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Abbott Surges on 15-Minute Test; Merkel’s Warning: Virus Update

Abbott Surges on 15-Minute Test; Merkel’s Warning: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Covid-19 cases surpassed 24 million worldwide with India seeing a record spike and South Korea, Italy and France reporting the most new daily infections in months. Abbott Laboratories surged after its 15-minute test was granted emergency clearance in the U.S.

Leaders of Europe’s major economies are mostly ruling out new broad movement restrictions as they try to support economic recoveries. Jet engine-maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc underscored the pandemic’s painful impact on the airline industry, suffering a record half-year loss of 5.4 billion pounds ($7 billion).

Japan’s most recent and largest wave of infections is showing signs of subsiding, despite a lack of heavy intervention from the government. In the U.S., applications for state unemployment benefits decreased last week.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 24 million; deaths pass 826,000Virus tests spur political brawl over CDC, DOJ inquiryWhite House vaccine program hedges bets on different technologiesGoldman Sachs asks staff to return to London officeSurging demand for China flights gives travel industry hopeVaccine Tracker: Where we are in the race for protection?German economic crisis response could have sting in the tail

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

Italy Has Most New Cases Since May 6 (11:40 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 1,411 new cases Thursday, in line with the previous day but still the most since May 6. A record 94,024 tests were performed as summer vacationers returned rom countries including Spain and Greece.

The Lazio region around Rome is offering free tests at ports and airports to anyone coming back from the popular destination of Sardinia, where some clusters at nightclubs were reported.

Patients in intensive-care units fell by two to 67, while most new hospitalized patients, at least in Lombardy, have been admitted for other issues than Covid-19 symptoms like respiratory problems or pneumonia.

Merkel Calls on Germans to Avoid Hard-Hit Areas (11 a.m. NY)

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Germans to refrain from traveling to areas suffering from severe outbreaks of the coronavirus.

People visiting virus-hit areas risk losing income for the time they’re in quarantine, the German leader said Thursday after holding talks with state leaders to address the latest increase in infections. Travelers returning from high-risk areas will have to enter a 14-day quarantine, which can be ended if a negative test is submitted after five days.

“The federal and state governments urge all those returning from travel to comply with the quarantine obligations and thus also your responsibility toward fellow citizens,” Merkel said. “We call for that wherever possible to avoid traveling to risk areas.”

Currently, those areas include most of Spain as well as parts of France and Croatia, among other countries.

Florida Cases Rise Less Than Average (10:50 a.m. NY)

Florida reported 611,991 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up 0.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 0.6% in the previous seven days.The seven-day rolling case total was 23,389, the lowest since June 22, according to the health department report, which includes data through Wednesday. The new daily rate of people testing positive for the first time rose to 6.4% for Wednesday, from 5.7% on Tuesday.

Deaths among Florida residents reached 10,868, an increase of 135, or 1.3%, and the seven-day rolling total was 819. By that measure, it has now been under 1,000 for the past six reports, after peaking this month at nearly 1,300. Deaths often trail infections by weeks, and generally take even longer to be reflected in the data.

Abbott Shares Surge on Test Clearance (10:25 a.m. NY)

Abbott Laboratories surged after its 15-minute Covid test priced at just $5 was granted emergency authorization for use in the U.S. The company’s shares climbed 8.7% to $112.91 at 9:57 a.m. in New York trading.

The product, dubbed BinaxNOW, works without relying on laboratory equipment at a time when labs can take as long as two weeks to produce results. It uses a nasal swab and a small reactive card, and it can be administered by a range of health-care workers, including pharmacists, at almost any location.

Manchester United’s Pogba Tests Positive (8:41 a.m. NY)

Manchester United star Paul Pogba tested positive for coronavirus. He was withdrawn from the French national soccer team, London-based LBC radio reported.

U.S. Jobless Claims Decline (8:35 a.m. NY)

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 98,000 to 1.01 million last week, suggesting the labor market’s gradual recovery is back on track. At the same time, claims remain far above pre-pandemic levels, and risks to further improvement include lawmakers’ failure to extend support for cash-strapped companies and jobless Americans.

Putin Says Daughter Didn’t Ask Him Before Taking Vaccine (7:50 a.m. NY)

Defending the vaccine as safe and effective, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his daughter didn’t consult with him before taking the experimental inoculation against Covid-19 this summer.

“She’s an adult. She just told me that she’d made the decision,” Putin told state television, adding that she’s formed antibodies against the virus following the shots. He defended Russia’s approval process for the vaccine as “in line with international practice,” noting that it was conditional on further testing.

U.K. Business Chief Warns Worse May Still Come (7:48 a.m. NY)

The U.K. is still in the eye of the coronavirus storm and more challenging times may yet follow, according to an influential business chief who urged the government to take further steps to support corporate Britain.

The country faces a moment of renewed danger as the winding down of support measures threatens to coincide with a potential winter resurgence of the virus, said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce.

In a separate warning, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said many U.K. companies are not preparing for Brexit because the pandemic has depleted their cash reserves.

Sanofi to Begin Human Trials for Vaccine (7:20 a.m. NY)

Sanofi will begin human trials of an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus next week, Chief Executive Officer Paul Hudson said Thursday. The drug giant is planning to move to final-stage trials toward the end of the year, he said.

Novavax May File for Vaccine Approval in December (6:30 a.m. NY)

Novavax may file for U.S. approval for its Covid-19 vaccine in December, Czech newspaper Hospodarske Noviny reported, citing Chief Executive Officer Stanley Erck. Novavax plans to partly produce the vaccine at its Czech plant.

“I’m not saying it will be approved in December, but I’m sure we will have the results in December,” Hospodarske cites Erck as saying.

France Eyes Lockdown as Last Resort (5:42 p.m. HK)

France is ready to institute a new national lockdown as a last resort as Europe grapples with how to contain the resurgent coronavirus. Plans to restrict movement are ready, but the country will do everything possible to avoid measures that clobbered the economy in the second quarter, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.

“The epidemic is gaining ground, and we need to intervene now,” Castex said, rejecting the need for broad restrictions. “This doesn’t mean the situation is as serious as it was” earlier this year.

Passenger Arrivals to U.K. Collapse (5:21 p.m. HK)

The number of passengers arriving in the U.K. collapsed in the second quarter as coronavirus restrictions brought international travel to a standstill. Home Office figures show there were just 1.3 million arrivals between April and June, a 97% decrease from the same period of 2019.

U.K. to Pay People on Low Incomes If Self-Isolating (4:05 p.m. HK)

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government will pay workers on low incomes 13 pounds ($17) a day if they are self-isolating during the pandemic.

The payments will begin on a trial basis from Sept. 1 in Blackburn and areas of northwest England that currently have additional social distancing-rules in place to contain local outbreaks, the Department for Health said in a statement.

Indonesia Sees Record Jump in New Cases (4:04 p.m. HK)

Indonesia reported a record surge in new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 162,884, official data showed. New infections jumped by 2,719 in 24 hours while the death toll rose by 70 to 7,064.

Japan’s Virus Wave Is Easing (3:45 p.m. HK)

Japan’s most recent and largest wave of infections is showing signs of subsiding, despite a lack of heavy intervention from the government to bring it under control.

After peaking at the start of August, the country is on track for a sixth consecutive day where new cases are below 1,000. The seven-day average of cases is falling in almost every hotspot, including in Tokyo where the 250 cases reported Thursday are about half of the peak level found earlier this month. The test positivity rate in the capital has been below 5% for three days.

South Korea Extends Short-Selling Ban Amid Virus Flareup (3:32 p.m. HK)

South Korean regulators extended a ban on short-selling of shares listed on some exchanges for another six months, as the nation grapples with the vagaries of the coronavirus outbreak.

The country had 441 more cases confirmed in the past 24 hours, the biggest gain since early March, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Record Daily Case Rise in India (2:55 p.m. HK)

India had its biggest single-day jump in new cases on Thursday, with 75,760 infections confirmed, as the disease’s spread continues to accelerate through the world’s second most populous country. With 3.3 million cases in total, India currently has the world’s third largest outbreak, though its epidemic is now growing faster than both the U.S. and Brazil’s, the countries that have the most and second-most cases.

Indian infections have continued to accelerate as the disease spreads out of its globally connected cities which were first hit, and into the country’s vast hinterland where most of the population lives.

Germany’s New Infections Hold Steady (2:30 p.m. HK)

Germany recorded 1,431 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, little changed from the previous day’s figure of 1,457, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That brought the total to 239,010. The reproduction factor — the average number of people infected by one person with the virus — fell to 0.85 on Wednesday from 0.90 the previous day.

Merkel Bloc Quarrels Over Quarantine (2:20 p.m. HK)

A spat has broken out between senior officials in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc over coronavirus rules for travelers arriving in Germany from areas designated as risky.

Health Minister Jens Spahn announced this week that arrivals from risk areas will have to enter a 14-day quarantine, which can be ended after five days if a negative test result is provided. Due to a lack of capacity, a requirement for people to be tested on arrival will be scrapped when the changes take effect some time after the middle of next month.

Swiss Take Smaller Economic Hit Than Neighbors (2:10 p.m. HK)

Switzerland’s economy saw less damage from the coronavirus lockdown than its larger neighbors, recording a smaller-than-expected contraction in the second quarter. While gross domestic product fell 8.2% in the three months through June, the most since at least 1980, the decline was less than the 9.7% in Germany and the double digit slumps in France and Italy.

Asian Air Traffic Collapse Continues (1:40 p.m. HK)

Airlines in the Asia Pacific region carried only 844,000 passengers on international flights in July versus 33.4 million in the same month last year due to border closures and travel restrictions, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines. That’s a fall of 97%.

Demand for international cargo was relatively stable following a modest recovery in global manufacturing, though freight tonne kilometers were still down 16% on an annual basis, the association said. Several states and industry bodies are evaluating Covid-19 testing regimes that could facilitate international air travel without blanket quarantine requirements, AAPA Director General Subhas Menon said.

Japan Virus Jump Hitting Economy (11:25 a.m. HK)

Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said a jump in virus cases from July and heavy rains are dragging on the nation’s economy and he didn’t know yet whether the outbreak has peaked. He told a parliamentary committee the economy’s overall recovery trend is not yet back.

WHO Team Didn’t Visit Wuhan, FT Says (8:50 a.m. HK)

A World Health Organization team that was meant to investigate the origin of the coronavirus concluded their trip to China without a visit to Wuhan, the Financial Times reported, citing the UN agency. The WHO told the FT that its advance team had remote conversations with senior scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology but declined to comment on whether the team had planned to visit the city.The organization said the initial team had been laying groundwork before a larger international investigation but didn’t provide details on whether the bigger task-force would travel to Wuhan. China’s foreign ministry called concerns over the credibility of the inquiry “totally unjustified,” according to the FT.

Abbott Cleared for $5, 15-Minute Test (6:40 a.m. HK)

A 15-minute Covid test from Abbott Laboratories that will be priced at just $5 won emergency authorization for use in the U.S., a breakthrough that could ease the bottleneck that has crimped much of the nation’s testing capacity.

The product, dubbed BinaxNOW, works without relying on laboratory equipment at a time when labs can take as long as two weeks to produce results. It uses a nasal swab and a small reactive card, and it can be administered by a range of health-care workers, including pharmacists, at almost any location.

Abbott will start shipping the test within two weeks and intends to manufacture 50 million tests a month by the end of October.

Fauci Concerned Over New Test Guidelines: CNN (6:20 a.m. HK)

Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. top infectious disease doctor, told CNN that he is concerned that the CDC’s new coronavirus testing guidelines will make people believe “that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern, when in fact it is.”

Fauci said in the CNN interview that he was in surgery when the new testing recommendations were discussed.

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