The Latest: French unemployment claims jump 22% in April
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
— ‘Historic’ rise: French unemployment claims jump 22% in April.
— Italy governor gets police protection over threats tied to crisis.
— Virus deaths surpass 100,000 in US while cases go up in India.
— Indonesia braces to reopen economy as COVID-19 cases increase.
PARIS — French unemployment claims jumped 22% in April, with 843,000 more people seeking work and the virus lockdown preventing companies from hiring.
The national employment office announced the “historic” rise Thursday, saying it’s “because in the current context, companies are not hiring, not because they are conducting massive layoffs.”
The jobless ranks in France do not include 8 million people who received government-funded temporary unemployment in April and are gradually returning to work, the employment office said.
While the temporary unemployment scheme is credited with stabilizing the French economy during the virus crisis, the country is still facing its worst recession since World War II and permanent job cuts are likely.
MILAN — The governor of the Lombardy region, the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus epidemic, has been placed under police protection after receiving threats related to the health emergency.
Gov. Attilio Fontana confirmed in a Facebook post that authorities assigned him the protection, and not at his request. Officials cited a “climate” around the governor that has become “incandescent,’’ including graffiti labeling him a killer and internet threats regarding the region’s handling of the epidemic.
Fontana has been called for questioning as part of an investigation into his failure to create a red zone around two small cities next to Bergamo after the first case was identified in a hospital Feb. 23 — two days after 11 towns in Lombardy and Veneto were declared hot spots.
Other Italian officials dealing with the virus also have been placed under police escort because of threats.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases is rising as the country braces to gradually reopen its economy next week.
The nation recorded 687 new coronavirus cases in its daily report Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 24,538. It also reported the country’s death toll at nearly 1,500, the highest in Southeast Asia.
Several regions reportedly have been preparing to reopen businesses. Among them is the resort island of Bali, where hotels have been drafting guidelines for health protocols.
Health experts have warned that reopening the economy prematurely could trigger a second wave of infections. Still, the government has insisted the country must try to get back to normal by the end of July amid growing economic pressures.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The World Health Organization is concerned countries will respond to the pandemic as it did to the recession last decade by making public health spending cuts.
Hans Kluge, head of the WHO’s Europe office, said “many countries in Europe” made cuts after the 2008 recession. He did not identify any country.
“Today, our priority must be to invest in health, invest in social protection and above all, avoid austerity which has devastated the lives of so many in Europe,” Kluge told a news conference.
He stressed that “there is no economy without people. There is no economic recovering without COVID-19 being under control.”
The regional office serves the U.N. body’s European region that comprises 53 countries, covering a vast region from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans.
JOHANNESBURG — Tanzania remains a trouble spot for the coronavirus as the government hasn’t updated the number of cases and deaths for a month and is accused of a cover-up.
The East African nation’s last update said cases were just above 500, with 21 deaths, but opposition leaders assert more than 400 deaths in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam alone. They told reporters Wednesday they believe Tanzania’s true number of cases is between 16,000 and 20,000.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief, John Nkengasong, says they are “following this Tanzania situation very closely” and he urges countries to share data daily.
Africa has nearly 125,000 cases overall on the continent of 1.3 billion people, with some 30,000 new cases confirmed in the past week. Nkengasong says slightly under 2 million tests have been completed — far below the goal of 13 million. Shortages of test kits and reagents are a problem.
BANGKOK — Thailand’s main planning agency says that 8.4 million people are at risk of losing their jobs this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the tourism sector being most badly affected.
The National Economic and Social Development Council estimated Thursday that the fall in the number of foreign and domestic tourists could mean 2.5 million people, or 64% of the approximately 3.9 million workers in the tourism sector, could become unemployed.
It said in a report that 1.5 million, or 25% of the 5.9 million person industrial workforce, also could be laid off due to the coronavirus crisis reducing demand that was already weakened by trade wars. Possibilities for expansion still exist where domestic demand is high, such as for food and beverages, and for products considered necessary, including electronics.
The jobs of 4.4 million people, or 43% of 10.3 million people working in the service sector outside of tourism, are also at risk. Retail jobs were especially affected by restrictions imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19, many of which have now been lifted.
TOKYO — Nissan announced Thursday it will be closing two auto plants, in Spain and Indonesia, as it sank into the red for the first time in 11 years, as the coronavirus pandemic sent global demand plunging and halted production.
Nissan’s Chief Executive Makoto Uchida told reporters the production in Europe will be centered at the British plant in Sunderland, and the production in Indonesia will move to Thailand, as the Japanese automaker reduces global production by 20%.
Nissan Motor Co. reported Thursday a 671.2 billion yen ($6.2 billion) loss for the fiscal year ended in March, its first annual loss since getting slammed by aftermath of the financial crisis in the year ending in March 2009.
MOSCOW — Russia is continuing to see high numbers of new coronavirus cases even though its far-flung regions have increasingly moved to reopen the economy.
The government’s anti-coronavirus task force reported 8,371 new infections Thursday, about the same as in the previous day and lower than the peak levels of more than 11,000 cases earlier this month. The total number of infections topped 379,000, the world’s third-largest caseload behind the United States and Brazil.
Russian officials reported 174 new deaths, repeating the highest daily toll recorded two days ago and bringing the total to 4,142.
The Russian capital, which accounted for about half of all infections, eased the lockdown in place since late March, ordering to reopen non-food stores, dry cleaners and repair shops. The city mayor also announced that residents will be allowed to walk in the parks with some restrictions and engage in sports in the mornings.
LONDON — Budget carrier easyJet plans to cut up to a third of its workforce as it restructures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline has around 15,000 full-time employees — meaning some 4,500 jobs are at risk.
CEO Johan Lundgren, says the carrier remains focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term “health and success.’’
EasyJet plans to resume limited service on June 15, but estimates that it may take three years to get back to 2019 demand levels.
Lundgren says that “against this backdrop, we are planning to reduce the size of our fleet and to optimise the network and our bases.”
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has resumed limited intercity train operations after a two-month suspension as the country eases restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Train services restarted on Thursday, with a high-speed train departing the capital, Ankara, for Istanbul at 7 a.m. The trains will make 16 trips daily, connecting the cities of Ankara, Istanbul, Konya and Eskisehir.
The trains are operating at half-capacity and travelers are being permitted on board only with a government-issued special code that certifies that the passenger is not being monitored for a suspected COVID-19 infection.
Speaking at a ceremony at Ankara’s train station, Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, said people showing sign of illness would not be allowed on board. Any passenger showing COVID-19 symptoms on board the train would be taken to a special “isolation section” and handed over to health officials at the nearest station, he said.
No food or drinks would be served during the journey, the minister added.
Deaths from COVID-19 in the country have reached 4,431, with a total of almost 160,000 confirmed infections. Nearly 123,000 people have recovered, according to Health Ministry figures.
NEW DELHI — India sees no respite from the coronavirus caseload.
The country saw another record single-day jump of more than 6,500 cases, with the nationwide two-month lockdown set to end Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is preparing a new set of guidelines to be issued this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas as it promotes economic activity.
The Health Ministry reported a total of 158,333 cases on Thursday, a jump of 6,566 cases in the past 24 hours, with 4,531 deaths, an increase of 194. It said the recovery rate has also risen to more than 42% .
Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, is the worst hit city in the country with more than 33,000 cases and nearly 1,200 deaths. Most of the cases are concentrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states.
An increase in cases have also been reported in some of India’s poorest eastern states as migrant workers stranded returning to native villages from India’s largest cities have begun arriving home on special trains.
India started easing lockdown restrictions this month, allowing reopening of shops and manufacturing and resumption of some trains and domestic flights and vehicles’ movement.
Metro services, schools and colleges, hotels and restaurants are shuttered nationwide.
CANBERRA, Australia — A Catholic archbishop has accused an Australian state government of inequitable pandemic rules by allowing up to 50 people into pubs while church congregations are limited to 10.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher on Thursday encouraged Catholics to sign a petition calling on the New South Wales government to treat churches the same as pubs, restaurants and cafes.
New pandemic restrictions that take effect on June 1 increase the number of customers that such commercial premises can hold from 10 to 50.
“Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential; indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith,” the petition said.
Fisher said he was standing up for freedom of worship “when I see so many double standards being applied to people of faith.”
“We aren’t asking for special treatment, we are asking for equal treatment,” Fisher said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said state governments were working at their own pace in lifting pandemic restrictions.
New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state and has been the worst effected by COVID-19. New South Wales has recorded 48 of Australia’s 103 deaths. Catholicism is the largest denomination in Christian-majority Australia.
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