Thai Protests to Resume, Singapore Boosts Testing: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) — Singapore stepped up Covid testing amid a rise in new and unlinked infections. Thai anti-government protesters plan a return to Bangkok’s streets when the latest outbreak subsides, while the Philippines drafts protocols to reopen to vaccinated tourists.The European Union moved forward with a plan for EU-wide vaccination certificates, boosting chances of a summer tourism rebound. The number of U.K. cases of a worrying virus variant from India more than doubled for a second week, adding fresh doubt to plans to fully unlock the economy.New York will offer $20 scratch-off lottery tickets as a vaccine incentive, with a maximum payout of $5 million, while Maryland residents who get vaccinated can compete for $2 million in prize money. Unvaccinated Americans should keep wearing masks in public, said Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top health adviser.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 165.1 million; deaths exceed 3.4 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 1.57 billion doses have been givenHow long do vaccine protections last? Science can’t say for sureVaccine shortage crushes Africa’s hopes for an economic revivalFungal epidemic, sick babies: Worst of Covid plays out in IndiaDelayed second dose turns into a win for vaccine-starved placesCan I be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19?: QuickTakePhilippines Could Open to Vaccinated Tourists (12:15 p.m. HK)The Philippines is considering accepting fully vaccinated foreign travelers, with the Tourism and Foreign Affairs Departments tasked with crafting protocols, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Friday.The government will prioritize vaccinating athletes for the Tokyo Olympics and Southeast Asian games, with workers in the outsourcing sector included in the next priority group, Roque said.Thai Protests to Resume When Outbreak Subsides (11:03 a.m. HK)Thai protest leaders plan to revive demonstrations as soon as the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak starts to ease, adding to the government’s challenges as it comes under fire for a slow vaccine rollout.After a monthslong hiatus due to a spike in cases, protest leaders say they want to rally support for a movement that began last year with calls for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s resignation and unprecedented reforms of the monarchy. Authorities have faced increasing public criticism for Thailand’s third wave of Covid-19, which has more than quadrupled total cases since early April.“When we return to the streets, there’ll be even more people joining us,” Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, one of the protest leaders, said in a phone interview, adding rallies will start again as soon as the infection risk has been minimized. “We can’t wait too long. We want to take advantage of this period when there’s a lot of anger.”New Zealand to Seek Vaccine Tariff Removal: DJ (10:52 a.m. HK)New Zealand will push to remove tariffs on vaccines and medical supplies when it hosts a virtual summit of APEC trade ministers June 5, Dow Jones reported, citing an interview with Trade Minister Damien O’Connor. A commitment to removing barriers to trade in vaccines and related medical supplies will be the “first and core component” of the meeting, O’Connor said.Japan May Extend Emergency By 3 Weeks (10:35 a.m. HK)Japan’s government will discuss whether to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas by as much as three weeks, broadcaster TBS reported, with daily virus cases still high two months before the Olympics.The emergency, set to expire at the end of this month, may be extended to coincide with the June 20 end of Okinawa’s state of emergency, TBS reported. Broadcaster NTV reported Thursday on a possible extension for Tokyo and Osaka.The Olympics, beginning July 23, are expected to bring about 94,000 athletes and officials from overseas to Tokyo. Public opposition to the competition has been building amid a surge in virus cases and slow vaccine roll out.Singapore’s MAS Calls Fed Swaps Pandemic ‘Lifeline’ (9:40 a.m. HK)Sustaining dollar liquidity to other countries is the “best the U.S. can do” amid the global recovery from the pandemic, Monetary Authority of Singapore Managing Director Ravi Menon said Friday. Support for the global financial system is “critical,” Menon said during an event hosted by the Institute of International Finance, calling the Federal Reserve’s swap lines a “real lifeline.”It’s important for the U.S. to telegraph its policies — — for example, if the Fed plans to tighten financial conditions — and be aware of how they impact the rest of the world, Menon said. He warned of a two-speed recovery, with Covid now a “feature” of many emerging economies while the U.S., China and Europe start to recover.Singapore Steps Up Testing Amid Rise in Cases (9:34 a.m. HK)Singapore is stepping up Covid testing amid a rise in new and unlinked infections. The government will conduct tests for all residents of one housing block after positive cases were found there, and about 2,000 more students and staff from Singapore Polytechnic will undergo testing after four students were found to have the virus.The number of new coronavirus cases in the community has more than doubled in the past week to 190, while the number of infections unlinked to previous clusters has risen by more than four times, the Ministry of Health said. The resurgence has forced Singapore back into lockdown-like conditions.Argentina Tightens Lockdown as Cases Surge (8:13 a.m. HK)Argentina will impose a stricter lockdown for nine days as cases and deaths have shot up in recent weeks. President Alberto Fernandez announced that all non-essential, in-person activities — including schools, sports, churches and social gatherings — will be suspended from Saturday. People will be allowed to circulate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. near their home, and only essential businesses may remain open.Then, from May 31 to June 11, the government plans to lift the lockdown and return to current restrictions, which still involve an 8 p.m. curfew and limited social activities. Argentina has reported more than 35,000 new cases each day this week, by far its worst stretch, with about 73% of the country’s ICU beds occupied.Brunei Suspends Green Lane With Singapore (8:03 a.m. HK)Brunei temporarily suspended its reciprocal “green lane” travel arrangement with Singapore until further notice from Thursday evening, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office of Brunei.All travelers from Singapore will have to self-isolate at hotels for a period determined by Brunei’s health ministry, according to the statement dated Wednesday.Sputnik, Cansino Seek Indonesia Approval (8:01 a.m. HK)Indonesia will decide whether the Sputnik and Cansino vaccines will be used in the state inoculation program or in a private program, Honesti Basyir, president director of Indonesia’s state vaccine maker Bio Farma, told a parliament panel Thursday.Bio Farma and the government are lobbying Saudi Arabian authorities to include Sinovac’s vaccine on its preferred list for the hajj pilgrimage. Bio Farma expects Sinovac to get emergency-use listing procedure from the World Health Organization in the first or second week of June.Malaysian Firms Want Tighter Curbs, Not Lockdown (7:59 a.m. HK)Malaysian industries are calling on the government to avoid a full lockdown and instead tighten virus protocols and accelerate the vaccine roll-out, as infections hit a record for a second straight day.The Malaysian Iron and Steel Federation asked the government to assure there would be “no total lockdown” to maintain business confidence, while proposing tighter curbs on public mobility and work-from-home practices. The Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia suggested reducing on-site workforces and increasing fines.Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will chair a meeting Friday to discuss a nationwide Movement Control Order, Bernama reported, after cases topped 6,000 for a second straight day Thursday. One-third of the new cases originated from Selangor, Malaysia’s most industrialized state, which said it was willing to accept a lockdown with hospitals low on ICU beds.U.K. Plans ‘Pandemic Radar’ (6:49 a.m. HK)U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans Friday to create a “global pandemic radar” to identify and track new coronavirus variants and other emerging diseases. The WHO will work with the U.K. and partners, including the Wellcome Trust, to develop an international pathogen surveillance network before the end of 2021, according to an emailed statement. The announcement was made ahead of the Global Health Summit convened by G20 President Italy and the European Union.Africa Death Risk Higher for Very Ill (6:34 a.m. HK)Critically ill Covid patients in Africa face an outsize risk of death, mainly because health systems lack key resources like hospital beds and oxygen machines, according to a study.The death rate in the month after admission to intensive care is about 48% on the continent, compared with about 32% globally, according to a report published Thursday in The Lancet.S.F. Hospital Free of Covid Patients (5:45 p.m. NY)The Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center had no Covid-19 patients for the first time since March 2020, according to Vivek Jain, an infectious disease doctor, who called the day a “huge milestone.”Covid-19 hospitalizations in San Francisco hit a peak of 259 on Jan. 11, with 62 people in intensive care. U.K. Cases of India Strain Double (5:23 p.m. NY)The number of U.K. cases of a worrying coronavirus variant from India more than doubled for a second week as authorities also monitor a new mutation of the virus, adding fresh doubt to plans to fully unlock the economy.Health officials have now detected 3,424 cases of the B1.617.2 variant, Public Health England said Thursday in a statement, up from 1,313 last week and 520 a week earlier. They’re also investigating a mutation called VUI-21MAY-01, with 49 cases logged so far.Taiwan Seeks U.S. Vaccine Help (5:15 p.m. NY)U.S. help in securing vaccines could protect Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, according to James Lee, the head of Taipei’s cultural and economic office in New York, amid concern about a shortage of chips used in everything from mobile phones to automobiles.While Taiwan’s increasing cases haven’t had an impact yet, “if it lasts too long there could be logistical problems,” he said in an interview. “We have talked to the Biden administration and we work closely together. We expect them to help.”Minnesota Offers Shots at Sports Events (5:09 p.m. NY)Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said sports fan will be able to get vaccinated when they attend upcoming baseball, basketball or hockey games, in partnership with professional teams. The vaccinations are part of the governor’s push to take shots to state residents instead of waiting for them to show up for them. Texas Passes 50,000 Deaths (4:20 p.m. NY)Texas joined California and New York in surpassing 50,000 deaths related to Covid-19, though fatalities and new infections have been dropping.Texas added 52 deaths Thursday, state data showed. That compares with a daily peak of more than 600 in January, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.Morocco to Ease Nightly Curfew (3:30 p.m. NY)Morocco’s nightly curfew, which has been in force for much of the last 13 months, will be eased on Friday after new cases declined, the government said in a statement.Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to say open an extra three hours until 11 p.m., according to a cabinet statement on the MAP newswire.EU Vaccine Certificate Plan Set for Summer (2:45 p.m. NY)With the summer tourism season at stake, European Union negotiators agreed to introduce mutually recognized vaccination certificates designed to let people travel within the EU without having to quarantine.European Parliament representatives and the 27 EU governments agreed on the plan, which requires a formal approval process before taking effect at the end of June. Proof of vaccination issued by non-European governments would be accepted. The EU will soon allow quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors from non-EU countries deemed safe, too.Maryland Offers $2 Million in Rewards (2:34 p.m.)Maryland, which previously offered residents free pizza as an incentive to get vaccinated, is now trying it with a $2 million lottery.Forty daily drawings with $40,000 in prize money and a grand prize of $400,000 on July 4 are planned, according to Kata Hall, Governor Larry Hogan’s deputy communications director.Brown Requires Staff Vaccinations (2:33 p.m. NY)Brown became the latest U.S. university to require faculty and staff to be vaccinated before classes resume this fall, asking employees to receive their final vaccine dose by July 1. All employees and students at the school in Providence, Rhode Island will have to upload their vaccination cards as proof.Yale required last week that all faculty, staff and post-graduate students be vaccinated by Aug. 1. The Chronicle of Higher Education has tracked 387 U.S. colleges and universities that require vaccines of at least some students or employees.BioNTech to Begin Production in Turkey (1:39 p.m. NY)BioNTech SE Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said Thursday the company plans to both produce and engage in research and development of vaccines in Turkey.BioNTech plans to increase the number of vaccines to be dispatched to Turkey to 120 million, with new shipments planned from July to September, Sahin said after attending a meeting of the Turkish pandemic board.Eiffel Tower to Reopen in July (1:20 p.m. NY)The Eiffel Tower, which has been shut to visitors since Nov. 30, will reopen July 16, its operator said in a statement, with tickets on sale from June 1. France will open vaccination to all adults from May 31 as it expects increased deliveries of vaccines next month, the government said in a statement.Astra Efficacy Reported High (12:27 p.m. NY)Two doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine provide about 85%-90% protection against symptomatic disease, according to statistics released Thursday by Public Health England.The health body estimated that 13,000 deaths have been prevented in England as of May 9 in people ages 60 and older. It also suggested that vaccinations have stopped almost 40,000 hospitalizations among those over 65.N.Y. Offers Lottery Tickets for Shots (12:05 p.m. NY)If you get vaccinated next week you could win up to $5 million, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. Vaccinations next week will come with free scratch-off lottery tickets worth $20, with the chance of both small prizes and a multimillion dollar payoff.“Vax and scratch,” Cuomo said at a press briefing in Buffalo. “The chances of winning something in this program are one in nine.”Fauci Cites Masking Confusion (11:36 a.m. NY)U.S. health leaders’ move to relax nationwide rules on masks for fully vaccinated people has spurred “understandable confusion” that must be cleared up, said Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor.Fully vaccinated Americans can shed their masks in most places, including indoors and in large groups, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said May 13. Still, it’s recommended that even fully vaccinated people wear masks on public transportation, in health-care and correctional facilities, and where required by state and local governments or businesses. The unvaccinated should still mask up in public.“The problem is,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “people interpreted that as a signal that you don’t need masks anymore, which absolutely is not the case.”NYC Passes Vaccine Milestone (10:40 a.m. NY)New York City has passed 4 million first doses, with a total of 7,753,184 shots administered.“We have proven vaccinations work,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “Vaccinations are your ticket to freedom. We can have an extraordinary summer of joy, but we need to keep getting vaccinated.”The mayor announced the city is opening a vaccination site at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, offering free same-day admission and a family pass for a future visit. A site will also open at the Bronx Zoo, and one is in the works at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island. There’s already a site at the American Museum of Natural History.Brazil Reports India Variant (10:35 a.m. NY)Brazil confirmed its first cases of a variant first found in India. The infected people are six crew members of the Shandong da Zhi vessel, which came from South Africa and was chartered by Vale to deliver iron ore in Sao Luis in Maranhao state, UOL reported.Moderna Exports Shots From U.S. (10:31 a.m. NY)Moderna Inc. has begun exporting U.S.-produced Covid vaccines to other countries, a key step as U.S. vaccine supply begins to be shipped abroad.Moderna and Pfizer Inc. have been the backbone of the U.S. vaccination campaign, which is leveling off as domestic demand wanes. Their shipments of their coveted mRNA vaccines could be a turning point for nations that have sought to get any doses they can, including less effective ones.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.