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N.J. Opens Vaccine Eligibility; German Entry Curbs: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — New Jersey will expand Covid-19 vaccinations to people 65 years old and over after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that states open eligibility to seniors. New York did the same on Tuesday.Germany agreed on stricter rules for travelers arriving from high-risk nations to curb the spread of more transmissible Covid-19 strains. The Philippines and Hungary joined the list of countries that found patients with the U.K. variant.Japan expanded its state of emergency beyond the Tokyo region, encompassing an area that accounts for more than half of its economy. The worsening outbreak is casting doubt on the fate of the postponed Olympics, which are set to be held in the nation’s capital in less than 200 days.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases top 91 million; deaths surpass 1.96 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 30.5 million shots given worldwideU.S. vaccine shift stirs fresh unease as 128 million join lineU.K. promises to crack down on people flouting lockdown rulesVisitors to U.S. will require proof of a negative Covid-19 testHow Covid-19 has turned the spotlight back on obesitySubscribe 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.Two U.K. Strains Detected in NYC (10:46 a.m. NY)Two new Covid-19 cases with the U.K. variant were found in New York City, bringing the state’s total to 12, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a briefing Wednesday.The city reported 279 new hospitalizations with Covid-19 symptoms, above the 200 public threshold, with hospital use in the city running at 4.62 persons per 100,000 in the population. The seven-day average positivity rate reached 8.89%, exceeding the public-health standard of 5%.Meanwhile, de Blasio said the city was on track to reach its goal of vaccinating 1 million New Yorkers by the end of the month. He said the city is talking to the New York Yankees to add Yankee Stadium to the city’s growing list of vaccine distribution sites, a day after the New York Mets offered Citi Field as a venue.The city has administered more than 250,000 shots, de Blasio said. Eligibility was expanded this week to age 65 and older. The mayor said he expected immuno-compromised individuals will be eligible soon.“The vast majority of appointments have already been booked. The key thing here is we need more vaccine,” he said.France Says Earlier Curfew Is Working (9:39 a.m. NY)French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that bringing forward the curfew to 6 p.m. from 8 p.m. in certain parts of the country has been effective against the spread of the virus.Where the earlier curfew is in place, “the growth dynamic of the virus isn’t as speedy as in other areas,” he told reporters in Paris following a weekly cabinet meeting.Astra to Boost Vaccine Deliveries for U.K. Effort (9:17 a.m. NY)AstraZeneca pledged to deliver 2 million doses a week of its coronavirus vaccine for the U.K. before mid-February as it ramps up production to help fuel the country’s immunization campaign.“It does need to become a national priority to ensure that we have the right capacity and capability for vaccine manufacturing onshore here,” Tom Keith-Roach, president of Astra’s U.K. operations, said at a hearing at the House of Commons.Switzerland to Close Shops (9:10 a.m. NY)Switzerland will close shops and toughen social distancing restrictions in a bid to prevent a surge of a faster-spreading strain that has already swamped U.K. hospitals.Non-essential shops will be closed from Jan. 18 until the end of February. Restaurants and fitness centers will also have to stay shut until then, and private gatherings will be restricted to five people, according to the government on Wednesday.N.J. to Expand Vaccine Eligibility (8:39 a.m. NY)New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he was “gratified to hear” that the CDC recommended that states expand eligibility to seniors. The 65-and-over population will be eligible “effective almost immediately, in the next day or two,” Murphy said Wednesday in a CNBC interview.The state has administered 243,734 doses, according to the latest data. That’s about 37% of the vaccines distributed to New Jersey. The state so far has limited vaccines to health-care workers, long-term care residents and first responders.Scotland Toughens Lockdown Restrictions (8:15 a.m. NY)Scotland’s 5.5 million people, already subject to nationwide lockdown rules, will from Saturday face a series of additional restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.The country’s devolved government, which is responsible for health, is imposing the extra restrictions in areas ranging from click-and-collect shopping to takeaways and the consumption of alcohol outdoors in an effort to limit social interactions, Sturgeon told lawmakers in Edinburgh on Wednesday.More Countries Find Patients With U.K. Variant (7:45 a.m. NY)The Philippines said it detected the Covid-19 variant first reported in the U.K in the samples of a male citizen who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 7 via an Emirates flight.Hungary, meantime, registered the first three cases of the strain, Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller said at a briefing on Wednesday. The mutated virus is considered much more transmissible than earlier strains.Putin Expands Vaccinations (7:45 a.m. NY)Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to expand vaccination against Covid-19 to all adults starting next week, lifting the last remaining restrictions on who could get the shots. The inoculation campaign Putin kicked off last month had initially been limited to medical workers and other groups seen as especially in need, before expanding amid reports of limited demand.The state-run fund behind Russia’s main Sputnik V vaccine said on Jan. 10 that more than 1.5 million people had already gotten at least one shot of the two-injection regimen. A total of 2.1 million doses will be produced for public use by the end of January, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told Putin Wednesday.African Union Secures Vaccine Doses (7:10 a.m. NY)The African Union secured almost 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for the continent, a step toward starting the complex task of inoculating more than 1.2 billion people with limited logistical and financial resources.South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the AU chairman, is expected to give more detail on the vaccines later Wednesday, according to Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, deputy director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The order would be by far the largest on the continent to date.Ireland Relaxes Isolation Rules for Hospital Staff (6:43 p.m. HK)Ireland will allow hospital staffers deemed close contacts of coronavirus cases to keep working, as pressure on the nation’s health system increases. Previously, employees in those circumstances were required to self isolate, but they will now be monitored at work for any symptoms.The country should brace for “rough” weeks ahead, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said Wednesday, with deaths likely to increase. The country yesterday saw the most coronavirus fatalities since April, even as cases fell.Germany Restricts Entry Over Mutation Fears (6 p.m. HK)Germany agreed on stricter rules for travelers arriving from high-risk countries, including those where potentially more dangerous virus mutations have been detected.“Foreign trips to risk areas are not compatible with the pandemic situation,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in an emailed statement after cabinet signed off on the measures. “Virus mutations are an additional threat to our health,” he added. “We must prevent them from spreading in Germany as much as possible.”The new rules, which take effect Thursday, require travelers from high-risk countries to prove they are free of the virus within 48 hours of arrival. Those from particularly hard-hit areas must provide a negative test before beginning their journey.Japan Expands Virus State of Emergency (5:30 p.m. HK)Japan expanded its state of emergency beyond the Tokyo region to encompass the country’s other main economic hubs, as it battles to contain a record surge in coronavirus cases.The government is adding seven more prefectures to the existing emergency declaration, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told his virus task force on Wednesday.Together with the capital and three neighboring prefectures that came under the state of emergency last week, the areas account for more than half of the nation’s output. The expansion would further strengthen the likelihood of the world’s third-largest economy slipping back into reverse this quarter.Lunar New Year Poses ‘Big Test,’ China Health Official Says (4:16 p.m. HK)China’s coronavirus response faces a “big test” in the run-up to the Lunar New Year holiday, Wang Bin, an official with the National Health Commission, said at a briefing. More gatherings, the transport of goods and people returning from overseas during the holiday could amplify risks, Wang said.Meantime, a team of World Health Organization scientists set to arrive in Wuhan on Jan. 14 to look into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic will be quarantined like other inbound travelers, said Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission.Singapore Pushes Law for New Uses of Tracing Data (3:50 p.m. HK)Singapore is speeding a new law through parliament to allow the use of contact tracing data for criminal investigations after recent disclosures spurred concern the government was using the information for more than just fighting Covid-19.With one of the highest take-up rates among contact tracing programs in the world, TraceTogether has been an effective tool for containing the virus. Now it’s become a test of public trust in the government after senior officials admitted that it has also been accessible to the police, contrary to prior statements.Political opposition and rights groups have called on the government to abandon the plan.Japan Plans to Halt Business Travel from China, S. Korea: NTV (3:42 p.m. HK)The Japanese government plans to suspend its program allowing short-term business travel from 11 countries and regions, including China and South Korea, NTV reports, citing unidentified officials. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to announce the change at a press conference on Wednesday evening local time.Austria Lockdown May Be Extended (3:02 p.m. HK)The Austrian government may extend the country’s third lockdown, which was supposed to end on Jan. 24, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober told Austrian public radio Oe1. Several incidents suggest the super-infectious B117 strain is already spreading through the country, upending the previous plans. The latest lockdown, which entered into force after Christmas, has so far failed to further reduce the rate of new infections in Austria.Paris May Lose Office Space Due to Virus (2:48 p.m. HK)The Paris region may lose between 2% and 12% of its office space in the next decade as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis and changes induced by work from home, and rents could drop as well, Les Echos reported. The newspaper cited a study by the Institut de l’épargne immobiliere et fonciere (IEIF).Philippines to Sign Deal With AstraZeneca (1:14 p.m. HK)The Philippines will sign a deal with AstraZeneca Plc on Thursday for up to 20 million additional doses of its vaccine.Private companies and local officials are helping the government secure the shots, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at a televised briefing. Talks are ongoing with the company for first shipments to arrive this quarter, he said.Sweden Changes Approach to Virus (1 p.m. HK)After taking arguably the world’s softest approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden is tightening the screws. As of Sunday, the government of Premier Stefan Lofven can fine and shutter businesses that fail to follow restrictions such as caps on visitors, as well as restrict private gatherings, under a new law that runs through September.It’s a departure from relying mainly on recommendations and trusting people to follow them. With the health-care system under increasing duress and deaths surging, some say it was too little too late.Indonesia Kicks Off Vaccination Program (10:45 a.m. HK)Indonesia kicked off its mass inoculation drive using a vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a key test for the Chinese-developed shot amid questions over its efficacy.President Joko Widodo received the vaccine in a televised ceremony at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Wednesday, becoming the first of 181.5 million people that the government seeks to inoculate by March 2022.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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