(Bloomberg) — A three-speed recovery from the pandemic is taking hold across East Asia and the Pacific, according to the World Bank, which said that inequality in access to vaccines underlies much of the unevenness. New Zealand is aiming to set up a travel bubble with the Cook Islands.
Mexico became the third country with more than 200,000 confirmed deaths due to Covid-19, with its official toll trailing only those of the U.S. and Brazil. Brazil reported more than 100,000 new infections in the last 24 hours, again setting a record as its outbreak worsens. Argentina plans to curb flights.
U.S. President Joe Biden set a goal of administering 200 million doses by the end of April, doubling his target as cases in the country start to increase again. More than half a billion Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
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N.Z. Aims for Cook Islands Travel Bubble (10:13 a.m. HK)
New Zealand and the Cook Islands are working toward a two-way travel bubble in May, Television New Zealand reported, citing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She spoke after a meeting with her Cook Islands counterpart, Mark Brown. New Zealand took top spot in the latest Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking.
World Bank Highlights Uneven Vaccine Access (9:29 a.m. HK)
A three-speed recovery from the pandemic is taking hold across East Asia and the Pacific, according to the World Bank, which warned inequality in access to vaccines underlies much of the unevenness. Developing countries ex-China are set to grow 4.4% after shrinking 3.7% last year, it said in a release, although there’s wide variation beneath the headline figure. Vaccine “rollout numbers we have seen recently are very low,” especially in the Philippines and Indonesia, said Aaditya Mattoo, chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific.
Mexico Tops 200,000 Deaths (9:10 a.m. HK)
Mexico became the third country with more than 200,000 confirmed deaths due to Covid-19, with its official toll trailing only those of the U.S. and Brazil. Deaths increased 584 to 200,211, according to Health Ministry data. Still, hospital occupancy — which had hovered near 90% for weeks in the capital — has also fallen, with no states reporting more than half of their beds full.
Labor Secretary Vows to Tackle Covid Rule (9:01 a.m. HK)
New U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said that he’s inserting himself into the agency’s stalled rule-making to protect workers from Covid-19. The planned emergency regulation would require businesses to take steps to safeguard their workers against virus spread. “The priority of the Department of Labor, and the priority of the president, is making sure that the workers’ health and safety is a top priority,” Walsh told reporters on Thursday.
Argentina to Curb Flights Amid Latam Spike (8:32 a.m. HK)
Argentina’s government will suspend flights arriving from Brazil, Mexico and Chile amid a spike in virus cases in parts of Latin America. The curbs will start on March 27, according to a government official, who asked not be identified because the decision hasn’t been officially published.
U.K. Job Ads See Two Best Weeks In Pandemic (8:06 a.m. HK)
The U.K. had its best two weeks for job advertisements since the start of the pandemic, according to REC, a group representing recruiters and employers. Some 146,000 new jobs were posted last week and 179,000 the week before, the two highest readings since March 2020. The findings are a sign companies are beginning to prepare for lockdown rules loosening in the coming weeks.
Japan Delays Travel Campaign, Sankei Says (7:43 a.m. HK)
Japan’s government isn’t planning to resume its Go-To Travel tourism campaign until at least June and instead will offer travel vouchers that can be used locally from April 1, the Sankei newspaper reported late Thursday, without attribution. The government had planned to resume the nationwide campaign in May, but decided to push that back due to rising infections.
Disney Parks Eye Post-Covid Growth (6:59 a.m HK)
After the pandemic shut down its California theme parks for more than a year, Walt Disney Co. is now looking to shift into growth mode. The company announced plans Thursday to expand its properties in Anaheim, California, by adding attractions across the street from the existing parks. The project, which hasn’t been assigned a price tag or a target date, is called DisneylandForward.
Macron Warns of ‘Tough’ Weeks Ahead (6:54 a.m. HK)
French President Emmanuel Macron said new measures to contain the epidemic might be needed in the coming weeks. More than a third of France, including Paris, is already locked down, in addition to a national curfew. “The next few weeks will be tough,” he said after a European Council summit Thursday.
He spoke the same day France extended the lockdown to three more regions, as the government wrestles with a surge that is increasingly affecting younger people. For four weeks starting this weekend, the Nievre, Rhone and Aube areas will follow Paris and several other regions with tougher restrictions, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.
India Restricts Vaccine Exports (6:21 a.m. HK)
India is restricting coronavirus vaccine exports, a move that will likely hit the world’s most disadvantaged nations hardest and exacerbate what the World Health Organization’s head this week called a “grotesque” supply chasm between rich and poor countries.
The world’s biggest vaccine exporter, the country is a key supplier to Covax, a program backed by WHO and partners to deploy shots to every corner of the globe, and India’s decision to pare back shipments threatens the group’s plans to inoculate 2 billion people before the end of the year.
Brazil Breaks Record (5:37 p.m. NY)
Brazil reported more than 100,000 new infections in the last 24 hours, again setting a record as the outbreak there continues to worsen. Total cases neared 12.3 million, the most after the U.S.
Latin America’s top economy also reported 2,777 fatalities, totaling 303,462, the Health Ministry reported, as leaders remained at loggerheads. President Jair Bolsonaro criticized lockdown measures again while Vice President Hamilton Mourao said virus deaths have risen above any acceptable level.
Astra Told to Supply EU Doses First (5:32 p.m. NY)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said AstraZeneca Plc must meet its commitments for supplying vaccines to the European Union before it will be allowed to export any doses. Von der Leyen spoke at a press conference following a virtual summit with EU leaders.
Global Vaccinations Pass 500 Million (4:52 p.m. NY)
More than half a billion Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, less than four months into the rollout.
So far, the shots have been given in 140 countries. The vast majority have gone to developed nations that secured early doses by the hundreds of millions, and of the doses given so far, 39% of have been administered in the U.S. and the EU. On average, about 12 million doses a day are being administered across the world.
Biden Doubles Vaccine Goal (1:35 p.m. NY)
President Joe Biden set a goal of administering 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of April, doubling his target for his first 100 days in office.
The U.S. is on pace to meet the new goal, Biden said in opening remarks at his first formal news conference on Thursday.
“I know it’s ambitious,” Biden said at the White House. “I believe we can do it.”
U.K. Approves Plan to Lift Lockdown (1:19 p.m. NY)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the support of Parliament for his plan to bring England slowly out of lockdown, even as some members of his own Conservative Party protested continued curbs to civil liberties and frustration at the ongoing damage to the economy.
Members of Parliament voted 484 to 76 to extend the government’s coronavirus emergency powers, with Johnson’s “road map” for easing lockdown also entering law. Key dates include the outdoor mixing of households on March 29 and the potential for all social-distancing rules to be lifted on June 21.
U.S. Covid Cases Are Rising Again (1:06 p.m. NY)
Covid cases in the U.S. are rising again, reversing course after months of decline and threatening another setback in the return to normality.
The seven-day average of new cases jumped to 57,695 Wednesday, 9.5% above the prior week, marking the biggest increase since Jan. 12, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
While that’s a fraction of the mid-January peak, the change in direction is worrisome as states open their economies, variant cases multiply, and the country races to vaccinate as many people as possible to stave off another wave.