WHO warns of complacency; France reports 627 new deaths – The Guardian


Thanks to Nadeem Badshah for bringing us all the latest Covid-19 news. Melissa Davey here with you now from Melbourne, taking over for Nadeem for the rest of our coverage.

Just a quick update from the US, where president-elect Joe Biden has urged Congress to act on the economy, warning of a “grim” winter ahead.

The latest jobs report “shows an economy that is stalling,” Biden said, adding, “It doesn’t have to stay that way”. Biden also called out the long-term unemployment rate – now including 2.3 million people.

“This is a dire jobs report,” he said, “We head into a very dark winter ahead.”

He described Americans as being “in trouble through no fault of their own … What they need, they need us to understand, we’re in a crisis … We need the Congress to act, and act now.”

Biden also said 12 million Americans stand to lose their unemployment benefits if Congress and President Donald Trump do not act – “Merry Christmas,” he said.

In Australia, the state of Victoria, which successfully managed to suppress a second wave of the virus, has recorded its 36th day in a row of no new cases of the virus.

There are also no active cases. The state peaked at more than 700 new cases in one day in August, and more than 800 Covid deaths have been recorded in the state since the pandemic began.

The state will also reopen to international arrivals from Monday, though they will first have to spend 14 days in mandatory hotel quarantine.

The state government says it has significantly overhauled and improved the programme, since it was behind the state’s second wave.

Meanwhile in New South Wales, the health department will examine the self-isolation process of international airline crews after it was revealed they were the probable source of a local coronavirus infection.

After the state recorded more than 20 consecutive days of no community cases, last week a new case was identified. On Thursday health authorities revealed that a woman had become sick after working at a quarantine hotel in Darling Harbour.

Genomic testing on the new case showed it was a strain from the United States, likely acquired from airline crew staying at the Novotel. It prompted the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, to say that the allowance for airline staff to self-isolate may be a weakness in the system. Testing of the woman’s close contacts and other staff at the hotel is continuing.

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