Hong Kong Sets Daily Record; Tokyo Says Stay Home: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong reported a record number of daily local virus cases, while Tokyo’s governor warned against unnecessary trips outdoors over an upcoming holiday weekend. Australia, once hailed as a virus success, also set a daily infection record.

President Donald Trump warned that the U.S. outbreak will probably get worse before it gets better. The U.S. accused two Chinese hackers of working with Beijing to steal coronavirus research from Western companies.

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

Global Tracker: Cases near 15 million; deaths pass 616,000U.S. infections far exceed reported cases, CDC findsCovid antibodies fade rapidly, raising risk of lost immunityVirus threatens to undo women’s economic progress, IMF saysPreschooler parents are facing tough choices as offices reopenU.K. oil industry at odds with government on mass testing

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Hong Kong Infections Reach Daily Record (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. The financial hub has been caught off-guard by the sudden eruption of infections, with the number of untraceable cases signaling that hidden chains of transmission are widespread.

“Hong Kong’s epidemic is at the most severe moment,” Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, said in a briefing Wednesday. “I urge all citizens to stay in their homes and stop unnecessary outings.”

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 on a chartered flight last week have tested positive with coronavirus, Yonhap News reported, citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 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 Reports Almost 6,000 New Cases (3:32 p.m. HK)

Russia recorded almost 5,862 new Covid-19 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 Finds Record 120 New Cases (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 country: Seven productions aim to film in Thailand, the Department of Tourism said, including “Mrs. Churchill’s War,” starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.

Taiwan Drops H.K., Australia From List of Mid-to-Low Risks (2:40 p.m. HK)

With infections rising in Hong Kong and Australia, travelers from those areas will need to undergo 14-day quarantines when entering Taiwan, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control said in a statement on its website. 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 for air travel, the agencies said in a joint press release.

The agencies aim to protect health and safety of passengers, crew and airport staff, while boosting travelers’ confidence to facilitate recovery of air travel between Singapore and Europe.

Bavarian, Adaptvac Sign Deal to License Virus Tech (2:14 p.m. HK)

Bavarian Nordic A/S signed a final agreement with AdaptVac ApS to license AdaptVac’s proprietary capsid virus-like particle technology for coronaviruses, including Covid-19, according to a statement.

Bavarian will get global commercialization rights to a Covid-19 vaccine and will pay 4 million euros upfront to AdaptVac, in addition to potential future development and sales milestones and tiered royalties.

Hong Kong to Require Masks in Indoor Public Venues (1:59 p.m. HK)

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, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said.

The territory will extend the mandatory 14-day quarantine for those with travel history to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau by another month, to Sept. 7. Hong Kong’s government also is making contingency plans to ensure Legislative Council elections will be held as scheduled Sept. 6, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

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

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Just-Evotec Biologics Inc., 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.

Germany’s New Cases Decline, Infection Rate Eases (1:19 p.m. HK)

Germany recorded a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases and the infection rate eased further, while remaining just above the key threshold of 1.0. The country reported 392 new cases and five deaths in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, bringing the total caseload to 203,717 and fatalities to 9,099, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The reproduction factor dropped to 1.04 on Tuesday, from 1.15 the day before, according to the latest estimate from the Robert Koch Institute.

India’s Death Tally From Virus 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 and India is rapidly closing in on former European hot spots France and Italy.

Indonesians Tiring of Social Distancing: Survey (1:02 p.m. HK)

Two out of three Indonesians oppose continuing strict social-distancing orders, according to a survey. The government should prioritize efforts to revive the economy rather than tackling virus spread, a majority of participants told pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia. The proportion opposed to tough mobility restrictions jumped to 60.6% from 34.7% in May, the July 13-16 survey showed.

New cases in Jakarta jumped 433 on Tuesday, a daily record, taking the total infections to almost 90,000. The world’s fourth-most populous nation is the worst virus-hit country in Southeast Asia, with a death toll of 4,320.

Tokyo Urges Stay-Home Weekend as Cases Top 10,000 (12:42 p.m. HK)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors during an upcoming four-day weekend, as the total number of coronavirus cases in the city topped 10,000. The city confirmed 238 news cases Wednesday, one more than the previous day, TV Asahi reported.

Tokyo will secure 2,000 hotel rooms by end-July for mildly ill and asymptomatic patients, Koike said, as a monitoring panel said infections were spreading among middle-aged and elderly persons. The governor is set to speak again at a press conference at 5 p.m., ahead of the holiday that starts Thursday.

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.

Indonesian Pharma Stocks Gain Amid Vaccine Test Plan (11:34 a.m. HK)

Shares of Indonesian state-owned pharmaceutical companies jumped by the maximum daily limit for a second straight day Wednesday as the government plans to start human trials of a vaccine next month, aiming to begin commercial production in early 2021. Shares of Indofarma and Kimia Farma were both up 25%, building on Tuesday’s 25% gain.

Australia Sets Record for Cases With Victoria Surge (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.

Mexico 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.

The Justice Department released an indictment Tuesday against the individuals, whom it identified as Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi. It said that the two men were assisted by China’s Ministry of State Security and that defense contractors and weapons systems were hacked along with medical research.

Vegas Union Drops MGM Coronavirus Lawsuit (7:55 a.m. HK)

A Las Vegas hospitality union dropped a lawsuit against MGM Resorts International for allegedly failing to protect workers from the coronavirus. The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 said it abandoned legal action in favor of “expedited” arbitration over new safety measures. The union is still pursuing a similar lawsuit against Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Republicans Mull 70% Wage Replacement for Unemployed (7:40 a.m. HK)

Senate Republicans are considering whether to cut the unemployment insurance subsidy to 70% of the $600 weekly addition to state-run unemployment programs provided by the last round of economic aid, or pushing for 70-75% of prior wage replacement, a smaller benefit.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will make the final call, which could be made public as soon as Wednesday. McConnell is trying to fit many policy proposals under a $1 trillion cap in an effort to acknowledge concerns over increased deficits.

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.

Trump Warns of Worsening Crisis (6:06 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump rebooted his coronavirus briefings with a warning about a surge in U.S. cases even as he sought to reassure Americans that his administration has the crisis under control. He took a notably more reserved tone than in earlier briefings, encouraging Americans to wear masks and avoid risky behavior.

“We will defeat the virus,” Trump said. But he added: “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.”

U.S. Cases Rise Less Than Average (5:30 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. climbed 1.7% to 3.86 million as of 1:56 p.m. New York time, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was less than the average 1.9% increase over the past week. Deaths rose 0.5% to 141,426.

California reported 9,231 new virus cases, a 2.4% increase and greater than the 14-day average of 8,606, according to state health data. The rise pushed the total above 400,000. The state had 61 new deaths, compared with the 14-day average of 95Texas’s cases increased by more than 9,300, according to state health department figures. It had 131 new deaths, the second-highest daily tally since the pandemic beganMississippi recorded the biggest daily increase in cases among states, according to the Johns Hopkins and Bloomberg data, with a 3.7% rise

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