ECONOMY

India Cases Surge; N.Y Shuts Overflow Center: Virus Update

India is driving a surge of cases in Asia, reporting more than 200,000 new infections every day for the past week and a record death toll on Wednesday. In Japan, Tokyo and Osaka will ask the government to declare a state of emergency, looking to contain surging cases ahead of the Olympics.

France plans to lift curbs on regional movement and reopen schools in coming weeks, while leaving a curfew in place, the government spokesman said. In Germany, the lower house of parliament backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s controversial lockdown law. Greece plans to ease most lockdown measures.

Airlines’ losses will amount to as much as $48 billion this year, the industry’s trade group said, widening its estimate by about a quarter as virus flare-ups and mutations push back the restart of global travel. New York City is embarking on a $30 million marketing campaign to bring back tourists.

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 143 million; deaths exceed 3 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 930 million shots given worldwide
  • How a Covid Spike Sucked the Oxygen Out of India: Andy Mukherjee
  • ‘Please Help!’: Covid Tragedy Spills Onto Social Media in India
  • Slow Vaccine Rollout Could Keep Australia Isolated Into 2022
  • U.S. airlines’ summer dreams at risk on blanket no-fly warnings

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.

Argentina Extends Ban on Firing Workers (6:37 a.m. HK)

The Argentine government will extend a ban on firing workers until May 31, a spokesman for the Labor Ministry said.

The ban, implemented a year ago as part of Covid-19 emergency measures, was set to expire at the end of April.

New York Shuts Overflow Center (5:37 p.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the South Beach Psychiatric Center, a new but unopened Office of Mental Health facility on Staten Island, discharged their final Covid-19 patient on Wednesday.

The facility has served as an emergency hospital since last April, providing care for over 1,000 patients over two waves — second only to the Javits Center. The Center is closing as a result of the decline in Covid hospitalizations.

The South Beach Psychiatric Center was the first dedicated Covid field hospital to open in the U.S.

Iowa Counties Decline Shots on Lack of Demand (4:44 p.m. NY)

Almost half of Iowa counties declined some or all of their vaccine allotments for next week because people in the state are delaying or avoiding vaccination, a development that may be linked to federal government’s pause in distributing the Johnson & Johnson shot, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said.

“Vaccine hesitancy is beginning to become a real factor across the country,” Reynolds, a Republican, said at a news conference.

“Vaccine that has been declined is being reallocated to more populous counties and metro areas where demand is still higher,” she said. “But even in larger communities, clinics are now filling up over the course of a couple days rather than just a few hours. Some pharmacies are seeing appointments remain open.”

Reynolds said 44% of the counties have declined some or all of the shots that they were to get.

N.Y. Positivity Falls to Lowest Since Nov. 5 (4 p.m. NY)

New York state’s coronavirus positivity rate fell to 2.14%. the lowest since Nov. 5, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

“New Yorkers are practicing safe behaviors to fight the Covid-19 pandemic every single day, and we’re going to need their vigilance and fortitude as we continue to vaccinate residents as fast as we can,” Cuomo said in a statement.

N.Y. Allows Walk-Ins for People Over 60 (2:30 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said New Yorkers over age 60 will be able to walk into any of the state vaccination sites and get a shot without an appointment starting on Friday. After months of limited vaccine supply, the governor said that New Yorkers now have “no excuse” to not get the vaccine and that residents have a “responsibility” to get a shot.

Biden Urges Businesses to Vaccinate Workers (1 p.m. NY)

U.S. President Joe Biden is calling on employers to use a tax credit to provide paid time off to workers to get vaccinated and for businesses to do more to boost the inoculation effort as U.S. vaccine supply begins to meet demand.

Biden will announce that the U.S. will achieve its goal on Thursday of giving 200 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days in office, while pivoting to a new phase of the campaign by urging businesses to make vaccination as accessible as possible.

Greece to Ease Most Lockdown Limits (11:45 a.m. NY)

Greece will ease most key lockdown measures in early May ahead of the country’s opening to international tourism in the middle of the month, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Wednesday.

The country’s restaurants, bars and cafes can raise their shutters starting May 3 for outdoor dining as part of the easing of measures. The nation’s primary and secondary schools will welcome pupils from May 10, and inter-regional movement will be permitted again from May 15 to coincide with the nation’s opening to all international visitors, the premier said in a nationally televised address.

Kenya Plans to Build a Fill-Finish Facility (11 a.m. NY)

Kenya is working on a plan to develop a manufacturing plant that will enable the country to import Covid-19 vaccines in bulk, and fill the vials and distribute them locally, Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said in meeting with lawmakers.

“We want to create our own vaccine making and distributing capacity. This is not just a health issue, it is also a security issue,” Kagwe said.

Kenya is in talks to buy 10 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines, with the first shipment expected in June, according to the minister. It has ordered another 7 million doses from Pfizer Inc.; Kagwe said, adding that Pfizer has agreed to use its own supply chain to deliverthe vaccines to major distribution points across Kenya.

Kagwe said 2.4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines, which will be Kenya’s second shipment under the Covax facility, will be delivered at the end of May.

NYC Spending $30 Million Lure Tourists (10:35 a.m. NY)

New York will embark on a $30 million tourism marketing campaign in an effort to recharge a moribund industry that at one time employed 400,000 and injected $70 billion into the city economy.

The funds, which come from federal stimulus programs, will be the largest marketing campaign the city has undertaken, said Fred Dixon, chief executive officer of NYC & Company, the city’s tourism and convention marketing agency. It will include television ads and social media campaigns, including a “Wish You Were Here in NYC” campaign on its website, in which New Yorkers may invite friends to visit the city.

The last few weeks have seen an uptick in hotel occupancy. Museums and tourism venues such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building report increased visitor volume. Daniel Boulud, the celebrity chef planning a new restaurant at One Vanderbilt Avenue near Grand Central Terminal, joined Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news briefing Wednesday, to promote the new eatery, which he said would focus on local vegetables and seafood.

“You’re starting to see a change and we want to bring back that change,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Wednesday news briefing. “It’s not going to happen overnight — we know that.”

Emergent Plant to Remain on Hold (10:15 a.m. NY)

Production at an Emergent BioSolutions Inc. facility in Baltimore will remain on hold, U.S. regulators said, following an inspection that turned up several manufacturing problems.

Emergent is a contract manufacturer that is expected to produce the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, but output there has been paused while officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration scrutinize its operations.

In an inspection report posted on the agency’s website on Wednesday, the FDA found Emergent failed to thoroughly investigate unexplained discrepancies, including the cross-contamination of a vaccine substance batch with vaccine ingredients from another client.

Merkel Lockdown Law Backed (9:51 a.m. NY)

Germany’s lower house of parliament backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s controversial lockdown law, as officials struggle to check a fresh wave of coronavirus infections that’s putting intense pressure on hospitals.

Merkel’s ruling coalition pushed the legislation through after her government failed to find common ground with regional leaders on measures needed to fight the pandemic. The law — which expires at the end of June — triggers tighter restrictions in virus hot spots, including nighttime curfews and closing schools and non-essential stores.

France to Donate Vaccines (9:42 a.m. NY)

France will give 100,000 vaccine doses to poorer countries in April via the Covax multilateral program, an official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said. France will be the first country to give doses — as opposed to funds — to Covax, according to the Elysee official, who asked not to be identified in line with government rules.

The country aims to deliver 500,000 doses to Covax by mid-June, starting with AstraZeneca vaccines this month. While the French vaccination campaign is picking up, there’s reluctance in the country to get the Astra shot.

Swiss Set Reopening Plan (9:15 a.m. NY)

Switzerland will pursue a three-tiered reopening strategy, with each phase contingent on the epidemiological situation and the proportion of the public vaccinated. In light of the still-fragile situation, social distancing restrictions are unlikely to be eased further before late May, the government said.

The second stage will begin once the general public has been vaccinated, which is likely to be in July and will allow in-person teaching to resume at universities, a relaxation of capacity limits at sporting facilities and potentially the re-opening of indoor dining at restaurants. In a final phase, remaining restrictions will be unwound. If Covid-19 infections surge again, the government can backtrack on any of the reopening steps.

Finland Puts Age Limits on Astra (9:13 a.m. NY)

Finland decided to keep the lower age limit for administering AstraZeneca vaccines at 65, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said in a statement on Wednesday. For second doses, people over the age of 65 can be administered the Astra vaccine, but for the under 65s the second dose will always be a mRNA vaccine, the authorities said.

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