Cases Rise in U.S. Northeast; Netherlands Lockdown: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Early signs of a Covid-19 resurgence are emerging in the U.S. Northeast, with cases increasing in seven of the region’s nine states, including in New York.
Robert Califf was nominated Friday to run the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a move that is likely to put a one-time commissioner back at the health agency’s helm in the midst of a still-raging pandemic.
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- Why are cases rising across Europe? It’s complicated
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Cuba Eases Entry to Boost Tourism (3:56 p.m. NY)
The Cuban government is stripping away Covid-19 testing and quarantine requirements for incoming travelers to help jump-start a tourism-dependent economy drowning in raging inflation and shortages of basic goods.
Starting Monday, only tourists without proof of vaccination will need to show a negative PCR test.
“The government doesn’t have any other choice but to reopen -- the whole economy is focused on tourism,” said Carlos Alzugaray, an independent political analyst in Havana and a former diplomat. “They’re betting on tourism being the locomotive that will bring the economy back in force.”
NBA Urges Boosters ‘as Soon as Possible’ (3:02 p.m. NY)
The NBA is urging players and coaches and to get booster shots “as soon as possible,” the Associated Press reported, citing a league memo on Friday.
The updated guidance came only days after the league and the National Basketball Players Association urged boosters by Dec. 1, with more urgency for those who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Netherlands Locks Down Again (1:22 p.m. NY)
The Netherlands is entering a partial lockdown after Covid-19 infections hit records last week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
“We have a very difficult message tonight combined with drastic measures,” Rutte said at a press conference in The Hague Friday. The country will enter a partial lockdown with bars and restaurants that need to shut down effective from Saturday 8 p.m., Rutte added. Non-essential shops must close at 6 p.m. and supermarkets may stay open until 8 p.m.
Ireland Reports Most Cases Since January (12:39 p.m. NY)
Ireland reported the most new cases since Jan. 10, with government health advisers suggesting people should work from home where possible.
There were 5,483 newly confirmed cases on Friday, the health ministry said in a statement. That is more than 1,500 cases above the previous peak in recent weeks.
The jump in case numbers is “another indication of the very significant increase in the incidence of disease in almost all age-groups across the population,” chief medical officer Tony Holohan said. Health ministry advisers have recommended people return to working from home, state broadcaster RTE reported on Friday. The government has yet to decide whether to go along with that recommendation.
Covid Rebounds in U.S. Northeast (12:35 p.m. NY)
Early signs of a Covid-19 resurgence are emerging in the U.S. Northeast, with cases increasing in seven of the region’s nine states, including in New York.
The seven-day average of reported Covid-19 cases in the region has climbed 11% in the past week to 14,318 on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Until last week, the region’s numbers had trended steadily downward for about six weeks.
The aggregate numbers are still well below last year’s winter peak, and the Northeast isn’t yet seeing hospital pressure akin to hot spots in the Southwest, Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest. But the upswing bears watching as the traditional winter virus season approaches.
Ex-FDA Head Califf Nominated Again (12:21 p.m. NY)
Robert Califf was nominated Friday by President Joe Biden to run the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a move that is likely to put a one-time commissioner back at the health agency’s helm in the midst of a still-raging pandemic.
Califf, a doctor and widely published scientist, is currently head of clinical strategy and policy at Alphabet Inc.’s Verily and Google Health units. He previously served as FDA commissioner during the final year of the Obama administration.
Maine Hospitalizations Rise to Record (11:52 a.m. NY)
Maine hospitalizations rose to a pandemic record, according to state data released on Friday. Total hospitalizations reached 248, topping a previous record set in September.
Despite being one of the most vaccinated U.S. states, Maine has been fighting an extended outbreak largely among the unvaccinated. Of the 1,501 people hospitalized since Maine residents could be fully vaccinated, all but 321 were unvaccinated. Of the 504 deaths in that time period, 130 were vaccinated, state data show.
Deaths Tragic Because Preventable, WHO Says (11:18 a.m. NY)
When governments ease public health and social measures and when rules around masking, distancing and avoiding crowds are lifted, the virus thrives amid variants, socializing and limited vaccinations, a WHO official said at a media briefing Friday.
Europe reported almost 2 million cases last week, the most in a single week in the region since the pandemic started. It also accounted for more than half of all Covid deaths globally last week.
“In the northern hemisphere, we’re entering the winter months: look at your situation, critically assess the situation you’re in right now and make adjustments, use the tools you have right now,”said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead officer on Covid. “The deaths happening now are absolutely tragic because they can be prevented, because we have tools.”
Russia Proposes QR-Codes For Planes, Trains (11:05 a.m. NY)
The Russian government sent a draft law to the lower house of parliament that would require QR-codes that demonstrate Covid-19 immunity in order to travel on planes and trains, according to a statement on its website.
The proposal, which would be in force until June 1, 2022, comes as Russia is facing record new cases and deaths from the pandemic.
Old Mutual Mandates Shots in South Africa (10:15 a.m. NY)
Old Mutual Ltd. will make it mandatory for all employees in South Africa to be vaccinated.
“Vaccinations are proving to be the key to unlocking economic activity, returning life to a more normal rhythm, preventing severe illness and death, decreasing transmission rates,” Chief Executive Officer Iain Williamson said in an emailed statement on Friday.
The policy will come into effect in January and staff will be required to submit proof of their vaccination status to the insurance company.
Iceland Tightens Curbs, Plans Third Jab (7:28 a.m. NY)
Iceland limited gatherings to 50 people from 500 previously and shortened opening hours for restaurants and bars to stem new infections.
The country plans to make a third vaccine shot available for about half of its population before the end of the year.
Astra Moves to Profit From Vaccine (6:40 a.m. NY)
AstraZeneca is moving to profit from the vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford.
The U.K. drugmaker will start generating modest profits from the shot as new orders are received, it said in a statement Friday. The vaccine will continue to be sold at cost for developing nations.
Norway to Roll Out Third Dose (6:38 a.m. NY)
A jump in infections is prompting Norway to roll out a third dose to everyone over 18.
“The infection will remain among us for several years to come, and there is a lot we can do together to prevent the virus from spreading, but we also need the protection vaccines provide,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store told reporters in Oslo on Friday.
German Fourth Wave Shows No Sign of Easing (6:21 a.m. NY)
Germany’s fourth wave of infections is hitting Europe’s biggest economy with full force and there’s no sign of record infection rates easing anytime soon, according to the country’s top health officials.
Some hospitals are already overwhelmed with patients, and efforts to speed up vaccinations won’t bring relief for weeks at the earliest, Lothar Wieler, the head of the RKI public-health institute, said Friday in Berlin. “The situation is serious,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a news conference with Wieler.
The number of new cases in Germany jumped by 48,640 and the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people climbed to a record 263.7, according to the latest daily data from the RKI public-health institute.
Czech Republic Sees Cases Surge (6:12 p.m. HK)
The Czech Republic, a nation of 10.7 million, reported 10,395 cases on Thursday, an increase by a fifth from a week ago.
The outgoing government postponed announcing curbs for next week as it seeks an agreement of the next administration that maybe in power before the end of the year. The cabinet announced today that it plans blanket testing of all pupils at schools on Nov. 22 and Nov. 29.
Austria Sees Highest New Infections (4:51 p.m. HK)
Austria has been recording record new infections, with almost 12,000 cases reported overnight.
Health officials are warning that intensive-care stations are nearing capacity limits. Germany is designating its Alpine neighbor a high-risk zone, requiring all unvaccinated travelers returning from Austria to quarantine from Sunday.
Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein appealed for employees to work from home wherever possible, while the province of Upper Austria is introducing a lockdown for unvaccinated people from Monday.
Danish Firms Can Ask for ‘Corona Passport’ (4:24 p.m. HK)
Businesses in Denmark will now be legally allowed to ask employees to present a so-called corona passport proving either immunization, a negative test or immunity through previous contamination, the government said on Friday after reaching a deal with labor groups.
Earlier this week, Denmark, which has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, reintroduced the digital certificate needed to visit bars, restaurants and large public events after a recent spike in infections.
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