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China Cluster Emerges; Poll Sees Leadership Crisis: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

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The coronavirus continued its unrelenting spread, with resurgences across Europe and North America. India’s cases climbed past 7 million, while China recorded its biggest cluster in months.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to step up efforts to contain Covid-19 on Monday. South Korea eased social distancing requirements, and the governor of Jakarta relaxed restrictions in Indonesia’s capital.

U.S. President Donald Trump was flagged by Twitter for declaring himself immune to the Covid-19 virus, a day before returning to the campaign trail. The pandemic has exposed a leadership deficit around the world, according to a survey.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: cases pass 37.4 million; deaths top 1.07 millionInhaled vaccines aim to fight coronavirus at its point of attackThe new coronavirus may remain infectious for weeks on banknotesFauci says he was taken out of context in Trump campaign adCoronavirus has exposed global leadership crisis: survey

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.



chart: A Steep Covid-19 Curve


© Bloomberg
A Steep Covid-19 Curve

India Adds 66,732 Cases (12:25 p.m. HK)

India reported 66,732 additional coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing total infections to 7.12 million. While the daily rate of cases appears to be slowing, India is expected to surpass the U.S. as the worst hit nation in the world by as early as next month. The country’s death toll rose to 109,150.

Pandemic Exposes Global Leadership Crisis: Survey (12:06 p.m. HK)

The coronavirus pandemic has shown there’s a leadership deficit around the world, according to a survey that said more people trust companies over their governments to keep economies going during the crisis.

Over 70% of citizens around the globe say they are experiencing the lowest point in their nation’s history, while nearly two-thirds say their leaders are out of touch or “don’t really care what happens” to them, the Milken Institute and the Harris Poll said in a report.

“While COVID-19 is a public health crisis, it has also been a contagion across many other socio-economic challenges and government institutions,” said John Gerzema, chief executive officer of the Harris Poll. “Maybe even more than the virus, our common crippling hardship is the lack of leadership being observed on the world stage.”

New Zealand to Buy Vaccine for 750,000 People (10:26 a.m. HK)

New Zealand agreed to purchase enough vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for 750,000 people. The pact is subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, according to Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins in an emailed statement.

The agreement is complementary to other aspects of the government’s vaccine strategy, such as the global Covax facility that could provide up to 50% of the population’s needs.

Hipkins also said the government has established a new category that will allow 250 international doctorate and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies.

South

Virus cluster found at Alaska hockey tournament

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Health officials in Alaska’s largest city on Friday recommended up to 300 people associated with a youth hockey tournament quarantine or isolate after “a cluster” of COVID-19 cases were identified.

The Anchorage Health Department said players, coaches and fans from parts of south-central Alaska and Juneau attended the tournament, which was held Oct. 2-4.

The department said it encouraged everyone who attended who does not have symptoms to quarantine for 14 days, except to get tested, and encouraged those with symptoms to isolate for 10 days, except to get tested.


Dr. Janet Johnston, the department’s epidemiologist, said that means the department is recommending up to 300 isolate or quarantine.

Heather Harris, the department’s director, could not provide “concrete” numbers of positive cases associated with the tournament. She said the tournament organizers said they tried to enforce masking guidelines and kept a contact log of participants.

Contact trace investigations indicated “significant close contact in indoor spaces, including locker rooms, with inconsistent use of face coverings,” the city health department said in a release.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— President Trump credits antibody drug for quick recovery

— Spain declares state of emergency in Madrid to contain surge

— As virus fills French ICUs anew, doctors ask what went wrong

— British government will announce more support for businesses to retain staff in the coming months if they are forced to close because of lockdown restrictions.

— President Donald Trump says he wants to try to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday, despite his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that bars around West Virginia University in Morgantown can reopen next Tuesday, a month after images of maskless college students packing bars led them to be shut down.

Police and state alcohol regulators will step up enforcement in the college town, Justice said at a coronavirus press briefing. The Republican governor abruptly ordered Monongalia County bars to close indefinitely on Sept. 2 — just two days after allowing them to reopen — as many patrons lined up without social distancing.

The owners of 12 restaurants and bars sued the governor and local officials in Morgantown last month in federal court over the shutdown.

“Bars that don’t enforce these guidelines, where we see a bunch of people packed in with no mask wearing … you will be shut down again,” Justice said, adding establishments risk having their licenses suspended.

County officials previously required bars to cut indoor seating occupancy by half, close dance floors and discontinue live performances and entertainment. Restaurants in the county had been able to continue dine-in service without operating their bars. Morgantown city officials did not immediately return a request for comment.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of people hospitalized in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus surged to a record one-day high of 749 on Friday,

Sri Lanka bans gatherings amid virus cluster

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka have banned all public gatherings as a new cluster of coronavirus infections expands in the Indian Ocean island nation.

Health authorities said early Wednesday that the outbreak centered at a garment factory has risen to 830 confirmed cases while more than 1,000 people have been asked to quarantine at their homes.

The health ministry ordered a halt to gatherings such as exhibitions, parties, conferences, indoor or outdoor events, carnivals, musical shows and processions. Officials already imposed a curfew in two suburbs of Colombo where many of the patients live, closed schools and restrictws public transport.

The cluster emerged Monday, a day after Sri Lanka reported its first community infection in two months. The country has reported 3,733 cases during the pandemic, with 13 deaths.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Pentagon says top military leaders are under self-quarantine

— How do I politely ask someone to wear a mask? If in store or restaurant, have a manager make the request

— Virginia Gov. Northam has mild symptoms 2 weeks after virus diagnosis

— Despite decades of warnings about the fragile supply lines bringing protective gear from overseas factories to America’s health care workers, the U.S. was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic.

— Hospitals and staff are stretched to their limits again in Madrid, where the surging number of COVID-19 patients in September forced an expansion of critical care beds into gymnasiums.

— Service workers in New Orleans who were laid off because of the coronavirus’s impact on the economy are earning a living by helping others survive during the pandemic.

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 114 new cases of the coronavirus, its first daily jump of over 100 in a week.

Health officials had raised concerns that infections will rise because of increased travel during the five-day Chuseok harvest holiday that ended Sunday.

The figures released by health officials Wednesday brought South Korea’s case total to 24,353 for the pandemic, including 425 deaths.

Ninety-two of the newly confirmed cases were in the Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the center of a viral resurgence since mid-August. Health officials have been struggling to track transmissions linked to various places, including hospitals, churches, restaurants and an army unit in Pocheon, north of Seoul, where 37 soldiers so far have tested positive.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s governor says the state will reinstate restrictions on businesses, houses of worship and schools in and around areas where coronavirus cases are spiking.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that the severity of shutdowns would vary by proximity to hot spots.

The rules will take effect no later than Friday in parts of New York City’s Brooklyn and Queens boroughs, sections of Orange and Rockland counties north of the city, and an area within the upstate city of Binghamton near the Pennsylvania border.

Use of Coronavirus Rapid Tests May Have Fueled White House Covid-19 Cluster, Experts Say

At least eight people who attended the White House’s recent Supreme Court nomination ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett have tested positive for the coronavirus, and public health experts say they expect more attendees to be diagnosed in coming days.

The White House says it has relied on rapid testing to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 among officials and guests. Officials don’t wear masks or socially distance because they are tested daily. The president is also tested for the coronavirus every day, as is anyone who comes in close contact with him.

The administration relied on

Abbott Laboratories

’ ID Now rapid test at the Sept. 26 event for Judge Barrett. After guests tested negative, they were ushered to the Rose Garden, where few people were wearing masks. The White House didn’t comment on whether anyone screened at the event tested positive.

Public-health experts say the White House isn’t using the test appropriately, and that such tests are not meant to be used as one-time screeners. Regardless of the type or brand of test, any strategy that relies solely on testing is insufficient for protecting the public against the virus, epidemiologists and researchers say.

President Trump’s schedule in the week before he was diagnosed with Covid-19 included a Rose Garden event, a presidential debate, and visits to three states. Photo: Getty Images

“What seems to have been fundamentally misunderstood in all this was that they were using it almost like you would implement a metal detector,” said Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s school of public health.

All tests, including those processed in a lab, can produce false negatives, he and other experts say. Some studies have shown that the Abbott Now ID test, which can produce a result in minutes, has around a 91% sensitivity—meaning 9% of tests can produce false negatives.

“A metal detector that misses 10% of weapons—you’d never, ever say that’s our only layer of protection for the president,” said Dr. Jha.

Such rapid tests trade some accuracy for speed, and need to be administered multiple times to a person over a period of days or weeks to be useful for screening, he said. The idea is that if the test misses the virus one day for whatever reason, it will be more likely to catch it on another.

“No test detects the virus immediately after the person becomes infected,” said an Abbott spokesperson in a statement. “Today we have lab-based and rapid tests that help reduce the risk in society and slow the spread of the virus. The goal should be to test often—or if that’s not possible, to test if you’ve been exposed or have symptoms—and find out if you have it. If so, you’ll know to isolate to prevent spread.”

A multipronged approach is vital, epidemiologists and researchers say. That includes socially distancing, masks and avoiding crowds.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other guests at the ceremony for Judge Barrett. Mr. Christie has tested positive for coronavirus.



Photo:

Rod Lamkey –