International Covid-19 news: Job losses soar globally, 'US could see 100 000 new cases a day'

A Covid-19 testing instrument.
A Covid-19 testing instrument.
Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images via Getty Images

The US could see 100 000 new coronavirus cases a day, a top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned on Tuesday, according to a report by AFP. 

"We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day," Fauci said in testimony to the Senate Health and Education Committee.

"I would not be surprised if we go up to 100 000 a day if this does not turn around," Fauci said. "And so I'm very concerned."

Covid-19 jobs bloodbath worse than first feared

The coronavirus crisis has taken a much heavier toll on jobs than previously feared, the UN said Tuesday, warning that the situation in the Americas was particularly dire, AFP reports.

In a new study, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that by the mid-year point, global working hours were down 14% compared to last December - equivalent to some 400 million full-time jobs.

That is more than double the number forecast by the UN organisation back in April, when it expected 6.7% of working hours to be lost by the end of the second three-month period of the year.

It is also far higher than the ILO estimate in late May, when it expected 10.7% of global working hours to vanish during the period.

The ILO said the new figures reflected the worsening situation in many regions in recent weeks, especially in developing economies.

Its report pointed out that 93% of the world's workers live in countries still affected by some sort of workplace closures, with the Americas experiencing the greatest restrictions.

Soaring transmission rates in the US, which alone accounts for a quarter of all infections and deaths globally, and in countries like Brazil, which accounts more than 1.3 million cases, have hit the labour market hard.

Overall, the Americas lost over 18% of working hours during the second quarter, equivalent to 70 million full-time jobs, the ILO said.

South America has shed a full 20.6% of all working hours, while North America has seen its working hours dip 15.3%, the study found.

By comparison Europe, the Arab states, and most of Asia saw working hours dwindle by around 13%, while they fell just over 12% in Africa.

First case at a migrant camp near Mexico

An asylum seeker has tested positive for coronavirus in a sprawling encampment steps from the US border in Matamoros, Mexico, underscoring the challenges migrants face in protecting themselves from the pandemic, Reuters reports.

After showing symptoms of the virus last Thursday, the migrant and three family members were placed in isolation and tested, Global Response Management (GRM), a nonprofit providing medical services in the camp, said in a statement.

When results came back Monday, the migrant who had displayed symptoms tested positive and the relatives had negative results.

Two others with symptoms of the virus are also in isolation, GRM said.

Since cases of coronavirus in Mexico began to rise in March, advocates and government officials have been intensely worried about the potential for an outbreak in the camp, where an estimated 2 000 migrants live in tents on the banks of the Rio Grande river.

EU to open borders to 'safe' countries

AFP reports that the European Union agreed Tuesday to reopen its borders to 15 countries excluding the virus-stricken US.

After days of negotiations, EU members finalised the list of countries whose health situation was deemed safe enough to allow residents to enter the bloc starting on July 1 - but the US was notably excluded, along with Russia and Turkey.

Those on the list are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Travellers from China, where the virus first emerged late last year, will be allowed on the condition that Beijing reciprocates and opens the door to EU residents.

Boris Johnson unveils multibillion-pound economy rescue plan

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out plans on Tuesday to try to spur the UK's economy, promising to fast-track 5 billion pounds of infrastructure investment and to "build, build, build" out of the coronavirus crisis, reports AFP.

In a speech, Johnson set out a vision where the government could cut through red tape to speed up construction and infrastructure projects and kick-start the economy to "level up" wealth and opportunity in the UK.

Much of the spending will be targeted at northern and central England, where many voters who had traditionally supported the opposition Labour Party backed the governing Conservatives in last year's election.

Johnson unveiled new planning rules on Tuesday to boost the number of homes and allow commercial premises to be repurposed more easily.

He pledged 1.5 billion pounds ($1.84bn) this year for hospital maintenance, eradicating mental health dormitories, enabling hospital building and improving Accident and Emergency capacity.

Johnson also pledged 100 million pounds ($123m) this year for 29 projects in the road network, from bridge repairs in Sandwell in the Midlands to boosting the quality of the A15 in the Humber region of eastern England. He also pledged 10 million pounds ($12m) for development work to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck, which will begin this year.

Johnson pledged more than 1 billion pounds ($1.23bn) to fund the first 50 projects of a new, 10-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020 and 2021. These projects will be confirmed in the autumn, and construction on the first sites will begin from September 2021.

He also announced 560 million pounds ($688m) and 200 million pounds ($246m) for repairs and upgrades to schools and further education colleges respectively this year.

He pledged 900 million pounds ($1.1bn) for a range of "shovel ready" local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next, as well as 96 million pounds ($118bn) to accelerate investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year.

This will provide all 101 towns selected for town deals with between 500,000 ($614,000) and 1 million pounds (1.2m) to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets and transport.

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