German Infections Drop; France to Lengthen Job Aid: Virus Update

Eufemia Didonato

(Bloomberg) — Germany’s coronavirus infection rate fell to the lowest in almost three weeks, easing concerns that local outbreaks would prompt a resurgence of the pandemic. The outbreak worsened across the U.S. heartland, though, as new infections are nearing a peak set in April. A new modeling predicts the virus […]

(Bloomberg) — Germany’s coronavirus infection rate fell to the lowest in almost three weeks, easing concerns that local outbreaks would prompt a resurgence of the pandemic.

The outbreak worsened across the U.S. heartland, though, as new infections are nearing a peak set in April. A new modeling predicts the virus will kill 180,000 Americans by October.

Qantas Airways Ltd. plans to raise as much as $1.3 billion and cut at least 6,000 jobs as international travel shows no sign of recovering. French President Emmanuel Macron is planning a new furlough program that could see the state covering a large share of lost incomes for as long as two years.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases exceed 9.4 million; deaths pass 482,000Europe is approaching a disastrous economic cliff edgeFear of vial shortage for Covid vaccines prompts flurry of dealsInvestors are favoring firms that let people work from homeCanada is first to lose Fitch AAA status because of virusModi wants to make India more self-reliant as crisis bitesDesperate parents weigh pros and cons of summer camps

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.

Hong Kong Plans to Increase Daily Virus Tests to 7,000, Lam Says (6:09 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong has set a short-term target of 7,000 daily coronavirus tests, an increase from an average of 4,000 tests per day in the first half of June, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in an article posted online Thursday.

Europe Outbreak in Check But Virus Apps Struggle for Traction (6:06 a.m. NY)

Europe’s efforts to control the coronavirus have largely held up, but a key tool aimed at keeping the pandemic in check has struggled to gain traction. Apps to help authorities track contact between people have been slow to take off, with skeptical users balking at downloading the software as daily life returns to normal. Switzerland is the latest country to try its hand, with a new program going live Thursday.

Fear of Vial Shortage for Covid Vaccines Prompts Flurry of Deals (5 p.m. HK)

Fears that a shortage of glass vials could hinder efforts to quickly deploy a Covid-19 vaccine are prompting a flurry of deals to clinch the in-demand containers. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a global organization funding vaccine development, is the latest to announce such a pact, paying 19.7 million euros, or $22.2 million, to Stevanato Group, an Italian manufacturer of pharmaceutical containers, for 100 million glass vials that can hold up to 2 billion vaccine doses.

Thailand Set to Extend State of Emergency (4:51 p.m. HK)

Thailand is set to extend its state of emergency for a third time to help manage the reopening of schools as well as high-risk businesses, such as nightclubs, following a decline in coronavirus infections.

Large Numbers of Austrian Ski Resort Residents Have Antibodies (4:20 p.m. HK)

A study found that 42% of residents in the Austrian ski resort Ischgl, whose infamous apres-ski bars helped spread the coronavirus from Germany to Iceland and beyond, have antibodies to the novel coronavirus, said Dorothee von Laer, a virology professor at Innsbruck University.

That’s the highest distribution of antibodies in a defined region ever recorded in a published scientific study, said Von Laer. The virus probably started spreading in the resort, sometimes dubbed “Ibiza of the Alps” due to its sprawling party and bar scene, in the second half of February, she said.

Swedish Scientist Who Doubted Face Masks Reconsider Their Use (4:13 p.m. HK)

The scientist behind Sweden’s controversial Covid-19 strategy said he’s willing to reconsider using face masks, after previously advising against them. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist and the architect of its hands-off response to the coronavirus pandemic, said there are situations in which it might be advisable for people to cover their mouths and noses even though masks “definitely won’t become an optimal solution in any way.”

WHO Urges Caution Over Europe Recovery (4:00 p.m. HK)

A resurgence in cases in 11 European countries, if left unchecked, could overwhelm health services, said Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director. The weekly number of cases are increasing again, with about 20,000 new confirmations daily, he said.

Royal Mail Slashes Jobs After Virus Hit Demand (3:20 p.m. HK)

Royal Mail Plc said it will cut around 2,000 management posts in a bid to streamline the business after the coronavirus outbreak accelerated a decline in letter volumes.

Danish Consumers Go on Spending Spree (3:09 p.m. HK)

Consumers in Denmark went on a spending spree last month, after the country ended its lockdown and allowed shops to reopen. Retail sales soared 9.4% in May from April, after months of stagnation punctuated by declines, Statistics Denmark said on Thursday.

Top Lufthansa Investor Backs $10 Billion Rescue (2:54 p.m. HK)

Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s biggest stockholder said he’d vote in favor of a 9 billion-euro ($10 billion) government bailout, giving the rescue plan a shot of momentum on the eve of a crucial vote.

Billionaire Heinz Hermann Thiele told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he’d support the package at Thursday’s special shareholder meeting, ending days of frenzied speculation about his intentions.

Antibody Tests Not Ready for U.K. Roll-Out (2:44 p.m. HK)

Covid-19 antibody tests still need better assessment before the U.K. government rolls them out in a massive effort for doctors and patients, health experts warned.

The tests aren’t accurate enough to reliably show whether people have been exposed to the coronavirus and can’t tell whether they’re immune, 14 professors and scientists said a letter published in the BMJ medical journal. The U.K.’s National Health Service wants to process thousands of samples a day within a 24-hour period.

Vietnam in No Rush to Open Its Doors (2:25 p.m. HK)

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc says the country will not rush to open its borders to foreigners as it strives to prevent a second wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a post on the government’s website.

Phuc said the country is not going to open for tourists yet and the travel of foreign experts, high-level workers and investors into Vietnam will be closely monitored, according to the post. Allowing Vietnamese people to work abroad will also be watched closely.

UAE Ends Curfew, Allows Vaccine Tests (2:21 p.m. HK)

The United Arab Emirates lifted a curfew put in place three months ago to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Citizens and residents will now be able to move freely after the completion of its sanitation drive, state-run WAM reported. The restrictions had been gradually eased over the past months, but a 10 pm to 6 am lockdown had remained in place in most places.

The UAE aims to have a coronavirus vaccines available “by end of 2020 or earlier 2021,” after it allowed a Chinese state-owned vaccine developer to test in the country, WAM said.

Royal Mail Slashes Management Posts as Letter Demand Hit (2:20 p.m. HK)

Royal Mail Plc said it will cut around 2,000 management posts in a bit to streamline the business after the coronavirus outbreak accelerated a decline in letter volumes.

Royal Mail aims to cut labor costs by 130 million pounds ($161 million) this year and shave 300 million pounds off capital spending on the next two years, the 500-year-old U.K. postal service said in a statement Thursday.

German Infection Rate at Lowest in 3 Weeks (2:07 p.m. HK)

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate fell to the lowest in almost three weeks, while the number of new cases remained well below the level at the height of the outbreak.

The reproduction factor — or R value — dropped to 0.72 on Wednesday, from 2.02 the day before, according to the latest estimate by the country’s health body, the Robert Koch Institute. A number below 1.0 is seen as preventing exponential growth in the number of cases and a second wave of infections.

There were 391 new infections in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, down from 712 the previous day and bringing the total to 192,871, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Fatalities increased by 14 to 8,928.

Moderna Vaccine Efficacy Will Be Known in Fall (2 p.m. HK)

The efficacy of Moderna’s vaccine against the novel coronavirus will be known in the fall, with a possible regulatory approval at the end of the year or in early 2021, CEO Stephane Bancel said in an interview on France 2 television.

Phase 3 of the trial will begin in July on 30,000 patients, with a result in the fall, Bancel said. He remains confident that a vaccine will be developed against the virus, with an 80% to 90% chance it will be ready next year.

WWE Star Tests Positive for Covid-19 (1:40 p.m. HK)

WWE announcer Renee Young said she has tested positive for Covid-19 as cases in the U.S. continue to rise.

The development comes as World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., the sports entertainment company that has continued to produce pro wrestling TV shows throughout the coronavirus pandemic at a Florida location, grapples with rising positive cases both among its employees and talent, as well as in the state where it set up production.

Senegal President in Quarantine (1:26 p.m. HK)

Senegalese President Macky Sall will be self-isolating for the next two weeks after coming into contact with a person who tested Covid-19 positive, the presidency said.

Sall, 58, has tested negative for the disease, according to a statement on Twitter on Thursday. The West African nation has had 6,129 confirmed coronavirus cases and 93 deaths.

Hong Kong Reports Seventh Virus Death (1:11 p.m. HK)

A 55-year-old male coronavirus patient who returned from the Philippines died on Thursday morning, according to a statement from the Hong Kong government.

The patient had suffered a stroke in the Philippines and was admitted to a hospital there in May before being flown back to Hong Kong via an air ambulance. He tested positive for Covid-19 and his condition deteriorated, the government said.

In a separate statement on Thursday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that of the 114 confirmed cases between May 25 and June 24, 102 of them were imported cases, mostly from Pakistan, the Philippines, India and Bangladesh.

Tokyo Find 48 Cases Thursday (12:58 p.m. HK)

Tokyo found 48 cases of coronavirus Thursday, broadcaster NTV reported, without attribution. Read here: Tokyo Virus Cases Jump to 55 With Workplace Clusters in Focus.

West Virginia Governor Forces Out Health Chief (12:58 p.m. HK)

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice forced out the commissioner of the public health bureau on Wednesday after he publicly questioned the accuracy of the state’s coronavirus data, according to The Associated Press.

Justice expressed his “lack of confidence” in Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, to Bill Crouch, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Crouch then asked Slemp to resign.

The billionaire Republican governor vented during a news conference that West Virginia’s active virus caseload may have been overstated, AP reported.

Chuck E. Cheese Parent Files for Bankruptcy (12:45 p.m. HK)

CEC Entertainment Inc., the parent of Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza, filed for bankruptcy protection after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered its locations and kept families at home.

The filing in the Southern District of Texas U.S. Bankruptcy Court makes CEC the latest in a string of companies upended by Covid-19. Lockdowns have drained revenue, keeping consumers at home and pushing corporations past the brink of bankruptcy.

Australia Has Largest Spike Since April (10:30 a.m. HK)

Australia has posted its biggest one-day spike in coronavirus cases in two months, heightening concerns the nation may be entering a second wave of infections that could jeopardize a further easing of lockdown restrictions.

Victoria state recorded 33 cases in the past 24 hours to Thursday morning, while neighboring New South Wales had four cases. While the other states and territories had yet to release their daily totals, they have largely contained community outbreaks.

The 37 cases recorded in Australia’s two-most populous states is the highest daily total since 41 on April 19. The country has managed to limit the total number of coronavirus cases to about 7,550.

Beijing’s New Cases Rise to 13 (10:24 a.m. HK)

The capital city reported 13 additional local coronavirus infections on June 24, up from seven the day before, according to data from National Health Commission. The number of infections in Beijing’s latest outbreak reached 269, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

China reported a total of 19 new cases on June 24, including one local case in Hebei province and five imported cases.

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