H.K. Set to Shut Schools; Australia Limits Travel: Virus Update

H.K. Set to Shut Schools; Australia Limits Travel: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Australia will tighten inbound travel and Hong Kong is set to close schools as governments react to spiking infections in the coronavirus outbreak.

Japanese media reported that Tokyo notched a record increase in new cases with at least 240 infections while the daily tally of new U.S. cases topped 60,000 for the first time and infections in Mexico jumped by a record for a second straight day.

The World Health Organization said it is keeping an “open mind” on whether airborne transmission plays a major role in spreading the virus.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 12.2 million; deaths surpass 554,000Debate about airborne transmissions is dividing scientistsCovid-19 bankrupting American companies at a relentless paceSingaporeans head to polls as city grapples with outbreakVietnam economy may grow at half official target, panel saysWhy the way we live now will mean more pandemics: QuickTake

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Japan Pushes Ahead With Re-Opening Even as Tokyo Cases Mount (1:17 p.m. HK)

Japan is forging ahead with further steps to re-open the economy even as daily coronavirus cases continue to climb, with local media reporting Tokyo posted a daily record of over 240 infections on Friday.

The country will begin allowing events of up to 5,000 people, including sporting events and musical concerts. Japan is also moving toward discussions with some countries on gradually lifting strict travel bans that remain in place, according to local media reports.

Japan’s medical system isn’t being overwhelmed by cases, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the country’s virus response, said earlier.

Hong Kong Said to Shut Schools Again as Local Virus Cases Jump (12:58 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong is closing schools again, according to multiple media reports, as a surge in cases within the community after a long stretch without infections forces the financial hub to reinstate restrictions.

The government will announce the immediate suspension of all schools, according to a report in the Hong Kong Economic Times, which cited people it didn’t identify. The South China Morning Post reported that the move follows the discovery of a new cluster in a public housing estate.

Hong Kong Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung will hold a briefing at 2 p.m. local time, according to an official statement, which didn’t provide further details. The city found 34 locally-transmitted cases on Wednesday, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. The resurgence in Hong Kong comes after weeks of normalized activity as people returned to work and restaurants filled up again.

Australia Curbs Number of Returning Citizens, Reviews Quarantine (11:22 a.m. HK)

Australia will halve the number of citizens who can return home at any one time to relieve pressure on its system of quarantining arrivals as an outbreak in its second-most populous state worsened.

The quarantine system will also be reviewed, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday. More than 70,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents have undertaken 14 days of mandatory isolation at government-leased hotels and the policy has helped contain the spread of the virus. But the system is creaking, particularly as flights are rerouted due to an outbreak in Victoria, which on Friday reported 288 new infections in 24 hours.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews asked people to wear masks if they can’t practice social distancing and said case numbers are likely to worsen before plateauing next week.

Mexico Reports Record Rise in Virus Cases for Second Day in Row (8:27 a.m. HK)

Mexico reported a record daily rise of 7,280 confirmed Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 282,283, according to data released by the Health Ministry Thursday night. Deaths rose by 730 to 33,526.

It’s the second straight day that Mexico has posted a record daily rise in cases. The country has seen infections rise as the government moves forward with reopening the economy and as Latin America has emerged as a hotspot for the pandemic. Like other countries in the region, Mexican officials must balance the needs of people who have to work to meet basic needs while trying to slow the spread of the deadly illness.

U.K. Opts Out of EU Coronavirus Vaccine Program, Telegraph Says (8:04 a.m. HK)

The U.K. has turned down the chance to join a European Union coronavirus program after ministers expressed concern about “costly delays,” the Telegraph reports, citing unidentified people in the government.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma is believed to have rejected the plan after failing to secure sufficient assurance the U.K. would receive the number of vaccines it needed on time, the newspaper said. Officials said joining the EU scheme could delay rollout of a vaccine by as much as six months due to distribution talks, the Telegraph reported.

The U.K. would have no say on which companies are involved in talks, pricing or timetable because it’s no longer an EU member, the newspaper said.

Bolivian President, Venezuelan Party VP Infected (6:30 a.m. HK)

Bolivian President Jeanine Anez said she has tested positive for the virus and will work virtually during a 14-day quarantine. She got tested after members of her team were found to have Covid-19, according to a video posted on Twitter.

Diosdado Cabello, second-in-command to President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela’s Socialist Party, also said he has tested positive for the virus. Cabello said in a tweet that he was isolated and complying with treatment.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said earlier this week that he has been infected. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and the Dominican Republic’s President-Elect Luis Abinader also tested positive but have since recovered.

Texas Has Record Deaths for Third Day (5:08 p.m. NY)

Texas reported a record number of deaths for the third straight day, topping 100 for the first time. Total fatalities rose 3.7%, to 2,918. The sharp increase in deaths this week follows a similar upturn in cases about three weeks ago.

The state has identified about 10,000 new cases for the past three days, bringing the total to 230,346. The 9,782 added Thursday was a 4.4% increase, exceeding the seven-day average of 4%.

New cases are eating up capacity for beds in intensive care units in Houston, which has the state’s worst outbreak. The city’s Texas Medical Center hospitals filled up all the ICU beds generally available last week, and has begun tapping converted beds.

New York Mayor Cancels Big Public Events (4:40 p.m. NY)

Mayor Bill De Blasio ordered large events that typically require a permit to be canceled through Sept. 30. The goal is to ensure room for outdoor restaurant seating and New York’s “Open Streets” program, which expands car-free public spaces for city dwellers. “Permits will also be denied for all events larger than one block, stage/video events that require amplification, street fairs, and events in parks that may unreasonably diminish public use,” the mayor said in a statement. Demonstrations, religious events and news conferences are exempt.

Texas Republicans Sue to Hold Convention (4:08 p.m. NY)

The Texas Republican Party sued the Democratic mayor of Houston for ordering the cancellation of next week’s state GOP convention in the city, which is the epicenter of the state’s outbreak.

Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday barred the in-person gathering that was expected to draw 6,000 people for fear it would contribute to the spread of the virus in the city.

U.S. Cases Rise 2%, Top 60,000 (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose by 61,791 from a day earlier to 3.08 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. It was the first time the number of reported new cases exceeded the 60,000-a-day mark. The 2% increase was higher than the average daily increase of 1.9% over the past week. Deaths rose 0.7% to 132,803.

Arizona reported 4,057 new virus cases, a 3.7% rise to 112,671 that matched the prior seven-day average. It was the highest number of new cases in six days.Florida reported 232,718 cases, up 4% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 5% in the previous seven days. The state recorded 120 deaths, a daily record.Montana cases rose 6.9% to 1,466, according to the data from Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg News.

Starbucks Requires Masks at U.S. Stores (12:35 p.m. NY)

Starbucks Corp. is requiring customers to wear face coverings when visiting all of its company-owned U.S. locations, whether mandated by local governments or not. At select locations where there’s no official requirement, customers without masks can use options such as drive-through, curbside pickup or ordering for delivery, the Seattle-based company said in a statement.

England Lets Recreational Sports Resume (12 p.m. NY)

Recreational team sports are resuming in England, starting with cricket on Saturday, the same day that outdoor swimming pools can reopen. Beauticians, salons and spas can reopen Monday, followed by gyms and indoor pools on July 25, according to U.K. government announcements. British pubs, bars and restaurants reopened last weekend in the face of an economic collapse that wiped out 18 years of growth in two months.

NY Dining, Public Transport Stalled (10:24 a.m. NY)

The number of outdoor diners seated at New York restaurants was 95% lower than a year ago and public transportation in the past week remained at about half the pre-pandemic level. This comes as the state’s infection rates have dropped to about 1% of daily testing, down from a peak of about 50% in late March.

New York City has delayed the return of indoor dining to guard against an increase in virus cases that has plagued states such as Florida, Texas and California.

Moderna in Vaccine Supply Pact (10:04 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc. joined with Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi SA to help supply its Covid-19 shot, one of the leading vaccine candidates against the disease, as companies prepare to produce any successful inoculation as soon as possible.

The Spanish pharmaceutical company will provide vial filling and packaging capacity to Moderna, according to a statement Thursday, as Moderna prepares to produce hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine for markets outside the U.S. starting in early 2021.

Wells Fargo Readying Job Cuts (9:40 a.m. NY)

Wells Fargo & Co., the largest employer among U.S. banks, is preparing to cut thousands of jobs starting later this year, potentially setting a precedent for an industry that’s been resisting mass layoffs as the pandemic worsens.

Pressure to dramatically reduce costs is coming to a head inside the bank, prompting executives to draft plans that may ultimately eliminate tens of thousands of positions, people with knowledge of the confidential talks said, asking not to be named.

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