ECONOMY

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

Singapore plans a “great acceleration” of vaccinations by rolling out shots to students as it aims for almost all of its eligible population to get at least a first dose by the end of August. It will also tighten entry rules for travelers from Australia’s Victoria state due to the outbreak there.

Japan is set to extend its state of emergency to June 20, just five weeks before the Olympics. Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state and home to plantations, timber and hydro-power industries, will go into lockdown from Saturday to June 11. U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is too early to say whether England’s economy can fully reopen as planned on June 21, warning that the virus variant first identified in India continues to spread.

California will give $116.5 million in prizes for residents who are vaccinated, with draws on June 4 and 11 selecting 30 winners to receive $50,000 each. In the final draw on June 15, 10 residents will get $1.5 million each. In another push for vaccinations, Qantas Airways is considering giving away free flights.

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Thailand Approves Sinopharm Vaccine (1:30 p.m. HK)

Thailand’s drug regulator cleared Sinopharm’s vaccine for local use, making it the fifth to be approved by the country, which is battling a virus resurgence.

Discovery and Mediclinic Scale Back (1:22 p.m. HK)

Insurer Discovery Ltd. and private-hospital group Mediclinic International Ltd. have scaled back plans to expand coronavirus vaccine sites in South Africa amid supply concerns, Business Day reported, citing company executives.

Finland’s Economic Recovery Falters (1:17 p.m. HK)

Finland’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter, showing the recovery from the pandemic has stalled in the only Nordic member of the euro area.

Gross domestic product shrank 0.1% from the prior three months, Statistics Finland said. A flash estimate had indicated 0.4% growth.

Philippine Migrant-Worker Vaccinations (11:59 a.m. HK)

Migrant workers who will be deployed in the next four months are now a top priority for vaccinations, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, as the government tries to speed up inoculations. Private and informal sector employees who work away from home have also been included in the next group to be vaccinated.

Chinese Profits (11:35 a.m. HK)

Profits at China’s state-owned enterprises totaled 1.36 trillion yuan ($213 billion) in the first four months of the year, a 240% surge from the same period in 2020 when the coronavirus outbreak was at its worst in the country. Total revenue rose 32% to 22.2 trillion yuan, the Ministry of Finance said.

Japan to Lower Age Limit (10:35 a.m. HK)

Japan plans to lower the minimum age for Pfizer shots to 12 from 16 if safety and efficacy are confirmed at a ministry panel on Friday, Kyodo News reported, citing Health Minister Norihisa Tamura.

Singapore’s ‘Open Season’ on Vaccines (9:49 a.m. HK)

Singapore plans to roll out vaccines to students in a “great acceleration” of vaccinations, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in an interview on CNN.

“We’re going to offer vaccination to our school students, the teenagers,” Balakrishnan said, “following which it’ll be open season for everyone in Singapore.” The city-state earlier flagged that almost all of its eligible population could be given at least a first dose of a vaccine by end-August.

Vaccinations in Singapore are currently open to those aged 40 and above, as well as for priority workforces such as first responders, hospital staff and airport workers.

Canada Urged to Relax Rules (9:26 a.m. HK)

A Canadian advisory body said the government should relax its stringent border rules for vaccinated travelers and drop a requirement that international air passengers quarantine in a hotel when they arrive.

People who have received two shots should be exempt from quarantine and pre-departure virus tests, the Covid-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel said in a report. Most people entering Canada face a 14-day quarantine, and those arriving through airports are supposed to spend as much as three days in an approved hotel while they wait for test results — though hundreds have opted to skip the hotels and pay fines instead.

Ho Chi Minh Restrictions (9:04 a.m. HK)

Authorities in Vietnam’s commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City told restaurants and sidewalk eateries to temporarily halt dine-in services and limited religious ceremonies and public gatherings to 10 or fewer people, while the transport ministry increased restrictions on international flights to the city from May 27 to June 4. Vietnam halted most international commercial flights in early December.

Ho Chi Minh City is dealing with four virus clusters, one tied to a church with 36 infections and another with nine cases associated with a Panama-registered vessel that arrived on May 26 from India, city authorities said in a statement.

Japan to Extend Emergency (8:24 a.m. HK)

Japan recommended extending a state of emergency that includes Tokyo and other major cities from May 31 to June 20 as it tries to rein in infections ahead of the Olympics in less than two months.

A decision on whether to hold the Tokyo Olympics must be made by the end of June at the latest, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said in an interview with Jiji Press.

Singapore Tightens Rules for Australia (7:55 a.m. HK)

Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who have traveled to the Australian state of Victoria within 21 days will be subject to an on-arrival Covid test, a seven-day stay-home notice, and another test before the end of the stay-home period

Short-term travelers holding an Air Travel Pass who have been to Victoria within 21 days will not be allowed to enter Singapore. The restrictions take effect just before midnight on Saturday.

Indonesia’s Wide Curbs (7:50 a.m. HK)

Indonesia will impose restrictions nationwide — in all 34 provinces — for two weeks from June 1, according to the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs.

Singapore Testing Delays (7:42 a.m. HK)

Singapore’s laboratories are operating at over 80% of capacity to meet demand for polymerase chain reaction tests following a surge in cases, the Straits Times says, citing the Ministry of Health.

The rise in testing means people may experience delays beyond 24 hours to get their results, Parkway Laboratories CEO Daniel Tan said, according to the Straits Times. Innoquest Diagnostics CEO Ginny Foo said the increased workload may delay swab test results for clinically urgent cases to up to 12 hours.

Japan’s AstraZeneca Offer (7:25 a.m. HK)

Japan is considering supplying Taiwan with some doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine it is procuring for domestic use as soon as next month, Sankei reported, citing unidentified government and ruling party officials.

Purdue Offers Scholarships for Vaccinated (6:54 a.m. HK)

Ten Purdue University students will be randomly selected to receive almost $10,000, the cost of annual undergraduate in-state tuition, for getting vaccinated, the school said. Students must show proof of their vaccine by July 15.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is raffling off 50 four-year full-tuition college scholarships to boost the number of teens getting vaccinated. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Twitter announced the first winner of a four-year, full-ride scholarships to a public college in the state.

Maryland Adds More Than 500 Deaths (6:15 a.m. HK)

Maryland added 517 fatalities to its toll, previously uncounted deaths involving people with confirmed Covid-19 cases. Another 21 deaths were listed as probable, the state’s department of health announced. The revision increases Maryland’s death toll since the pandemic began by about 5%, to almost 9,600.

California Joins Vaccine Sweepstakes (5:08 p.m. NY)

California officials who have spent months urging residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus now hope $116.5 million in prizes will sweeten the deal.

Under the state’s new “Vax for the Win” campaign, launched Thursday, residents 12 years or older who are at least partially vaccinated will be eligible for cash prizes awarded in a series of three drawings.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

The first two, on June 4 and June 11, will select a total of 30 winners to receive $50,000 apiece, if they complete their inoculations. In the final drawing, on June 15, 10 residents will win $1.5 million each.

Separately in Los Angeles, those who get their inoculations at a number of locations across the county will be eligible to win season tickets to the L.A. Kings and L.A. Galaxy.

Idaho No. 2 Stages Mask Coup (4:51 p.m. NY)

Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin swept away most of Idaho’s remaining mask mandates — while Governor Brad Little was out of state and without consulting him. Idaho never had a statewide mask mandate, but her executive order swept away remaining rules for local government institutions, including public schools. The order does not cover healthcare facilities.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

U.S. Covid Inequities Persist (3:07 p.m. NY)

Black people are being hospitalized with Covid-19 at twice the rates of White people, according to Covid-Net, a hospital surveillance network for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disparities reflect the same long-running inequities in health care and wealth that have contributed to higher rates of diabetes and obesity. They also underscore the urgency for the U.S. to improve its vaccination campaign in the Black community.

It’s clear that Black and Hispanic communities want the vaccines more than now-famously hesitant groups such as Republicans and White Evangelical Christians — and yet they’ve received fewer by comparison.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

U.S. Vaccine Readiness Rises in Poll (2:45 p.m. NY)

Most people in the U.S. plan to spend the Memorial Day weekend much like before the pandemic, while about one in four adults say they don’t plan to get vaccinated, according to a Quinnipiac University poll published Thursday.

Those planning to get a Covid shot or already vaccinated rose to 72% compared to 68% in a poll published April 14. The share saying they don’t plan to get immunized declined to 23% from 27%, according to Quinnipiac.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

President Joe Biden said Thursday that 50% of adults in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.

Chile Plans More Virus Debt (2:15 p.m. NY)

Chile will tap bond markets to help finance $10.8 billion worth of fresh measures aimed at confronting a persistent coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Rodrigo Cerda said.

Expanded aid for families and cash transfers to small companies announced by President Sebastian Pinera will enlarge the deficit, Cerda told Radio Futuro. The measures will be paid for by windfalls from higher copper prices, the government’s sovereign funds and extra debt, he said.

N.Y. Requires Paid Leave for Side Effects (2:05 p.m. NY)

New Yorkers that have side effects from the coronavirus vaccine can take a sick day without losing wages, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The announcement comes as vaccine rates are plateauing in the state and nationally. Over 10 million New Yorkers, about 64.4% of those aged 18 or older, have received at least one dose, and nearly 9 million are fully vaccinated, Cuomo said.

North Carolina Passes 1 Million Cases (1:06 p.m. NY)

North Carolina became the 10th U.S. state to pass 1 million Covid-19 cases, reporting another 849 infections Thursday, state data show.

Almost 43% of people in the state have received a first dose of vaccine, below a national average nearing 50%, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Germany to Vaccinate Young Teens (12:17 p.m. NY)

Germany plans to expand inoculations to children aged 12 and older starting June 7 as Europe’s largest economy seeks a way out of the pandemic.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized that immunizations for children would be voluntary and wouldn’t impact school participation. The vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE would likely be approved for this age group in the coming days, she said Thursday after a meeting with leaders of Germany’s 16 states.

U.K. Reopening ‘in the Balance’ (12:03 p.m. NY)

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the spread of the variant first identified in India means it’s too early to say whether stage four of the reopening of the economy in England can go ahead on June 21 as planned.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

A formal assessment of data on cases and hospitalizations will be published before June 14, Hancock told lawmakers, and the lifting of remaining restrictions will only happen “if it’s safe.”

Florida Cruise Cleared (11:55 a.m. NY)

Royal Caribbean Cruises said it had been cleared to resume cruises in the U.S. starting with a June 26 embarkation from Florida’s Port Everglades on Celebrity Edge, which is part of its Celebrity Cruises brand.

Qantas Considers Free Flights (10:37 a.m. NY)

Qantas Airways is considering giving free flight vouchers or air miles to people who’ve had Covid-19 shots, joining a growing list of businesses offering vaccination incentives to kick-start global travel.

Johnson Hits Back (7:51 a.m. NY)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hit back at his former adviser Dominic Cummings, who alleged ministers failed to protect the public from the coronavirus and declared the premier is “unfit” for the job. Johnson said some of the comments his former aide made bore no relation to reality.

India in Talks With Pfizer (7:48 a.m. NY)

India is in talks with Pfizer to import its vaccine with a possible July start date, said V.K. Paul, who heads the panel on the country’s vaccine rollout. A key sticking point has been vaccine makers’ demand for indemnity protection against liabilities.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

South Africa Weighs More Curbs (5:37 p.m. HK)

South Africa’s rising infections puts pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa to reintroduce stricter lockdown measures.

The country has been slow off the mark to administer vaccines, with the just 761,903 people out of a population of almost 60 million having received shots.

Singapore’s Big Plan; Prizes for Vaccinated People: Virus Update

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