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A person wearing a protective mask rides the J Train subway line in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

US jobless claims worse than forecast: Global virus update

A person wearing a protective mask rides the J Train subway line in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases reach 9.46 million; deaths pass 483,000
  • France plans furlough program that could run for two years
  • Europe is approaching a disastrous economic cliff edge
  • Fear of vial shortage for Covid vaccines prompts flurry of deals
  • Investors are favouring firms that let people work from home
  • Rich Brazilians pour money into their crisis-stricken businesses
  • Modi wants to make India more self-reliant as crisis bites
  • Millennial job mobility set to decline because of the pandemic

US Jobless Claims Worse Than Forecast for Second Week

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was higher than forecast for a second straight week, adding to signs that the recovery is cooling amid a pickup in coronavirus cases. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell to 1.48 million last week from an upwardly revised 1.54 million in the prior week, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had forecast 1.32 million.

NY Reaches Milestone With Hospitalisations Below 1,000

At its peak, New York had 18,825 people hospitalized for COVID-19. The state tested 51,144 people for the virus on Tuesday, and 1.1% were positive. At one point, more than half of New York’s tests were coming back positive.

Five New York regions — Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and North Country — are on track to enter the fourth phase of reopening on Friday. This step includes outdoor arts and entertainment, like zoos, at 33% capacity; indoor museums and aquariums at 25% capacity; and professional sports without fans.

EU Warns of Food Trade Risks

Regulatory decisions for food trade have to remain science-based and proportionate to the risk, a European Commission spokesperson said by email. “Any other approach could easily lead to a global spiral toward imposing unjustified import controls,” said the commission. “This would have grave, negative consequences on food security, global trade, but will also undermine the trust of the public.”

Singapore Sees Most Migrant Workers Cleared of Virus by End-July

Singapore’s government said as many as 80% of the more than 300,000 migrant workers living in dormitories will either have recovered from or tested free of the coronavirus by the end of next month.

So far, some 120,000 of the workers have been cleared, Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong said during a briefing in Singapore on Thursday evening. The target is to clear about 250,000 by the end of July.

Iran’s Virus Deaths Rise Past 10,000

The death toll from Iran’s coronavirus outbreak has reached 10,130 after 134 died in the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. Infections and fatalities continue to rise following the relaxation of many of the country’s restrictions.

Europe Outbreak in Check But Virus Apps Struggle for Traction

Europe’s efforts to control the coronavirus have largely held up, but a key tool aimed at keeping the pandemic in check has struggled to gain traction. Apps to help authorities track contact between people have been slow to take off, with sceptical users balking at downloading the software as daily life returns to normal. Switzerland is the latest country to try its hand, with a new program going live Thursday.

Eiffel Tower Reopens With No Elevator

The Eiffel Tower reopened for visitors on Thursday, but its elevators won’t start functioning until July 1, while face masks are compulsory and traffic flow is in only one direction.

Fear of Vial Shortage for Covid Vaccines Prompts Flurry of Deals

Fears that a shortage of glass vials could hinder efforts to quickly deploy a COVID-19 vaccine are prompting a flurry of deals to clinch the in-demand containers. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global organization funding vaccine development, is the latest to announce such a pact, paying 19.7 million euros, or $22.2 million, to Stevanato Group, an Italian manufacturer of pharmaceutical containers, for 100 million glass vials that can hold up to 2 billion vaccine doses.

Thailand Set to Extend State of Emergency

Thailand is set to extend its state of emergency for a third time to help manage the reopening of schools as well as high-risk businesses, such as nightclubs, following a decline in coronavirus infections.

WHO Urges Caution Over Europe Recovery

A resurgence in cases in 11 European countries, if left unchecked, could overwhelm health services, said Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director. The weekly number of cases are increasing again, with about 20,000 new confirmations daily, he said.

Antibody Tests Not Ready for UK Roll-Out

COVID-19 antibody tests still need better assessment before the UK government rolls them out in a massive effort for doctors and patients, health experts warned.

The tests aren’t accurate enough to reliably show whether people have been exposed to the coronavirus and can’t tell whether they’re immune, 14 professors and scientists said a letter published in the BMJ medical journal. The UK’s National Health Service wants to process thousands of samples a day within a 24-hour period.

German Infection Rate at Lowest in 3 Weeks

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate fell to the lowest in almost three weeks, while the number of new cases remained well below the level at the height of the outbreak.

The reproduction factor — or R value — dropped to 0.72 on Wednesday, from 2.02 the day before, according to the latest estimate by the country’s health body, the Robert Koch Institute. A number below 1.0 is seen as preventing exponential growth in the number of cases and a second wave of infections.

There were 391 new infections in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, down from 712 the previous day and bringing the total to 192,871, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities increased by 14 to 8,928.

Senegal President in Quarantine

Senegalese President Macky Sall will be self-isolating for the next two weeks after coming into contact with a person who tested Covid-19 positive, the presidency said.

Sall, 58, has tested negative for the disease, according to a statement on Twitter on Thursday. The West African nation has had 6,129 confirmed coronavirus cases and 93 deaths.