Coronavirus latest: Vietnam warns capital to brace for new outbreak

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Global cases have reached 16,739,530, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The worldwide death toll has hit 660,428.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:

(Source photo by AP) 

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):

Wednesday, July 29

4:27 p.m. Thailand will extend its state of emergency for another month, despite recording no local transmissions for over two months. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s cabinet endorsed a proposal from the country’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration to extend the emergency decree for the fourth time until August 31.

4:21 p.m. The U.S. military says it will test all personnel arriving in Japan for the coronavirus. The order comes after infections surged on U.S. bases across the country, which prompted Defense Minister Taro Kono and local authorities to push for more stringent steps to contain the outbreak.

3:50 p.m. Hong Kong could postpone by one year a vote for seats in the city legislature scheduled for Sept. 6 as infections rise, public broadcaster RTHK reports, citing unnamed sources.

3:32 p.m. India’s Hetero Labs says it received local approval to launch its version of anti-viral drug favipiravir, the generic form of Avigan. The drug, priced at 59 rupees (79 cents) per tablet, will be available at drug stores from Wednesday, the company said.

3:18 p.m. The Tokyo metropolitan government reports 250 new cases compared with 266 the previous day, when the number topped 200 for the first time in two days. Nationwide, Japan recorded 982 cases on Tuesday, the highest daily total as concerns mount over rising infections.

2:37 p.m. India reports 48,513 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 47,703 the previous day, bringing the country’s COVID-19 tally to over 1.53 million. The death toll has jumped to 34,193, up 768 since Tuesday morning.

2:00 p.m. Vietnam’s government has made plans for multiple flights to bring back about 500 nationals stranded overseas, more than half of whom have contracted COVID-19.

1:56 p.m. Coronavirus cases have been detected in Vietnam’s two biggest cities — Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City — and in the country’s central highlands coffee belt, due largely to increased domestic travel, state television reports. Broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) said the infections resulted from movement of people between those areas and Danang, the central city where the country’s first community transmission in three months was reported on Saturday. The health ministry has not confirmed the cases reported by VTV, which said there were 30 infections linked to Danang.

12:00 p.m. Serum Institute of India and South Korea’s SK Bioscience are poised to become key players in the fight against the coronavirus after they were chosen to produce a new vaccine developed by Oxford University and British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca.

11:44 a.m. South Korea confirms 48 new cases, up from 28 a day ago, bringing the country total to 14,251 with 300 deaths.

11:30 a.m. Singapore’s jobless rate rises sharply in the second quarter to a decade-high of 2.9%, provisional data shows, as the pandemic caused employment to shrink in the services and construction sectors. Overall unemployment has climbed from 2.4% in the first quarter and is nearing the 3.4% peak seen during the global financial crisis of 2009.

11:29 a.m. Thailand records no foreign tourist arrivals and spending for a third straight month in June, as its borders remained closed, with a 66% year-on-year drop in the January-June period to 6.69 million visitors.

11:15 a.m. Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria says daily infections fell below 300 for the first time in more than a week, with 295 over the last 24 hours compared with 384 a day earlier. There were nine deaths over the same period, with seven linked to nursing home facilities, Premier Daniel Andrews said in a media conference.

11:13 a.m. Deaths in the U.S. neared 1,300 on Tuesday, the biggest one-day rise since May, according to a Reuters tally. California, Florida and Texas — the nation’s most populous states — reported one-day record deaths, together accounting for 584 of the 1,292 new deaths. Arkansas, Montana and Oregon also had one-day record increases in fatalities.

11:05 a.m. Japan expects its economy to shrink to the mid-4% range for fiscal 2020, Nikkei has learned. The revised projection for real gross domestic product marks a significant downward revision from the prospect of 1.4% growth planned at the start of the year. The figure exceeds the 3.4% decline in GDP in fiscal 2008, when the economy was hit by the global financial crisis.

10:22 a.m. Ratings agency Fitch revises its outlook on Japan’s long-term foreign currency debt rating to negative from stable, citing the sharp coronavirus-induced economic contraction. “The coronavirus pandemic has caused a sharp economic contraction in Japan, despite the country’s early success in containing the virus,” Fitch said, while affirming Japan’s ‘A’ rating.

9:41 a.m. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has warned the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak of the coronavirus and urged people to stay indoors as much as possible as strict new measures to curb the spread of the disease take effect on Wednesday.

A sample is collected from a taxi driver by a health worker at a makeshift testing station in a Hong Kong parking lot following a flare-up of the coronavirus in the city on July 27.

  © Reuters

9:40 a.m. China reports 101 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 28, the highest number in more than three and a half months, the country’s health commission says.

9:33 a.m. Australia’s second-largest bank, Westpac Banking, says it will bring back 1,000 call center jobs to Australia from overseas to meet growing demand for customer assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

8:56 a.m. Vietnam’s Health Ministry reports eight new locally transmitted coronavirus cases linked to three hospitals in the central city of Danang, raising the number of infections to 30 since the virus resurfaced over the weekend.

7:42 a.m. Drugmaker Moderna plans to price its coronavirus vaccine at $50 to $60 per treatment course, at least $11 more than another vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, the Financial Times reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

6:49 a.m. U.S. fast food chain McDonald’s will sell off a significant chunk of shares held in McDonald’s Japan, a move that will grant its Japanese counterpart greater freedom to chart its own course after the pandemic. The Chicago-based burger chain also reports that its global same-store sales fell 23.9% in the second quarter, dragged down by big international markets including the U.K., France and Latin America.

6:47 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down on Tuesday on his support for the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine, describing it as extremely successful in treating the deadly coronavirus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month revoked its emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 after several studies cast doubt on its effectiveness.

6:36 a.m. Moderna on Tuesday said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine induced a robust immune response and protected against infection in a study on monkeys. The vaccine, MRNA-1273, given to nonhuman primates protected against infection in the lungs and nose, and prevented pulmonary disease in all animals, the company said in a news release.

4:41 a.m. The coronavirus has chilled the atmosphere for Southeast Asia’s startups, which for years have been fueled by billions of dollars in venture capital from investors such as SoftBank Group’s controversial $100 billion Vision Fund. For Gojek, Grab and others, the quest for profit become a struggle for survival. Find out more in The Big Story.

4:26 a.m. Optical equipment maker Canon has posted its first quarterly loss, with the pandemic sapping sales for a range of products, including printers, cameras and display-manufacturing equipment.

People wear masks at an event to mark the 67th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang on July 27 in this image provided by the Korea Central News Agency.

  © Reuters

2:28 a.m. Duty-free store operator Laox will close half of its locations in Japan, the company said Tuesday, seeing no recovery from a plunge in Chinese, South Korean and other Asian tourists.

1:57 a.m. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says that he caught the coronavirus and recovered “on his feet” without showing any symptoms, sounding a defiant tone as he addressed military leaders in Minsk, reports Reuters. Lukashenko, 65, has resisted calls for strict lockdown measures to contain the pandemic

1:43 a.m. Sixty-five migrants who were in a group of 94 people rescued at sea and brought to Malta have tested positive for COVID-19, says Malta’s health ministry. It was the single largest cluster of positive cases detected on the Mediterranean island since the first case came to light in the country on March 7, according to Reuters.

Tuesday, July 28

11:18 p.m. North Korea introduces tougher curbs against the coronavirus after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection, reports Reuters, citing state media.

8:25 p.m. Australia is sending a medical team to help Papua New Guinea confront an alarming surge in cases, Reuters reports, citing Canberra’s Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham. The small Pacific island state had 62 cases as of Tuesday, up from just eight 11 days ago.

6:50 p.m. The World Health Organization has warned against complacency over coronavirus transmissions in the northern hemisphere, saying that the virus does not behave like influenza that tends to follow seasonal trends.

“People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and… this one is behaving differently,” Margaret Harris said at a video conference in Geneva.

The World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus does not follow seasonal trends like influenza and that people must not become complacent about its transmission over the summer.

  © Reuters

6:15 p.m. The Philippines says it has recorded another 1,678 infections, the 14th consecutive day that it has marked more than 1,000 new daily cases.

6:00 p.m. Hong Kong has reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 local transmissions, as residents brace for strict new measures that ban restaurant dining and restrict gatherings to two people to take effect from Wednesday.

5:30 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,748 new infections, bringing its tally to 102,051 confirmed cases overall. Deaths related to COVID-19 have risen by 63, bringing the country’s total to 4,901.

5:08 p.m. Nissan Motor expects its biggest-ever operating loss of 470 billion yen ($4.4 billion) this fiscal year, the Japanese automaker announces, plagued by plunging sales amid uncertainty over the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

3:50 p.m. Hawaii Gov. David Ige says Japan has put it on a list of destinations for the potential resumption of international travel, making it the only U.S. state being considered. “It’s important that we restore travel between Japan and Hawaii,” Ige said, “and we see this program as a way to make this possible.” No timetable has been set for when the program might start.

2:41 p.m. Tokyo confirms 266 new infections, sources tell Nikkei, up from 131 a day earlier. The metropolitan government is concerned about the recent trend of increasing transmissions among family members, colleagues at companies and people dining out, in addition to those occurring in nightlife districts.

1:39 p.m. India confirms 47,703 new cases in the last 24 hours, down from the biggest single-day spike of 49,931 the previous day, bringing the country’s COVID-19 tally to over 1.48 million. The death toll has jumped to 33,425, up 654 since Monday morning.

11:15 a.m. China reports 68 new coronavirus cases for July 27, up for the fourth consecutive day, the health authority says. Two were in Beijing, while 57 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. The northeastern province of Liaoning reported six new cases. Another four involved travelers arriving from overseas.

11:00 a.m. Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reports six deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 384 new cases compared with a record 532 cases a day earlier.

11:00 a.m. Vietnam has suspended all flights to and from Danang for 15 days starting Tuesday after at least 14 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected in the city, Reuters reports. The country has also suspended all passenger bus and train services to and from the coastal municipality.

9:00 a.m. The U.S. government announces it will award $265 million to Fujifilm Holdings. According to the Japanese company, it will invest the money in increased vaccine manufacturing capacity at a Texas plant by autumn. It expects to be able to enter mass production in early 2021.

If an evaluation of their lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate goes well, Pfizer and BioNTech could submit the treatment for regulatory approval in October and be on track to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of the year.

  © Reuters

8:12 a.m. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech say they are to begin a pivotal global study to evaluate their lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The vaccine could be submitted for regulatory approval in October, and the companies could be on track to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of the year. The announcement comes shortly after Moderna said it had launched an advanced stage trial with 30,000 participants.

6:48 a.m. Belgium announces sharp curbs on social contact after a surge of coronavirus infections in the past three weeks. From Wednesday, a Belgian family or those living together would only be able to meet five other people over the next four weeks, sharply down from 15 now.

5:40 a.m. Google will extend its work-at-home option for global employees by six months to the summer of 2021 as the coronavirus spread gathers pace in the U.S. while flaring up again in other parts of the world. The company had planned to return to normal work locations in early 2021.

4:23 a.m. The International Monetary Fund approves a $4.3 billion emergency loan for South Africa to help the country cope with the health and economic consequences of the the coronavirus pandemic.

3:00 a.m. California’s attorney general has begun a probe into what has done to protect its workers during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports, citing a court filing.

1:45 a.m. U.S. biotech company Moderna’s vaccine against COVID-19 could become available by the end of this year, U.S. officials say after the developer announces it has begun a trial involving 30,000 subjects.

Monday, July 27

11:30 p.m. U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House says.

U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien, left, with President Donald Trump in Washington on June 1.

  © Reuters

11:20 p.m. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India is ramping up its COVID-19 testing capacity to reach 1 million tests per day in the coming weeks. That would be roughly double the current level.

In January, when India confirmed its first COVID-19 case, it had just one coronavirus testing center. Now there are nearly 1,300 such laboratories across the country, Modi says, inaugurating three “hi-tech” testing facilities at a videoconferencing event.

8:04 p.m. Emergent BioSolutions signs a $174 million agreement with U.K.-based AstraZeneca to produce the British drugmaker’s vaccine candidate. AstraZeneca chose the U.S. company in June to help produce 300 million doses of its potential vaccine pledged to the U.S.

7:38 p.m. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the pandemic is easily the worst global health emergency. Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world be able to beat it, he added. “Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they are not, cases go up.”

6:00 p.m. Japan Airlines is expected to report an operating loss of about 120 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for the April-June quarter, Nikkei has learned. This will mark the biggest quarterly loss for Japan’s flag carrier since its stock market relisting in 2012. JAL’s utilization rate on its international routes was as low as 4% in June, 6% in May and 23% in April.

5:55 p.m. Hong Kong reports 145 cases, of which 142 were locally transmitted. This marks a new daily high just hours after the city announced its toughest measures yet to curb a community outbreak.

A man wears a face mask while walking along a street in Hong Kong on July 22. 

  © AP

5:51 p.m. Indonesia’s infections top 100,000, with 1,525 cases in the last 24 hours and 57 deaths. This brings the country total to 100,303 with 4,838 deaths.

4:55 p.m. Mitsubishi Motors says it expects a group net loss of 360 billion yen ($3.4 billion) for the year ending March 2021, marking the second straight year of red ink, as sales cratered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

4:30 p.m. Russia reports 5,635 cases — its lowest daily tally since April 23 — bringing the country total to 818,120, the fourth-highest in the world.

4:17 p.m. Dine-ins at restaurants in Hong Kong will be banned for seven days starting on Wednesday as the city fights a third wave of infections. Gatherings of more than two people will also be prohibited. Meanwhile, the wearing of face masks will be made compulsory in all public premises.

3:17 p.m. ANA will further reduce the number of domestic flights in August from what it had announced on July 14. The Japanese carrier now says it will operate at 77% of scheduled flights for the month, down from the previously planned 88%, as cases increase and bookings turn out to be slower than expected.

2:32 p.m. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike says the metropolitan government has confirmed 131 new infections, marking the first time the capital has recorded less than 200 daily cases since July 20.

2:00 p.m. Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from the central tourism hot spot of Danang after the first community infections since April were confirmed on the weekend. The evacuation will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating approximately 100 flights daily from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities.

A flight attendant explains safety procedures before takeoff of a Vietnam Airlines flight Feb. 23.

  © Reuters

1:35 p.m. India reports another record single-day spike in infections with 49,931 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s COVID-19 tally to over 1.43 million. The death toll has climbed to 32,771, up 708 from Sunday morning.

12:30 p.m. Gold prices jump to record highs as an intensifying U.S.-China row hammered the dollar and cemented expectations that central banks would continue pumping out stimulus to ease the economic pain from a worsening coronavirus pandemic.

11:50 a.m. China’s industrial profits in June rose for a second straight month and at the fastest pace in more than a year, the statistics bureau says, another sign that the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis is gaining momentum. Steel, oil and gas extraction as well as the nonferrous metal sector led the way to an 11.5% profit increase from the year-earlier level to 666.55 billion yuan ($95.27 billion), the fastest pace of growth since March 2019.

10:30 a.m. Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reports a record daily increase of 532 new cases, compared with 459 a day earlier. It also logs six new deaths.

10:06 a.m. Japanese companies’ sales dropped 7.5% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, according to a downward revision to a preliminary 3.5% decrease, released in June, the finance ministry says. The tumble is the largest since the April-June quarter of 2011, after Japan was walloped by a major earthquake and tsunami. Japanese companies’ capital spending rose 0.1%, another big reduction from the preliminary 4.3%.

The inclusion of more small and midsize companies that were hit harder by the virus than large ones led to worse numbers, the ministry says.

9:40 a.m. The Bank of Japan is wary of risks to Japan’s economic outlook, including the possibility that its recovery may be delayed as it takes time to adjust to structural changes brought by the pandemic, a summary of opinions at the mid-July meeting shows. One board member said, “The economy may not rebound to the pre-pandemic level even in fiscal 2022,” which ends March 2023.

8:35 a.m. South Korea’s auto output tumbled nearly 20% to an 11-year low in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak, industry data shows, according to Yonhap News Agency. The country’s five major automakers produced 1.63 million vehicles in the January-June period, down 19.8% from a year earlier. It was the lowest figure since the first half of 2009.

South Korea’s auto industry took a big hit from the coronavirus outbreak in the first six months of this year.

  © Reuters

8:30 a.m. The White House and Senate Republicans reach “an agreement in principle” on the next coronavirus relief bill, a White House official says, according to Reuters.

2:02 a.m. Toyota Motor has asked suppliers to lower prices on certain parts, citing sluggish sales and a drop in material costs amid the coronavirus, Nikkei has learned, in a move that could hit earnings in the sprawling supply chain of one of the world’s largest automakers.

1:30 a.m. Moderna says it has received an additional $472 million from the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to support the development of its late-stage coronavirus vaccine clinical trials, including an expanded Phase 3 study. In April, Moderna received $483 million from the U.S. federal agency, which funds disease-fighting technology.

Sunday, July 26

9:48 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says it is important to practice social distancing and wear masks to fight the virus in his monthly radio broadcast to the nation. “The danger of corona is far from being over. At many places, it is spreading fast,” Modi says. “We need to be extra vigilant.” More than 48,000 cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours.

7:02 p.m. Global cases surpass 16 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

5:28 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,492 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 98,778, data from the country’s Health Ministry website shows. The number of deaths in the Southeast Asian nation related to COVID-19 rises by 67, bringing the total to 4,781.

4:20 p.m. Tokyo reports 239 new cases as Japan’s infections jump in urban areas. The latest figure for Tokyo comes a day after the capital reported 295 new cases, with a single-day record of 366 confirmed on Thursday. It was the sixth straight day for the figure to eclipse 200, bringing the cumulative total for the capital to 11,214.

4:00 p.m. Australia records its highest-ever daily corona death tally as authorities in the state of Victoria battled scores of infection clusters and intensified contact tracing efforts. Victoria’s leader, Daniel Andrews, tells a media briefing the state had reported 10 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, Australia’s highest-ever daily toll.

6:37 a.m. North Korea reports its first case, a person who returned to the North on July 19, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convenes an emergency Politburo meeting of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party.

6:51 a.m. Brazil registers an additional 1,211 deaths attributable to the novel coronavirus over the past 24 hours and another 51,147 confirmed cases, according to the health ministry. The nation has now registered 86,449 deaths and 2,394,513 total confirmed cases.

7:52 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 4,099,310 total cases, an increase of 74,818 from its previous daily count. It counts another 1,145 deaths, pushing the worst-hit nation’s total to 145,013.

12:13 a.m. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declares an emergency and a lockdown in a border town after a person suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border, state media says.

Saturday, July 25

6:26 p.m. Hong Kong reports 133 new coronavirus cases, including 126 local transmissions, a record daily increase, as authorities warn that the city faces a crucial period in containing the virus.

5:39 p.m. Indonesia reports 1,868 new infections, bringing its total to 97,286, according to new data from the country’s COVID-19 task force. Deaths related to COVID-19 rise by 49, bringing the total to 4,714.

4:41 p.m. Tokyo reports 295 new daily cases, while the nationwide overall tally tops 30,000, as Japan’s increase in infections in the capital and other urban areas moves ahead. The figure is the second-highest single-day total for Tokyo, which logged a record 366 daily cases on Thursday.

4:35 p.m. Russia reports 5,871 new cases and 146 more deaths from the respiratory disease. The nationwide tally of infections is now 806,720, Russia’s coronavirus crisis response center says. The death toll stands at 13,192, and 597,140 people have recovered.

2:06 p.m. Vietnam is back on high alert after medical officials in Danang detect the central city’s first locally transmitted case in three months. Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing program, the country has kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases; it had reported no local transmissions for 100 days.

10:30 a.m. China reports 34 mainland cases for Friday, up from 21 cases a day earlier, according to the country’s health commission. Of the new infections, 20 were in the far western region of Xinjiang, nine were in the northeastern province of Liaoning and five were imported cases.

10:22 a.m. South Korea reports 113 cases, the largest one-day increase since March, bringing the country’s total to 14,092.

9:18 a.m. The U.S. records more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 for the fourth day in a row on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, as the Trump administration stresses the need for children to go back to their classrooms despite safety fears.

8:05 a.m. The U.S. doubles down on claims that Chinese consulates are facilitating espionage, including attempted theft of COVID-19 vaccine research, after it ordered the Chinese Consulate in Houston to close, citing the city’s importance in medical research.

8:01 a.m. People who are obese or overweight are at increased risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19, Public Health England says in a report as the U.K. government prepares to introduce measures to confront the problem.

6:50 a.m. Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, postpones its 2021 Carnival celebrations as Formula One scraps its next planned race there.

5:49 a.m. Many companies in Japan have responded to the pandemic by encouraging or requiring employees to telecommute, but this is not always possible. Some workers need to come to the office for safety or security reasons, and businesses are finding ways to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus, such as by erecting cardboard partitions between desks.

5:20 a.m. The National Zoo in Washington partially reopens to visitors for the first time in more than four months, despite the capital’s mayor expanding public health measures to fight the coronavirus this week.

3:40 a.m. The World Health Organization reports a 24-hour record for new global COVID-19 cases, 284,196.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week’s latest updates.

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