(Bloomberg) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country is on course to scrap lockdown rules over the next seven weeks. Denmark will ease curbs this week and dropped Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 shot. Bavaria’s Oktoberfest festival was canceled, but free beer is available to New Jersey residents who get a vaccine.
India was criticized for a “lack of leadership” by a former central bank chief, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi resists pressure to lock down. Hong Kong is isolating all residents of a building after finding a case, and reviewing a decision to make vaccinations mandatory for foreign domestic workers after a backlash. There is also growing anger at Australia’s decision to ban citizens returning home from India.
The New York Stock Exchange will allow more traders on the floor if they’re fully vaccinated, after weekly confirmed cases in the U.S. rose at the slowest pace of the pandemic. The Biden administration will support Pfizer’s move to start exporting U.S.-made doses of its vaccine.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 153 million; deaths exceed 3.2 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.17 billion doses have been given
- It’s Not Just India. New Virus Waves Deluge Developing Countries
- India Travel Ban Means U.S. Visa Workers Remain Stuck Abroad
- New York City is roaring back to life, one year after its nadir
- What are vaccine passports and how would they work?: QuickTake
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Germany Pushed on Medical Spending (2:50 p.m. Hong Kong)
Germany needs to boost investment in public-health services so the nation is better prepared for future pandemics, according to Klaus Reinhardt, the president of the country’s medical association.
Germany must make sure it maintains adequate reserves of protective equipment, and establish effective crisis units that can react quickly to outbreaks of disease, Reinhardt said in an interview with ZDF television.
“Our hospitals have helped us a great deal during this pandemic, perhaps a bit better than in other countries, and we also need to think about how we keep them functioning well and make them fit for the future,” Reinhardt said.
U.K. to Gradually Wind Back Curbs (2:45 p.m. Hong Kong)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. is on course to gradually scrap lockdown rules over the next seven weeks, hailing the U.K.’s successful vaccine rollout ahead of key elections this week.
Johnson said the pandemic data was likely to allow people in England to stay overnight with friends or relations, with indoor hospitality able to reopen from May 17. Remaining social distancing rules are also likely to be canceled from June 21, though he warned that international travel will need to be carefully monitored after May 17.
“With the vaccine rollout going the way that it is – we have done 50 million jabs as I speak to you today, quarter of the adult population, one in four, have had two jabs,” the premier said on a visit to Hartlepool in northeastern England yesterday. “You are seeing the results of that really starting to show up.”
India Park Shut on Animal Risk (2:40 p.m. Hong Kong)
India’s Kaziranga National Park, home to the one-horned rhino, closed to visitors on Monday amid a surge in cases and reports of lions dying. In view of the spread of Covid-19 “and also transmission of the virus from human to animal and vice versa,” all national parks in the state will be shut indefinitely, it said.
Eight lions tested positive for the coronavirus at a zoo in the southern city of Hyderabad, the Hindu newspaper reported, citing officials it didn’t identify.
Singapore Scraps Istana Event (2:34 p.m. Hong Kong)
Singapore, which this week asked hospitals to defer non-urgent surgeries and limited emergency room visits to life-threatening or other emergency conditions, canceled an open house to welcome the public to the president’s official residence, just six days after announcing the May 13 event. “Regrettably we will have to cancel the upcoming Istana Open House due to the recent increase of local COVID-19 cases,” President Halimah Yacob said on Facebook.
Local cases have been on the uptick after many months of near zero infections in the community, mainly due to a cluster that has developed in a large public hospital.
Rajan Slams India’s Leadership (12:55 p.m. Hong Kong)
India today reported more than 357,000 new infections, bringing the total official tally to more than 20 million cases, and an additional 3,449 deaths. The tally comes as Premier Modi continues to see lockdowns as the “last option” despite a growing domestic and international chorus calling for action.
The wave of infections in India has revealed complacency after last year’s first wave, as well as a “lack of foresight, a lack of leadership,” said Raghuram Rajan, former governor of the country’s central bank.“If you were careful, if you were cautious, you had to recognize that it wasn’t done yet,” Rajan said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “Anybody paying attention to what was happening in the rest of the world, in Brazil for example, should have recognized the virus does come back and potentially in more virulent forms.
Denmark Eases Curbs, Drops J&J (12:30 p.m. Hong Kong)
Denmark will ease more restrictions this week as the infection rate has remained stable in the Nordic country, the government said. All children through 8th grade will return to schools full-time, while cinemas, theaters and gyms will also reopen.
Denmark also won’t use J&J’s vaccine due to concern about the risk of blood clots, the Danish Health Authority said. The move comes less than a month after Denmark became the first European Union member to drop AstraZeneca Plc for similar reasons. Both shots are used in many other countries.
Denmark had pre-ordered about 7 million vaccine shots from J&J, more than from any other producer, so the decision will delay the national vaccine rollout by four weeks.
Hong Kong Reviews Worker Decision (11:35 a.m. Hong Kong)
Hong Kong is reviewing a decision to make vaccinations mandatory for foreign domestic workers after a wave of criticism, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said.
“After listening to voices in the society, I have requested the Labour and Welfare Bureau to review the justification, feasibility, and discuss with experts including consulates of relevant countries where the foreign domestic helpers mainly come from.”
The decision had led to an outcry from officials in the Philippines, home to many such workers, and was branded “very discriminatory” by Cynthia Tellez, head of the Mission for Migrant Workers.
Mexico Sees Slower Rise in Toll (11:00 a.m. Hong Kong)
The death toll of the Covid-19 pandemic is easing in Mexico, where daily fatalities dropped below 100 for the first time in a year this week, according to official data from the Health Ministry.
The country reported 112 new Covid-19 deaths from the virus Monday, bringing the total to 217,345. On Sunday, Mexico posted 94 deaths, the least since May 3, 2020. While Mexico normally registers fewer fatalities at the start of the week, the seven-day average has been steadily dropping; during the winter, Mexico regularly reported more than 1,000 victims a day from the virus, with a high of 1,803 on Jan. 21.
Egypt Inoculates 900,000 People (10:50 a.m. Hong Kong)
Some 2.2 million individuals in Egypt have registered to receive a Covid-19 vaccine and 900,000 have been inoculated against the virus, television channel Sada Elbalad reported, citing the country’s health ministry spokesman.
India to Get 220 Million Serum Shots (9:55 a.m. Hong Kong)
Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, will deliver 220 million doses to federal and state governments over the next few months. The central government will get 110 million of those doses of Covishield, the manufacturer said.
“Vaccine manufacturing is a specialized process, it’s therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight,” CEO Adar Poonawalla said. Covering all of India’s 1.4 billion people is “not an easy task.”
Earlier, Bloomberg News reported that the central government hasn’t placed an order larger than 110 million doses since sales started in December, citing a person familiar with the matter. The lack of a larger central stockpile, coupled with a devastating second wave which saw over 400,000 new daily cases on Saturday, is now making local state governments scramble and compete with one another in placing orders after Delhi turned over the responsibility of procuring vaccines to them last month.
Hong Kong Isolates Some Residents (9:20 a.m. Hong Kong)
Hong Kong quarantined residents of a roughly 40-unit apartment building in Tsim Sha Tsui for 21 days after one of them was infected with the more transmissible N501Y mutant strain.
The patient is a 28-year-old woman who visited India last month, the government said. She had been quarantined from April 4 to 25 at a Hong Kong hotel. On April 26, she sought advice at a local hospital, where she had a negative result on a Covid-19 test. On April 30, a test was indeterminate. She was admitted to hospital on May 2, when further tests found she was infected.
The residents of her apartment building will be quarantined in government centers if they are asymptomatic, and treated in hospital if they have symptoms.
Australian Backlash Grows Over Ban (8:30 a.m. Hong Kong)
Critics of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to ban returning Australians from virus-ravaged India now include lawmakers from his own Liberal-National coalition government.
Fiona Martin told the Guardian that her government’s weekend announcement that Australian citizens in India who try to return home would be liable for five years in prison and fines of about $50,000 was “heavy-handed”. Fellow government lawmaker Dave Sharma said of the ban, which is in place until at least May 15: “There is little doubt this is an extreme measure and that it is causing significant hardship to the Australian Indian community.”
As of late March, there were 36,000 Australian citizens stranded overseas and seeking to come home, with about 9,000 of those in India. The ban represents a new, nativist low for the government, writes Bloomberg Opinion’s Daniel Moss.
Asian Developing Countries See Rise (7:50 a.m. Hong Kong)
Nations ranging from Laos to Thailand in Southeast Asia, and those bordering India such as Bhutan and Nepal, have been reporting significant surges in infections in the past few weeks. The increase is mainly because of more contagious virus variants, though complacency and lack of resources to contain the spread have also been cited.
“It’s very important to realize that the situation in India can happen anywhere,” Hans Kluge, the regional director at the World Health Organization for Europe, said in a briefing last week. “This is still a huge challenge.”
NYSE Says More Staff Can Return If Vaccinated (6:47 a.m. HK)
The New York Stock Exchange is opening further to vaccinated traders.
Companies whose staff are based at the exchange will be permitted to raise their headcount if 100% of employees at the site can prove they’re fully vaccinated, according to a memo from NYSE Chief Operating Officer Michael Blaugrund.
The changes go into effect May 10 and are based on an “improvement to public health conditions in the New York City area and the continuing progress of the nationwide vaccination rollout,” Blaugrund wrote in the memo.
FDA to Approve Pfizer Shot for Teens: NYT (5:20 p.m. NY)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to authorize the use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children 12 to 15 years of age as early as next week, the New York Times reported.
If the authorization is granted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel would likely meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and make recommendations for the vaccine’s use in adolescents, the newspaper said.
White House Backs Pfizer Move on Exports (2:50 p.m. NY)
The Biden administration will support Pfizer Inc.’s move to begin exporting U.S.-made doses of its coronavirus vaccine, as the White House starts to unleash U.S. production for shot-starved nations abroad.
The governments of Mexico and Canada said last week that they expected to begin receiving doses of Pfizer’s vaccine from the U.S., the first time the company’s U.S.-made shots are known to have been delivered to any buyer other than the American government itself.
N.J. Offers Free Beer for Shots (2:20 p.m. NY)
U.S. Cases Rise at Slowest Pace of Pandemic (10:35 NY)
Confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose at the slowest pace since the pandemic began in the week ended Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The 1.07% gain was below the previous record of 1.25% set in the seven days ended March 14.
The total number of new infections increased by 344,448 last week, the lowest since the period ended Oct. 11, before the start of a surge intensified by the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. The slowdown comes even as some states, such as Oregon, are experiencing outbreaks driven by variants of the virus.
Germany’s Oktoberfest Canceled Again (10:30 a.m. NY)
Authorities in Bavaria canceled Oktoberfest again this year. Oktoberfest is “the most global party,” and waiting longer to cancel it would only have caused more economic damage, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said on Monday. The beer festival drew 6.3 million people to Munich in 2019.