After copping criticism for its relaxed response to the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden will launch a commission into how the Government handled the crisis.
The large number of elderly deaths and delayed start to testing will be covered.
Elsewhere, Brazilian authorities recorded more than 1,200 deaths from the virus in one day and 11 people lost their life in Panama.
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Wednesday’s key moments:
- Virus arrives in remote African city
- Thais relax rules, Philipines death toll up
- Sweden to investigate virus response
- Australian state could go into full lockdown again
- Central, South America deaths still rising
- Fauci says US could soon see ‘100,000 cases a day’
- Australians land on EU’s safe travel list
- Tokyo shifts focus to avoid economic slowdown
- Kyrgios hits back at Becker calling him a ‘doughnut’
- Airbus will cut 14,000 jobs within a year
- Coffee farmers fear COVID-19 restrictions will cause labour shortages
Virus arrives in city with no commercial flights
Timbuktu has a reputation for being inaccessible from the rest of the world, but its remote location in the Sahara Desert hasn’t kept it immune from the global pandemic.
There are no commercial flights to the African city in Mali, yet there are more than 500 cases and at least nine deaths, making it the country’s largest outbreak outside the capital Bamako.
Thais relax rules, Philippines death toll up
Thailand has begun a fifth phase of winding back COVID-19 restrictions, allowing the reopening of schools and high-risk entertainment venues such as pubs and massage parlours that had been shut since mid-March.
It is also allowing in foreign visitors on a controlled basis, limiting entry to those with existing family or work ties to the country, students, technical experts for businesses and investors.
The number of foreign visitors allowed into the country each day is limited to 200.
Thailand is reopening businesses across the country.(ABC News: Amy Bainbridge)
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ health ministry reported 999 more coronavirus infections and four additional deaths.
Total confirmed cases have now reached 38,511 while deaths have increased to 1,270.
Russia has reported 6,556 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking its nationwide tally to 654,405.
Sweden to investigate virus response
Sweden has announced it will form a commission to evaluate its response to the novel coronavirus.
More than 5,300 Swedes have died compared to around 250 in Norway, 600 in Denmark and 325 in Finland, all of which have populations around half the size.
Sweden, unlike the rest of Scandinavia, chose not to close schools and businesses to fight the spread of the virus.
Criticism of Sweden’s decision to let its citizens take responsibility for not spreading the virus has prompted a review.(Reuters)
“It is not a question of whether Sweden is going to change as a result of this — the question is how,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said.
Sweden’s toll is still lower than in some European countries, such as Britain, which has one of the worst death rates in the world.
Criticism in Sweden has focused mainly on the death toll among elderly residents of care homes — who make up the majority of deaths from the virus — and the late start to widespread testing.
Australian state could go into full lockdown again
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews warned the state could go back into a full lockdown if recent outbreaks were not contained.
How Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown across 10 Melbourne postcodes will work
Premier Daniel Andrews has given roughly 311,000 people a stay-at-home order.
The health department confirmed 73 new coronavirus infections were identified on July 1.
The warning came as a lockdown on 10 postcodes begins tonight.
Wednesday is the 15th straight day of double-digit increases in the number of new cases, and one of the highest daily counts since the pandemic began.
Further north, NSW has banned residents of Melbourne’s virus hotspots from entering the state.
Queensland also imposed tough restrictions yesterday on any Victorians wanting to enter that state.
Central, South America deaths still rising
The coronavirus is ravaging Brazil.(AP: Silvia Izquierdo)
Brazil registered 1,280 COVID-19 deaths on June 30, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 59,594.
Total confirmed cases rose by 33,846 to reach 1,402,041, the worst outbreak in the world outside the United States.
Panama registered 765 new cases of coronavirus infection the same day, taking the total number in the country to 33,550.
Deaths climbed by 11 to 631 overall.
Fauci says US could soon see ‘100,000 cases a day’
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.Anthony Fauci says he is “very concerned” about rising case numbers.
The United States’ top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, warns the country is now recording more than 40,000 coronavirus cases a day and the figure could soon more than double.
“I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” Dr Fauci told a Senate hearing on reopening schools and workplaces.
He cited scenes of people socialising in crowds, often without masks, as one of the reasons for his fears.
He also criticised American Airlines’ decision to pack flights full while the coronavirus outbreak was growing.
Fourteen states doubled their total number of coronavirus infections in June.
Having previously relaxed restrictions, states such as Texas, Florida and California are now closing beaches and bars and rolling back restaurant capacity in some cases.
Los Angeles has announced it will close beaches and ban fireworks displays over the Fourth of July weekend.
New Jersey’s Governor said he was postponing restarting indoor dining because people had not been wearing masks or complying with other social-distancing rules.
Arizona hospitals are hiring out-of-state nurses and squeezing in more beds while parents, teachers, businesses and their customers are preparing for at least a month of new closures imposed by the state.
Alaska reported its largest one-day increase in coronavirus cases among residents on June 30, with 36 infections.
The state reported 940 total cases among residents and 195 among non-residents. The state has reported 14 deaths.
School districts in New Mexico are preparing their plans for resuming classes in autumn amid the pandemic.
On Monday, the city of Jacksonville, where US President Donald Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination in August, made wearing masks mandatory.
However in Florida, Walt Disney World is forging ahead with plans to reopen on July 11, despite a spike in confirmed cases in the past week.
The state, which has recorded more than 3,500 deaths, on Tuesday reported more than 6,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Australia lands on EU’s safe travel list
The European Union (EU) has confirmed its list of 14 countries whose citizens will be allowed to visit the bloc from Wednesday.
Australia has been included, along with Canada, Japan, Morocco and South Korea.
However Australians at home still cannot travel abroad except in special circumstances, such as for essential business in critical industries, to deliver aid abroad, to travel in the national interest and for unavoidable personal business.
The US, Russia and Brazil have been left off the list.
The US, China and Brazil have been left off the safe travel list.(AP: Joan Mateu)
Border controls have been lifted inside the EU, meaning tourists can travel freely between countries once inside.
Also on the safe list are Algeria, Georgia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Anyone from the UK will be treated in the same way as EU citizens until the end of the Brexit transition process on December 31.
However, the British Foreign Office still advises against travel. Anyone arriving in the UK still has to quarantine for two weeks.
Kyrgios hits back at Becker, calling him a ‘doughnut’
Kyrgios labelled Zverev “selfish” and called the world number seven tennis player out on social media.(AAP)
Nick Kyrgios has dismissed Boris Becker as a “doughnut” after being branded a rat by the tennis legend for calling out the antics of German ace Alexander Zverev.
Videos emerged on Monday of Zverev partying in Monaco just days after being swept up in Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour debacle.
Zverev had pledged to self-isolate after featuring in the ill-fated tour that led to Djokovic, his wife, three more players and others testing positive for coronavirus.
A stunned Kyrgios labelled Zverev selfish and called the world No.7 tennis player out on social media.
But six-times grand slam winner Becker was none too happy with the Canberran’s comment.
“Don’t like no #rats! Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine!” Becker wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night.
Kyrgios was quick to strike back.
“Rats? For holding someone accountable? Strange way to think of it champion, I’m just looking out for people. When my family and families all over the world have respectfully done the right thing. And you have a goose waving his arms around, imma say something,” he replied before following up with a second serve.
“Boris Becker is a bigger doughnut than I thought. Can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though.”
The slanging match continued with Becker, a six-time grand slam champion and former world No.1, saying: ‘Your funny guy … how is it down under? Respect all the guidelines?”
“Haha nah bro I’m good, don’t act like you’re my friend now because you got sat down,” Kyrgios responded.
Zverev had been widely condemned after being filmed dancing in a crowded room in Monaco, prompting Kyrgios to take the 22-year-old to task.
Tokyo shifts focus to avoid economic slowdown
Tokyo has had five straight days of more than 50 new cases.(AP Photo: Eugene Hoshiko)
Tokyo confirmed 67 new cases of coronavirus infection on Wednesday as it moved away from numerical targets to contain the disease.
Wednesday’s tally marked the highest daily count in the Japanese capital since the state of emergency was lifted in late May.
It was also the sixth straight day in which Tokyo had confirmed more than 50 cases.
Tokyo is two weeks into a final phase of loosening coronavirus restrictions and officials have repeatedly said they see no need to declare a new state of emergency.
They also say the medical system can handle the current cases and increased testing partly explains the rise in infections.
Tokyo, like the rest of Japan, has so far had a lower rate of infection than many countries.
Airbus to cut 14,000 jobs
Airbus is set to cut 14,000 jobs over a year, saying its future is at stake due to the coronavirus pandemic paralysing air travel.
The company is moving swiftly to counter damage caused by a 40 per cent slump in its $89.5 billion jet business following the pandemic.
Europe’s biggest aerospace group said it would cut 5,000 posts in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, 1,700 in the UK, and 1,300 elsewhere by mid-2021.
Chief executive Guillaume Faury said industry crisis had left the company with no choice.
Reuters is reporting that French union sources predict job cuts could total 15,000.
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Coffee farmers fear COVID-19 restrictions will cause labour shortages
Coffee connoisseurs across the world prize Costa Rica’s gourmet beans, but local farmers are warning that if a coronavirus-induced foreign labour shortage is not resolved soon, the raw material used to make countless lattes and espressos could spoil on the bush.
The prospect of a bumper crop this year for the relatively small Central American coffee producer has grown bittersweet as fears grow the harvest may not be picked by workers, who are mostly from Nicaragua and Panama.
Farmers blame travel restrictions imposed by the Government to bar potentially infected visitors from southern neighbour Panama, where the virus has spread widely, and from northern neighbour Nicaragua, where lax containment measures have likely caused a much bigger-than-reported outbreak.
Workers from Panama and Nicaragua typically account for about two-thirds of Costa Rica’s coffee crop workforce.
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“We’re extremely worried. We depend on foreign labour to pick our coffee and now we don’t know if we can count on it,” said Geovanny Rodriguez, a farmer from Santa Maria de Dota, in the mountainous Los Santos region, about 64 km south of the capital, San Jose.
While Costa Rica’s coffee exports of around 1 million 60-kg bags are just a drop in global sales, its fine Arabica beans are a staple of the gourmet market.
UK Prime Minister talks infrastructure and planning rules
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to shake the economy out of its coronavirus-induced crisis by fast-tracking infrastructure investment and slashing property planning rules.
Mr Johnson is looking to move past criticism of his Government’s handling of the pandemic with a plan to repair the economic damage and reshape the country.
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There have been 313,000 reported cases and more than 43,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the UK.
“We cannot continue simply to be prisoners of the crisis,” Mr Johnson said.
“We must work fast because we’ve already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP and we know that people are worried now about their jobs and their businesses.”
Promising not to cut spending, he compared his plan to then US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s “New Deal”, which included job-creating public works projects to help the United States recover from the Great Depression.
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