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An empty store in Melbourne, the coronavirus epicenter of Australia, which has been on lockdown since the start of last month. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Australia's GDP shrank by a record 7% in the June quarter following a fall of 0.3% in the March quarter, official government agency the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirmed on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The data means Australia has entered its first recession in nearly 30 years, driven by a major coronavirus outbreak in its second-most populous state, Victoria, where restrictions have been imposed since last month.

  • Michael Smedes, head of National Accounts at the ABS, Michael Smedes said in a statement on the GDP fall for the June quarter, "This is, by a wide margin, the largest fall in quarterly GDP since records began in 1959."
  • Smedes attributed the GDP plunge to the pandemic and "associated containment policies."

By the numbers: Household spending fell 12.1% for the 2019/20 financial year — "the first annual fall in recorded history," the ABS notes.

  • Savings increased from 6% to 19.8% — the highest rate since since 1974.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Over 60,000 koalas killed or harmed by Australia's "black summer" fires

A koala and her joey during rehabilitation at Taronga Zoo in Sydney after a bushfire ravaged their habitat in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in the Australian of New South Wales in January 13. Photo: Cole Bennetts/The Sydney Morning Herald via Getty Images

Australia's "'black summer" bushfires killed, wounded or displaced 143 million mammals — including over 61,000 koalas, per a report published Monday

Why it matters: Koalas in New South Wales and Queensland were in "rapid decline" before last summer's fires ravaged the states, per a statement from Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia, which commissioned the research. It's "a deeply disturbing number for a species already in trouble," he added.

16 mins ago - Health

CDC looks at tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.