ECONOMY

Variant Common in U.S.; Ontario Declares Emergency: Virus Update

The European Union failed to unify in responding to links between AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine and a rare type of blood clots. EU Health ministers say they’ll continue talks on the issue.

The variant of the coronavirus first found in the U.K. has overtaken the initial form of the virus in the U.S. and is now the country’s most common strain. President Joe Biden will offer vaccine shipments to all of the nation’s community health centers. To the north, Canada’s largest province, Ontario, declared a state of emergency.

India’s fight to curtail a renewed wave of Covid-19 cases is beset by vaccine shortages in several states and cities, including the financial hub of Mumbai. Tokyo plans to seek a return to stricter Covid measures as infections in the city hit a two-month high.

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 132.7 million; deaths exceed 2.8 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 704 million shots given worldwide
  • Indonesia’s leader slams richer nations for vaccine nationalism
  • Covid may boost risks of mental and neurological disorders
  • California sees spring awakening after a year of lockdown
  • The future of travel in the Covid-19 era
  • Blood Clots, Anaphylaxis and Other Vaccine Fears: QuickTake

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.

South African Variant Emerges in Bangladesh: Report (11:05 a.m. HK)

Bangladesh discovered a “dramatic change” in the distribution of coronavirus variants after a new South African strain appeared, Dhaka-based health research organization Icddr,b said in a report.

It became the country’s most prevalent strain in the third week of March, according to the report. Researchers tested 16,265 specimens between January 1 and March 24, of which 2,751 were positive. The South African variant accounted for 81% of the positive cases, Icddr,b said.

Bangladesh on Wednesday reported 7,626 new coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 659,278.

Canada’s Biggest Province Declares Emergency (9:25 a.m. HK)

Ontario — home to more than 14.7 million people — declared a state of emergency, forcing most retail stores to operate under new restrictions. It said it would change its inoculation strategy as it battles a new, more dangerous Covid wave.

Ontario issued a stay-at-home order starting April 8 at 12:01 a.m. Toronto time, in place for four weeks. Most categories of stores will be required to shut their doors, serving customers only through delivery or outdoor pickup.

India Covid Fight Falters Amid Vaccine Shortages (8:36 a.m. HK)

India’s battle to curtail a renewed wave of Covid-19 is beset by vaccine shortages in several states and cities — including Mumbai. Its worst-hit state, Maharashtra, only has three days’ worth of vaccines in stock.

The steep jump in infections from early February has forced Indian states to reinstate restrictions including movement curbs. Maharashtra has stopped all non-essential services and ordered private companies to work from home, along with closing malls and restaurants through April.

Tokyo Eyes Tighter Restrictions as Japan Cases Rebound (8:24 a.m. HK)

Tokyo plans to seek a return to stricter Covid measures as infections in the city hit a two-month high less than three weeks after the lifting of a state of emergency. The Japanese capital recorded 555 cases on Wednesday — the most since early February — as officials feared a “rebound” in cases had begun hitting earlier than expected amid an increase in virus variants.

Variant Common in U.S.; Ontario Declares Emergency: Virus Update

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike will decide on formally requesting the measures after consulting with experts. Urban bars and restaurants would likely to be asked to close early, and may face the threat of fines for non-compliance.

Uruguay Could See First Vaccine Gains By Late April (8:16 a.m. HK)

Uruguay could start to see the benefits of its vaccination program as soon as late April or early May, President Luis Lacalle Pou said. Some 860,000 people will have received two Coronavac doses by the end of May, and the government is seeking more vaccines in case it decides to inoculate people under age 18 — or give adults a third dose.

Puerto Rico Boosts Restrictions Amid Surge (7:30 a.m. HK)

Puerto Rico is expanding its nightly curfew and banning all large gatherings from Friday, even as the U.S. territory prepares to open up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years and older starting April 12.

Under the new restrictions, the curfew will run from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.– rather than beginning at midnight. Establishments will be required to close at 9 p.m., rather than 11 p.m. And all large gatherings will be banned unless they receive special permission.

Governor Pedro Pierluisi made the announcement Wednesday in his annual address and said the details would be made public Thursday. Puerto Rico is “seeing a dangerous spike in Covid cases that has caused an increase in hospitalization and deaths,” he said.

EU Fails to Find United Response to Astra Risks (6:43 a.m. HK)

The European Union failed to form a united response to links between AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine and a rare type of blood clots.

At a meeting that ran until late Wednesday, EU health ministers promised in a statement to continue discussions on vaccination planning. The EU’s immunization program has been bogged down by poor planning, supply delays and increasingly a lack of solidarity.

Mexico FM to Visit U.S. Seeking Doses (4:36 p.m. NY)

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard will soon travel to the U.S. to press for more vaccines from its northern neighbor to help get through a supply crunch during the next three months, Ebrad’s deputy said Wednesday.

Delgado said Mexico had a “permanent petition” for any available vaccines from the U.S., such as the AstraZeneca shot that has yet to be approved by regulators there.

Variant Common in U.S.; Ontario Declares Emergency: Virus Update

Italy Clears Astra Shot for People Over 60 (3:30 p.m. NY)

Italy is recommending the use of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for people over 60 years of age, government health adviser Franco Locatelli said during a press conference in Rome. France and Germany made similar recommendations.

Qatar Reimposes Strict Limits (1:10 p.m. NY)

Qatar reimposed strict restrictions on group activities and businesses after recording three consecutive days of more than 900 new cases — the highest official counts since June. According to state-run QNA, restaurants will close to in-person dining starting Friday, while cinemas and salons will close completely. Offices will be limited to 50% capacity, and gatherings in open spaces will be limited to five vaccinated people. The steeper restrictions come days before the month-long Muslim holiday Ramadan.

Alabama to Drop Mask Mandate (12:25 p.m. NY)

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey lifted the state’s mask mandate, saying the order would go into effect on Friday. Individuals are still “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings when in public or in close contact with others, the governor said in a statement. Texas and Indiana also dropped their mask mandates.

U.K. Variant Most Common Strain in U.S. (11:25 a.m. NY)

The B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus, first found in the U.K., has overtaken the initial form of the virus in the U.S. and is now the country’s most common strain, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing that the version had overtaken other mutations that have emerged, as well as the initial version of the virus in the U.S.

Biden Expands Program at Health Centers (10:20 a.m. NY)

Variant Common in U.S.; Ontario Declares Emergency: Virus Update

U.S. President Joe Biden will offer Covid-19 vaccine shipments to all of the nation’s community health centers, adding 2,500 delivery sites in a program aimed at closing the racial gap in inoculations.

The White House will announce Wednesday that 520 more such centers will be eligible to receive vaccine shipments, increasing the total to about 1,470 across the U.S., an official familiar with the plans said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

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