U.S. Makes Vaccine Deal; Covid Grips Asian Nations: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. sealed a pact for an initial 100 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine Pfizer Inc. is developing with Germany’s BioNTech SE. President Donald Trump warned that the U.S. outbreak will probably get worse before it gets better.

The coronavirus tightened its grip on the Asia Pacific region, with deaths reaching a daily high in Indonesia and infections hitting records in Hong Kong and Japan. Australia, once hailed as a virus success, also saw cases set a daily record.

Aviation regulators in the European Union and Singapore are working together to establish health measures and facilitate a recovery of air travel.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases near 15 million; deaths pass 617,000Month into the outbreak, U.S. testing still isn’t rightNew York taxes will stalk those who fled pandemicPreschooler parents are facing tough choices as offices reopenU.K. oil industry at odds with government on mass testing

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.

Tokyo Urges Stay-Home Weekend; Japan Cases Hit Record (8:10 a.m. NY)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors as much as possible during a forthcoming four-day weekend as the city’s running total topped 10,000 and new cases nationwide were reported to hit a new daily record. Japan’s capital had another 238 cases on Wednesday. The long weekend was originally scheduled to celebrate the start of the now-postponed Tokyo Olympic Games.

Zimbabwe Imposes Curfew to Curb ‘Frightening’ Spread (7:46 a.m. NY)

Zimbabwe imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and warned of stiff penalties for people who break quarantine rules. The number of infections almost doubled to 1,713 by Tuesday, from 985 a week earlier, as deaths jumped by 40% to 26.

U.S. Seals Deal for Millions of Vaccine Doses (7:13 a.m. NY)

U.S. health officials agreed on an order as many as 600 million doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, the latest step in an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. government will pay the companies $1.95 billion upon the receipt of the first 100 million doses, following FDA authorization or approval, according to a statement, with an option to acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.

Indonesia Has Record Daily Virus Deaths (5:16 p.m. HK)

Coronavirus deaths in Indonesia hit a record daily high of 139 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 4,459, official data showed on Wednesday. New cases jumped by 1,882 to 91,751.

The world’s fourth-most populous nation has seen a surge in cases since June with the government relaxing some curbs in a bid to reboot the economy.

Separately, a survey showed that two out of three Indonesians oppose continuing strict social-distancing orders. Bali, Indonesia’s most popular holiday destination, is pressing ahead with a plan to welcome back visitors.

Hong Kong Warns of ‘Severe Moment’ (4:45 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong reported a record 105 new local virus cases as the city’s “most severe” situation since the epidemic began prompted health officials to expand protection measures.

Of the additional local cases, 63 were not linked to previous cases, according to data from the city’s health department on Wednesday. “I urge all citizens to stay in their homes and stop unnecessary outings,” Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, said in a briefing.

Masks will have to be worn in Hong Kong’s indoor public venues — including malls, shops, supermarkets, markets and building lobbies — from Thursday through Aug. 5, Chan said.

Korean Workers Return From Iraq With Covid (4:22 p.m. HK)

A total of 45 construction workers who returned to South Korea from Iraq last week have tested positive with coronavirus, Yonhap News reported, citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The chartered flight brought back 105 workers on July 14. Two military planes are due to head to Iraq on Thursday to repatriate 297 others.

Iraq has recorded more than 97,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, while South Korea has kept its infection levels below 14,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Russia Has Almost 6,000 New Cases (3:32 p.m. HK)

Russia recorded almost 5,862 new cases in the past day, bringing the total to 789,190, according to data from the government’s virus response center. A total of 165 people died in the same period, lifting Russia’s death toll to 12,745.

Russia’s daily case numbers peaked at about 11,700 in May and have been declining slowly since then, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Osaka New Cases Record (3:14 p.m. HK)

Osaka prefecture, Japan’s third-largest by population, found a record 120 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters at a press conference.

Thailand to Extend Emergency, Allow Film Crews (3:03 p.m. HK)

Thailand plans to extend its state of emergency by one month, to Aug. 31, while also allowing more foreigners to enter the country.

Although borders remain closed to most foreign visitors, more than 100,000 migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos will be allowed to enter in the next round of easing. Film crews will also be allowed to enter, the Department of Tourism said.

Taiwan Imposes Quarantine on H.K., Australia Travelers (2:40 p.m. HK)

Travelers from Hong Kong and Australia will need to undergo a 14-day quarantine after Taiwan dropped them from its list of low to mid Covid-19 risk, the Centers for Disease Control said in a statement. Travelers from low-risk or mid- to low-risk areas can apply for a shorter quarantine period.

Foreigners will be allowed to enter Taiwan for medical treatment from Aug. 1, provided they present relevant medical documents and negative test results for Covid-19. The foreigners must undergo a 14-day quarantine and get another negative test result before receiving medical treatment.

Singapore, EU Aviation Regulators Working on Health Steps (2:26 p.m. HK)

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and European Union Aviation Safety Agency are working together to establish health safety measures and facilitate the recovery of air travel, according to a joint press release.

Evotec Gets Contract to Develop Virus-Treatment Process (1:54 p.m. HK)

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded a unit of Evotec SE a contract worth as much as $18.2 million to develop and manufacture monoclonal antibodies for treatment or prevention of coronavirus.

India Death Tally Passes Spain’s (1:14 p.m. HK)

India reported 648 new deaths Wednesday to take its total to 28,732, passing Spain to rank seventh globally in deaths, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University. The country already ranks third in the number of infections. Deaths in India so far have lagged the casualty rate seen elsewhere — aided partially by the country’s younger population mix — but fatalities are gaining momentum.

New Zealand Near Maximum Size for Quarantine System (11:59 a.m. HK)

New Zealand’s housing minister said the country can house about 6,900 people in 32 quarantine hotels, with no plans to boost that capacity in the near term. Occupancy of the hotels, currently at 44%, is projected to rise to 81% over next two weeks, Megan Woods said at a briefing Wednesday.

A new arrangement linking passage to New Zealand to an available room will be in place from August, Woods said. Officials are giving each airline flying to New Zealand a rolling, 14-day quota of returnees to better align seat demand with the supply of quarantine rooms.

Australia Sets Record for Cases (10:44 a.m. HK)

Australia suffered its worst day of coronavirus infections, with Victoria state recording 484 new cases as a second wave threatens to derail the nation’s economic recovery.

After initial success in containing the virus, Australia is battling a spike in Victoria, which has forced around 5 million people in Melbourne back into lockdown. The shutdown of the nation’s second-biggest city, which contributes about one-quarter of gross domestic product, could prolong the nation’s first recession in almost three decades.

Singapore Looks to Resume Business Events (10:29 a.m. HK)

Singapore is preparing for the resumption of business events such as meetings, conventions, exhibitions and trade shows as economic activities restart, according to a statement by the Singapore Tourism Board. STB has developed a risk-management framework for business events with as many as 50 attendees, based on strict safe management measures, according to Wednesday’s statement.

A government minster said Singapore will step up enforcement of social distancing measures after more people gathered in public areas over the weekend.

South Korea Has 63 More Cases, Biggest Gain in 2 Weeks (9:24 a.m. HK)

South Korea reported 63 more Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, raising the total tally to 13,879, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Cathay Pacific in Pact With Airbus to Defer Jet Deliveries (9:08 a.m. HK)

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said it reached an agreement with Airbus SE to defer aircraft deliveries as part of its move to preserve cash amid slowing business due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The delivery of A350-900s and A350-1000s will be delayed to 2020-2023 from 2020-2021, while A321neo deliveries will be changed to 2020-2025 from 2020-2023, the airline said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The company is in advanced negotiations with Boeing Co. to defer 777-9 deliveries.

Mexico Cases, Deaths Continue to Rise (8:22 a.m. HK)

Mexico reported 6,859 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 356,255, according to data released by the Health Ministry Tuesday night. Deaths rose 915 to 40,400. The country has the seventh-most cases in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

U.S. Says China Hackers Stole Secrets, Sought Virus Data (8:13 a.m. HK)

The U.S. accused two Chinese hackers of working for Beijing to steal or try to steal terabytes of data, including coronavirus research, from Western companies in 11 nations — the second time in a week a foreign nation has been singled out for vaccine-related hacking.

Japan Backs Dexamethasone as Coronavirus Treatment (7:23 a.m. HK)

Japan’s health ministry approved the use of dexamethasone, a steroid, as second drug for coronavirus treatment, according to public broadcaster NHK. Meanwhile, the government will forgo lifting restrictions on large-scale events on Aug. 1, maintaining the cap of 5,000 people for the time being, Sankei reported.

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