U.S. Deaths Top 1,000; WHO Sees ‘Lengthy’ Pandemic: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

An emergency committee of the World Health Organization said it expects the Covid-19 pandemic to be of “lengthy duration” and that it remains “a public health emergency of international concern,” the WHO said in a statement Saturday.

U.S. nationwide deaths exceeded 1,000 for a fifth consecutive day. Texas reported 9,539 daily new cases on Saturday, boosting the state’s total to 430,485 confirmed cases. Reported deaths slowed in Florida, where a hurricane threat is disrupting efforts to contain the pandemic.

China reported 49 new cases for Saturday, while Hong Kong added 125. Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, is set to tighten lockdown measures amid rising virus cases, local media reported.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Global Cases 17.8 Million; Deaths 682,931Pandemic didn’t stop richest family from adding $25 billion The virus is the summer house guest from hellUp Against Fierce New Waves, Nations Turn to Sewage and DronesHurricane Isaias heads for Covid-stricken Florida coastJapan acted like the virus had gone. Now it’s spreading everywhereThose stuck-at-home investors who think they can beat the market

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.

Philippines Government Officials Discuss Doctors’ Lockdown Call (10:01 a.m. HK)

Key government officials in the Philippines met Saturday to discuss a call by medical community members to reimpose stricter lockdowns after coronavirus infections rose by a record.

Groups of doctors and nurses on Saturday appealed to the government to reimpose the so-called enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces for two weeks to ease a rise in infections and allow health workers time to recover from exhaustion. They also called for a comprehensive policy to fight the pandemic and a central body that will oversee its implementation.

New Covid-19 cases rose by a record for a third day on Saturday, bringing the country’s total to 98,232, the Department of Health said.

Singapore, Malaysia to Roll Out ‘Green Lane’ Arrangement (09:23 a.m. HK)

Singapore and Malaysia have finalized key details of a so-called green lane arrangement for business travel and for periodic commuters. The city state will start accepting applications for both categories from August 10 through its SafeTravel website, according to a Singapore government statement.

The reciprocal green lane program will allow short-term essential business and official travel between both countries for as many as 14 days through air and land checkpoints for sponsored travelers. Commuters from Malaysia to Singapore will be only allowed through land crossings and must agree to spend at least 90 days for work after entry.

Vietnam Reports 4 New Cases (09:05 a.m. HK)

Vietnam reported four more cases, boosting the total number of infections in the southeast Asian country to 590, according to its health ministry. The new cases include two linked to the coastal city of Danang, the epicenter of the new outbreak, and two imported cases in Hoa Binh province, according to its website.

In Danang, local authorities plan to mass test every single resident for the virus, according to Tuoi Tre newspaper. The city’s population is estimated at 1.1 million.

Hong Kong Adds 125 New Cases (08:55 a.m. HK)

Hong Kong reported 125 coronavirus cases for Saturday, taking the city’s total to 3,397, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health said in a statement.

The authority urged the public to practice social distancing and “avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong.”

Australia’s Victoria Set to Tighten Restrictions: Reports (7:07 a.m. HK)

Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, is set to tighten lockdown measures amid rising virus cases, local media reported, with an announcement expected as soon as Sunday morning.

Premier Dan Andrews could announce that Victoria’s capital, Melbourne, would move to a New Zealand-style lockdown which would close most businesses, keeping only essential services operating and shutting down most of the city’s public transport network, Sky News reported.

The Age newspaper said the tighter restrictions could be in place for six weeks and begin as soon as Wednesday.

London Lockdown Weighed: Reports (6:40 a.m. HK)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering sealing off Greater London and ordering at-risk members of the population to stay at home under a potential scenario designed to avert a second national lockdown, according to news reports.

Possible measures include locking down the capital if infection rates spike and tightening quarantine rules on those flying into the U.K., The Sunday Telegraph reported. There would be travel curbs in and out of the M25 highway encircling Greater London and a ban on overnight stays, according to the Sunday Times.

Elderly people and those considered to have an increased risk from Covid-19 could be asked to stay at home, and “harder” local lockdowns could be ordered than the restrictions already imposed on parts of northern England.

Brazil Deaths, Cases Slow (6:35 a.m. HK)

Brazil reported 45,392 new cases, down from 52,383 the previous day. Total cases, in the nation hit worst by outbreak after the U.S., are 2.6 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Another 1,088 deaths were reported, down from 1,212 the day before, for a total of 92,475.

Isaias Down to Tropical Storm for Now (4:48 p.m. NY)

Hurricane Isaias weakened to a tropical storm, but is expected to regain hurricane strength overnight while approaching Florida’s southeastern coast, the National Hurricane Center said in a statement.

The storm edged closer to Florida on Saturday, adding to woes for a state grappling with record cases of Covid-19, and potentially causing $3 billion in economic losses if it rakes the eastern seaboard. Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency and Covid testing sites will be shut until Wednesday. Virus statistics are likely to vary in Florida over the next few days.

“For those living on the East Coast, prepare now,” DeSantis said on Twitter on Friday. “Have 7 days of food, water, medicine & other supplies in case you lose power.”

Texas Reports Almost 10,000 New Cases; U.S. Cases Rise 1.5% (04:30 p.m. NY)

The U.S. added 66,545 new virus cases Friday, a 1.5% increase compared to the daily average rise of 1.6% of the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Total cases were 4,561,511. Another 1,353 deaths were reported, the fifth consecutive day of fatalities over 1,000. The daily increase was 0.9%, above the 7-day average of 0.8%. Total deaths have reached 153,415, the most of any country.

Texas reported 9,539 daily new cases on Saturday, boosting the state’s total to 430,485 confirmed cases. Deaths rose by 268 to 6,837, the Department of State Health Services said on its website.California’s confirmed cases surpassed 500,000 with an additional 6,542 infections, fewer than the rolling 14-day average, according to the state health department’s website. Deaths increased by 219 on Friday to 9,224, a 2.4% rise from the previous day. California now has 500,130 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The number of diagnostic test results reached 7,886,587, an increase of 75,546 tests since Thursday. The rate of positive tests over the last 14 days is 7.3%.Florida reported 179 deaths among residents, ending four consecutive days of record-high fatalities. Total deaths among residents are now 7,022. The state, which is preparing for Hurricane Isaias, reported another 9,642 cases, a 2% rise that is less than the 2.3% average increase over the previous week. Total cases are now 480,028.Arizona reported 2,992 cases, a 1.7% increase compared with an average daily rise of 1.5% in the previous seven days. Total cases, at a time when the state has doubled testing, are 177,002. The state reported 53 new fatalities, below the 68 counted the day before, for a total of 3,747. Arizona’s rate of positive tests dropped again, to 12.6%, down from 15.7% reported Friday and 21.3% the day before.

WHO Sees ‘Lengthy’ Pandemic (4:13 p.m. NY)

An emergency committee of the World Health Organization said it expects the Covid-19 pandemic to be of “lengthy duration” and that it remains “a public health emergency of international concern,” the WHO said in a statement Saturday.

“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted as telling panel on Friday. “Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks.”

The committee recommended a sustained attack on the virus on all fronts, from testing and tracing to developing treatments to vaccines.

Democrat Tests Positive, Blasts Republicans (2:30 p.m. NY)

Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva said he’s infected with the coronavirus, days after a Capitol Hill hearing where a Republican House member in attendance later tested positive for Covid-19.

“While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some Members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously,” said the Arizona Democrat. “Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families.”

Grijalva said in a statement he isn’t exhibiting symptoms and has been self-isolating at his home in Washington since Wednesday upon learning that Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert tested positive.

White House, Democrats at Odds on Job Aid (1:44 p.m. NY)

Talks between Congressional Democrats and Trump administration left key questions unanswered on extending unemployment insurance and other pandemic relief.

“There’s still a lot of work to do” to strike a deal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin after the three-hour meeting Saturday. An impasse continues, he said, on whether to do a short-term extension deal for enhanced unemployment benefits or to push forward with efforts for a comprehensive deal sought by Democrats.

New York to Decide on Schools Next Week (12:28 p.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would make a decision on school reopening in the coming week, based mostly on the overall infection rate. He said New York City missed a Friday deadline to submit reopening plans.

“An initial decision at this point is schools should plan on reopening,” Cuomo said in a call with reporters Saturday.

But he cautioned that one variable will be the comfort level of parents — and he said not all parents are in favor of opening. “So you open a school, you will have partial attendance, which will serve no one,” he said.

New York reported 753 new virus cases, in line with the 0.2% average increase of the previous seven days. The state reported four new deaths.

German Minister Criticizes Protesters (11:30 a.m. NY)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn called for “good sense, perseverance and team spirit” after thousands of demonstrators protesting against coronavirus restrictions defied hygiene and distancing rules in Berlin on Saturday. The DPA newswire reported that 17,000 people demonstrated.

Police ended the protests in the center of the German capital, demanding that they disperse, because many of those taking part were not wearing masks or observing distancing rules. They said they would bring charges against the organizer. Protesters waved placards and chanted slogans including “The biggest conspiracy theory is the corona pandemic,” according to DPA.

Earlier, Germany recorded 864 new infections in the 24 hours through Saturday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, significantly more than registered through most of July.

Russia Plans Mass Covid-19 Vaccinations (6:07 a.m. NY)

Russia plans to start mass vaccinations against Covid-19 in October, with health workers and teachers first in line to get the inoculation against the disease, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said.

A drug developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund has completed clinical trials and the authorities are preparing to register it with regulators, Murashko was quoted as saying by the state-run Tass news service.

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