Global coronavirus infections passed 19 million as local media in Hong Kong reported that free tests will be introduced for everybody in the city.
The White House and Democrats failed to reach agreement on a new stimulus deal despite progress on a number of issues while Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he now tests negative for the virus after earlier reporting a positive result.
The Philippines now has the worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, overtaking Indonesia, with cases surging to almost 120,000. Japan is facing criticism for conflicting signals from national and local officials on travel while Australia’s Victoria state said new infections fell to 450.
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Swiss Sign Deal With Moderna for 4.5 Million Vaccine Doses (2:42 p.m. HK)
Switzerland signed a deal with Moderna Inc. for 4.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine the company is working on.
The government is in talks with other vaccine companies to secure supply, according to a statement. Government has earmarked 300 million Swiss francs ($329 million) for vaccine procurement.
Denmark Discourages Spain Travel Due to Covid-19 Resurgence (2:24 p.m. HK)
Denmark is discouraging non-essential travel to Spain following a resurgence in cases of Covid-19.
The Foreign Ministry said Spain was added to a list that already includes the U.K., Bulgaria and Romania because of a “marked increase” in infections there. Back home, plans to allow bigger crowds to gather were dropped after the Nordic country registered its biggest daily increase in cases in three months.
Danes had been expecting the current cap of 100 to be raised to 200 this weekend.
German Recovery Hopes Stick as Industrial Momentum Catches Up (2:05 p.m. HK)
Hopes for a speedy economic rebound in Germany are holding ground as manufacturing starts to catch up with consumer-oriented sectors.
Industrial output gained 8.9% in June, slightly more than forecast, following on from figures on Thursday that showed factory demand is rising. The most recent data suggest Europe’s largest economy may bounce back more quickly than its neighbors, after a record second-quarter slump because of pandemic- related restrictions on business and movement.
Hong Kong to Offer Free Virus Tests Across City, HK01 Says (1:26 p.m. HK)
Hong Kong will offer free virus tests to all residents, reported local media outlet HK01 on Friday, a move that reflects the powerful boost that mainland China has provided to the city’s effort to contain its outbreak.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam will hold a press conference on Friday afternoon to announce a one-time free, voluntary virus test for all residents, HK01 said, citing sources it didn’t identify. The initiative will start in two weeks at the earliest, said the report.
Hong Kong’s rapid shift from inadequate testing capacity to being able to provide its over 7 million residents with free tests is driven by help from mainland China, which sent a team from Guangdong province about a week ago to aid in the city’s worst outbreak ever. But the mainland’s offer of testing help has been complicated by deep political mistrust after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong, which has already been used to target key pro-democracy activists.
without providing further details.
German New Cases Down as Infection Rate Edges Up (12:30 p.m. HK)
Germany recorded 926 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours through Friday morning, down from 1,285 the previous day and taking the total to 215,039, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Europe’s biggest economy has experienced an uptick in cases in recent weeks. Thursday’s total was the highest in more than three months but still far below the daily increase of almost 7,000 at the peak of the outbreak in late March and early April.
The infection rate edged up to 0.99 on Thursday, from 0.90 a day earlier, the latest report from the nation’s RKI public health institute showed.
India’s Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Cross 2 Million: Government Data (12:27 p.m. HK)
India’s total infected cases crossed the two million mark on Friday, according to government data, in a grim reminder that the pandemic continues to rage in the world’s second-most populous nation and threatens to further stretch its overworked health care system.
Despite imposing a nationwide lockdown as early as the end of March, India’s virus curve hasn’t flattened with over 50,000 daily new cases regularly reported over the past two weeks. As the country unlocks in phases to boost the collapsing economy and people start moving about, India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing hotspots in the world with the third-highest number of cases.
Venezuela Reports Daily Record of 981 Covid-19 Cases (12:01 p.m. HK)
Venezuela reported a record 981 new cases, increasing the country’s infections to 23,280.
Seven deaths were recorded, bringing the fatalities to 202, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said in a Twitter post.
Australia’s Victoria State New Infections Fall to 450 (11:12 a.m. HK)
Victoria reported 450 new cases on Friday, down from 471 a day earlier, with 11 more people dying from Covid-19 in Australia’s second-most populous state.
Premier Daniel Andrews said about 150 people who were supposed to be self-isolating were not found at their homes when authorities carried out inspections on Thursday.
The state is under lockdown and residents in the capital of Melbourne this week started a six-week curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Hanoi Weighs Social Distancing for Some High-Risk Virus Areas (10:34 a.m. HK)
Vietnam’s capital may place some high-risk virus areas under social distancing, according to a post on the city government’s website, which cited information from a meeting on Thursday.
The statement did not provide details on what areas are being considered or what activities could be curtailed. The city has recorded as many as 94,000 returnees from Danang, the epicenter of the new outbreak, presenting a high risk of new infections that could possibly overwhelm the ability of medical units to engage in thorough contact tracing, according to the post.
Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned that the country is entering its “peak period” in the outbreak and faces a high risk of local spread.
Ohio Governor DeWine Tests Negative After Earlier Positive (9:55 a.m. HK)
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he’s tested negative for Covid-19 after taking two PCR tests follow an earlier positive result.
“This test is known to be extremely sensitive, as well as specific, for the virus,” his office says in a statement on the PCR test. PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction, amplifies the genetic material to indicate if someone is infected.
The earlier test was taken as part of the standard protocol to greet President Donald Trump on the tarmac when he arrives at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.
White House, Democrats Fail to Find Breakthrough on Stimulus (8:44 a.m. HK)
Negotiations on a virus relief package ended Thursday night with the White House and Democrats making progress on a few issues but still no closer to making headway on the biggest obstacles in the talks.
“There are a lot of issues we are close to a compromise position on,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said after a more than three hour meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. But they remain “very, very far apart on some significant issues.”
Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said there are still disagreements on the topline numbers for a stimulus bill and on individual provisions, including aid to state and local governments.
Philippines Now Has Worst Covid Outbreak in Southeast Asia (8:26 a.m. HK)
Despite imposing the longest, strictest lockdown in Southeast Asia, coronavirus cases in the Philippines have now surged to almost 120,000, eclipsing Indonesia to become the region’s biggest outbreak.
The country imposed a second lockdown on Manila and nearby areas to curb the spread of infections, even as the economy suffered its deepest contraction on record, shrinking 16.5% in the second quarter from a year ago.
After enduring a strict lockdown from mid-March to the end of May, the Philippines re-opened its capital although new cases were still growing by up to a thousand every day. As people returned to offices and families gathered again, infections surged 500% in over two months of easing before the government re-imposed a lockdown this week.
Smell-Loss Survey Suggests Covid Widespread in Health Workers (6:30 a.m. HK)
A large proportion of U.K. health-care workers may have been infected with coronavirus early in the pandemic, according to a survey suggesting that loss of smell and taste may be a guide to determining its prevalence in populations.
About two-thirds of the London National Health Service staffers surveyed reported diminished ability to taste or smell — one of the prominent, early symptoms of Covid-19 — just weeks after the coronavirus arrived in the U.K., according to research published in The Lancet Microbe journal.
Japan’s Government Faces Criticism for Mixed Messages (6 a.m. HK)
Japan’s Obon holiday period is synonymous with summer holidays, as many leave densely populated cities and travel to meet family in rural areas. But with national and local officials giving conflicting signals over the risk of travel as the period approaches, the holiday threatens to boost the spread of the pandemic, as cases continue to rise across the country.
A day before many were due to travel, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike made a belated call for residents to refrain from going to their hometowns or otherwise traveling. The advice conflicts with that of the national government, which has pointedly refrained from calling for curbs on traveling home for the holidays, even after virus cases hit daily records in many parts of the country.
With cases flaring in population centers nationwide, the government’s lack of direction against travel has been met with criticism. Some regions little touched by the virus have called on people not to return, fearing the specter of infected but possibly asymptomatic young people leaving cities and transmitting the disease to elderly relatives.
Africa Cases Exceed 1 Million (4:55 p.m. NY)
Cases in the continent have surpassed 1 million and the actual number of infections could be several times higher with a lack of testing, the Associated Press reported, citing global health experts. Some countries have only one testing machine, it said, and some have had fewer than 500 tests per million people.
Separately, South Africa reported 306 additional deaths and 538,184 cases.
U.S. Cases Rise 1.3% (4 p.m. NY)
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.3% compared with the same time Wednesday to 4.85 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was higher than the average 1.2% daily gain over the past week. Deaths rose 1.3% to 159,433.
- Florida reported 510,389 cases, up 1.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.6% in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 7,747, an increase of 120, or 2.4%.
- Illinois reported 1,953 new cases, 11% more than the previous day and the most since May 24, according to state data. The seven-day rate of positive tests rose to 4% from 3.9%. Deaths declined to 21 from 30 a day earlier.
- Texas’s positive-test rate jumped to 17.05%, the second-highest since the pandemic began, according to state health department data figures.
Iowa Governor Warns on Mask Mandates (3:30 p.m. NY)
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signaled she’d overrule any local officials who impose outdoor mask-wearing requirements. While businesses, school districts and local governments can legally require people to wear face masks inside their premises, anything beyond that would be subject to reversal by the governor, Reynolds said.
“We don’t believe during a public health emergency that the local governments have the authority to supersede what is in place at the statewide level by the governor,” Reynolds, a Republican who has refrained from issuing a statewide stay-home order, said Thursday.
France Cases at Levels Last Seen in April (1:18 p.m. NY)
France reported 1,604 new cases, marking the first time since April that the country has counted more than 1,600 infections on two consecutive days. Another seven deaths increased the total to 30,312, according to the Health Ministry.
French authorities are increasingly ordering people to wear masks outdoors and indoors and warning of a pandemic resurgence as soon as September.
U.S. Jobless Claims Fall (8:44 a.m. NY)
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week to the lowest since the pandemic began in a broad decline across nearly all states, suggesting the labor market is improving.
The drop, the largest in almost two months, comes as U.S. lawmakers are still working toward a stimulus package that would once again bolster the size of millions of Americans’ unemployment checks.
— With assistance by Robert Fenner