Germany Damps Christmas Hopes; U.K. Travel Changes: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — German Health Minister Jens Spahn doused optimism for a significant easing of virus restrictions by Christmas as the number of new cases in the country remains stubbornly high. The U.K. plans to announce changes to its 14-day quarantine rules for travelers.

Japan may introduce more stringent virus restrictions after suffering record infections on Thursday. South Korea reported 191 new cases over the past 24 hours, the biggest gain in 10 weeks, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

California passed 1 million infections as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said almost no part of the country is being spared in the surge. Still, the fatality rate for infected people in the U.S. has declined 30% since April due to improved treatment, according to a study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation. Total U.S. deaths will nevertheless reach 439,000 by March, topping 2,200 a day in mid-January, the researchers said.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 52.8 million; deaths surpass 1.29 millionTesla’s Musk Says He May Have Covid-19, Calls Tests ‘Bogus’Japan Has Worst Day of Covid Cases Yet Amid Fears of Winter WaveChina comes under pressure to reveal Covid-19 vaccine dataWhite House is leaving stimulus to Congress with Biden entering fraySaving Christmas From Covid Is a Critical Mission for BritainPodcast: What to expect from the virus and the vaccine raceVaccine Tracker: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hope

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chart: Second Waves

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Second Waves

German Cases Dent Hopes for December Easing of Restrictions (4 p.m. HK)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn cooled optimism about a potential easing of restrictions next month, saying that infection numbers haven’t come down enough. He also said that the government had never promised that life would be back to normal in December. The country registered a near-record 24,738 new cases through Friday morning. On Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state premiers will review current measures, which include a ban on non-essential travel and the closure of bars and restaurants.

The on-going partial shutdown will lead to about 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in lower revenue this month for affected industries, according to Marcel Fratzscher, president of research institute DIW.

“The big concern is that companies have been cutting back on investment and consumers are actually saving more,” despite the government’s stimulus efforts, Fratzscher said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

U.K. to Announce New Travel Quarantine Measures ‘Very Soon’ (3:46 p.m HK)

The U.K. will unveil changes to 14-day travel quarantine measures “very soon,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News. The government is “actively working” on reducing quarantine and self-isolation periods for international travelers, he said.

Separately, the U.K. removed most of Greece from its list of travel corridors following a significant increase in coronavirus cases. The U.A.E., Iceland and Chile were among countries added to travel corridors, while a Denmark travel ban was extended by 14 days following a coronavirus outbreak in mink farms, according to a government statement on Thursday.

World’s Biggest Fur Auction House to Liquidate (2:20 p.m. HK)

Kopenhagen Fur, the world’s largest auction house for furs, is closing down after Denmark’s government ordered a mass cull of the country’s mink in an effort to fight a coronavirus mutation.

The 90-year-old company still has enough pelts to hold auctions next year and possibly further into the future, but will start liquidating the business after that, according to a statement on its website.

Tesla’s Musk Says He Tested Positive for Covid (2:17 p.m. HK)

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said he had taken four Covid-19 tests and two had come back positive.

The founder of the world’s No. 1 electric-car maker also said on Twitter he was experiencing symptoms of a “typical cold. Nothing unusual so far.”

India to Get 100 Million Astra Shots Next Month (1:52 p.m. HK)

The world’s largest vaccine maker is ramping up production of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 shot, aiming to have 100 million doses ready by December for an inoculation drive that could begin across India that same month.

If final-stage trial data show AstraZeneca’s candidate gives effective protection from the virus, the Serum Institute of India Ltd. — which is partnered to produce at least one billion doses — may get emergency authorization from New Delhi by December, said Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of the family-owned firm based in the western city of Pune.

Russia to Make 150m Doses a Year in S.Korea (1:15 p.m. HK)

Russian Direct Investment Fund reached agreement with South Korean pharmaceutical company GL Rapha to produce over 150 million doses a year of its first registered Covid-19 vaccines, Sputnik V, according to the vaccine’s Twitter account.

Production will commence in December and vaccine will be distributed globally.

Drones Check Crowds on Sydney Beaches (12:45 p.m. HK)

The quest for a Covid-safe summer is going high-tech.

Surf patrol guards at some of Sydney’s iconic beaches are using aerial drones so they can check sunbathers are evenly spaced on the sand.

They’re trying to avoid a repeat of scenes in the early days of the pandemic when authorities were forced to close Bondi Beach and other spots after thousands flocked to the coast, with many ignoring social-distancing rules.

IMF Sees Green Shoots of Economic Recovery (10:15 a.m. HK)

Actions by governments and central banks have put a floor under the world economy, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said, cautioning nations against withdrawing support too early.

“Because of the decisive action of governments and central banks, we managed to put a floor under the world economy,” she said Friday in a recorded message at the Caixin Summit in Beijing. “We are seeing the green shoots of recovery.”

U.S. Fatality Rate Has Fallen 30%, IHME Says (10:07 a.m. HK)

The fatality rate of infected people in the U.S. has declined 30% since April due to improved treatment, a study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found.

The researchers forecast that total U.S. deaths will reach 439,000 by March next year, after topping 2,200 a day in mid-January as the number of cases rise. That forecast includes 33 states reimposing broad-reaching social distancing mandates.

Successful treatment ahead could become more difficult as hospitalizations rise. Eleven states are expected to have “extreme stress” on general hospital beds in December through February.

Mexico Virus Infections Rise to 991,835 (9:21 a.m. HK)

Mexico reported 5,658 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 991,835, according to data released by the Health Ministry Thursday night. Deaths rose 626 to 97,056.

JPMorgan Boosts Stocks Call on Vaccine Break (8:56 a.m. HK)

JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists have increased their exposure to global stocks and backed away further from sovereign bonds, calling this week’s positive vaccine news a “game changer” for markets.

The breakthrough will allow investors to look past the resurgence in coronavirus cases toward the end of pandemic and the broader reopening of the global economy, according to a team including Marko Kolanovic. Bolstering JPMorgan’s bullish view was a positive third quarter earnings season and benign U.S. election outcome, it added.

California Tops 1 Million Cases (8:16 a.m. HK)

California surpassed 1 million cases of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The state, home to about 40 million residents, trails only Texas in reaching the grim milestone.

California was home to one of the earliest outbreaks of Covid-19 and the first to enact a statewide lockdown in March, only to see infections soar in the summer. Like the rest of the U.S., it’s seeing a virus resurgence after an autumn lull, with its 14-day average of new cases climbing 76% in the past month.

Almost a third of California’s cases are in Los Angeles County, the most populous. The state has had more than 18,000 fatalities from the virus, behind only New York and Texas.

Ivy League Cancels Winter Sports Season (7:59 a.m. HK)

The Ivy League athletic conference is canceling its winter sports season, as the Covid-19 pandemic forces schools to rethink in-person activities while infections are rising across the U.S.

The league, home to Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities, also won’t conduct competition for fall sports during the upcoming spring semester, it said Thursday in a statement. Intercollegiate athletics competition for spring sports is postponed through at least the end of February.

CDC: Virus Rising Almost Everywhere in U.S. (5:49 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 cases are increasing in 94% of U.S. jurisdictions, and the death rate in non-metro areas is more than double that in urban areas, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Test Surge May Cause Delays, Lab Group Warns (4:55 p.m. NY)

The American Clinical Laboratory Association, which represents large laboratories such as Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings and Quest Diagnostics Inc., warned that surging demand for Covid-19 tests could push some labs to or beyond capacity, delaying test results.

Members labs performed a record 495,000 polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests for Covid-19 on Wednesday and while they’re working to expand capacity, labs have faced challenges obtaining supplies like pipette tips, according to the group.

Biden Adviser Doubts National Lockdown (3:42 p.m. NY)

A member of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force said Thursday she doesn’t view a nationwide lock down as necessary. Céline Gounder’s comments backed away from comments by epidemiologist Michael Osterholm a day earlier.

“With all due respect to Dr. Osterholm, that doesn’t necessarily represent the entire advisory board or what the Biden-Harris transition team is planning to do,” Gounder said on CNN. She said that “perhaps there are some places where you need to be more draconian, but I really don’t think that’s a national policy.”

Osterholm told Yahoo Finance a lockdown lasting four to six weeks combined with a fiscal package to support workers, businesses and local governments could help contain the virus.

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