Singapore-HK Travel Bubble; Cases Soar Across U.S.: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — A travel bubble linking Singapore and Hong Kong will begin operating on Nov. 22. The bubble, which was announced last month, will let travelers move between the two regions with testing replacing quarantine.


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Japan recorded the second-highest number of cases since the summer surge, while South Korea saw its biggest gain in infections in almost three weeks. Mongolia returned to lockdown for three days after two people were infected. Meanwhile, Taiwan approved a visit without quarantine from a small group of U.S. tech company officials, the first easing of its strict controls.

The coronavirus is also roaring back in U.S. cities after months of crisis centered in more rural areas, with hospitalization in the country reaching a record. Cities from Newark to San Francisco announced new restrictions to help cope with the surge, as cases in the U.S. top 1 million in the first 10 days of November alone.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases near 51.3 million; deaths top 1.26 millionU.S. Hot Spots: Covid back in cities after months as rural problemBrazil’s halting of China’s vaccine baffles local researchersNeed to keep Pfizer’s shot in deep-freeze presents challengeWhere things stand in the race for a vaccine: QuickTakeVaccine Tracker: Encouraging breakthroughs offer hope

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.

chart, histogram: Resurgent Virus

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Resurgent Virus

Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble to Begin Nov. 22 (11:03 a.m. HK)

A travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong will begin on Nov. 22, authorities announced, with daily service by Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. from Dec. 7. The bubble will be limited to 200 passengers per flight, and will completely replace the need for quarantine. Singapore Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung said it was the first bubble of its type in the world.

Hong Kong to Exempt Some Arrivals From Quarantine (10:55 a.m. HK)

Hong Kong will exempt some of its residents arriving from Guangdong from a 14-day quarantine beginning Nov. 23, the Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said at a briefing.

Mongolia in Three-Day Lockdown; Taiwan Eases (10:50 a.m. HK)

Mongolia returned to lockdown for three days on Wednesday, after two people were diagnosed with Covid-19. The country will ban flights into the country as well as all travel in and out of the capital Ulaanbaatar. Nearly all of Mongolia’s 374 confirmed cases since March have been detected in citizens recently returned from abroad.

Taiwan approved a visit without quarantine from a small group of U.S. tech company officials, the Taipei-based Central News Agency reported. The three-day visit represents the first easing of the strict controls that helped Taiwan surpass 200 days without local transmission of the virus. The government is set to approve such short-term business visits on a case-by-case basis.

Wisconsin Urges Staying Home as Cases at Record (10:40 a.m. HK)

Wisconsin reported 7,073 new Covid-19 cases, a daily record for the Midwestern state. Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday implored residents to stay home and recommended businesses stagger shifts. “Wisconsin, this is serious,” Evers said in a statewide broadcast. “This crisis is urgent.”

Japan, South Korea Cases Rise (10:10 a.m. HK)

Japan recorded a total of 1,287 cases on Tuesday, according to a tally by local broadcaster NHK, the second-highest day of infections since the country contained a surge during the summer. Cases are increasing in the northern island of Hokkaido, which has already asked bars and restaurants in the prefectural capital of Sapporo to close early, as well as the dense urban regions of Tokyo, Osaka and Aichi.

Meanwhile, South Korea reported 146 new coronavirus cases, the biggest increase in almost three weeks.

U.S. Current Covid-19 Hospitalizations Hit Record (10 a.m. HK)

The U.S. had a record 61,964 patients currently hospitalized with Covid-19 on Tuesday, surpassing the April 15 high of 59,940, reached when New York and New Jersey were at the center of the pandemic. In April, hospitalization data wasn’t available for every state.

Current hospitalizations have climbed at an average of 1,661 patients per day in the past week.

U.S. Tops 1 Million Cases Already This Month (9 a.m. HK)

Coronavirus infections in the U.S. have already surpassed 1 million in the first 10 days of November alone, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The U.S. has seen more than 100,000 cases for six straight days.

Singapore to Make Covid Tests Available to All (8:30 a.m. HK)

Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced plans to make a coronavirus test available to all. Anyone who needs a test will be able to get one from an approved provider from Dec. 1 as the country seeks to resume more economic and social activities.

U.K to Spend Up to $57 Billion on ‘Moonshot’ Mass Virus Testing (8:20 a.m. HK)

The U.K. government is set to hand more than 40 billion pounds to companies that can help in its drive to ramp up mass coronavirus testing, a plan dubbed “Operation Moonshot,” with government bodies issuing tenders for test makers and diagnostic equipment that are bigger than the annual budgets of some government departments.

Cases Surge in States Across the U.S. (8 a.m. HK)

Cases are surging in states all across the U.S. Texas, the second-largest U.S. state, recorded almost 11,000 new virus cases in the past 24 hours, eclipsing the previous record of 10,791 set on July 15.

In New York state, cases are nearing 4,000 a day and the positive testing rate topped 3%, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. The tally was the most positive cases since the start of May, when New York City was a global center of the crisis.

New Jersey reported 3,877 new cases, an 87% jump from a day earlier. “These numbers are devastating,” Governor Phil Murphy said on Twitter. Starting on Thursday, Murphy’s administration will enforce new restrictions, including ending indoor restaurant service at 10 p.m. daily and banning bars from serving anyone other than diners seated at tables.

Pennsylvania reported a record 4,361 additional cases, more than double its highest number during the first surge in April, with a positive test rate of 6.9% as of Nov. 9. Arizona on Tuesday reported 3,434 new Covid-19 cases, the most since late July, while New Mexico reported new positive test results topped 1,400 for the first time on Monday.

Brazil’s Halting of China Vaccine Baffles Local Researchers (7:30 a.m. HK)

The decision to suspend Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s coronavirus vaccine trials in Brazil’s largest state has baffled local researchers and prompted speculation that the move could be political.

Sao Paulo’s Instituto Butantan, which partnered with Sinovac to produce the vaccine locally, said there’s no relation between an incident with a volunteer and the shot. The head of the institue told a press conference that the health agency didn’t consult with researchers before making the decision.

Fauci Sees Wide Vaccine Availability by April (5:30 p.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease expert, said Americans less at risk for contracting Covid-19 could have access to a vaccine by April.

“I would say by April you’ll be able to be vaccinated,” he said on CNN, indicating the time frame was an estimate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in charge of prioritizing who will get a shot first. Health-care providers and high-risk groups such as the elderly would likely be at the front of the line, Fauci said. He said in a CNN interview yesterday that some of the first vaccinations could come at the end of the month or December.

Fauci acknowledged logistical challenges related to distributing doses, but said the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed program was meant to help overcome those hurdles.

“To say it’s going to be easy would not be truthful,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge. But I believe we’re going to be able to do it.”

San Francisco Pares Reopening (4:10 p.m. NY)

San Francisco will close indoor dining and reduce capacity on businesses such as gyms and movie theaters after a dramatic increase in virus cases. Infection rates have more than doubled in the past few weeks and the surge has the potential to be worse than in the spring, said Grant Colfax, the city’s top health official.

“The uptick we’ve seen is really a cause for concern,” Mayor London Breed said at a press conference Tuesday. “The fact is the virus is spreading, and we have to make the hard decisions.”

The virus is rebounding across California and for the first time since the state enacted its tiered reopening system, no counties made forward progress in the past week. Three counties moved back Tuesday into the most restrictive tier, including Sacramento, home of the state capital.

If current trends continue, more than half of the state’s 58 counties will have moved backward in the four-tier system by next week, said Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. Although still far below the summer peak, the number of Californians hospitalized with Covid-19 has grown nearly 32% in the past 14 days, he said.

Newark Imposes Curfew in Hot Spots (3:45 p.m. NY)

Newark, New Jersey’s most populous city, immediately will enforce a curfew in three sections where positivity rates are highest, save for emergencies and those going to and from work.

“No one should be on the street after 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekend​s,” according to a statement issued by the office of Mayor Ras Baraka.

Newark’s positivity is 19% while New Jersey’s is 7.7%, Baraka said. He also ordered the suspension of “all sports of any kind,” capped indoor and outdoor gatherings at 10 people, banned visits to long-term health-care facilities and limited religious services to 25% capacity. The city is averaging 230 new cases per day, higher than some county-wide numbers.

French Death Toll is Highest Since April (3:35 p.m. NY)

Deaths in France from the coronavirus rose 1,220 to 42,207, the biggest increase since April 15. The European nation also reported 22,180 new s cases in the past 24 hours. The seven-day average, which smooths out fluctuation in the data, dropped to 46,699 cases.

Hungary to Mandate Mask-Wearing (2:35 p.m. NY)

Hungary will make mask-wearing mandatory in all public spaces as of Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an interview on state television.

Orban said further restrictions were needed to contain the spread of the pandemic and avoid hospitals being overwhelmed. The government would review the impact of the lockdown measures in two weeks, he said.

Economic measures would focus on the hardest-hit industries, including hotels and restaurants, in the next month amid the strictest lockdown steps. The government was planning broader stimulus to help other businesses later.

Italy Deaths Highest Since Mid-April (12:30 p.m. NY)

Italy reported 35,098 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the total to 995,463. Covid-19 related daily deaths jumped to 580, the most since mid-April.

Silvio Brusaferro, head of the ISS public health institute, said at a press conference that the pressure on hospitals is close to critical levels. Covid-19 patients occupied 36% of all intensive therapy units and 51% of hospital beds across the country.

Paris-Area ICU Occupation to Exceed 99% (11:05 a.m. NY)

The Paris region will cross the threshold of more than 99% of initial intensive-care unit capacity taken by Covid-19 patients on Tuesday, regional health agency head Aurelien Rousseau said in a tweet. That’s up from about 96% a day earlier, and the highest in five months, after confirmed coronavirus cases in France rose to record levels last week. Nationwide, 92.5% of initial ICU beds were occupied by severely ill Covid patients on Monday, data from health authorities show.

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