Miami Beach Cracks Down; Protests Hit Europe: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Miami Beach imposed a stricter curfew to crack down on spring-break crowds flocking to Florida, which just surpassed 2 million Covid-19 cases. New York announced its first case of the virus variant stoking the outbreak in Brazil, where deaths have increased for four weeks in a row.
Anti-lockdown activists protested across Europe as key parts of the continent confront resurgent Covid-19 cases. About 20,000 turned out for an unauthorized rally in Kassel, Germany, and clashed with police. A London protest led to at least 33 arrests.
Paris and several other French regions faced the first weekend in a month-long lockdown. While Chancellor Angela Merkel promised speedier vaccinations in Germany, she suggested that restrictions may not be eased as quickly as planned in the short term.
- Global Tracker: Cases pass 122.6 million; deaths top 2.7 million
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- How Europe injected doubt into a vaccine the world needs
- U.S. states throw open vaccine eligibility before May 1
- Colleges turn arenas into mass vaccination sites for students
- Why the Fed is ending its big Covid break for banks: QuickTake
Miami Beach Cracks Down on Spring Break (5:05 p.m. NY)
Miami Beach imposed an 8 p.m. curfew and other restrictions to curb what officials said was overwhelming crowding during the U.S. spring break holidays. The curfew will last at least 72 hours and apply to the main avenues with bars, restaurants and clubs. The city previously set a midnight curfew.
Mayor Dan Gelber said at a news conference that the crowds seemed larger than previous years because fewer places were open for spring break due to Covid-19 and cheap airfares.
“There are just too many moments when we are hoping something horrible won’t happen,” he said. “We can’t endure that as a community.”
N.Y. Reports First Case of Brazil Variant (4:40 p.m. NY)
The first case of the more-transmissible coronavirus variant first found in Brazil has been reported in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. The patient is from Brooklyn, more than 90 years old with no travel history, he said.
The variant is helping fuel a renewed outbreak in Brazil. In the U.S., there are 48 known cases of the P.1 variant in 15 jurisdictions, with 21 cases in Florida alone, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Large Party in Philadelphia Ends in Shootings (3:48 p.m. NY)
A large party held in violation of virus restrictions in Philadelphia ended in gunfire, which killed one person and injured five, the Associated Press reported. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told reporters her force would increase patrols to gatherings illegal under the state’s Covid-19 laws.
France Wants Full Astra Supply (3:20 p.m. NY)
France supports the EU’s threat to use any tools available to obtain planned deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine, junior minister for EU Affairs Clement Beaune said on BFM TV, though he warned any legal proceedings could take months.
While the EU is exporting vaccines to the U.K., European officials suspect that some U.K.-made vaccines initially intended to be delivered to the EU are staying in the U.K.
He also said approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Europe could happen in April or May. In France, around 9% of the population has received at least one shot of vaccine, and 3.6% got both injections.
Florida Surpasses 2 Million Cases (2:56 p.m. NY)
Florida passed 2 million cases on Saturday, the third state to do so after California and Texas. New cases have leveled off recently after a steep drop following a holiday surge. On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis said he would open vaccine eligibility to all people 50 and older starting Monday.
Anti-Lockdown Protests Hit Europe (2:20 p.m. NY)
Anti-lockdown protests were held in Germany, Britain, Austria, Finland, Romania and Switzerland on Saturday, the Associated Press reported. Demonstrations were also reported in Sweden’s three largest cities.
More than 20,000 people defied a court ban to demonstrate in the central German city of Kassel, German news agency DPA reported. Some protesters attacked officers and several journalists, DPA said.
At least 33 people were arrested in central London, mostly for breaching Covid restrictions, the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter. The protests around Piccadilly Circus were larger than police had expected, the BBC said.
Brazil Says It’s Discussing Vaccines With U.S. (1:55 p.m. NY)
Brazil is negotiating “to import vaccines from the surplus available in the United States,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted Saturday. The Biden administration said earlier this week it plans to send about 4 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine to neighboring Mexico and Canada.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at the time the U.S. government has about 7 million available doses of the vaccine, which hasn’t been approved yet for use in the U.S. “With the importance of helping stop the spread in other countries, we are assessing how we can loan doses,” she said. She added that any loans weren’t “fully finalized.”
Brazil’s outbreak has worsened dramatically, breaking records for most cases and deaths earlier this week.
N.Y. Outbreak Steady (12:17 p.m. NY)
New York state, which has the U.S.’s highest number of hospitalizations, reported a slight decrease in the number, to 4,513. State data suggest hospitalizations are no longer falling steadily but have hit a recent plateau. The state reported 7,623 new cases, little changed from the previous day. Another 62 people died, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Venezuela Cases Accelerate (11:54 a.m. NY)
Venezuela’s daily Covid-19 cases increased the most since September, signaling a wave of infections triggered by the virus variant first detected in Brazil, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said.
He said further measures to counter the virus will be announced in the days ahead.
New Hampshire Outbreak Worsens (11:45 a.m. NY)
New Hampshire’s outbreak is worsening, with the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention listing it as the state of most concern. The seven-day average of cases increased to about 290 on Thursday, from about 230 two weeks earlier, though that number is far below the holiday surge. Governor Chris Sununu has attributed the recent rise to fatigue with the virus and increased social gatherings. The state has administered more than 500,900 vaccinations, with more than a quarter of the population getting their first shot, according to the Bloomberg Virus Tracker.
Mumbai Moves to Mandatory Tests (10:31 a.m. NY)
Authorities in the Indian city of Mumbai will conduct random rapid antigen tests in crowded places including malls and railway stations. “If the citizen refuses to test, it would amount to an offense under Epidemic Act, 1897,” the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai said in a statement. People tested at malls will have to pay for the test while at other places the government will incur the expense. Mumbai has invoked the colonial era law for mandatory testing as it recorded its highest ever daily tally of infections on Friday.
More Cruise Lines Look to Restart (10:13 a.m. NY)
On the heels of Crystal Cruises’ announcement this week that it would circumvent the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by launching Bahamas-only trips this summer, two further lines will open itineraries in the Caribbean as soon as June.
The latest announcements came from Royal Caribbean International, which will sail a ship from Nassau, the Bahamas, to Cozumel, Mexico, and sister line Celebrity Cruises, which will explore southern Caribbean itineraries from Sint Maarten. Additional cruise lines are expected to follow with similar announcements in the coming days and weeks.
U.K. Vaccination Drive on Track (7:18 a.m. NY)
More than half of U.K. adults have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, putting the nation on track to offer a first dose of the vaccine by the end of July. In comparison, fewer than one in 10 adults in the European Union have been inoculated.
Still, the U.K.’s progress is under threat as resistant variants of the virus could undermine the jab’s efficacy and so-called vaccine nationalism could stifle the U.K.’s steady supply.
Tokyo Olympics Avoids Foreign Spectators (7:08 a.m. NY)
The world’s biggest international sporting event will take place without overseas spectators and tickets bought by them will be refunded. A decision on limiting domestic fans will be taken in April, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said.
Before the games were postponed last year, some 600,000 foreign visitors were expected to attend, in addition to more than 11,000 athletes.
Pfizer Warns About Disruption (5:52 p.m. HK)
The drugmaker spoke with the EU as tensions over vaccine supplies grow between the U.K. and the bloc. Manufacturing of lipids -- fatty material used to deliver the genetic material at the heart of Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE’s vaccine -- takes place at a secret location in the U.K. and are sent to the EU where the shots are completed.
“We have been clear with all stakeholders that the free movement of goods and supply across borders is absolutely critical to Pfizer and the patients we serve,” a spokesman for Pfizer said in an emailed statement. The Telegraph first reported the discussions Friday.
Pakistan Prime Minister Tests Positive (5:46 p.m. HK)
Imran Khan is the latest head of government to contract the virus after U.K’s Boris Johnson, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and former U.S. President Donald Trump. Khan is self-isolating at home, Health Minister Faisal Sultan said in a tweet.
European Cases Accelerate (5:30 p.m. HK)
Poland registered 26,405 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours, the second biggest daily increase this year, prompting the nation to shut down shopping centers. In Sweden, even if AstraZeneca vaccinations are resumed, chances are small that all adults will be fully vaccinated with two doses by June 30, vaccine coordinator Richard Bergstrom says in an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Two health-care workers in Denmark were admitted with symptoms of blood clots within two weeks of their AstraZeneca shot and one has died, newspaper Ekstra Bladet reported. In the Czech Republic, there were signs of the pandemic easing with the lowest workday figure in more than a month for new infections.
German Rate Close to Restriction Threshold (4:46 p.m. HK)
Germany’s seven-day incidence rate rose to 99.9 per 100,000 people on Saturday, the highest in almost two months, according to the country’s RKI health institute, and close to the threshold at which Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional officials agreed to reimpose restrictions.
On Monday, Merkel and state leaders will discuss whether restrictions should be extended into April or even tightened, rather than eased as suggested by the government at the start of the month, as the country faces a virus resurgence that is affecting all of Europe. Merkel said on Friday that Germany will accelerate its Covid-19 vaccination drive in April, after regulators gave the all-clear for the AstraZeneca shot.
Hungary’s Daily Cases, Deaths Hit Record (4:12 p.m. HK)
Hungary reported a record 227 daily deaths from Covid-19 as the country struggles to curtail infections despite having the second-highest vaccination rate in the European Union. New cases grew by an unprecedented 11,132.
The government on Friday announced the extension of a lockdown -- which would have expired on Monday and which forced most stores to close -- by at least another week.
Paris Goes Under Lockdown (7:24 a.m. HK)
A third lockdown affecting several French regions including the Paris area went into effect at midnight on Friday. Only essential businesses and schools will stay open, with the restrictions due to remain in place for four weeks. Like the rest of the country, the French capital has been under a nightly curfew since mid-January with cafes, restaurants, bars and theaters closed. But the infection rate has climbed nonetheless, and hospitals are under increasing strain.
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