Australia’s Covid-19 hotspot state Victoria reported only one new infection on Thursday, a day after it lifted a four month lockdown in the city of Melbourne. Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said that while there were three positive cases of Covid-19 detected in the past 24 hours, two may be old infections. “This is another good day,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Victoria, which accounts for more than 90% of the 905 deaths nationally, did not record any new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours.
Melbourne, a city of some five million people, on Wednesday emerged from a stringent lockdown credited with ending a Covid second wave, allowing restaurants, cafes and shops to reopen.
Australia’s most populous state New South Wales said it detected three locally acquired infections in the past 24 hours.
Australia has recorded just over 27,500 novel coronavirus infections, far fewer than many other developed countries.
Coronavirus has had a “devastating” impact on the UK’s pubs and will exacerbate the decline in the number of independent breweries – for the first time in nearly two decades – an influential consumer guide has warned.
Thousands of pubs and breweries that survived the first lockdown are now fighting to stay afloat amid a slump in business following ongoing restrictions and curfews that could “make or break” the industry, according to the 2021 Good Beer Guide, published on Thursday by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
The annual guide reveals that the total number of independent UK breweries has dipped to 1,816 from 1,823 last year – the first time it has recorded a decline in numbers since the explosion in UK breweries started in 2008. While 163 breweries have opened this year and are newly listed, many more have closed their doors, cutting the net figure:
Stock markets in Asia Pacific have followed Wall Street and Europe into the red on Thursday led by hefty losses in Australia, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Concerns about the continuing rise in coronavirus infections across the northern hemisphere has been driving the selloff in stocks, which had made a strong recovery after big falls in March and April.
The ASX200 in Sydney is down 1.4%, as is the Kospi in Seoul and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong. The Nikkei has not suffered so much and is off 0.7%.
Despite having a much better record on containing the virus than the US and Europe, the weak sentiment has nevertheless spread to Asia Pacific markets, said Jingyi Pan, senior market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore.
“With US and Europe under pressure, Asia will not be totally immune to a slowdown either though it remains a wait-and-see situation. As such, we are looking at Asia markets broadly sliding on Thursda,” she said.
There is some better news in the futures market where the S&P500 and the Dow Jones are seen bouncing back by 1% later on Thursday.
Mexico’s health ministry reported on Wednesday 5,595 additional cases of the novel coronavirus and 495 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 906,863 and the death toll to 90,309.
Health officials have said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. On Sunday, the ministry said the true death toll from Covid-19 may be around 50,000 higher.
Germany meanwhile will shut bars, restaurants and theatres from 2-30 November under measures agreed between Merkel and heads of regional governments. Schools will stay open, and shops will be allowed to operate with strict limits on access.
“We need to take action now,” Merkel said. “Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”
Her finance minister, Olaf Scholz, posted on Twitter: “November will be a month of truth. The increasing numbers of infections are forcing us to take tough countermeasures in order to break the second wave.”
Here is what we know so far about France’s new national lockdowns.
French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the country back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.
World stock markets went into a dive in response to the news that Europe’s biggest economies – Germany has also ordered lockdown – were imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” Macron said in a televised address.
“Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.”
“We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first,” he said. “I have decided that we need to return to the lockdown which stopped the virus.”
Under the new French measures which come into force on Friday, people will be required to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or exercise for up to one hour a day. They will be permitted to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home. Schools will stay open.
As in the darkest days of spring, anyone leaving their home in France will now have to carry a document justifying being outside, which can be checked by police.
Iran declared “full-scale war” with coronavirus as it reported a record death toll Wednesday for a second straight day and surging infections overload a health care system struggling with US sanctions.
The Middle East’s worst-hit country recorded 415 deaths in 24 hours.
“This is the result of an unprecedented rise in infections and hospitalisations in recent weeks,” health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in a televised address, visibly moved as she gave the grim figures.
“We are now in a full-scale war with the coronavirus,” she said.
The latest fatalities, 69 above Tuesday’s toll which was also a daily record, raised the total virus deaths to 33,714 in the country of 80 million. Lari said 6,824 people had tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing Iran’s declared cases to 558,648.
President Hassan Rouhani warned last week that his country was now faced with “a larger wave of this virus and we have to fight it”.
Figures have kept rising since September. Tehran province accounts for more than half of Iran’s daily Covid-19 deaths, according to its crisis management chief, Reza Karami.
The burgeoning cases have overloaded Iran’s already stretched hospitals, as renewed US sanctions since its withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran hit all sectors of the Iranian economy.
New Zealand house prices have defied the Covid-19 recession and soared to record levels, prompting warnings that the hot property market will damage the country’s long-term economic wellbeing and widen inequality.
New Zealand, which already had some of the most unaffordable housing in the world, saw median prices rise 11.1 % in the year to September, while the median price in Auckland reached nearly $1m (US$660,000). Prices rose 2.5% across the country just in September.
But while cheap loans and looser lending requirements designed to stimulate the economy during the pandemic have attracted investors back into the market, many fear that first-time buyers and lower-income groups will be increasingly left behind by the rise in prices:
The other day I had to go into town for a dental appointment. I put on all sorts of lovely clothes as if I were going out to dinner and an opening night. The prospect of being out and about was both exhilarating and daunting. I so desperately wanted to be among people and in the city, but I’d also completely forgotten what an event was. The dentist did not seem surprised by my sartorial over-commitment – but then, I was not the first patient he had seen since lockdown.
As a person working in the arts sector, the lockdown was strangely familiar on one level – a lot of actors get stuck in a kind of limbo waiting for someone else to give them permission to do what they are good at. It was as if we were all waiting by the phone for our agent to call. It was also strangely unfamiliar because the community that holds us together, the audiences, as well as the changing of the shows and the new releases, were all put on hold too. The flow between us all was severely affected, and I was both heartened and horrified when it began to surface online. Heartened because the urge to express ourselves and the desire to communicate seems undaunted by anything. Horrified because the worst place to rehearse and perform is alone in the mirror, and sometimes the phone is just a mirror:
China reports 47 new cases – highest in two months
Mainland China reported 47 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on 28 October, up from 42 a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase in more than two months, the country’s national health authority said on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 23 were local infections in Xinjiang involving previously asymptomatic patients following a mass infection reported in Kashgar. The rest were imported infections originating from overseas.
The increase in confirmed Covid-19 infections marks the highest since 49 cases were reported for 9 August, but still at a small fraction of what the country saw at the height of the epidemic in February. The total number of new asymptomatic cases fell to 16 from 38 a day earlier.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 85,915, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
Remote Marshall Islands records its first coronavirus cases
One of the last coronavirus-free sanctuaries in the world has been breached, with the US military importing two cases of Covid-19 into the remote Marshall Islands.
The Marshalls had been one of the last nations on Earth – most of which are in the Pacific – without a single confirmed case of Covid-19.
But the country’s chief secretary issued an alert on Wednesday night saying the country’s first border cases of the novel coronavirus had been identified in two workers on the US military base on Kwajalein Atoll:
A generation of babies born during the Covid-19 pandemic may be at risk because they and their parents are not being fully supported by health visitors in the weeks and months after birth, a coalition of children’s charities has said.
The NSPCC and nine other early-years charities say restrictions to the service and redeployment of health visitors could mean thousands of families do not receive checks they are entitled to.
Only one in 10 parents with children under the age of two saw a health visitor face to face during lockdown, according to a study published in August:
A total of 516,898 new infections were registered worldwide on Tuesday, according to an AFP tally from health authorities around the globe – a record figure, although experts caution that most coronavirus cases were undiagnosed during the first wave.
The Johns Hopkins University tracker shows that the world has twice so far recorded a total of over 500,000 – and both in the last week. 23 October saw 506,713 new infections, while 26 October had a total of 525,164.
Many epidemiologists have been warning for weeks that European governments have lost control of the latest outbreaks, AFP ereports, making lockdowns almost inevitable as a last resort in what has become the global epicentre of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
New cases in Europe have been doubling every week or so, while track-and-trace and mass-testing systems that were promised after the first wave have been quickly overwhelmed.
Reflecting the bleak outlook, and with the seasonal winter flu season still ahead in the northern hemisphere, European and US stock markets tumbled as investors fretted over how the new measures will further hurt the economy.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
Shortly before he announced a new national lockdown, French president, Emmanuel Macron, said Covid-19 is circulating more quickly than forecast and new measures are needed.
He said it is predicted that by mid-November all intensive care beds will be filled with Covid-19 cases and that France needs a sudden “brutal brake” on the transmission of the virus so doctors don’t have to make choices between Covid cases and car accident cases, for example.
French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a new nationwide lockdown as Covid-19 cases continue to surge. The new measures echo the eight-week lockdown that France enforced in the spring, when hospitalisations and deaths caused by Covid-19 reached a peak. But unlike the previous lockdown, most schools are to remain open, Macron said, while universities will revert to online teaching and working from home will be generalised.
Germany will impose an emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres to reverse a rise in coronavirus cases that risks overwhelming hospitals, chancellor Angela Merkel said.
South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa went into self-isolationafter a guest at a dinner he attended on Saturday tested positive. He is showing no symptoms, according to the government.
The death tolls in Canada and Turkey rose to over 10,000. In Argentina, it went past 30,000. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said: “This is going to be a tough winter”.