Coronavirus: US unemployment falls to 11.1% amid jobs surge | News | DW | 02.07.2020

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Coronavirus: US unemployment falls to 11.1% amid jobs surge

The US regained 4.8 million jobs in June, according to official figures. However, some of those jobs could soon disappear again as the country renews shut downs amid an anticipated second wave. Follow DW for the latest.

  • US unemployment rate has dropped by two points, to 11.1%
  • Germany is set to take on a record €217.8 billion ($245.8 billion) in debt this year due to the pandemic
  • The UK plans to scrap quarantine rules for travelers from 75 countries
  • Over 10.7 million cases and over 500,000 deaths have been confirmed worldwide

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT) 

22:30 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to "act responsibly" when English pubs reopen on Saturday after more than three months of coronavirus lockdown. The British leader also said he plans to visit both a pub and a hairdresser. Libraries, museums, cinemas, restaurants and hotels will also open on Saturday.

Loosening the restrictions "is about supporting the livelihoods of business owners and their employees," Johnson said.

"But the success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly," he added.

A spike in cases in the English city of Leicester, which led to local schools and shops this week being shut again and the July 4 reopenings delayed, was proof that "the virus is still with us."

Britain has suffered the deadliest outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe, recording around 44,000 deaths among patients who tested positive, rising to over 54,000 when suspected cases are included. There have been over 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the UK.

The British government also said it is scrapping a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from a number of countries deemed "lower risk" for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

The change takes effect July 10, just over a month after the UK began requiring international arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks.

The full list of exempted countries will be announced later Friday, the government said. It is considered unlikely the United States, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, will be among them.

21:35 Over 10,000 people in Peru have died from the coronavirus, the country's Health Ministry has said. The news came a day after the government began lifting a national lockdown in an attempt to restart the economy. 

The number of fatalities rose by 185 to 10,045 in the past 24 hours. The number of infected rose to 292,004.

21:25 The World Health Organization (WHO) said there are 17 potential coronavirus vaccines currently undergoing clinical trials on humans. The most advanced of them is being developed by Oxford University in the UK.

Speaking at the end of a two-day coronavirus research conference, the WHO said it is optimistic about the vaccines, even if the current trials do not succeed.

"We have a broad pipeline with four different types of vaccine," said Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, who is responsible for research and development at WHO.

Researchers are considering over 150 active substances in their search for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Oxford's AZD1222 is the first vaccine to reach phase 3 of a clinical trial. Phase 3 consists of large-scale testing on many people to determine the drug’s safety and effectiveness.

Five other trials are in phase 2 of testing, which consists of trials on a smaller number of patients with health conditions that would reveal the substance's effect.

Phase 1 consists of trials on healthy people in order to test their tolerance.

Trials are also underway at two companies in Germany, Biotech in Mainz and CureVac in Tübingen.

Normally it takes 10 years to 15 years to develop a vaccine. However, the pandemic has pushed researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and regulators to development at an unprecedented speed.

It remains unclear whether a vaccine will be widely available by the end of the year, as WHO scientists Soumya Swaminathan had hoped for last month.

20:20  Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said fiscal reform, including tax hikes for larger companies, was "inevitable" if Spain was to recover from the economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We will have to reduce public debt, we will also have to lower the public deficit and for that, we will have to increase the state's revenue capacity," Sanchez told LaSexta news channel. 

Spain's low tax income made it "inevitable that we will have to carry out fiscal reform," given that government revenues are much lower than the European average, or "7 percentage points lower than GDP," he said. 

"We want to have a robust welfare state and we're going to do that with fiscal justice," which will mean "raising taxes on big companies and not on small- and medium-sized companies," he added.

"Big companies have effective tax rates that are under 10% while smaller and medium-sized companies pay a lot more." He also said Spain would seek to "accelerate" the imposition of environmental taxes. Regarding income tax, Sanchez said he considered "that the higher tax brackets could be expanded."

Spain is one of the countries hardest-hit by the pandemic in Europe, implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the region, which saw businesses shut down for months and citizens unable to leave their homes for nonessential reasons. The country now has almost 250,000 confirmed cases and a death toll above 28,000.

19:25 There is "very little risk" that pets can infect their owners with coronavirus, said Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist.

Felines, ferrets and "even tigers" have been infected with the disease, but "there is very little risk from domestic animals because there was some concern about domestic animals becoming a source of infection," Soumya told a Geneva news conference. 

Global concerns were raised in March, when a pet cat was found to be positive for the virus in Hong Kong after its owner tested positive. However, while pets can contract coronavirus and spread it to other animals, there is no evidence of animal-to-human transmission, according to the WHO website.

19:00 The US state of Florida reported a daily record of more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases, as the country grapples with a new surge in infections.

The figure of 10,109 cases, bringing the total to 169,106, marks the second record since Saturday. Florida is a major focus of public health experts, with the fifth highest number in the US. 

In another sign of the difficult situation in Florida, Jackson Health System, the largest healthcare provider in Miami, announced Wednesday that it will no longer do non-urgent surgeries, warning that it will run out of hospital beds if the rise in cases seen over the past two weeks continues for another month or two.

Following the latest spike, Miami Beach reinstated a nighttime curfew, and Miami-Dade County made the wearing of masks mandatory. Beaches in south Florida have been shut down ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend, and there will be limited use of pools at hotels and apartment buildings.

17:26 Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has accused the European Union of maintaining its travel restrictions for Turkey for political reasons. When the EU lifted entry bans for 14 countries, Turkey did not make the cut.

Cavusoglu maintained that many of those 14 nations were in a worse position than Turkey.

"We see that they have taken a politically motivated decision," he said in Berlin, after meeting his German counterpart, Heiko Maas.

He called on Germany to "review its travel warning in light of objective data and criteria."

Maas said Germany would align its travel warnings with EU recomendations. 

"It is only possible to control the spread of the virus if we in Europe act in as much harmony as possible," Maas said.

People traveling from the following countries are now allowed to enter the EU without quarantining: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

13:20 The US unemployment rate for June fell to 11.1% after the US economy regained 4.8 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The unemployment rate was down from the previous 13.3% logged in the spring, with the number of jobs created was far higher than economists expected. The employment rate decreased as businesses began to reopen, and people who were laid off returned to their jobs, especially in hard-hit sectors like leisure and hospitality.

Non-farm payroll employment rose by 4.8 million in June, while those listed as temporary layoffs decreased by 4.8 million people to 10.6 million. However, those figures largely reflect the first weeks of June. Later in the month, the country began to see reopenings paused amid another nationwide spike in coronavirus cases.

A separate Labor Department report showed that job losses continued, as 1.43 million people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week – a decrease of just 55,000 from the previous week. 

The United States has been the hardest hit by the pandemic, with nearly 2.7 million confirmed cases and a death toll of over 128,000.

12:50 The World Health Organization (WHO) says Africa likely does not have a significant number of unknown cases or deaths from coronavirus, the regional head has announced.

"We do not think that there is a multiple-fold number of cases which are undetected and people who are dying unknown," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said in a press conference.

"There is a certain level of underestimation of testing," she added. "Most African countries are only testing people who have symptoms and are encouraging people to come with early symptoms."

Some experts have expressed concerns that coronavirus outbreaks may have devastating effects in some African countries and that cases and deaths may be going unreported. Moeti stressed the importance of "strong contact tracing systems" and maintaining travel restrictions where possible.

11:03 Germany will take on a record €217.8 billion ($245.8 billion) in debt this year after lawmakers approved a supplementary budget to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The money is expected to fund measures to support struggling businesses and consumers in the coming months. It pushes Germany's debt-to-GDP ratio to over 75% — significantly higher than the EU's 60% limit.

German MPs passed an initial €156 billion boost to the budget in March to fund a coronavirus aid package and fill a funding gap caused by falling tax revenues. Among its measures, the government has reduced value-added tax, introduced a €300 bonus per child for families, and earmarked almost €25 billion in aid for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Read more: What's in Germany's emergency coronavirus budget?

Watch video 04:08

Free holidays for Italian health-care workers

10:50 Official statistics show that more than half a million jobs have been lost in Italy since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. 

In May, the number of people in work fell to 22.8 million, its lowest level in nearly four years, and down by 538,000 compared to February, according to the national statistics office Istat. 

Since the coronavirus struck Italy in mid-February, the country has reported more than 240,000 infections and almost 35,000 deaths.

Istat said the unemployment rate in May stood at 7.8%, up from 6.6% in April. The figure is relatively low, in part because of a major increase in people who are not looking for a job. These so-called "inactives" — as well as people temporarily out of work but covered by state-funded furlough schemes — are excluded from job-seeker statistics.  

10:42 Germany's agency for international cooperation, GIZ, is warning that the pandemic is hitting developing countries the hardest. Speaking at a press conference in Berlin, GIZ spokeswoman Tanja Gönner said the virus could have a destabilizing effect in some parts of the world, particularly in Africa.

She added that around €110 million ($124 million) had been earmarked for emergency COVID-19 support measures so far this year, and that the hope was to allocate a further €130 million by the end of the year. She said a main priority was sub-Saharan Africa, where the GIZ is funding training for medical personnel, running awareness-raising campaigns, and supplying protective clothing and other materials such as thermometers and soap to hospitals. 

10:28 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has told his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, that an EU travel ban on Turkish tourists would be reviewed in the coming weeks.

However, he noted that Germany would ultimately follow EU guidelines on the matter given that it forms part of a bloc-wide approach to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, Turkish nationals can travel to Germany to visit close relatives but a general ban is in place for nonessential travel. The Turkish government is pushing for it to be placed on a list of "safe countries" that can visit the EU.

Only 15 countries outside the EU have been granted permission for their citizens to travel to the bloc. Notable countries that have been left out include the US, Russia and Brazil, which have the highest number of confirmed cases in the world.

Infografik showing which countries are subject to the EU travel ban

09:33 An airport in Taiwan is offering travel-deprived citizens a chance to have a fake flight experience during the coronavirus lockdown. As part of a program launched on Thursday, travelers can go to Taipei's Songshan airport, get a made-up itinerary and boarding pass, go through passport control and even board a plane. But they won't actually be traveling anywhere.

Some 60 people, out of around 7,000 who applied, were chosen for the first fake experience, and more make-believe flights are expected to follow in the coming weeks.

"I really want to leave the country, but because of the epidemic lots of flights can't fly," Hsiao Chun-wei, 38, told Reuters.

The number of passengers has dropped by more than 60% in the first five months of 2020, according to the government.

According to Reuters, the Songshan airport was using its fake flight experiences as an opportunity to show off newly completed renovations and the virus-prevention measures it is taking.  

Two women hold their passports and take a selfie

Excited travel-starved passengers get ready for their fake flight experience at Taiwan's Songshan airport

09:17 The UN food agency says food prices rose in June for the first time in 2020 after sharp falls due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) price index averaged 93.2 points last month, up 2.4% on May. The index measures monthly shifts in the cost of a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar.

Amid continued market uncertainty, the prices of these products rebounded to multi-month highs following steep declines in May, the FAO said.

08:50 The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has passed 660,000, after 6,760 new infections were reported on Thursday. Authorities said 147 people had also died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 9,683.

The figures were released after Russian voters backed changes to the constitution that will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036. Voting took place over seven days to boost turnout and avoid crowds during the pandemic. 

08:11 South Africa is reporting 8,124 new coronavirus cases — a new daily record.

South Africa now has over 159,000 infections, more than any other African country. Cape Town has so far been the epicenter of the pandemic, but more and more cases are also being reported Johannesburg.   

07:43 Kazakhstan is implementing a second lockdown from Sunday in an effort to stop a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The government said in a statement that the measure would last two weeks and be less restrictive than the first lockdown, which was imposed in mid-March. Under the new order, some nonessential businesses must close, domestic travel will be limited, public gatherings banned and public transport services cut, the statement said. Kazakhs will be able to leave their homes, but only in groups of no more than three.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered the second lockdown after cases rose more than sevenfold following the easing of restrictions in mid-May. The Central Asian country of 19 million has so far recorded more than 42,000 cases, with 188 deaths. Among those infected with the virus was former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, 79, who served as Kazakhstan's leader for almost three decades before handing over to hand-picked successor Tokayev last year.

07:14 Hungary has rejected an EU request to add non-EU countries to a "safe" travel list, with the exception of neighboring Serbia.

The 27-member bloc this week approved travel from 14 countries beyond its borders in a bid to boost the EU tourism industry. But in an announcement on Facebook, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his country would not comply.

"For the time being we cannot support the EU's request ... because this would go against the healthcare interests of the Hungarian people," Orban said, adding that people transiting through Hungary could use a "human corridor."

"They will not be allowed to leave this path and we will keep strict border controls in place."

Italy, which recorded one of the highest coronavirus death tolls worldwide, also said it would opt out of the plan, and instead keep quarantine rules in place for travelers from outside the Schengen area. The 14 countries affected by the EU's relaxed travel restrictions are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

06:42 The British government is planning to scrap its quarantine rules for those arriving from 75 countries, according to The Daily Telegraph.  

The UK announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for international travelers on May 23, angering struggling businesses in the aviation and tourism sectors.

The Telegraph said the government would soon change the rule to allow people to go on holiday, as well as lift a ban on nonessential travel to nearly all EU states, Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. 

The government has not confirmed the newspaper's report. However, Simon Clarke, a junior housing, communities and local government minister, said there would soon be an announcement on travel.

"We will be talking further about this this week," he told Sky. "Clearly we want to get the tourism sector back on its feet as quickly as we can and I'm sure that we will be able to give good news in the near future."

Read moreCoronavirus quarantine plans raise serious questions for tourism in Ireland and Britain

06:23 Germany's health minister is calling for the manufacturer of remdesivir to ensure it can still deliver the drug to Europe despite the US government buying over 90% of production until September. 

Remdesivir has been shown to speed up the recovery of coronavirus patients, and is the only drug licensed by both the US and the EU as a treatment for those with severe cases of COVID-19. 

Speaking to public broadcaster ZDF, Health Minister Jens Spahn said he expected pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences to "supply Germany and Europe when it comes to such a drug." He added, however, that Germany had sufficient stocks for the next few months.

Read moreDoes Berlin have the pandemic under control?

The US struck a deal with the company this week to secure 500,000 treatments, amounting to all but 10% of production for August and September. 

The European Medicines Agency has recommended that remdesivir be approved in Europe, with a decision from the European Commission expected this week.

06:01 Israel has reported its highest daily increase in cases since the pandemic began, with 868 new infections over the past 24 hours. The previous record of 819 was recorded on April 3.

Authorities announced new restrictions overnight in attempt to slow the spread of the virus — districts in the city of Lod, near Tel Aviv, will be locked down for the next week, while a five-day lockdown is due to come into force in the Palestinian territories on Friday. Some 26,257 people have so far been infected with the coronavirus in Israel, while 322 people have died. In the Palestinian territories there have been 2,758 confirmed cases and eight deaths.

Watch video 03:18

India introduces new strategy to stem spread of COVID-19

05:26 Here's the latest from Asia:

In India, the number of coronavirus cases has passed the 600,000 mark, with 19,148 new infections reported over the last 24 hours. Almost 18,000 people have died. The bulk of the cases have been recorded in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.

Meanwhile, more than 110 people have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a wedding in the northeastern state of Bihar. The groom reportedly tied the knot while ill with the disease and then died two days later. Hundreds of guests who attended the nuptials, and then his funeral, have been quarantined. Authorities are investigating possible violations of social distancing rules, which stipulate a 50-person limit at weddings.

The Japanese capital, Tokyo, has confirmed more than 100 new cases, its highest daily total in two months, according to public broadcaster NHK. The city's authorities had been aiming to keep the daily tally below 20 after a state of emergency was lifted in late May, but the numbers have continued to climb. On Wednesday, Tokyo recorded 67 new cases. Officials said the jump could be due to increased testing. Overall, Japan has about 19,000 cases and 976 deaths.

Read moreUptick in Japan infections triggers second wave fears

South Korean Health Minister Park Neung-hoo has voiced alarm over the recent rise of coronavirus infections outside the capital, Seoul. The city of Gwangju, which previously had one of the smallest caseloads among major cities, was forced to shut schools and tighten restrictions this week after dozens of new infections were reported there. Park urged the city's residents to avoid gatherings, keep distance from others and wear masks. South Korea reported 54 new cases on Thursday.

Watch video 02:57

COVID-19: India's packed prisons may be courting disaster

03:45 Germany reported 466 new cases of the coronavirus, taking the national total tally up to 194,725, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The state of North Rhine-Westphalia reported the largest number of cases.

RKI reported 12 new deaths from the virus. Germany's total death toll from the virus is now 8,985. RKI said there were sporadic outbreaks in nursing homes, hospitals and refugee facilities.

03:20 Mainland China registered three new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, compared to three cases a day earlier, the National Health Commission has said in a statement.

Two of the new infections were imported cases while one was reported in Beijing. No new deaths were reported.

China also registered two new asymptomatic patients, down from three the day before.

Mainland China has reported a total of 83,537 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4,634 deaths, the commission said.

02:30 After three months of closures due to the coronavirus, Egypt has reopened the famous Pyramids of Giza to visitors.

"There are many safety measures before the pyramids can be entered," travel guide Fatma Bayoumy told news agency AFP. Everything must be disinfected — "including the visitors and their bags," she added.

Dozens of foreign tourists were already roaming the pyramid complex shortly after it reopened. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has also reopened.

Egypt hopes that the opening of the tourist sites will help to boost the country's ailing tourism sector. On Tuesday, the government eased travel restrictions and opened up air traffic for international flights.

Egypt had its first confirmed case of coronavirus on February 14.

As a result, museums, archaeological sites, shops, cafes and restaurants in the country were shut down.

Egypt has registered more than 68,000 coronavirus infections and almost 3,000 deaths.

One-fifth of Egypt's gross domestic product comes from the tourism industry. Egypt's tourism industry has coped with many upheavals in recent years, including the political instability following the fall of the long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Even so, the country set a new record last year with 13.6 million tourists.

Pyramids of Giza

Visitors had been barred from the pyramids for three months

02:10 Australian police set up checkpoints in Melbourne to contain new coronavirus hot spots in the country's second-largest city.

Images published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showed police stopping cars after 36 suburbs in Melbourne went into lockdown following a spike in new infections.

"Over 300,000 Australians ... are going into a difficult situation, which we've all been through," Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters, referring to the residents of the affected suburbs. "We know we can get through it but nevertheless it's a huge imposition on their lives."

Australia has fared better than many countries in the pandemic, with around 8,000 cases, 104 deaths and fewer than 400 active cases.

01:20 The United States reported over 52,000 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, according to a tally by John Hopkins University. The number is a new one-day record.

The tally showed 52,898 new infections in the US, bringing the total number of cases there to 2,682,270 since the outbreak began.

Another 706 COVID-19 fatalities increased the death toll to 128,028.

In recent days, the number of new daily infections in the US has been around 40,000.

A restaurant in California has tables with signs reading This table is not in use

Some US states are back to tightening rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

00:09 The Americas are still the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with the United States and Brazil leading the globe in overall infections and fatalities from COVID-19. On Wednesday, Brazil hit the tragic milestone of 60,000 coronavirus deaths. In the US, governors of the states hit hardest by the virus have made moves to halt or reverse steps to ease restrictions originally put in place to slow the spread of the virus.  

"The spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning," said California Governor Gavin Newsom. The governor ordered his state to close all bars, ban indoor dining at restaurants, and restrict other indoor operations for over 70% of the state's population.

Within the US, the national epicenter has progressed from the Northeast to California, Arizona and New Mexico in the West as well as Texas, Florida and Georgia.

00:03 Mexico reported 5,681 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours along with 741 more fatalities, bringing the country’s total cases to 231,770 and total deaths to 28,510.

The latest deaths put Mexico ahead of Spain, a former coronavirus hot spot, in terms of overall fatalities from the virus. On Wednesday, Spain reported a total of 28,363 deaths related to COVID-19.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here.

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments, and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.

Germany's national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.

nm,kp/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)