With an ever-increasing number of coronavirus cases, the Australian government has announced a $1.4 billion package to counter the nation’s rising unemployment rate.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday the government will spend more than $1 billion on a current wage subsidy program that will pay half of all wages for apprentices employed by small businesses, while the remaining $400 million will fund new courses for thousands of future workers to prepare them for the skills that will be in demand during a post-pandemic economy.
The financial aid package is being introduced as Australia’s official unemployment rate rose to 7.4%, or nearly 1 million people, the highest rate in 22 years.
Australia has nearly 11,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker.
The surge in new cases has been entirely located in southern Victoria state, which reported 317 new cases on Thursday, its biggest one-day rise in infections. Australia’s second-most populous state shut down its shared border with neighboring New South Wales after a fresh outbreak of coronavirus in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital city. Melbourne is in the early stages of a six-week lockdown in an effort to contain the disease.
The deaths of two elderly men in Victoria state brings the total coronavirus death toll in the state to 29, and the total nationwide toll to 113.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said Thursday the city has recorded more than 280 new COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period, the biggest one-day number for the Japanese capital.
Koike told reporters the city has conducted 4,000 coronavirus tests, another single-day record.
The rising uptick in new COVID-19 cases could force Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reconsider a new campaign aimed at encouraging domestic tourism to offset the loss of foreign visitors.
And India is nearing one million total coronavirus infections, with the health ministry announcing Thursday more than 32,700 new cases over the past 24 hours, its biggest one-day record since the start of the pandemic. India now has more than 936,000 confirmed cases, with well over 24,000 deaths.
With the latest global figures showing 13.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 580,000 deaths, other countries facing rising case numbers are re-imposing restrictions or adding new ones.
All visitors to Greece must show border guards a negative COVID-19 test result that is no more than 72 hours old.
Romania extended its nationwide state of alert for another 30 days.
Israel is threatening to re-impose a complete nationwide lockdown if its coronavirus case numbers don’t start falling in the next few days.
South Africa revived a ban on the sale of alcohol, saying its doctors and hospitals have no time or facilitates to deal with injuries related to heavy drinking.
That country had more than 311,000 confirmed cases on Wednesday — Africa's highest and the world’s eighth highest, according to Johns Hopkins. South Africa’s death toll is 4,453 people.
Kenyan officials say the coronavirus killed four health workers and sickened 450 others in the country’s biggest maternity hospital.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who spent months minimizing COVID-19 as nothing more than a “little flu” and mocking those who take the virus seriously, said Wednesday he has tested positive again.
He first tested positive last week and says he will be tested again before this week is over.