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Variants Get Greek Letter Names; Malaysia Lockdown: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — The World Health Organization announced a new naming scheme for coronavirus variants using the Greek alphabet, aiming to help public discussion of variants of concern and variants of interest.Brussels has proposed lifting all quarantine requirements from July 1 for those who are fully vaccinated against Covid, the Guardian reported.Japan is preparing to hold next month’s Olympics with some spectators present, even as experts warn it would be difficult to stage the games unless the pace of infections falls in the capital, according to media reports. Elsewhere in Asia, Malaysia unveiled a $9.7 billion package to help people and companies through the two-week nationwide lockdown that starts today, which shut down production at Toyota and Honda plants. Vietnam is asking Samsung and other foreign companies to find vaccines for their workers as the nation grapples with its own virus surge. Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases top 170.5 million; deaths pass 3.54 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 1.91 billion doses givenBrazil’s recovery optimism rises despite Covid outbreak, inflationIndian economy faces resilience test amid risks from virusSinovac shot controlled Covid in Brazil town after 75% coveredWhere are we in hunting for Covid’s origin?: QuickTakeU.K. Workers Going to Offices Unchanged at 35% of Pre-Covid Level (2:55 p.m. HK) Employees entering offices in major U.K. cities were unchanged last week at 35% of pre-Covid levels, according to data from Metrikus, which installs sensors in office buildings to measure occupancy rates.Taiwan Confirms 327 Local Covid Cases (2 p.m. HK)Taiwan had 262 newly confirmed domestic cases on Tuesday and added 65 local infections to previous tallies due to test result delays, according to a statement from Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. Taiwan is battling its worst outbreak of Covid-19, having made it through 2020 with few deaths or infections. Vietnam Asks Covax to Speed Up Vaccine Deliveries (13:05 p.m. HK)Vietnam asked the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility to speed up its pledged vaccine delivery and increase supplies of vaccines to the country, Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said during a teleconference with program representatives.The country, whose containment of the coronavirus allowed the economy to continue growing all last year, is now facing a real challenge from a lack of vaccines, as coronavirus outbreaks hit key manufacturing hubs.Guangzhou Airport Tightens Flights (12:05 p.m. HK)Baiyuan Airport in south China’s Guangzhou city has seen almost half of inbound and outbound flights canceled as of 10 a.m. local time Tuesday, after a resurgence of Covid cases required local authorities to tighten travel restrictions, China News Service reports, citing data from the flight service app VariFlight. Starting Monday, authorities have asked those who want to leave the city to present a negative test result within 72 hours of their departure.Guangdong province added 11 local confirmed Covid-19 infections and two asymptomatic cases on May 31, according to the latest report from China’s National Health Commission. The provincial capital has discovered more than 50 infections. The first case was reported on May 21, a 75-year-old woman with no travel history who was infected with the variant first detected in India.WHO Announces Greek Alphabet Naming Scheme for Variants (9:50 a.m. HK)The World Health Organization announced a new naming scheme for coronavirus variants using the Greek alphabet.The scientific names used to date “can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting,” the organization said in a statement. “As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory.”The B.1.1.7 variant, the variant that emerged from the U.K., will be called Alpha, whereas the B.1.617 first detected in India will be referred to as Delta. The existing names will remain in use by scientists and in research, the WHO said.Thailand Overturns Bangkok’s Plan to Relax Restrictions (9:30 a.m. HK)Thailand’s Covid-19 task force overturned Bangkok’s plan to relax restrictions on June 1 as the capital struggles to contain its worst wave of coronavirus infections. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration had earlier said that businesses including beauty clinics, nail salons and spas would be allowed to reopen from Tuesday, but the national task force rescinded the announcement, and ordered an extension of the closures until at least June 14.The country’s capital and largest city remains the epicenter of the current outbreak. Since the resurgence began in early April, infections have spread from Bangkok’s night-entertainment venues into the capital city’s crowded communities and construction-worker camps. Since April 1, a third of Thailand’s new cases have been reported in Bangkok.Hong Kong Vaccine Bookings Jump (8:30 a.m. HK)Total bookings for coronavirus vaccine appointments, which include first and second doses, surged to the highest in nearly two months after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a new campaign to boost the city’s sluggish inoculation rate by September. Measures include paid leave for vaccinated civil servants and possible additional restrictions for unvaccinated citizens.Some 25,400 people reserved slots for BioNTech vaccinations on Monday, while another 12,300 booked appointments to receive Sinovac shots.Some Japan Panel Members Warn Over Holding Olympics (7:30 a.m. HK)Some members of the Japanese government’s coronavirus expert panel warned that it would be “difficult” to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer if the capital’s virus situation remains at the highest of four levels, the Asahi newspaper reported.Meanwhile, the first group of foreign athletes arrived in Japan on Tuesday for training ahead of the Games, Kyodo said. The Australian women’s softball team flew in to Narita airport, and are fully vaccinated.Meanwhile, the organizers of the Games are making preparations to hold the events with spectators, provided they present either a negative test result or vaccination certification, broadcaster TV Asahi said.IMF, WHO, World Bank and WTO Heads Call for Vaccine Equity (7:10 a.m. HK)The heads of the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization called for a “stepped-up coordinated strategy, backed by new financing, to vaccinate the world,” in an editorial published in the Washington Post. The call, issued before the G-7 meeting next week, aims to boost vaccinations in developing countries.Argentina Logs 28,175 New Cases, Brazil 30,434 (6:02 p.m. NY)Argentina reported 28,175 new Covid-19 cases Monday, for a total of 3.8 million, according to the country’s evening report. It reported 638 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 78,093.Meanwhile, Brazil reported a confirmed 30,434 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. The country’s coronavirus death toll rose by 860 in the past 24 hours to 462,791.EU Plans to Lift Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated: Guardian (5:24 p.m. NY)Brussels has proposed lifting all quarantine requirements starting July 1 for those who are fully vaccinated against Covid, the Guardian reports.Starting Tuesday, the Guardian reports that a system will be in place to let European Union member states issue a digital Covid passport to citizens proving their status and allowing them to travel. A deadline will be set for July 1 for all 27 EU countries to accept the documentation as sufficient proof of vaccination.Also, the Guardian reported that scientists are urging the U.K. government to speed up second doses of Covid vaccines and delay a decision on easing lockdown restrictions on 21 June in an effort to tackle the creeping spread of new cases.Peru More Than Doubles Death Toll to 180,000 (3:58 p.m. NY)Peru, already one of the world’s hardest-hit countries during the pandemic, updated its official death toll from Covid-19 on Monday, adding more than 110,000 fatalities than previously reported.A total of 180,764 people have died from coronavirus through May 22, according to a report by a group of experts convened by the government to clarify the real number of victims in the country of some 32 million people. That’s 165% higher than the previous official tally of 68,053 and would place it fifth globally in total deaths after the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.Denmark Looks to Review Suspension of Astra Vaccine (2:04 p.m. NY)Denmark’s government has asked the national health authority to review whether the country can resume use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, and include Johnson & Johnson in its inoculation program, after initially judging they were too risky, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke tells state broadcaster DR.J&J was removed from the Danish vaccine program in May, amid concerns it was linked to blood clots. Denmark suspended AstraZeneca’s vaccine in April.Turkey’s Erdogan Announces Easing of Lockdown (1:58 p.m. NY)Restaurants and cafes in Turkey, which have been effectively closed for weeks except for takeaway and delivery, in a partial easing of lockdown measures will be allowed to open in June from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., except for Sundays, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting on Monday. Gyms and parks will also reopen in June.Merkel Ready To Give Up Special Lockdown Powers (1:52 p.m. NY)Chancellor Angela Merkel is ready to allow Germany’s controversial lockdown law to lapse, the latest sign that the pandemic is releasing its grip on Europe’s largest economy.Germany passed mandatory restrictions in hard-hit areas, including curfews, in April. The powers were set to expire at the end of June, and Merkel confirmed that those “can run out now,” she said Monday in Berlin.The country has gradually been easing restrictions as infections fall and vaccinations accelerate. On Monday, Germany had 35.1 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, the lowest level since mid-October, and as of Sunday, 43% of the population had received at least one vaccine dose.Myanmar to Push Vaccines Amid New Cases: Ministry (12:10 p.m. NY)Myanmar will continue to push for Covid-19 vaccination after cases soared in the last week of May, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports. The country is set to administer more than 800,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines in 15 provinces.Philippines Extends Region’s Movement Curbs (12:06 p.m. NY)The Philippines kept its capital under loose movement restrictions under which most businesses can operate in a limited capacity.Metro Manila and other nearby economic areas will remain under the second-lowest level of curbs called “general community quarantine” until June 30, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised briefing on Monday.The surge in Covid-19 cases has subsided in the past weeks, prompting renewed calls from officials for reopening to aid an economy that remained in recession last quarter. Vaccinations have been picking up, with almost 5.2 million doses administered as of Sunday.Soccer Event Moved to Brazil From Argentina (11:18 a.m. NY)After violent street protests in Colombia and a raging pandemic in Argentina prompted the co-hosts of the Copa America soccer event to pull out, the premier South American soccer tournament will be played in Brazil.About 12 hours after Argentina announced that it wouldn’t host the event, CONMEBOL, the South American soccer association, said that it will move to Brazil.“The oldest tournament of national teams in the world will make the entire continent shake,” CONMEBOL said on its official Twitter account.Brazil, which has the third-most Covid-19 cases in the world, is clearly not a risk-free setting to host the matches. But the local soccer league kicked off its season last weekend without fans in the stands, and Brazil has few if any restrictions to enter the country beyond a negative PCR test.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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