ECONOMY

Shanghai Shifts Lockdown to Western Half of City: Virus Update

Shanghai is lifting its lockdown of the eastern half of the city of 25 million residents on Friday, while the western part begins a four-day lockdown. Authorities are seeking to curtail a record outbreak that’s brought unprecedented disruptions to the financial hub.

Democrats and Republicans are near agreement on a $10 billion Covid-19 funding package as the White House mounts a last-ditch effort to salvage money for global vaccine efforts that had been championed by President Joe Biden. 

South Korea to Ease Measures for Two Weeks (7:48 a.m. HK)

South Korea will ease social distancing measures, allowing private gatherings of up to 10 people and restaurants to operate until midnight as there are signs that the spread of the omicron variant is slowing, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said in a meeting.

Currently, up to 8 people are allowed in private gatherings, and restaurants and cafes must close by 11 p.m. The eased measures will be effective Monday.

South Korea on Thursday reported 320,743 more coronavirus cases, compared with a record 621,328 cases reported earlier in March.

Shanghai to Shift Lockdown to Western Half (7:18 a.m. HK)

Shanghai will lift its lockdown of the eastern half of the city on Friday as scheduled, but certain compounds will continue to be sealed because of Covid-19 infections, according to a local government statement.

At the same time, the western part of the city of 25 million residents is set to enter a four-day lockdown Friday as authorities seek to curtail a record outbreak that’s brought unprecedented disruptions to the financial hub.

Shanghai has emerged as the epicenter of China’s worst virus outbreak since the early days of the pandemic. The city’s daily infections shot up from less than five at the beginning of March to more than 5,600 on Thursday, though that’s a slight decline on Wednesday’s tally.

Democrats Try to Salvage Vaccine Funding (1:26 a.m. HK)

Democrats and Republicans are near agreement on a $10 billion Covid-19 funding package as the White House mounts a last-ditch effort to salvage money for global vaccine efforts that had been championed by President Joe Biden. 

Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the top GOP negotiator on the bill, said Thursday afternoon that there is an agreement in principle but that Republicans are awaiting a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. 

Teens Suffered Heightened Pain in Pandemic (1 a.m. HK)

U.S. high school students endured widespread emotional and physical pain during the relative isolation of Covid-19, reporting high rates of abuse, sadness and distress in the home during early 2021.

Roughly half of high-schoolers reported emotional abuse by a parent or difficulty completing schoolwork since the pandemic began, according to analyses of government surveys of about 7,000 ninth to 12th graders across the U.S. in the first half of last year. Around one in four reported experiencing hunger or economic insecurity, and one in 10 said they had been physically abused by a parent. 

London Covid-19 Hospital Cases Rise (8:57 p.m. HK)

The number of patients in London hospitals testing positive for Covid-19 has risen to the highest in almost two months.

There were 2,330 people in the U.K. capital’s hospitals who had the virus on Wednesday, the most since Feb. 3, according to data from NHS England. The figures showed that 563 patients were treated primarily for Covid-19 while the others were admitted for other reasons.

Hospitalizations remain far below the recent winter-peak in early January, with just over 100 patients on mechanical ventilation. The rise in admissions follows a spike in new infections after the government ended pandemic rules in England at the end of February.

Indonesia Holiday Travelers (8:43 p.m. HK)

Indonesians who have had their third vaccine shot don’t need to show a negative test result when traveling domestically during Ramadan and Eid period, Suharyanto, head of the Covid-19 task force, said in a briefing.

Those who have had two shots can show either a negative result from an antigen test taken in the last 24 hours or a PCR test taken in the last three days. Those who have only had one shot must show a negative result from a PCR test taken in the last three days.

About 79 million people are expected to travel across the country to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this year, said Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi.

India’s Financial Hub Mumbai Lifts Restrictions (8:32 p.m. HK)

The government of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, has decided to remove all pandemic-related curbs, Uddhav Thackeray, Chief Minister of the state, said in a tweet. The decision comes a week after the federal advisory to states recommending easing of restrictions.

New Delhi is also discussing the lifting of curbs, the Mint newspaper reported. India recorded 1,225 covid cases on Thursday. 

Manila to Stay Under Loosest Alert Level (6:12 p.m. HK)

The Philippine capital region will remain under the loosest movement restrictions as cases stayed low.

Metro Manila, which accounts for about one-third of the nation’s economic output, will stay under Alert Level 1 from April 1 to 15, presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said in a statement Thursday. Most businesses, including restaurants and gyms, can operate at full capacity.

Daily coronavirus infections have remained below 500 in the past week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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