Germany’s Cases Rise; Indonesia Rules Out Easing: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

A top U.S. official suggested Beijing sent airline passengers to spread the coronavirus worldwide, as the Trump administration stepped up its campaign of blaming China for the pandemic.

Japan’s economy sank into a recession, while Thailand’s economy contracted for the first time since 2014 due to the virus. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said a U.S. recovery could stretch through the end of next year and depend on the delivery of a vaccine.

India extended its nationwide lockdown to the end of the month while easing some curbs. Germany recorded a small increase in cases, though the daily death toll fell. Indonesia ruled out an immediate easing of social distancing rules as cases continue to spike.

Key Developments:

Virus Tracker: Cases top 4.7 million; deaths exceed 315,000Pandemic shatters world order, sowing anger and mistrustChina faces angry world seeking virus answers at key WHO meetingHow Germany’s relentless contact tracers helped beat virusItaly shops to reopen, but for many it’s too lateMore Chinese dine out, schools reopen as normalcy resumes

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. See this week’s top stories from QuickTake here.

Indonesia Rules Out Easing Lockdowns as Cases Spike (2:54 p.m. HK)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ruled out an immediate easing of social distancing rules and ordered officials to strictly enforce a ban on travel during the busy holiday season to prevent a spike in new coronavirus cases.

With new infections soaring 73% so far in May, Jokowi, as the president is known, asked officials at a cabinet meeting to increase the surveillance of industrial clusters and focus on enforcing mobility restrictions at the village level. While the government is preparing various scenarios for reopening the economy, no deadline has been set yet, he said.

Mongolia Cases Triple as Citizens Return From Russia (2:26 p.m. HK)

Mongolia’s coronavirus cases have more than tripled to 140 in less than a week, with new infections coming from citizens returned from Russia, most of them students attending a military school.

Nyamkhuu Dulmaa, general director of the National Center for Communicable Diseases, reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, in addition to 38 cases reported during the weekend.

Mongolia has strong diplomatic and trade ties with Russia, and the two countries share a 2,000-mile land border. Mongolia has been repatriating citizens from around the world as the virus spread, and Russia poses a risk as it has more than 280,000 cases, the most in the world after the U.S.

Health officials didn’t announce any tightening of restrictions at a press conference Monday. Mongolia has some restrictions already in place, including a suspension on nightclubs and a curfew on restaurants and pubs.

Germany’s New Cases Rise, Fatalities Drop (1:24 p.m. HK)

Germany recorded a small increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, though the daily death toll fell. There were 617 new cases in the 24 hours through Monday morning, bringing the total to 176,369 according to data from Johns Hopkins University. This compares to 519 new cases reported on Sunday. Fatalities rose by 15 to 7,962.

Ryanair Taps Loan Program, Thai Air Nears Restructuring (1:19 p.m. HK)

Ryanair Holdings Plc said it received a 600 million-pound ($726 million) loan backed by the U.K. government, boosting liquidity as the coronavirus crisis threatens to reduce passenger numbers by half over the next year.

Separately, Thai Airways International Pcl is a step closer to restructuring via a bankruptcy court after a key Thailand government panel backed the plan, which is due for consideration by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Governments worldwide have devoted more than $85 billion to propping up airlines after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out travel demand and grounded fleets.

Citigroup to Bring 600 Staff Back to Hong Kong Office (1:16 p.m. HK)

Citigroup Inc. said it will allow an additional 600 staff to resume working from their Hong Kong premises on Wednesday after the city relaxed social-distancing curbs amid an overall reduction in the number of new coronavirus infections. Citigroup is joining other Wall Street banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley in returning to offices.

Singapore Tests 30,000 Preschool Staff (11:37 a.m. HK)

Singapore is testing 30,000 preschool staff in batches from May 15-26 as the government prepares for the reopening of preschools, according to a message sent via its WhatsApp channel. More than 6,000 staff have already been swabbed.

“Many have asked whether general services at preschools will resume on 2 June,” Desmond Lee, the city-state’s Minister for Social and Family Development, said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “We are assessing the situation, and hope to be able to make an announcement on this soon.”

Thailand’s Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2014 (10:44 a.m. HK)

Thailand’s economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time since 2014 as the coronavirus outbreak cut off tourist arrivals and shuttered commerce. Gross domestic product shrank 1.8% from a year ago, the National Economic and Social Development Council said.

South Korea Nightclub Cases Rise to 168 (10:21 a.m. HK)

South Korea’s health ministry said coronavirus cases related to nightclubs in Seoul increased to 168 as of midnight. The ministry said there has been no drastic increase in the outbreak, with findings of about 10 cases a day on average.

About 65,000 people possibly exposed through the nightclubs have been tested so far, as South Korea tries to prevent a possible second wave of infections in the country.

China Reports Seven New Cases (8:32 a.m. HK)

China reported seven new coronavirus infections, with three of them locally transmitted cases in Jilin province and Shanghai, while four are imported cases in Inner Mongolia.

Total deaths in China rose to 4,634, after the National Health Commission said on Sunday that Jilin province revised its fatality count by one.

Jilin, in northeastern China, has locked down several cities in the province. President Xi Jinping has called for strengthened controls in the region as a growing cluster of infections near the Russia and North Korea borders threatens to become a second wave.

Japan’s Economy Sinks Into a Recession (7:54 a.m. HK)

Japan’s economy sank last quarter into a recession that’s likely to deepen further as households limit spending to essentials and companies cut back on investment, production and hiring to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 3.4% in the three months through March from the previous quarter, the Cabinet Office reported. Economists had forecast a 4.5% fall, as the start of social distancing last quarter crimped consumer spending, while supply-chain disruptions and sliding exports hurt manufacturers.

Apple to Reopen 25 U.S. Stores, 12 in Canada (7:30 a.m. HK)

Apple Inc. said it’s reopening more than 25 stores across the U.S. and 12 stores in Canada this week, adding to nearly 100 global locations that have reopened to customers after the novel coronavirus outbreak forced them to close. Some stores will offer only curbside or storefront service, the company added in an emailed statement.

Brazil Delays Naming Health Minister (7:15 a.m HK)

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro held back from replacing his health minister Sunday, instead joining supporters who marched in front of the presidential palace as the coronavirus crisis deepened.

The country awaiting an announcement following Nelson Teich’s resignation Friday after 29 days on the job as health minister. He had taken over the post in April after Bolsonaro fired his predecessor amid public discord over social distancing.

Brazil has 241,080 cases — the fourth-highest in the world — and 16,118 deaths so far, according to data released on Sunday.

Trump Wants Stadiums ‘Loaded’ With Fans (5:10 p.m. NY)

Donald Trump said the return of professional sports is essential for the “psyche of our country” in rebounding from the pandemic but signaled impatience with plans to play games without spectators.

“We want big stadiums loaded with people,” Trump said as he called into the broadcast of a charity golf event. “We don’t want 15,000 people watching Alabama-LSU.”

U.S. Cases Rise 1.5%, Below Week’s Average (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases increased 1.5% from the same time Saturday to 1.48 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The rise was below the average daily increase of 1.6% for the past seven days.

Deaths rose 1.1% to 89,207.

New York reported 1,889 new cases, bringing the total to 350,121, new deaths were 139 — a seven-week low — as the state total rose to 22,619.

Cuomo Takes Nasal Test on Camera (3 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo engaged in a bit of political theater during his daily briefing as he had a swab inserted in his nostril to demonstrate the ease of getting checked for the virus.

“I’m not in pain, I’m not in discomfort,” he said in Albany after Dr. Elizabeth Dufort used a long stick to collect the sample. “There is no reason why you should not get the test.”

Cuomo said the state is performing 40,000 tests a day and has the capacity to do more to make sure it avoids a new spike in cases. He also expanded who is qualified for testing: those in sectors returning to work first, in construction, manufacturing and curbside retail.

U.K. First to Get AstraZeneca Vaccine (1 p.m. NY)

AstraZeneca Plc will make as many as 30 million doses of vaccine available to the U.K. by September and deliver 100 million this year. The U.K. will get first access to the vaccine should it be successful.

The vaccine, being developed at the University of Oxford, will get 65.5 million pounds ($79 million) of funding, U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said. The inoculation is being studied in humans and could reach late-stage trials by mid-year. Another 18.5 million pounds will go to Imperial College London as trials accelerate.

Azar: Vaccine Plan is ‘Goal,’ Not ‘Pledge’ (11:50 a.m. NY)

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration has a goal to make of 300 million vaccine doses by year end, and the target could be missed. “It’s not a pledge,” Azar said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It’s a goal of what we’re going to mobilize the entire U.S. government, private sector to achieve.”

Azar said drug manufacturers are “wringing the inefficiency” out of the traditional multi-phase process to speed development and get safe and effective vaccines.

Newsom: Most of California Is Open (11:30 a.m. NY)

Governor Gavin Newsom said about 75% of California’s economy is reopened as dozens of counties get restaurants, offices, manufacturing, logistics and warehouses back operating. People are observing physical distancing and wearing face coverings, Newsom said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” One missing element: stadiums with sports fans. “As much as we want to see that happen,” he said, “the health consequences could be profound and devastating and set back all the progress we have made.”

Trump Aide Blames China for Spread (10:23 a.m. NY)

The Trump administration stepped up its campaign of blaming China for the coronavirus, with a top aide suggesting Beijing sent airline passengers to spread the infection worldwide.

“The virus was spawned in Wuhan province, patient zero was in November,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The Chinese, behind the shield of the World Health Organization, for two months hid the virus from the world and then sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York and around the world to seed that.”

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