South Korea Cases Rise; Hong Kong Has Reinfection: Virus Update

pink and white flower in macro shot

(Bloomberg) — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez rejected calls for a new national lockdown as the nation reemerges as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe. German infections increased at a pace close to a four-month high.


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Finnair Oyj and Qantas Airways Ltd. said they would eliminate thousands of jobs, while Wizz Air Holdings Plc is seeking to expand in London and grab market share from rivals. In Asia, Hong Kong will ease some social-distancing rules after new cases fell. Infections in Seoul may have peaked over the past weekend, health officials said.

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration walked back his claim that an experimental therapy had provided a dramatic benefit to Covid-19 patients. President Donald Trump put his response to coronavirus center stage on the first night of the Republican National Convention.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 23.6 million; deaths surpass 813,000Covid’s lingering malaise adds to $35 trillion economic costVanishing jobs, empty offices plague Britain’s retailersBig pharma needs vaccine to redeem reeling reputationBack to school could be dangerous for someUnderstanding the virus and its unanswered questionsVaccine Tracker: where we are in the race for protection

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

Spain’s Prime Minister Rebuffs National Lockdown (7:41 a.m. NY)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez spurned pressure to instigate another national lockdown, placing the onus on regional authorities to come up with a response as infections surge.

“The evolution is not good, it is worrying especially in some regions and we need to tackle it,” Sanchez said Tuesday at a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Madrid. The central government will provide whatever support the regions need and they will be authorized to declare a state of emergency if necessary, he said.

U.K. Business Secretary Rejects Calls to Extend Virus Support (7:23 a.m. NY)

U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma dismissed calls to extend coronavirus support programs, saying the government is putting its focus on reopening the economy in a “cautious and phased manner.”

“We need to get businesses back up and running,” Sharma told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday. He reiterated the government’s guidance that employees who can return to their workplaces should now do so.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has come under intense pressure to extend the government’s furlough program, which is helping to pay the wages of almost 10 million U.K. jobs. Sunak has described that support as “not sustainable” — even as economists have warned that removing it early could trigger a wave of mass unemployment.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Stuck on Furlough

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Stuck on Furlough

Iran Fatalities Slow (6:02 a.m. NY)

The number of daily coronavirus-linked deaths in Iran slowed to 125 on Tuesday, down from 133 a day earlier, according to the country’s health ministry. Total fatalities have reached 20,901 and the number of infections rose by 2,213 to 363,363.

Romania Deaths Hit Daily Record (6:00 a.m. NY)

Romania reported 58 Covid-19-related deaths in the past 24 hours, the biggest number of daily fatalities since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total number to 3,367.

The number of new cases has slowed in the past four days, but remained at over 1,000. The total number of infections now at almost 60,400, according to latest government data.

AirAsia Posts Record Quarterly Loss (5:56 p.m. HK)

AirAsia Group Bhd. posted its biggest quarterly loss on record as restrictions imposed by governments decimated travel.

Southeast Asia’s second-biggest budget carrier by market value reported a net loss of 992.9 million ringgit ($238 million) in the three months ended June 30 versus net income of 17.3 million ringgit a year ago, according to an exchange filing Tuesday. Sales plunged 96%.

Reinfection Reported in Belgium (5:44 p.m. HK)

A patient in Belgium has been reinfected with coronavirus, three months after having caught the illness a first time, virologist Marc Van Ranst told VTM Nieuws.

The report comes after a man in Hong Kong caught the coronavirus after recovering from an initial bout in April, which scientists say was the first case showing reinfection can happen within a few months.

Gaza Sets Curfew as Virus Cases Seen Outside Quarantine Sites (5:27 p.m. HK)

Gaza’s Hamas-controlled government imposed a 48-hour curfew on all districts, after the first coronavirus cases were confirmed outside dedicated quarantine facilities for returning travelers.

Four new cases though were discovered in the community, all in one family. Until now, all 106 confirmed infections in the coastal strip had been found inside quarantine sites where travelers arriving through border-crossings from Egypt and Israel are required to remain for 21 days.

Finnair, Qantas Cut Jobs (5:03 p.m. HK)

Finnair said it will cut an estimated 1,000 jobs as the impact of the pandemic on air travel is expected to be longer-term that first expected. The airline’s current plan assumes that traffic will recover within two to three years to the 2019 level.

“Our revenue has decreased significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and some of the main factors driving that decline appear to be persisting longer than initially expected,” Chief Executive Officer Topi Manner said in a statement.

Earlier, Qantas Airways Ltd. said it plans to cut as many as 2,500 more jobs by offloading ground operations like baggage handling and aircraft cleaning as the cost of the pandemic mounts.

England & Wales Virus Deaths Fall to 21 Week-Low (4:48 p.m. HK)

Deaths in England and Wales fell to a 21 week-low, with 139 fatalities linked to the coronavirus in the week ended Aug. 14, representing 1.5% of total fatalities, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

Wizz Air Wants to Expand London Base as Rivals Retreat (4:36 p.m. HK)

Wizz Air wants to expand its new base at London’s Gatwick airport from just one plane to 20 within a year and grab market share as the pandemic pushes other carriers to trim their fleets.

While the hub will open with a lone Airbus SE A321 jet in October, Budapest-based Wizz sees scope to quickly expand it to employ 800 people, an operation that would support a further 4,000 jobs, Chief Executive Officer Jozsef Varadi said in an interview.

Germany Closes In on Agreement to Extend Aid (3:43 p.m. HK)

Germany is likely to extend a state wage-support program, Carsten Schneider, a caucus manager for the Social Democratic Party, said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio.

Officials from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition — meeting later on Tuesday in Berlin — have “always taken the sensible path in the end on labor-market and social policy,” he said. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz last week proposed extending the job-preserving subsidies to 24 months, saying the measure would cost the government an extra 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion).

Seoul Virus Cases May Have Peaked Over Weekend (3:06 p.m. HK)

Infections in South Korea’s capital and neighboring areas may have peaked over the past weekend, Joo Young-su at Korea’s National Medical Center and Covid-19 joint response team, said in briefing on Tuesday.

South Korea’s daily cases stayed under 300 for second day although further monitoring is needed to assess whether strengthened social distancing rules have started to have an effect, according to Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official.

Norway’s Economy Had Record Contraction (2:57 p.m. HK)

Norway’s economy suffered its deepest contraction on record in the second quarter, after the full effect of the Covid-19 lockdown made itself felt.

Mainland GDP, which adjusts for Norway’s offshore industry, shrank 6.3% from the previous quarter, Statistics Norway said on Tuesday. The economy grew 3.7 in June from May, signaling the rebound is under way, though output was only halfway back from the trough, the agency said.

AstraZeneca Starts Phase 1 Trial for Covid Monoclonal Antibody (2:49 a.m. HK)

AstraZeneca said first participants have been dosed in a phase 1 trial of AZD7442, according to a statement. The trial will include up to 48 healthy participants in the U.K., aged 18 to 55 years. The data readout is expected later this year.

Germany’s New Infections Close to Four-Month High (1:47 p.m. HK)

Germany’s new coronavirus cases increased at a pace close to Saturday’s four-month high, while the infection rate fell below a key threshold of 1.0. There were 1,628 new infections in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, taking the total to 236,122. One fatality was reported, lifting the overall number of deaths to 9,276.

Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder warned Tuesday that Germany risks a return to the peak levels of daily new cases close to 7,000 seen at the end of March and beginning of April. He ruled out easing restrictions on movement and social gatherings.

Hong Kong to Allow Longer Dining-In, Reopen Some Venues (1:43 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong will allow dining-in until 9 p.m., and cinemas, beauty parlors and outdoors sports venues to reopen starting Friday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan says at briefing.

The government will also allow removal of masks in country parks and during outdoor exercise. Expiry date of current social distancing measures will be extended to Aug. 27

a group of people walking down a street in front of a store: Hong Kong Government Bans Dining-in At Restaurants As Coronavirus Outbreak Shows No Sign of Abating

© Bloomberg
Hong Kong Government Bans Dining-in At Restaurants As Coronavirus Outbreak Shows No Sign of Abating

Customers wearing protective masks wait outside a restaurant to collect their takeout meals during lunch hour in Central district in Hong Kong on July 29.

Indian Tech Group Withdraws From Vaccine Race (12:58 p.m. HK)

A group of Indian Institute of Technology alumni and academics withdrew from the vaccine development race. It’s neither viable nor safe to do such research at a hectic pace and with inadequate data, the IIT Alumni Council said in an Aug. 24 statement.

Only 2% of Covid-19 patients need critical care and they can most likely be treated with antibody-based biologics, Daljit Singh, an IIT alumnus and former president at Fortis Healthcare, said in the statement. A vaccine, on the other hand, will need to protect nearly the entire population in order to be effective.

FDA Head Walks Back Claim of Dramatic Benefit From Covid Therapy (10:35 a.m. HK)

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration walked back his claim that an experimental therapy had provided a dramatic benefit to Covid-19 patients, a rare reversal for an agency that has prided itself on rock-solid science and public trust.

On Sunday night at a press conference with President Donald Trump, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said that blood plasma from Covid-19 survivors given to new patients could save huge numbers of lives.

“I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified,” Hahn said in a tweet.

Singapore Tackles Resurgence in Some Dorms (9:41 a.m. HK)

Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority ordered a stop to activities at some construction work sites after a new Covid-19 cluster was found at the country’s largest foreign worker dormitory, raising concerns of a resurgence in virus infections.

A total of 58 cases were identified in the Sungei Tengah Lodge, which houses approximately 16,000 people. All individuals were asymptomatic and were detected through various screening procedures, according to a joint statement from the BCA, Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Health. Another 4,800 workers from the same dormitory have been placed on stay-home notices as a precaution.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Concern In Singapore As The Coronavirus continues To Spread

© Photographer: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images AsiaPac
Concern In Singapore As The Coronavirus continues To Spread

Police officers stand guard at Sungei Tengah Lodge foreign worker dormitory on April 9.

Philippine Lawmakers Approve $3.4 Billion Relief Bill (9:22 a.m. HK)

The Philippines’ House of Representatives on Monday approved the final version of a 165.5 billion-peso ($3.4 billion) pandemic relief bill that would provide subsidies to the unemployed, assistance to businesses and loan repayment extension to borrowers.

The measure, now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature after it was approved by the Senate earlier, will also provide funds to hire more emergency health workers and at least 50,000 contact tracers as the country battles Southeast Asia’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

Blood Cancer Patients at Risk of Severe Covid Symptoms (6:30 a.m. HK)

Cancer patients are at high risk of severe disease if they contract Covid-19, and those with blood diseases are in the most danger, researchers said.

People with leukemia and other blood cancers who contract the coronavirus face as much as 57% higher odds of severe disease compared to those with breast cancer, according to a study published Monday in The Lancet Oncology journal.

(A previous version of the story corrected the name of the Republican National Convention.)

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