Oklahoma governor tests positive for Covid-19

The governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, has announced he has tested positive. He is one of the highest-ranking elected US officials to get the virus, and the first state governor.
In a video conference, he said he "felt fine" - "I felt a little bit achy yesterday. I didn’t have a fever."
Gov Stitt, a Republican, has been an advocate of reopening his state, despite rising numbers. He was also seen recently at President Trump's rally in Tulsa - in his state in late June - not wearing a mask, but doesn't believe he caught the virus there.
He said he wanted planning to pull back on the reopening of the state, and was "not thinking about a mask mandate at all".
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Stitt, in a blue suit at the bottom of the image, was at the Tulsa rally in June

South Korea sees new spike, most cases imported

South Korea on Thursday reported 61 new cases - a sharp rise from 39 infections a day earlier.
The country's health authorities said 47 infections were imported from overseas, including 20 cases confirmed among a group of South Korean construction workers who had returned from Iraq.
The authorities warned that the number of imported cases coming from Iraq could increase further as more workers were set to return home, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

Latin America's death toll tops 150,000

In Latin America, the number of coronavirus-related deaths has now exceeded 150,000, with the World Health Organization warning that the outbreak is expected to peak next month in the region.
The worst hit country by far is Brazil, where nearly 2 million people have been infected and more than 75,000 have died - the word's second-highest death toll behind only the US.
Meanwhile, Peru - where nearly 340,000 cases have been confirmed - has appointed a new health minister to tackle the growing crisis.
Mexico and Chile are also struggling to contain the pandemic.

IMF chief: 'World economy not out of the woods yet'

Despite showing some signs of recovery, the global economy is "not out of the woods yet", International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva has said.
In a message to G20 finance ministers, she said the economy faced continued challenges - including the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 - encouraging governments to keep their support programs in place.
The IMF now expects global GDP to fall by 4.9% this year, and only a "tepid recovery is expected for next year".
The $11 trillion in stimulus provided by the G20 nations helped to prevent a worse outcome, but "these safety nets must be maintained as needed and, in some cases, expanded," Georgieva said in a blog post.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 09:23

Hospital owner arrested over fake Covid-19 results

A hospital owner in Bangladesh accused of issuing thousands of fake negative virus results has been arrested.
Mohammad Shahed allegedly gave fake certificates to patients saying they were virus-free without even testing them, according to an AFP report.
Police launched a nine-day manhunt for the 42-year-old, who was eventually caught trying to flee to India, wearing a burqa.
"His hospitals carried out 10,500 coronavirus tests, out of which 4,200 were genuine and the rest, 6,300 test reports, were given without conducting tests", Rapid Action Battalion spokesman Colonel Ashique Billah told AFP.
Shahed is also accused of charging for the certificates and virus treatments even though he had agreed with the government that his hospitals in the capital, Dhaka, would provide free care.

Australia unemployment rate highest in 22 years

Back to Australia again, and data out today shows unemployment at its highest level in 22 years.
Almost 1 million Australians (or 7.4% of the workforce) didn't have a job in June. Many more are under-employed – working fewer hours than before.
The nation came out of lockdown over a month ago – and that’s helped people recover work – but the wave of cases seen in Melbourne threatens to upend what slow economic recovery has been achieved.

China avoids recession in the wake of lockdowns

But there's some more positive economic news from China today.
As the earliest epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, China's economy was hit hard by the impact of lockdowns.
But after a record slump in the first three months of the year it's avoided recession.
The world's second largest economy grew by a better-than-expected 3.2% in the second quarter.
The numbers are being closely watched around the world as countries see sharp slowdowns in the wake of their own measures to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Read more here

Daily infections on the rise in India

Krutika Pathi - BBC News, Delhi
Daily infections are growing quickly in India - nearly five days this week have seen the highest case numbers yet, ranging between 27,000 and 29,000 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The western state of Maharashtra, the worst-hit in India, saw around 8,000 new cases on Wednesday , taking its total tally to beyond 275,000, reported local media. The state has also confirmed more than 10,000 deaths so far. Its capital, Mumbai, is the worst affected with nearly 100,000 infections.
Meanwhile, infections are also rapidly picking up in the southern state of Karnataka . More than 3,000 people tested positive in the last 24 hours - a record spike for the state. Its capital city, Bangalore - known as India's Silicon Valley - went into lockdown earlier this week to stave off rising numbers. With nearly 50,000 cases, the state now has the fourth highest caseload in the country.
India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the US and Brazil with more than 900,000 confirmed cases and 24,309 deaths.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 09:28

UK headlines this morning

For those of you just waking up and joining us, here are the key virus-related UK stories this morning:

UK payrolls shrink by 650,000 jobs in lockdown

The number of workers on UK payrolls fell 650,000 between March and June, official figures indicate.
The number of people claiming work-related benefits - including the unemployed - was 2.6 million.
However, the increase was not as big as many feared, because large numbers of firms have put employees on the government-backed furlough scheme.
Economists say the full effect on employment will not be felt until the scheme ends in October.
Read our breaking news coverage here.

'No Tokyo Olympics likely means no Winter Olympics either'

If the postponed Tokyo Olympics do not go ahead next year due to the virus then the 2022 Beijing Winter Games is also unlikely to go ahead, International Olympic Committee Member Dick Pound said.
“Taking the political side out of it for the moment say there is a Covid problem in July and August next year in Tokyo, it is hard to imagine there is not going to be a knock-on effect in the same area five months later,” Pound told Reuters in a phone interview.
The Tokyo Summer Games are now set to be held in July - August 2021, while the Beijing Winter Games are scheduled for Feb 2022.
However, the IOC said earlier that it was "fully committed" to the Tokyo Games and had "multiple scenarios" prepared for them to take place safely.
Read more on the IOC's plans for Tokyo here.

Jobless figures 'not showing full extent of UK crisis'

The way the UK reports unemployment may not reflect the "true scale of joblessness", a think tank says.
In the last hour, the Office for National Statistics released figures showing the number of workers on UK payrolls fell 650,000 during the coronavirus lockdown .
The ONS reports that unemployment rose by 34,000 in April to reach 1.3 million.
But the Resolution Foundation argues that the 23% drop in average hours worked between early March and late April is a better indicator of unemployment.
Earlier this week the government's budgetary watchdog projected that unemployment could reach four million people, if the UK's economic recovery is poor.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 09:32

The latest from Europe

Spain honours outbreak victims while Swiss scientists warn of the risks for pregnant women. Here’s the latest from Europe

  • In Spain King Felipe is leading a tribute to the victims of the pandemic and those who worked to tackle it. Spanish politicians and EU officials are attending the event at the Royal Palace in Madrid. Spain is one of the hardest-hit European countries
  • An outbreak across the country in Catalonia meanwhile is threatening to overwhelm stretched health workers. The city of Lleida is under a stay at home order, and hundreds of new cases are being reported daily across the region. “We are on the verge of collapse,” the head of ambulance services at a Barcelona hospital told El Pais
  • Switzerland’s Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics changed its guidance on Wednesday, saying pregnant women should be considered a risk group. Pregnant women are estimated to be three to five times more likely to suffer severe symptoms, Swiss media report
  • Greece is considering tougher measures – including mandatory face mask use in shops – after a recent jump in confirmed cases. It comes as the first flights from the UK began arriving on Wednesday.

China's retail sales recovering more slowly than hoped

Mariko Oi - BBC News
After shrinking by nearly 7% in the first three months of the year, the Chinese economy grew by more than 3% as the economy emerged from the lockdown.
All the stimulus measures announced by the authorities seem to be working, with factories getting busier, which was evident in growth in the industrial production data.
But one sector that hasn't recovered as quickly as they had hoped is retail sales.
They still fell in the second quarter, which means getting people to spend money again will remain a challenge.
And just as the economy starts to recover, tensions with the US are flaring up, especially over Hong Kong.
That's why some economists are reluctant to call it a V-shaped recovery just yet.

The useful and not so useful figures for UK unemployment

Dharshini David - Economics Correspondent
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal 649,000 employees were removed from payrolls between March and June.
This is a more timely - and at present more useful - measure than the usual headline unemployment rate, which registered a fall of 17,000 unemployed people in the three months to May (with the unemployment rate unchanged at 3.9%).
The figure is a reflection of how furlough schemes have propped up jobs, and the way this count defines unemployment.
Three other key ONS numbers that economists point to as evidence of the upheaval in the jobs market are:

  • A record drop in hours worked of 16.7% compared with last May
  • A fall in earnings growth to -0.3% in the year to May
  • The lowest level of vacancies in June since 2001

There was also a record fall in self-employment of 178,000 between March and May.
But the number of benefit claimants also actually fell slightly to 2.6 million in June.
These include those on low pay who are now eligible for benefits as well as unemployed and the fall may reflect people going on to furlough and on self-employment support schemes.
The large layoffs many employers have had to announce, as the support schemes wind down, will be reflected in coming months.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 09:39

Spain's commemoration ceremony is under way

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King Felipe was among those to lay flowers during the ceremony

Spain has lost more than 28,400 people to the pandemic so far.
King Felipe on Thursday gathered with EU heads, Spanish politicians and the families of victims to honour all those who have died, as well as those who continue to work against the virus.
About 400 participants came to the Royal Palace in Madrid and sat in socially distanced chairs in concentric circles around a flame. People wore black face masks and placed flowers around the fire.
Hernando Maria Calleja, brother of the journalist Jose Maria Calleja who died of Covid-19, told the audience that the virus was a "cruel, destructive, cold killer".
"I believe that my pain resembles the pain of each and every one of the relatives of the victims."

Health chief predicts US will have vaccine by end of 2020

On Wednesday we reported on positive signs about the viability of a coronavirus vaccine, produced by US pharmaceutical company Moderna.
Following that news, the country's leading expert on infectious diseases has predicted the US should have a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.
"I feel good about the projected timetable," Dr. Anthony Fauci told Reuters news agency.
He said he was not "worried" about the idea of China getting there first.
"I think everybody's sort of on the same track," he said. "They're not going to get it particularly sooner than we get it. That's for sure."
Like other scientists, he said many questions remain about coronavirus including how long an immune response provoked by a vaccine would last

Fast bowler Archer excluded from Test for breaching virus protocol

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England cricketer Jofra Archer has been excluded from the second Test against West Indies after breaching bio-secure protocols.
All of England's matches this summer are being played behind closed doors and in a bio-secure environment .
Archer, 25, was confirmed in England's squad as late as Wednesday afternoon and not been replaced in the 13-man squad.
It's not been confirmed what the fast bowler has done to breach the rules. But he apologised and said "I feel like I have let both teams down".
Archer will now have to isolate for five days, during which time he will take two coronavirus tests, both of which must return negative results before he can return to the England squad.
Read the full story here.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 13:46

Spain's memorial ceremony

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Around 400 people gathered at a distance at the Royal Palace in Madrid

A memorial service in Spain has honoured the country's 28,400 victims of coronavirus, as well as people who continue the fight against the pandemic.
EU heads of state joined King Felipe, Spanish politicians and health workers for the ceremony
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King Felipe, Crown Princess Leonor, and nurse Aurora Lopez (far left) laid flowers
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King Felipe spoke at the event
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A flame was lit for those who have lost their lives

The workers falling through the cracks of UK support schemes

Today Programme - BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has been hearing from people who fell through the cracks of the UK government’s financial schemes to help people during the pandemic.
Hannah Mitchell, who lives in the Lake District, had worked for the same youth hostel for two years. But she worked seasonal contracts from March to November so now that she’s lost her job, she is not eligible for furlough pay. Hannah’s been relying on universal credit to get by – “which is a very small amount”.
Gian Piero was made redundant from his consultancy job in March and has since applied for between 10 and 15 jobs every morning.
“I’ve got good days and bad days. Some days you just feel like packing up your bags and leaving the country.”
Dominic Ryan from Liverpool has only just found a job after being made redundant in March. He says he was not eligible for universal credit because of what his partner earns.
The 31-year-old says after hearing about extra financial support for 16 to 24-year-olds , he feels his generation has been “brushed aside”.
Responding to the stories, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he had “enormous sympathy” for those who have lost their jobs.
He said the government had put in more money to universal credit, boosted the number of people working in job centres to help people find work, and provided support through the furlough and self-employment schemes.

Brazil's Bolsonaro still positive for coronavirus

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro's latest coronavirus test was positive, he said in an interview on TV.
Bolsonaro, who has been dismissive of the risks posed by the virus, revealed on 7 July that he had Covid-19 .
He said that he had initially had a high temperature and muscle pains but that he quickly began to feel better after taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
He acknowledged on Wednesday that there was no scientific proof for the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquin but insisted that "it worked for me".
Read more about hydroxycholoroquine here .
Brazil has the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world after the US and is expected to reach two million cases within the next days.

Major drive-in musical tour cancelled over UK local lockdown fears

Mark Savage - Music reporter, BBC News
A major tour of the hit musical Six, which had sold out several drive-in venues in the UK, has been cancelled due to uncertainties over local coronavirus lockdowns.
The concert series, organised by Live Nation, was expected to feature performances by Kaiser Chiefs, Dizzee Rascal, Sigala and others.
Promoters said the "latest developments over local lockdowns" meant they couldn't proceed "with any confidence".
Ticket-holders will get full refunds.
Six's producer, Kenny Wax, said: "We are so very disappointed to have received the news of the cancellation.
"We know that ultimately there is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of our company and the Six Queendom [the show's fans]. We look forward to better times."

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 13:57

France makes face masks compulsory indoors from next week

It will be compulsory to wear a face mask in enclosed indoor spaces from next week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced.
Yesterday President Emmanuel Macron has said it would become mandatory from 1 August.
Castex told the Senate earlier today that the deadline was moved forwards after suggestions that August was too late.
In Mayenne region, in north-west France, the order will come into force on Thursday due to concern over a rise in cases.
Until now it has been obligatory to wear masks on public transport and where social distancing is not possible.

Nelson Mandela's daughter tested positive for coronavirus before she died

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Zindzi Mandela with her father Nelson Mandela in 2009

Zindzi Mandela, the youngest daughter of South Africa's first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, died in Johannesburg earlier this week at the age of 59.
It's now been found that she tested positive for Covid-19.
Her son Zondwa Mandela told public broadcaster SABC that it was unclear if the disease caused her death, and the family is waiting for the autopsy report.
He said his mother will be buried on Friday morning.

Two prime ministers in one country catch coronavirus

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Fadil Novalic has been hospitalised in Sarajevo

The Balkan state of Bosnia-Herzegovina came into being in the 1990s after the bloody collapse of Yugoslavia.
Divided down ethnic lines, the country was split into two entities – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska – which have separate constitutions and separate prime ministers.
But the two now have something in common: the prime ministers of both entities have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
Fadil Novalic, leader of Bosnia’s Federation entity, started to feel unwell at events to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre . He’s now been hospitalised and is in a coronavirus ward in Sarajevo.
His counterpart Radovan Viskovic, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
Many Balkan nations have seen a record rise in cases in the last week, including Bosnia. According to Johns Hopkins University, the country has confirmed 7,411 cases and has a recorded death toll of 235.

UK city will be 'very angry' if local lockdown extended

Leicester's mayor says his residents will be "very angry indeed" if a lockdown in the city is extended further.
Leicester became the first city in the UK to have tight restrictions reimposed following a rise in infections last month.
Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby is now urging the government to lift the measures in 90% of the city.
He said he hopes Health Secretary Matt Hancock "will allow us and trust us at a local level to work with the people of the city".
The most recent official data shows the number of new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population in Leicester dropped from 127.2 in the seven days to 5 July to 104.4 in the week to 12 July.
It was 143.6 in the period before the local lockdown was imposed at the end of June.
Mr Hancock is to make an "important statement" to MPs about the virus at 17:00 BST - and we think this will be about Leicester.

Spain remembers its dead but remains vigilant in new outbreaks

Guy Hedgecoe - Freelance journalist
The tribute to Spain's victims of coronavirus is a reminder of what a tragedy the pandemic has been for the country, taking over 28,000 lives and pushing the healthcare system to its limit in March and April.
The brother of one of those killed by the virus addressed those present at the ceremony, underlining the importance of compassion during crises such as this one.
A healthcare worker from Catalonia spoke of the challenges she and colleagues faced as the impact of Covid-19 mounted.
Although this tribute comes several weeks after Spain lifted its strict lockdown, the country remains wary.
There have been several new, relatively small outbreaks across Spain. Larger outbreaks in the northeastern Catalonia region have led to the area of Segrià having a new lockdown introduced and recommended restrictions have been implemented in the city of L´Hospitalet de Llobregat as local healthcare services are again coming under pressure.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 14:04

Racing suspended at US track after jockeys test positive

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Racing at the Del Mar track in California has been suspended after 15 jockeys tested positive for coronavirus.
The season began on 10 July but without spectators at the races.
The jockeys are all asymptomatic and are self-isolating at home, officials said.
Racing should resume on 24 July, they confirmed.

Call for volunteers to be exposed to coronavirus

More than 100 prominent figures including Nobel laureates have signed an open letter calling for volunteers to be exposed to the coronavirus after receiving a vaccine.
The letter, addressed to the US National Institutes of Health, says these “challenge trials” could accelerate vaccine development.
It says the trial would involve young, healthy volunteers.
Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine programme director said such studies should be “feasible and informative”.
There are now 23 vaccines in clinical trials around the world.
The only way we will know if any of them works, is if enough volunteers are subsequently exposed to coronavirus in their daily life and do not get infected.
Read more here.

Spain culls 92,700 mink amid outbreak

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Mink farms in the Netherlands have seen culls after outbreaks

The government of the Spanish region of Aragon announced Thursday the slaughter of 92,700 mink after a number of the animals tested positive for coronavirus.
In May authorities closed the mink farm in La Puebla de Valverde when seven employees tested positive for the virus. Since then they have been monitoring the animals.
Although the mink have not been behaving strangely and there has been no rise in mortality among them, Monday’s test showed 78 of 90 mink sampled had the virus. As a result, officials ordered the cull to prevent the spread among other animals.
Aragon’s Department of Agriculture added that it “cannot determine if there is transmission from humans to animals or vice versa,” and that this decision was taken “as a preventive measure”.
You can read more about mink, coronavirus and the fur trade here

News from Latin American

The number of coronavirus-related deaths has exceeded 150,000 in Latin America, according to the World Health Organization. Here's some more news from the region:

  • Argentina has suspended exports from eight meat processing plants to China after employees tested positive for coronavirus. Meat processing plants have been hot spots for contagions across the world. Read more about why here .
  • Argentina also registered its highest daily number of cases on Wednesday when 4,250 people tested positive and the biggest number of fatalities in 24 hours with 82 deaths.
  • The Chamber of Deputies in Chile has passed a bill which would allow people to withdraw up to 10% from their privately held pension funds early to ease their financial problems during the pandemic. Its approval is big defeat for the government, which argued that the measure would create problems further down the line. Opposition lawmaker Pamela Jiles, who says it will save poor Chileans from going hungry, did a little victory dance to celebrate.

US state urged to extend eviction ban

The pandemic in the US has had huge economic implications, with millions losing their jobs and fearing they cannot make mortgage payments or pay rent. A number of states introduced evictions bans earlier this year to prevent people being forced onto the streets.
Now campaigners are calling on Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to extend the ban in his state, which is due to expire on 23 July.
Arizona is now a hotspot for coronavirus, with 3,257 new infections and 97 more deaths reported on Wednesday.
It also experiences scorching summer temperatures, raising concerns about the health of anyone evicted.
“It’s so hot in Arizona, you cannot live outside if you lose your home,” said Meghan Heddings, executive director of Family Housing Resources in Tucson, told ABC News.
One think tank, the Aspen Institute, predicts 20% of US renters will be at risk of eviction by the end of September.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 14:14

What's happening in the UK?

Here are the biggest coronavirus-related stories across the UK this lunchtime:

Virus restrictions to be eased for shielding Scots

People who are "shielding" in Scotland are to be allowed to stay in holiday accommodation and visit outdoor markets and gardens, in a change to advice.
Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said virus restrictions for the most vulnerable group are to be eased from Friday.
This will allow these people to go out more, and for couples who do not live together to meet up without distancing.
And the first minister said it was hoped the need for shielding could be paused entirely at the end of July.

Indian state reimposes lockdown as cases rise nationwide

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With India recording an increasing number of cases, local authorities across the country are reimposing lockdowns, not long after they were lifted.
Nearly a dozen states have imposed restrictions as the number of infections surpassed 900,000. About 30,000 cases were confirmed on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Bihar state went back into lockdown. The northern state, which borders Nepal, recorded more than 600 deaths over the last 24 hours. About 100 million people live there.
The restrictions are expected to last 15 days with all schools, temples and non-essential businesses ordered to close.
Public transport has also shut down however people are reporting near-normal traffic loads there, according to AFP news agency.

White House denies Trump broke rules on masks

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The White House said President Trump followed Center for Disease Control guidelines during a visit to Atlanta on Wednesday.
It comes after Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms claimed the president broke the law by not wearing a mask at the city’s airport.
The airport is owned by the City of Atlanta, which is currently under an order requiring the wearing of masks.
Trump was there to deliver a speech about infrastructure projects. He did not leave the airport.
Speaking on CNN, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said: "So by not having on a mask, President Trump did violate law in the city of Atlanta, but I am somehow not surprised that he disregarded our rules and regulations in the city," she said.
Later on Wednesday, the White House did not directly address the Mayor’s claims but said the president followed Center for Disease Control guidelines.
A spokesperson for the White House said: “When preparing for and carrying out any travel, White House House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office, to ensure plans incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible."

UK minister wears face mask ahead of rule change

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Amid ongoing discussions about mask use across the UK, cabinet minister Michael Gove has been out wearing one this morning.
Gove said last weekend that there was no need for face coverings to become mandatory in England, and that he trusted people's common sense about when to wear one.
Two days later the government announced the rule for England, which will be enforced on 24 July - with fines for those who do not comply .
After Gove was criticised for not wearing a mask in a Pret a Manger store, the government suggested there would be an exemption on the shops rule in England for people takeaway food.
Opposition parties said the "days of ministerial muddle" demonstrated the government's indecision throughout the pandemic.
But back to today - Gove has been sporting an NHS-themed face covering, complete with rainbows, on a trip out for coffee and a sandwich.
But it seems he needs to finesse the system as his glasses appear to be steamed up. We kindly point him towards our excellent video on how to deal with this problem - here's the link in case you missed it too.
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Situation in Pakistan eases but is it due to lack of testing?

M Ilyas Khan - BBC News, Islamabad
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The latest official statistics on Pakistan’s coronavirus outbreak show deaths are at their lowest since 28 May, while the country has its lowest number of patients on ventilators since 8 June.
Until three weeks ago, Pakistan was one of the worst performing countries in the world, on a par with India. Each of them overtook China in terms of numbers in the first week of June.
But the situation in Pakistan seems to have eased up rather quickly over the last three weeks. It may be partly due to a drop in the number of daily tests.
Despite having achieved the capacity to conduct 40,000 tests a day, the maximum number so far has not exceeded 24,000.
A report on 7 July said Punjab, the most populous province of the country, had cut down on daily tests by 30% since mid-June, thereby artificially lowering official data on infections.
Two subsequent investigations by BBC Urdu also found holes in official data.
The first BBC report earlier this month used data from government-run graveyards to find an exponential rise in the number of deaths during June 2020 as compared to June 2019. Only a fraction of the additional deaths were officially credited to Covid-19.
A second report found that in many cases patients testing positive for Covid in Punjab province were not reflected in the official data for the day.

Testing times slip in England

Robert Cuffe - BBC head of statistics
Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that by the end of June, and barring “insuperable” barriers, all coronavirus test results would be available within 24 hours.
In last week’s figures, more than 90% of tests conducted at drive-through or walk-in centres were being turned around that quickly.
But the week after the target’s deadline the numbers of test results returned in 24 hours from regional test centres has fallen for the first time, from 91% to 87%.
Those working in the service point out that almost all people who go to a testing centre get their results back that day or the next – even if it’s not strictly within 24 hours. And that’s much faster than sending away for a test, so they still recommend walking in or driving through.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 18:36

'Russian hackers targeting coronavirus vaccine organisations'

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Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, a group of national security services has warned.
The UK's National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) said the hackers "almost certainly" operated as "part of Russian intelligence services".
It said the group used malware to try and steal information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development.
NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said it was "despicable".
Read more.

Memorial service to Greater Manchester victims

We reported earlier on events in Spain to remember those who lost their lives to coronavirus.
At Manchester Cathedral in the UK there has also been a service to remember those lost to the virus in the city.
Here are some photos from the event.
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People attending the interfaith service had to stick to social distancing guidelines
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Mayor Andy Burnham helped launch an online book of remembrance to form a permanent tribute to victims
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The online memorial will allow people who have been bereaved to upload the name and personal details of their loved ones
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There was no choir or singing at the service, in line with current restrictions

US halts imports from top glove maker 'over labour issues'

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Top Glove is the world's largest manufacturer of medical gloves

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has issued an order to detain products made by subsidiaries of the world’s largest medical glove maker over suspected labour concerns.
The agency listed disposable gloves made by two companies, Top Glove Sdn Bhd and TG Medical Sdn Bhd, as subject to detention orders on its website .
Both the companies are owned by Malaysia's Top Glove, which confirmed the detention order and said it may be related to foreign labour issues.
Top Glove said it was in contact with US authorities and hoped to resolve the issue within two weeks.
The decision comes at a time when demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Top Glove, which can produce more than 70 billion gloves a year, has been accused of exploiting its employees, with reports of poor conditions and low pay.
A recent investigation by Channel 4 News reported on claims by staff at the company’s factories, including migrant workers being paid as little as £1.08 ($1.36) an hour.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 18:42

UK government to publish postcode-level data on infections

The government is to publish postcode-level data of how many people have tested positive for coronavirus.
The public will be able to use the data and an interactive map to look at figures for their area, although homes of individuals with Covid-19 will not be identifiable from the data.
The figures, for England, will be published weekly at first with the aim of updating them daily.
Public health professionals across each region will also be given positive test data and contact tracing figures every day.

US unemployment claims rise by 1.3m

A further 1.3 million people filed for unemployment in the US last week as the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll.
Jobless claims have declined significantly since mid-April, levelling off at around the one million mark in recent weeks after the country reopened for business.
In the week ending 11 July, jobless claims dropped by just 10,000 compared to the previous week, Labor Department figures showed .
That was a lower-than-expected reduction, signalling the fragility of the country’s economic recovery as coronavirus infections surge once more nationwide.
This week’s new claims were almost double the pre-pandemic record set in 1982.
The Labor Department's report on Thursday showed the total number of unemployed people as of 4 July was 17.3 million, a decrease of 422,000 on the previous week.

England records further 19 deaths, none in NI and Wales

A further 19 people who tested positive for the coronavirus have died in England, bringing the total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals to 29,144.
Patients were aged between 52 and 91 years old and all had known underlying health conditions.
Northern Ireland and Wales both reported no new deaths, while Scotland reported one.
Separate UK-wide figures will be released by the UK government later.

'How we're surviving second lockdown'

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What's the best way to get through a second lockdown?

As localised outbreaks of coronavirus infections lead to a number of places around the world going back into second lockdown, we speak to people on what it's like going back.
For Nuria in Lleida, Spain the pyschological impact was profound, whereas others like Rohit in Chennai, India felt more prepared to cope with uncertainty.
Along with people in China and Australia, they've been sharing their advice for surviving a second lockdown.
"Remember, Zoom drinks aren't fun!" Sally in Melbourne reminds us.
Read the rest of their tips here.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 18:50

Vulnerable people in Wales to be able to stop shielding next month

Vulnerable people in Wales can stop shielding after 16 August, the country's chief medical officer has said.
Around 130,000 people in Wales were advised to take shielding measures at the start of the pandemic.
At a coronavirus briefing on Thursday, Dr Frank Atherton said people in the shielding group would be able to go to work, school or shops.
"Those who have been shielding can gradually resume day-to-day life," he said.
Dr Atherton added the measures would be kept under review in case of a rise in transmission levels.
Read more .

Russia rejects ‘groundless’ UK hacking claims

Russia has “nothing at all to do” with attempts to hack information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin has said.
Earlier on Thursday, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said Russian hackers were targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine .
When questioned about the allegations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed them as baseless.
"We do not have information about who may have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Great Britain,” Mr Peskov said.
“We can say one thing - Russia has nothing at all to do with these attempts. We do not accept such accusations, just as new groundless accusations about interference in the 2019 election."
Mr Peskov was referring to further allegations that Russia attempted to meddle in the 2019 UK general election through the leak of illicitly acquired documents .

UK death toll rises by 66

A further 66 people in the UK have died after testing positive for coronavirus, the Department of Health and Social Care has said.
It takes the UK's official death toll to 45,119 across all settings.

'No reason to change UK working from home guidance'

The UK's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has said he thinks there is no reason to change the government's advice on working from home.
Speaking this afternoon to the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Sir Patrick said current social distancing measures were "important" and that working from home remained "a perfectly good option".
He added he did not think working from home was detrimental to productivity and finished by saying he saw "no reason to change it."
It comes amid reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to scrap home working guidance during a press conference on Friday, in a bid to encourage people back into offices and further open up the economy.

Concern as several test positive for Covid-19 in Xinjiang

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
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The Chinese authorities are investigating why a number of people with links to the city of Urumqi in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province have suddenly tested positive for Covid-19.
According to the official broadcaster CCTV, a 24-year-old woman was admitted to hospital in the city on 10 July with a sore throat. By 14 July, she was feverish and had a headache, and tested positive for Covid-19 the following day.
Three of her close contacts in the region have also tested positive and placed in isolation, however they don’t have symptoms. Separately, a 50-year-old man from Urumqi, who flew to Shaoxing in the eastern province of Zhejiang on 10 July, has tested positive for Covid-19. He also has no symptoms.
Official media says the authorities are currently trying to determine how these people might have contracted the virus. No details have been given to indicate any made any notable travel movements that might have placed them in close contact with the virus.

Encouraging results in vaccine trials

Fergus Walsh - Medical correspondent
Encouraging early results from clinical trials have raised hopes for an effective coronavirus vaccine.
Studies in the US and UK suggest several experimental vaccines produce a good immune response in volunteers without serious side-effects.
Nearly two dozen coronavirus vaccines are in clinical trials while another 140 are in early development.
But some scientists are calling for volunteers to be exposed to the virus to accelerate research.
Read more.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 18:59

England to play Wales in Wembley friendly

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The two nations last met at Euro 2016, when England won 2-1

Football fans waited a long time for live sport to return in the UK, and now a date has been set for England to play Wales in a friendly at Wembley Stadium.
The match will be played on 8 October - it'll be behind closed doors in keeping with coronavirus guidelines.
England will pay tribute to former players who have died in the last 12 months, including 1966 World Cup winners Jack Charlton, Martin Peters, Norman Hunter and Peter Bonetti.
Domestic competitive live sport in the UK returned on 1 June for the first time since lockdown measures were introduced in mid-March.

Leicester lockdown to be partially relaxed

The local lockdown in Leicester will be partially relaxed, including for schools and early years childcare, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs.
Hancock says schools and nurseries can reopen in Leicester from 24 July.
He says the city council will also be able to take a “targeted approach” to closing non-essential shops, replacing the blanket ban.
But he says pubs and restaurants - which have reopened in the rest of England - will stay closed.

Florida reports another record daily death toll

The number of coronavirus-related deaths has jumped by 156 in Florida, the US state’s largest single-day increase since the pandemic began.
Thursday’s increase broke the previous daily record of 132 deaths reported on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a further 13,965 coronavirus infections were reported in Florida over the past 24 hours, more than some countries have confirmed in total throughout the pandemic.
With no social-distancing requirements in place, Florida has become the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the US after seeing a recent surge in cases.
The southern state, which began lifting coronavirus restrictions in May, has proved vulnerable to the disease due to tourism and an elderly population.
Read our analysis on why Florida has been so badly affected by Covid-19.

Pelosi mocks Trump's response and other US developments

With infections on the rise nationwide, the US is struggling to get to grips with the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the main talking points from the US on Thursday:

  • Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ridiculed US President Donald Trump over his response to the pandemic, comparing him to a “man who refuses to ask for directions”. “All of the answers are there. The scientists have the answers,” Ms Pelosi said. “And yet the President continues to go down the wrong path.”
  • President Trump has also drawn criticism for the disappearance of some data from the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data was reported missing on Thursday after the Trump administration said it would shift hospital statistics to another government department. “You cannot hide facts,” top Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted , taking aim at President Trump.
  • Officials from states where social distancing has not been strictly enforced have also received criticism for their handling of the pandemic. Florida, now the epicentre of the country’s outbreak, reported a further 156 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, another record daily rise.
  • Meanwhile, restrictions on non-essential travel across US land borders with Canada and Mexico were extended on Thursday to 20 August.

Japan sees highest one-day increase in three months

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Japan recorded more than 600 confirmed cases of the virus on Thursday, the highest one-day increase in three months, according to local news.
Despite the increase, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan had 19,000 hospital beds and plenty of medical supplies to cope with the outbreak.
Tokyo accounts for 286 of those cases, a new record for the city. On Wednesday, the Tokyo Metropolitan government announced it was raising its Covid-19 alert status to red, its highest level.
Japan’s government has announced a subsidised domestic tourism scheme to help boost the tourism economy. From July 22, tourists will see their travel subsidised by up to 50%. However with the rise in cases, people living in Tokyo and those holidaying there will be exempt from the campaign.
Local governments are concerned that an influx of visitors from large cities could lead to a spike in cases, the Japan Times reports.

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Post by Kitkat on Thu Jul 16 2020, 20:24

When exactly did the lockdown start in the UK?

Reality Check
As we reported earlier Health Secretary Matt Hancock was challenged in the Commons by his opposite number in Labour Jonathan Ashworth over comments from the Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.
Sir Patrick had said that the government’s advisory group Sage had recommended in the middle of March (he thought this was either 18 March or 16 March) that the “remainder” of measures to fight coronavirus should be introduced "as soon as possible".
So when exactly did the lockdown start in the UK?
Mr Hancock said: “The 16 March is the day when I came to this house and said that all unnecessary social contact should cease - that is precisely when the lockdown was started.”
The beginning of lockdown has usually been dated to the evening of 23 March when Boris Johnson addressed the nation and people were told to avoid leaving home and all non-essential shops were closed.
In fact, Mr Hancock has previously said that is when lockdown began.
In a debate in the Commons on 2 June, he noted that daily death figures were “lower than at any time since lockdown began on 23 March”

Analysis: Curious timing of Russia meddling claims

Laura Kuenssberg - Political editor
When you have picked your jaw up from the floor after the revelations hackers working for the Russian state are believed to have been trying to steal research into a vaccine that could combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus, it's worth knowing that attempts at interference do not stop there.
Those actions - described as "despicable" by the government - are believed to have targeted, not just UK scientists, but those from Canada and the US as well.
And it's clear, even from the rather technical public statements from security leaders, that the UK government believes the Kremlin itself was involved.
This is not a group of hackers working out of their parents' garage. The group thought to be responsible - APT29 - is one of those previously linked to hacks on the US Democrats in 2016.
And the UK government is confident the attacks were known about at the highest level of the Russian state.
Ministers also chose today, though, to confirm already widely held suspicions that Russian "actors" separately tried to interfere in the UK election last year.
Read more of Laura's analysis, here.

Leicester mayor hits out at 'political' decision to continue lockdown

Leicester’s mayor has responded to the partial easing of lockdown restrictions by accusing the government of attempting to penalise the city’s businesses and residents.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons some restrictions would be lifted from 24 July "but not all" following a prolonged lockdown.
The city has remained under strict measures from 29 June after a spike in cases.
Restrictions on schools and nurseries will be lifted but bars remain closed as virus rates "still remain well above the national average".
Commenting to media gathered at Leicester’s City Hall, Sir Peter Soulsby said: “They have chosen to focus on the city geographical area – effectively the area of the county that votes Labour, and that’s just scandalous."
Hancock said the restrictions were "vital for the health of everyone in Leicester and the rest of the country".
He said they would be reviewed in two weeks.

Spain reports biggest daily rise in two months

Spain has reported 580 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the biggest daily increase in cases nationwide for more than two months.
Most of the new cases detected on Wednesday were in the northern regions of Aragon and Catalonia, where outbreaks have led to the localised renewal of lockdown restrictions.
In the Lleida area of Catalonia, some 160,000 people have been ordered to quarantine at home as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The government of Aragon, meanwhile, said it would limit travel in and out of Zaragoza, the capital of the region.
The resurgence of cases in Catalonia and Aragon has raised fears of a second spike in infections in Spain, which has already been ravaged by the pandemic. More than 250,000 infections and 28,000 deaths have been recorded in total.
Fernando Simón, director of Spain’s Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, said the increase in infections was “worrying”.
He attributed the rise, in part, to the relaxation of social distancing restrictions.

UK news round-up

We're coming to the end of our live coverage for the day - here's a recap of some of today's biggest UK stories.

Spain pays tribute, cases rise and Russia denies hacking

We're pausing our coverage now. So, in case you missed them, here are some of the main developments from around the world today:

  • Globally, the total number of coronavirus infections recorded rose to 3.4 million, while deaths grew to more than 137,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University
  • More than 100 prominent figures including Nobel laureates have signed an open letter calling for volunteers to be exposed to the coronavirus after receiving a vaccine
  • More than 100 prominent figures including Nobel laureates have signed an open letter calling for volunteers to be exposed to the coronavirus after receiving a vaccine
  • Spain's King Felipe led a state memorial event for the more than 28,000 people who have died with Covid-19 in the country
  • Later on on Thursday, Spain reported 580 new coronavirus infections, its biggest daily increase in more than two months
  • Japan recorded more than 600 confirmed cases of the virus on Thursday, the highest one-day increase in three months
  • The number of coronavirus-related deaths jumped by 156 in Florida, the US state’s largest single-day increase since the pandemic began
  • In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex said it will be compulsory to wear a face mask in enclosed indoor spaces from next week
  • Russia rejected claims by the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) that it was behind an attempt to hack information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development

    Current date/time is Sat Nov 28 2020, 08:14