Thu. Nov 17th, 2022

(Bloomberg) — South Korea surpassed 2,000 daily infections for the first time amid a low vaccination rate. Across Asia, the delta variant is driving new infections, triggering protests in Thailand and the lockdown of another city in Australia.
Asias economies are showing the impact from the surging variant as consumers stay at home and travel and manufacturing take a hit. Even so, Singapore sees its economy expanding at a faster clip this year as the city-state looks to reopen more sectors in light of an inoculation rate thats among the regions highest.
The coronavirus situation is urgent in the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique, where vaccine take-up is very low and hospitals are already overwhelmed, President Emmanuel Macron said. Austria recorded the most daily infections since May, driven by a cluster in its Southern region.
Iran Cases, Deaths Spike (6:22 a.m. NY)
Iran saw a record number of new coronavirus cases, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei describing the latest surge as the countrys number one problem.
The Health Ministry recorded 42,541 cases and 536 deaths overnight, bringing the countrys total reported figures to more than 4.2 million infections and 95,647 fatalities. The country broke its own record for deaths twice earlier this week as vaccination rates lag. Iran has fully inoculated around 4% of its population.
Macron Says Situation in Guadeloupe Urgent (5:24 p.m. HK)
The coronavirus situation is urgent in the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique, where vaccine take-up is very low and hospitals are already saturated, President Emmanuel Macron said at the start of a defense cabinet meeting broadcast on TV Wednesday.
Only about 20% of those aged 12 and above are fully vaccinated in the West Indies, compared with almost 66% in mainland France, Macron said. Meanwhile, four French regions — Nouvelle-Aquitaine in the southwest being the latest — launched a special hospital plan to help manage a spike in delta cases.
Worlds Biggest Cleaner Sees RTO Soon (4:16 p.m. HK)
ISS, the worlds largest cleaning company, expects its clients in the U.S. and Europe to bring almost all employees back to their offices in the fourth quarter of this year.
Only 10% of clients globally are currently allowing more than half their staff back to the office, CEO Jacob Aarup-Andersen said by phone, citing internal surveys. ISS, whose clients include Barclays Plc, Equinor ASA and Deutsche Telecom AG, expects a return to office among its biggest U.S. customers in late September.
Austria New Cases Hit 3-Month High (4:10 p.m. HK)
Austria recorded the most daily infections since May amid a cluster in its southern region. The nation of almost 9 million people registered 902 new cases on Wednesday.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has pledged to avoid a return to national lockdown measures, instead campaigning to boost Austrias vaccination rate from 55%. On Tuesday, the Tirol state government banned events held in large groups in the most-affected East-Tirol district and announced testing-requirements for unvaccinated people wishing to leave two townships.
India Cases Surpass 32 Million (3:12 p.m. HK)
India added 38,353 cases Wednesday, pushing the total since the pandemic began past 32 million. While the country has administered more than 519 million vaccine doses, only 8.3% of the population is fully inoculated against the virus, according to Bloombergs vaccine tracker. Covid-related deaths rose by 497 in a day to 429,179, data from the Indian health ministry show.
Companies from Hindustan Unilever Ltd. to Tata Motors Ltd., the owner of Jaguar Land Rover, are increasingly complaining about pricier inputs and the inability to fully pass on the surging costs to consumers reeling from the pandemic-induced economic shock.
Russias Sputnik Efficacy for Delta (2:31 p.m. HK)
The Sputnik V vaccine provides strong protection against the delta variant, with efficacy of 83%, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko. The inoculation provides over 95% protection against serious illness with the strain, he said.
Philippines Running Low on Hospital Beds (12:31 p.m. HK)
Three in five hospital beds for Covid-19 patients in the Philippines are occupied, the Health Department said, urging those with mild and asymptomatic infections to use quarantine facilities to ensure that critical cases can be admitted.
The government also reimposed a 14-day quarantine rule for fully vaccinated people who are close contacts of infected patients, after initially shortening the period to seven days.
Another Australian City in Lockdown (10:44 a.m. HK)
The spread of delta infections from Sydney into regional areas of New South Wales has forced Dubbo, a city of about 50,000 people, into lockdown. The city, some 240 miles from Sydney, is the latest to have stay-at-home orders enforced for at least one week after two cases of the infectious variant were detected.
Melbourne, Australias second-largest city, extended its lockdown for another week. In the past week, cities including Newcastle, Byron Bay and Tamworth entered snap lockdowns after being exposed to delta, isolating them from the rest of the nation.
Japan Reaches 100 Million Vaccine Doses (9:59 a.m. HK)
Japan has administered more than 100 million doses of vaccine and surpassed the U.S. in the proportion of elderly fully vaccinated, according to government figures released Tuesday.
Most of the new infections amid a fresh wave of cases attributed to the delta variant have been among those in their 20s and 30s, showing the impact of the gap in inoculation rates between the elderly and the rest of the population. Japan and its capital of Tokyo have reported record daily infection numbers for several days this month, as the Summer Olympics were drawing to a close.
Thai Protestors Clash with Police on Covid (9:40 a.m. HK)
Protesters in Bangkok clashed with police on Tuesday night, demanding the government resign following its handling of a Covid-19 outbreak that led to nearly 7,000 deaths in the Southeast Asian nation. Police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, who ignored a ban on large gatherings and a nighttime curfew.
The Thai government has been criticized for its slow vaccination rollout and response to the delta variant. The public health system has been overwhelmed with the surge in infections, with some 5,400 patients in critical condition. Only about 6.5% of the population are fully inoculated.
Chinas Delta Outbreak (9:35 a.m. HK)
China reported 90 infections on Wednesday, including seven asymptomatic cases. The eastern Chinese city of Yangzhou reported 54 cases, bringing total infections in the city to 448, the most from a single city in Chinas current delta outbreak.
In Yangzhou, a city of 4.5 million, the variant appears to have outrun curbs to disrupt its transmission. An initial cluster at an airport in nearby Nanjing spread to the city and resulted in an outbreak, especially among elderly people playing mahjong at poorly ventilated community spaces. The city is now starting its sixth round of testing in hopes of weeding out covert community spread.
South Koreas Daily Cases Hit Record (8:49 a.m. HK)
South Korea more than 2,000 daily infections for the first time, with a spike in the delta variant and a low vaccination rate combining to undermine efforts to contain the countrys worst surge.
With Seoul as the epicenter of the initial outbreak last month, the government imposed its toughest measures, including a ban in the greater Seoul area on gatherings of more than 2 people after 6 p.m. In recent days, the number of people outside Seoul getting infected has been rising, raising prospects that the strictest measures would be expanded nationwide.
New Zealand Urged to Speed Vaccinations (6:30 a.m. HK)
New Zealand should complete its vaccine rollout before starting to re-open its border next year because of the risks posed by the more infectious delta variant, according to a group of health experts who advise the government.
The Strategic Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group has released a report recommending a phased reopening of the border once all adults have been offered vaccination, Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement Wednesday in Wellington. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to outline the governments response to the recommendations at a forum on Thursday.
Biden Cant Overrule Governors on Masks (4:50 p.m. NY)
Biden said he doesnt think he has the power to overrule governors who nullify requirements imposed by school systems calling on kids and staff to wear masks. His comments came as school leaders across the country face a dilemma as millions of students prepare to return in person to classes as the delta variant spreads rapidly.
A group of parents in Florida have gone to court to block an executive order by Governor Ron DeSantis that bans school districts from imposing mask requirements when classes resume this fall. At least six other states, including Arizona, Texas and Arkansas, have banned local school districts from requiring students to wear masks.
Kenya Takes Hard Line on Vaccines for Workers (2 p.m. NY)
Kenya will require all government workers to receive at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine before Aug. 23 or face disciplinary action, according to Joseph Kinyua, the head of the nations public service.
Some staff members have opted not to get inoculated so they can continue working from home, which is hurting service delivery, according to a letter sent by Kinyua to senior state officials and verified by Bloomberg News. There has been low uptake by security officers and teachers in particular, he said.
Citigroup Requires Vaccines for Office Workers (11:10 a.m. NY)
Citigroup Inc. told employees returning to offices in the New York area and other big U.S. cities that theyll need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, among the more restrictive moves by a U.S. financial firm as companies contend with the deadly virus and its highly contagious delta variant.
The decision also affects workers in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C., the bank told employees in a memo Tuesday. Citigroup expects employees to return to offices starting Sept. 13.
Staffers at the companys bank branches are encouraged but not required to get Covid-19 vaccines. Mask-wearing is required for all office and branch workers regardless of whether theyve gotten shots, Citigroup said.
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