Thai Vaccine Trials; U.K. to Tighten Mask Rules: Virus Update

Thai Vaccine Trials; U.K. to Tighten Mask Rules: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

Thailand plans to start human trials for a locally developed, potential Covid-19 vaccine as early as September, making it among the first done outside high-income countries, after encouraging results in both monkeys and mice.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to tell Parliament next week it will be compulsory for Britons to wear face masks in shops, according to news reports, soon after telling the country that it was only optional to do so. Infections in Germany increased by 377.

Government schools in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, prepared to return to remote learning as Victoria state recorded 273 new cases and one death in the past 24 hours. Mexico reported 539 fatalities linked to the virus Saturday, taking the toll to 34,730, the fifth highest in the world. China said it found seven more Covid-19 infections on July 11.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 12.7 million; deaths surpass 565,000Aversion to mask-wearing holds back U.S. economyU.K. set to tighten rules on wearing face masksWall Street forges a new relationship to data in coronavirus ageShake Shack’s Danny Meyer took PPP loans after allCovid inoculation proposal stalled by feds, pharmaWuhan shows the world how economies may recoverChina gives world first view of post-lockdown rebound: Eco WeekPoland votes in pivotal ballot as pandemic tests populist role

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus.

Hong Kong Outbreak Concerns (2:50 p.m. HK)

The city’s top medical adviser Gabriel Leung warned on Sunday that Hong Kong is experiencing its first sustained local outbreak, and called for extensive tests at nursing homes for the elderly in East Kowloon, a high-risk area linked to many new local cases, according to Radio Television of Hong Kong. Every infected person in the territory is now expected to pass the virus on to almost four more people and the pathogen is transmitting at a faster pace, he said. Local cases in Asia’s financial hub jumped to a record last week since the outbreak started in January, and the government has tightened social distancing rules starting Saturday.

German Infections Rise Steadily (2:25 p.m. HK)

Germany’s coronavirus cases rose to 199,709, while deaths increased by seven to 9,070, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, both climbing at about the same rate as the previous day. The reproduction factor — or R value — grew slightly to 0.93, according to the latest estimate by the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s health body. The 95% confidence interval means the number is somewhere between 0.72 and 1.13. The relatively small number of new cases means the value can fluctuate more wildly.

Thailand to Begin Vaccine Trials in Humans (12:13 p.m. HK)

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The first stage of Thai clinical trials will enroll about 100 volunteers separated in two groups, one for people aged 18 to 60 and the other for 60- to 80-year-olds, Kiat Ruxrungtham, head researcher at Chulalongkorn University’s Center of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development, said at a briefing on Sunday in Bangkok. The second stage, likely to begin in December, will involve 500 to 1,000 people. If the trials are successful, Thailand could have its vaccine by the second half of 2021, Kiat said. Globally, 160 vaccines are being studied for Covid-19, of which 21 are at the clinical evaluation stage, according to the World Health Organization.

Toyota to Restart All Factories Globally (12:03 p.m. HK)

Toyota Motor Corp. will reopen its Venezuelan plant on Monday, meaning all factories in South America will be operational, spokesman Kensuke Ko said. The auto giant had already opened all its plants in Japan, North America and Europe, he said. From February, Toyota halted production in many countries, starting with China, as the coronavirus spread rapidly across the world.

Okinawa Demands Tougher Measures at U.S. Bases (11:23 a.m. HK)

The governor of the Japanese island has sought tougher measures and more transparency from a top U.S. military commander after officials were told that more than 60 Marines at two American bases have been infected over the past few days, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

Melbourne Students to Return to Remote Learning (11:01 a.m. HK)

Most students in Australia’s second-biggest city will go back to remote learning as officials grapple with coronavirus outbreaks. All prep to year 10 students at government schools will return to learning from home starting July 20 until at least Aug. 19, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference Sunday. Melbourne is in the midst of a six-week lockdown that was imposed to help curb a growing infection count.

Australia’s Victoria State Deals With Additional Cases (9:16 a.m. HK)

The country’s second-most populous state, which is facing a worsening outbreak, found 273 new infections in the past 24 hours. Australia had enjoyed early success in crushing the curve of virus infections by shutting its international border, quarantining arrivals, social distancing measures and a widespread testing and tracing regime. But a mixture of complacency, easing restrictions and missteps in Victoria’s quarantine program, has seen a fresh outbreak that’s led to Melbourne being placed in a six-week lockdown.

Authorities also warned of a cluster of infections linked to a hotel in Sydney’s southwest, and urged anyone who visited the venue from July 3 to 10 to self-isolate. Nine cases have been connected to the hotel, according to New South Wales health officials.

South Korea Reports More Infections (9:13 a.m HK)

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South Korea reported 44 more Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, raising the total tally to 13,417, according to data from Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. One additional death was reported, taking the total to 289. Among the new infections, 23 were imported.

Japan Virus Chief Says Country Needs to be on High Alert (8:34 a.m. HK)

Japan’s virus czar Yasutoshi Nishimura, who also serves as the nation’s economy minister, said the number of cases with unclear contagion routes is increasing, straining public health care resources. He didn’t say if the current situation warrants another declaration of emergency. The country has seen a spike in cases over recent days, with Tokyo reporting more than 200 infections daily for the past three days. Tokyo found 206 new cases Sunday, TV Asahi reported, without saying where it got the information.

Mexico Cases Rise (8:23 a.m. HK)

Mexico reported 6,094 new Covid-19 cases and 539 deaths Saturday, bringing the case count to 295,268 and number of deaths to 34,730, the fifth highest in the world, according to data released by the Health Ministry. New cases hit records this week, with officials reporting more than 7,000 for the first time Thursday.

Brazil Reports 39,023 New Cases (6:40 a.m. HK)

Total cases in Brazil, which has the highest number of infections and deaths after the U.S., reached 1,839,850, according to the Health Ministry’s press office. Another 1,071 deaths were reported, for a total of 71,469.

Utah Mormons Ask Faithful to Wear Masks (6:30 a.m. HK)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah sent an email to worshippers asking them to wear masks as cases in the state continue to climb, the Deseret News reported.

“Please join with us now in common purpose for the blessing and benefit of all,” read an email noting that the state hit a record number of daily cases on Friday of 867.

As of Saturday, the state reported a total of 28,223 cases and 207 deaths, according to Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins University.

Trump Wears Mask on Hospital Visit (5:45 p.m. NY)

President Trump wore a mask during a scheduled visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.The event was the first public photo opportunity in which he has appeared with a mask on since the beginning of the outbreak. He was set to meet with combat veterans and health care workers.

Despite repeated calls to do so, including from members of his own party, Trump has stubbornly refused to wear a mask, defying official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts.

U.K. Plans to Expand Mask Rules, Times Reports (5:35 p.m. NY)

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The U.K. government is set to make wearing masks mandatory in shops and other undisclosed indoor venues, the Times reported. Masks are currently compulsory on public transport but Boris Johnson has, so far, promised only to get “stricter” on their use. Johnson’s administration has come in for steady criticism for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of about 45,000 people in the U.K. — by far the highest toll in Europe.

Scotland has already made it compulsory to cover faces in shops.

U.S. Cases Rise 2.3% by Record (4:02 p.m. NY)

New infections in the U.S. surged by a record 71,389 from a day earlier to 3,215,861 million, jumping 2.3% and exceeding the daily average of 1.9% in the previous seven days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins University.

Deadly Outbreak at L.A. Apparel (3:45 p.m. NY)

A virus outbreak at Los Angeles Apparel has infected 300 people and caused four virus-related deaths, the Los Angeles Times reported, quoting county officials.

County officials found “flagrant violations” in public health control, the newspaper reported. The company, started by the ousted founder of American Apparel, Dov Charney, is now making face masks to combat the virus.

Disney Opens Florida Theme Parks (3:26 p.m. NY)

Disney opened its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Saturday, after a four-month shutdown and despite criticism that it did so as virus cases are spiking in Florida.

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Walt Disney Co.’s theme parks, said he was pleased with booking trends. The park is opening with virus-related safety protocols, including temperature checks at gates and mandatory mask-wearing by guests and employees inside.

“This is the new world that we’re operating in and we feel like we’ve got a way to operate in that new world,” D’Amaro said. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios parks will return on Wednesday.

Bollywood Veteran Hospitalized (1:40 p.m. NY)

Veteran Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan has been admitted to Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital after contracting the virus.

Bachchan, 77, shared the information on his social media, prompting a welter of get-well-soon wishes from fans across the world. He requested anyone who has been in his close proximity over the past 10 days to get themselves tested. The Mint newspaper said the actor’s condition is reported to be stable with mild symptoms. Bachchan’s son also tested positive and is in the hospital, the paper said.

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