In today ’ south edition, key developments relate to mass interventions in testing, treatment, and vaccination. President Trump has said the US will soon be testing five million patients per day, Australia has received ten million new testing kits, Singapore is prepping approximately 40,000 beds entire for isolation and caution, and vaccine manufacturers in India are hoping to produce over sixty million doses of a electric potential vaccine presently under clinical test in Great Britain .
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Latest Disease Updates

Live coronavirus case update

  • As of 08:00 SGT on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 (01:00 BST / 20:00 ET Tuesday), 3,113,447 cases have been confirmed globally, with 216,930 deaths (7%)
  • The US has reported more than a million cases with 1,011,877 people infected, accounting for 32% of all cases which represents the highest rate of infection globally.
  • The UK is now one of the top five countries in terms of infections. Altogether these five countries – the US, Spain, Italy, France, and the UK – account for 57% of all cases worldwide

Key developments

  • Virus likely to keep coming back each year, say top Chinese scientists: Chinese scientists say the novel coronavirus will not be eradicated, adding to a growing consensus around the world that the pathogen will likely return in waves like the flu. “This is very likely to be an epidemic that co-exists with humans for a long time, becomes seasonal and is sustained within human bodies,” said Jin Qi, director of the Institute of Pathogen Biology at China’s top medical research institute, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
  • Trump – US to start mass testing: President Donald Trump said the US will “very soon” run five million coronavirus tests per day. However, the most tests the US has run on a single day so far has been 314,182 on April 22, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project. According to the project, at the average rate of around 157,000 tests per day in April, it would take almost six years to test everyone in the US.
  • US Congress abandons planned return to Washington: On Monday, members were told to return to the Democratic-controlled chamber. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday the plan was scrapped after consulting the House doctor. The volte-face came as the confirmed number of US Covid-19 cases passed 1m. The Republican-controlled Senate still plans to return on May 4.
  • UK on track for one of Europe’s worst virus death tolls: Britain is on track to record one of the worst coronavirus death tolls in Europe, after data published on Tuesday (Apr 28) showed nationwide fatalities topped 24,000 nine days ago. A day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of success in dealing with the outbreak, the new figures showed the week ending Apr 17 was Britain’s deadliest since comparable records began in 1993.
  • Singapore preps over 18,000 beds for isolation and care needs: Singapore’s healthcare capacity to deal with COVID-19 will be increased significantly in the next two months, with the total number of bed spaces for those with mild symptoms doubling by end-June. “We have created more than 18,000 bed spaces for isolation and care needs with another 23,000 in the pipeline,” said Brigadier-General David Neo, director of joint operations at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
  • Pandemic may be accelerating coal’s demise: According to Bloomberg, the past two weeks have seen Austria and Sweden shut their last coal-fired power plants. They’ve now joined Albania, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway as countries without coal in their electricity mix. Today, the U.K.’s grid operator posted a new record—nearly 19 continuous days—of not using coal for electricity.

Regional developments

  • India: The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines by volume, plans to produce up to 60 million doses of a potential vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, which is under clinical trial in Britain. (South China Morning Post)
  • Thailand: The Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) approved a series of measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on business, including steps to encourage rapid investment in the manufacturing of medical equipment. (Bangkok Post)
  • Indonesia: The COVID-19 task forces in Surabaya, East Java and its satellite regencies Sidoarjo and Gresik are set to impose a curfew during the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) implemented by Indonesia as to help stem the spread of COVID-19 in the three regions. The curfew will be in effect for 14 days. (Jakarta Post)
  • Hong Kong SAR: HSBC Holdings warned that its provisions for loan losses in 2020 could surge to the highest level in a decade due to the coronavirus pandemic, after it reported on Tuesday that first-quarter profits were down by 48%. (Nikkei Asian Review)
  • South Korea: State-backed lenders in South Korea will extend 2.9 trillion won (USD$2.35 billion) in aid for Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines to keep the major carriers aloft and safeguard jobs as the pandemic decimates travel demand. (Nikkei Asian Review)
  • Japan: The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be cancelled if the coronavirus pandemic is not brought under control by next year. (CNA) Meanwhile, hospitals like St. Luke’s are saving their limited ICU capacity for an increasing number of critically-ill patients and improvising makeshift gear to protect front-line medical staff. (Japan Times)
  • Australia: Australia has secured 10 million COVID-19 test kits, as the country begins widespread testing in hopes to sustain a decline in new coronavirus cases and allow social restrictions to be lifted. (The Star MY)

DAILY FOCUS: Insurance business

As part of our daily monitor of the latest developments and impact on businesses, each day we will take a deeper honkytonk into one sector. today, we look at the impingement on insurance businesses throughout the Asia Pacific region .
Key findings

  • The pandemic has had mixed impact on the insurance and reinsurance businesses in the region.
  • Australia’s insurance industry is forecast to decline by 1.3%, according to one global insurance database. The country saw an increase in policy cancellation among small and medium enterprises. A host of large insurance companies have agreed to defer premium payments for small businesses affected. The National Australia Bank will take a A$1.1 billion hit, partly due to losses in its insurance business.
  • Insurers in New Zealand are expecting a windfall of NZ$100m (US$60m) due to a reduction of car accidents during the country’s lockdown. There is pressure for insurers to reduce motor insurance premiums. One insurer has committed to refunding car insurance customers.
  • The pandemic may only have a limited impact on Vietnam’s insurance market, according to a spokesman from the country’s Bar Association.
  • Although more people have become aware of medical insurance in Malaysia, insurers are expecting a fall in new life insurance policies.
  • A industry report expects increasing demand for hedging and insurance products related to financial and commodity markets in the Philippines.
  • With low oil prices, Indonesia expects a slump in its energy insurance business.
  • Hong Kong SAR businesses may not be covered by their insurer. Many providers tightened their policies after delivering record pay-outs during the 2003 SARS epidemic.
  • With mass cancellations of conferences and events in the region, the event trade expects increased demand for event insurance.
  • An industry body in Indonesia expects the reinsurance market to be affected as the result of primary insurers being bit by the pandemic.
  • Thai Re in Thailand is maintaining is growth target while deferring its plans to expand overseas.

Methodology

Media analysis of international, regional and national media in Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam between 26 March – 29 April, 2020 .
About COVID-19 News Roundup:

  • The content of this news bulletin is a summary of publicly available news articles on events and developments related to COVID-19.
  • The views and opinions reflected by these headlines do not necessarily represent those of Weber Shandwick.

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