Closed Coronavirus latest: US reports record increase in new coronavirus cases


Today’s top stories: Gilead’s remdesivir trial shows improvement in Covid-19 recovery. Industrial revival in France and Italy brings economic cheer to eurozone. Caseless Barbados offers yearlong working visa. Hong Kong ends school year early after resurgence of cases.

News you might have missed

The pace of applications for US unemployment benefits slowly retreated again last week, with new claims totalling 1.31m as businesses continue to grapple with the fallout from the spread of coronavirus. Jobless claims edged down from the revised 1.41m reported during the week before, the US labour department said on Thursday.

A combination of antiviral drugs used to cure millions of hepatitis C patients has shown promising results as a Covid-19 treatment in hospital trials in Iran. In results from three trials, 94 per cent of hospitalised patients taking a combination of sofosbuvir and daclatasvir showed reduced fevers and improved breathing versus 70 per cent in the control arm.

The number of coronavirus infections across England is showing no significant sign of rising or falling, according to the Office for National Statistics, which estimates that an average of 14,000 individuals living in the community (rather than in institutions) had Covid-19 at any given time between June 22 and July 5, equivalent to 1 in 3,900 people.

Hong Kong tightened social-distancing measures again as the number of locally infected Covid-19 cases rose in the past few days. The Chinese territory is bracing itself for another surge in infections as most people have returned to work. Restaurants will be limited to eight places per table and four people at tables in bars from Saturday.

UK pharmacist Boots plans to cut more than 4,000 jobs following a “dramatic” decline in shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic. The company launched a consultation process for a “significant reduction” across its stores and Nottingham head office, including the closure of 48 of its opticians.

Starbucks announced it will require all customers to wear face coverings when visiting its US cafes from July 15, even in states and regions where mask wearing has not been mandated. Customers not wearing a facial covering can use drive-through, curbside pick-up or delivery services, the company said in a statement.

John Lewis, a UK retailer, said it would close eight of its 50 outlets in a move that puts 1,300 jobs at risk. Two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford will be shut, as well as smaller shops at Heathrow airport, St Pancras railway station and Croydon in London, and in Newbury in Berkshire, Swindon in Wiltshire and Tamworth in Staffordshire.

Japan’s Fast Retailing warned that the global recovery of sales at its Uniqlo stores will take longer than expected due to the coronavirus as it cut its full-year profit forecast 15 per cent. Asia’s largest clothing retailer last month showed a surprisingly fast recovery of sales in Japan but quarterly losses widened in North America, Europe and other parts of Asia.

Testing stalls in US even as infections touch new highs

Peter Wells in New York and Emma Boyde in Hong Kong

Testing has stalled in the US even as the US caseload is reaching new highs and the death rate has begun to rise again for the first time since early June, according to Covid Tracking Project data.

“On-the-ground reporting has been indicating that testing capacity is constrained right now, but we hadn’t seen that in our data. Now, after weeks of the 7-day average moving upwards, testing has stalled, even as cases reach new highs,” the researchers said on Twitter as they released Thursday’s data.

The coronavirus-related death tally has now risen by more than 800 for the third day in a row, underpinned by record one-day increases in California, Texas and Florida.

A further 867 people in the US died over the past 24 hours compared with an increase of 897 yesterday and 922 on Tuesday. These are the highest levels since early June, excluding a large historical revision to New Jersey’s numbers on June 25.

California, Florida and Texas comprised 43 per cent of Thursday’s nationwide increase in fatalities, with record one-day jumps of 149, 120 and 105 respectively. Nevada (18) was the only other state to report a record rise in fatalities.

The jump in the national death toll in recent days has come against the backdrop of federal officials who have pointed to a weeks-long decline in the death rate as a sign Covid-19’s spread through sunbelt states was under control. On July 5, just 209 deaths were reported, the fewest in just over three months.

The number of new coronavirus cases remained elevated, with a further 58,836 people in the US testing positive over the past 24 hours, a one-day increase second only to Wednesday’s record jump of more than 62,000.

Texas (9,782), Florida (8,935), California (7,031), Arizona (4,057) and Georgia (2,837) posted the biggest increases, but all were less than recent record jumps.

Five states — Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Washington and Wisconsin — reported record increases, according to Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data.

Asia-Pacific stocks track Wall Street lower

Daniel Shane in Hong Kong

Stocks across Asia-Pacific followed Wall Street lower on Friday as a resurgence in US coronavirus cases threatened a recovery in the world’s biggest economy.

In early trading, Japan’s Topix slipped 0.4 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 and South Korea’s Kospi both fell 0.5 per cent. Futures markets pointed to rises of 0.3 per cent for Wall Street’s S&P 500 and 0.6 per cent for London’s FTSE 100 when trading begins later in the day.

Overnight in the US, the S&P 500 fell 0.6 per cent after data on Thursday showed that coronavirus cases in Florida recorded their biggest one-day jump since the start of the pandemic.

Oil was little changed on Friday after falling in the previous session, with the US marker West Texas Intermediate trading at $39.66 per barrel.

Trading in mainland China and Hong Kong opens later in the morning. Futures pointed to slight falls for the main indices in both markets.

Aid agencies alarmed over first north-west Syria case

The first confirmed coronavirus case in north-west Syria, one of the last rebel-backed areas in the country, has raised fears among aid agencies that the virus could spread rapidly through crowded refugee camps.

“The first case of Covid-19 in north-west Syria is a major blow to the millions of civilians — mainly women and children – living in this area,” Sonia Khush, Save the Children Syria response director, said in a statement.

The area is the last rebel-controlled part of the country and has seen fierce fighting. In March Turkey sent thousands of troops across the border to stop a Syrian offensive to retake Idlib, the last province still in opposition hands.

“Previous ceasefires in north-west Syria have not held long enough for aid workers to deliver vital support,” said Ms Khush. “In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that this one does.”

NYC cancels large events to boost physical distancing

New York City has cancelled all large events until at least September 30, as the metropolis struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that municipal authorities would not issue a permit for any event larger than one city block, or any that needed sound amplification.

Street fairs and events in parks that would “unreasonably diminish public use” are also banned.

The mayor said the ban was designed so that events would not interfere with post-pandemic initiatives to open public streets for restaurants and to allow other retail outlets to do business within physical distancing guidelines.

“As New York has begun its reopening process, accessible open spaces are more important than ever,” Mr de Blasio said.

“While it pains me to call off some of the city’s beloved events, our focus now must be the prioritisation of city space for public use and the continuation of social distancing,” he added.

Bolivian leader and top Venezuela official test positive

Gideon Long in Bogotá

The president of Bolivia, Jeanine Añez, and one of the most powerful figures in Venezuela’s ruling socialist party, Diosdado Cabello, have both tested positive for coronavirus as the pandemic continues to sweep across Latin America.

Confirming the news in a video posted on Twitter, Ms Añez said she would be in quarantine for 14 days but added: “I feel good. I feel strong. I will continue working”.

In Venezuela, Mr Cabello confirmed his positive test via Twitter, saying his morale was high. President Nicolás Maduro sent him his best wishes, describing him as his “brother, comrade and friend”.

On June 12, Ms Añez was pictured getting a test to mark World Blood Donor Day at the presidential palace in La Paz.

The high-profile cases come two days after Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, said he had tested positive for the disease.

Latin America is now consistently accounting for around half of new daily coronavirus cases in the world, despite being home to only around 8 per cent of the global population.

Brazil has recorded more than 1.7m cases in all, while Peru, Chile and Mexico also figure in the top 10 in terms of absolute numbers.

About 120,000 people have died from the virus in those four countries alone – more than a fifth of all the deaths in the world.

Australia faces little cross-border risk, says top medic

One of Australia’s top doctors said on Thursday there was little chance of the Victoria coronavirus outbreak crossing the border into New South Wales in large numbers, despite the issuance of 125,000 interstate travel permits in recent days.

“With those [new infection] numbers being low and our ability to test, trace and isolate, that is exactly what will stop … spreading within the community,” said Nick Coatsworth, one of the country’s deputy chief medical officers.

The focus is on Albury-Wodonga, sprawling border towns on the Murray River, which separates Victoria from NSW, where three people tested positive yesterday, one of whom had travelled from Melbourne.

Four cases have emerged in the Australian Capital Territory, 300km north of Albury, and another on the NSW coast.

“We have had isolated cases of Covid-19 already, related to the epidemic in Melbourne,” said Dr Coatsworth. “The residents of those border towns are encouraged not to move further north into NSW.”

Gladys Berejiklian, the NSW premier, ordered the border between Australia’s two most populous states shut at midnight on Wednesday evening after hundreds of new cases were reported in Victoria in the past week, mostly in Melbourne’s largely lower-income northern suburbs. There were 165 new cases recorded on Thursday in Victoria.

Queensland and South Australia also closed their state borders to Victorian residents. However, the NSW government said it had issued 125,000 permits to Victorian travellers requesting entry.

Australia’s Critical Health Resource Information System, which keeps track of intensive care units, reported that ICUs in Victorian hospitals were at 85 per cent capacity on Thursday, with 380 out of 446 beds occupied.

Overall, Australia has recorded 9,059 cases of coronavirus, with 182 new cases confirmed in the 24 hours to noon on Thursday. There have been 106 fatalities.

Australia’s second-largest city and home to more than 5m people, Melbourne is now under a six-week lockdown. Normally busy areas of the city, such as the Southern Cross railway station, pictured, were almost deserted on Friday.

Ford faces parts shortages at Mexico factories

Claire Bushey in Chicago and Jude Webber in Mexico City

The Ford Motor Company is facing potential parts shortages from suppliers in northern Mexico as the pandemic throttles production, threatening the ability of US factories to keep manufacturing vehicles.

The governor of the state of Chihuahua, an important region supplying the US automotive industry, has barred employers from operating with more than half their workforce in an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19.

“With our US plants running at 100 per cent, that is not sustainable,” Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s Americas and international markets group, said in a statement.

“We are continuing to work with government officials on ways to safely and constructively resume remaining production,” he added.

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UK rail nationalisation signalled in debt sheet move

Tanya Powley and Jim Pickard in London

The de facto nationalisation of Britain’s railways is closer to being officially recognised after the national statistics watchdog launched a review to consider counting the operators’ debts on the government balance sheet.

The technical reclassification has prompted concern among rail executives who are anxious for the government to commit to a public-private partnership over the longer term.

The Office for National Statistics said its decision was prompted by the government agreeing in March to rescue the sector through the Covid-19 pandemic with a six-month package that effectively underwrote any losses.

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South Korea unveils plans to rein in surging property prices

Song Jung-a in Seoul

South Korea has announced sweeping measures to rein in surging property prices in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan area in an effort to address the growing inequality that has fueled public discontent in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The government said it plans to double property tax rates for multiple homeowners, tighten mortgage curbs in speculative areas and raise capital gains taxes for short-term home sellers.

It also plans to increase home supply to ease supply shortages in popular districts of the metropolitan area. The plans are subject to parliamentary approval.

Apartment prices have been further buoyed this year by record-low interest rates aimed at shoring up the virus-hit economy. The Bank of Korea cut interest rates by 75 basis points earlier this year to shore up the economy, which is expected to contract this year for the first time since the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis.

Government officials have expressed concern about excess liquidity flowing into the property market.

Before the recent drop in interest rates, the government had announced a series of measures over the past three years to curb housing prices in the greater Seoul, where more than half the country’s 5.1m population lives.

Apartment prices in Seoul have surged more than 50 per cent during the same period, raising concerns of a housing bubble.

President Moon Jae-in has promised to make apartments in the greater Seoul area more affordable — one of the key items on his policy agenda since taking office three years ago. But the government faces a challenge curbing runaway home prices without undermining an economic recovery.

Growing public anger over the government’s failure to stabilise the property market has piled pressure on many high-ranking government officials who face calls to sell their second homes to show their policy commitment.

Sony invests $250m in Fortnite owner Epic Games

Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki in Tokyo

Sony has bought a $250m stake in the company behind Fortnite, as the Japanese group prepares for the launch of its PlayStation 5 console with another big bet that games, music, film and other entertainment will converge around social media.

Sony will acquire a stake of about 1.4 per cent in US-based Epic Games in return for its investment.

That is not enough to secure exclusive distribution rights for Epic’s main titles, but it signals that the companies will deepen cooperation as the coronavirus pandemic boosts appetite for digital escapism.

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University students might need tests every 2 days, says study

If universities intend to reopen to students, they might have to screen their students for coronavirus every two days to be confident of controlling an outbreak, a paper published for peer review on Thursday suggests.

The Yale School of Public Health modelled a variety of testing strategies on a hypothetical group of 5,000 US students assuming different reproductive numbers — representing how many people each infected person infects.

The scientists looked at different frequencies for tests and noted that reducing the testing rate to just once a week would cause the isolation dormitory occupancy rate to grow “explosively”.

Under worst-case assumptions, with an R number of 3.5, and only weekly screenings, the scientists found “virtually the entire student population will have been infected before the 80-day semester is concluded”.

If the R number stayed at 1.5, average occupancy of the isolation dormitory could be controlled with weekly testing, as long as no infections from other sources were introduced.

The scientists said they recommended testing every two days to achieve best control over infections and costs, but noted it could be hard to get hold of adequate supplies of tests.

“On a college campus of 5,000 enrollees, screening of the students alone every two days will require roughly 195,000 test kits over the abbreviated semester,” they said.

Singaporeans cast their votes wearing masks and gloves

Stefania Palma in Singapore

Singaporeans began to cast their votes in a general election from 8am on Friday, despite concerns that it could lead to new outbreaks of coronavirus infections.

Authorities implemented safety measures at polling stations, including temperature screening, contact tracing apps and providing voters with recommended time slots to avoid overcrowding.

Voters could also check queues online before heading to their designated polling stations.

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, and his People’s Action Party are expected to coast to victory. Mr Lee, pictured, used his mobile phone to verify his identity before voting at the Alexandra Primary School polling station in his Ang Mo Kio electorate.

Polling agents are wearing masks, face shields and gloves. Voters, wearing masks and spaced apart in queues outside the stations, were given gloves to handle ballot papers and asked to cast their votes in booths that provide social distance from fellow voters.

But the elections department this morning said queues were longer than usual in some polling stations. “This is partly due to the additional safety measures put in place to ensure safe voting,” it said.

It said the time slot between 8am and 12 noon was reserved for voters aged 65 or above to “minimise their interaction with younger voters”.

Polling stations will close at 8pm.

Summit pledges to help mariners stranded by pandemic

Stronger efforts to aid merchant mariners stranded at sea by the coronavirus pandemic have been pledged by a dozen countries at an international summit on Thursday.

Representatives from more than a dozen countries including Norway, Denmark, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Philippines, the UK and the US met virtually to agree to new measures to speed up repatriation of stranded seafarers to their home countries.

Borders would be opened more widely to seafarers and extra commercial flights would be scheduled to expedite repatriation efforts, said UK transport secretary Grant Shapps and maritime minister Kelly Tolhurst, who co-hosted the online summit.

According to the International Labour Organization, a UN agency, more than 200,000 seafarers have been stranded at sea due to the pandemic.

“I welcome coordinated efforts to respond to the crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic in the maritime sector,” said ILO director-general Guy Ryder.

Hong Kong schools to take early break over pandemic

Hong Kong schools will be given an early summer break as a precautionary measure against a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.

The Education Bureau on Friday said it would close schools as the Chinese territory reimposes some lockdown restrictions, including limiting capacity in restaurants and bars.

Many parents had already stopped their children from going to school amid the Covid-19 case surge, authorities noted.

Most schools in Hong Kong were scheduled to start their summer break at the end of this month but instead will be shut from Monday.

Australian state records surge of 288 cases in a day

Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, reported a record 288 new cases of Covid-19 infection on Friday, as Melbourne, the capital, began a six-week lockdown.

The chief medical officer for Victoria, Brett Sutton, said it was “a pretty ugly number’ and warned of higher tallies in the next few days.

“The effects of lockdown will only be seen in the next one to two weeks,” he said.

Prof Sutton urged Melbourne residents to wear face coverings in situations where physical distancing was impossible.

“Up until the past couple of weeks there has been ambivalent evidence [about wearing masks] and there was no strong recommendation,” he said.

But Prof Sutton noted that a recent meta-analysis of medical literature published in The Lancet, the UK medical journal, “had shown masks really do make a significant difference”.

Students and teachers criticise IB uni entrance grading

Andrew Jack in London

Students and teachers around the world have attacked the International Baccalaureate programme after receiving grades awarded using a system introduced because of disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools this week demanded explanations from the foundation that administers the IB, with thousands of the 170,000 students who entered saying they had received marks below their expected grades and failed to meet university entry requirements.

Angel Newsome, a student at St Andrews International School in Bangkok, who expected high marks in the examinations, said: “I got my results on Monday and I was deeply, deeply shocked. I missed the result both for my preferred and back-up medical schools.”

Their complaints provide an early warning of frustrations likely to be voiced in the coming weeks as other examination systems disrupted by Covid-19 publish results, including A-levels and GCSEs in the UK and global equivalents.

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Man held over alleged UK job retention scheme fraud

Emma Agyemang in London

A 57-year-old businessman from England’s West Midlands region has become the first person to be arrested for allegedly defrauding the UK government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.

HM Revenue & Customs said the man from Solihull was detained on Wednesday on suspicion of “cheating the public revenue, fraud by false representation, VAT evasion and money laundering” in an alleged £495,000 fraud.

A further eight men from across the region have also been detained in raids as part of the wider investigation, the HMRC said.

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England to reopen pools, theatres and music venues

Laura Hughes and Alice Hancock in London

Outdoor swimming pools, theatres and music venues in England will start reopening from Saturday under social-distancing guidance, the UK government has announced.

Setting out a timetable for a new wave of businesses to reopen, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said on Thursday that indoor pools, gyms and leisure centres can resume from July 25.

Beauticians, spas, tattooists and tanning salons can reopen from Monday.

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China copper production rise suggests ‘robust’ recovery

Neil Hume in London

China’s copper smelters further cranked up production in June, adding to evidence that the world’s top consumer of raw materials is recovering from an economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The China subset of the Savant Global Copper Smelting Index, which uses satellites to monitor industry activity, registered a reading of 53.9 in June, where 50 represents average levels.

Analysts were especially encouraged by the second consecutive month of expansion — though the reading was down a little on the 54.6 recorded in May — given that rising costs for ore were putting a squeeze on the sector.

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Restaurant Group says tenth of restaurants to stay closed by end of 2020

The Restaurant Group, which had already planned to shut 125 of its underperforming outlets, said it plans to reopen a quarter of its estate by the end of this month but will still have a tenth closed by the end of the year.

The group, which owns the Frankie & Benny’s, Prezzo and Giraffe chains, also said that 60 per cent of its operations will be reopened by the end of August. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the hospitality, tourism and airline industry hard, grounding aircraft and closing restaurants and bars for months.

It does not expect to reopen the remaining 10 per cent of its locations in 2020, specifically in those places such as in airports where footfall is expected to remain weak, the group said on Friday.

The group said it had extended the terms of a revolving credit facility. Even before the pandemic struck, the group was struggling. It had set up a “company voluntary arrangement” to restructure its business, an insolvency proceeding that allows businesses to renegotiate debts with creditors. It said on Friday that it has agreed with its lenders to extend the term of its facility a further six months to June 30 2022.

Its directors have volunteered to take a 20 per cent cut in their base salaries, which follows on from the 40 per cent reduction that was volunteered from April.

European stocks set to slip as US coronavirus cases rise

European equities were set to fall, extending their losses as the mounting coronavirus death toll in the US threatens to steer the recovery in the world’s largest economy off course.

Futures for the regional benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 pointed to a 0.7 per cent decline at market open, which would put the index on course for losses over the course of a week that has lacked direction. London’s FTSE 100 was set to fall 0.5 per cent.

Market sentiment turned negative on Thursday after three US sunbelt states — California, Texas and Florida — registered the largest single-day rises in coronavirus-related deaths to date.

In Asia, Chinese shares were on track to break an eight-day winning streak as a powerful rally that has been fuelled by retail investors and cheerleading state media appeared to stall.

The CSI 300 of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed equities shed 1.3 per cent on Friday, as the continuing growth of US coronavirus cases rippled through markets in Asia-Pacific.

West End landlord Great Portland Estates collects 28% of rent

George Hammond in London

Great Portland Estates has collected less than a third of the rent it is owed by shops, bars and restaurants on its estate, which covers a swath of London’s West End.

The landlord, which owns about £2.5bn of property, received 28 per cent of rent from retailers, leisure and hospitality businesses to cover the three months owed on June 24, while its office tenants paid 74 per cent.

Great Portland is looking at alternative payment schedules or rent holidays for some tenants, adding that six of its tenants had entered administration since lockdown measures were imposed in England on March 23.

The company revealed it had negotiated a waiver until October on its interest cover ratio covenant with debtholders in one of its joint ventures, the Great Victoria Partnership, as a result of the “cash flow challenges Covid-19 is placing on the UK retail sector”.

“Despite these challenging conditions, we are well positioned,” said chief executive Toby Courtauld. The landlord has a 15 per cent loan-to-value ratio on its property and £90m cash on hand, “providing strength in these difficult markets with significant capacity for growth should opportunities emerge”, he said.

Retailer Muji USA files for bankruptcy on Covid-19 store closures

Kana Inagaki in Tokyo

The Muji retail chain has filed for US bankruptcy protection, becoming the latest retailer to collapse due to store shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement on Friday, Ryohin Keikaku, owner of Muji, said its US subsidiary sought Chapter 11 protection with $64m in liabilities. Its operations outside of the US will not be affected.

Muji USA operates 18 stores in the US selling minimalist lifestyle goods since it first entered the market in 2006. US operations have struggled even before the global pandemic hit due to high rents and sluggish sales, generating at least three consecutive years of losses.

The Japanese group said its US subsidiary will aim to continue its existing business and avoid liquidation.

The announcement came as Ryohin Keikaku reported a net loss of ¥4.1bn ($38m) due to a global collapse in sales caused by store closures.

Hong Kong to suspend schools again on resurgence of cases

Nicolle Liu in Hong Kong

Hong Kong suspends classes in schools again amid a resurgence in locally infected coronavirus cases over the past few days, about two weeks after the government relaxed social-distancing measures.

Secondary and primary schools, as well as kindergartens, “could advance the beginning of the summer holiday to next Monday” said Kevin Yeung, the education secretary.

The decision has come “in view of the exponential growth of confirmed Covid-19 local cases over the past two days”, said Mr Yeung, “as well as parent concerns as reflected by school principals”.

Exceptions will be given to those years with special examination needs, he said. No cases have been confirmed at school though, he added.

Schools were restarted in late May with students and teachers wearing masks in classes after the daily infection count was controlled at a low level.

A recent spike has alarmed authorities and residents as the region recorded 123 new Covid-19 cases over the past week, of which 65 were locally transmitted. The new cases were related to clusters inside an elderly care home with more than 32 cases and local restaurants involving taxi drivers. An increasing number had unknown origins.

Sophia Chan, the secretary for food and health, announced new social-distancing measures on Thursday, including limiting customers per table at restaurants and bars to eights and fours.

“As society needs to resume some economic and social activities to a limited extent, it is inevitable that new local cases will appear,” Ms Chan said.

Ms Chan had unveiled measures on Tuesday requiring sea crew and airline staff, as well as, domestic helpers to undergo compulsory virus tests.

Industrial output in France begins recovery as restrictions eased

Valentina Romei in London

Industrial production in France rebounded more than expected in May, pointing to a broad-based recovery of the economy as lockdown eased.

Production rose 19.6 per cent in May compared with the previous month, according to data from the country’s statistics office. That was a stronger reading than the 15.1 per cent growth forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

However, the rebound was not strong enough to make up for April’s plunge, and France industrial output is still 21.2 per cent down compared with May last year.

Still, production growth for May was stronger than in Germany, largely reflecting less stringent restrictions in Germany that made its fall in April less severe. In both countries, industrial output is about one-fifth down compared with last year.

The rebound in France follows a 25.6 per cent monthly increase in retail sales published earlier in the week, suggesting that the recovery is broad-based across the economy.


IEA warns coronavirus ‘casting a shadow’ over oil recovery

Anjli Raval, Senior Energy Correspondent

The International Energy Agency warned that the resurgence of coronavirus cases in parts of the world was “casting a shadow” over the oil market’s nascent recovery.

“In some countries, [the] accelerating number of Covid-19 cases is a disturbing reminder that the pandemic is not under control and the risk to our market outlook is almost certainly to the downside,” the Paris-based body said in its monthly oil outlook.

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, dropped below $20 a barrel in April to an 18-year low but has since rebounded to above $41 a barrel as supply curbs by major producer countries coincide with a recovery in demand.

Global oil supply fell by 2.4m barrels a day in June to a nine-year low of 86.9m b/d. Production curbs from Opec and allies including Russia are taking place in conjunction with declines from other countries such as the US and Canada.

Italy joins France in recording rebound in industrial output

Valentina Romei

Industrial production in Italy has recovered more quickly than expected.

Production grew 42.1 per cent in May compared with the previous month, according to data from the statistics office (ISTAT). This is much stronger growth than the 22.8 per cent increase forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

The release for Italy follows that for France, which showed industrial production rising more than expected by 19.6 per cent in May compared with the previous month.

The monthly rebound in industrial production of both Italy and France was driven by capital goods and transport equipment. The latter grew by almost 50 per cent in France and more than double in Italy. However, in both countries, every area of the industrial sector returned to growth in May.

Fancy a Caribbean paradise? Caseless Barbados offers yearlong visa

Barbados, which said last week it had recorded no new coronavirus cases, is offering a 12-month visa for visitors who want to escape the rigours of the pandemic in their own country and work in a warmer climate.

“This gives us the opportunity to try to minimise and mitigate some of the economic damage that has come to us as a result of the pandemic,” the prime minister told Radio 4’s Today programme. “We can’t close off to the rest of the world; we have to keep open to trade.”

The yearlong “welcome stamp” is aimed at getting the economy moving again after a devastating blow from the pandemic that grounded airlines and kept visitors away from the Caribbean island. Barbados relies on weekly visits from cruise ships and long-stay tourists from all over the world.

“More than 48 per cent of our GDP indirectly is associated with tourism,” Mia Amor Mottley said on Friday.

This could be your view from your remote office in Barbados

The cost for the visa will be $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families.

“We can offer people the chance to work, have a vacation, bring their family; we could accommodate them if necessary,” the prime minister added.

Tourism is one of the mainstays of the economy, with about 700,000 visitors spending $11bn on its shores in 2018, figures from the Barbados Tourism Investment show. Its own population is not even 300,000. The latest data from the World Bank have gross domestic product at $5.2bn.

Barbados has recorded seven Covid-19 deaths and 98 cases.

The island has been easing its coronavirus restrictions as the government feels more comfortable the spread of the disease has been contained. All curfews were lifted at the start of the month while physical distancing was limited to three feet. Social gatherings can be held with up to 500 guests while sporting events can include spectators.

Most Britons remain uneasy about dining inside restaurants

Valentina Romei in London

Coronavirus lockdown measures have hit home among Britons as a majority still feel uneasy about eating in a restaurant, suggesting stimulus measures might not be enough to promote a recovery in the hospitality industry.

Sixty per cent of respondents said that they would be uncomfortable or very uncomfortable with eating indoors at a restaurant in a survey run by the Office for National Statistics in early July.

Eating outdoors is viewed more favourably but still 39 per cent of Britons feel unsettled about the idea.

British consumers are even frostier about returning to watch movies on the big screen as 70 per cent of respondents said they would be uncomfortable or very uncomfortable to visit the cinema.

The findings bode ill for a recovery in consumption as they suggest that income support through government aid, such as the job retention scheme, might be saved instead of spent as bars, cinemas and restaurants reopen.

The share of people reporting high anxiety rose as about 20 per cent said they were unlikely or very unlikely to return to their job or they did not know if they would return.

In the summer statement on Wednesday, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced targeted support for the hospitality sector including a value added tax reduction and subsidised meals.

Yet the health of the sector ultimately depends on consumers returning to bars and restaurants, which the survey results suggest they are unlikely to.

The majority of Britons also reported avoiding going on holiday, with only one in four stating that they are likely or very likely to take a break this summer.

Virus traces prompt China to ban shrimp from Ecuador

Christian Shepherd in Beijing

China banned imports from three Ecuadorean frozen shrimp producers after it said it had found Covid-19 on the companies’ packaging.

The virus was only found on the outside of packaging and RNA tests for coronavirus were negative for the inside of the packaging and on the seafood itself, Chinese customs said. It did not name the companies.

China has doubled-down on efforts to secure its borders against coronavirus after a new outbreak was discovered in Beijing in early June, following weeks of zero locally transmitted cases.

The cluster was traced back to the largest wholesale market in the city but the ultimate source has not been confirmed. Chinese authorities at first suggested it may have come from imported salmon or other produce from Europe. It later walked back on these theories.

A fact-finding mission is set to arrive in China to investigate the source of the virus, the World Health Organization said this week.

Shrimp is Ecuador’s largest export business after oil.

Bulgaria revives lockdown measures after record case jump

Kerin Hope in Athens

Bulgaria has banned gatherings of more than 30 people at weddings, high-school graduation parties and other social events following a spike in coronavirus infections.

A total of 330 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 — a daily record — were reported in the past 24 hours, compared with 240 the previous day, Kiril Ananiev, health minister, said on Friday. Five deaths in the latest figures brought the toll to 262.

Two-thirds of the latest cases were recorded in Sofia and the southern city of Plovdiv, both centres for manufacturing and companies with international links.

The Balkan country this week declared a state of emergency and revived several lockdown measures as the epidemic accelerated after a two-month gap during which most shops, services and factories resumed normal operations.

Sports events and training sessions will take place without spectators, while attendance at outdoor nightclubs and discotheques will be limited to 50 per cent of capacity. Mr Ananiev said that lockdown measures would be tightened if the spread of Covid-19 cases widened in the coming days.

Bulgaria’s neighbours, Serbia, North Macedonia and Romania, have all seen steady increases in Covid-19 cases during recent weeks. Greece has stepped up testing at the northern land border with Bulgaria, the only crossing point still open for road traffic from neighbouring countries.

Wall Street set to edge lower as virus fears outweigh recovery hopes

US stocks were set to slip on Friday to cap off a week in which the focus of investors see-sawed between the rising US coronavirus death toll and the nascent economic recovery.

Futures trading tipped the S&P 500 to fall 0.3 per cent when Wall Street opens one day after three US sunbelt states — California, Texas and Florida — recorded their largest single-day increases in coronavirus-related deaths.

Chinese shares recorded their largest weekly gain in five years, even as the benchmark index snapped an eight-day winning streak to stall a rally fuelled by retail investors and cheerleading state media.

Investors have recently shifted towards haven assets, as the risk rises that coronavirus cases and deaths will slow the US economic rebound from the health crisis as lockdown measures are reintroduced.

Gold broke through $1,800 per troy ounce this week, while the yield on 10-year Treasuries fell to the lowest level since April, falling 0.02 percentage points to 0.585 per cent. Yields move inversely to prices.

US producer prices slip in June as pandemic impact bites

Wholesale prices in the US recorded an unexpected drop in June as the economy continues to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The US labour department said on Friday its producer price index dipped 0.2 per cent last month after a 0.4 per cent rise in May, with weaker margins for machinery and vehicle wholesaling offsetting a jump in fuel costs. Economists had expected another gain of 0.4 per cent in June.

The PPI was down 0.8 per cent year over year, compared with an average forecast for a 0.2 per cent decline.

“While underlying price dynamics have started to slowly normalize, the expected gradual recovery in demand, along with a strong dollar and depressed oil prices will keep a lid on price inflation for months to come,” economists at Oxford Economics said.

Prices in apparel retail and food also contributed to the overall drop in June. Gasoline prices jumped 26.3 per cent, as more Americans got back on the road amid a gradual reopening of the economy.

The so-called core PPI, a closely watched gauge that excludes trade services and volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.3 per cent from the prior month versus a 0.1 per cent rise in May.

Gilead’s remdesivir trial shows improvement in Covid-19 recovery

Gilead Sciences’ latest trial of its experimental coronavirus drug has revealed an improvement in Covid-19 recovery, including in almost all pregnant women who took part in the study.

Remdesivir, once considered a potential Ebola medicine, was “associated with an improvement in clinical recovery” and showed a 62 per cent reduction in the risk of death compared with standard of care, the US biotech group said on Friday.

The trial found that 92 per cent of pregnant and post-partum women in the study recovered from the disease by the 28th day, the California-based group said. It plans to launch a trial to evaluate the safety of remdesivir for children up to the age of 18 and is collaborating on a study for pregnant women.

A phase-three trial found that racial or ethnic groups treated with remdesivir experienced similar clinical outcomes to the overall patient.

The findings still require confirmation in the prospective clinical trials.

Remdesivir has been made available in the UK and is the only branded drug to receive emergency-use approval from US regulators for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

The EU has also given it the green light. Brussels is in talks with the California-based pharmaceutical group to reserve doses of remdisivir after the US said it has bought up most of the global supply.

Remdesivir is in the experimental stages and has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Wall Street opens flat as potential Covid-19 treatment boosts optimism

US stocks had a muted opening, after positive findings for a potential Covid-19 treatment eased investor concerns about the economic damage from rising virus deaths in the US.

The S&P 500 gained 0.1 per cent, after futures turned higher 30 minutes before markets opened. Investors cheered the update from drug company Gilead saying that clinical trials showed remdesivir led to a 62 per cent reduction in the risk of death among coronavirus patients. The findings still require confirmation in prospective clinical trials.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq opened flat after hitting a fresh all-time high on Thursday.

European stocks reversed early losses on Friday and pushed higher following the positive update on the potential virus treatment. Meanwhile, Chinese shares recorded the largest weekly gain in five years, even as the benchmark index snapped an eight-day winning streak to stall a rally fuelled by retail investors and cheerleading state media.

Wales eyes reopening indoor areas at pubs and restaurants on August 3

Wales said that it will consider reopening the indoor areas of its pubs, restaurants and bars on August 3, as it laid out a timeline to kickstart its hospitality and leisure industry.

The Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said that hairdressers, indoor tourist spots and the outdoor area of pubs and restaurants could reopen on Monday, while cinemas and close contact professions such as tattoo artists and nail parlours were told to prepare for reopening two weeks later.

The devolved governments in the UK have trailed behind England in easing coronavirus restrictions for the hospitality and tourism industry, which allowed services involving close contact and pubs to reopen on July 4. The law in Wales still requires 2 metres social distancing unless unavoidable, in which case measures such as wearing masks ought to be taken.

Mr Drakeford said on Friday:

Together we are making good progress to tackle the spread of this virus. It is thanks to the efforts we have made together that we are able to lift the restrictions and reopen more parts of our society and economy.

The Welsh government will undertake a formal review of the rules by July 30 to decide the course for reopening indoor hospitality venues.

Florida records third-highest rise in Covid-19 deaths

Florida reported its third-highest rise in Covid-19 deaths, a day after record increases for states in the US sunbelt renewed concerns over the spread of the virus.

The number of fatalities in Florida attributed to coronavirus climbed by 92 to a total of 4,203 on Friday, according to data from the state’s health department. The data also showed there were 11,433 additional cases since Thursday, the second-biggest daily increase for Florida, which reported a peak of 11,458 new infections on July 4.

The rise in infections on Friday came as Florida conducted a larger-than-usual number of tests, bringing the rate of positive tests back below 18 per cent for the first time since July 4, based on a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data. The group’s count does not include a relatively small number of inconclusive tests, which Florida includes as part of its overall tally.

Florida’s mortality rate also fell to 1.72 per cent, the lowest level since early April.

Florida, Texas and California – the three most populous states in the US – each saw a record jump in deaths on Thursday after reporting a spike in new infections in recent weeks. US officials have remained hopeful that efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus are taking hold, saying data has shown that infection rates may be starting to stabilise.

In Arizona, the number of Covid-19 patients currently hospitalised fell by five to 3,432, the state’s health department said. The percentage of adult intensive care beds in use held at 89 per cent.

The Grand Canyon state reported 44 additional deaths on Friday, down from 75, and 4,221 new confirmed cases. The positivity rate dipped below its average over the prior seven days as testing increased.

Russia to begin negotiations to resume international flights

Max Seddon in Moscow

Russia will begin negotiations on resuming international flights on July 15, deputy prime minister Tatiana Golikova said on Friday.

Ms Golikova said Moscow was prepared to resume flights on a mutual basis with countries on the basis of their Covid-19 infection rates, daily case growth, and a coronavirus spread coefficient lower than 1. Foreigners entering the country will be required to provide test results from the last three days showing they do not have the virus, she added.

Russia stopped the vast majority of international flights in March. Foreigners remain barred from entering the country in most cases, while Russians are allowed to leave only if they have foreign citizenship and residence permits, work and study visas, or intend to care for sick relatives abroad.

Russian media reported on Thursday that Moscow planned to resume flights with eight EU countries and the UK, as well as China, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka. Most Russians can only enter the EU if they have residence permits.

Bogotá to tighten lockdown amid rise in cases

Gideon Long in Bogotá

The Colombian capital Bogotá will tighten its coronavirus lockdown from next week as the number of cases continues to rise.

The city of 8m people had been relaxing its measures, allowing some sectors of the economy to reopen, but on Friday its mayor, Claudia López, said it would return to stricter quarantine.

She said the peak of the pandemic was not expected until the second half of August.

Bogotá has registered 40,737 cases of coronavirus, nearly a third of the Colombian total. The city is home to around a sixth of the national population.

The stricter lockdown will be imposed in different areas of the city at different times between next Monday and August 23. During those periods, people will only be allowed out for essential activities like shopping for food or medicine. No one will be allowed out to exercise and a curfew will be in place between 8pm and 5am.

“Absolutely everything is going to be closed,” Ms López said. “We don’t want a city of orphans.”

She said that at the moment between 6-7m people are circulating in the city each day and the authorities need to reduce that number by around 2.5m to avoid a collapse of the health system.

Colombia has not been as badly hit by the virus as neighbouring Brazil, Peru and Ecuador but its numbers are rising steadily.

It has recorded 133,973 cases and 4,714 deaths – above the global per capita average in both cases.

Irish premier voices concern after Northern Ireland ends travel quarantine

Arthur Beesley in Dublin

Ireland’s new premier has expressed reservations about Northern Ireland’s cancellation of coronavirus quarantine rules for people arriving from more than 50 countries amid concern in Dublin about a divergent approach to travel in the two parts of the island.

Micheál Martin, who took over as taoiseach almost a fortnight ago, said “ideally” an all-island approach to the question was “probably optimal”. “There are challenges in that regard obviously. But our public health officials are not comfortable to say the least at the moment in terms of the travel issue,” he told reporters.

Mr Martin’s remarks on Friday, which reflect mounting fears of a second Covid-19 wave in the republic, came ahead of his first meetings next week with the leaders of the Northern Ireland executive at Stormont outside Belfast.

The executive on Thursday changed its travel restrictions, leaving people free to travel to countries including France, Spain, Italy and Germany without having to quarantine for 14 days on their return. The move means different rules now apply on either side of the seamless 310-mile land border between the republic and Northern Ireland, where no checks are carried out on people travelling between both jurisdictions.

Mr Martin continues to urge people in the republic not to travel off the island – and anyone arriving in the republic must quarantine for 14 days. “Our public health officials are very concerned about the potential of travel and the reopening of travel to impact negatively on the transmission of the virus,” he said.

New York to ship Covid-19 drug remdesivir to Florida

New York plans to send a shipment of remdesivir, the experimental Covid-19 treatment, to Florida where infection rates and hospitalisations have been elevated.

The supply will help Florida treat 280 patients until an incoming federal shipment arrives. The medication will allow the state to care for patients through Saturday, according to the New York governor’s office.

“When New York was climbing the COVID mountain with no end in sight and resources were scarce, we were incredibly moved by the generosity of states around the country that stepped up to provide supplies and medical personnel in our time of need,” governor Andrew Cuomo said, adding that New York had pledged to “return the favor” if help was needed.

Gilead Sciences, the company behind remdesivir, said on Friday the drug significantly reduced the risk of death based on the latest trial data.

The US government granted an emergency use authorisation for remdesivir in May, and the drug has since received approvals in the EU and UK.

S&P 500 jumps 1% to notch weekly gain

Wall Street’s S&P 500 notched its second straight weekly gain and the Nasdaq Composite hit another record high, as stocks advanced after upbeat trial data for an experimental Covid-19 treatment.

The S&P 500 closed 1 per cent higher with shares across the financial and energy sectors leading the rally. The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 0.7 per cent to register its sixth record close in seven sessions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.4 per cent.

Investors have been weighing the potential economic impact from a recent rise in coronavirus infections outside the US northeast, which had been at the centre of the outbreak early in the pandemic.

Gilead Sciences, the producer of remdesivir, said on Friday the latest trial data showed the drug significantly reduced the risk of death in Covid-19 patients.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked 0.03 percentage points higher to 0.637 per cent, as investors moved out of the debt.

For the week, the benchmark S&P 500 gained 1.8 per cent, following a 4 per cent rise last week.

Trump nominee for Fed board inches closer to taking up the post

James Politi in Washington

Judy Shelton, Donald Trump’s controversial nominee for a seat on the board of the Federal Reserve, has moved a step closer to taking up the post in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic after the Senate banking committee scheduled a vote on her selection for later this month.

The panel, led by Idaho Republican senator Mike Crapo, had already held a hearing the nomination of Ms Shelton, a prominent Fed critic, in early February, before the outbreak in the US gained traction, but not taken any further action until Friday. It would be highly unusual for the Senate banking committee to schedule a vote on a Fed nominee if it did not believe there were enough votes to advance the nomination to the floor of the upper chamber for a full vote.

On the same day as the panel considers Ms Shelton’s nomination, the banking committee will also vote to advance the less contentious nomination of Christopher Waller, a senior economist at the Saint Louis Fed, to fill the other vacancy on the Fed board.

Ms Shelton, who has served in the Trump administration as the US representative on the board of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, has criticised the Fed’s role in the US economy on numerous occasions.

“How can a dozen, slightly less than a dozen, people meeting eight times a year, decide what the cost of capital should be versus some kind of organically, market supply determined rate?” she said in an FT interview last year.

Democrats on the banking committee who oppose Ms Shelton’s nomination asked for another hearing on her move to the Fed. “We are deeply concerned that the situation we are in today would have been worse if Dr. Shelton were already sitting on the Board of Governors,” they wrote in a letter to Mr Crapo. “We need to make sure that members of the Federal Reserve can take on the challenges of an economic crisis capably and independently, and in a way that protects the workers, businesses, and communities that make our economy run.”

The vote on Ms Shelton and Mr Waller’s nominations was set for July 21 .

Glimmers of hope emerge in states that reversed reopenings

Peter Wells and Matthew Rocco in New York

About two weeks have passed since Arizona, Florida and Texas took steps to reverse their reopening plans, and while it could still be too early to judge the success of those actions, glimmers of hope may have emerged.

Faced with a surge in infections and the prospect of public health systems being overwhelmed, the trio in late June ordered bars across the state to close, with Arizona and Texas going further than Florida with additional actions such as limiting indoor dining in restaurants. In California, governor Gavin Newsom on July 1 ordered indoor dining and other activity to shut down for three weeks in the hardest-hit counties.

Mike Pence, US vice-president, said on Wednesday there were early indications that “mitigation efforts” were helping to slow the spread of coronavirus in areas where cases have climbed and noted positivity rates in Florida, Arizona and Texas were flattening. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said data from Florida signalled the number of daily infections in the state might be stabilising.

According to Financial Times analysis of the latest Covid Tracking Project data on Thursday, the seven-day average of new daily cases in Florida and Texas are all higher than two weeks ago, when the reopenings were reversed, up by 126 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively, at or around record levels. Arizona’s average rate is up 27 per cent since June 29 when governor Doug Ducey ordered bars, gyms and delayed the reopening of schools.

But infection rates in Florida, California and Arizona rose at a much slower pace over the past week, as a rise in cases was accompanied by expanded testing.

For the week ended June 26, positive results accounted for 14 per cent of all tests completed in Florida, which was up 48 per cent versus a week earlier, based on a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data. The positivity rate increased just 8.2 per cent, hitting 19.2 per cent, for the week into Friday.

California has seen a similar trend, with its positivity rate climbing about 20 per cent two weeks ago and 24 per cent one week ago, before rising 9.2 per cent on a rolling basis. On Friday, California reported 7,798 new cases and 140 new deaths, a day after its daily toll of 149 fatalities marked a single-day record. Its positivity rate over the last week was 7.7 per cent.

Arizona’s seven-day infection rate was up 7.3 per cent, down from 13.3 per cent.

Greece tightens rules for tourists as Covid-19 cases jump

Kerin Hope in Athens

Greece has tightened the rules for tourists arriving by road from Bulgaria after a sharp rise this week in coronavirus infections among visitors who were tested at the only open border crossing point between the Balkan neighbours.

From July 14 tourists must present a certificate to Greek health officials showing they tested negative for coronavirus within the previous three days in order to enter Greece, the government spokesman said.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of epidemiologists and public health experts chaired by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The total number of tourists who tested positive for Covid-19 at international airports and the Greek-Bulgarian border in the past 24 hours rose to 42 on Friday, the largest in a single day since Greece re-opened for tourism on July 1.

Another 18 cases were reported among local residents, mainly in northern Greece, health authorities said.

Tourists must fill out an online “passenger locator form” before travelling to Greece. About 6,000 people are tested each day at more than 20 airports around the country and the Promachonas crossing with Bulgaria, according to guidelines provided by a health ministry algorithm.

The Greek public healthy organisation EODY, which is responsible for handling testing, does not give a detailed breakdown of coronavirus cases at regional airports or Promachonas. Local media reported that about 30 tourists who arrived by road in the past 24 hours were diagnosed with the virus.

Atlanta mayor and Georgia governor spar over plan to roll back city’s reopening

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms plans to bring Atlanta back into “phase one” of its reopening, a move that the governor of Georgia said would be unenforceable under his statewide order.

Ms Bottoms has decided to roll back the city’s economic restart after a surge in coronavirus cases, according to local media. The first phase of Atlanta’s gradual reopening had required residents to stay home except for “essential trips”, with many businesses ordered to remain closed.

In response, Georgia governor Brian Kemp said it was “merely guidance”, “both non-binding and legally unenforceable”.

“As clearly stated in my executive orders, no local action can be more or less restrictive, and that rule applies statewide,” he wrote in a series of tweets. “If the Mayor actually wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing state restrictions, which she has failed to do.”

Ms Bottoms’s attempt to put Atlanta’s reopening in reverse came two days after she issued an order requiring the use of face coverings in the city and limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people. The mayor said earlier this week that she tested positive for coronavirus.

Also on Friday, Mr Kemp reactivated a field hospital at a convention center in Atlanta to handle a potential overflow of patients.

Georgia reported 4,484 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, a record one-day tally for the state, although the number of tests completed in the last 24 hours was the highest in a week.

US reports record increase in new coronavirus cases

The US reported a record increase in new coronavirus cases on Friday, while deaths rose by more than 800 for the fourth day in a row.

A further 66,645 people in the US tested positive for coronavirus over the past 24 hours, according to Covid Tracking Project data, up from 58,836 on Thursday and about 4,500 more than the previous record on Wednesday.

Florida (11,433) and Texas (9,765) had the biggest increases since Thursday, but were both less than recent record jumps.

Georgia reported a record 4,484 new cases over the past day, besting its previous record from earlier this month by more than 1,000. The data came as the mayor of Atlanta, the state’s capital, would roll back its reopening plan to phase one.

A record 15 states reported one-day increases of more than 1,000 new cases, according to Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data.

Florida revealed 6,974 people were hospitalised with coronavirus in the state, the first time it has reported that figure to Covid Tracking Project. Only Texas, where the number of currently hospitalised people topped 10,000 for the first time, and California, with 7,896 have more patients receiving care.

A further 854 people died from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the fourth day in a row fatalities have risen by more than 800, and compared with an increase of 624 last Friday.