Coronavirus: latest global developments


PARIS, July 31, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Here are the latest developments in
the coronavirus crisis:

– Historic recessions –

The eurozone registers a historic 12.1 percent collapse in the
second quarter, according to Eurostat.

France’s economy slumps a record 13.8 percent over the period
following a strict coronavirus lockdown that slammed consumer
spending, the INSEE statistics agency says.

Spain also records an 18.5 percent plunge in GDP, as a result of
one of Europe’s most stringent lockdowns which battered its key
tourism industry. Portugal’s economy plunges by 14.1 percent and
Italy’s an unprecedented 12.4 percent.

– Hong Kong elections postponed –

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam says local elections planned for
September will be postponed for a year because coronavirus cases have
surged, a move that infuriates democracy supporters.

Around half of Hong Kong’s 3,100 COVID-19 cases have been detected
in the past month and authorities fear hospitals are on the verge of
being overwhelmed.

– UK halts reopening – Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain
will “put the brakes on” easing lockdown rules, involving the
reopening of some public places, for at least two weeks following a
rise in coronavirus cases.

He is speaking as new lockdown restrictions come into force in
parts of northern England, following a spike in regional coronavirus
infections. Under the measures, people from different households in
affected areas are banned from meeting indoors.

– Vaccines –

Japan has signed a deal to secure 120 million doses of a potential
coronavirus vaccine being developed by German pharmaceutical group
BioNTech and US pharma giant Pfizer.

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK are to receive up to $2.1 billion from
the US government for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, of which
they are to supply 100 million doses to the Americans.

– Nearly 674,000 deaths – The pandemic has killed at least 673,909
people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, with more
than 17.3 million people infected, according to an AFP tally at 1100
GMT on Friday based on official sources.

The United States has the most deaths with 152,070, followed by
Brazil with 91,263, Mexico 46,000, Britain with 45,999, and India
which overtakes Italy in fifth place with 35,747.

– Jobs axed –

Dutch airline KLM says it will shed up to 5,000 jobs by the end of
2021 due to a “crisis of unprecedented magnitude” caused by the
pandemic, despite a 3.4-billion-euro ($4.0-billion) Dutch government

Swedish truck maker Scania also confirms plans to cut 5,000 jobs
globally due to the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.

– First deaths in Vietnam, Fiji –

Vietnam records its first coronavirus death in a 70-year-old man,
amid a rebound of the pandemic in a country that had previously been
praised for containing the contagion.

Fiji also announces its first coronavirus death, in a 66-year-old
man who tested positive after returning from India, where he had
undergone heart surgery. Health officials say that it is not the
precursor to a major outbreak.

– Everest reopens –

Nepal reopens its mountains, including Everest, for the autumn
trekking and climbing season in a bid to boost the struggling tourism
sector after a lockdown. The government will permit international
flights to land in the country from August 17.

– Germany widens quarantine list –

Germany adds 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 says it has issued a travel warning for
the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon following a spike in
COVID-19 cases there.

– Hajj ritual scaled down –

Muslim pilgrims used sanitised pebbles to “stone the devil” in the
last major ritual of the hajj, which the Saudi king acknowledged had
been tough to organise this year.

Only up to 10,000 pilgrims are taking part this year after millions
of international pilgrims were barred.