- U.K. cancels plans to ease lockdown, imposes more restrictions in parts of northern England.
- Vietnam reports first COVID-19 death following Danang outbreak.
- Hong Kong postpones elections due to outbreak, leader says.
- Spain dives into deep recession as pandemic wreaks havoc on tourism industry.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci to testify before U.S. Congress after being blocked by White House.
- Philippines extends restrictions in capital as infections hit record for second day.
- Trump can’t delay the election, but might avoid running instead.
- Record surge brings India’s confirmed cases above 1.6 million.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson put some planned measures to ease the U.K.’s lockdown on hold Friday, just hours before they were due to take effect, saying the number of new coronavirus cases in the country is on the rise for the first time since May.
Johnson said at a news conference that statistics show the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community is likely increasing, with an estimated 4,900 new infections every day, up from 2,000 a day at the end of June.
“We just can’t afford to ignore this evidence,” he said. “With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze [the] brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.”
He called off plans to allow venues, including casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks, to open from Saturday, Aug. 1. Wedding receptions were also put on hold, along with plans to allow limited numbers of fans back into sports stadiums and audiences into theaters.
The decision came shortly after Britain imposed a tougher lockdown in swathes of northern England. Roughly four million people were ordered not to mix with other households in Greater Manchester, the biggest city in northern England, as well as parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced Friday that the government will postpone highly anticipated legislative elections by one year, citing a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese region.
The Hong Kong government is invoking an emergency ordinance in delaying the elections. Lam said the government has the support of the Chinese government in making the decision to hold the elections on Sept. 5, 2021.
The postponement is a setback for the opposition, which was hoping to win a historic majority in the Legislative Council, where only half the seats are directly elected and the other half stacked with pro-Beijing figures.
Later on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top government health experts is expected to tell the United States Congress that there’s no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic.
“While it remains unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time,” Fauci, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Robert Redfield and Health and Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir say in prepared testimony for a special House panel investigating the pandemic.
Fauci’s testimony comes weeks after President Donald Trump’s administration first refused to let him address the panel.
Meanwhile, with aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension Thursday of a $600 US weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats rejected it, saying Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.
Democratic leaders panned the idea in late-night talks at the Capitol, opting to keep the pressure on for a more sweeping bill that would deliver aid to state and local governments, help for the poor and funding for schools and colleges to address the pandemic. Without action, the benefit runs out Friday.
Republicans have been fighting to trim back the benefit to $200 a month, but their resolve weakened with the looming expiration of the popular benefit — and as Trump indicated that he supports keeping the full $600 benefit for now.
“We want a temporary extension of enhanced unemployment benefits,” Trump said at the White House. “This will provide a critical bridge for Americans who lost their jobs to the pandemic through no fault of their own.”
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, on Friday said negotiations will continue “every minute that is possible.”
Trump has also been facing a rare rebuke from his party after his suggestion Thursday that it might be necessary to delay the November presidential election — which would require congressional approval — because of the unfounded threat of voter fraud.
WATCH | Trump’s suggestion of changing election date quickly rejected:
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley was especially blunt: “All I can say is, it doesn’t matter what one individual in this country says. We still are a country based on the rule of law, and we want to follow the law.”
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vowed his state would hold its November elections as scheduled: “End of story.” Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who leads the House Republican Conference, said, “The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.”
The top Republicans in the House and Senate, who have spent the past four years championing Trump in Congress, also distanced themselves from the notion of a delayed election.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 115,799 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 100,862 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting indicates that 8,963 Canadians have died.
Black people and other people of colour make up 83 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases while only making up half of Toronto’s population, according to the latest data from the city.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the medical officer of health for the City of Toronto, said the data shows that Black people account for 21 per cent of reported cases in the city, while making up only nine per cent of the overall population.
Kwame McKenzie, the CEO of the Wellesley Institute and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, says the pandemic has magnified existing issues in marginalized communities.
WATCH | People of colour disproportionately got COVID-19 in Toronto:
“Some people thought that COVID would be the great equalizer,” McKenzie told CBC Toronto.
“COVID-19 is not a great equalizer — it discriminates.”
What’s happening in the rest of the world
Vietnamese state media reported on Friday the country’s first ever death of a person with the coronavirus as it struggles with a renewed outbreak after 99 days without any cases.
The Thanh Nien newspaper said a 70-year-old man died after contracting the disease while being treated for a kidney illness at a hospital in Danang where more than 90 cases have been reported over the past week.
Dr. Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the country’s Administration of Medical Examination and Treatment, said there are at least six other elderly patients with COVID-19 currently in critical condition. All have other underlying illnesses, he said.
Vietnam had been seen as a global success story in combating the coronavirus with zero deaths and no cases of local transmission for 99 days. But a week ago an outbreak began at the Danang hospital. It has grown to 93 confirmed cases in six parts of the country, including three of the largest cities, and forced authorities to re-impose restrictions.
A record surge of 55,079 new cases in the past 24 hours took India‘s coronavirus caseload past 1.6 million, as the government decided to lift a nighttime curfew that has been in force since late March.
The country’s Health Ministry on Friday also reported 779 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to 35,747. The ministry said more than 1 million people have recovered from the virus at a rate of 64 per cent.
The Philippines reported Southeast Asia’s biggest daily jump in new coronavirus cases for a second straight day on Friday, as its president extended restrictions in the capital to quell the spread, and promised normality would return in December.
The Philippines this month recorded the region’s largest daily rise in coronavirus deaths and on Friday its biggest daily jump in new cases for the second successive day, with 4,063 infections adding strain on inundated hospitals and front-line health-care workers.
The capital region, provinces south of it and some central cities remain subject to curbs on internal travel, restrictions on the elderly and children and some business operations.
The leader of Australia‘s Victoria state warns that tougher pandemic restrictions may be coming after the coronavirus hot spot reported its second-highest daily COVID-19 count on record.
Officials reported 627 new confirmed virus infections and eight deaths Friday, a day after a record 723 new cases were reported.
The state capital of Melbourne and a neighbouring semi-rural district are over half way through a six-week lockdown designed to curb the coronavirus spread.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Friday that state and federal officials are conducting an analysis over the next few days to consider what the next steps might be. Nothing has been decided, he said, but warned that “all of us acknowledge that these numbers are still far too high.”
The coronavirus crisis has pulverized Spain’s economy, triggering its worst recession since the civil war, with collapsed tourism numbers boding ill for hopes of a swift rebound.
Its economy shrank 18.5 per cent in the second quarter, a drop so harsh it wiped out all the recovery achieved since the 2008 global financial crisis, figures from the National Statistics Institute showed on Friday.
The government had counted on tourism driving a third quarter recovery, but quarantines and travel advisories have dashed hopes as Spain battles with new localized outbreaks of COVID-19.
After Britain required travellers to Spain to quarantine on return, Germany dealt another blow on Friday, putting three Spanish regions — including Catalonia, home to Barcelona — on its list of high-risk regions.