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World Auckland Lockdown Lifted; Taiwan-China Spat: Virus Update

07:41  17 february  2021
07:41  17 february  2021 Source:   bloomberg.com

Taiwan wishes China happy new year, but says won't yield to pressure

  Taiwan wishes China happy new year, but says won't yield to pressure Taiwan wishes China happy new year, but says won't yield to pressureChina, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, has increased its military activity around the island in recent months, responding to what Beijing calls "collusion" between Taipei and Washington, Taiwan's most important international backer.

(Bloomberg) -- China obstructed Taiwan’s purchase of vaccines from BioNTech, Taiwan’s health minister said, according to a Central News Agency report. Japan began its vaccination program, starting with a group of frontline health-care workers.

New Zealand is also ending a three-day lockdown in Auckland after authorities expressed confidence that the latest community outbreak is contained. Australia’s Melbourne will also lift its five-day lockdown as planned, though some restrictions on visitors to the home will remain.

South Korea reported 621 new cases, the most in six weeks. Coming after the Lunar New Year holidays, officials said it was hard to judge whether it was a temporary phenomenon or a resurgence of the virus. The figures came just two days after the country relaxed its social distancing rules.

Call between Biden and China’s Xi portends rocky road in post-Trump era

  Call between Biden and China’s Xi portends rocky road in post-Trump era The president pressed human rights concerns such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang, which Beijing sees as nonnegotiable issues of sovereignty. In the call Wednesday evening U.S. time, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke in conciliatory tones about the importance of a healthy bilateral relationship, according to the Chinese state broadcaster. But Xi pointedly warned President Biden to “act prudently” on the three regions, where China’s forceful policies have drawn U.S. condemnation.

Storms that blanketed much of the U.S. in snow and ice paralyzed the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, although data showed that hospitalizations in the country from the coronavirus have plunged nearly 40% from a winter peak less than four weeks ago.

Global Tracker: Cases exceed 109.4 million; deaths pass 2.4 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 181 million shots given worldwideU.S. Spotlight: Deaths seen falling to slowest pace since NovemberBiden says he invoked production law for more vaccine dosesU.K. identifies 1.7 million more at high Covid riskWhy delaying the second Covid shot is messy: QuickTake

Subscribe 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.

China Uses Coast Guard to Assert Claim Over Japan-controlled Islands

  China Uses Coast Guard to Assert Claim Over Japan-controlled Islands The enactment of China's new Coast Guard Law earlier this month has also raised concerns among regional leaders about a possible accidental conflict.The uninhabited East China Sea islets are rich fishing grounds and may contain valuable natural resources like oil and gas. Taiwan also claims the islands as part of its coastal county of Yilan, while China's assertion comes through its claim over Taiwan.

Taiwan Says China Blocked Vaccine Purchase: CNA (12:20 p.m. HK)

China obstructed Taiwan’s planned purchase of 5 million vaccine doses from Germany-based BioNTech, Taiwan health minister Chen Shih-chung said in a radio interview, according to a Central News Agency report.

Beijing intervened as the Taiwanese government was about to sign a contract with BioNTech, Chen said. With a population of nearly 24 million, Taiwan has plans to purchase 20 million vaccine doses, approximately 5 million via the World Health Organization-backed Covax program.

New Zealand Lifts Snap Auckland Lockdown (12:13 p.m. HK)

Auckland’s three-day lockdown will end after authorities expressed confidence that the latest community outbreak of Covid-19 is small and contained.

Auckland will move to Alert Level 2 at midnight on Wednesday, allowing schools and businesses to reopen, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after a cabinet meeting. The remainder of New Zealand will move to level 1, meaning people no longer have to observe social distancing or limit the size of gatherings.

Biden's (mostly) straight talk on China

  Biden's (mostly) straight talk on China Steady, straight talk from Biden and his team will be an improvement over the hot-and-cold rhetoric from Trump.Biden is trying to balance several competing imperatives: keeping China at bay but still in communication while his team develops its own coherent policy, and distinguishing his strategy from both the Obama and Trump approaches without scrapping the latter's historically important initiatives.

The easing of restrictions comes even as health officials reported that three further people have tested positive for the virus. They are all connected to the initial three positive cases that prompted the lockdown and are in isolation.

South Korea Sees Most Cases in Six Weeks (11:05 a.m. HK)

South Korea reported 621 new coronavirus cases, the most in six weeks. Coming after the Lunar New Year holidays, officials said it was hard to judge whether it was a temporary phenomenon or a resurgence.

Just two days ago the country scaled back social distancing restrictions in response to a trend of declining infections.

U.S. Hospitalizations Tumble From Peak (11 a.m. HK)

U.S. hospitalizations from the coronavirus have plunged 39% from a winter peak less than four weeks ago, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show. The number of Covid-19 cases treated in U.S. hospitals dropped to 70,277 as of Tuesday from 114,281 on Jan. 25.

Cases declined by an average of almost 2,000 a day since Feb. 10, with New York, California, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania accounting for almost half of the national drop. In Georgia, 17% of in-patients have Covid-19, the highest proportion of any state. Hospitalized cases there have fallen 9.7% to 3,374 since Feb. 10.

Beijing May Have Scuppered Taiwan's Vaccine Roll-Out, Hints Health Minister

  Beijing May Have Scuppered Taiwan's Vaccine Roll-Out, Hints Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said Taipei was on the verge of signing a deal with German vaccine developer BioNTech when the company pulled the plug at the last minute in December.The agreement had reached its final stages and both parties were already reviewing their respective press releases when BioNTech pulled the plug in December, Chen Shih-chung told radio host Clara Chou during an interview for Hit FM.


Gallery: From Wuhan to the White House: A timeline of COVID-19’s spread (Stacker)

COVID-19 has spread quickly around the world, causing more than 2 million deaths and infecting more than 97 million people as of Jan. 21, 2021, according to Johns Hopkins' Coronavirus Resource Center. It’s already hard to remember life before COVID-19—but it was less than a year ago when a doctor in China sounded the alarm about a new respiratory virus. Since then, cases have been confirmed in nearly every country and on every continent except Antarctica. The United States today has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, and cases are rising quickly as people defied CDC recommendations to gather for fall and winter holidays.  The story of how COVID-19 spread so far and so fast is a story of government secrecy, delayed action, polarizing politics, and a highly contagious virus. To better understand what has happened and what might follow, Stacker constructed a timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic from its first mention by Dr. Li Wenliang in Wuhan, China. Our timeline includes information from a range of sources including news outlets such as the New York Times and CNN, Johns Hopkins' Coronavirus Resource Center, the COVID Tracking Project, science articles, and releases from the World Health Organization (WHO). Keep reading for more information about the COVID-19 pandemic and a better understanding of how a highly contagious virus became a global health crisis.  You may also like: 15 ways doctors are now treating COVID-19

Japan Starts Vaccination Drive (9:10 a.m. HK)

Japan has begun its coronavirus vaccination drive, with the first frontline medical workers receiving the Pfizer and BioNTech shot after it was officially approved on Sunday.

The country’s effort is starting at around 100 locations and focusing on a group of about 40,000 health-care workers, half of whom will be observed over the course of their two shots and after. Doses will then be expanded to more medical workers.

The elderly are also being prioritized, with vaccinations for those over the age of 65 set to start as early as April. Japan has been among the last of developed nations to start vaccinations, although it has also weathered the pandemic comparatively well, recording 418,000 infections and just over 7,000 deaths. Several regions in the Asia-Pacific, including South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong, have also yet to start their inoculation programs.

Melbourne to Lift Lockdown From Midnight (8 a.m. HK)

Melbourne’s lockdown will be lifted from midnight after five days after Australia’s second-largest city was able to bring an outbreak of the U.K. strain of the coronavirus under control

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters that schools, retail and hospitality will resume from Thursday. Offices will be allowed to return to 50% capacity. Still, wearing masks in public will remain compulsory, and household visits will be limited to five people.

Chinese Warplanes Continue Sorties Near Taiwan During Lunar New Year

  Chinese Warplanes Continue Sorties Near Taiwan During Lunar New Year Nearly 100 People's Liberation Army aircraft have flown into Taiwan's air defense identification zone since the new year, according to Newsweek's analysis of publicly available data. The Chinese warplane missions, which are conducted mostly by surveillance aircraft, have continued through the ongoing Lunar New Year holidays, with PLA Air Force pilots breaking for just two days, according to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense.

U.S. Vaccine Deliveries Hit by Storms (6:40 a.m. HK)

Winter storms delayed vaccine shipments to Colorado and other states from a facility in Tennessee. More than 130,000 doses scheduled for delivery this week were affected, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.

“In anticipation of the holiday weekend, Colorado requested and received doses Friday that were originally scheduled for this week,” the agency said. “This decision helps us have enough on hand to work with providers to move doses around to prevent cancellations.”

Two French Airlines to Test Covid App (2 p.m. NY)

Two French airlines, Air Caraibes and French Bee, will start a pilot study next month of the AOKpass mobile application used to verify travelers’ Covid-19 test results. The test will include flights from Paris to overseas territories such as Guadeloupe and Tahiti. AOKpass is currently used on Etihad flights connecting Abu Dhabi with Paris and Pakistan.

a person holding a microphone: CVS Pharmacy Administers Covid-19 Vaccinations © Bloomberg CVS Pharmacy Administers Covid-19 Vaccinations

A pharmacists prepares to administer a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a CVS Pharmacy in Eastchester, New York, on Feb. 12.

Photographer: Gabriela Bhaskar/Bloomberg

U.S. Boosts Weekly Vaccine Supply (1 p.m. NY)

The U.S. vaccine supply is increasing to 13.5 million doses per week, up from 11 million, and the number of shots distributed through pharmacies will double, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, announced the increases to governors in a conference call earlier, Psaki told reporters at a briefing. Two million doses will be delivered to pharmacies this week, she said, up from 1 million. The pharmacy program began Feb. 11.

U.S. Has Made Taiwan Strait Hottest Flashpoint of 2021, China Analysts Say

  U.S. Has Made Taiwan Strait Hottest Flashpoint of 2021, China Analysts Say Chinese military experts told state TV that the Taiwanese government's "collusion" with Washington would only lead to more aggression from Beijing.Appearing on Defense Review, a prime-time program carried by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, panelists Du Wenlong and Zhang Bin warned Taipei and Washington against further "collusion," which they claimed was aimed toward Taiwanese independence.

J&J Seeks EU Clearance for Its Single-Dose Shot (11 a.m. NY)

Johnson & Johnson sought regulatory clearance for its Covid-19 vaccine in the European Union, on track to become the fourth shot approved in Europe and the first that can be given as a single dose.

The European Medicines Agency said a decision could be possible by mid-March, capping a rolling review process that started on Dec. 1 and has allowed EMA to examine the data on the vaccine as it emerged. A European Commission approval could follow immediately thereafter, President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.

NYC Gave out 317,000 Shots Last Week (10:40 a.m. NY)

New York City recorded the highest number of vaccine doses administered last week since the inoculation drive began in December, doling out more than 317,000 shots, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

The city also released new data revealing where the vaccines have been delivered by zip code in a bid to create a more equitable distribution. The data showed deep disparities and presented a road map to the city on where to target the city’s vaccine efforts, de Blasio said during the briefing.

The city still has a long way to go to deliver vaccinations to its more than 8 million residents. So far, the city has administered nearly 1.3 million total doses as of Sunday, including 870,6000 first doses. It gave out 57,000 first and second doses on Feb. 12, the highest one day of vaccinations the city has recorded, according to Health Department data.

CDC Advisers Weigh Delaying Second Doses (10:30 a.m. NY)

U.S. public health advisers are weighing recommendations for extending the interval between the first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines, a potential strategy for quickly getting protection to more people amid the spread of new variants.

Health officials have rejected a dose-stretching policy adopted by the U.K. that allows up to 12 weeks between Covid shots. Most drugmakers have concurred, saying that policies should follow the protocols used in the shots’ testing, in which the intervals were set at three or four weeks.

As U.S., U.K. Converge on China, British Lawmaker Says 'Golden Era Is Over'

  As U.S., U.K. Converge on China, British Lawmaker Says 'Golden Era Is Over' An "awakening" to the challenges posed by Beijing has caused a shift in attitude in the United Kingdom, says Tom Tugendhat, chair of China Research Group.Echoing recent sentiments expressed on Capitol Hill, Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the British Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, said there had been an "awakening" in the U.K. to the many irreconcilable practices of the Chinese government.

Biden Predicts U.S. Will Break Vaccine Goal (9:04 a.m. NY)

“I set a big goal of administering 100 million shots in the first 100 days. With the progress we’re making I believe we’ll not only reach that, we’ll break it,” President Joe Biden said in a tweet.

Encouraging Data From U.K., Israel (8:57 a.m. NY)

In the U.K., a report from the Office for National Statistics showed people over age 80 -- a high-priority group in the country’s vaccination drive -- were the most likely to test positive for Covid antibodies in England. The analysis estimated that 40.9% of people in that bracket had antibodies during the four-week period ending Feb. 1, “most likely due to the high vaccination rate in this group.”

That followed study results earlier this week from Israel’s Clalit health service provider showing a 94% drop in symptomatic cases among the vaccinated. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed spurring Israel’s sputtering vaccine drive by “outing” the uninoculated.

Romania also reported significant declines in cases among the elderly and inside hospitals after most residents in nursing homes and medical workers were vaccinated. The hospital infection rate has dropped by 87% in recent weeks, according to Valeriu Gheorghita, the head of the vaccination task force.

H.K. Panel Recommends China’s Sinovac (7:30 a.m. NY)

A panel of experts recommended that Hong Kong approve a vaccine from Chinese developer Sinovac Biotech, saying the shot -- CoronaVac -- has an efficacy rate of 50%. The move came after the group last week postponed a decision on the shot, saying it needed more efficacy data.

Healthcare Workers Receive Covid-19 Vaccine © Bloomberg Healthcare Workers Receive Covid-19 Vaccine

The Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine.

Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg

Separately, the Hong Kong government will allow venues including gyms, beauty parlors, cinemas and theme parks to reopen from Thursday while keeping public beaches and swimming pools closed.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

As U.S., U.K. Converge on China, British Lawmaker Says 'Golden Era Is Over' .
An "awakening" to the challenges posed by Beijing has caused a shift in attitude in the United Kingdom, says Tom Tugendhat, chair of China Research Group.Echoing recent sentiments expressed on Capitol Hill, Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the British Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, said there had been an "awakening" in the U.K. to the many irreconcilable practices of the Chinese government.

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