December 6, 2021

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Economic Toll Grows; Cases in Tokyo Reach Record: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Tokyo and Hong Kong were among cities grappling with a spike in infections after worldwide Covid-19 cases exceeded 15 million.

The U.K. didn’t have an economic plan for a pandemic, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said, calling it an “astonishing” failure of governance. Australia’s budget deficit will hit a post-World War II record as spending grows to plug the economic hole left by the virus. South Korea slid into recession.

China will provide a $1 billion loan for Latin American and Caribbean countries to access its coronavirus vaccine. Demand for tests is higher than the industry can supply and that may continue for months, according to Roche Holding AG, one of the biggest diagnostics manufacturers.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases reach 15.2 million; deaths pass 623,000Months into the outbreak, U.S. testing still isn’t rightUnsung immune cells take over when virus antibodies waneThe pandemic created workplace tribes. Here’s how to unite themThe keys to speed in race for vaccine, and its perils: QuickTake

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on coronavirus cases and deaths.

Hong Kong Has 111 New Local Cases (5:02 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong reported an additional 111 locally transmitted coronavirus cases, Department of Health official Chuang Shuk-kwan said at a briefing on Thursday. The city also had seven imported cases.

The authorities found links to previous cases in more than 60 of the local infections.

The government extended work-from-home arrangements for civil servants by one week, to Aug. 2, as it combats a resurgence of the disease.

Tokyo New Cases Jump to a Daily Record (4:54 p.m. HK)

Tokyo found 366 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record for a single day as a four-day holiday weekend began in Japan.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, announcing the figures, urged residents to stay home, and said that cases are increasing among people in their 40s and 50s. The city’s running total topped 10,000 and new cases for all of Japan hit a daily record on Wednesday.

Thursday’s number marked a surge in Tokyo cases from 238 the day before.

Russian Cases Increase 0.7% (4:02 p.m. HK)

Russia reported 5,848 new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 795,038, according to data from the government’s virus response center.

There were 147 deaths, bringing total fatalities to 12,892, while 8,277 people recovered. Moscow reported 608 new infections, or 10.4% of the daily total.

Roche Urges Careful Use of Tests (3:55 p.m. HK)

The world needs to become more judicious about how it uses Covid-19 tests because there still aren’t enough to go around, according to one of the biggest diagnostics manufacturers.

Demand for tests is higher than the industry can supply and that may continue for months, Severin Schwan, the chief executive officer of Roche Holding AG, warned Thursday. That’s even after Roche quadrupled its capacity to churn out various types of coronavirus tests, Schwan said in a conference call.

Swiss Re Has $1.1 Billion Loss on Virus Claims (3:18 p.m. HK)

Swiss Re reported a net loss of about $1.1 billion in the first half, driven by claims arising from the pandemic.

Covid-related claims and reserves totaled $2.5 billion in the first six months, the company said in a statement late Wednesday.

Lloyd’s of London has estimated that the insurance industry will suffer about $203 billion in losses from the pandemic this year, with about $107 billion coming from underwriting claims and the rest from insurers’ investment portfolios.

U.K. Lacked Economic Plan, Panel Says (2:53 p.m. HK)

Boris Johnson’s administration had no economic plan for a pandemic as coronavirus hit the U.K. in an “astonishing” failure of governance, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said.

“Pandemic planning is the bread and butter of government risk planning, but we learn it was treated solely as a health issue, with no planning for the economic impacts,” the committee’s chairman said. “This meant that the economic strategy was of necessity rushed and reactive.”

The government rejected that conclusion and said, with the crisis ongoing, this is not the right time to review its response.

Israel’s Parliament Approves Bill (1:58 p.m. HK)

Israel’s parliament approved a bill that allows the cabinet to declare a state of emergency and impose new restrictions with little to no parliamentary supervision. Lawmakers would have 24 hours to vet new regulations, which would automatically take effect in the case of no opposition. If the government deems the restrictions urgent, then they can take effect immediately.

The bill was passed amid a barrage of protests over the government’s handling of the crisis.

Philippines Reimposes Travel Ban (1:50 p.m. HK)

The Philippines is suspending a decision to allow non-essential overseas travel, after just one company agreed to provide health insurance to outbound passengers. The country had 72,269 virus cases, including 1,843 deaths, as of Wednesday.

China’s $1 Billion Loan for Vaccine Access (12:55 p.m. HK)

China will provide a $1 billion loan for Latin American and Caribbean countries to have access to its Covid-19 vaccine, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told top regional diplomats, according to the Mexican government.

In a virtual gathering, Wang told his Latin American counterparts a vaccine developed by China would have universal access. He also presented a list of Chinese projects to fight the disease in the region, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

UN Calls for Basic Income to Curb Spread (12:22 p.m. HK)

The United Nations Development Programme proposed the immediate introduction of a temporary basic income that could stem the spread of the virus by allowing the world’s poorest people to stay at home.

A six-month guaranteed handout for 2.7 billion living below or just above the poverty line in 132 developing countries would cost around $199 billion per month and could be funded by repurposing external debt service payments, the agency said in a report published Thursday.

Cases Seen at Dalian Seafood Processing Plant (12:05 p.m. HK)

Three cases linked to a seafood processing plant have emerged in Dalian, weeks after traces of the virus were found on shrimp packaging in the northeastern Chinese city. The local government has quarantined and tested employees from two related companies amid concern about virus transmission on food packages.

Earlier this month, China said it found the virus in five instances on shrimp packaging in locations around the country, and inside a shipping container. The shrimp was imported from Ecuador.

Hong Kong Policy May Block U.S. Travelers (11:25 a.m. HK)

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. received another blow as Hong Kong unveiled a policy that threatens to eliminate nearly all travel from the U.S.

All passengers in the U.S. must prove they tested negative for Covid-19 within three days of their flight to Hong Kong, the city’s government announced Wednesday. The policy adds the U.S. to a list of “high risk places” that includes India, Indonesia and South Africa.

However, in many parts of the U.S., getting results from a Covid-19 test within 72 hours is almost impossible.

Hynix Profit Soars (10:59 a.m. HK)

South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc. reported a tripling in profit after data center clients and game console makers scooped up memory chips to meet rising demand from people stuck at home during the pandemic.

The supplier to Apple Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. said operating profit rose to 1.95 trillion won ($1.63 billion) in the three months ended June, compared with the 1.67 trillion won average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 33% to 8.61 trillion won.

Australia Forecasts Budget Deficit (9:45 a.m. HK)

Australia’s budget deficit will hit A$184.5 billion ($132 billion) in the 12 months through June 2021 amid a surge in spending, the government said. The deficit in the fiscal year ended last month was estimated at A$85.8 billion.

“These harsh numbers reflect the harsh reality we face,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. “The economic outlook remains very uncertain. Recent events in Victoria are testament to this.”

Victoria state, which is struggling to stem a second wave that’s put Melbourne into lockdown, recorded 403 new cases following a record 484 announced Wednesday.

Paid to Isolate in Argentina (9:22 a.m. HK)

Buenos Aires province, the epicenter of the pandemic in Argentina, will pay citizens with mild cases of coronavirus 500 pesos ($6.97) a day if they stay for 10 days in government facilities. The country’s largest and most populous province reported 3,801 new cases on Wednesday.

Healthy Terminals Act at New York Airports (9:15 a.m. HK)

The New York state legislature on Wednesday passed the Healthy Terminals Act, requiring employers at the largest airports in the state to provide additional wages that can be used to acquire health insurance. Meant to help workers most affected by Covid-19, the measure would apply to those employed at JFK International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, New York Stewart International Airport, Penn and Grand Central stations, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The bill must be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

McConnell Poised to Unveil Stimulus Plan (8:37 a.m. HK)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may introduce the Republican stimulus plan as soon as Thursday with a series of bills that would serve as an opening to negotiations with Democrats.

Republicans and the White House reached agreement Wednesday evening on the spending portion of their stimulus plan, a breakthrough that will help ease the way for McConnell to offer “a handful of bills” that will form the virus relief package designed to kick-start bipartisan talks, said Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, a member of the GOP leadership.

South Korea Slides Into Recession (7:30 a.m. HK)

South Korea’s economy fell into a recession in the second quarter as the pandemic hit exports and forced businesses to cut investment. Gross domestic product shrank 3.3% from the previous quarter and 2.9% from a year earlier, the Bank of Korea said, the biggest quarterly contraction since the global financial crisis and worse than economist expectations.

California to Buy More Masks From China’s BYD (6:26 a.m. HK)

With California now recording more coronavirus cases than any other state, Governor Gavin Newsom said he will extend a contract with China’s BYD Co. for hundreds of millions of masks.

California is burning through 46 million masks per month but needs more, with domestic companies still unable to supply them at the scale required, Newsom said in a news briefing Wednesday. He’s extending a contract with automaker BYD to supply another 120 million N95 masks and 300 million surgical procedure masks.

California had previously contracted with BYD to supply 500 million masks total, Newsom said. He wants to see more competition from domestic suppliers.

Brazil Cases Surge by Record (6:05 a.m. HK)

Brazil reported a record number of coronavirus infections, days after the World Health Organization said the country had reached a plateau.

The nation registered 67,860 new cases on Wednesday, more than 20% above the previous record for daily infections. The numbers of Covid-19 cases added in the last 24 hours pushed the total to 2,227,514. Deaths rose by 1,284 to 82,771, according to the Health Ministry.

Brazil, a nation of 210 million with some states the size of France, trails only the U.S. in both case and death counts. The numbers, while still high, have stabilized in recent weeks, the WHO said Friday.

Texas Reports Biggest Increase in Deaths (6 a.m. HK)

Texas virus deaths rose by a record 197 as the crisis afflicting some of the Lone Star state’s poorest border counties worsened. The cumulative death toll reached 4,348, according to state health department data released on Wednesday.

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