Detroit, Baltimore, Phoenix Lead U.S. Cases: Virus Update

Detroit, Baltimore and Phoenix recorded the biggest recent rate of increases in Covid-19 cases, according to CDC data. Even so, the U.S. as a whole is on course for the fewest weekly infections since early October. Nationwide air travel reached 1.35 million people on Friday, a record during the pandemic.

Norway, among the countries that have suspended the use of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine, said three people who received the shot are being treated for severe blood clots and cerebral hemorrhages but said it was too soon to say if there was a connection.

China said it will ease visa application requirements for foreigners seeking to enter the mainland from Hong Kong if they have been inoculated with vaccines made in China.

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Detroit, Baltimore, Phoenix Lead U.S. Cases: Virus Update

Visiting China Easier With a Chinese Vaccine (4:43 p.m. NY)

China said it will ease visa application requirements for foreigners seeking to enter the mainland from Hong Kong if they have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines made in China.

The change comes as China has been promoting its home-grown shots globally amid competition from western vaccines. Foreigners visiting the mainland for work will face less paperwork in visa applications if they are able to show they have received vaccines produced in China and can skip the requirement for a Covid-19 test.

California Deaths Top 55,000 (2:45 p.m. NY)

California reported 217 more deaths from Covid-19 yesterday, for a total of 55,095, according to the health department’s website. There were 3,230 new cases reported, as the outbreak eased enough for the state to relax restrictions in 13 counties including Los Angeles, starting Sunday.

The seven-day positive test rate hovered at 2.1%, down 0.2% from the previous period. California has administered more than 11.4 million vaccines in total.

Australia, Singapore Discuss Travel Pact (2:09 p.m. NY)

Australia and Singapore have held talks about allowing travel between them by nationals of the two countries who have had Covid-19 vaccinations, The Age reported, citing Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan.

“Singapore are very keen to work with Australia on a proof of vaccination certificate and we agreed our officials should work together on this,” Tehan said, according to the Melbourne-based newspaper.

Detroit, Baltimore Lead U.S. Increase (1:58 p.m. NY)

Detroit, Baltimore and Phoenix recorded the biggest percentage increases in Covid-19 cases during the week ended Thursday, according to a list of major metro areas tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ranking next were San Juan, Puerto Rico, Minneapolis and Nashville, Tennessee.

New York City stagnated, while Houston, Atlanta and Dallas showed the biggest declines compared to the previous week. Fifteen of 20 U.S. urban areas with populations between 250,000 and more than 1 million showed a decrease, according to the CDC. St. Cloud, Minnesota, led increases in a group of smaller cities with a 125% jump.

Detroit, Baltimore, Phoenix Lead U.S. Cases: Virus Update

The data, which ranks cities with high or increasing case burdens, don’t include Los Angeles and Chicago. However, Los Angeles was the only one of 10 metro areas with high mortality that showed an increase in weekly deaths -- by 13% to 905.

Kentucky Nears Anti-Vax Law (1:48 p.m. NY)

A measure that would allow Kentuckians to refuse any vaccine for a “conscientiously held belief” cleared the state House Friday and is headed for likely passage next week in the Kentucky Senate.

“This is not about the Covid-19 vaccine; it’s about any vaccine,” outspoken anti-vaccination advocate State Representative Savannah Maddox said during floor debate Friday.

The bill would eliminate state health officials’ ability to mandate vaccines in response to a future pandemic. Democratic Governor Andy Beshear has repeatedly stated that his administration wouldn’t require vaccination against Covid-19. The legislature is controlled by Republicans.

Call for EU Summit on Vaccine Fairness (1:16 p.m. NY)

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his colleagues from the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Latvia are demanding a European Union summit on what they claim is uneven distribution of vaccines in the bloc.

Their demand, set out in a letter to EU Council President Charles Michel, comes after Kurz complained Friday that some countries get more than others and that there’s an opaque “bazaar” for doses.

Outbreak Hits New Hampshire Nursing Home (11:52 a.m. NY)

An outbreak has hit a New Hampshire nursing home where most of the residents and staff have been vaccinated, the Union Leader reported. The state has reported 11 cases among residents and five among staff members at the facility owned by Alpine Healthcare. The outbreak comes several weeks after the facility began limited visitations, the newspaper reported. More than 800 of New Hampshire’s total 1,189 deaths since the pandemic began have occurred at long-term care facilities, state data show.

Norway Reports Clots After Astra Shot (11:01 a.m. NY)

Norway, among the countries that have suspended the use of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine, said three people who received the shot are being treated for severe blood clots and cerebral hemorrhages but said it was too soon to say if there was a connection.

The people, who were all “of younger age,” had a reduced number of platelets in the blood, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a statement on Saturday.

N.Y. Hospitalizations Fall (10:56 a.m. NY)

Hospitalizations for Covid-19 in New York state, which has been battling the highest number in the U.S., fell further to 4,617, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. That number has declined by 337 in the last week, he said.

The state reported 6,600 new cases, among the lowest for any day this year. The statewide positive test rate fell slightly to 2.92%. Another 77 people died, he said.

U.S. Air Travel Hits Pandemic High (10:47 a.m. NY)

U.S. air travel reached 1.35 million people on Friday, a record since the pandemic descended in mid-March a year ago, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. Air travel is still down more than 40% compared with the equivalent Friday in 2019.

Hong Kong Locks Down Elite (9:52 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong abruptly locked down four buildings in the heart of a popular expatriate residential area, taking one of its most dramatic steps yet to contain a super-spreading event that began in a gym and put many of the city’s elite and their families on edge.

Authorities cordoned off two towers each at the Robinson Place and Blessings Garden residential complexes in the exclusive Mid-Levels neighborhood, according to a government statement Saturday. All residents will be required to be tested at mobile testing stations before 2 a.m. Sunday and the lockdown will likely be lifted by 9 a.m., it said.

U.S. Outbreak Continues to Slow (7:45 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added 57,741 new cases Friday, near the end of a week on track to end at the lowest level since the beginning of October, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg show. The average number of daily cases over the last week has fallen 15% compared with the previous week.

Another 1,648 deaths were reported, with average daily fatalities dropping more than 20% from the prior week. While cases have fallen below the peak of last summer’s surge, deaths remain above that level.

WTO Leader Bemoans Vaccine Availability (7:10 a.m. NY)

The World Trade Organization’s new leader, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, urged vaccine manufacturers to extend licenses to other companies to aid the rollout in poorer nations. There are more than 130 nations without a single dose, she told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. She also called for the abolition of export restrictions on medical goods, such as those imposed in the EU.

U.K. Vaccine Progress (6:50 p.m. HK)

The U.K. is on course to offer every adult a vaccination by June 10, beating a government target and about two months ahead of the European Union, the Times reported, citing researcher Airfinity. Separately, the Telegraph said everyone over the age of 40 should be offered their first shot by early April, with a supply boost allowing the program to expand next week. That will put pressure on the government to speed up the relaxation of lockdowns, it said.

German Infections Rise Again (5:05 p.m. HK)

Germany reported 12,700 new virus cases, the second-highest daily figure since the start of March, and the country’s seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people climbed to the highest in more than a month. On Friday, the head of the Robert Koch Institute warned that Germany is at the start of a third wave of infections, just as the government has started lifting some lockdown restrictions.

Hungary’s ICU Patients at Record High (4:55 p.m. HK)

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care reached a record high 989 on Friday, as the nation struggles with the spread of a British variant. Hungary closed schools, nurseries and non-essential stores on Monday, and 1.3 million of the country’s 10 million have received at least on vaccination shot.

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