WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s unemployment rate showed a surprising improvement to 4% during the midst of the nation’s virus lockdown, although the headline number doesn’t tell the full story and joblessness is likely to increase in the months ahead.
Still, the figure was far better than most people expected and came as welcome news to the government led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ahead of a general election next month.
The figures from Statistics New Zealand showed the unemployment rate in the quarter ending June fell from 4.2% in the previous quarter. But the number of hours worked also fell a record 10% and the number of people not in the labor force rose.
Because people who aren’t actively seeking work are not counted as unemployed, the figures didn’t reflect many job losses because most people couldn’t search for jobs during the lockdown. And many workers have been protected by a government-funded wage subsidy scheme during the pandemic which is due to expire next month.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Chasm grows between Trump and government coronavirus experts
— ‘We are no less American’: Deaths pile up on Texas border
— ‘Too many are selfish’: US nears 5 million virus cases
— Progress slow as urgency grows on virus relief legislation
— California’s often-forgotten Imperial County is an example of how the coronavirus has been especially damaging to lower-income and Latino households. The county is heavily Hispanic and poor, and has some of California’s highest infection rates.
— Education officials in Alabama say more than 4,000 new laptop computers bound for a school district are being held by customs due to human rights concerns.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TOKYO — A governor in Japan is drawing skeptical criticism after he touted a gargling product as effective against the coronavirus, an assertion that, despite its dubiousness, emptied some store shelves of the medicine.
Shares of Shionogi & Co. and Meiji Holdings Co., which make Isojin, soared in Tokyo Tuesday trading after Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura made the comments.
Yoshimura referred to a study carried out by the Osaka regional government on a sample of just 41 people. Experts said such a study is inconclusive.
Shionogi and Meiji shares were already coming down Wednesday, as subsequent Japanese media reports debunked Yoshimura’s claim.
Daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been shooting up in Japan, to more than 1,000 people.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hot spot Victoria state announced a new record 725 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths on Wednesday, while businesses in Melbourne city prepared to draw down their shutters as new pandemic restrictions were enforced.
The new 24-hour record was marginally higher than 723 cases and 13 deaths reported on Thursday last week.
From late Wednesday, many non-essential businesses including most detail retailers, hair-dressers and gyms in Australia’s second-largest city will be closed for six weeks. People employed in essential jobs will have to carry passes under Australia’s toughest-ever lockdown restrictions.
Like Melbourne hospitals, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that non-emergency surgeries will be restricted in hospitals in regional Victoria, where infections rates are lower.
“It will be very challenging, but it is necessary to drive these numbers down,” Andrews said of the new restrictions.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico posted a near-record one-day total of 857 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 48,869, the third-highest number in the world.
The Health Department reported that just over 1 million coronavirus tests have been performed, with almost 450,000 people testing positive to date.
Mexico’s has had a positive rate of about 45% to 50% since the early weeks of the pandemic, largely because most people were tested only after exhibiting considerable symptoms.
HONG KONG — Hong Hong has reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths, while new cases in mainland China fell to just 27.
Hong Kong saw cases spike in a new wave of infections, but new daily cases have now fallen back into the double digits.
Authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city have ordered masks be worn in all public places, slapped restrictions on indoor dining, banned many activities and increased testing for coronavirus. Hong Kong has recorded a total of 3,669 cases and 42 deaths from COVID-19.
Of mainland China’s cases, 22 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose capital and largest city Urumqi has been the center of China’s latest outbreak. China has reported 4,634 deaths among 84,491 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
China said Tuesday it was working with the World Health Organization on an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, but gave no word on when that would get underway.
LAS VEGAS — Nevada health officials say 95% of the 980 new coronavirus cases reported statewide during the last day were in the Las Vegas area.
State coronavirus response officials said Tuesday that Clark County residents accounted for 931 of the positive COVID-19 tests reported. Confirmed cases statewide topped 52,000, and 15 more deaths brought Nevada’s total to at least 862.
Separately, the governor’s office issued a report tallying $16.7 billion in federal coronavirus funding to Nevada since Congress approved a $2.2 trillion emergency aid bill in March.
The report says nearly $2.2 billion went toward $600-per-week payments to idled workers statewide.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says more Americans will be lost to COVID-19.
Trump was asked in a Fox Business Network interview Tuesday about prospects for relations with China going forward.
Trump said the relationship has been “very badly hurt” by the spread of the coronavirus and he repeated his belief that China should have contained it.
The president noted the American death toll, saying somewhat prematurely that 160,000 had died from the disease caused by the virus. He told host Lou Dobbs: “We’re going to lose more.”
Trump added that millions would have been lost had he not intervened and “just let it ride.’
The U.S. death told from COVID-19 stood at more than 156,000 on Tuesday evening.
LOS ANGELES — A technical problem has caused a lag in California’s tally of coronavirus test results, casting doubt on the accuracy of recent data showing improvements in the infection rate and hindering efforts to track the spread.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that in recent days California has not been receiving a full count through electronic lab reports because of the unresolved issue.
The state’s data page now carries a disclaimer saying the numbers represent an underreporting of actual positive cases per day.
The latest daily tally posted Tuesday showed 4,526 new confirmed positives, the lowest in more than six weeks.