Coronavirus live news: New Zealand sees record fall in GDP; WHO warns Latin America opening up too early

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New Zealand’s Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2% in the.....hize said.

New Zealand sees record fall in GDP

New Zealand’s Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2% in the June 2020 quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded since 1987, as the Covid-19 restrictions impacted economic activity, Stats NZ said today.

National accounts senior manager Paul Pascoe said: “The 12.2% fall in quarterly GDP is by far the largest on record in New Zealand.”

Annually, GDP fell by 2.0%. This is the first annual decline since the March 2010 quarter.

Throughout the quarter New Zealand’s borders remained closed.

“Industries like retail, accommodation and restaurants, and transport saw significant declines in production because they were most directly affected by the international travel ban and strict nationwide lockdown,” Mr Pascoe said.

Household spending also dropped by just over 12%.

WHO warns Latin America opening up too early

Latin America has started to resume normal social and public life at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic still requires major control interventions, World Health Organization regional director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday.

Coronavirus cases in Colombia’s border area with Venezuela have increased ten-fold in the last two weeks, Etienne said in a virtual briefing from Washington with other Pan American Health Organization directors.

Death rates are climbing in parts of Mexico, and similar trends are seen in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Bolivia, with similar patterns also emerging in areas of Argentina, she warned.

Although the entire world is racing to develop new tools to prevent and cure Covid-19, a safe and effective vaccine that can be manufactured and delivered at scale is not around the corner.

We must be clear that opening up too early gives this virus more room to spread and puts our populations at greater risk. Look no further than Europe.

Etienne said governments must monitor travel very carefully because reopening to tourism can lead to setbacks. That has happened in the Caribbean, where several countries that had virtually no cases have experienced spikes as tourism resumed.

According to a Reuters tally, Latin America has recorded around 8.4 million coronavirus cases, and over 314,000 deaths, both figures being the highest of any region.

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coronavirus coverage.

My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours. As always, it would be great to hear from you. Send news from your part of the world and jokes that are universal to me on Twitter @helenrsullivan or email: [email protected]

Latin America has started to resume normal social and public life at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic still requires major control interventions, World Health Organization regional director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday.

Coronavirus cases in Colombia’s border area with Venezuela have increased ten-fold in the last two weeks, Etienne said in a virtual briefing from Washington with other Pan American Health Organization directors.

Death rates are climbing in parts of Mexico, and similar trends are seen in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Bolivia, with similar patterns also emerging in areas of Argentina, she warned.

Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:

  • Tighter restrictions are set to be imposed on large parts of the north-east of England from Friday as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. The restrictions - which will reportedly apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland - are expected to include a 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises, and a ban on different households mixing, whether indoors or outdoors. A full announcement is expected on Thursday morning. Our story is here.
  • The average age of people infected with Covid-19 is coming down, according to a WHO expert. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove told a Q&A that incidences of hospitalisation among those aged 15 to 49 years are increasing.
  • France reported it third-highest number of daily additional infections on record. Health authorities reported new 9,784 confirmed cases and 46 more deaths.
  • Hungary expects a second wave of the pandemic to peak in December or January, its prime minister Viktor Orbán said. The country will maintain border closures and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in cinemas, theatres and social institutions.
  • For the second successive day, the Netherlands recorded its worst increase in the number of new infections. The country saw 1,542 more on Wednesday after an increase of 1,379 on the previous day.
  • The Madrid region is to introduce targeted lockdowns and other restrictions on movement. The measures will come into effect in one of the worst-hit areas of Spain on Friday.
  • The US government plans to begin distributing a vaccine within one day of any regulatory authorisation. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide how initial, limited vaccine doses will be allocated and distributed.
  • India’s coronavirus cases passed 5 million, testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages. The health ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population. It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066. India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the US’s highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.
  • In the US, at least seven people have died in connection to an outbreak in Maine following a wedding reception held over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.
  • US president Donald Trump said Covid-19 would go away without a vaccine. This would happen because of “herd mentality”, he said in an ABC town hall. It is unclear whether he meant herd immunity, as he repeated the phrase several times. “It would go away without the vaccine, George,” he said speaking to ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos. “With time it goes away. And you’ll develop like a herd mentality. It’s going to be herd developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.”
  • New Zealand reported a second consecutive day of no new community cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
  • Half the world’s schoolchildren are still unable to attend classrooms due to the pandemic. Around 872 million – more than half of whom have not been able to study remotely – are not allowed to attend school in person, Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said.
  • Dáil reconvenes after Irish minister tests negative for Covid-19. Ireland’s minister for health, Stephen Donnelly, has told RTE that his Covid-19 test has come back negative.Earlier today, Irish cabinet ministers were told to restrict their movements as a precaution after Donnelly contacted his GP to request a test after feeling unwell.However, ministers no longer need to do this following the negative test result and were back in the chamber by 8pm.
  • Nearly a fifth of South Africans may have contracted coronavirus, the country’s health minister has said. South Africa has recorded 650,749 cases, but the actual number of infections could be “about 12 million”, Zweli Mkhize said.
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