Coronavirus latest: Asia stocks tumble on US cases surge and grim outlook

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US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the economy cannot be closed down again even as states across the west and south are seeing a sudden jump in new cases after loosening lockdown restrictions. “I think we’ve learned that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage,” Mr Mnuchin told CNBC.

US stocks notched their biggest one-day drop in three months as the Federal Reserve’s warning of a drawn-out recovery for the domestic economy and concerns about the rising number of coronavirus cases in western and southern states brought an abrupt halt to Wall Street’s multi-week rally.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits eased further last week, with a seasonally adjusted 1.54m initial jobless claims for the week ending on June 6, down from nearly 1.9m the week before, according to the US labour department, marking the 10th straight weekly decline.

Public health authorities have shut schools around Xanthi, a small city in north-eastern Greece, and quarantined 80 teachers after an English language instructor tested positive for coronavirus this week. It was the second recorded outbreak of Covid-19 in the remote region in less than three months.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has said about “70-80 per cent” of those who have tested positive for coronavirus after taking an antibody test had not displayed any symptoms. Asked how this would hamper the government’s test and trace system at the daily Downing Street briefing, he insisted test and tracing would help “break the chain of transmission”.

Northern Ireland has taken further steps to ease the province’s lockdown, opening up shopping centres and non-essential retailers on Friday and the housing market on Monday. The devolved government said people who live alone will be allowed to make indoor visits to one other household and stay overnight.

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