Covid-19 wrap: Virus batters Zimbabwe’s economy, France makes masks mandatory indoors | Covid-19 wrap: Virus batters Zimbabwe’s economy, France makes masks mandatory indoors

Zimbabwe’s economy is expected to shrink by 4.5% this year owing to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and a brutal climate change-related drought, Reuters reports.

The crucial mining sector will contract by 4%, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube added in a mid-term budget speech, although he projected that GDP would rebound to 7.4% growth in 2021.

Exports, however, seemed to remain resiliant, despite the Covid-19 shock, declining only slightly to $1.53 billion in first five months of this year against $1.56 billion in the same period of last year.

He added that inflation was expected to gradually decline to 300% by December, compared with 737.36% currently.

Germany introduces localised lockdowns

Reuters reports that Germany took steps to fine-tune its response to localised coronavirus outbreaks, introducing tighter restrictions on affected residents over smaller areas.

Unlike some of its neighbours, Germany has, rather than locking down its citizens, so far managed the pandemic with less intrusive measures such as closing schools and bars and banning large gatherings.

Last month, there was public outcry when an outbreak at a meatpacking plant in western Germany led to restrictions being imposed on two districts that are home to around 650 000 people.

With the summer holiday season just starting, residents were allowed to leave the area, however, though hotels in some other German regions turned them away as high-risk.

Passengers wear protective face masks inside a sub

Passengers wear protective face masks inside a subway train in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Under the new strategy announced by federal and regional governments, areas with localised coronavirus outbreaks will be closed off more fully, with residents prohibited from travelling beyond their borders.

But the closures will be enforceable on individual districts rather than only on larger administrative zones, as was the case until now.

The threshold for localised curbs remains at 50 new infections per 100 000 residents over a one-week period, but local authorities can now restrict non-essential travel into and out of affected areas if that rate is reached or if the extent of the virus’ spread is uncertain.

India locks down 125 million people 

More than 125 million people in India were put under a new lockdown on Thursday, AFP reports.

After India registered more than 600 deaths in a single day, the 125 million people in impoverished Bihar state, neighbouring Nepal, started a new 15-day lockdown on Thursday.

The country has about 969 000 confirmed cases.

Spain to cull 93 000 mink at a farm hit by Covid-19

Reuters reports that health authorities have ordered the culling of all 93 000 mink at a farm in eastern Spain to prevent human contagion after discovering that most of the animals there had been infected with the coronavirus.

The farm in the village of La Puebla de Valverde in the region of Aragon, 200 km east of Madrid, came to the attention of the authorities after the wife of one of its workers tested positive in May.

Joaquin Olona, head of the Aragon agriculture department, told reporters on Thursday that seven farm workers had subsequently tested positive, including the woman’s husband.

Authorities initially ordered that the animals should be isolated. But a few weeks later, after several rounds of testing, they decided to cull the mink, which are farmed for their fur. As many as 80% of a sample of the animals tested positive.

The management of Secapiel, the company that runs the region’s only mink farm, was not immediately available for comment. The company will receive financial compensation for the culling, authorities said.


People visit the Victory Museum on Moscow’s Poklonnaya Hill.

The virus has proven contagious in several types of mammals including cats and dogs.

France makes mask-wearing compulsory indoors

France will make the wearing of face masks compulsory in indoor public places from next week, the government said Thursday as it noted “signs” of an uptick in the coronavirus outbreak, AFP reports.

Already obligatory gear on trains, metros and buses, masks will now also become mandatory in shops, supermarkets and other enclosed spaces frequented by the public, Prime Minister Jean Castex said in the Senate.

“The wearing of a mask, along with barrier measures (such as social distancing and regular handwashing) is an effective method of prevention and protection,” he said.

The announcement came as Health Minister Olivier Veran noted signs of a “resurgence” in the coronavirus epidemic that has claimed 30 120 lives in France to date.

An outbreak hotspot has been reported in Mayenne, northern France, where indoor mask-wearing became compulsory with immediate effect already on Thursday.

According to the latest official data, released Wednesday, France had 133 new coronavirus patients hospitalised in 24 hours, and 17 more people in intensive care, for a total of 482.

This was down from a high of 4 281 people hospitalised in one day in April, and more than 7 100 people in intensive care at the height of the epidemic.

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