Asian shares and US stock futures rose on Wednesday as renewed hopes for a new round of U.S. stimulus drew money into equities from government debt, Reuters reports.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.56%. Australian stocks edged up by 0.1%, while shares in China rose 0.07%. Tokyo shares gained 0.4%.
U.S. stock futures also rose 0.44%.
The yuan surged to the strongest level against the dollar in more than two years on growing optimism about China’s economy and speculation that a victory for US.
Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden next month will lead to better Sino-US ties.
In peaceful, non-coronavirus news:
A Nasa spacecraft has successfully landed on an asteroid, dodging boulders the size of buildings, in order to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for analysis back on Earth.
The space agency team behind the Osiris-Rex project said preliminary data showed the sample collection went as planned and that the spacecraft had lifted off the surface of asteroid Bennu.
“I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” said lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do.”
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Tuesday urged their residents to not travel between the three states as the US Northeast sees a rise in Covid-19 cases, Reuters reports.
The governors, however, said they would not attempt to impose quarantines on visitors from neighboring states.
New York, an early epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic and home to more Covid-19 deaths than any other state, requires travellers from 38 states and two U.S. territories where cases are rising to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania now also meet New York’s criteria for the quarantine requirements, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, but implementing such restrictions would be impractical.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 5,186 to 380,762, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday.
The reported death toll rose by 26 to 9,875, the tally showed.
More now on the state-owned Chinese drugmaker setting up production lines to supply 1 billion doses of two possible coronavirus vaccines that are being tested on 50,000 people in 10 countries, the company chairman said Tuesday.
Testing by SinoPharm Group is “in the last kilometer of a long march,” chairman Liu Jingzhen said at a news conference. He gave no indication when results are expected.
China’s fledgling drug industry is part of a global race to produce a vaccine and has four candidates in final stages of testing. Health experts say, however, that even if China succeeds, stringent certification rules in the United States, Europe and Japan might mean its vaccine can be distributed only in other developing countries.
SinoPharm is testing two vaccines in countries including Egypt, Argentina, Jordan and Peru, Liu said. Both are inactivated, meaning they use a non-infectious version of the coronavirus.
According to Liu, production lines for vaccines are being set up in Beijing and Wuhan, the city in central China where the outbreak began in December.
“The production capacity will reach 1 billion doses next year, ensuring sufficient safety,” Liu said.
Chinese-developed vaccines have been tested on 60,000 people with “only slight adverse effects,” said Tian Baoguo, an official of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Thousands of people in China including healthcare workers and others deemed to be at risk have been given the experimental vaccines. Three city governments have announced plans to inoculate members of the public who need it.
As the second coronavirus wave bites, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – who shut the borders in September – is holding back on tougher measures such as a lockdown, despite growing criticism of his response, AFP reports.
During the first wave, the Central European EU member had relatively low numbers of infections and deaths from the virus compared with most European countries.
But in October more Hungarians have died than in the previous four months put together. And seven-day rolling average data from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) show that on October 19 Hungary had the third-highest Covid-19 death rate per million in the bloc – behind the Czech Republic and Romania.
A shift in government policy as well as a complacent population are to blame, according to experts.
Orban’s critics say the government’s messaging over the summer was not strict enough on issues such as mask wearing, avoiding large gatherings and travel abroad.
Australia’s most heavily hit coronavirus state of Victoria logged a sixth consecutive day of low single digit new cases on Wednesday, as the state government said it was on track to announce fresh easing measures at the weekend.
“We do genuinely hope on Sunday to make some announcements in the future and if these numbers stay on trend we will be able to do that,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference.
Victoria, which has been under strict lockdown measures since early July, hopes to revitalise outdoor dining over the summer in the hard hit hospitality sector, by allowing pop up restaurants in public gardens and carparks in downtown areas.
New infections in the Victoria’s state capital Melbourne rose by three in the past 24 hours, up from a revised number of two from the day before, bringing total state numbers to 20,323 cases since the outbreak began, of which just 109 remain active.
A downward trend in Victoria, which has been under strict lockdown measures since early July, brings it within reach of a milestone required for opening measures to take place.
Mexico’s health ministry on Tuesday reported 5,788 additional cases of the novel coronavirus and 555 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 860,714 and the death toll to 86,893.
Health officials have said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
Venezuela plans to vaccinate citizens with Russian and Chinese coronavirus vaccines, which could arrive in the South American nation in December or January, President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
“It has been announced that the completed Russian and Chinese vaccines should arrive by December, January, December-January, and we are going to start vaccination,” Maduro said during a live broadcast on state television.
He added that older people and those with existing diseases would take priority, but that all Venezuelans would be vaccinated.
The country received a first batch of the Russian “Sputnik-V” coronavirus vaccine in early October as part of the Phase Three clinical trial, and the government said about 2,000 volunteers would participate. The delivery was the first in Latin America.
Maduro in September proposed administering the Russian coronavirus vaccine to nearly 15,000 candidates in upcoming legislative elections so that they could campaign safely.
Brazilian health minister ill with suspected Covid case
Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello has fallen ill with a suspected case of Covid-19, the ministry’s press office said on Tuesday, as the country battles with the third-worst coronavirus outbreak globally, with nearly 5.3 million cases.
Reuters reports that the ministry said Pazuello had a fever on Tuesday and would be tested for Covid-19. On Monday, the minister had missed a public event with President Jair Bolsonaro.
“He had a small indisposition and went to the hospital,” Bolsonaro said at the event. The ministry said on Monday that Pazuello had been discharged and was at home.
Bolsonaro has sought to downplay the severity of the coronavirus, calling it a little flu. The president fell ill with a mild case of Covid-19 earlier this year, and several of his cabinet ministers have been infected previously.
Two different health ministers resigned in the span of roughly a month before Bolsonaro appointed Pazuello. Bolsonaro has endorsed the drug hydroxychloroquine for treating coronavirus, despite its being unproven for that purpose; the former ministers had advised a more cautious approach.
Pazuello, who does not hold a medical degree, expanded access to hydroxychloroquine and allowed for public doctors to prescribe it for almost anyone who tests positive for coronavirus.
England’s widening north-south political divide dominates the papers after Boris Johnson’s government imposed tier 3 restrictions on Manchester despite fierce resistance from the city’s mayor, Andy Burnham.
The Guardian reports that Burnham accused the prime minister of playing a “game of poker with people’s lives” after the imposition of the highest level of restrictions on the city and surrounding area: