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2020-07-13 1 ENGLISH REPORTS
Sitting in Europe or in most of Asia, you could be forgiven for thinking that the worst point of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. It would be easy to see the number of COVID-19 infections and resultant deaths steadily edging down, and in some places dropping to close to zero. But looking across the world, there are many places where the curve is a long way from flattening and even starting to accelerate. In Latin America, as of late June there were twice as many new cases on a daily basis than during the peak in Europe. In Asia – the number of new cases in Indonesia and the Philippines is still on an upward trend although numbers are still low compared to elsewhere in the world. India is more of a concern. And now some places that were barely on the radar are seeing huge numbers of cases: Peru and Chile have now had more infections than either Italy or Spain while Saudi Arabia has had more than France.
California stand out (chart 2), particularly as the number of cases is rising more quickly amongst younger people. In Texas, 60% of cases are now amongst the under-50s and in Florida the average age of positive cases has been dropping since the beginning of May (chart 3), presumably reflecting less fear among younger members as social-distancing measures are eased. The acceleration in the number of infections is particularly concerning, and it is likely that not only could further re-opening be delayed (as is happening in some US states) but renewed restrictions could be introduced – perhaps on a more localised basis – in many parts of the world where the picture is deteriorating.
As lockdowns in many parts of the world have been easing, it’s no surprise that much of the data across the world have picked up off their record lows. Flash PMIs for June rose again and high frequency data in terms of mobility and spending have recovered somewhat. But that recovery is very uneven across the world. Google’s mobility data shows that while the amount of time spent at retail and recreational venues has increased in all of the economies in chart 4, the pace of recovery has varied dramatically. Some, such as New Zealand and Norway, have seen activity levels rebound very quickly, but others much less so, either due to continued lockdowns (such as Argentina) or very slow easing of restrictions such as the UK.
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