Chinese City Lifts Threat Level; Australia to Ease: Virus Update

Chinese City Lifts Threat Level; Australia to Ease: Virus Update
Chinese City Lifts Threat Level; Australia to Ease: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Global coronavirus cases went past the 4 million mark, with deaths exceeding 279,000.

Shulan, a Chinese city in the northeastern province of Jilin bordering North Korea, raised its coronavirus threat alert level to high risk. Australia’s two most populous states are edging toward easing social-distancing restrictions.

The Trump administration’s coronavirus response was called a “chaotic disaster” by former President Barack Obama. The leaders of two U.S. health agencies will self-quarantine for two weeks.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: cases top 4 million; deaths exceed 279,000
  • Tesla sues over shutdown, threatens California pullout
  • U.K. to unveil virus code system in Johnson’s Sunday speech
  • Hidden defaults set to soar as recession squeezes
  • Auto industry to raise $100 billion from banks for virus relief
  • In zeal to urge reopening, Pence sets virus worries aside

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Shulan Raises Threat Level (11:35 a.m. HK)

The Chinese city in the northeastern province of Jilin bordering North Korea raised its coronavirus threat alert level to high risk from medium, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

There were 11 new coronavirus cases in Shulan yesterday, local health authorities said on Sunday. The city is investigating the source of the infection after a police employee came down with Covid-19, the South China Morning Post said in a separate report Saturday.

HK Experiencing “Unprecedented Pressure,” (11:18 a.m. HK)

Although the epidemic is under control recently, and the economy has a little breathing space, social events seem to have signs of a comeback, which may interfere with economic recovery, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan wrote in a blog post Sunday.

“The epidemic can be prevented and controlled, but violence is hard to stop,” Chan wrote. “In recent days, crowds and conflicts have reappeared in some areas, and even interfered with the operations of shops or malls. This is absolutely bad news for the already weak Hong Kong economy, retail market, small shops and wage earners.”

The economic situation in the second quarter is still worrying, Chan said. He expects the situation to improve in the third quarter as long as effective epidemic prevention continues.

China Promises Stronger Policies (10:55 a.m. HK)

The People’s Bank of China said the country faces unprecedented economic challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and it will resort to “more powerful” policies to counter the hit to growth.

Policy makers will pay more attention to economic growth and jobs among multiple targets, the central bank said in its quarterly monetary policy implementation report, released Sunday. It reiterated that prudent monetary policy will be more flexible and appropriate, and that it will maintain liquidity at a reasonably ample level.

To read the full story, click here.

Australia Moves Toward Easing (10:01 a.m. HK)

The country’s two most populous states, responsible for 65% of the nation’s coronavirus cases, are edging toward easing social-distancing restrictions after Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged them to start reopening the crippled economy.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney on Sunday that the state would ease its lockdown from May 15.

To read the story, click here.

South Korea to Set Up Epidemic Response System (10:00 a.m. HK)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be upgraded to the Disease Control and Prevention Administration to strengthen its expertise and independence, President Moon Jae-in said in an address to the nation. It will be staffed with more professionals, and a local epidemic response system will be established to make up for any insufficient provincial capabilities.

South Korea will also push to establish hospitals specialized in treating infectious diseases.

On Sunday, South Korea reported 34 new cases, after an infection at a Seoul nightclub last week raised concerns of a second wave. Among the newly reported cases, 14 are from Seoul and eight are imported. The country’s total tally stands at 256 deaths with a total of 10,874 cases.

Mexico Reopening Plan Coming (9:50 a.m. HK)

Mexico will give details about plans to reopen the economy in the coming week, most likely on Wednesday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said. Mexico has likely lost about 500,000 jobs in April, which is better than expected, he said.

CDC, FDA Chiefs Self-Quarantine (8:42 a.m. HK)

The heads of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are entering quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, 60, told staff about his self-isolation plans in a note on Friday, according to an emailed agency statement. CDC Director Robert Redfield, 68, will also go into quarantine, and will telework for two weeks. The pair are on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

One of the highest-profile task force members, Anthony Fauci, will not quarantine. Fauci is doing a “modified quarantine,” where he will primarily work from home and wear a mask continually for 14 days. If he’s called to the White House or Capitol Hill, he will take every precaution on those trips, CNN reported.

U.S. Airlines Endorse Fever Checks (7:49 a.m. HK)

Airlines for America, the trade group representing large airlines, said it would support fever checks for passengers and employees carried out by the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA and airlines have been in talks about starting fever checks, though no decision has been announced by the agency.

Musk Sues, Threatens Factory Move (7:30 a.m. HK)

Musk lashed out at the California county blocking Tesla Inc. from reopening its only U.S. car plant, threatening to relocate to other states and cease manufacturing at the factory.

The electric-car maker filed a complaint at U.S. District Court in San Francisco, saying Alameda County’s order keeping the 10,000-worker factory closed violates due process and “puts businesses deemed critical to the nation’s well-being by the federal and state governments between a rock and a hard place.”

Musk, the chief executive officer who has called shutdown orders fascist, said Tesla will decide whether to keep producing cars in Fremont, California, based on how it’s treated going forward. Later in a blog post Saturday, Tesla said it has started the process of resuming operations.

Venezuela Adds 14 Cases; Deaths Unchanged (7:20 a.m. HK)

Venezuela reported 14 new cases, President Nicolas Maduro said on state television, bringing the total to 402. The death toll of 10 is unchanged. Of those infected, 46 are from Colombia, 30 from Spain, and 12 from Brazil.

Brazil Deaths Climb by 730 (7:10 a.m. HK)

Brazil reported total deaths rose to 10,627 from 9,897 on Friday, the Health Ministry said on its website. The nation registered 10,611 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 155,939.

L.A. County Cases Jump by 1,011 (6:45 a.m. HK)

Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the outbreak in California, reported 44 new deaths, bringing the total to 1,512. The county added 1,011 new cases, for a total of 31,197.

The area of 10 million people is planning to lift restrictions on most retailers, manufacturers and recreational facilities later next week after letting florists and some shops offer curbside pickup. Car showrooms, trails and golf courses are also able to reopen with safety measures in place.

U.K. to Unveil Virus Code System (5:30 p.m. NY)

Boris Johnson will unveil a virus alert system, similar to the color-coded terror-threat scale, in a Sunday address to Britain that will set out some conditions for removing restrictions on the economy.

The five-level alerts range from one (green), which would enable life to return to normal, to five (red). England is on the verge of improving from level four to three, which indicates the infection rate isn’t increasing significantly, Johnson is expected to say. A new motto is also to debut: “Stay alert, control the virus and save lives.”

Johnson will urge workers and businesses to stay alert by following social distancing rules, potentially angering some in his Conservative Party who want a swift end to the lockdown that has scarred the economy.

U.K. to Require Traveler Self-Isolation (4:30 p.m. NY)

Travelers arriving in the U.K., including Britons returning from abroad, will be told to self-isolate for 14 days as part of the government’s plans to try to avoid a second wave of the coronavirus.

The rules, set to start next month, will force travelers to declare where they will stay in isolation, said a person familiar with the plans. Violators face fines as high as 1,000 pounds ($1,145) or deportation.

The measures may heighten criticism that Johnson’s government was slow to contain the pandemic.

U.S. Cases Climb 2.1%, Data Shows (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases increased 2.1% from the same time Friday to reach 1.3 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That matches the average daily increase over the past week. U.S. deaths reached 78,320.

  • New York reported 2,715 new virus cases, for a total of 333,122, with 226 new deaths, bringing the total to more than 21,271.
  • New Jersey had 1,759 new cases, bringing the total to 137,085, Governor Phil Murphy said. The state added 166 deaths, raising the total to 9,116. Patient numbers for critical or intensive care continue to fall, he said.
  • Illinois had 2,325 new cases, bringing the total to 76,085, with 111 new deaths — the fewest in four days — for a total of 3,349, the health department said.
  • Pennsylvania reported 1,078 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 55,316. The state added 72 deaths, for a total of 3,688, the state health department said.
  • California added 2,049 new cases, with a total of 64,561, with 93 new deaths, for a total of 2,678.
  • Michigan had 430 new cases, bringing the total to 46,756, with 133 new deaths, for a total of 4,526, the state reported on its website.
  • Florida reported 802 new cases, raising the total to 40,001, with 46 new deaths, for a total of 1,715.
  • Ohio reported 681 new cases, for a total of 23,697, with an additional 25 deaths, bringing the total to 1,331, the health department reported.
  • North Carolina added 407 cases to bring its total to 14,360, and 15 new deaths for a cumulative total of 544, the health department said.

Trump Response a ‘Chaotic Disaster:’ Obama (3:30 p.m. NY)

Former President Barack Obama excoriated Donald Trump’s handing of the pandemic as he urged members of his administration to rally behind presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

While “it would have been bad even with the best of governments,” Obama said, “it has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government.”

Obama, in Friday’s remarks reported by Yahoo News, said the response is an outgrowth of a trend where “being selfish, being tribal, being divided and seeing others as an enemy” have emerged as a stronger impulse in America.

Read the story here.

N.Y. Deaths Steady, Cuomo Warns About Children (2 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo reported 226 new deaths in New York, while new hospitalizations, based on a three-day rolling average, dropped to the lowest since March. Daily deaths have remained “infuriatingly constant,” Cuomo said, in the 200s for more than a week.

Cuomo also raised a warning that children are becoming seriously ill, and three young patients have died, after developing unconventional and dangerous symptoms.

New York reported another 2,715 virus cases, for a total of 333,122.

Read the full story.

Canada Gets China Medical Gear (12:50 p.m. NY)

Canada is securing large amounts of personal protective equipment on daily flights of goods from China and elsewhere, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. So far, about 23 flights from China have brought millions of PPE items. In order to gradually restart the economy, Canada needs enough equipment to ensure people can work in safe environments, he said. Equipment arriving from other countries will be tested before being sent out to front-line workers.

Africa Seeks Debt Relief, Stimulus (12:40 p.m. NY)

African nations need a two-year debt standstill to give governments the fiscal space to fight the pandemic, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said. A $100 billion injection of emergency economic stimulus is also required to combat the impact of the disease and almost half of that could come from waiving interest payments, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Italy Has Fewest Cases Since May 5 (12:20 p.m. NY)

Italy registered 1,083 new cases on Saturday — the fewest since May 5 — compared with 1,327 a day earlier. Confirmed cases now total 218,268. Daily fatalities fell to 194 from 243 on Friday, with a total of 30,395.

With the government cautious on easing measures after an initial relaxation on Monday, an Ipsos survey published in newspaper Corriere della Sera on Saturday showed 58% of Italians want all economic sectors to restart as soon as possible.

U.K. Urges Cycling, Walking (11:30 a.m. NY)

The U.K., the European country hardest hit by the outbreak, plans to spend 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) to encourage people to cycle and walk to work and help relieve pressure on transport systems.

Prime Minister Johnson has said that the U.K. has passed the peak of the outbreak, and limiting travel on public transit will help curb the risk of a second wave of infections, said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. The government will also spend more on electric-car charging points and extend trials of e-scooters and permit their rentals.

Daily deaths rose by 346, Shapps said Saturday, down from 626 on Friday and the lowest since May 4. Total deaths reached 31,587, surpassed only by the U.S., with total infections at 215,260.

Collapse of Travel Demand Scuttles Deal (10:50 a.m. NY)

Carlyle Group Inc. and Singapore sovereign-wealth fund GIC Pte. Ltd. are backing out of a deal to buy a stake in American Express Global Business Travel, hit hard by the pandemic. The parties were in talks on terms of the deal, which was set to close this week, but couldn’t reach an agreement, people familiar with the matter said. The deal valued the American Express Co. unit at $5 billion with debt.

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