June 20, 2021

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Singapore, India Cases Rise; Europe Outbreak Eases: Virus Update

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(Bloomberg) —

Signs emerged that the global pandemic is easing in some hot spots, as regions from Spain to New York saw a slowdown in fatalities, though some Asian countries wrestled with worsening conditions.

Singapore detected hundreds more victims among low-wage foreign workers, India recorded its largest daily spike and cases in Japan surpassed 10,000. The World Health Organization said a relaxing of social restrictions doesn’t spell the end of the epidemic.

President Donald Trump raised the prospect that China deliberately caused the Covid-19 outbreak. China pledged support for the WHO, calling criticism of the group without merit.

Key Developments

Virus Tracker: Cases top 2.4 million; deaths at 165,000Health experts challenge U.S. testing goalsTrump joins chorus saying agreement on new virus aid is closeTrump escalates culture war as virus response hits campaignSingapore has most cases in Southeast Asia

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.

Germany Grills Amazon After Complaints: Die Welt (11:08 a.m. HK)

Germany’s competition authority has asked Amazon.com Inc. to explain how it deals with supply shortages and decides which deliveries get priority during the coronavirus crisis, Die Welt newspaper reported, citing the institution’s chief.

“We are currently receiving more complaints from retailers due to the corona crisis,” the paper quoted Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt as saying. “We are continuing to monitor the company’s behavior very closely.”

Los Angeles Mayor Says Fallout Worse Than 2008 (10:52 a.m. HK)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said economic fallout from the pandemic has been far worse than the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Almost 300,000 residents are unemployed, exceeding the 13% jobless rate at the height of the great recession, Garcetti said, citing preliminary numbers. That figure will continue to rise, he said. A survey by Loyola Marymount University said half of the city’s residents have lost their jobs or have had their hours reduced as a result of the crisis.

South Korea Infections Rise by 13 (9:30 a.m. HK)

South Korea reported 13 new coronavirus cases, after marking a two-month low of only eight additional infections on Sunday. The total number of cases in South Korea is 10,674, according to the health ministry’s website. The death toll rose by two to 236.

South Korea was one of the first major countries that has seen a sharp fall in cases after being hard hit by the virus, which could help it recover more quickly than its peers. The government will keep in place its social distancing until May 5 to prevent a fresh surge.

China Reports 12 Coronavirus Cases, No Deaths (8:44 a.m. HK)

China reported 12 additional confirmed coronavirus cases and no deaths for April 19. Eight of the new cases were from abroad, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.

The country reported 49 additional asymptomatic cases. China has 990 such cases under medical observation as of April 19.

Total confirmed cases in China rose to 82,747. Its death toll remained at 4,632.

India Bans Airlifting Patients Amid Lockdown Curbs (7:32 a.m. HK)

India has banned use of air ambulances and other medical evacuations unless the treatment required is not available locally, as a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus is extended, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

India’s federal government will allow medical flights if state governments ask for them, one person said. The government is also reviewing the guidelines to see if further relaxations can be made, the person said.

U.K.’s Johnson Defends Handling of Crisis (7:29 a.m. HK)

Boris Johnson’s U.K. government issued a furious defense of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, as ministers said there was no imminent prospect of lifting the lockdown on the country.

After a report in the Financial Times criticizing the procurement of ventilators and a Sunday Times story which suggested Johnson failed to take the virus seriously in its early stages, the government published two separate rebuttals, one 2,900 words long and the other 2,100 words long.

“This article contains a series of falsehoods and errors and actively misrepresents the enormous amount of work which was going on in government,” the response to the Sunday Times began.

Pence to Discuss Test Shortages With Governors (7:25 a.m. HK)

Vice President Mike Pence will discuss shortcomings in U.S. testing for coronavirus infections with governors on Monday, President Donald Trump said.

Trump said his administration will share information with the governors ahead of the call about testing capacity in their states that might not yet be utilized. He also said he’ll use the Defense Production Act, a law that allows the government greater power over industrial production in crisis, to increase manufacturing of swabs used for testing.

Trump Says Deal ‘Close’ on Business Aid (6:30 a.m. HK)

Trump said talks between the White House and Democrats in Congress are near an agreement that would add cash to a program aimed at helping small businesses.

“I think we’re getting close to a deal,” Trump said at the White House. “Very good negotiations are going on right now.” The president suggested an announcement could come Monday.

Democratic leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are talking about a plan to add funds for a loan program aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat, and provide funds for hospitals.

California Cases Increase (6:20 a.m. HK)

California reported 94 new deaths Sunday, marking an increase after Governor Gavin Newsom said the state may not be close to loosening measures imposed to curb the spread.

The state also added 1,370 cases. The daily numbers were derived by subtracting Saturday’s data from those provided Sunday by the state. Newsom reported 87 new deaths on Saturday, saying the state isn’t “out of the woods” despite some improving signs.

G-20 Finds ‘Systemic Weaknesses’ (5:20 p.m. NY)

Health ministers from the Group of 20 leading economies said Covid-19 “has highlighted systemic weaknesses” in health readiness worldwide. The officials commented in a communique issued from Riyadh after a teleconference hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Ministers “addressed the need to improve the effectiveness of global health systems by sharing knowledge and closing the gap in response capabilities and readiness,” they said.

Not mentioned was the World Health Organization, less than a week after Trump said he’s temporarily halting U.S funding for the Geneva-based agency.

Total U.S. Deaths Double From Week Earlier (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases increased 5.6% from Saturday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That’s higher than the average daily increase of 4.8% over the past week.

New York had the largest number of confirmed cases after a 3% increase from the previous day. North Dakota experienced a 20% increase. Eight states had fewer than 1,000 cases.

But viewed over a week, total U.S. deaths rose to 41,379, which is more than double the total a week ago, according to the data.

WHO Says Epidemic Won’t End as Steps Ease (3 p.m. NY)

Social restrictions imposed to curb the virus must be eased in phases and don’t spell the end of the epidemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“It’s just the beginning of the next phase,” he said at a virtual meeting of G-20 health ministers. WHO will publish its second response plan with an estimate of resources required for the next phase.

New Deaths, Cases Decline in N.Y. (2:30 p.m.)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York appeared to be “on the other side” of the outbreak. The state reported 507 new deaths, the lowest daily toll since April 6. Total new cases and hospitalizations also dropped.

“If this trend holds, we are past the high point,” Cuomo said. “Right now we are on a descent.” But he cautioned “we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”

The governor also said that New York will begin an aggressive program to test for antibodies.

Read the full story.

Wynn Pushes for Nevada Opening (2:20 p.m. NY)

Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Matt Maddox is calling for parts of Nevada’s economy to start reopening in early May, followed by the Las Vegas Strip in the middle or later part of the month.

Maddox, in an opinion piece published by the Nevada Independent, outlined safeguards such as reduced hotel occupancy, physical distancing measures, temperature checks and no large gatherings. He also proposed keeping hospitalizations and deaths relative to the population below the U.S. average.

France Sets Plan to Lift Limits (1 p.m. NY)

France will unveil a plan within two weeks to begin lifting restrictions on travel and business that aimed to curb the coronavirus, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said without giving specifics.

After May 11, when the lockdown starts to lift, “our lives won’t be exactly the same as before,” Philippe warned in a televised press conference. “Not right away, and probably not before long.”

The lockdown, in place since March 17, could lead to a 10% contraction this year in Europe’s third-biggest economy, Philippe said.

France, Italy See Deaths Rise at Slower Pace (12:15 p.m. NY)

Deaths in France rose by 395 to 19,718, Director General for Health Jerome Salomon said, the slowest pace of increase since March 29. The number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus fell for a fifth day, while patients in intensive care dropped for an 11th day.

Italy reported 3,047 new cases of the disease, the lowest in four days, according to the civil protection agency. Hospitalized patients rose for the first time in six days.

Italy registered 433 deaths compared with 482 the day before. That brings the total number of fatalities to 23,660, the most in Europe.

Birx Says Community Data Key (11:50 a.m. NY)

Community-level data will be key to showing Americans the progress made to reopen, Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House task force, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Birx touted the Florida Department of Health website, which shows data by zip code.

“We have to really get them information in a much more granular way than a national way or even a state way,” she said. “It needs to be down to the communities so the communities can see what happens in their communities and make decisions with the local and health officials and the state officials.”

A majority of Americans in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll are concerned the U.S. will lift restrictions too quickly. Almost 60% want to wait longer, with about 30% saying the economic impact outweighed health concerns. The survey of 900 registered voters also revealed more anxiety over the virus, the WSJ reported.

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