Global virus death toll exceeds 506,000 as confirmed cases top 10.3 mln

Global virus death toll exceeds 506,000 as confirmed cases top 10.3 mln

PARIS/WASHINGTON-Agence France-Presse
Global virus death toll exceeds 506,000 as confirmed cases top 10.3 mln

The European Union agrees to open its borders to 15 countries from July 1, but the United States remains excluded. China is on the list, which will be updated every two weeks, but under the condition that Beijing do the same for Europeans, according to a statement.

The pandemic has taken a much heavier toll on jobs than previously feared, the U.N. says, warning the situation in the Americas is particularly dire.

In a fresh study, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that by the mid-year point, global working hours were down 14 percent compared to last December - equivalent to some 400 million full-time jobs.

The pandemic has killed at least 506,818 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, according to an AFP tally at 1900 GMT on June 30 based on official sources. More than 10.3 million people have been infected in 196 countries and territories.

The United States is the hardest-hit country with 126,512 deaths. It is followed by Brazil with 58,314, Britain with 43,730, Italy 34,767 and France with 29,843 fatalities.

A top U.S. health expert warned Congress on June 30 that new coronavirus cases could more than double to 100,000 per day if authorities and the public fail to take steps to suppress the pandemic.

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, a leading member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, said the United States was headed in the "wrong direction" on the pandemic and demanded that Americans wear masks and avoid crowds after lax behavior propelled new outbreaks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledges to deliver an "infrastructure revolution" to help Britain build its way out of the economic devastation of the pandemic.

"This is a program for jobs, jobs, jobs because it's by building, building, building... that we will get the jobs this nation needs," he says.

He promises 1 billion ($1.2 billion) for school repairs and a further 4 billion for projects from road maintenance to public transport.

The pandemic has led a growing number of Westerners to see China as a top power, with the lead of the United States slipping, says a study of French, German and U.S. opinion released by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The proportion of people who said China was the most influential global player has shot up from 13 to 28 percent in France between surveys in January to May, from 12 to 20 percent in Germany and from six to 14 percent in the U.S.

More than 40 percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in one Italian town showed no signs of being ill, according to research published in the journal Nature, indicating asymptomatic carriers may be significant spreaders of the virus.

State-owned German rail operator Deutsche Bahn warns the pandemic has plunged it into its worst-ever financial crisis despite billions in government aid, saying talks with worker representatives to find savings will begin this week.

Researchers in China have discovered a new type of swine flu that is capable of triggering a pandemic, according to a study in the U.S. science journal PNAS.

Named G4, it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.

It possesses "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans," say the authors of the study.