Europe’s exporters struggle, Heathrow down to one runway; Florida cases increase

CORONAVIRUS ALERT 07/13/2020

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In top stories today:

  • Europe’s exporters continue to struggle and China may be of limited help to revive the world economy, while London’s Heathrow, the region’s busiest airport before the pandemic, will now get by with just one runway for several months. As US President Donald J. Trump wore a face mask in public for the first time, cases continue to rise in Florida, which shattered a daily record.
  • Florida posted a record daily increase in coronavirus cases on July 12, rising by 15,299 for a total of 269,811, The Associated Press reported, adding that the daily tally compares with the 11,694 record in California on July 8. Trump wore a mask for the first time in public on the previous day when he visited staff and wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed National Medical Medical Center, the Financial Times said. “Long delays in getting test results hobble coronavirus response” runs a Washington Post headline. Some sites take five to seven days to deliver a test result, others longer.
  • Hong Kong recorded a further forty-one new local cases on July 13, another daily record, Bloomberg reported. The resurgence of infections may grow into Hong Kong’s largest wave, according to the newswire. Local cases include some untraceable ones, which an editorial in the South China Morning Post describes as “worrisome”.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should wear masks in confined spaces such as shops, with the government to give details on enforcement in the days ahead, Reuters reported. About two hundred people working to gather crops at a farm in central England have been told to self-isolate after seventy-three of them tested positive, the newswire said separately.
  • Increasingly sidelined. That is the Financial Times’ take on the position of US infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has criticized the US handling of the pandemic. The newspaper cited Brett Giroir, a health and human services official. “Trump Aides Target Fauci” runs a New York Times headline.
  • QUOTE: “I respect Dr. Fauci a lot, but Dr. Fauci is not 100 percent right and he also doesn’t necessarily, and he admits that, have the whole national interest in mind,” Giroir, who is also a member of the same coronavirus task force, told Meet The Press on July 12, the Financial Times reported. “He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view.”
  • Concerns about the impact of coronavirus testing on immigration status are common in Los Angeles neighborhoods where Latinos predominate, The Wall Street Journal reported. Crowded apartments, a lack of medical insurance, and the fact that residents often can’t afford to stay off work are other risk factors, the newspaper said. While Latinos are 39 percent of California’s population, they account for 55 percent of coronavirus cases, the Journal reported.
  • QUOTE: “Instead of going from one step to the next, it’s like you’re already stumbling right out of the gate,” said Crystal R. Watson, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins University, The Washington Post reported. “It makes contact tracing almost useless. By the time a person is getting results, they already have symptoms, their contacts may already have symptoms and have gone on to infect others.”
  • EVENT: COVID-19 is having a calamitous effect on the global economy, but is disproportionately impacting women’s earning and worsening economic inequality. Join us at 4pm ET on Monday, July 13 as our experts explore how policy options or business practices could promote greater gender equality. Details are here.
  • QUOTE: “The sad truth is that global health is a political filed, not a medical one,” said Tammam Aloudat, deputy executive director of the Access campaign at medical charity Médecins sans Frontières, the Financial Times reported in an article headlined “WHO struggles to prove itself in the face of Covid-19”. “Everyone will say nice stuff⁠—and then act in their own national interests.”

CHINA IMPACT

  • Coronavirus has hit China’s economy harder than did the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, limiting its contribution to the global economic recovery this time around, The Wall Street Journal reported. China is more self-sufficient in some industries and it’s more restrained with stimulus spending than in the past, so it may need to buy less from abroad, the newspaper said. Demand for raw materials and other goods underpinned recovering in Brazil, Germany, and elsewhere after the financial crisis, the Journal reported.
  • Testing meat, seafood, and other products for coronavirus has tripled the time it takes to clear customs from about three days to as long as ten at some Chinese ports, prompting concern that the hold-ups could stymie global trade flows, Bloomberg reported.
  • Europe’s exporters are still suffering even though retail volumes increase in May, taking spending close to last year’s levels, the Financial Times said. Countries that depend on exports will have to revisit their business models due to the pandemic’s impact on global trade, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told the newspaper last week. The value of goods exported by France and Germany in May was between 35 and 40 percent lower than the year-earlier period, the Financial Times added.  
  • READ MORE: “History rarely provides major countries and their leaders the enormity of the second chance that Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel now enjoy as they begin their six-month European Union presidency,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Frederick Kempe. “Can the country that has been at the source of so much European devastation through two world wars, resulting in lost territory and Cold War division, steady the EU through this historic test of a public-health crisis, economic recession, and rising U.S.-Chinese tensions?”
  • An outbreak of coronavirus on US military bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa has alarmed the local population, The New York Times reported. The US Marine Corps has 20,000 troops stationed there, with ninety-four confirmed cases, the newspaper said.
  • South Africa restarted a ban on alcohol sales and imposed a curfew at night as it contends with a rapid increase in coronavirus cases, CNBC reported. A national state of emergency was extended until August 15, CNBC said. The north African city of Tangier in Morocco went back into lockdown as new cases emerged, the BBC reported.
  • The majority of the world’s wealthy plan to move closer to their family and cut back on travel in a world they see as permanently changed by coronavirus, Bloomberg reported, citing a survey by UBS. More than half of respondents feared not having enough liquidity if there was another pandemic, while 70 percent said the pandemic has affected them financially. The newswire recognizes that the poor have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s impact. Some millionaires say “tax us,” Bloomberg said separately.
  • QUOTE: “[W]e, the undersigned millionaires and billionaires, ask our governments to raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently,” Bloomberg cited an open letter by dozens of millionaires from the United States and six other countries as saying. “We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door. But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now.”

REMDESIVIR

  • One in three seriously ill COVID-19 patients in South Korea showed improvement after taking Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir, Reuters reported, citing health authorities, who said more research is needed to determine what other factors are at play, including patients’ immunity.
  • The Philippines posted Southeast Asia’s biggest increase in daily deaths from the disease and warned of more fatalities, said Reuters, which in a separate article reported on Thailand’s increased security on its land borders after infections surged. Meanwhile in the Australian state of New South Wales a cluster of cases at a pub used by freight drivers traveling nationwide added to concern about a second wave of infections, the newswire said.
  • Moderna’s experimental coronavirus vaccine could generate sales of $5 billion, Michael Yee, an anlyst at Jefferies, said in a note to clients, Bloomberg reported. Moderna, which has a 30,000 person late-state trial to begin this month, leads the pack, as the newswire puts it, in the global race to develop a vaccine.

HEATHROW, DUBAI

  • After saying for years that it needs three runways, London’s Heathrow Airport will get by with just one until October, news website the Independent reported. The southern runway will close fully or partially until then for upkeep after coronavirus cratered global travel demand. Normally one of the runways is used for departures, and the other for arrivals, the Independent said.
  • The city of Dubai, with its massive malls and towering hotels, reopened to tourist last week, whereas rival Abu Dhabi is still closed to visitors, The Washington Post reported. It’s a stark illustration of the competing priorities amid the coronavirus pandemic among the seven statelets that comprise the United Arab Emirates, of which Adu Dhabi is the capital, the newspaper said.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) now expects the economy in the Middle East and North Africa to contract by 5.7 this year, with oil-exporting nations harder hit, CNBC reported. That compares with the IMF’s April forecast of a 3.3 percent contraction, CNBC said.
  • Three of the Bachchans, the first family of Bollywood—including superstar actor Amitabh Bachchan, 77—have tested positive for coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reported. He and his son Abhishek Bachchan, 44, were admitted to hospital in Mumbai with mild symptoms, while his wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is positive but asymptomatic, the newspaper said, without giving her age. India reported 50,000 extra cases of the virus over the weekend, with more than 1,000 deaths, Bloomberg said.

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