Countries should gradually lift international travel measures based on a thorough risk assessment and must prioritise essential travel for emergencies, the World Health Organization says.

The WHO recommended that priority should be given to essential travel for emergencies, humanitarian work, transport of essential personnel, and repatriation.

Meanwhile, the United States economy has suffered its worst quarterly drop, plunging almost 33 per cent and leaving tens of millions of people unemployed.

This story will be updated throughout Friday and was last updated at 8:45am.

Friday’s key moments:

WHO urges countries to prioritise essential international travel

The World Health Organization has said countries should gradually lift international travel measures based on a thorough risk assessment, prioritising essential travel for emergencies, humanitarian work, transport of essential personnel, and repatriation.

A surge of new infections in many parts of the world has forced many countries to reimpose some travel restrictions.

In its latest travel advisory, the WHO said countries must take into account the local epidemiology and transmission patterns, and the national health and social measures already in place.

Should countries choose to quarantine all travellers on arrival, they must do so after assessing such risks and consider local circumstances, WHO said, adding there was no “zero risk” when considering the potential importation or exportation of cases in international travel.

Earlier this week, the WHO said bans on international travel cannot stay in place indefinitely, and countries are going to have to do more to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus within their borders.

The WHO has now urged each country to conduct a risk-benefit analysis of its own and decide on its priorities, before resuming international travel.

Coronavirus smashes US economy

Coronavirus update: US economy suffers historic quarterly drop as Trump questions delaying US …Coronavirus update: US economy suffers historic quarterly drop as Trump questions delaying US …
The situation in Florida continues to worsen, with another record day of deaths.(Reuters: Maria Alejandra Cardona)

The US economy shrank at a dizzying 32.9 per cent annual rate in the April–June quarter.

The Commerce Department’s estimate of the second-quarter decline in the gross domestic product marked the sharpest such drop, according to records dating back to 1947.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown tens of millions of people out of work and sent unemployment surging to 14.7 per cent.

The previous worst quarterly contraction, a 10 per cent drop, occurred in 1958.

Last quarter’s drop followed a 5 per cent fall in the January–March quarter, during which the economy officially entered a recession triggered by coronavirus, ending an 11-year economic expansion, the longest on record in the United States.

The contraction last quarter was driven by a 34.6 per cent pullback in consumer spending, which would normally account for about 70 per cent of economic activity.

Business investment and residential housing also suffered sharp declines, with investment spending sinking 27 per cent and the residential housing market plunging 38.7 per cent.

The job market, the most important pillar of the economy, has been severely damaged.

Tens of millions of jobs have vanished in the recession.

The news came as President raised the idea of delaying the November 3 US election and again made unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting could result in fraud.

US passes 150,000 deaths as outbreak picks up in Midwest

Coronavirus infections appear to be picking up in the US Midwest, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force says.

Deborah Birx’s comments came as Ohio reported a record day of cases and Wisconsin’s Governor mandated the use of masks.

Ms Birx told Fox News the coronavirus outbreak was “moving up” into Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska from the south “because of vacations and other reasons of travel.”

Ohio’s health department said the state had its highest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic started in January, which Governor Mike DeWine told a news conference was “certainly not good news.”

The United States remains the country most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, surpassing a death toll of 150,000 on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Florida reported a record increase in new COVID-19 deaths for a third consecutive day, according to the state health department, while Arizona also reported a record increase in fatalities.

The two states had been hotspots with major outbreaks, but new cases have recently slowed in both, according to a Reuters tally.

Spanish infections continue to rise as fears of second wave grow

Spain reported 1,229 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, topping 1,000 for the second day in a row and marking the biggest rise since a national lockdown was lifted on June 21, health ministry data showed.

The cumulative total rose to 285,430, up 2,789 on the previous day, and included results from antibody tests on people who may have already recovered.

Coronavirus update: US economy suffers historic quarterly drop as Trump questions delaying US …Coronavirus update: US economy suffers historic quarterly drop as Trump questions delaying US …
There are questions over whether the Champions League match should be played at the Nou Camp.(Reuters: Albert Gea)

The new wave of cases in Spain includes a large number in the Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona.

Napoli football club president Aurelio De Laurentiis raised concerns about his club travelling there to face Barcelona in the Champions League.

“What does it take to say, ‘Don’t go to Barcelona but rather go to Portugal, Germany or Geneva?'”

The Barcelona-Napoli game is scheduled for August 8.

F1 star isolating as he awaits COVID-19 test

Formula One driver Sergio Perez is in isolation at the British Grand Prix after returning an inconclusive coronavirus test.

The Racing Point driver has since been retested and is awaiting the outcome.

The Mexican was absent from his scheduled media duties at the Silverstone circuit in central England.

The race on Sunday will be the fourth in the pandemic-affected season.

The season was first put on hiatus in March, when the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled.

Brazil’s first lady tests positive for COVID-19

Coronavirus update: US economy suffers historic quarterly drop as Trump questions delaying US …Coronavirus update: US economy suffers historic quarterly drop as Trump questions delaying US …
Michelle Bolsonaro has tested positive for coronavirus, while her husband says he has tested negative.(AP: Silvia Izquierdo)

Brazil’s first lady and a fifth member of President ’s Cabinet have both tested positive for COVID-19.

Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes wrote on Twitter that he tested positive after experiencing flu-like symptoms and headaches.

The 57-year-old is now in isolation.

The presidency’s press office later said in a statement that Michelle Bolsonaro, 38, also tested positive.

The statement said she appeared to be in good health, but would follow established protocols.

Mr Bolsonaro told reporters on July 7 he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and was then confined to the presidential palace in the capital Brasilia for more than two weeks.

He announced he tested negative on Saturday.

New lockdown in northern England

COVID-19 lockdown rules in parts of northern England are being tightened, owing to an increasing rate of transmission in these areas.

People in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire will not be allowed to meet members of other households indoors from midnight on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Britain reported its highest number of new COVID-19 infections in more than a month on Thursday, as ministers fretted about a second wave of cases in Europe and warned more quarantine restrictions were possible.

Reflecting rising cases in some European countries, Britain has already reimposed a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving from Spain, a move that caused havoc with the reopening of the continent for tourism in the summer high season.

Official data on Thursday showed 846 new positive tests in Britain, the highest number of daily infections since June 28.

ABC/wires

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