Coronavirus live news: global deaths pass 380,000 as Australia sinks towards recession

By Martin Farrer and Helen Sullivan (earlier)


India still 'very far' from peak – government expert





  • Known deaths in the coronavirus pandemic passed 380,000 on Wednesday, with Johns Hopkins University figures showing the toll currently standing at 380,250. Confirmed infections are nearing 3.4 million, with 6,378,239 so dar.
  • Brazil deaths passed 30,000. A record 1,262 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Brazil today - taking the country’s total death toll to 31,199 - but the president continues to downplay the pandemic. The figures were announced on Tuesday evening by Brazil’s health ministry, which also said the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 555,383, second only to the United States. The South American country is now on the verge of overtaking Italy, where 33,530 deaths have been recorded, as the country with the third highest number of deaths.
  • Australia’s economy is in recession. Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has confirmed Australia is now in a recession as the economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic. His confirmation came after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the economy shrank by 0.3% in the March quarter, on the back of the bushfires, drought and coronavirus pandemic. Asked whether the country was now in recession, he said: “Well, the answer to that is ‘yes’. And that is on the basis of the advice that I have from the Treasury department about where the June quarter is expected to be.”
  • New Zealand saw its 12th consecutive day with no new cases. New Zealand has reported a 12th straight day of no new cases of Covid-19, as the government considers abandoning as early as next week all remaining restrictions on the country except stringent border controls. Just one person in New Zealand is still recovering from the illness, health officials said on Wednesday. They are not in hospital. There have been fewer than 1,500 confirmed cases of the virus in the country, with 22 deaths.
  • French anti-racism protesters defied a coronavirus gathering ban. Clashes broke out between police and protesters in Paris on Tuesday after around 20,000 people defied a ban to rally over the 2016 death of a black man in police custody, galvanised by US demonstrations against racism and deadly police violence.
  • China’s service sector is bouncing back. China’s huge service sector has bounced back to growth for the first time since January in a sign that the world’s second largest economy is recovering strongly from strict coronavirus-induced containment measures. Although employment and overseas demand remains weak in the economy, the Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index rose to 55.0 in May from 44.4 in April, hitting the highest level since late 2010. The 50-mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.
  • Yemen aid funding falls short by US$1bn. Yemen remains on the brink of “a macabre tragedy”, the UN has warned after a humanitarian fundraising summit raised only $1.35bn for this year, around $1bn short of the target and only half the sum raised at the equivalent pledging conference last year. Dr Abdullah al-Rabiah, the head of the King Salman Centre for Relief and Humanitarian Aid in Saudi Arabia, which co-hosted the virtual summit, put the overall shortfall down to the impact of coronavirus on national budgets and concerns about the restrictions on aid flows imposed by the parties to Yemen’s five-year civil war.
  • Hopes were raised of the possible availability of a vaccine. A senior US army researcher said it was reasonable to expect that some sort of vaccine could be available to some parts of the US population by the end of the year.
  • France’s death toll rose by more than a 100 in a 24-hour period for the first time in 13 days. It came as the country enacts a new easing of lockdown measures.
  • Iran confirmed its second highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period since its outbreak began, with the health ministry saying 3,117 people tested positive. The number of new daily infections in Iran has now returned to levels previously seen at the peak of its outbreak in late March.
  • Germany’s travel warning for Europe will be lifted on Wednesday, its foreign minister, Heiko Maas, announced. The worldwide travel warning still applies. But, for the countries of the EU and associated states, the warning will be replaced by travel advice that will give travellers detailed information about the situation in each state.
  • The UK’s official death toll passed 50,000, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The total differs from the government’s daily counts, which only include deaths in hospitals and care homes where the person had tested positive.
  • The UK statistics watchdog criticised the government’s testing data. Whitehall’s use of testing data appears to be aimed more at making it look like a lot is being done than actually painting a clear picture, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority warned the health secretary, Matt Hancock.
  • A Wuhan doctor who worked with the whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, Chinese state media reported. Hu Weifeng, a urologist at Wuhan central hospital, reportedly became China’s first Covid-19 fatality in weeks when he died on Friday after being treated for more than four months.


Global deaths pass 380,000




Australia's economy in recession



In Australia, a world without cheques, fewer ATMs and a regulatory push to lower electronic transaction fees as fewer people use cash are some of the likely impacts of Covid-19 on payments, the Reserve Bank has said.

RBA assistant governor Michele Bullock told a Morgan Stanley disruption conference on Wednesday that cash was now the payment method for just 25% of transactions, or around 10% of their value.

The long-term decline of cash has been accelerated by merchants and consumers concerned about hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic, with many putting up signs asking for card payments or rejecting cash altogether, she said.

As shoppers flocked instead to online shopping, where cash was not an option, ATM withdrawals in April were down 30% from the month before and more than 40% lower than the year before.

Bullock said it was “likely that a large part of this will become a permanent change in behaviour” and add to pressure on banks to reduce the number of ATMs in their networks – a consolidation that will be “more urgent” and occur “more quickly” as a result.