Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a record $490bn stimulus for the world’s third-largest economy today as he looks to shore up the country’s patchy pandemic recovery.
The 56 trillion yen injection, the third since the Covid crisis struck last year, “is enough to deliver a sense of safety and hope to the Japanese people”, Kishida said.
Agence France-Presse report the vast spending plans are expected to be approved by the cabinet later in the day, and reportedly include cash and coupons for families with children under 18 who meet an income cap, as well as pay rises for nurses and careworkers.
It comes after Japan’s economy shrank far more than expected in the second quarter, as leaders struggled to overcome virus surges by imposing containment measures in Tokyo and other cities.
Rightwing extremists in the UK are using Covid controversies and online gaming as a way of recruiting young people, as data shows half of the most serious cases of suspected radicalisation reported by schools and colleges now involve far-right activity.
Figures published by the Home Office show twice as many young people in education in England and Wales last year were thought to be at risk of radicalisation by the extreme right wing, compared with those at risk from Islamic extremists.
Sean Arbuthnot, a Prevent coordinator for Leicestershire, said that while far-right extremism has been on the rise for several years, online apps and platforms were increasingly cropping up in referrals, including gaming platforms and chat apps such as Discord, as rightwing groups sought to reach young people.
“[Some] during the pandemic conducted leafleting campaigns, where they would promote the narrative that Covid is a hoax, that hospital wards are empty, and that you shouldn’t get the vaccine. Then they load their leaflets with pseudo-scientific evidence. But at the same time they drop leaflets purporting that white people are going to be a minority in Britain, which plays into peoples fears,” Arbuthnot said.
Read more of Richard Adams and Sally Weale’s report here: Extremists using online gaming and Covid conspiracies to recruit youngsters
Agence France-Presse has a little more detail on the announcement on the Philippines plan to reopen to vaccinated tourists.
They report that borders will reopen “soon”, according to the statement from tourism secretary Berna Puyat, without providing a date.
“Allowing tourists from green countries or territories that have the majority of its population vaccinated and with low infection rate, will greatly help in our recovery efforts,” Puyat said.
“This move will likewise aid in bolstering consumer confidence, which is a large contributor to our gross domestic product,” she added.
More than 40 countries and territories are classified “green” – low risk and exempt from quarantine requirements – including China, Indonesia and Zimbabwe.
Tourism is a major driver of the south-east Asian country’s economy, accounting for nearly 13% of gross domestic product in 2019, when it attracted more than 8 million visitors, official data showed.
Hello, it is Martin Belam here in London taking over from Samantha Lock in Sydney. Grant Shapps is the UK government minister doing the media round this morning – he’s the transport secretary and it is mostly about trains so far. If there are any Covid lines that emerge I will bring them to you. Here is a reminder of the latest numbers in the UK.
The change in the number of people testing positive in the UK is that the numbers are up 14.5% week-on-week. Deaths are down 9.8% week-on-week, and hospitalisations are down week-on-week by 2.9%.
France will not follow its European neighbours imposing Covid lockdowns on unvaccinated people because of the success of its health pass in curbing the virus’s spread, president Emmanuel Macron has said.
Europe has again found itself at the centre of the pandemic, prompting some countries including Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to reintroduce restrictions in the run-up to Christmas. Debate has also been ignited over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame Covid.
“Those countries locking down the non-vaccinated are those which have not put in place the [health] pass. Therefore this step is not necessary in France,” Macron told La Voix du Nord newspaper in an interview published on Thursday.
In France, proof of vaccination or a recent negative test is required for entry into restaurants, cafes and cinemas and for other activities such as taking long-distance trains.
The first known patient to become ill with Covid-19 was a vendor in a Wuhan animal market, a scientist has claimed in a report published on Thursday.
Dr Michael Worobey, a leading expert in tracing the evolution of viruses at the University of Arizona, believes the World Health Organization inquiry was incorrect in its early chronology of the pandemic.
Worobey came upon timeline discrepancies by combing through what had already been made public in medical journals, as well as video interviews in a Chinese news outlet with people believed to have the first two documented infections, the New York Times was first to report.
He argues that the vendor’s ties to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, as well as a new analysis of the earliest hospitalised patients’ connections to the market, strongly suggest that the pandemic began there and not with an accountant who lived many miles away.
The report has been published in the prestigious journal Science.
Hi. I’m Samantha Lock and welcome back to our Covid blog where I’ll be giving you a rundown of all the latest developments from across the world.
New research published on Thursday hopes to shed more light on the topic of Covid’s origins and indicates the first case of Covid-19 in Wuhan, China, was actually days later than previously believed and at an animal market.
The original patient is believed to have been a woman who worked in the market, according to virologist Michael Worobey.
As Europe once again finds itself back at the epicentre of the pandemic, some countries have introduced restrictions on those who are on unvaccinated in the run-up to Christmas.
However, France has said it will not be following suit because of the success of its health pass in curbing the virus’ spread.
“Those countries locking down the non-vaccinated are those which have not put in place the (health) pass. Therefore this step is not necessary in France,” president Emmanuel Macron told a local paper on Thursday.