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The weekly tally of global Covid-19 deaths rose for the first time since January, while infections climbed for a fourth straight week. Fatalities in the U.S., however, were the lowest since November even as cases in the country rose.
European Union officials will probably block future exports of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine to the U.K., according to an EU official, deepening a post-Brexit conflict that has festered as Europe seeks to get its vaccination drive on track. The EU also said it’s unable to donate vaccines to poor nations for the time being.
Australia’s vaccine rollout is being hampered by torrential rain and flooding. Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed keeping German lockdown restrictions in force for another four weeks. Miami Beach extended to April 12 a curfew aimed at controlling large spring-break crowds.
Deaths Rise for First Time Since January (10:23 a.m. HK)
Global weekly Covid-19 deaths rose for the first time since January, with fatalities for the week ended Sunday climbing by more than 61,000. Infections increased for a fourth straight week, by more than 3 million.
Brazil continues to be the global hot spot, seeing a record number of cases and deaths. Eastern Europe is seeing a resurgence, with Poland introducing some of the strictest lockdown measures in months as it struggles against a new wave. The U.S. also saw cases rise for the week, however, fatalities in the country were the lowest since November.
HSBC to Reopen Main HK Office (8:41 a.m. HK)
HSBC Holdings Plc will reopen its main Hong Kong office on Monday, after being closed last week in the wake of three people testing positive for Covid-19. The outbreak came as a wave of infections hit the city’s business and expatriate community. In a memo, HSBC is advising that only critical staff should come into any of its premises, with staff required to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters apart and wear masks at all times.
U.K. Developing Fast Test for Variants (8:09 a.m. HK)
The U.K. government is developing new testing technology that would identify whether positive Covid-19 test samples contain variants of concern, and provide more rapid results. The “genotype assay test” would halve the time it takes to identify the variants and could be used in addition to standard testing to find cases more quickly, the U.K. government’s health ministry said in a statement.
Floods Hamper Australia Vaccine Rollout (7:38 a.m. HK)
Australia’s vaccine rollout is being hampered by torrential rain and flooding with thousands of residents in parts of Sydney and along the New South Wales coast evacuated as rivers overflow.
The severe wet weather is expected to intensify into the middle of the week and comes as the government moves into the next phase of its vaccine program amid criticism for poor organization and a slower-than-expected start to the rollout. General practitioners are due to begin inoculating patients from Monday, with about 6 million Australians eligible.
Miami Beach Extends Curfew (6:24 a.m. HK)
Miami Beach extended to April 12 a curfew aimed at controlling large spring-break crowds, the Miami Herald reported. After imposing the 8 p.m. curfew on Saturday, the Florida city’s police dispersed revelers with pepper spray balls and SWAT teams.
Local Black leaders said the tactics -- used against crowds that included many people of color -- were excessive, the paper reported.
The curfew and ban on traffic on central roads was announced only a few hours before going into effect, after city officials said a larger-than-usual number of people flocked to the city as one of the few places open during Covid-19 restrictions. The curfew was initially imposed for 72 hours. The city’s police say they have made more than 1,000 arrests related to spring break since February.
Texas Roadhouse CEO Dies by Suicide (5:36 p.m. NY)
Texas Roadhouse Inc. founder Kent Taylor died by suicide last week after battling symptoms following a case of Covid-19, including tinnitus, the company and his family said in a joint statement. He was 65.
EU Set to Block Astra Vaccine to U.K. (4:58 p.m. NY)
European Union officials will probably block future exports of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine to the U.K., according to an EU official, deepening a post-Brexit conflict that has festered as Europe seeks to get its vaccination drive on track.
Any AstraZeneca vaccines and components produced in the EU are set to be reserved for local use and the EU isn’t responsible for helping the company meet commitments to Britain, said the official, who asked not to be named discussing internal EU deliberations.
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace earlier Sunday called on the European Commission to honor Covid-19 vaccine contracts.
Merkel Proposes Longer Lockdown (4:38 p.m. NY)
Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed keeping German lockdown restrictions in force for another four weeks after Covid-19 cases rose beyond a level that may prompt government action to avoid health-care overload.
The plan would extend existing curbs through April 18, according to a chancellery draft seen by Bloomberg. Merkel and regional government leaders will discuss the proposals on Monday during talks on how to proceed with the lockdown amid an upward curve of infections in Europe’s biggest economy.
Cases in Locked-Down France High (4:02 p.m. NY)
France, where about a third of the population has been subjected to a lockdown since Saturday, reported 30,581 new daily cases and 138 deaths on Sunday evening. That brings the total to 92,305 deaths in the country, as hospitalizations and critical cases keep rising.
Massachusetts Eases Curbs Monday (2:14 p.m. NY)
Massachusetts will reopen further on Monday, as the outbreak there continues to recede. Indoor and outdoor stadiums, including Fenway Park, can open at 12% capacity, and the numbers allowed at public and private gatherings will increase. The quarantine for high-risk states will end, replaced with an advisory. Overnight summer camps are now permitted.
Ireland Cases Accelerate (1:59 p.m. NY)
Ireland reported the most new cases in nearly a month, threatening government plans to ease restrictions. There were 769 newly confirmed cases with two deaths, the health ministry said. Ireland has been effectively locked down since Christmas, and the government had planned to ease limits on travel and construction early next month. Cases have started to increase in recent days despite the current restrictions, while hospitalizations are increasing again too.
L.A. Theaters Open, Hollywood Waits (1:44 p.m. NY)
The popcorn is popped and the doors have reopened at theaters in Los Angeles for the first weekend in a year, giving Hollywood some confidence that movie-going is bouncing back.
Major studios are still waiting to see just how eager people are to return to cinemas. The top movie this weekend is still Walt Disney Co.’s “Raya and the Last Dragon,” an animated film that was released two weeks ago and is also available to at-home audiences for $30 on the Disney+ streaming service.
Gottlieb Warns On NYC Variants (12:46 p.m. NY)
Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb remains focused on the virus variants swirling around New York City. Even as cases overall decline, “you’re seeing a lot of infection surging in pockets,” including parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, he said Sunday on CBS.
“What we don’t understand with B.1.526,” a variant that began to show in New York City samples in November, “is whether or not people are being reinfected with it, and whether or not people who might have been vaccinated are now getting infected with it.”
Palestinians Start Mass Vaccinations (11:57 a.m. NY)
The Palestinian Authority started the mass rollout of its vaccination campaign on Sunday, opening up inoculations to medical workers, the elderly and at-risk residents, according to the government-run Wafa news agency.
While neighboring Israel outpaced the world in giving out shots, thanks to a special agreement with Pfizer Inc., the Palestinians’ effort lagged as they awaited shipments. Israel faced criticism for not doing more to help vaccinate the millions of Palestinians under its control, and recently began inoculating some Palestinians who work inside Israel and West Bank settlements.
U.S. Adds Almost 55,000 Cases (8:45 a.m. NY)
The U.S. added almost 55,000 cases on Saturday, ending a week in which the highest daily number of infections exceeded 60,000 for the first time since early March.
U.S. new cases have declined and leveled off from peaks in January and it’s too early to declare a sustained upward trend again. Deaths related to Covid-19 declined last week to 7,265, compared with almost 10,000 the previous week, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
— With assistance by Jeff Sutherland