G-20 Warns on Variants as Global Outbreak Worsens: Virus Update

A healthcare worker stands at a patient's bedside inside a Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at Simon Bolivar Hospital in Bogota, Colombia. (Photographer: Andres Cardona/Bloomberg)

G-20 Warns on Variants as Global Outbreak Worsens: Virus Update

New variants of the coronavirus and an uneven pace of vaccination could undermine a brightening outlook for the world economy, according to a communique agreed to on Saturday by Group of 20 finance ministers.

U.S. cases remain elevated, after the delta variant was declared the nation’s dominant strain, spreading particularly in areas with low vaccination rates. New cases in Los Angeles County doubled this week.

U.K. hospital cases increased by more than 56% in a week. Russia reported record deaths, while cases climbed in Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul and Tanzania. Singapore and the Netherlands reimposed curbs.

Key Developments:

G-20 Warns on Variants as Global Outbreak Worsens: Virus Update

Portugal Passes Vaccine Milestone (4:13 p.m. NY)

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in a tweet on Saturday that 70% of the country’s adult population has now been given at least one dose of a vaccine, earlier than planned.

The government accelerated its vaccination campaign after the country started reporting a new increase in cases during June in some regions including Lisbon, with a high incidence of the delta variant.

U.S. Vaccinations Dip to Pre-Biden Lows (3:40 p.m. NY)

U.S. vaccinations have plunged to levels before Joe Biden was sworn in as president, despite the spread of the delta variant that is fueling a new rise in infections. The U.S. recorded 599,000 vaccinations on Saturday, the lowest level since early January, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Daily vaccinations peaked in mid-April at almost 4 million.

Biden missed his goal of administering at least one does of vaccine to 70% of adults in the U.S. by July 4. That number is now 67.5%, according to the CDC. The administration is focusing on communities hardest-hit by the delta variant, also largely the pockets in the U.S. that are least vaccinated. It has begun deploying health officials to support local “trusted messengers” to go door-to-door to encourage vaccines.

G-20 Finance Chiefs Sound Alarm (3:20 p.m. NY)

Global finance chiefs signaled alarm over threats that could derail a fragile recovery as they concluded a meeting that sought to start reshaping the post-pandemic economic order.

New variants of the coronavirus and an uneven pace of vaccination could undermine a brightening outlook for the world economy, according to a communique agreed to on Saturday by Group of 20 finance ministers at a gathering hosted by Italy in Venice. They resolved to keep up support for growth to ensure recoveries can continue to take hold.

Priest Removed Who Urged Against Vaccines (2:08 p.m. NY)

A Catholic priest in Wisconsin who violated Covid-19 restrictions and urged parishioners not to be a “guinea pig” by taking a vaccine was removed from his parish, according to a statement by the Diocese of La Crosse.

In May, Bishop William Patrick Callahan had requested the resignation of Father James Altman, who had also said that Catholics couldn’t Democrats. The letter on Friday said that Callahan and the diocese “have spent over a year, prayerfully and fraternally, working toward a resolution” relating to Altman’s statements and activities -- and were now immediately removing him.

In April, a church bulletin from Altman’s parish declared that a Covid vaccine was an “experimental use of a genetic altering substance that modifies your body -- your Temple of the Holy Spirit” and questioned whether the inoculations worked.

Tanzania Case Spike (1:20 p.m. NY)

Tanzania said it now has 408 new cases of Covid-19, as the East African nation takes another step in confronting the issue after months of denying the pandemic was a problem.

Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima said at an event to promote the public wearing of masks in the capital Dodoma that “284 of the patients were hospitalized on oxygen therapy as of July 8.”

The latest data represents a 300% increase from a figure of around 100 new cases announced by President Samia Suluhu Hassan on June 28.

Governor Says Vaccine Lures Don’t Work (12:18 p.m. NY)

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said that incentives to encourage inoculations in a state with one of the U.S.’s lowest vaccination rates had only “limited” success. He said “education” about the vaccines and their effectiveness against the delta variant is “the most powerful tool.”

“The fishing licenses and lottery tickets we offered were worth a try, but we learned that the incentive wasn’t effective in changing the mind of someone who isn’t already inclined to get a vaccination,” the Republican governor said in his weekly radio address Friday evening. “The most powerful incentive is the reality that if Arkansas doesn’t significantly increase its rate of vaccinations, we won’t be getting rid of Covid-19 and its spinoffs anytime soon.”

Arkansas and Nevada are the only states categorized as “high transmission” areas in the latest report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ”

U.K. Hospitalizations Climb (11:20 a.m. NY)

U.K. hospital cases increased by more than 56% in a week, the latest figures show. Some 3,081 people were admitted as of July 6, only two days after the country passed 2,000 for the first time since April. Another 32,367 cases and 34 deaths were also reported on Saturday.

Los Angeles Cases Double (10:49 a.m. NY)

New cases in Los Angeles County doubled to 1,107 this week as health officials repeated their warning on the highly contagious delta variant.

Friday’s positive test rate also climbed to 2.4%, up from 1.5% last week, the county said.

About 40% of the county’s 10 million residents are still unvaccinated. To push for more inoculations, it’s offering lucky draws for concert tickets to artists including Celine Dion, Luke Bryan, and Dan and Shay at the downtown Staples Center.

“This delta variant of the Covid-19 virus spreads more easily than others,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health. “With vaccinations and good prevention measures, almost all of this transmission can be prevented.”

U.S. Infections Remain Elevated (8:35 a.m. NY)

U.S. cases remain elevated, as the delta variant was declared the nation’s dominant strain and is spreading largely in areas with low vaccination rates. Weekly cases were above 100,000 for the second consecutive week, the most since early June. Slightly more than 23,000 new cases were reported on Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

Almost 350 new fatalities were reported Friday, as the overall death rate continued to decline.

Hong Kong Finds Mutated Strain (7:55 a.m. NY)

Officials have discovered a worker infected with a mutated strain of Covid-19 at the Hong Kong International Airport. The airport and other places where the man visited will undergo compulsory testing. The L452R variant that the porter carried makes the virus more transmissible, the government said in a statement.

Iranians Travel to Border for Vaccines (7:40 a.m. NY)

About 4,300 Iranians have traveled to the country’s border with Armenia since June 22 to receive vaccines, the Tasnim news agency reported, citing Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesman for the Iran Customs Administration.

With a population of more than 80 million, Iran has so far vaccinated around 4.6 million people, with only 2.1 million having received two doses, health ministry data showed.

Malta Mandates Visitor Vaccine Proof (6 a.m. NY)

Malta will require travelers over the age of 13 who want to enter the country to prove they’ve been fully vaccinated, the Associated Press reported. The country is working to stop a rise in infections linked to travel. Visitors can enter by showing a certificate issued by Malta, the EU or the U.K., it said. “Malta will be the first EU country taking this step,” Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

U.K. to Introduce Vaccine Passports (5:25 p.m. HK)

The U.K. will introduce vaccine passports later this year for entry into bars, restaurants and nightclubs to help tackle a slowdown in people getting the inoculation, the Times reported. The certificates will prove customers are either fully immunized or have received a negative test result the previous day.

Earlier, the country said daily cases surged again, presenting Prime Minister Boris Johnson with more worrying data about the fast-spreading delta variant of the virus ahead of a planned easing of restrictions on July 19. Oxford, home of the AstraZeneca shot, advised residents not to travel after cases in the city spiked, the Oxford Mail reported.

The reproduction rate of the virus in England has risen to levels last seen in October, the government said Friday. Cases of the delta variant, which now accounts for 99% of U.K. infections, rose by almost a third in the past week to 216,249 cases, data from Public Health England showed. Lagging indicators like hospitalizations and deaths haven’t risen as much.

EU Has Vaccines for 70% of Population (5 p.m. HK)

Enough Covid-19 vaccines have been delivered to EU member states to be able to fully vaccinate at least 70% of adults there in July, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday.

About 500 million vaccine doses will have been distributed across the bloc by Sunday, she added. Just over 53% of the population have received at least one dose and almost 39% are fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

Russia Hits Record Deaths (4:20 p.m. HK)

Russia on Saturday reported a record 752 Covid-19 deaths.

Russia’s health crisis has worsened since May, with a surge of infections fueled by the delta variant forcing many regions to impose mandatory vaccination requirements to pressure people into getting shots.

Russia reported a 6-month high of 25,766 new cases on Friday, according to the state-run monitoring center. The number of daily infections doubled over the course of June.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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