Singapore to Unveil Stimulus; Deaths Top 346,000: Virus Update

Singapore to Unveil Stimulus; Deaths Top 346,000: Virus Update
Singapore to Unveil Stimulus; Deaths Top 346,000: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser, refused to quit his job in the U.K. government, refuting claims he flouted lockdown rules that he had helped to draft. Germany agreed on a 9 billion euro ($9.8 billion) bailout for virus-hit airline Lufthansa.

Japan ended its state of emergency everywhere in the country and made reviving the economy its top priority. Singapore is set to unveil a fourth stimulus package.

The World Health Organization temporarily halted tests on hydroxychloroquine in its Covid-19 drug trials pending more data because of safety concerns.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 5.4 million; deaths over 346,000
  • Singapore economy could contract 7%, most since independence
  • Germany to take Lufthansa stake in landmark $9.8 billion bailout
  • Johnson aide refuses to quit over claim he breached lockdown
  • WHO’s hydroxychloroquine trial suspended pending safety data

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Hong Kong to Reopen Karaoke Parlors, Resume Airport Transits (10:41 a.m. HK)

Hong Kong will further ease social-distancing measures this week as concern over the coronavirus pandemic wanes.

Karaoke parlors, bathhouses, party rooms and nightclubs will be allowed to return to business starting this Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a regular press briefing. Transit services will gradually resume at the Hong Kong International Airport starting June 1, she said.

Philippines Seeks $26 Billion Stimulus (10:03 a.m. HK)

The Philippines’ Trade Department wants lawmakers to pass a 1.3 trillion peso ($26 billion) stimulus package that will aid the recovery of industries and workers.

Of the total stimulus being discussed at the House of Representatives, about 628 billion pesos is planned for wage subsidies and loans for businesses hit by the lockdown, the Trade Department said in a statement. The remaining half of the proposed package will be used to build facilities for health, education and food security.

Saudi Arabia to Ease Lockdown Restrictions: SPA (9:55 a.m. HK)

Saudi Arabia said it will begin gradually easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions on May 28, the state-run SPA reported, citing the interior ministry.

In the first phase May 28-30, travel is allowed in and between cities from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., except for Mecca and Medina. Malls and stores should be open during that time with social-distancing considerations.

China Reports 7 New Cases, All From Abroad (8:29 a.m. HK)

China reported seven additional coronavirus cases by the end of May 25, with all of them from abroad, according to a statement from the National Health Commission. Of the seven cases, five were reported in Inner Mongolia.

The country also reported 29 asymptomatic cases, with one of them from abroad. It had no coronavirus deaths for May 25.

Singapore Slashes Growth Target With 7% Contraction Possible (8:01 a.m. HK)

Singapore’s economy will probably contract 4% to 7% this year as the coronavirus outbreak and measures to contain it pummel the trade-reliant city state.

The government revised its forecast from a previous projection for a contraction of 1% to 4% as the outlook for external demand deteriorates, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statment.

“There continues to be a significant degree of uncertainty over the length and severity of the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as the trajectory of the economic recovery, in both the global and Singapore economies,” the MTI said.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat is set to unveil a fourth stimulus package in Parliament later Tuesday to further counter the economic pain.

U.S. Resets Brazil Travel Limit (6:40 a.m. HK)

The Trump administration advanced the effective time for limiting the entry of non-U.S. citizens traveling from Brazil, a nation that has the world’s second-most infections. The order will take effect at the end of Tuesday, two days earlier than stated in a proclamation issued Sunday by the White House.

Air New Zealand Forecasts Loss (6:30 a.m. HK)

Air New Zealand forecast its first full-year loss in 18 years as the pandemic halts travel, grounds aircraft and forces the layoff as many as 4,000 workers.

The carrier will post an underlying loss in the year ending June 30 but can’t provide a range, it said Tuesday in Wellington. The airline will post an impairment charge on aircraft of at least NZ$350 million ($213 million), restructuring costs of as much as NZ$160 million and losses on fuel hedges of as much as NZ$105 million, it said.

Airlines are reeling from the impact of the pandemic, forcing them to review fleets, routes and spending and seek government help. Germany on Monday offered Deutsche Lufthansa AG a $9.8 billion bailout. Air New Zealand agreed a NZ$900 million debt facility with the government in March.

U.S. Says 200 Million Tests Possible (5:55 p.m. NY)

The Trump administration said sufficient quantities of Abbott Laboratories’ ID NOW Covid-19 test and Quidel Corp.’s Sofia 2 instruments exist to support 200 million U.S. tests per month.

The Department of Health and Human Services, in a report to Congress, said 18,000 ID NOW devices and 20,000 Quidel instruments are available to states. The U.S. also is buying 100 million swabs and 100 million tubes of viral transport media to help states meet testing goals.

“This large-scale acquisition reflects a significant expansion of current capacity,” according to the report, and reflects use of the Defense Production Act to increase swab manufacturing.

Minneapolis Mayor Worried by Church Rules (5:30 p.m. NY)

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he is concerned by Minnesota state guidelines taking effect on Wednesday that let churches resume services, with limits on attendance and requirements to follow social-distancing measures.

“A move up to 25% capacity and up to 250 people in places of worship is a recipe in Minneapolis for a public health disaster,” Frey said Monday on CNN. “That is not the route that we can or should be going on right now.”

Novavax Starts Vaccine Study (4:35 p.m. NY)

Novavax Inc. began human testing of its coronavirus vaccine candidate and anticipates providing a first look in July at what sort of immune responses are generated.

In the first phase, 130 healthy adult volunteers at two sites in Australia will get two doses of NVX-CoV2373, the biotech’s experimental vaccine. If initial results look promising, the company plans to quickly move into the second phase — expand testing to other countries and age groups outside of 18 to 59.

The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based company is one of about 10 that are testing vaccines, according to the World Health Organization. Moderna Inc. reported the first Covid-19 vaccine results in humans last week.

U.S. Cases Rose 1.3%, Less Than Week’s Average (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases increased 1.3% from the same time Sunday to 1.65 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The increase was below the average daily increase of 1.4% over the past week, and has the same for three days.

Deaths rose less than 1% to 97,948 from 97,424 — the smallest one-day increase in more than a week.

California Sets Church Limits (3:45 p.m. NY)

California will limit attendance in houses of worship to 25% of building capacity or 100 people and is discouraging choir singing, group recitations and passing of the collection plate.

“Convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the Covid-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations,” according to the guidance.

The state is also discouraging potlucks or similar family-style eating and drinking events that increase the risk of cross contamination.

England to Reopen Showrooms, Stores (2:50 p.m. NY)

England’s outdoor markets and car showrooms can reopen from June 1, as soon as they can meet guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as he urged the public to spend money in stores when the curbs are lifted.

All other non-essential outlets including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios and indoor markets, are on track to reopen June 15 if the government can control the spread of the virus, Johnson told a daily news conference. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are on a different timetable determined by local administrations.

U.K. cases rose to 261,184. The government reported 121 new deaths, up from 118 a day earlier, bringing the total to 36,914.

Dubai to Ease Limits Wednesday (2:20 p.m. NY)

The emirate of Dubai will resume economic activities and ease lockdown restrictions starting Wednesday, the emirate’s media office said in a statement.

Travel will be allowed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time. The airport will operate only for residents leaving Dubai, some clinics will reopen and elective surgeries that take up to 2 1/2 hours will be allowed, the statement said.

Training academies, indoor sport venues, gyms and movie theaters will be open with social distancing in place.