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U.S. Cases Mount on Election Eve; U.K. Plans Tests: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — The virus continued its unrelenting surge across the U.S., with cases soaring in key battleground states ahead of the presidential election.France reported record daily cases Monday as large parts of Europe prepare for tougher measures to fight the pandemic. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there’s “no alternative” to imposing a lockdown across England and revealed plans for whole cities to be tested. Italy laid out new curbs to try to halt the coronavirus’s spread, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged people to abide by rules.In Asia, Hong Kong extended social distancing rules by another week and Malaysia’s prime minister ordered a review of measures amid an increase in cases. Thailand is considering reducing mandatory quarantine to 10 days, while Indonesia reported the fewest new cases since August. Singapore schools will require students to use the government’s contact tracing token or mobile app from the start of December. Australia’s central bank cut interest rates.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases surpass 46.8 million; deaths top 1.2 million‘Fire Fauci’ is easier for crowd to chant than for Trump to doChina’s race for first Covid-19 vaccine raises safety questionsDutch Fall for Covid conspiracies in warning to Europe’s leadersUnderstanding the virus and its unanswered questions: QuickTakeVaccine Tracker: Clinical trials restart in hopeful signSubscribe 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.Bulgaria Suffers Deadliest Day (2:58 p.m. HK)Bulgaria reported record-high Covid-19 deaths for Monday, with the number of patients in intensive care units also at its highest. New cases in the Balkan country doubled last week. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, himself recovering from the virus at home, said the government isn’t planning a lockdown.Lenovo Posts Record Profit (2:20 p.m. HK)Lenovo Group reported a record quarterly profit after booking one-time gains and selling more PCs to meet remote work and study needs. The Chinese company, which kept its position at the top of the worldwide PC market, saw net income increase 53% in the September quarter, beating analysts’ estimates.Global LNG Imports Rise (1:50 p.m. HK)More liquefied natural gas is being traded than a year ago for the first time since the pandemic upended consumption. Global imports in October rose 3.8% from a year earlier, the first monthly year-over-year gain since May, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. They rose 1.5% from September.The rebound can be primarily attributed to an increase in demand from larger end-users in Asia, which have mostly weathered the pandemic better than Europe or the U.S.Australia Cuts Key Interest Rate (12:33 p.m. HK)Australia’s central bank cut interest rates and announced a new bond-buying program as it seeks to ensure a rapid recovery across an economy now free of lockdowns.The Reserve Bank of Australia lowered its key interest rate, yield-curve target and bank lending facility rate to 0.10% from 0.25%, as forecast by most economists. It also said it would buy A$100 billion ($70 billion) of government bonds with maturities of around 5-10 years over the next six months.Virus Tracking for Singapore Students (11:40 a.m. HK)Singapore students age seven and above have to start using either the government’s contact-tracing token or mobile app from December as the city-state seeks to resume more activities. Singapore had earlier announced that the “TraceTogether” technology must be used at venues including restaurants, offices and shopping malls.Singapore reopened schools in June after a two-month partial lockdown. New daily coronavirus cases have dwindled to near zero, and officials have said testing and tracing are key to these efforts.Hong Kong Extends Distancing Rules (10:29 a.m. HK)Hong Kong extended social distancing rules that were set to expire Thursday by another week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a briefing. Noting the financial hub has only seen six local cases in the last week, she warned residents to maintain vigilance and avoid unnecessary gatherings amid a general “fatigue” following 10 months of Covid-19 restrictions.Lam, speaking ahead of a trip to Beijing where she’ll seek the support of China’s central government to boost the local economy, said opening up quarantine-free travel with the mainland remains a top priority. The government hopes to set up a previously-announced Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble by late November, she said.Hong Kong will offer free virus tests for kindergarten, primary and high school staff in phases next week. Four community testing centers operated by private laboratories will provide tests for HK$240 ($31).Malaysia Seeks Tighter Rules (8:48 a.m. HK)Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin ordered the National Security Council to review social distancing rules in order to break the chain of transmission as cases rise across the country. The council will deliberate proposals on stricter rules at a meeting Tuesday.Thailand Considers Shorter Quarantine (7:30 a.m. HK)The Thai government is studying the possibility of reducing mandatory quarantine to 10 days from 14 to attract more foreign visitors, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said. The Cabinet will hold an off-site meeting in the tourist hot spot of Phuket on Tuesday.Houston Hospitalizations Jump (7 a.m. HK)Virus hospitalizations swelled in Houston and four other Texas cities as conditions deteriorated in the Lone Star state’s worst hot spots.Almost 14% of hospital beds in the fourth-biggest U.S. city are occupied by Covid-19 patients, up from less than 5% a week ago, state health department figures showed. The caseload is closing in on Governor Greg Abbott’s 15% threshold for enacting tougher anti-virus restrictions.In El Paso, Amarillo, Lubbock and Laredo, caseloads already are at or above the 15% mark. El Paso is in the worst condition, with 40% of beds occupied by virus patients, followed by Amarillo at 28%, the data showed.Statewide, Covid-19 hospitalizations are approaching 6,000 — a level not seen since late August. Texas has now surpassed California for the most U.S. cases, with 938,503, according to Johns Hopkins University.Midwest Cases Keep Soaring (4:30 p.m. NY)Covid-19 continues to spread at alarming rates throughout the U.S. Midwest, with record numbers of infections recorded across the region over the weekend.Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters Monday that her state recorded 2,954 cases, only slightly fewer than the state’s record of 3,004, set on Friday. There has been a 13.4% increase in the number of cases during the past week alone, she said.Wisconsin reported 3,433 new cases Monday, compared with about 4,000 in California — which has nearly seven times the population.And Iowa’s 14-day positivity rate reached 14.5%, more than twice the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases among people 18-40 now account for nearly half of all cases in Iowa; only 19% of cases are people aged 61 or older.Massachusetts Shuts Nighttime Activities (4:11 p.m. NY)Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for essential activities, and will require many businesses to shut starting at 9:30 p.m. Face coverings will now be required in all public places, even if social distancing can be maintained, and indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and must disperse by 9:30 p.m.The state has seen cases soar by 278% since Labor Day, the governor’s office said in a statement Monday.Colorado Governor Sounds Alarm on Spike (3 p.m. NY)The governor of Colorado sounded a note of exasperation Monday as the state racks up new virus cases in the thousands.“We’re not doing a good enough job, my fellow Coloradoans. We need to do better,” Governor Jared Polis said at a news conference in Denver. “Three days in a row with more than 2,500 cases. Now remember, six weeks ago we had 300 to 400 cases a day,” Polis said. “We’re reaching an alarming inflection point. If this trend continues, our hospitals will run out of capacity in the weeks ahead.”Polis also met Monday with Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus advisor. “Dr. Birx said that we must urgently stop socializing and visiting with people in other households in Colorado for the next few weeks,” Polis saidCuomo Challenges U.S. Data-Sharing on Vaccine (2:44 p.m. NY)New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he won’t enter a data-sharing agreement with the federal government for its vaccine program, saying that the agreement endangers undocumented immigrants.Cuomo said he’s asking the Trump administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal offices why they’re requiring ID numbers of those who will receive the vaccine. Cuomo noted that the information could be shared with federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.“This is just another example of them trying to extort the state of New York to get information that they can use at the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to deport people. That’s what this is,” Cuomo said. “I will not do it.”Cuomo said he would allow the name, address, date of birth, ethnicity, and sex to be released, as they are relevant for health reasons.N.J. Sees Increase in Ventilator Use (2 p.m. NY)New Jersey, with six straight days of more than 1,000 hospitalizations, is seeing an increase in the sickest patients. On Oct. 31, 101 virus patients were breathing with the aid of ventilators, marking the first time since July 8 that the state has had more than 100 of the most critical cases. In late April, New Jersey had 1,327 patients on ventilators.France Reports Record New Cases (1:15 p.m. NY)France reported record daily coronavirus cases on Monday after a slowdown over the weekend, with 52,518 confirmed new infections. Deaths increased by 416 to 37,435, with the seven-day average of fatalities climbing to the highest since April.Johnson Says ‘No Alternative’ to England Lockdown (12:30 p.m. NY)Boris Johnson said there is “no alternative” to imposing a coronavirus lockdown across England to stop the health service being overwhelmed and doctors having to choose which patients to treat.The U.K. prime minister rejected criticism he was too slow to act, telling lawmakers he makes “no apology” for doing his “level best” to avoid national measures that are set to come into force on Thursday.Georgia to Allow Infected People to Vote in Person (11:50 a.m. NY)The Georgia health department ordered counties Monday to allow people exposed or infected with Covid-19 to vote in person on Election Day, instead of staying in quarantine.The order came a day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the exposed could vote, as long as certain protocols were followed. The protocols require voters to tell poll workers their condition.The directions to let the infected or exposed vote followed an announcement three days ago that Republican Governor Brian Kemp had been exposed and was going into quarantine. Kemp hadn’t yet voted, and it was too late to vote absentee.Slovakia Tests Two-Thirds of Nation (10:20 a.m. NY)Slovakia tested two-thirds of its population for the coronavirus over the weekend in a bid to measure the scope of the resurgent pandemic.About 3.6 million of the country’s 5.5 million people underwent rapid antibody tests, Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said Monday. More than 38,000 people, or 1.1%, were found positive, with rates varying between 0.3% to more than 3% in the most affected areas such as Cadca near the Polish border.Slovakia protected its population better than any other European Union state when the virus first broke out in spring. While other nations have shown success in mass testing, with China canvassing cities with populations far exceeding Slovakia’s, none has yet tried to test all of its citizens.Germany’s Merkel Pleads for Compliance (9:45 a.m. NY)German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the pandemic a once-in-a-century challenge, urging people to abide by hygiene and distancing rules so that health-care services don’t collapse. The government imposed a partial lockdown, which started Monday, aimed at reducing social contact with measures including closing bars and restaurants.“If we stick it out rigorously for a month, then this can be a wave breaker,” Merkel said Monday.A key concern is the rapid increase in severely sick patients. Health Minister Jens Spahn noted that the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has almost tripled in the past two weeks to over than 2,000.Italy to Limit Travel to High-Risk Regions (7:30 a.m. NY)Italy is set to create a three-tier system for regional curbs, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in parliament on Monday. Shopping malls are set close at weekends across the country, while secondary schools will be shut with pupils moving to online lessons. Museums will close nationally. Still, for now, Conte continues to resist a full national lockdown.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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