Record Westpac

Westpac bank to pay record Australian fine over laundering breaches – BBC News


image copyrightEPA

image captionWestpac is Australia’s second-largest bank

Australia’s Westpac bank has negotiated to pay a record A$1.3bn (£0.7bn; $0.9bn) fine for the nation’s biggest breach of money laundering laws.

Last year, Australia’s financial crime watchdog said the bank had failed to adequately report over 19 million international transactions.

Some payments were potentially linked to child exploitation, officials said.

The nation’s second-biggest lender has apologised for its “failings”.

Westpac is the second top Australian bank to pay huge fines for breaching anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

If the billion-dollar fine is approved by a court, it will be the largest civil penalty in Australian corporate history.

However, the fine could have been larger. Austrac said the transactions had amounted to 23 million law breaches, with each carrying a maximum penalty of A$21m.

Westpac’s former chief executive and chairman left their positions last year over the scandal.

“We are committed to fixing the issues to ensure that these mistakes do not happen again,” said chief executive Peter King in a statement on Thursday.

Westpac self-reported the breaches to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) last year. It also disclosed the investigation to shareholders, including a forecast penalty.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionShareholders at the bank’s annual general meeting in 2019 were highly critical

The bank said on Thursday it had reached an agreement to settle the court case waged by Austrac.

Most of the breaches concerned the bank’s failure to report international transfers to the regulator, as required by law, in a timely fashion.

The unreported transactions amounted to more than A$11bn between 2013 and 2019, Austrac said.

It said the bank also failed to retain records and carry out due diligence checks with potentially high-risk overseas banks.

Austrac said there were also a small number of payments on accounts that were potentially linked to “child exploitation risks”.

“The failure to pass on information… undermines the integrity of Australia’s financial system and hinders Austrac’s ability to track down the origins of financial transactions, when required to support police investigations,” said the regulator’s boss Nicole Rose last year.

The cases comes amid several investigations around the world into top banks for their alleged failures to prevent money laundering.

HSBC, Danske Bank and Rabobank have all been involved in high-profile scandals.

In Australia, Westpac’s competitor Commonwealth Bank paid an A$700m fine for similar breaches in 2018 involving 53,000 suspect transactions.

The nation’s banking sector was last year also the subject of a royal commission – Australia’s highest form of public inquiry – that exposed widespread wrongdoing in the industry.

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Iran's Record

Iran’s rial hits record low as tension spikes with the U.S. – Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A man displays the Iranian currency at Ferdowsi square in Tehran, Iran July 2, 2020. Mohamadreza Nadimi/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) – The Iranian rial fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar on the unofficial market on Sunday, a day after the U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration declared all United Nations sanctions on Tehran had been restored.

The dollar was offered for as much as 273,000 rials, up from 267,800 rials on Saturday, according to foreign exchange site, which tracks the unofficial market.

Iran has dismissed the U.S. move as “void and illegal” and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Saturday he cannot take any action on the U.S. declaration because “there would appear to be uncertainty” on the issue.

The three European parties to the nuclear deal – France, Britain and Germany – said in a statement on Sunday that any decision or action taken to reimpose U.N. sanctions “would be incapable of legal effect” because Washington used a mechanism agreed under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which the United States quit in 2018.

However, Trump plans to issue an executive order allowing him to impose U.S. sanctions on anyone violating sanctions against Iran.

The Iranian foreign ministry described Washington’s efforts as “futile”, adding that “the U.S. approach is a major threat to the international peace and security and an unprecedented threat to the U.N. and the Security Council”.

“Iran emphasizes that if the U.S., directly or with the cooperation of a number of its allies, makes any move in line with these threats, it will face a serious reaction and should account for all its dangerous consequences,” the ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.

Washington has unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran since 2018, which combined with a drop in oil prices have crippled the economy in Iran, which also has the highest COVID-19 death toll in the Middle East with 24,301 deaths.

Iran’s rial has lost about 49% of its value in 2020.

Additional reporting by Laurence Frost in Paris; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Toby Chopra


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High-fidelity Record

High-fidelity record of Earth’s climate history puts current changes in context – Science Daily

For the first time, climate scientists have compiled a continuous, high-fidelity record of variations in Earth’s climate extending 66 million years into the past. The record reveals four distinctive climate states, which the researchers dubbed Hothouse, Warmhouse, Coolhouse, and Icehouse.

These major climate states persisted for millions and sometimes tens of millions of years, and within each one the climate shows rhythmic variations corresponding to changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun. But each climate state has a distinctive response to orbital variations, which drive relatively small changes in global temperatures compared with the dramatic shifts between different climate states.

The new findings, published September 10 in Science, are the result of decades of work and a large international collaboration. The challenge was to determine past climate variations on a time scale fine enough to see the variability attributable to orbital variations (in the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit around the sun and the precession and tilt of its rotational axis).

“We’ve known for a long time that the glacial-interglacial cycles are paced by changes in Earth’s orbit, which alter the amount of solar energy reaching Earth’s surface, and astronomers have been computing these orbital variations back in time,” explained coauthor James Zachos, distinguished professor of Earth and planetary sciences and Ida Benson Lynn Professor of Ocean Health at UC Santa Cruz.

“As we reconstructed past climates, we could see long-term coarse changes quite well. We also knew there should be finer-scale rhythmic variability due to orbital variations, but for a long time it was considered impossible to recover that signal,” Zachos said. “Now that we have succeeded in capturing the natural climate variability, we can see that the projected anthropogenic warming will be much greater than that.”

For the past 3 million years, Earth’s climate has been in an Icehouse state characterized by alternating glacial and interglacial periods. Modern humans evolved during this time, but greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities are now driving the planet toward the Warmhouse and Hothouse climate states not seen since the Eocene epoch, which ended about 34 million years ago. During the early Eocene, there were no polar ice caps, and average global temperatures were 9 to 14 degrees Celsius higher than today.

“The IPCC projections for 2300 in the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario will potentially bring global temperature to a level the planet has not seen in 50 million years,” Zachos said.

Critical to compiling the new climate record was getting high-quality sediment cores from deep ocean basins through the international Ocean Drilling Program (ODP, later the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, IODP, succeeded in 2013 by the International Ocean Discovery Program). Signatures of past climates are recorded in the shells of microscopic plankton (called foraminifera) preserved in the seafloor sediments. After analyzing the sediment cores, researchers then had to develop an “astrochronology” by matching the climate variations recorded in sediment layers with variations in Earth’s orbit (known as Milankovitch cycles).

“The community figured out how to extend this strategy to older time intervals in the mid-1990s,” said Zachos, who led a study published in 2001 in Science that showed the climate response to orbital variations for a 5-million-year period covering the transition from the Oligocene epoch to the Miocene, about 25 million years ago.

“That changed everything, because if we could do that, we knew we could go all the way back to maybe 66 million years ago and put these transient events and major transitions in Earth’s climate in the context of orbital-scale variations,” he said.

Zachos has collaborated for years with lead author Thomas Westerhold at the University of Bremen Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM) in Germany, which houses a vast repository of sediment cores. The Bremen lab along with Zachos’s group at UCSC generated much of the new data for the older part of the record.

Westerhold oversaw a critical step, splicing together overlapping segments of the climate record obtained from sediment cores from different parts of the world. “It’s a tedious process to assemble this long megasplice of climate records, and we also wanted to replicate the records with separate sediment cores to verify the signals, so this was a big effort of the international community working together,” Zachos said.

Now that they have compiled a continuous, astronomically dated climate record of the past 66 million years, the researchers can see that the climate’s response to orbital variations depends on factors such as greenhouse gas levels and the extent of polar ice sheets.

“In an extreme greenhouse world with no ice, there won’t be any feedbacks involving the ice sheets, and that changes the dynamics of the climate,” Zachos explained.

Most of the major climate transitions in the past 66 million years have been associated with changes in greenhouse gas levels. Zachos has done extensive research on the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), for example, showing that this episode of rapid global warming, which drove the climate into a Hothouse state, was associated with a massive release of carbon into the atmosphere. Similarly, in the late Eocene, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were dropping, ice sheets began to form in Antarctica and the climate transitioned to a Coolhouse state.

“The climate can become unstable when it’s nearing one of these transitions, and we see more deterministic responses to orbital forcing, so that’s something we would like to better understand,” Zachos said.

The new climate record provides a valuable framework for many areas of research, he added. It is not only useful for testing climate models, but also for geophysicists studying different aspects of Earth dynamics and paleontologists studying how changing environments drive the evolution of species.

Coauthors Steven Bohaty, now at the University of Southampton, and Kate Littler, now at the University of Exeter, both worked with Zachos at UC Santa Cruz. The paper’s coauthors also include researchers at more than a dozen institutions around the world. This work was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, National Science Foundation of China, Netherlands Earth System Science Centre, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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After Record

After record low flu season in Australia, US hopes for the same – CNN

(CNN)Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere just finished their easiest flu seasons on record, and the United States and other nations in the Northern Hemisphere could have an easy time, too — if people get flu shots, practice social distancing and wear masks.

“This could be one of the best flu seasons [we’ve had],” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Journal of the American Medical Association in August. “Particularly if [people] do one more thing, and that is to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence.”
It’s never been more important to keep flu at bay, since this fall and winter there will be Covid-19 outbreaks in addition to the flu.
Along with getting a flu shot, Redfield urged people to wear masks, social distance, wash their hands and be smart about crowds.
If Americans choose not to follow the advice, he told WebMD, the nation could experience the “worst fall” in US public health history.

An easy flu season in the Southern Hemisphere

The Southern Hemisphere, which generally has its flu season generally from April to September, just experienced a record low flu season, according to the World Health Organization.
Take Australia, for example.
In August 2019, there were 61,000 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza in Australia.
In August 2020, there were 107.
“This is virtually a non-season,” said Ian Barr, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne. ”We’ve never seen numbers like this before.”
South Africa and the southern cone of South America have had similar experiences.
“Where you would expect to have seasons — like in Chile, like in Argentina — we didn’t really see a season this year,” said Dr. Andrea Vicari, an adviser on epidemic-prone disease for the Pan American Health Organization.
Covid-19 is much of the reason.
Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere started just as Covid-19 hit. All the precautions people took to control the new virus — staying home, practicing social distancing, wearing masks — also helped keep flu numbers low.
“Many of the physical distancing and public health measures that have been put in place, which keeps people apart, may have actually played a role in reducing circulation of the [coronavirus],” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 technical lead. 
Vicari said Covid might have also influenced people to get flu shots.
“If we compare to previous season, I think there was quite a bit more urgency in terms of influenza vaccination,” he said.
He said it’s also possible that a significant number of people already had immunity to the flu viruses in circulation this year in the Southern Hemisphere.

Implications for the Northern Hemisphere

Infectious disease experts warn that an easy flu season down under does not mean the US will necessarily be as fortunate.
“It’s very hazardous to make predictions about influenza,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
He said even with low amounts of flu in the Southern Hemisphere, he’s still concerned about a “twin-demic” of flu and Covid-19, which could cost lives and put a strain on the health care system.
A look at hospitalization numbers show the burden of two viruses at once.
It’s estimated that for the 2019-2020 US flu season, between 410,000 and 740,000 people were hospitalized for flu.
Since March, at least 372,217 people have been hospitalized in the US for Covid-19, according to figures from the Covid Tracking Project. And a model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects a 170% increase in hospital bed use for Covid-19 patients from now until January 1.
“From a resource standpoint, it’s the worst possibility,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “It’s really a perfect storm.”
That’s why a flu shot this year is especially important.
“By getting that flu vaccine, you may be able to negate the necessity to take up a hospital bed, and then that hospital bed can be more available for those who potentially get hospitalized for Covid,” Redfield told WedMD. 
Just getting the right diagnosis could be tough, since symptoms for flu and coronavirus are very similar.
“We won’t be able to distinguish immediately between whether somebody has flu or whether somebody has Covid,” WHO’s Van Kerkhove said.
Doctors will need to do more testing than usual, but tests for both flu and Covid-19 are imperfect.
Plus, outbreaks of both viruses could mean shortages of personal protective equipment for health care workers.
“That is really going to drain our PPE stocks very quickly,” Osterholm said.

Plans for flu shots this year

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu shot.
Flu shots work: In the 2018-19 US flu season, the vaccine averted more than 4 million illnesses, 2 million doctors’ visits and about 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths, according to the CDC.
Redfield said the CDC has purchased 10 million doses of the flu vaccine for uninsured adults this year, compared to the usual 500,000 doses.
“Please don’t to leave this important accomplishment of American medicine on the shelf for yourself, your family, your church, your workforce,” he said in an interview with WebMD.
But the increased supply doesn’t mean Americans will be rushing out to get a flu shot.
Historically, only about 45% of US adults and 63% of children get vaccinated against the flu, according to the CDC.
This year, there are unique obstacles.
About a third of US adults and 80% of children get their flu shot at a doctor’s office, according to a 2018 CDC study.
This year, many people are hesitant to go to the doctor for fear of catching Covid.
Nearly 15% of adults got their flu shot at work, according to the study. This year, many people are working from home.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Osterholm said, “How are we going to get our flu shots out?”
To help more children get vaccinated against the flu, in August, the Trump administration authorized any state-licensed pharmacist to administer the flu shot to children starting at age 3.
Schaffner said he’s particularly worried about communities of color, where coronavirus has already caused a disproportionate amount of sickness and death.
“We would like to really extend influenza immunization into communities of color and lower socio-economic areas, and those communities very traditionally have been vaccine wary. They’re not anti-vaccine — that’s a different group — they’re just not as convinced about the merits of vaccination. It’s harder to reach them,” Schaffner said. 
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and other organizations are starting to get the word out to encourage people to get people to accept flu vaccination, he says.
“We wish to reach those communities of color and underrepresented minorities with even more intensity, but we’re not a whole lot smarter about how to do that, unfortunately,” Schaffner said. 

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all-time Record

All-time record heat across Southern California fuels fires, threatens power supply – Los Angeles Times

An epic Southern California heat wave crested Sunday with numerous all-time high temperature records set, including a 121-degree reading in Woodland Hills that marked a historic milestone for Los Angeles County.

The broiling temperatures put extreme pressure on the power grid, with malfunctions leaving thousands without power and officials warning that rolling blackouts could affect millions of customers, although that threat eventually was averted.

It also fueled a series of fast-moving brush fires across the region, including one in Angeles National Forest near Duarte that broke out Sunday afternoon and forced Labor Day weekend visitors to flee.

In San Bernardino County, the El Dorado fire near Yucaipa had burned more than 3,000 acres and forced evacuations in some communities. To the south in San Diego County, the Valley fire in the backcountry had burned 5,300 acres and destroyed at least 10 structures.

The Woodland Hills reading of 121 degrees broke the county’s old record of 119 degrees set in July 2006 and was one of several records to fall Sunday. Escondido achieved an all-time high of 115 degrees, shattering a record set in 1909. Paso Robles also hit an all-time high at 117, as did Idyllwild (104) and Chino (121).

Woodland Hills is one of the hottest parts of Los Angeles and often records extreme temperatures. But Sunday’s conditions — measured at a station at Pierce College — marked the highest temperature from an official National Weather Service station in not only L.A. County but also Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

The weather service said Riverside hit its highest temperature ever for September at 117 degrees; Santa Ana hit a record high for the day at 106.

Officials have warned people to avoid outdoor activities even as temperatures cool slightly Monday.

A woman in her late 40s was hiking on a trail in the Santa Monica Mountains in Calabasas when she began to feel sick and collapsed at 2 p.m. Saturday, said L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Juanita Navarro.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. The official cause of death is still unknown, Navarro said.

Because of the dangerous heat wave, all trails in the Santa Monica Mountains are closed through Labor Day, Malibu Search and Rescue said in a tweet.

In Angeles National Forest, the Sheriff’s Department search and rescue team performed an air rescue Saturday on a semiconscious hiker suffering from heat exhaustion on the popular Strawberry Peak trail, where temperatures often soar because it has minimal shade in the afternoon.

The California Independent System Operator, which operates much of the state’s electrical system, had feared blackouts would be necessary during peak evening hours, but later Sunday night announced it had staved off the threat. The California ISO warned consumers they would be asked to limit electrical use Monday from 3 to 9 p.m.

The organization had declared a statewide emergency after a transmission line carrying power from Oregon to California and another in-state power plant went offline unexpectedly. The cause of the outages was unknown as of Sunday evening.

As of Sunday afternoon, much of Southern California Edison’s 18,000-plus reported outages were in Los Angeles County, where more than 10,000 customers were without power. The largest outages as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday included 1,203 in Inglewood and 1,126 in Paramount.

The outages were heat- or non-fire-related, said Edison spokesman Reggie Kumar, but overall, the electricity distribution system was performing well.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had enough power supplies and did not anticipate the need to implement rolling blackouts, a DWP spokesman said.

The utility did experience some small power outages in West Adams, Reseda, Sun Valley and Pacoima, among other places. As of Sunday morning, about 7,000 customers were without power, and crews had worked around the clock to restore power to 37,000 after temperatures and energy demand soared, according to the utility.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. warned that the Diablo wind event set to hit Monday evening through midday Wednesday may require public safety power shutoffs for about 103,000 customers in the Sierra foothills, North Bay and East Bay. PG&E provides electricity across Northern and Central California.

The hot weather has hampered firefighting and heat-related rescue efforts across the state.

In the Sierra National Forest northeast of Fresno, the 45,500-acre Creek fire trapped more than 200 hikers in the Mammoth Pool recreation area when it crossed the San Joaquin River on Saturday afternoon, prompting a massive rescue effort by the California National Guard.

In Los Angeles County, the Bobcat fire started Sunday afternoon and quickly grew to 1,000 acres near the popular West Fork Picnic Area, a usually peaceful, wooded area where many residents fish and swim in the cool San Gabriel River.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said Sunday evening that the El Dorado fire had a rather bizarre cause: a smoke-emitting device that was part of a gender-reveal party in a Yucaipa park. Such devices typically shoo off blue or pink smoke to signal the gender of an expected child.

“Cal Fire reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire,” the agency said in a statement.

Hoist Rescue, hiker with heat exhaustion, Strawberry Peak Trail, Angeles Forest. #LASD Air Rescue 5 inserts LASD SEB Tactical Medics to rescue semi-conscious hiker. Airlifted to hospital. Very high temperatures today. Please do not hike without ample water supply.

— SEB (@SEBLASD) September 5, 2020

Times staff writers Thomas Curwen in Los Angeles and Rong-Gong Lin II in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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closes Record

S&P 500 Closes Week Near Record High. Is This a Stock-Market Bubble? – Barron’s

Text size

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

It’s as if the bear market never happened. And maybe it didn’t.

The stock market had another good week, with the
S&P 500
index finishing up 0.6% to 3372.85; the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
rising 497.54 points, or 1.8%, to 27,931.02; and the
Nasdaq Composite
gaining 0.1%. The S&P 500’s gain was good enough for the index to finish the week within 0.4 percentage point of its Feb. 19 record high.

In other words, if you went to sleep on Feb. 19 and woke up on Aug. 14, you would think that nothing had happened.

Assuming that the S&P 500 does trade at a new high, it would be the fastest recovery from a bear market on record. And it wouldn’t even matter if the S&P 500 took its time—the previous record was 310 trading days from the bear-market low on Feb. 9, 1966, to May 4, 1967.

But what if the market didn’t experience a bear market? By the traditional definition, it obviously was: The S&P 500 dropped 34% from Feb. 19 through March 23, far more than the 20% needed to meet the requirement. But there are other ways to think about whether a drop is really a bear market. For instance, a typical peak-to-peak recovery takes 1,542 trading days, on average, according to Dow Jones Market Data, so the speed of the rebound alone would suggest that something else is going on.

A bear market should also mark a clean break with what came before. That was the case during the 2007-09 financial crisis, as banks went from being the best-performing sector to laggard, and during the dot-com bust, when tech stocks suffered massive losses but value investors made off like bandits.

Instead, Michael Shaoul, CEO of Marketfield Asset Management, compares the drop to two other big declines, one officially a bear market, the other not.

The first occurred in 1987, when the S&P 500 dropped 34% from its all-time high—including the 20% Black Monday tumble, still the largest single-day decline on record. The second occurred in 1998, when the emerging market debt crisis and the blowup of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management caused the S&P 500 to drop 19.3%. In both cases, the rebounds, spurred by Fed largess, were swift and ended up creating bubbles—in Japan in the former, tech in the latter. And in Shaoul’s opinion, another bubble is being inflated.

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“Under current circumstances, the odds of central banks being ‘third time lucky’ appear to be remote, and we increasingly believe that we are heading for some form of ‘bubble trouble’ along the road,” Shaoul writes.

You don’t need to take his word for it. Consider Bank of America analyst John Murphy’s Friday morning upgrade of
(ticker: TSLA)—which has gained 295% to $1,650.71 in 2020—from Sell to Hold. It wasn’t that Murphy suddenly had a change of heart on Elon Musk’s company. Instead, he cited Tesla’s unfettered access to cheap capital gained by its stock’s never-ending rise.

“It is important to recognize that the higher the upward spiral of [Tesla’s] stock goes, the cheaper capital becomes to fund growth, which is then rewarded by investors with a higher stock price,” Murphy writes.

Think about that for a minute. Murphy is describing a positive feedback loop, one that is almost guaranteed to lead to a price well above what fundamentals suggest it should. And that same dynamic is at play in many parts of the market, says Jason Brady, CEO of asset manager Thornburg. The market is being led by companies that have gotten stronger because of the coronavirus, can offer growth at a time when the Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates well below the level of inflation. It’s a good story, he says, but may be starting to get pushed too far.

“That’s where things are getting a little bit silly,” Brady says.

So if the market is in a bubble, what might cause it to pop? BTIG strategist Julian Emanuel offers a few potential catalysts. A vaccine could cause investors to buy economically sensitive stocks over those that benefit from everyone working from home. Interest rates could rise, causing financial stocks to rise—and bloated multiples to contract. Continued tensions with China could also cause problems for highflying tech stocks.

“Or will there be no catalyst, as bubbles tend to be identified in hindsight, as it was in Y2K,” Emanuel writes.

And maybe then, we’ll have a real, genuine, honest-to-God bear market.

Write to Ben Levisohn at

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Record Reports

WHO reports record daily rise in global coronavirus cases: Live – Al Jazeera English

  • Vietnam recorded its second coronavirus death as the country battles a new outbreak of the virus, which emerged in the city of Danang.

  • Spain reported a second day of 1,000-plus coronavirus infections, the highest since the nation lifted its lockdown in June.

  • Libya’s United Nations-recognised government in Tripoli announced it would impose a full lockdown in areas of the country it controls, after a rise in COVID-19 cases.

  • More than 17.2 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. More than 10 million patients have recovered, and at least 673,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates:

22:55 GMT – Libya reinstates total lockdown for five days

The internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli has reinstated a total lockdown for at least five days to curb the growing coronavirus outbreak in the war-torn country.

The tight restrictions imposed on Friday dampened the festive spirit of the Eid-al-Adha holiday.

With Libya’s health system and infrastructure devastated by nine years of conflict, the United Nations-supported government ordered people in western Libya to stay inside unless they have to purchase essentials.

Libya is divided between rival administrations in the west and east. It has reported 3,621 confirmed coronavirus infections and 74 fatalities due to COVID-19, but testing nationwide remains extremely limited.

22:15 GMT – Greece makes masks compulsory following spike in COVID cases

Greece will make mask-wearing compulsory in all indoor public spaces and also in outdoor spaces where proper social distancing cannot be observed, its deputy civil protection minister said on Friday, following a further rise in COVID-19 infections.

Greece reported 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections on Friday, its highest tally in about two months. Overall, it has so far confirmed 4,447 COVID-19 cases with 202 deaths, a relatively low number compared to many European countries, after imposing an early lockdown in the spring.

“The decisive factor in successfully confronting the pandemic in the first phase was citizens’ responsibility, the individual responsibility of every one,” Deputy Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said in a televised address. “This was the ‘secret’ of Greece’s success and we must all show the same responsibility and alertness in this phase.”

Athens, Greece

Seating limits have been imposed – and now, masks will be required – at famous landmarks in Greece such as the renovated ancient stone Roman theatre underneath the Acropolis in Athens. [File Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]

20:55 GMT – EU in talks to secure Sanofi deal for virus vaccine

Sanofi SA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc said they are in advanced discussions to supply up to 300 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine for the 27-country European Union.

Armed with an emergency fund of more than two billion euros ($2.4bn), the European Commission wants to strike deals with up to six drugmakers for their vaccines for their 450 million citizens against the coronavirus that has killed 674,000 people worldwide.

The Commission said the aim of the talks with Sanofi was to clinch an advance purchase deal.

Sanofi is working on two vaccine projects, including one in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline.

20:10 GMT – Child care closures disproportionally affect women

The pandemic upended child care plans for many parents in the US, forcing them, particularly mothers, to grapple with tough choices that are only becoming more difficult as states push return-to-work policies to try to revive the battered economy.

Read more here

19:20 GMT – US COVID-19 vaccine trials will exclude pregnant women for now

The first two COVID-19 vaccines to enter large-scale US trials will not be tested in pregnant women this year, raising questions about how this vulnerable population will be protected from the coronavirus, researchers told Reuters.

Moderna and Pfizer, which has partnered with Germany’s BioNTech, this week separately launched clinical trials that use a new and unproven gene-based technology.

Both companies are requiring proof of a negative pregnancy test and a commitment to using birth control from women of childbearing age who enrol.

Drugmakers said they first need to make sure the vaccines are safe and effective more generally.

In addition, US regulators require that drugmakers conduct safety studies in pregnant animals before the vaccines are tested in pregnant women to ensure they don’t harm the fetus or lead to miscarriage.

19:10 GMT – Fauci ‘cautiously’ optimistic 2021 will see COVID-19 vaccine

Appearing before a House panel investigating the United States’ response to the pandemic, Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH), expressed “cautious” optimism that once a coronavirus vaccine is approved as safe and effective, Americans should have widespread access within a reasonable time.

Read more here

18:20 GMT – Coronavirus infected hundreds of children at US summer camp

Hundreds of children contracted the coronavirus at a summer camp in the US state of Georgia last month, health authorities said, adding to a growing body of evidence that minors are both susceptible to infection and vectors of transmission.

The virus infected at least 260 of the 597 attendees, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, adding that the true number was probably higher since test results were only available for 58 percent of the group.

The camp ignored the CDC’s advice that all participants in summer camps wear cloth masks – requiring them only for staff.

It did, however, adhere to a state executive order requiring all participants to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 12 days or less before their arrival.

Other precautionary measures included physical distancing, frequent disinfection of surfaces, keeping children among the same small group, also known as “cohorting,” and staggering the use of communal spaces.

18:05 GMT – Number of new French infections above 1,300 for third day in a row

French health authorities reported 1,346 new confirmed coronavirus infections, which took the total to 187,919 as new cases are above 1,300 a day for the third day in a row, the highest since late April.

In a statement, the health ministry also said that the number of people in intensive care units due to the disease fell by a further 10 to 371.

On Thursday, that figure had increased by just one, which was the first daily increase after falling every day since April 9.

In the past 24 hours, 11 people died from the virus infection, taking the total to 30,265. In the past three days, the number of dead per day was 16, 15 and 14.

18:00 GMT – WHO reports record daily increase in global cases, up over 292,000

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 292,527.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. Deaths rose by 6,812. The four countries have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 284,196 on July 24. Deaths rose by 9,753 on July 24, the second-largest one-day increase ever. Deaths have been averaging 5,200 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

17:50 GMT – Florida, Mississippi report record increases in deaths

Florida reported a record increase in new COVID-19 deaths for a fourth day in a row, with 257 fatalities, according to the state health department.

Mississippi also reported a record increase in deaths, with fatalities rising by 52. That was a record rise for the state for the second day in a row.

Overall in the United States, deaths have increased by nearly 25,000 in July to 153,000 total lives lost since the pandemic started.

Florida also reported 9,007 new cases, bringing its total infections to over 470,000, the second-highest in the country behind California. Florida’s total death toll rose to nearly 7,000, the eighth highest in the nation, according to a Reuters tally.

Florida is among at least 18 states that saw cases more than double in July.

Florida reported record one-day increases in cases three times during the month, with the highest on July 12, at 15,300 new cases in a single day.

17:30 GMT – Greece extends mask-wearing requirement as infections flare-up

Greece will make mask-wearing compulsory in all indoor public spaces and also in outdoor spaces where proper social distancing cannot be observed, its deputy civil protection minister said on Friday, following a further rise in COVID-19 infections.

Greece reported 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, its highest tally in about two months. Overall, it has so far confirmed 4,447 COVID-19 cases with 202 deaths, a relatively low number compared to many European countries, after imposing an early lockdown in the spring.

Health authorities made mask-wearing compulsory for consumers at supermarkets 10 days ago and on Tuesday moved to extend the measure to more indoor public spaces to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

16:40 GMT – Namibia to close schools, limit public gatherings as cases surge

Namibian schools will be suspended for the second time in four months next week, while limits on public gatherings will be tightened further to 100 from 250 amid surging cases, President Hage Geingob said.

In a televised speech, Geingob said the decision to suspend schools from August 4 for 28 days came after considering the risks associated with the spread of the virus.

The measure affects early childhood development, pre-primary, primary and the first two grades of high school.

Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to Geingob.

16:30 GMT – Deep Washington divide on coronavirus aid as jobless benefit to expire

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said talks with the White House on a new coronavirus aid bill were not yet on a path toward reaching a deal, hours before the expiration of a federal unemployment benefit that has been an essential lifeline for millions of Americans.

Asked why she rejected a proposal from Republican President Donald Trump’s administration for a one-week extension of the $600 enhanced weekly jobless payment, Pelosi told reporters that such a move would occur “if you are on a path” toward a deal.

“We’re not,” Pelosi told a news conference.

However, negotiations were to continue on Friday between White House officials and congressional Democrats. Pelosi, the nation’s top elected Democrat, said she thought Congress and the White House eventually would come together on legislation, although she gave no timetable.

16:15 GMT – Vietnam ministry reports second COVID-19 death

The 61-year-old man died at a hospital in Danang city, where Vietnam last week detected its first domestically transmitted coronavirus infections in more than three months, the ministry said in a statement.

The country, which has recorded 546 coronavirus infections since its first cases were detected in January, reported its first coronavirus death earlier on Friday. 

15:20 GMT – Impact of coronavirus will be felt for decades to come, WHO says

The global coronavirus outbreak is the sort of disaster whose effects will last far into the future, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come,” Tedros told a meeting of the WHO’s emergency committee, according to remarks released by the agency.

The pandemic has killed more than 670,000 people since emerging in Wuhan, China, with more than 17 million cases diagnosed.

The United States, Brazil, Mexico and the UK have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks by the disease COVID-19, as their governments have struggled to come up with an effective response.

Economies have been hit by lockdown restrictions introduced to restrict its spread, while many regions are fearful of a second wave.

15:15 GMT – Three crew members on Norway cruise ship hospitalised with COVID-19

Three members of the crew of Norwegian cruise vessel Roald Amundsen have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the University Hospital of North Norway told Reuters.

All 160 crew members have been quarantined, while passengers who have travelled with the ship would be told to self-isolate, ship operator Hurtigruten said.

The vessel had close to 200 passengers on board when it arrived at the Arctic port of Tromsoe early on Friday, all of whom had disembarked, public broadcaster NRK reported. 

15:10 GMT – India’s Tata motors posts major loss as lockdowns hit sales

India’s Tata Motors reported a major quarterly loss as coronavirus lockdowns hit sales in domestic and international markets including Europe and China.

Mumbai-headquartered Tata Motors, the parent of British luxury marque Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), announced a consolidated net loss of 84.39bn rupees ($1.13bn) for the quarter ended June 30 against a loss of 36.98bn rupees a year earlier.

A survey of analysts by Bloomberg had predicted the quarterly loss to come in at $1.28bn.

Tata’s luxury car unit JLR faced sales challenges in its key markets China and Europe, worsened by the virus spread and supply chain disruptions.

14:55 GMT – Spain diagnosis 1,525 new cases in new post-lockdown record

Spain’s health ministry reported 1,525 new coronavirus cases, marking the biggest jump since a national lockdown was lifted in June and beating the previous day’s record rise.

It is third day in a row Spain has diagnosed more than 1,000 infections.

Cumulative cases, which also include results from antibody tests on people who may have recovered increased to 288,522 from 285,430, the ministry said. 

14:10 GMT – Italy travel linked to 1 in 4 first virus cases outside China

People who had visited Italy accounted for more than a quarter of the first reported cases of the new coronavirus outside China, according to a new study that found most initial infections were linked to just three countries.

Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used publicly available data to trace the early spread of COVID-19 to dozens of affected countries in the 11 weeks before the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic.

People take a walk and relax at the Naviglio Grande canal, in Milan, Italy, Sunday, May 24, 2src2src. Europeans and Americans soaked up the sun where they could, taking advantage of the first holiday week

In Italy, 85.6 percent of those who have died were over 70 [Luca Bruno/AP]

They found that 27 percent of all the first reported cases were people with travel links to Italy, while 22 percent had been to China and 11 percent had travelled from Iran.

The study, which was published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases this week, found that overall three-quarters of the first cases in affected countries were linked to recent travel.

13:45 GMT – Philips says it did not profiteer on ventilators amid coronavirus

Dutch healthcare equipment company Philips said it had not sought to profit by raising the price of the ventilators it manufactures during the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Frans van Houten said the company was responding to a report issued by the US Congress’s House Subcommitte on Economic and Consumer policy.

“I would like to make clear that at no occasion, Philips has raised prices to benefit from the crisis situation,” he said. 

13:35 GMT – Fauci testifies before coronavirus panel

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, will testify before a coronavirus subcommittee in Congress, weeks after President Donald Trump’s administration first refused to let him address the panel.

Fauci’s testimony comes at the end of a week when the pandemic’s tragic toll on the country has become far clearer.

The United States on Wednesday experienced its 150,000th death from the disease – more than any other country – and data on Thursday showing a deep economic plunge.

Democrats said the Trump administration initially prevented Fauci from testifying to the panel by saying he was unavailable for the entire month of July and relented only after House Majority Whip James Clyburn wrote to Vice President Mike Pence.

12:32 GMT – Germany adds three virus-hit Spanish regions to quarantine list

Germany has added three northern Spanish regions to its list of high-risk destinations, meaning anyone arriving from those areas will have to produce a negative coronavirus test or go into quarantine for 14 days.

Germany’s foreign ministry said it had issued a travel warning for the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon following a spike in COVID-19 cases there.

The move comes after Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for disease control added the three regions to its high-risk list.

11:55 GMT – England to require face coverings in cinema and worship places

People in England will be required to wear face masks or other face coverings in cinemas, places of worship, museums and art galleries from August 8, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you’re likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship,” Johnson said.

Face coverings are already required on public transport and, more recently, in shops. 

11:32 GMT – UK’s Johnson postpones next stage of lockdown lifting as infections rise

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would postpone the next stage of lockdown easing for at least two weeks due to a pick-up in COVID-19 infection rates.

“On Saturday 1 August we had hoped to reopen in England a number of the higher-risk settings that had remained closed … Today, I am afraid we are postponing those changes for at least a fortnight,” Johnson said at a news conference.

“I know that the steps we are taking will be a real blow to many people … I am really, really sorry about that, but we simply cannot take the risk.” 

Vigil for 65 thousand victims of Covid-19 in UK

A group of National Health Service (NHS) staff and campaigners held a vigil with lanterns for 65,000 people who died due to the novel coronavirus pandemic in the UK [Ilyas Tayfun Salci/Anadolu]

11:05 GMT – Scotland warns against travel to COVID-hit areas of northern England

Scotland’s government has advised against non-essential travel to Greater Manchester and other parts of northern England which face new lockdown restrictions due to an upsurge in cases.

“I strongly advise anyone planning to travel to areas affected in the north of England, or anyone planning to travel to Scotland from those same areas, to cancel their plans,” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

10:12 GMT – COVID infections on the rise in England, survey shows

There has likely been a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive for coronavirus in recent weeks, the UK’s Office for National Statistics said.

The weekly infection survey said an estimated one in 1,500 individuals had COVID-19 in the most recent week from July 20-26, compared with one in 2,000 the previous week. 

09:32 GMT – There is no ‘zero risk’ in easing travel restrictions, WHO says

There is no “zero risk” strategy for countries easing international travel restrictions during the pandemic, and essential travel for emergencies should remain the priority, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

In a long-awaited update to its guidance on travel, the United Nations global health agency said cross-border trips for emergencies, humanitarian work, the transfer of essential personnel and repatriation would constitute essential travel.

A surge in new infections in many parts of the world has prompted some countries to reintroduce some travel restrictions, including testing and quarantining incoming passengers.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mexico City

A passenger, wearing a protective mask, and her baby pass on a passenger checkpoint at the almost empty Benito Juarez international airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Mexico City, Mexico [File: Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

08:58 GMT – Poland reports record high virus cases for second day

Poland has reported its highest number of new daily cases since the pandemic started for the second day in a row, with 657 new cases, according to the health ministry.

The ministry reported seven new deaths, with a total of 45,688 reported coronavirus cases and 1,716 deaths.

Of the new cases, 227 were in the Silesia region, which has been grappling with an outbreak amongst miners. 

08:55 GMT – Philippines records 4,063 new cases

The Philippine health ministry has confirmed 4,063 infections, reporting the highest daily case increase in Southeast Asia for a second straight day.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed infections have risen to 93,354, while deaths increased by 40 to 2,023.

08:53 GMT – Germany puts three virus-hit Spanish regions on high-risk list

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases has put three Spanish regions, including Catalonia, home to Barcelona, on its list of countries designated as high-risk for the coronavirus.

The three regions are Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre in northern Spain, RKI said.

The summer holiday season has prompted fears that tourists returning from destinations experiencing a surge in new cases like Spain could sow the seeds of a second wave.

On Monday, Germany said it would make coronavirus tests mandatory at airports for all returning holidaymakers from high-risk areas. 

08:52 GMT – Hong Kong reports 121 new cases as local transmissions stay high

Hong Kong has reported 121 new cases, including 118 that were locally transmitted, as authorities say the global financial hub faces a critical period to battle a third wave of the virus which has seen a resurgence this month.

The Chinese territory reported a daily record of 149 new cases on Thursday. Since late January, over 3,100 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 27 of whom have died. 

08:27 GMT – Indonesia reports 2,040 new cases, 73 deaths 

Indonesia has reported 2,040 new infections and 73 additional deaths, according to data published on the country’s COVID-19 task force website.

This brought Indonesia’s total number of confirmed infections to 108,376 and deaths to 5,131. 

Eid al-Adha prayer amid coronavirus outbreak in Surabaya, Indonesia

People attend Eid al-Adha prayer by implementing social distancing and health protocol during coronavirus outbreak at Al Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia [Suryanto/Anadolu]

08:26 GMT – Italy’s GDP plunges 12.4 percent in second quarter

Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.4 percent in the second quarter, Italy’s national statistics bureau Istat said, plunging the country into recession.

GDP fell by 17.3 percent compared with the year-ago second quarter, Istat said, as the coronavirus lockdown took a dramatic toll on the eurozone’s third-largest economy. 

07:49 GMT – Vietnam records first COVID-19 death after virus re-emerges 

Vietnam has confirmed its first coronavirus death, state media reported, after the death of an elderly man who had tested positive in Danang, the city where the virus re-emerged in the country last week after 100 days.

Vietnam is battling a new outbreak of the virus following months of successful countermeasures which saw the country keep its coronavirus tally to just a few hundred cases.

The man, 70, died early on Friday, state media said.

Authorities on Friday reported 45 new coronavirus cases, marking the biggest daily jump in the country, bringing the total cases in the country to 509.

Vietnam Imposes Restrictions As Coronavirus Cases Rise

Medical specialists in protective suits collect blood samples for a COVID-19 rapid test from people who recently returned from Da Nang City on July 31, 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam [Linh Pham/Getty Images]

07:43 GMT – Russia’s case tally nears 840,000

Russia has reported 5,482 new cases, pushing its national tally to 839,981, the world’s fourth-largest caseload.

Officials said 161 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 13,963. 

07:12 GMT – France sees record 13.8 percent GDP plunge in second quarter

France’s economy has contracted by a record 13.8 percent in the second quarter under the effect of coronavirus lockdowns, the national statistics institute INSEE said.

The seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter drop in gross domestic product (GDP) was better than forecast but worse than the performance of most of its eurozone peers.

“GDP’s negative developments in first half of 2020 is linked to the shut-down of ‘non-essential’ activities in the context of the implementation of the lockdown between mid-March and the beginning of May,” INSEE said in a statement.

INSEE also updated the figure for the first quarter to a 5.9 percent contraction, from the 5.3 percent it had previously estimated.

The second quarter figure means the French economy has been shrinking for three consecutive quarters and continues to be in recession. 

France requires masks inside public places

People, wearing protective face masks, walk in a street in Paris as France enforces mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the country [Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters]

07:03 GMT – Germany reports 870 new cases

Germany has reported 870 new cases, according to a tally from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

That brought the total number to 208,698 while 9,141 deaths have been recorded. 

06:55 GMT – Fiji records first COVID-19 death

Fiji has announced its first coronavirus death but health officials assured people in the Pacific island nation that it is not the precursor to a major outbreak.

Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said the victim was a 66-year-old man who tested positive after returning from India, where he had undergone surgery for a long-standing heart condition.

“Sadly, despite the best efforts of our health-care professionals, this gentleman passed away yesterday in the isolation ward at Lautoka hospital due to complications from COVID-19,” Waqainabete told reporters.

He said the man was one of nine active cases who had been held in quarantine since they were repatriated from India on July 1.

Before then, Fiji had enjoyed a spell of four weeks virus-free, after the 18 cases it had previously recorded all recovered. 

In Africa, fashion designers are injecting style into face masks.

— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 31, 2020

06:40 GMT – UK tightens lockdown in northern England

The UK has imposed a tougher lockdown in swaths of northern England after a rise in the rate of coronavirus transmission, raising concerns that a second wave of the deadly virus could sow yet more turmoil.

About four million people were ordered not to mix with other households in Greater Manchester, the biggest city in northern England, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire, though they can still go to the pub and to work.

The measures come after the UK reported its highest number of new infections in more than a month.

06:15 GMT – KLM says 1,500 new job cuts will bring total reduction to 20 percent

KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM, says it will cut 1,500 additional jobs as part of restructuring in which it needs to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2030 as well as prepare for recovering traffic after the coronavirus outbreak.

Parent company Air France-KLM on Thursday reported a 1.55 billion euro ($1.8bn) operating loss for the second quarter, with traffic down 95 percent from a year earlier.

KLM said the new cuts would mean its workforce, 33,000 before the pandemic, would be reduced by 20 percent in all by 2022. It did not rule out further cuts. 

06:04 GMT – India’s cases rise by a daily record of 55,078 

India has reported another record surge in daily infections, taking the total to 1.64 million, as the government further eases virus curbs in a bid to resuscitate the economy, while also trying to increase testing.

Infections jumped by 55,078 in the past 24 hours, while the death toll rose by 779 to 35,747, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on its website.

The ministry also said it aimed to raise the country’s capacity to one million coronavirus tests a day in the medium term, from a record 600,000 on Friday.

The federal government this week announced the reopening of yoga institutes and gymnasiums, and removed restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

Hello, this is Farah Najjar taking over from my colleague Zaheena Rasheed.

04:51 GMT – Southeast Asia poverty to surge in ‘socio-economic crisis’

Southeast Asia is on the brink of a “socio-economic crisis” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that could reverse decades of poverty reduction, the United Nations has warned.

“The crisis threatens to destroy the livelihoods of Southeast Asia’s 218 million informal workers,” a UN policy brief released on Thursday said. “Without alternative income, formal social protection systems or savings to buffer these shocks, workers and their families will be pushed into poverty, reversing decades of poverty reduction.”

The region-wide economy was expected to contract by 0.4 per cent in 2020, it said, while remittances from Southeast Asians working abroad were likely to fall by 13 per cent or $10bn.

The paper urged nations to fix “fiscal termites”: budget-sapping problems like tax evasion, transfer pricing and fossil fuel subsidies so they can deliver large stimulus packages to help vulnerable populations and boost their economies.

Current low oil prices provided an ideal opportunity to reverse fossil fuel subsidies, it added.

04:46 GMT – Bali welcomes visitors after four-month lockdown

Indonesia’s resort island of Bali has reopened to domestic tourists after an almost four-month lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the easing that took effect on Friday, Indonesians visiting Bali will face stringent rules at hotels, restaurants and beaches. Foreign tourists will be allowed on the island beginning September 11.

04:35 GMT – Philippines extends restrictions

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended quarantine restrictions in the capital Manila, limiting movements of the elderly and children, and the operations of businesses from restaurants to gyms, until mid-August.

“My plea is to endure some more. Many have been infected,” Duterte said in a televised address.

Duterte promised free vaccines if they became available by late this year, prioritising first the poor and then the middle class, police and military personnel. The Philippines will be given precedence by China in vaccine distribution, he said.


People wearing face masks wait to have their coronavirus rapid tests at a stadium in Manila, Philippines [Aaron Favila/AP Photo]

04:03 GMT – Australia’s Victoria flags new steps to control surge in cases

Australia’s Victoria state has recorded its second-highest day of new coronavirus infections, as the state’s Premier Daniel Andrews flagged the prospect of more rigorous steps to contain the spread of the disease.

Victoria reported 627 new infections on Friday, down from a record of 723 new infections on Thursday.

“It is clear to all of us that these numbers are still far too high,” Andrews told reporters. “It may well be the case … that we need to take further steps. The data will tell us, the experts will tell us, what and if any next steps need to be.”

03:20 GMT – Hong Kong logs new high of 149 cases

Hong Kong has reported a new daily record of coronavirus cases, logging 149 more infections by Thursday end.

Amid the rise in cases, authorities reversed a ban on indoor dining, along restaurants to operate under limited hours and with limited capacity. Businesses such as bars, karaoke bars and amusement parks remain temporarily closed, and public gatherings are restricted to two people.

People have lunch at a mall after the government banned dine-in services, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong

People have lunch at a mall in Hong Kong after the government banned dine-in services [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

03:01 GMT – China tightens travel rules for Xinjiang capital

China has tightened travel restrictions in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, requiring people arriving in the city from regions deemed to have high infection risks to undergo a two-week quarantine.

Others arriving from less risky areas must show proof of good health. Locals “in principle” must stay in the city or show proof of health to be allowed to leave.

Since mid-July, the Xinjiang outbreak centred in Urumqi has seen more than 600 cases of illness, including 112 new ones reported on Friday.

2:49 GMT – Brazil first lady tests positive

Brazil’s first lady Michelle Bolsonaro has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the government announced on Thursday, five days after her husband Jair Bolsonaro said he had recovered from his COVID-19 infection.

The 38-year-old first lady “is in good health and will follow all established protocols”, the president’s office said.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Brasilia

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro with his wife Michelle Bolsonaro in Brasilia, on March 6, 2020 [File: Adriano Machado/Reuters]

2:42 GMT – China’s factory recovery accelerates in July

China’s factory activity expanded in July for the fifth month in a row and at a faster pace, beating analyst expectations despite disruptions from floods and a resurgence in coronavirus cases around the world.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) rose to 51.1 in July from June’s 50.9, official data showed on Friday, marking the highest reading since March.

Analysts had expected it to slow to 50.7. The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

02:14 GMT – More than three million Chileans seek to withdraw pensions

Long lines formed outside Pension Fund Administrators offices in Chile’s capital, Santiago, and the websites of several fund managers collapsed as Chileans sought to take advantage of a new law allowing citizens to tap into retirement savings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The emergency measure, which came into effect on Thursday, allows those with savings to withdraw up to 10 percent of their pensions.

In a statement, Chile’s superintendent of pensions said 3,024,347 people had asked to withdraw their share by 5pm local time.

Opinion polls indicate nearly nine out of every 10 Chileans planned to tap their funds, with most saying they would use the money to pay for basic goods and services.


People wear face masks while queueing to enter a branch of the pension funds office to start the procedure to withdraw up to 10 percent of their deposits in Santiago, on July 30, 2020 [Martin Bernetti/AFP]

01:53 GMT – US epicentre of pandemic shifts towards Midwest

Coronavirus infections appear to be picking up in the Midwestern United States, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said, as the state of Ohio reported a record day of cases and Wisconsin’s governor mandated the use of masks.

The coronavirus outbreak is “moving up” into Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska from the south “because of vacations and other reasons of travel”, Deborah Birx told Fox News.

01:19 GMT – Iran prison officials’ pleas for virus help ‘ignored’

Iran’s government ignored repeated requests from senior prison officials for help in containing coronavirus in the country’s overcrowded jails, according to Amnesty International.

The rights group said it reviewed copies of four letters to the health ministry signed by officials at Iran’s Prisons Organization, “raising the alarm over serious shortages of protective equipment, disinfectant products, and essential medical devices”.

The ministry “failed to respond, and Iran’s prisons remain catastrophically unequipped for outbreaks”, Amnesty said. 

Leaked official documents obtained by Amnesty International reveal the Iranian government ignored repeated pleas by senior officials responsible for managing Iran’s prisons for additional resources to control #COVID19 spread & treat infected prisoners.

— Amnesty Iran (@AmnestyIran) July 30, 2020

00:50 GMT – Vietnam reports 45 new cases

Vietnam’s health ministry reported 45 new coronavirus infections linked to a recent outbreak in the central city of Da Nang, marking the highest daily increase since the first cases emerged in the country in late January.

The new patients, with ages ranging from 27 to 87, are linked to four hospitals and a hotel in Da Nang. Total infections since the virus resurfaced have reached 93, the ministry said in a statement.

Vietnam has registered 509 cases of the virus in total, with no deaths. The country had recorded 100 days without a locally transmitted case before the re-emergence of the virus.

00:42 GMT – Brazil’s Bolsonaro says he has ‘mould’ in lungs

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he was taking antibiotics for an infection that left him feeling weak, chuckling in an online video about “mould” in his lungs, having spent weeks in isolation after catching the new coronavirus.

“I just did a blood test. I was feeling kind of weak yesterday. They found a bit of infection also. Now I’m on antibiotics,” Bolsonaro said in a livestream video, without elaborating on the infection.

“After 20 days indoors, I have other problems. I have mould in my lungs,” he said, referring to nearly three weeks he spent at the official presidential residence.

He tested positive for the coronavirus on July 7 and then negative last Saturday.

00:05 GMT – Botswana reinstates lockdown in capital

Botswana’s capital city Gaborone has returned to a two-week lockdown to stem its latest surge in coronavirus infections.

Under new rules for the capital and surrounding areas, only essential workers would be able to leave home for work, with others only able to leave the house to buy groceries. All gatherings will be banned and hotels, restaurants, gyms and schools will close.

“During the course of the week, the disease has taken an unprecedented turn, which now required we place the greater Gaborone region under lockdown to enable our containment measures to take hold,” Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the COVID-19 task force team, said in a televised briefing.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Zaheena Rasheed in Male, Maldives. 

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 30, here.

Read More

Record states

Six US states see record surges in COVID-19 cases, Florida becomes epicenter – New York Post

July 10, 2020 | 8:04pm | Updated July 10, 2020 | 9:58pm

Six U.S. states suffered record spikes in new COVID-19 cases on Friday and Florida, an epicenter of the pandemic, saw infections rise sharply for the second day in a row as the Walt Disney Co. stuck to its plans to reopen its flagship theme park in Orlando.

The surges in Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin put the United States on a pace to once again set a single-day record for new coronavirus cases as Walt Disney World became the latest flash point in a national debate over access to public spaces.

The Walt Disney Co. said the theme parks in Orlando would open on Saturday to a limited number of guests, requiring all visitors and employees to undergo temperature checks and wear face masks and cancelling parades, firework displays and other crow-drawing events.

Disney’s chief medical officer said this week that she believed the broad set of safeguards the company developed with health experts would allow guests to visit the park safely.

Roughly 19,000 people, including some theme park workers, have signed a petition asking Disney to delay the reopening. The union representing 750 Walt Disney World performers has filed a grievance against the company, alleging retaliation against members over a union demand that they be tested for COVID-19.

A Disney spokeswoman said Disney World would reopen without the performers after Actors Equity union representatives had not been available for further talks. Seven other unions reached agreements with Disney on returning to work.

Other theme parks opened in Orlando in June, including Comcast Corp’s Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc’s SeaWorld.

Florida recorded 11,433 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the state health department said, just short of the state’s record high and more evidence that it was at the center of the U.S. pandemic.

Florida does not disclose the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients but earlier this week more than four dozen Florida hospitals reported their intensive care units were full.

This month, Florida has repeatedly reported more new daily coronavirus cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks. Its positive test rate, at 19% earlier this week, is one of the highest in the country.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, angered some residents and medical experts by calling the spike a “blip.”

On Friday, DeSantis said that the state would receive more than 17,000 vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir from the U.S. government, adding: “That’ll be something that will hopefully help to improve patient outcomes.”

Scott Burkee, a 43-year-old former Disney employee from Davenport, Florida, said DeSantis “has shown zero effort to control the spread, he only becomes concerned when Trump does. The virus is clearly out of control.”

Trump, a Republican, traveled to Florida on Friday for an event at the U.S. military’s Southern Command and a campaign fundraiser.

The president has sparred with state and local officials and teachers unions over the reopening of schools and said on Friday the Treasury Department would re-examine the tax-exempt status and funding of those that remain closed.

Trump previously vowed to cut federal funding to the schools and eject foreign students attending universities in the United States unless their schools offer in-person classes, although most education funds come from state and local coffers.

The United States has the world’s highest known numbers of both COVID-19 cases and deaths. The number of confirmed U.S. infections is over 3 million, according to a Reuters tally, stoking fears that hospitals will be overwhelmed.

More than 133,000 Americans have died, a toll that experts warn will likely surge along with the rise in cases.

Overall, coronavirus cases are rising in 44 American states, based on a Reuters analysis of cases for the past two weeks compared with the prior two weeks.

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Record Reports

U.S. reports record single-day spike of 60,000 new coronavirus cases – CNBC

The United States reported more than 60,000 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, setting a fresh record for new cases reported in a single day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The country reported 60,021 newly confirmed cases over the previous 24 hours as outbreaks continue to expand across a number of states, mostly across the American South and West. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have accounted for nearly half of all new cases in the U.S. in recent days. 

The record spike comes after daily new cases fell below 50,000 over the past few days, though some public health officials warned there could be a backlog of reporting due to the July Fourth holiday weekend. The U.S. has reported about 51,383 new cases on average over the past seven days, a record high seven-day average, up nearly 24.5% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins.

Top health officials, including White house health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci have lamented in recent days that while many other countries succeeded in shutting down and reducing daily new cases to a manageable level, the U.S. has failed to do the same.

“The European Union as an entity, it went up and then came down to baseline,” Fauci said Monday during a Q&A discussion with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “Now they’re having little blips, as you might expect, as they try to reopen. We went up, never came down to baseline, and now it’s surging back up. So it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”

Fauci said last week that the U.S. is “not in total control” of the coronavirus pandemic and daily new cases could surpass 100,000 new infections per day if the outbreak continues at its current pace. 

“I can’t make an accurate prediction but it’s going to be very disturbing,” Fauci told senators at a June 30 hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned.”

But the U.S. probably isn’t diagnosing all infections in the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, because some people remain asymptomatic and never get tested. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, has said the U.S. is probably diagnosing 1 in 10 cases. 

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, however, said earlier this week that the U.S. is probably catching an even smaller portion of all infections because some areas with major outbreaks don’t have enough resources to test everyone who wants to be tested. 

“The CDC says we’re diagnosing 1 in 10 now,” he said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We’re probably more like 1 in 12 because these states are getting pressed and we’re falling behind.”

Cases were growing, on average, by at least 5% in 37 states as of Tuesday, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins. CNBC uses a seven-day trailing average to smooth out spikes in data reporting to identify where cases are rising and falling. 

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations are also up, on average, by at least 5% in 24 states, according to CNBC’s analysis of data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, an independent volunteer organization launched by journalists at The Atlantic.

Some of the rise in total cases is likely due to increased testing. Nationally, the U.S. has ramped up testing from an average of just over 174,000 diagnostic tests per day through April to an average of more than 650,000 tests per day so far in July, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. However, the percent of tests coming back positive has also risen, which epidemiologists say is a sign of a virus that is spreading more rapidly.

While new coronavirus cases have continued to soar, deaths caused by Covid-19 have remained stable and comparatively low. Fauci and other health officials have attributed this both to better clinical care for Covid-19 patients thanks to new treatment strategies as well as to the comparatively low average age of people infected with the virus now.

On Monday, Fauci said the average age of people infected with the virus has dropped about 15 years compared with the average age of patients earlier in the outbreak. That’s significant because older people appear more likely to develop a severe case, require medical attention and die from Covid-19, according to data from the CDC.

However, Fauci has warned that Covid-19 deaths lag a few weeks behind case diagnosis because of the time it takes for someone to develop symptoms, seek testing, get hospitalized and die. He has added that the more young people who get infected, the greater risk there is that young people will pass the virus on to more vulnerable people, which includes the elderly and anyone, regardless of age, with underlying conditions like diabetes.

There are more cases. There are more hospitalizations in some of those places and soon you’ll be seeing more deaths,” Fauci said in an interview last month with CNBC’s Meg Tirrell that was aired by the Milken Institute. “Even though the deaths are coming down as a country, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to start seeing them coming up now.”

Beyond the number of deaths, scientists are still researching the long-term health consequences of contracting the virus. Some research has indicated the potential to cause long-term respiratory harm and damage to other organs. 

“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Fauci said Tuesday during a livestreamed event with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama. “There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic-testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina.

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Finds Record

Poll Finds Record Number Of Americans Are Wearing Masks – Forbes


A record number of Americans say they are wearing face masks, and, for the first time, a majority of U.S. citizens say they are concerned about a perceived lack of social distancing, according to the latest Gallup poll.

A couple wearing face masks sit at the Daytona Beach pier.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – 2020/07/03: A couple wearing face masks sit at the Daytona … [+] Beach pier. As the number of Covid-19 cases in Florida hit record highs, few people ventured to the beach due to the threat of Covid-19 compounded by intermittent rain storms. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


86% of U.S. adults said they had worn a mask in public in the past seven days.

That represents a record high and is dramatically higher than the 51% of respondents who said they were wearing a mask in early April.

The level of concern had dipped to a low of 41% in late May, and last week was the first time Gallup has found a majority consensus on this issue.

The poll, conducted June 22 through 28, was released Monday, amid an ever-rising number of coronavirus cases and subsequent hospitalizations in the U.S.

Respondents remain sharply divided along political lines: 98% of Democrats say they have worn a mask in public in the past week, versus just 66% of Republicans and 85% of Independents.

Key Background:

Differing approaches to confronting the coronavirus pandemic, particularly related to mask-wearing, remain a politically charged topic in America. Although several prominent Republicans and members of conservative media have changed their tune on the importance of face coverings, with some encouraging President Trump to start setting an example, the president has resisted. Last month, Joe Biden said that if he’s elected president in November, he’ll attempt to use federal power to require all Americans to wear masks in public places. On Monday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks was “not in order” and that the decision to require face coverings was a “state-to-state issue.”

Big Number:

$1 trillion: Without a nationwide mask mandate, economic damage inflicted by future lockdowns could trim up to $1 trillion off the U.S. GDP, according to Goldman Sachs analysts. 


In a separate Gallup poll released on Monday, 91% of Republicans currently approve of the job President Trump is doing, while just 2% of Democrats agree. According to Gallup, the 89-point difference between Republicans’ and Democrats’ approval ratings of Trump is the most substantial partisan gap the pollster has ever measured for a presidential approval rating in a single survey.

Further Reading:

Fox News Hosts And Prominent Republicans—Including His Own Son—Urge Trump To Put On A Mask (Forbes) 

More Mask Use, Worry About Lack of Social Distancing in U.S. (Gallup) 

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