Covid-19 Pandemic: Live Updates and News for May. 1, 2021
The number of daily coronavirus cases in India crossed the 400,000 mark for the first time as the nation struggles to contain its latest outbreak. The nation opened up vaccinations to all adults on Saturday. India needs to shut down for a few weeks to control the Covid-19 outbreak, Anthony Fauci, one of the leading global voices on the pandemic, told the Indian Express newspaper in an interview.
President Joe Biden banned most travel to the U.S. from India beginning Tuesday as the country struggles to combat the worst surge of coronavirus cases in the world. Passengers on airplanes, buses and other forms mass transportation in the U.S. will have to keep wearing masks.
Australia will prohibit the entry of travelers who have been in India within 14 days of arriving from Monday. People found breaching the rule face as much as five years in jail, a fine, or both.
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WHO Clears Moderna Shot for Emergency Use (2:50 p.m. Hong Kong)
The World Health Organization listed Moderna’s Covid-19 shot for emergency use, making it the fifth vaccine to receive its green light. The WHO’s expert group recommended the inoculation for all age groups 18 and above in its interim assessment in January.
The WHO has also listed the Pfizer shot, the AstraZeneca vaccines made by SK Bio and the Serum Institute of India, as well as the Johnson & Johnson shot.
An emergency use listing by the WHO allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer vaccines.
Singapore Reinstates Some Distancing Measures (2:10 p.m. HK)
Singapore will reinstate some social distancing controls and tighten borders with countries that are seeing a persistent rise in coronavirus cases to stem a virus spread in the city.
The government will allow fewer people at malls and large stores, and close campsites for two weeks from May 1, according to a statement from the health ministry on Friday. It will reduce the operating capacity of attractions to 50% from 65% for a week from May 7, and urged people to limit social gatherings to two per day and stay home where possible, it said.
India Needs to Shut Down: Fauci (1:40 p.m. HK)
India needs to shut down the country for a few weeks to control the Covid-19 outbreak, Anthony Fauci, one of the leading global voices on the pandemic, told Indian Express newspaper in an interview.
A shutdown will end the cycle of transmission in India and provide a window to take immediate, intermediate and long-range steps out of “very difficult and desperate” situation, said Fauci, who’s also U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser.
Thailand Strengthens Restrictions (1:10 p.m. HK)
The Thai government on Saturday started implementing the latest restrictions to control its biggest virus outbreak since the pandemic began. New rules include increasing mandatory quarantine for all arrivals to two weeks, prohibiting dine-in at restaurants in high-risk areas including the capital, banning large gatherings and mandatory nationwide mask wearing in public areas.
The nation recorded a new daily record of 21 deaths, bringing total fatalities to 224. There were 1,891 new confirmed cases are 1,891, raising the total to 67,044, according to the government’s Covid-19 panel.
Japan Set to Approve Moderna Vaccine (9 a.m. HK)
Japan’s government will approve the use of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine as soon as May 21, the Yomiuri newspaper reported Saturday without attribution.
The Moderna vaccine would be the second to get approved in Japan and will be used in the nation’s large inoculation centers that will open in Tokyo and Osaka from May 24, the paper said. Currently, only the Pfizer Inc. vaccine is cleared for use in Japan.
Australians Flying Home From India Face Jail (7:35 a.m. HK)
Australia will temporarily ban its citizens from returning from India.
The pause on allowing in travelers that were in India within 14 days of arriving will take effect from Monday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in an emailed statement. Breaches of the ban could lead to a fine of A$66,600 ($51,000), five years imprisonment, or both.
White House to Allow More Aides to Return (7:24 a.m. HK)
Senior Biden officials told the White House staff on Friday that more aides will be allowed to come back to work in-person over the coming weeks, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The loosening of coronavirus restrictions, announced on a conference call, can proceed because vaccines have been offered to all members of the staff, one of the people said.
LA Removes Limits on Bar Hours (7:12 a.m. HK)
Los Angeles County has removed hours of operation limitations on bars, breweries and wineries, it said in a statement.
Indoor arcades and indoor playgrounds will be allowed to open at 25% maximum indoor capacity with safety modification.
Brazil Reaches 1 Million Daily Doses (5:32 p.m. NY)
Brazil reached a self-imposed daily Covid-19 vaccination goal, but a shortage of shots poses a risk to the immunization plan going forward.
The seven-day moving average of shots given rose to 1 million for the first time since applications started in mid-January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A total of 47,111,974 million vaccines have now been administered in Brazil, mostly of China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. shot. That’s enough to cover almost 15% of the population with one dose and fully inoculate 7.4%.
Oregon Clamps Down (5:08 p.m. NY)
Governor Kate Brown put 15 of Oregon’s counties, about 80% of the population, under more severe restrictions as a new viral surge sweeps through a partially vaccinated population. The Democratic governor said hospitalizations have doubled in the last week.
The restrictions prohibit indoor dining, put limits on religious gatherings and sharply curb capacity at gyms, movie theaters and other public venues.
Mexico Seeks More Doses From U.S. (4:22 p.m. NY)
Mexico’s president said on Friday that he’s seeking another 5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from the U.S., his latest appeal to countries including Russia and China to help the nation speed up its vaccination pace.
The U.S. already lent Mexico over 2.7 million vaccines in March and April, and declined to comment about whether it plans to share more shots with its southern neighbor.
TSA Extends Mask Requirement (3:42 p.m. NY)
Passengers on airplanes, buses and other forms mass transportation in the U.S. will have to keep wearing masks to guard against the spread of Covid-19 as federal officials extended a mandate that was set to expire within days through the busy summer travel season.
The Transportation Security Administration on Friday announced it was extending the mandate through Sept. 13. The move is in step with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which still advises face coverings to limit the spread of coronavirus in crowded indoor spaces, even for those who have been vaccinated.
Biden Bans Travel From India (2:28 p.m. NY)
President Joe Biden banned most travel to the U.S. from India beginning Tuesday as the country struggles to combat the worst surge of coronavirus cases in the world, the White House said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the travel ban, which won’t apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the India,” her statement said.
India recorded 387,000 new infections on Thursday, a record high, and nearly 3,500 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
NYC Indoor Dining Moves to 75% (1:07 p.m. NY)
New York City restaurants can expand their indoor dining capacity to 75% on May 7, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday. The announcement aligns New York City with the rest of the state, Cuomo said in a news release.
Hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services also can open at 75% capacity on May 7, and gyms and fitness centers in the city can open at 50% capacity on May 15, Cuomo said. The easing of restrictions comes as new cases continue to fall in the state.
NYC Sees Example in Worker Return (1 p.m. NY)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 80,000 city employees are expected to return to their offices May 3, providing an “important indicator” to the private sector to follow suit after the pandemic kept millions of people at home.
“People need to come back because we have work to do,” de Blasio said Friday on a WNYC radio interview.
Less than 16% of workers in the New York metropolitan area were back at their desks as of April 30, according to data from Kastle Systems.
Variants a Risk After One Pfizer Shot (12:42 p.m. NY)
People who haven’t fought off Covid-19 before are still vulnerable to infection from variants after getting the first dose of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine, underscoring the need for fast and full inoculation regimens, according to a U.K. study published Friday.
Among those who previously had mild or asymptomatic cases of Covid, the protection was “significantly enhanced” after a single dose against the variants first seen in the U.K. and South Africa, researchers said in the study, published Friday in the journal Science.
Disneyland Reopens (12:35 p.m. NY)
Walt Disney Co.’s Disneyland is opening its gates after being closed for 13 months due to the pandemic.
The theme park in Anaheim, along with the nearby Disney California Adventure, will initially be opened only to California residents with capacity limits and social distancing measures in place. Disney has laid off 32,000 employees over the past year, most of them in the theme-park unit. The company plans bring back more than 10,000 furloughed employees for the reopening.
The theme park is sold out for weekends through May, an indication of pent-up demand for leisure activities as the pandemic eases.
India Strain Suspected in Austria (11:18 a.m. NY)
A woman who recently returned to Austria from India may be infected with the Indian variant of the coronavirus, according to preliminary tests in the province of Salzburg. The suspicion has yet to be confirmed by genome sequencing, according to the province’s health secretary Petra Juhasz. It would be the first time the variant has been detected in Austria.
Biden’s ‘Tough Call’ on Troops (7:25 a.m NY)
President Joe Biden said in an NBC News interview that it will be a “tough call” on whether to order U.S. troops to get vaccinated for Covid-19.
“It is a tough call whether they should require that for the military because they are in such close proximity with other military personnel,” Biden said.
Shot Approval Sought for Ages 12-15 (7:05 p.m. HK)
BioNTech and Pfizer submitted a request to expand conditional marketing authorization of their vaccine in the EU to 12-15 year-olds.
More Flights Out of India (5:01 p.m. HK)
International and domestic airlines are adding flights out of India to bring home residents and citizens as the nation’s coronavirus outbreak goes from bad to worse. Air India Ltd. plans to increase its weekly frequency of flights to the U.S. to 32 starting May 11, up from the current 29.
Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc. meanwhile are planning to charter flights from India to help South Koreans there wanting to return.
Call for New Probe Into Covid Origin (4 p.m. HK)
The World Health Organization should convene another investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that looks beyond animal sources, a group of scientists said in an open letter. The signatories proposed specific steps on what any new probe should take into account.
Astra to Seek U.S. Clearance (3:09 p.m. HK)
AstraZeneca Plc confirmed it will apply for U.S. emergency authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021 after it missed an original target this month that raised questions over whether the company would pursue the clearance at all.
— With assistance by Rob Verdonck