Germany Infections Surge; Tokyo Extends Emergency: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Germany reported the largest rise in new Covid-19 cases in a month as the country grapples with the spread of mutations. Japan recommended extending its virus state of emergency by two weeks for the Tokyo region set to expire Sunday to prevent a fresh wave of infections as the nation prepares to host the Olympic games in July.China set a conservative economic growth target of above 6% for the year, outlining fiscal support with prudent monetary policy as a recovery takes hold. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office gave the green light for the Senate’s version of the pandemic-relief plan as debate is set to start with leaders eyeing a March 14 deadline.More than a dozen U.S. states reported increases in hospitalizations for the coronavirus, threatening to reverse a national trend that has pushed in-patient numbers to the lowest level since the fall. At the same time, governors across U.S. states, led by Texas, are loosening or abandoning social restrictions all together, counting on vaccines to usher in a return to pre-pandemic life.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 115.6 million; deaths exceed 2.5 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 279 million shots given worldwideU.S. Spotlight: Hospitalizations in New York remain highest in nationInside Pfizer’s fast, fraught and lucrative vaccine distributionVaccinated workers get more office benefits than holdoutsWhere we are in hunting for the origin of Covid-19Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.Singapore Sees Safe Reopening of Changi as Key (3:53 p.m. HK)Singapore is prioritizing safely reopening its borders this year and nailing down Changi Airport’s position as an international hub when travel recovers from the pandemic, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament on Friday.Changi handled 11.8 million passengers in 2020, down from about 60 million in the years before. Singapore Airlines, another great pride of the city-state, has suffered record losses, cut thousands of jobs and is racing through funds raised via a rights issue and other means.German Minister Upbeat on Tourism Reopening (3:42 p.m. HK)The German government’s tourism commissioner said he’s optimistic that hotels and restaurants can start to reopen from late March as long as they follow strict hygiene and distancing rules.A major increase in Covid-19 testing should allow the government to push ahead with lifting virus restrictions, though caution is still needed due to faster-spreading mutations of the disease, Thomas Bareiss, a deputy economy minister, told ARD television.Hungary Seeks to Boost Hospital Capacity (2:41 p.m. HK)Hungary’s government is looking to expand its healthcare capacity in anticipation of a surge in hospitalizations. Professionals working in private healthcare and university students may be directed to treat patients with the number of people treated in hospital projected to almost triple to 20,000 in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on state radio Friday.S. Korea Approves Pfizer Vaccine (2:31 p.m. HK)South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety approved the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine under the condition that it submits results of final clinical trials, according to a statement.Takeda Files for Japan Approval of Moderna Vaccine (2:28 p.m. HK)Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. submitted an application to Japan’s Health Ministry to seek an approval for the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine.Some 50 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine are expected to be distributed beginning in the first half of this year. Results of a phase 1/2 trial it’s conducting in Japan are expected to be available in May and will be submitted to the Japan Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency.German Cases Rise to Highest in a Month (2:24 p.m. HK)The number of new cases in Germany rose by 11,393 in the 24 hours through Friday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s the biggest increase since Feb. 5.Germany’s health authority warned in a daily situation report that “due to the occurrence of different virus variants, there is an increased risk of a renewed stronger increase in the number of cases.”Vietnam to Start Vaccinations on March 8 (1:38 p.m. HK)Vietnam will begin Covid-19 vaccinations on Monday, the news website VnExpress reported, citing Health Ministry Nguyen Thanh Long during a morning meeting of the anti-virus task force.The first shots of more than 117,600 AstraZeneca Plc doses are expected to be given to medical staff at 18 hospitals treating virus patients in 13 provinces and cities, VnExpress reported.China Seeks to Beef Up Biosecurity Labs (1:37 p.m. HK)China plans to ramp up the construction and management of biosecurity labs to prepare for future emerging diseases, while it also grapples with allegations from the U.S. that the coronavirus outbreak could have resulted from a lab leak.The country seeks to “comprehensively enhance biosecurity governance capabilities” by improving its monitoring and emergence preparedness, according to a document outlining major policy priorities through 2025Tokyo Targets 140 Daily Cases to Lift Emergency (12:26 p.m. HK)The Tokyo Metropolitan Government aims to bring daily coronavirus infections down to a 7-day average of about 140 before lifting the state of emergency in the capital, Nikkei reports, citing an unidentified person.Infections by that measure are about 269 now and the government is also aiming to lower hospitalized patients to about 1,000 from the current 1,519.Hong Kong Vaccination Rate Dips a Second Day (12:08 p.m. HK)Hong Kong has seen vaccination rates in the city decline for two straight days, in a sign the government may face difficulties keeping up the momentum of the inoculation program.The city administered vaccines to 10,300 people on Thursday, 12% lower than Wednesday’s rate, which itself was a 10% drop from the previous day. Tuesday’s total of 13,000 was the largest number of vaccinations since Hong Kong began giving shots to the public at the end of February.Auckland to Exit Lockdown on Sunday (12:07 p.m. HK)Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, will exit a seven-day lockdown this weekend after a small community outbreak of Covid-19 was contained, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.Auckland’s alert level will drop to 2 from 3 at 6 a.m. local time Sunday, allowing schools and businesses to reopen, Ardern said after a cabinet meeting Friday in Wellington. The remainder of New Zealand will move to level 1, meaning people no longer have to observe social distancing or limit the size of gatherings.Australia Downplays Italy’s Vaccine Block (12:06 p.m. HK)Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt, downplayed the impact of Italy blocking supplies of AstraZeneca vaccines even as the nation starts its rollout.The company had a “deep, broad, global supply chain,” Hunt said. Still, Italy’s move was a reflection of “arguably the most intensely competitive international environment since, perhaps, the Second World War” as nations jostle to secure vaccines, masks and ventilators, Hunt told reporters.Australia began its rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine about two weeks ago. It’s set to start domestic production of the AstraZeneca product, targeting 1 million doses a week from late March.California Extends Anti-Eviction Order (10:44 a.m. HK)Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order extending authorization for local governments to halt evictions for commercial renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through June 30, 2021, according to a statement.The order extends protections against price gouging for emergency and medical supplies amid the ongoing response to the pandemic.Taiwan to Make 120 Million Doses by Year-End (10:42 a.m. HK)National Health Research Institutes will apply to build a second plant to expand vaccine production capacity, Taipei-based Apple Daily reported, citing Health Minister Chen Shih-chung.The government expects mass production of Taiwan’s Covid vaccines to start in July, the newspaper said.U.S. Hospitalizations Threaten to Rebound (9:08 a.m. HK)More than a dozen U.S. states reported increases in hospitalizations for the coronavirus, threatening to reverse a national trend that’s pushed in-patient numbers to the lowest level since the fall.U.S. hospitals were treating 49,519 patients as of Thursday, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show. The tally fell 3.8% since March 1 after California reported 544 fewer cases and Texas recorded a decline of 391. Hospitalizations are down 62% from a peak of 131,637 in mid-January, though the pace of the reduction appears to be slowing.Michigan had 945 hospitalizations Thursday, an increase of 13% over the past three days. Cases jumped 4.9% to 2,075 in Pennsylvania. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska, Idaho and Wyoming also recorded an increase in in-patients.Covid cases make up 12% of hospital patients in New York and Georgia, the highest proportion among U.S. states.Group Calls for Independent Virus Probe (9:05 a.m. HK)A group of scientists called for an independent probe to consider all hypotheses and nail down whether the virus came from an animal amid controversy over the investigation organized by the World Health Organization and China.More than 20 signatories said in an open letter published by the Wall Street Journal that the mission isn’t independent enough as the WHO considered delaying an interim report.Indonesia Holds Phase-3 Trial for China Vaccine (8:32 a.m. HK)A trial on the Covid-19 vaccine produced by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longkema Biological Pharmaceutical will enroll as many as 4,000 participants in Bandung and Jakarta, CNN Indonesia reports.Approval for an emergency use of the vaccine is expected in September, CNN reports.Wells Fargo Offers Vaccine Time Off (7:02 a.m. HK)Wells Fargo & Co., which has the largest workforce among U.S. banks, is encouraging employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and is offering paid time off for the inoculations.The firm will offer up to eight hours paid time off for employees across the world to get vaccinated, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg. The San Francisco-based bank is expanding a testing program, offering the service free to workers at its 25 largest locations, and those who work at other facilities can request an at-home test.Tokyo Plans to Extend Emergency (6:20 a.m. HK)The Japanese government recommended to extend by two weeks its virus state of emergency for the Tokyo region set to expire Sunday, trying to maintain a declining trend in infections as it looks to host the Olympics in about four months.The move was announced early Friday by the government’s point man for virus management, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura. It came after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga strongly indicated Wednesday that he was looking to extend the nearly two-month measure, saying it was “an extremely important time for preventing infections.”Pfizer Plant Cited for Quality Issues (4:59 p.m. NY)The factory that Pfizer Inc. plans to use to boost production of its Covid-19 vaccine for the massive U.S. inoculation effort was cited by federal inspectors last year for repeated quality-control violations.Food and Drug Administration inspectors visited the McPherson, Kansas, plant at the end of 2019 into January 2020, according to an inspection report obtained by Bloomberg via a Freedom of Information request. They found the drug giant released medications for sale after failing to thoroughly review quality issues that arose in routine testing, the report shows.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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