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From Charlotte Graham-McLay, our correspondent in New Zealand:
New Zealand’s unemployment rate fell in the three months to June 2020 to 4.0% from 4.2% in the previous quarter, a drop that shocked economists. But they’re warning that beyond that figure, the labour market is worsening due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The country’s strict lockdown ended in late April but it appeared to have quelled the spread of the virus, with no known community transmission in New Zealand.
The government’s detractors warned of huge hits to employment figures as a result of the restrictions but Wednesday’s figures showed that unemployment actually dropped
However, the underutilisation rate – the amount of untapped capacity in the economy – is up by 1.6% to 12.0%, reflecting those who were underemployed during that period.
Brad Olsen, an economist with Infometrics, told the Guardian that while the headline employment figure looked good, the number of people out of work is rising. During the weeks of lockdown, those people weren’t actively out looking for work — a requirement to be considered officially “unemployed”.
A government wage subsidy underwriting thousands of jobs, and implemented due to the pandemic, is due to end in September – after which the scale of job losses might look different.
Peru, which has one of the highest Covid-19 death tolls in the world, is facing political paralysis after congress refused to approve president Martin Vizcarra’s recently appointed cabinet on Tuesday night.
A no confidence vote prompted all 19 cabinet ministers to resign, Associated Press reports, and could hamper the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 19,000 lives in the Andean nation.
Vizcarra has 72 hours to form a new cabinet to congress, which is made up of 130 legislators who represent 10 political parties.
Mexico has reported 6,148 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 857 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 449,961 cases and 48,869 deaths, the health ministry has announced.
Mexico has the third highest number of deaths in the world behind the US and Brazil.
It’s worth revisiting Donald Trump’s car-crash interview broadcast in the US on Tuesday.
The US president, pressed by Axios political correspondent Jonathan Swan about the country’s death toll of 156,000, said: “It is what it is”. He also reiterated his claims that the US had racked up more cases than any other country because it was testing more people, saying that children with a “runny nose” were being added to the tally.
Trump later told a White House press briefing that the US death toll had not risen significantly, despite the toll regularly passing 1,000 a day.
You can check the key takeaways from the interview – including comments about Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell – with this story by my colleague Amanda Hopluch in New York.
As the global death total nears 700,000 – it is currently on 697,998 according to Johns Hopkins University – our reporters have been looking at how government all over the world are struggling to contain the virus.
Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford University in California, has a chilling verdict: “We are only about eight months into this outbreak,” says . “That is still the infancy of an infection. We’ve known about HIV for over 40 years and we’re still learning new things about it every day.”
Virgin Atlantic goes bust
The latest corporate casualty of the pandemic is Virgin Atlantic, which has declared itself bankrupt and has filed for protection from creditors in the US.
The move means it can restructure its debt and plot a course back into operation.
The court filing in the southern district of New York said it has negotiated a deal with stakeholders “for a consensual recapitalization” that will get debt off its balance sheet and “immediately position it for sustainable long-term growth”.
The announcement comes only weeks after Virgin Atlantic announced it had secured funding to survive for another 18 months.
Here’s the full story from my colleague in New York, Dominic Rushe:
Brazil records another 51,603 cases
Brazil has seen another 51,603 people contract Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, and 1,154 have died, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
The country has registered more than 2.8 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 95,819, according to ministry data, in the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.
One of them is a government minister, Jorge Oliveira, secretary of the presidency, who on Tuesday became the eighth member of the government to be confirmed with the virus.
Morning/afternoon/evening. I’m Martin Farrer and welcome to the new live blog with updates from across the world on the coronavirus pandemic.
The main developments of the past 24 hours are:
- European countries are struggling to contain a seond wave of infections several weeks after the end of the initial lockdown. In France, authorities say they could lose control of the outbreak “at any time”, experts say Germmnay is already in a second wave, Greece reported its biggest rise in caxes for weeks and cases in the Netherlands have doubled in the past week.
- Donald Trump has given a news conference at which he said that the steep rise in cases in the US have not been accompanied by a “significant” rise in deaths.
- Earlier the US president floundered in an interview with Axios in which he said Covid-19 was “under control” in the US despite around 1,000 deaths a day. “It is what it is,” he said. Joe Biden has told him to “step up and do your job”.
- UK opposition leader Keir Starmer has told Boris Johnson that has one month to sort the country’s failing test and trace system or it faces a “bleak winter” grappling with a resurgence of cases..
- Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the US Open over Covid concerns. The four-time winner at Flushing Meadows does not want to travel to the United States while Covid-19 cases are on the rise.
- Turkey has tightened containment measures after the virus rebounded in recent weeks. There will be new daily quarantine inspections, new tracing oversights and measures for weddings and funerals, after new daily cases jumped above 1,000 for the first time in three weeks.
- Ireland cancels plans to re-open pubs on Monday. The Irish prime minister announced that further plans for easing of lockdown measures are to be put on hold and face coverings will be mandatory in shops from 10 August.
- Nurses in the virus-stricken Australian state of Victoria have pleaded for more protective equipment as hundreds of healthcare workers have contracted the disease.
- San Quentin prison in California is in the grip of a serious outbreak of Covid-19. Three inmates have died since Sunday and there are 168 positive cases inside the jail.
- Germany’s football league is ready for fans to return under certain conditions such as no alcohol being sold at grounds. The Bundesliga’s 36 professional clubs have decided on a uniform procedure for the possible return of some fans to the stadiums, if authorities give the go-ahead.
- Danish state epidemiologist advises against lockdown easing. Kare Molbak said he could not recommend proceeding to the next phase of reopening society during the coronavirus outbreak.