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Variant Continues U.S. Spread; N.Y. Cases Slow: Virus Update

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 1/16/2021 Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- The Greater Los Angeles area has surpassed 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, though county scientists estimate actual infections are three times higher.

Louisiana became the latest U.S. state to report a case of a more transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the U.K. Cases in the U.S. slowed, and new infections in New York state fell from a record. Virginia’s infections rose to a new high.

Norway said 29 people over the age 75 have now died after receiving their first Pfizer/BioNtech shot. The U.K. reported fatalities above 1,200 for the fifth consecutive day.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases top 94.2 million; deaths pass 2 millionVaccine Tracker: More than 37.9 million shots given worldwideU.S. steps up claims Covid-19 may have escaped from Chinese labEngland isn’t listening to Johnson’s lockdown orders anymoreMassive inoculation drive starts in India despite vaccine doubtsHow fear of vaccine threatens to delay pandemic’s end: QuickTake

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID on the terminal for global data on cases and deaths.

Los Angeles Covid Cases Surpass 1 Million (5:23 p.m. NY)

The Greater Los Angeles area has surpassed 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, though county scientists estimate actual infections are three times higher.

The milestone means one in 10 people in L.A. County has tested positive at some point in the outbreak. The county also reported its first case of the U.K. variant -- a man who recently spent time in the area before traveling to Oregon, where he’s isolating.

Louisiana Joins States Reporting Virus Variant (4:29 p.m. NY)

Louisiana became the latest state to report a case of a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first found in the U.K. The infected person reportedly had a history of travel outside of Louisiana, a statement from Governor John Bel Edwards’ office said Saturday.

On Friday, at least three more states, including Utah, Oregon and Illinois, reported cases as the Centers for Disease and Prevention warned that it could become the dominant strain in the U.S. as soon as March. More than 15 states have reported cases, some involving people with no history of travel.

Virginia Cases Rise to Record (3:24 p.m. NY)

Virginia reported 6,757 new cases, a record since the start of the pandemic, state data show. Another 50 people died, for a total 5,706 fatalities. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all been on a general rise in the state since November.

California Nears 3 Million Cases (2:34 p.m. NY)

California added 40,622 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, surpassing the 2.9 million mark, according to the health department’s website. Deaths climbed by 669, a 2.1% increase from the previous day, to 32,960. The state’s 14-day positivity rate rose 0.2% to 12.6%. California has administered more than 37.8 million tests in total.

France Cases Steady (2:29 p.m. NY)

France reported 21,406 new cases on Saturday. That’s within the range of cases reported over the past four days, and with the seven-day rolling average of infections at 18,148. Total cases are now 2.89 million. Deaths linked to the virus rose by 196 in the past 24 hours, to 70,142, according to data from health authorities.

Portugal Minister Tests Positive After Meeting With EU Officials (2:20 p.m. NY)

Portuguese Finance Minister Joao Leao tested positive for Covid-19, the finance ministry said on Saturday, a day after he attended meetings with European Commission officials.

Leao is self-isolating at home, the ministry said in an emailed statement. He has no symptoms and is working.

North Carolina Surpasses 8,000 Deaths (12:12 p.m. NY)

North Carolina reported 83 deaths Saturday, pushing the total to more than 8,000. The state, hit hard in the latest virus wave, passed 7,000 deaths 10 days ago. Another 7,986 new infections were reported, down from the previous day, and hospitalizations fell for the second consecutive day, state data show.

Italy Cases, Deaths Steady (11:25 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 16,310 new cases and 475 deaths Saturday, in line with numbers reported the previous day.

The country will tighten curbs for most regions on Sunday, including Milan and Rome, with the Milan area back in a “red zone” where leaving the house is banned except for necessary reasons.


Video: Low flu numbers attributed to COVID-19 precautions (WMUR Manchester)

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U.K. Deaths Again Above 1,200 (11:22 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported more than 1,200 deaths for the fifth day in a row. Saturday’s 1,295 fatalities were higher than the average of 1,066 over the previous seven days. The U.K. records deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.

New cases of 41,346 were below the weekly average of 51,221. More than 37,000 people were in hospitals as of Friday and 3.56 million people have received their first dose of a vaccine.

N.Y. Cases Fall From Record (11:19 a.m. NY)

New York state reported 15,998 new cases, a day after a record 19,942, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. The statewide positive test rate declined to 5.77%, with rates above 8% on Long Island and the Mohawk Valley. Hospitalizations increased to 8,888, and another 157 people died.

Portugal Breaks Record for New Cases and Deaths (9:37 a.m. NY)

Portugal on Saturday reported the biggest daily increase in confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak. There were 10,947 new cases in a day, more than the previous record of 10,698 announced on Thursday, taking the total to 539,416. The total number of deaths rose by 166 to 8,709, also a record daily increase. The number of patients in intensive-care units rose by 16 to 638, according to government data. The country’s national health service has a capacity of about 960 beds in intensive-care units.

Portugal tightened restrictions on Friday with measures including closing non-essential stores.

Nigeria Hasn’t Yet Bought Any Vaccines (9:15 a.m. NY)

Nigeria hasn’t bought any Covid-19 vaccines yet as Africa’s most populous nation is still assessing the prices of different shots, their availability and the logistics required in a nationwide roll-out.

Minister of State for Health Adeleke Olurunnimbe Mamora said once the government determines which vaccines are accessible and affordable, authorities then have to consider storage and distribution issues as they prepare to give shots to 200 million people.

Vienna Suspects 17% of New Infections Are Already New Strain (9:12 a.m. NY)

Tests on a random sample of 83 recent new infections in the Austrian capital showed that 14, or 17%, have a marker for the new, more infectious B.1.1.7 mutation of the coronavirus, the Austria Press Agency reported, citing an analysis by the Medical University of Vienna. Austria has only recently started to analyze positive virus tests for the mutation.

Norway Vaccine Fatalities Among People 75 and Older Rise (9:09 a.m. NY)

Norway has registered a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who’ve had their first Covid-19 vaccination shot, raising questions over which groups to target in national inoculation programs.

The latest figure adds six to the number of known fatalities in Norway, and also lowers the age group thought to be affected from 80.

Until Friday, Pfizer/BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway, and “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine,” the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a written response to Bloomberg on Saturday.

U.S Cases, Deaths Slow Even in Upward Trend (8 a.m. NY)

The U.S. added 216,769 new cases on Friday, down from the previous three days even as the weekly average continues to climb, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The nation added almost 20,000 more cases a day on average in the last week compared with the previous one.

Another 3,422 people died, the data show, also fewer than the previous three days. Weekly average fatalities, however, continued to rise, with more than 550 more people dying each day in the last week compared with the one before.

U.K.’s Sunak Plans £500 One-Time Benefit (7:03 a.m. NY)

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is planning to give a one-time benefit payment of 500 pounds ($680) to nearly six million people, to help ease the economic fallout from a third coronavirus lockdown, the Times of London reported on Saturday.

People across England are about to be hit with a deluge of new government adverts telling them to stay at home, as the data show Britons are far more active during the current third national lockdown than when the first emergency “stay at home” order was given last spring.

Serbia Receives First Delivery of Chinese Vaccines (6:43 a.m. NY)

Serbia got its first delivery of Chinese vaccines, made by Sinofarm, on Saturday, with President Aleksandar Vucic greeting the plane from China at Belgrade airport that brought 1 million shots.

The Balkan country now has three types of Covid vaccines, after importing Pfizer-Biontech in December and the Russian-made Sputnik V earler this month. Vucic said all vaccine contracts were negotiated directly, none through Covax.

Greece Starts Vaccinating Elderly (6:33 a.m. in NY)

Greece started vaccinations for people over 85-years-old on Saturday, after first inoculating tens of thousands of front-line workers.

More than 75,000 health care workers and nursing home residents and carers have received the shot of the vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech since Greece rolled out the plan along with other EU countries last month.

Pakistan Approves AstraZeneca Vaccine (6:33 a.m. NY)

Pakistan granted approval for emergency use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, the country’s health minister said on Saturday, the first to be given the green light there.

Second Australian Open Flight Has Positive Test (4:50 a.m. NY)

A total of 47 tennis players traveling to Melbourne for the Australian Open are in hotel quarantine after passengers on two flights tested positive for Covid-19.

Twenty three players on a charter flight from Abu Dhabi, along with 24 players from a Los Angeles-Melbourne flight are in quarantine hotels and will not be permitted to leave their room for 14 days, until they are medically cleared. “They will not be eligible to practice,” organizers Tennis Australia said in a statement.

More than 1,200 officials, players and support teams are arriving in Australia ahead of the tournament, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 8. All arrivals will face strict rules, including daily testing for Covid-19 and athletes being limited to a daily 5-hour block for training and treatment.

Mandatory Testing in Norway (4:36 a.m. NY)

The Norwegian government is introducing mandatory testing at the border from Monday, it said in a statement on its website. Anyone who has been in area that requires a period of quarantine must be tested at the border crossing point if they wish to enter Norway. Previously there was a 24-hour window to have the test completed.

“People who without reasonable cause do not want to be tested can be punished with fines, and must spend the quarantine period at designated hotels,” said Norway’s Minister of Health & Care Services Bent Hoie.

India’s Massive Vaccine Campaign Starts (11:06 p.m. NY)

The inoculation campaign across the world’s second-most populous country will be a crash course over whether Covid-19 can be swiftly tamed in nations with disjointed health and transportation networks. Officially more than 10.5 million people in India have been infected with the disease that has also killed at least 150,000 in its borders.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: One of the World’s Biggest Vaccine Campaigns Starts in India © Bloomberg One of the World’s Biggest Vaccine Campaigns Starts in India

A health worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine in New Delhi on Jan. 16.

Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

India’s rollout is one of the earliest and most ambitious in Asia, where many nations are taking a slower approach in inoculating their populations. That’s partly because those countries are facing less severe virus outbreaks than India, which has the second-highest number of infections in the world.

Iran Deaths Increase as Infections Slow (10 p.m. NY)

Iran reported 96 deaths from Covid-19 over the last 24 hours, up from 83 yesterday. The country also recorded 6,100 new infections since Friday, below an average of 6,254 daily cases over the last week. The country now has 56,717 deaths in over 1.3 million known cases, the Health Ministry reported.

U.S. Urges WHO to Examine Wuhan Institute (7:28 p.m. NY)

The U.S. “has reason to believe” some Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, “with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses,” the State Department said in a fact sheet.

China’s lack of transparency about the pandemic’s origin more than a year ago, as well as efforts to mask early shortcomings in the country’s response to the outbreak, make it difficult to draw clear conclusions, the agency said. But the brief, unsigned statement issued by the U.S. -- less than a week before the end of the Trump administration -- provided no data to back up its claims.

(A previous version of this story corrected the number of deaths in the U.S. on Friday.)

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