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Commuters wearing protective masks ride the L subway line during rush hour in the Williamsburg neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on Monday, June 8, 2020.

US coronavirus cases top 2 million: Global virus update

Commuters wearing protective masks ride the L subway line during rush hour in the Williamsburg neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on Monday, June 8, 2020.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 7.4 million; deaths exceed 417,000
  • Trump’s slipping polls make GOP holding Senate more daunting
  • Protester in Australia tests positive after attending rally
  • Disney to reopen California Disneyland in July; Coachella cancelled
  • Amazon price-gouging sweep worsened sanitiser, wipes shortages
  • Life and death on the Zaandam, Holland America’s pariah ship

US Coronavirus Cases Top 2 Million

Coronavirus infections in the US topped 2 million with almost 113,000 deaths in the country, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The number of US cases is more than double those reported for Brazil, the country with the second highest number of infections, according to the data.

Localized surges have raised concerns among experts of a new wave of cases as many states ease social distancing restrictions. A month into its reopening, Florida this week reported 8,553 new cases — the most of any seven-day period.

Moderna Vaccine Trials Moving Fast

Moderna Inc. said it had selected a dose for a final-stage clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine that should begin in July. The final study, which will include 30,000 people, will be conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US Its primary goal will be to show the vaccine prevents people from developing symptoms of COVID-19.

England’s Contact Tracers Fail to Reach a Third of New Cases

Coronavirus contact tracers failed to track down the details of a third of cases referred to them in England in their first week of operation. Of 8,117 people, only 5,407 were reached and asked to provide contact details, the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement. The teams identified 31,794 contacts in the first week, and just under 26,985 were advised to self-isolate.

Norway to Remove Curbs on Flight Capacity

Norway’s Transport Minister will allow SAS, Norwegian Air and Wideroe to fly with full aircraft, broadcaster NRK reported, citing unidentified people. The move will bring Norwegian regulations in line with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. Carriers in Norway had been required to keep an empty seat between passengers.

Third of US Renters Worried About Next Payment

About 31% of renters responding to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse survey in the five weeks through June 2 said they had “little or no confidence” they can make their next payment on time.

By comparison, 11% of households with a mortgage failed to make their last payment and 16% of the survey respondents said they fear they can’t cover the next one. This could impact consumer spending and the economic recovery.

Oman Said to Test Waters for Aid From Neighbours

Oman has discussed the possibility of financial aid with other Gulf states to help it cope with the economic impact of the pandemic and low oil prices, according to two officials in the region and a US government official familiar with the contacts.

The topic was one of several discussed at recent high-level political meetings between Gulf officials, two of the people said. The discussions are preliminary and nothing has been decided, including the scope or type of support that could be on the table, they said, declining to be named because of the sensitive nature of the conversations.

WHO Unsure on Asymptomatic Carrier Numbers

It’s “still uncertain” how many people are carrying COVID-19 without displaying symptoms, the WHO’s coronavirus special envoy, David Nabarro, told an Irish parliamentary hearing by video conference. Nabarro described the virus as a “continuous threat” and didn’t appear to be seasonal.

While it would be “reasonable” to make face coverings on public transport compulsory, Nabarro doesn’t expect a blanket 14 day quarantine period for travelers sticking for long in any European country. Instead he expects countries to establish air links with specific nations based on how they are managing the virus.

Canada’s Recovery Lags US

The worst may be over for Canada’s economy, but the nation’s more cautious approach to reopening means a slower rebound than in the US

Real-time data such as online job postings, restaurant bookings and mobility tracking show economic green shoots in Canada after nearly three months of Covid-19 restrictions. However, the data also suggest its economy is “about two to three weeks behind” its largest trading partner, said Frances Donald, chief economist at Manulife Investment Management Ltd.

South African Mining Output Drops Most in 39 Years

South African mining output dropped the most since at least 1981 in April, when the first full month of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic brought almost all economic activity to a halt. Total production decreased 47.3% from a year earlier, compared with an 18% decrease in March.

Indonesia’s Coronavirus Death Toll Hits 2,000

The death toll from the pandemic in Indonesia reached 2,000 as a surge in infections across the archipelago saw fatalities more than double in the past month. The country reported 41 deaths in the past 24 hours, the most since June 7, and new cases rose by 979 to 35,295.

Indonesia’s fatalities are the highest in Southeast Asia and the total number of infections now only trails Singapore in the region, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Finland to Ease Travel Restrictions

Finland is eliminating border controls and quarantine requirements with Baltic and Nordic countries excluding Sweden starting June 15, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said. Necessary travel, such as for work, is allowed from the European Union’s Schengen area. The Russian border remains mostly shut until at least July 14.

Beijing Reports One Confirmed Case

The new case, a 52 year-old Beijing resident, was reported in Xicheng district of the capital city, local officials said at a briefing. The source of the infection is unknown. Beijing hasn’t reported new local coronavirus cases for consecutive 55 days as of June 9, according to the municipal health commission, and further lowered its virus emergency response level on June 6.

Tokyo Plans to Lift All Business Restrictions June 19

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is planning to lift all business restrictions on June 19, Nikkei reported, without attribution. The government will allow restaurants and Japanese-style izakaya bars to stay open without opening hour restrictions, but will continue to limit the number of visitors for certain events.

Russia Passes 500,000 COVID-19 Cases

Russia reported 8,779 new confirmed coronavirus infections in past day, a 1.8% rise, taking the total in the country to 502,436, according to data from the government’s virus response center. The net increase in daily cases stayed below 2%.

Total fatalities rose to 6,532 after 174 more people died.

UK Job Losses Mount

London Heathrow airport said it has begun cutting front-line jobs after a recovery in passenger numbers was delayed by Britain’s introduction of a quarantine rule for incoming passengers. Europe’s busiest airport has begun to restructure after agreeing to a voluntary severance plan with unions and has already eliminated a third of management posts. Heathrow’s May passenger traffic was down 97% from year-ago levels as the coronavirus lockdown grounded flights across most of the world.

Centrica Plc said it will cut 5,000 jobs before the end of the year in order to meet its cost reduction targets as the uncertainty of the pandemic accelerated losses. Johnson Matthey Plc, the world’s largest maker of diesel-engine catalysts, plans to cut about 2,500 jobs in a further sign of the damage being caused to suppliers by the virus-led slump.