Coronavirus live news: Victoria faces stage 4 lockdown as South Africa cases pass 500,000

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When I enrolled in university in 1990, my prospects were good. At.....ee months.

When I enrolled in university in 1990, my prospects were good. At that time about 76% of all 20- to 24-year-olds had a job and nearly two-thirds of those in their early 20s were working full time.

By the time I graduated, the recession had happened and just 69% of those in their early 20s had a job and only 55% were employed full time. It was not until 2006 that as many people in their early 20s had a job as was the case in 1990.

There has never again been the same proportion of young people with a full-time job.

Recessions are awful for young people.

But the problem for those now in their 20s is that, unlike for my generation, things were not good even before the recession.

This week the Productivity Commission released two reports that might as well have been titled Young People are Screwed Parts I & II.

WHO anticipates “lengthy” pandemic

The World Health Organization warned on Saturday the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.

The committee “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this Covid-19 pandemic”, the WHO said in a statement, and warned of the risk of “response fatigue” given the socio-economic pressures on countries.

The panel gathered on Friday for the fourth time since the coronavirus crisis began, half a year on from its 30 January declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) – the WHO’s highest level of alarm.

“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of Covid-19 to be very high,” said its latest statement. “The committee highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this Covid-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.”

South Africa’s confirmed infections top 500,000

South Africa has now registered more than 500,000 cases of coronavirus, the health ministry announced Saturday, making it by far the hardest-hit country in Africa.

The country has become the epicentre of the deadly pandemic on the continent, accounting for more than half of Africa’s diagnosed infections.

“Today South Africa has exceeded the half-a-million mark with a cumulative total of 503,290 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded,” Heath Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.

More than a third of positive cases are in Gauteng province - South Africa’s financial hub.

Members of the Muslim burial organisation wait to prepare the body of a man who died due to coronavirus for burial at Ghiedmatiel Islamia mosque in Cape Town, South Africa, 31 July 2020.
Members of the Muslim burial organisation wait to prepare the body of a man who died due to coronavirus for burial at Ghiedmatiel Islamia mosque in Cape Town, South Africa, 31 July 2020. Photograph: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

So far the number of fatalities stands at 8,153, although local researchers have recorded a jump of nearly 60 percent in the overall number of natural deaths in recent weeks, suggesting a far higher toll of coronavirus-related fatalities than officially recorded.

An analysis by the respected South African Medical Research Council suggested an excess of 22,000 natural mortalities between 6 May and 21 July compared to same period in 2019 and 2018.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said Saturday South Africa’s case fatality rate stood at 1.6% - “significantly lower than the global average”.

“While South Africa has the fifth highest number of total COVID-19 cases globally, we have only the 36th highest number of deaths as a proportion of the population,” said Ramaphosa.

Nick Kyrgios withdraws from US open

Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the US Open in a huge blow to the New York grand slam, AAP reports.

The Australian tennis superstar said he had no problem with the USTA proceeding with their plans to hold the tournament in September but cited health and safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic as he joined world No.1 Ashleigh Barty in opting out of the Flushing Meadows major.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios tosses a ball in the air as he waits to serve, during his first round match against France’s Ugo Humbert at the Mexican Tennis Open, in Acapulco, Mexico on 25 February 2020.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios tosses a ball in the air as he waits to serve, during his first round match against France’s Ugo Humbert at the Mexican Tennis Open, in Acapulco, Mexico on 25 February 2020. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

“I will not be playing this year at the US Open. It hurts me at my core not to be out there competing in one of the sport’s greatest arenas, Arthur Ashe Stadium. But I’m sitting out for the people, for my Aussies, for the hundreds and thousands of Americans that have lost their lives, for all of you. It’s my decision,” Kyrgios said.

The Victorian government is set to announce the details of tougher lockdown measures on Sunday afternoon.

Guardian Australia understands the premier, Daniel Andrews, will spell out the details shortly after lunchtime on Sunday, but they are not expected to include a shutdown of public transport that has been mooted in some media reports.

The ABC’s Insiders program reported that the stage 4 lockdown was likely to include further restrictions affecting retail outlets, abattoirs and call centres, while restaurants and cafes would be allowed to offer takeaway if they abide by “strict contactless service provisions”. The ABC reported that there could be some restrictions on the operation of Uber and taxi services – and that the tougher restrictions would apply beyond metropolitan Melbourne.

Mounted police in Melbourne, Australia, 31 July 2020.
Mounted police in Melbourne, Australia, 31 July 2020. Photograph: Speed Media/REX/Shutterstock

The federal education minister, Dan Tehan, signalled on Sunday that the federal government would be supportive of additional measures aimed at reducing community transmission in Victoria.

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours.

You can get in touch on Twitter @helenrsullivan or via email on [email protected]

Guardian Australia understands that the Victorian government is set to announce the details of tougher lockdown measures on Sunday afternoon.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, is expected to spell out the details shortly after lunch time on Sunday, but restrictions are not expected to include a shutdown of public transport that has been mooted in some media reports.

The World Health Organization meanwhile warned on Saturday the coronavirus pandemic was likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.

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