April 23, 2020 / 10:25 AM / a month ago

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People wear protective masks as they leave work during evening rush hour in Beijing as the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, China April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Summer cancelled?

Across the continent, from Portugal’s Algarve to the islands of Greece, beaches are deserted. There are no visitors at the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, Edinburgh’s August festivals have been cancelled and the Netherlands’ flower fields are closed.

The big question facing Europe’s tourism industry, however, is whether it can still salvage summer.

“We have to endure the situation and get some revenue this summer,” said Goncalo Rebelo de Almeida, board member of Portuguese hotel chain Vila Gale. “I hope ... that will at least allow us to pay fixed costs. And then we will bet on it returning to normal in 2021.”

In the meantime, calls are growing for economic support to haul hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies and cruise companies back from collapse.

Workplace wearables

Workers in the port of Antwerp will next month begin testing wristbands developed by a local technology company to reinforce social distancing as the world tries to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tech firm Rombit already supplies wearables resembling a sports watch that can warn workers of workplace dangers - newly installed software will now also give warning signals if workers come for example within 1.5 metres (five feet) of each other.

The developers believe it also could offer contact-tracing if someone becomes infected with the coronavirus. Such tools could be useful in helping companies restart work safely.

The vaccine race

An Oxford University team is launching this week trials in humans of a potential COVID-19 vaccine and say a million doses of it are being manufactured for availability by September - even before trials prove whether the shot is effective.

The experimental product - called “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19” - is one of at least 70 potential COVID-19 candidate shots under development by biotech and research teams around the world. At least five of those are in preliminary testing in people.

Job killer

Thursday’s weekly U.S. jobless claims report will likely show that a record 26 million Americans sought unemployment benefits over the last five weeks.

Put another way, that would mean that all the jobs created during the longest employment boom in U.S. history have been wiped out in about a month by the impact of coronavirus.

Ramadan congregational prayers

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts this week, Pakistani doctors warned the government and clerics that it was ill-advised to allow prayer congregations at mosques.

Pakistan lifted precautionary restrictions on congregational prayers on Saturday, after several clashes between police and worshippers and with clerics rejecting such limitations.

The question now is whether other Muslim nations will also relent and relax bans on congregations in the light of pressure from local religious figures.

FILE PHOTO: Australia Agriculture Minister David Littleproud speaks during an interview with Reuters ahead of the G20 Meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Miguel Lo Bianco

Sports calendar thins

Another day, another major sporting event bites the dust. The 2020 St. Andrews Trophy, scheduled to take place in Wales from July 23-24, has been cancelled due to the outbreak, the R&A and the European Golf Association has confirmed.

The tournament, contested between amateur golfers representing Britain & Ireland and Europe, was first staged in 1956 and has been held every two years since.

Compiled by Mark John and Karishma Singh; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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