German Daily Cases Surge; Fauci Says Wear a Mask: Virus Update

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Germany and France will clamp down on movement for at least a month — coming close to last spring’s stringent lockdowns — with Germany’s daily caseload surpassing 20,000 for the first time amid a resurgence of Covid-19 across Europe.

India’s tally of virus cases reached 8 million, while Taiwan marked its 200th straight day without local transmission. The S&P 500 Index plunged the most in four months Wednesday as tougher restrictions and rising infections added to concerns about the pandemic’s economic toll.

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said a vaccine won’t be available until at least January and mask use is critical to avoid crippling shutdowns. A late-stage trial of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s antibody cocktail therapy showed the treatment significantly reduces virus levels and the need for further medical care.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases approach 44.5 million; deaths exceed 1.17 millionU.S. Hot Spots: Northeast drives record U.S. testingTaiwan goes 200 days without a local coronavirus caseConcerns about virus on food imports are real, expert saysCases are spiking just when they could hurt Trump mostCan you get Covid twice? What reinfection cases mean: QuickTakeVaccine Tracker: Vaccine trials restart, providing hope

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.

Belgium Sees Record Number of Virus Hospitalizations (2:56 p.m. HK)

With 5,924 Covid-19 patients currently in hospital, Belgium has surpassed its previous peak from April 6. A record 743 people were admitted to hospital Wednesday, following a revised 690 on Tuesday.

There are now 993 patients in intensive care, but that’s more than 20% below the peak of the first wave. Belgium also reported more than 100 deaths for a second straight day.

Poland Can’t Rule Out More Restrictions: Finance Minister (2:44 p.m. HK)

Finance Minister Tadeusz Koscinski told public Radio 1 he hopes Poland won’t introduce a full lockdown from Monday, but Friday’s data on fresh cases will be key.

The government was “carefully observing” the situation but as of Wednesday night hadn’t taken a decision on a lockdown, he said. Local lockdowns, or closing of specific areas, will probably be “unavoidable,” Koscinski said, adding that he couldn’t rule out further “short-term” restrictions in some industries.

Global Debt Crisis Unlikely in Next Few Years: S&P (2:29 p.m. HK)

A global debt crisis is unlikely in the next year or two — assuming economies and private-sector demand recover — even as the world hurtles toward record debt-to-GDP levels, S&P Global Ratings said in a report.

The rebound in economies is predicated on the wide availability of a Covid-19 vaccine by mid-2021, and continued accommodative monetary policies, according to S&P.

Daily Cases in Germany Rise to New Record (2:14 p.m. HK)

Germany’s daily coronavirus cases increased by more than 20,000 for the first time since the start of the outbreak, a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’ll impose the toughest restrictions since a national lockdown in the spring.

Europe’s biggest economy registered 23,553 new infections in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, bringing the total to 486,972, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of fatalities rose by 160, the most since early May, to 10,281.

Scientists warn of virus mutation sweeping Europe: FT (2:10 p.m. HK)

An international team of scientists tracking the virus’s genetic mutations says a variant that originated in Spanish farm workers has spread through much of Europe since the summer, accounting for a majority of new Covid-19 cases in several countries — including more than 80 percent in the U.K., the Financial Times reported.

In a research paper to be published Thursday, the team describes the extraordinary spread of the “20A.EU1” variant. Their work suggests people returning from holiday in Spain played a key role in transmitting the virus across Europe, raising questions about whether the current wave could have been reduced by improved screening at airports and other transport hubs.

Scientific teams in Switzerland and Spain are rushing to examine the behavior of the variant to establish whether it’s more deadly or infectious than other strains.

Japan PM Says Ready to Spend More to Counter Virus (2:01 p.m. HK)

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told parliament he would monitor the domestic and international situation and take steps on the economy as needed, including via increased spending. His comments come as Tokyo reported 221 new Covid-19 cases in the capital.

The first and second extra budgets that were passed to fight Covid will be properly carried out, said Suga, who also raised the possibility of cutting real-estate taxes.

U.K. Pressured on Lockdown With Virus at ‘Critical Stage’ (1:20 p.m. HK)

The U.K.’s policy response to coronavirus isn’t succeeding in controlling the disease’s spread, scientists warned, adding pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce another national lockdown.

Infections are doubling every nine days and an estimated 960,000 people are carrying the virus in England on any given day, according to findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, which is conducting one of the country’s largest studies of the disease. The virus’s reproduction rate has risen to 1.6, compared to 1.2 when figures were last published Oct. 9.

Modeling by the government’s emergency scientific committee suggests all of England is likely to require the tightest restrictions by mid-December. Meanwhile, the government has asked local health officials to deploy 30-minute saliva kits for coronavirus testing to accelerate Johnson’s mass screening plan, the Guardian reported.

Virus Turns Central Banks Into Gold Sellers (1:15 p.m. HK)

Central banks became gold sellers for the first time in a decade as some producing nations exploited near-record prices to soften the blow from the pandemic.

Net sales totaled 12.1 tons of bullion in the third quarter, compared with purchases of 141.9 tons a year earlier, according to a report by the World Gold Council. Selling was driven by Uzbekistan and Turkey, while Russia’s central bank also posted its first quarterly sale in 13 years.

Video: Health officials discuss state’s draft vaccine plan amid second surge of COVID-19 cases (WSHM)

Health officials discuss state’s draft vaccine plan amid second surge of COVID-19 cases

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Shionogi Plans Japan Trials for Covid Vaccine: Report (1:12 p.m. HK)

Shionogi & Co. plans to carry out clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine by year-end in a move that could make it the first Japanese company to produce the doses domestically, Reuters reported.

The plan is to put a vaccine candidate into Phase 1 clinical trials in December, shifting to Phase 2 by January and applying for tentative government approval, Chief Executive Officer Isao Teshirogi said. A Phase 3 trial is likely to be done outside Japan due to the relatively small number of local cases.

Thailand Revises Economic Forecast Upward (12:48 p.m. HK)

Thailand’s economy will shrink this year by less than previously estimated as government support measures alleviate the impact of the pandemic, according to the Finance Ministry.

The economy will contract 7.7% in 2020, deputy spokesman Pornchai Thiraveja said, down from the 8.5% contraction projected in July. The revised forecast — which still puts Thailand’s economy on track for its worst performance ever — doesn’t take into account the impact of ongoing anti-government protests, Pornchai said.

India Passes 8 Million Mark With 50,000 New Cases (11:59 a.m. HK)

India passed 8 million total Covid-19 cases after counting an additional 49,881 infections in the past 24 hours, according to government data. The country has suffered the largest outbreak in the world after the U.S., and its death toll of 120,527 trails only the U.S. and Brazil.

Fauci: Wear a Mask, No Vaccine Before January (10:50 a.m. HK)

The United States’ top infectious-disease doctor pleaded with Americans to set politics aside and wear face masks to stop the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and colleagues outlined how face coverings can help prevent Covid-19. In a commentary Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Fauci said overcoming politically driven biases around mask use is critical for avoiding economically crippling shutdowns, but stopped short of calling for a mask mandate.

He also said vaccines against Covid-19 won’t be available in the U.S. until January at the earliest.

Taiwan Reaches 200 Days Without a Local Virus Case (10:36 a.m. HK)

Taiwan on Thursday marked 200 days since its last locally transmitted case April 12. Overall, the island of 23 million people has had 550 confirmed cases, with only seven deaths.

Experts say closing borders early and tightly regulating travel have gone a long way toward fighting the virus. Other factors include rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing.

Tests Reveal Scope of Outbreak in Mexican Senate (10:14 a.m. HK)

Mexico’s Senate has tested over 800 legislators and staffers after a lawmaker died of the coronavirus, and the results aren’t very heartening: Seven out of 128 senators, and 19 aides, have Covid-19 — yet in-person sessions are continuing as congress races to approve the 2021 budget before a mid-November deadline.

Senator Joel Molina of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena party died Saturday after catching the virus. New rules this week require that senators produce negative test results to enter the voting chamber, and some sessions may be delayed as a result.

The country reported 5,595 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 906,863 infections and 90,309 deaths. Mexico remains one of the countries with the least virus testing per capita and ranks fourth in the world in deaths.

Seoul Spooks Halloween Partiers With Covid Warning (9:30 a.m. HK)

Several clubs in popular Seoul nightlife districts have banded together to close on Halloween weekend in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. They’ve also launched a poster campaign to remind people to avoid large crowds, showing a ghost with the words, “If you try to enjoy Halloween, you could become a real ghost.”

Seoul’s government has pushed to close clubs, which typically draw large crowds over Halloween, with partygoers spilling out into the street. That comes as South Korea reported 125 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the largest gain in six days.

Food Imports Seen as Vector for Covid Spread (8:53 a.m. HK)

There’s a real risk of cross-border coronavirus transmission through the $1.5 trillion global agri-food market, according to a scientist who has studied the phenomenon. It’s possible that contaminated food imports can transfer the virus to workers as well as the environment, said Dale Fisher, an infectious diseases physician at Singapore’s National University Hospital.

“It’s hitching a ride on the food, infecting the first person that opens the box,” said Fisher, who also chairs the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. “It’s not to be confused with supermarket shelves getting infected. It’s really at the marketplace, before there’s been a lot of dilution.”

Singapore Eases Controls on Migrant Workers (7:37 a.m. HK)

Singapore will allow some migrant workers — who have largely been confined to dormitories — to visit recreation centers as the city-state gradually relaxes measures against Covid-19.

More than 300,000 foreign workers have been confined to their dormitories since April, allowed out in recent months only for work and essential errands. That’s even as life has been slowly returning to normal for local Singaporeans and white-collar expatriates.

Boeing to Cut 7,000 More Jobs Amid Pandemic Hit (7:16 a.m. HK)

Boeing Co. is almost doubling its planned job cuts as the coronavirus pandemic and prolonged grounding of the 737 Max jet dim prospects for financial recovery. Executives abandoned a forecast that the company would stop burning cash next year and said they would eliminate an additional 7,000 jobs. That will bring the expected loss from layoffs, retirements and attrition to 30,000 people — or 19% of the pre-pandemic workforce — by the end of 2021.



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© Photographer: David Ryder/Getty Images
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Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are parked near Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington in 2019.

Photographer: David Ryder/Getty Images

“Covid-19’s continued impacts have had a more prolonged and deeper impact on our industry, and we’ll have to further reduce our workforce,” Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun told analysts after the company reported earnings.

Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel May Start Next Month: BT (6:30 a.m. HK)

A planned air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong may begin in November, the Business Times reports, citing comments from Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Ong said discussions have been going well and that he shared the “assessment” of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam about the arrangement, according to the report.

Regeneron Treatment Reduces Viral Load (5:40 p.m. NY)

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said data from a late-stage clinical trial suggest that its antibody cocktail therapy for Covid-19 significantly reduces virus levels and the need for further medical care.

Patients getting the therapy were 57% less likely to need medical care within a month of treatment, with 2.8% of those given the antibody and 6.5% of those on placebo seeing a health-care worker within 29 days.

“We continue to see the strongest effects in patients who are most at risk for poor outcomes due to high viral load,” said Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoloulos.

Gilead’s Remdesivir Sales Beat Estimates (4:30 p.m. NY)

Gilead Sciences Inc. reported $873 million in third-quarter sales of its coronavirus therapy Veklury, above analysts’ expectations, as the company transitions to commercial sales for the medicine. It’s the first period of sales for the antiviral, better known by its generic name remdesivir, after Gilead completed a donation of the first 1.5 million doses of the drug in July.

N.Y. Bosses Pare Return-to-Work Expectations (4:28 p.m. NY)

New York’s technology and finance bosses are tempering their expectations for bringing people back to work.

Only 15% of office workers are projected to return by the end of this year, according to the Partnership for New York City, which surveyed major employers in Manhattan over the past two weeks. That’s down from an August estimate of 26%.

France Imposes Month-Long Curbs (3:15 p.m. NY)

French President Emmanuel Macron imposed strict new curbs for the next month, closing bars, restaurants, non-essential retailers and other activities starting Friday.

“The virus is circulating in France at a speed that even the most pessimistic forecast didn’t foresee,” Macron said in an address televised nationally on Wednesday evening. “The measures we’ve taken have turned out to be insufficient to counter a wave that’s affecting all Europe.”

European Countries Report Record Caseloads (1:50 p.m. NY)

Spain saw a record 9,303 new coronavirus cases Wednesday and the number of deaths in the past week rose to 761, the health ministry said on its website.

Elsewhere in Europe:

Greece reported 1,547 new cases, a second consecutive daily record. The country introduced new measures Saturday, including a night-time curfew, in high risk areas such as the capital Athens and the second-largest city, ThessalonikiNew cases in Italy jumped 14% to a record 24,991 as hospitalizations climbed to the highest since early May. The government last week limited opening hours for bars and restaurants and shut entertainment and gambling venues, gyms and swimming poolsPortugal reported a record 3,960 new cases Wednesday. The government will hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting Saturday to define measures to control the pandemic. It has already announced limits on travel between municipalities from Oct. 30-Nov. 3Switzerland took a raft of measures to curtail surging coronavirus infections, shuttering nightclubs, ordering bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. and limiting public events to 50 people. Contact sports like soccer won’t be allowed at an amateur level, universities will conduct classes online and mask-wearing outdoors will be required in urban areas.


a person sitting on a bench in front of a building: Europe Steps Closer to Lockdown-Level Curbs in Italy


© Bloomberg
Europe Steps Closer to Lockdown-Level Curbs in Italy

A worker rolls up the outside carpet of a cafe before closing for curfew in Milan in October.

Photographer: Francesca Volpi/Bloomberg

N.Y. Cases Top 500,000 (12:01 p.m. NY)

New York coronavirus cases topped 500,000, while hospitalizations in neighboring New Jersey exceeded 1,000 for the first time since July.

The two states, the early focus of the U.S. outbreak months ago, are seeing a resurgence in recent weeks. New York reported a 3.8% positive testing rate in hot spot areas, and 1.3% excluding them. Hospitalizations there have exceeded 1,000 for several days in a row.

In New Jersey, 80 Covid patients are on ventilators, and 194 are in intensive care. The state has 1,010 hospitalized, up from less than 500 at the beginning of the month.

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