German Cases Climb; TUI Cancels Tours to Spain: Virus Update
German virus cases rose to their highest since the end of April on Saturday. TUI AG canceled all tours to Spain after the German government advised against non-essential travel to the country because of a resurgence of outbreaks. Spain’s Basque region declared an emergency, according to El Confidencial.
A supermarket product promoter in China’s Shenzhen and five others tested positive, forcing the closure of some stores. New Zealand reported seven new cases, and case numbers in South Korea also climbed. Hong Kong reported 46 new infections.
California became the first U.S. state to top 600,000 confirmed cases. More than a third of Americans in a survey said they wouldn’t get vaccinated.
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TUI Cancels Tours to Spain to Aug. 24 (5:10 p.m. HK)
TUI AG canceled all its tours to Spain and the Balearic Islands until Aug. 24 on the German government’s advice to avoid non-essential travel there, a spokesman said. The Canary Islands are excluded from the policy.
Spain’s Basque region will declare a health emergency on Monday, giving the local government exceptional powers to control the spread of the coronavirus, El Confidencial reported. The Basque Country, as it’s known, is an entry point from France, an industrial center and tourist destination. It would be the first of Spain’s 17 regions to grant its local leader exceptional powers to order mini-lockdowns since the national government ended the state of emergency in June.
Hong Kong Registers 46 New Cases (4:30 p.m. HK)
Hong Kong reported 46 new coronavirus cases Saturday, including seven that had a travel history and 12 of an unknown origin, according to Department of Health official Chuang Shuk-kwan. The city’s worst outbreak has been showing signs of abating as local infections have remained below the 100 level daily since earlier this month.
Russia Starts Producing Vaccine, Tass Says (4:03 p.m. HK)
Russia has started production of its Covid-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry said Saturday, according to the state-run Tass news agency. President Vladimir Putin last week announced that Russia had become the first to approve an inoculation against the novel coronavirus, but critics said key tests needed to confirm its safety and effectiveness haven’t yet been completed. The government plans to begin administering the vaccine to medical personnel and other priority groups within weeks.
Shenzhen Finds New Local Cases, Shutters Stores (3:40 p.m. HK)
A product promoter in a supermarket in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and five other people tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the closure of some stores as officials act to damp a resurgence of the virus. A 41-year-old woman who sells yogurt at a supermarket run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in the tech boomtown was diagnosed with the illness after visiting a doctor on Wednesday, Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission said late Friday night.
The emergence of local infections in the city comes just days after traces of the highly infectious pathogen was detected on frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil. It also follows an outbreak in the western region of Xinjiang that now appears to have waned.
New German Cases Hit Highest Since April (3:30 p.m. HK)
Germany reported 1,510 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest single-day increase since April 30, according to data from Johns Hopkins. Total cases rose to 223,791. Thirteen new deaths were reported, a number roughly in line with figures seen through August and July.
The four-day reproduction factor -- or R value -- calculated by Germany’s health body, was 1.08 for the day before. The seven-day R value, which is seen as being less influenced by fluctuations, was 1.14 on Friday.
Tokyo Cases Top 300 for Second Straight Day (3:05 p.m. HK)
New coronavirus cases in Tokyo topped 300 for the second straight day on Saturday, according to government data. The city’s new infections totaled 385, down slightly from 389 on Friday.
Patients in their 20s were the biggest group, accounting for 120 new cases, followed by 84 people in their 30s. Saturday’s figure brings the total number of infected people in Tokyo to 17,454, of which 23 are in critical condition.
South Korea Raises Social-Distancing Alert (2:30 p.m. HK)
South Korea plans to raise its social-distancing alert in the Seoul Metropolitan area, as the nation’s daily Covid-19 infections reached a five-month high of 166 on Saturday.
The government will raise the alert level in Seoul and Gyeonggi province one notch to level 2, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a meeting on the outbreak. The spike in locally transmitted cases and the fact that they are largely concentrated in the Seoul Metropolitan area have raised authorities’ concern.
New Zealand Case Numbers Increase (1:05 p.m. HK)
New Zealand reported seven new community-spread Covid-19 cases on Saturday, six linked to a cluster in Auckland, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. New Zealand has a total of 1,258 infections, 56 of which are active.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday extended the lockdown in Auckland, the country’s largest city, for 12 days as authorities try to stamp out the nation’s first outbreak in more than three months.
Meanwhile, authorities are investigating whether the recent outbreak in the community came from chilled products shipped from a Melbourne cool store where two workers recently tested positive for the disease, stuff.co.nz reported.
Indonesia Reviewing Foreign Tourist Reopening Plan (12:55 p.m. HK)
Indonesia is reviewing a plan to reopen its tourist areas to foreign visitors amid concerns that such a move could compromise the country’s effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said.
Thohir, who is overseeing the daily operations of the country’s coronavirus taskforce, was responding to a question if the government will go ahead with a plan to reopen Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist spot, on Sept. 11 as scheduled.
Modi Promises Local Vaccine for All Indians (11:20 a.m. HK)
India has three Covid-19 vaccines under trial and will ensure a vaccine reaches every citizen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, paying tribute to those fighting the coronavirus pandemic that’s surging across India.
Victoria Cases Continue to Trend Lower (11:05 a.m. HK)
Victoria state, the epicenter of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak, recorded 303 cases and four deaths in 24 hours, the health department said Saturday. The number of cases has been trending down since the state had a record 725 new infections on Aug. 5. On Friday, the state saw 372 new cases and 14 deaths in 24 hours.
Nine new cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed in New South Wales, its health department said on Saturday. That brought the state’s total number of case to 3,756. One of the infected people dined at the up-market restaurant Rick Stein at Bannisters in the south coast town of Mollymook on Aug. 1.
Argentina Firm Sees Latam Vaccine by May (10:00 a.m. HK)
Argentinian biotech firm mAbxience, which is working on production of doses of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine, expects the finished product to be distributed in Latin American between April and May, Reuters reported.
Esteban Corley, mAbxience’s director, said that the vaccine’s active substance will be exported to Mexico some time in late February where Mexican Laboratory Biomont will formulate and distribute it, according to Reuters. The final product is likely to cost between $3 and $4, the report said.
Philippines Aims for Looser Restrictions (9:45 a.m. HK)
Many areas in the Philippines will be under looser movement restrictions from Sunday until Aug. 31, while a decision on the capital region and nearby provinces will be announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on Aug. 17, his spokesman Harry Roque said in a televised briefing on Saturday.
Duterte early this month placed Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under a stricter lockdown for 15 days until Aug. 18 following a recommendation from doctors as a spike in infections overwhelmed the health care system. The Philippines has the worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia.
White House Denies CNN Report on Birx (9:20 a.m. HK)
The Trump administration denied a report that Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, had been replaced after criticism both from the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
CNN reported in a tweet that Scott Atlas, previously a neuroradiologist at Stanford University, would now be advising President Donald Trump on the virus outbreak. CNN cited a person close to the coronavirus task force who wasn’t identified.
Texas Deaths Pass 300 Again (7:04 a.m. HK)
Texas virus deaths topped 300 for the second time in three days, while hospitalizations declined for a third week. The state reported 313 virus fatalities Friday, bringing the total to 9,602. Hospitalizations fell to 6,632, down from more than 10,000 in late July.
New cases were well below the July peak, when more than 10,000 a day were being discovered. Texas ended the week with 7,018 new daily cases, though that number swung as high as 9,803 and as low as 4,455 in the past five days. The state has confirmed a total 520,593 cases of Covid-19.
The state’s positivity rate was reported as 16.1%, falling from a record 24.5% earlier in the week. The dramatic rise this month in the percentage of tests coming back positive prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to order an investigation into how the number is being calculated.
Mississippi Allows Sports Fans, in Pairs (6:08 a.m. HK)
Mississippi officials have devised a simple formula they hope will keep high school sports and other activities from spreading Covid-19: a cap of two spectators for each participant through the end of August.
Sports aren’t without risk, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said at a briefing Friday in Jackson. “Twenty-two players on a field is not going to overwhelm a local hospital,” Reeves said. “However, 2,000 people in a small school’s bleachers absolutely could have that effect.”
Brazil’s Cases, Deaths Slow (6:02 a.m. HK)
Brazil reported 50,644 cases, down from 60,091 the previous day, for a total of 3,275,520, according to the Health Ministry’s website. Another 1,060 deaths were reported, compared with 1,262 the previous day, for a total 106,523. Brazil has the second-worst virus outbreak after the U.S.
California Tops 600,000 Cases (4:50 p.m. NY)
California became the first U.S. state to top 600,000 confirmed infections, adding 7,934 cases Friday for a total of 601,075. The new cases included 4,429 from a lab-reporting backlog of prior days and 3,505 new daily infections, Governor Gavin Newsom said in a briefing Friday. That’s well below the 14-day average of 7,678.
While California now leads the U.S. in cases, Newsom said the state is “punching above our weight” in testing, conducting an average of nearly 130,000 tests per day.
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