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Tasman Travel Bubble; N. Korea to Skip Olympics: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — New Zealand and Australia will open a quarantine-free travel corridor April 19, restoring unrestricted two-way travel between the neighbors for the first time since the pandemic began. North Korea said it won’t participate in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics because of concerns about Covid-19, the first country to skip the games because of the pandemic.Everyone in the U.K. will be urged to take a coronavirus test twice a week as a new system of Covid passports is assessed for wide-scale use under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to reopen the economy. New York’s vaccination program picked up speed last week, with the most populous U.S. city reporting a record of more than a half-million doses administered. South Africa agreed to buy 20 million shots of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine, Business Day reported. Brazil expects to vaccinate 2 million people per day next month, according to its Senate president.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases pass 131.7 million; deaths exceed 2.8 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 673 million shots given worldwideCovid mutants multiply as scientists race to decode variationsMobile vaccine squad has a mission: Protect the neediestFuture pandemics are already splitting American politicsHow pandemics change the course of history: Stephen MihmWorst Covid surge in Southeast Asia hammers Philippine hospitalsWhy the mutated coronavirus variants are so worrisome: QuickTakeSubscribe 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.New Zealand, Australia to Open Travel Bubble This Month (12:21 p.m. HK)New Zealand has agreed to open a quarantine-free travel corridor with Australia as of April 19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday, restoring unrestricted, two-way travel across the Tasman Sea for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.“The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out,” Ardern said. “We have worked hard to ensure travel is safe and that the necessary public health measures are in place.”Before the pandemic, Australian visitors accounted for one-quarter of the revenue New Zealand generated from foreign tourists. New Zealand has consistently topped Bloomberg’s Covid resilience ranking and Australia currently lies third, but both have suffered sporadic outbreaks requiring regional lockdowns.Panacea Biotec Jumps on Russian Vaccine Deal (12:08 p.m. HK) India’s Panacea Biotec jumped 20%, making it the top gainer in the S&P BSE Small Cap Index, after the company signed an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to produce 100 million doses a year of the Sputnik V vaccine.Variants Heighten Need for Vaccine Funds: Rockefeller (12:02 p.m. HK)A plan to end the pandemic by speeding up immunizations could be financed through a record asset allocation via the International Monetary Fund, according to the Rockefeller Foundation.The IMF should approve and swiftly distribute $650 billion in additional reserve assets to help developing economies vaccinate as much as 70% of their populations by the end of next year, the foundation said in a report.The report, whose contributors include former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of economics at Columbia University in New York, details ways to leverage a large issuance and reallocation of IMF special drawing rights that can be exchanged for freely-usable currencies. The plan calls for wealthier countries to commit to voluntarily reallocating at least $100 billion of their unneeded drawing rights to provide further support to the developing world.North Korea to Skip Tokyo Olympics Due to Covid-19 (10:16 a.m. HK)North Korea has decided not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus, a state-run sports website reported, making it the first country to skip the games because of the pandemic.The decision to miss the Olympics, scheduled to start in July, was made March 25 by the country’s Olympics committee, which cited the need to protect its athletes amid the global health crisis, Sports in the DPR Korea, a website run by North Korea’s sports ministry, said Tuesday. North Korea won seven medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016.The upcoming games in long-time adversary Japan offered an opportunity for Kim Jong Un’s isolated regime to engage with the outside world. But Kim has imposed strict measures to prevent the coronavirus from entering North Korea, being among the first in the world to close borders even though the move halted what little was left of the heavily sanctioned country’s legal trade. North Korea says it has no cases of the coronavirus, a claim doubted by U.S. and Japanese officials.Venezuelan Opposition Figure Says He Has Recovered (9:55 a.m. HK)Juan Guaido, president of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela, said he has recovered from a Covid-19 infection after announcing March 27 that he tested positive, according to a message Monday evening on his Twitter.“I want to announce that today I tested negative for Covid-19 and am now recovered,” he wrote.Guaido, who is recognized by the U.S. and around 50 other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, said the opposition is trying to organize a national vaccination plan.Washington Lowers Age for Covid Vaccine Shots (9:10 a.m. HK)Washington, D.C. residents aged 16 and older will be eligible for Covid vaccinations starting April 19, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Twitter. She urged those eligible to pre-register.Ratio of Deaths to Cases Declines in India (9:08 a.m. HK)India now has the highest daily Covid caseload in the world, with more than 100,000 new infections reported Monday, yet the ratio of reported deaths to cases has fallen to around 1.3% from as high as 3.6% a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The trend could be caused by increased testing, better hospital treatment, improved immunity, the age of those infected and even vaccinations.Still, a comparison with other nations shows progress isn’t linear. While the U.S. has brought its rate down to a stable 1.8%, countries that lagged in vaccinations seem to have suffered as more contagious coronavirus strains emerged. Germany’s rate swung from 1.5% in November to 2.9% in early March — passing Brazil’s rate — before easing to 2.7%. Japan’s climbed to 1.9% from 1.3% in mid January.The U.S. has administered 167 million vaccine shots, India 79 million, Brazil 25 million, Germany 14 million and Japan only 1.2 million.Brazil Sees 2 Million Shots per Day in May (6:50 a.m. HK)Brazil expects to vaccinate 1 million people per day in April, doubling that number in May, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco said in an interview with CNN. The pandemic scenario for April is bad, Pacheco said.The country reported 1,319 deaths related to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours and 28,645 new cases.South Africa Signs Pfizer Deal (5:47 p.m. NY)South Africa has finalized a deal for 20 million shots of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, with deliveries starting mid-April, allowing it to begin a broad roll-out of inoculations, Business Day reported.The deal had been delayed by Pfizer’s insistence that South Africa’s health and finance ministers personally sign the pact, which includes indemnity clauses to protect the company.To date South Africa has inoculated just over a quarter of a million people, all of them health workers, as part of a study being carried out by Johnson & Johnson.Maryland to Offer Shots to All 16 and Over (4:38 p.m. NY)Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said all residents 16 and older will be able to get a shot beginning Tuesday at any of the state’s mass vaccination sites.By April 12, everyone 16 and over will be eligible for a vaccine from all providers, the governor’s spokeswoman Kata Hall said on Twitter.Astra Gets White House Help Finding New Plant (4 p.m. NY)President Joe Biden’s administration is working with AstraZeneca Plc to find new manufacturing capacity in the U.S. after the company agreed to abandon a Baltimore Covid-19 vaccine plant that will focus exclusively on making doses for Johnson & Johnson.The talks are the latest development after an error at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. facility — in which ingredients for the two companies’ vaccines were mixed up — led to a batch of 15 million doses worth of drug substance being spoiled.U.S. Parents Comfortable on Shots for Kids (3:50 p.m. NY)Almost eight in 10 parents in a Harris Poll taken April 2 through April 4 said they’re willing to have their kids vaccinated for Covid-19.Last week, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said their vaccine is both safe and 100% effective in preventing illness in adolescents ages 12 to 15. The shot has already received emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Americans 16 and up. The announcement was cited by 39% of parents in the poll as making them feel more confident.Smith Named State Department Covid Coordinator (3 p.m. NY)Gayle Smith, a former U.S. Agency for International Development administrator and chief executive officer of the ONE Campaign to eradicate preventable disease, was named the coordinator for global Covid response and health security at the U.S. State Department.Smith, who helped lead the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, was introduced Monday by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Smith will help oversee the Biden administration’s effort to get more Covid-19 vaccine to poor countries amid concern that rich nations like the U.S. have been too stingy with their supplies.N.J. to Open Shots to Everyone 16 and Older (1:40 p.m. NY)New Jersey will open Covid-19 vaccinations to people 16 and older starting April 19, Governor Phil Murphy announced Monday.The state had said all adults would be eligible for the shot by May 1, in line with a goal set by President Joe Biden for universal adult eligibility. But other states, including New York and Connecticut, announced earlier eligibility dates as vaccine supply began ramping up.Chile Surge Takes Toll on President’s Support (1 p.m. NY)A record virus surge is eroding support for the Chilean government’s Covid-19 policies and tarnishing one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives, according to a survey.Thirty-eight percent of Chileans back President Sebastian Pinera’s response to the coronavirus, down from 58% on Feb. 26, according to a Cadem poll published Monday. Meanwhile, 85% of respondents say it will take more than six months for daily life to return to normal, with open schools and stores.Pinera’s administration is grappling with a resurgence of the virus that’s driven hospitalizations and daily infections to all-time highs. Critics say Chile shouldn’t have encouraged travel during the Southern Hemisphere summer, and that the economy was reopened too quickly.U.K. Shops, Pubs to Reopen (12:06 p.m. NY)U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed restaurants and shops will open again for the first time in four months as England’s lockdown is eased next week, but the ban on foreign travel may remain for longer.The earliest date for resuming non-essential international travel will be May 17, officials said. Meanwhile, a plan for a new system of Covid passports is being developed to make it easier for events with live audiences to resume and travel restrictions to be eased. But the passports may not be ready until fall, according to the Telegraph newspaper, citing unidentified senior government officials.NYC Surpasses 500,000 Doses a Week (10:30 a.m. NY)New York administered a record 100,669 vaccines Friday, helping to push the weekly total above the city’s goal of 500,000, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.“It shows what is possible,” the mayor said at his daily briefing, adding that the city will be receiving 77,000 new doses from Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine requires only one shot. New York is also stepping up use of mobile units and taking vaccines to housing complexes and community centers for pop-up sites.More than one-third of adults in the city have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 21% are fully vaccinated, city data show. Among the five boroughs, Manhattan has the highest inoculation rate, with 44% of adults receiving at least one dose and 28% fully vaccinated. The Bronx has the lowest rate with at least one dose, 31%, while Brooklyn has the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated adults, 18%.Passengers Into Singapore to Use Travel Pass (6:15 a.m. NY)People flying to Singapore will be able to use the International Air Transport Association’s travel pass to share their pre-departure Covid-19 PCR test results at check-in and on arrival from May 1.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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