Covid-19 travel updates: Japan to end Tokyo emergency, France to open discos
CureVac NV lost more than half its value in German trading after a preliminary analysis of a large study found its vaccine fell short of the high efficacy bar set by other messenger RNA shots.
Hong Kong is planning to shorten quarantine periods for fully vaccinated travellers from most places to seven days from as much as 21 days, so long as they pass an antibody test.
Moderna Inc. said the US government exercised an option to buy 200 million more doses of its vaccine, bringing its total order to 500 million, and the U.K. is considering allowing fully vaccinated people to travel to amber-list countries without having to quarantine on their return, the Daily Telegraph reported.
- Global Tracker: Cases exceed 177 million; deaths pass 3.8 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 2.47 billion doses administered
- Japan’s ‘Dr. Fauci’ damps Olympic mood with call to ban fans
- Pockets of unvaccinated Americans threaten to prolong pandemic
- Double-lung transplants rise after covid ‘honeycombs’ organs
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Hong Kong to Ease Strict Travel Quarantine (5:33 p.m. HK)
Hong Kong will shorten hotel quarantine for many travellers, people familiar with the matter said, easing a border policy which has been criticised by residents and the city’s powerful finance industry for being among the strictest in the world.
Authorities are now trialling various antibody tests -- which are meant to confirm that a person has been vaccinated or has recovered from Covid-19 -- like those that require a prick of the finger, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they’re not authorised to speak publicly.
Japan to End Tokyo Emergency Before Olympics (4:55 p.m HK)
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that Japan would act quickly to tackle any new infection surges as the country prepares for the July 23 start of the games. Apart from Tokyo and Osaka, Suga said the emergency will end the same day for seven other regions. The government will retain focused restrictions on seven regions including the capital through July 11, he said.
CureVac Shot Falls Short (4:30 p.m. HK )
CureVac’s shares plunged more than 52% in German trading, wiping out almost $9.6 billion in market value, after the company said the vaccine was only 47% effective in an early trial analysis. The interim analysis of data from about 40,000 volunteers included 134 Covid cases, the German company said.
The findings throw the future of the vaccine into question as wealthy nations around the world move swiftly to inoculate their populations with shots already available.
France May Be Ready to Disco (3:07 p.m. HK)
As cases drop and vaccinations maintain a steady pace, French authorities could allow discos to reopen over the summer, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.
President Emmanuel Macron recently pledged to consider the rules for France’s discos, which have been closed since March last year. Gyms have reopened and indoor dining at restaurants is allowed again. A national curfew of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. is to be lifted Sunday, 10 days earlier than previously planned.
Austria to Ease Lockdown Measures (2:57 p.m. HK)
Austria will end a daily curfew from July as its infections continue to drop. Sport and cultural events will be allowed at full capacity and the requirement to wear more protective FFP-2 masks in most public places will no longer stand, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters.
The nation of about 9 million people registered an average 188 new cases a day in the week through Wednesday, the least since August. Further lockdown easing steps may be announced later in July.
South Africa Positivity Highest Since January (2:42 p.m. HK)
South Africa recorded 13,246 confirmed coronavirus cases over 24 hours and a positivity rate of 21.7% on tests, the highest since January, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said.
South Korea Death (2:10 p.m. HK)
A South Korean patient being treated for blood clotting after an AstraZeneca vaccination has died. The man in his 30s was admitted to the hospital nine days after receiving his first dose, the country’s health authorities told Yonhap News. He was one of two in the Asian nation diagnosed with a rare blood clot linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The other patient recovered and was discharged from the hospital last week. South Korea has limited the vaccine to those aged 60-64 due to concern about side effects among younger people.
Malaysia Considers Vaccine Mixing (1:38 p.m. HK)
Malaysia is looking into heterologous vaccinations, a method in which two different vaccines are administered to a person to boost its efficacy against Covid-19 variants, according to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
“It’s possible that we will end up doing this because a lot of countries are doing this to boost the neutralizing antibodies,” Khairy said during an online forum. “We are watching this very closely. We don’t want to make a quick decision on this before getting more data.”
Australia Narrows AstraZeneca Range (11:44 a.m. HK)
Australia narrowed the range of people who will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concern about blood clots, in a move that could further slow the nation’s rollout.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to those aged 60 and above, up from the previous range of 50 and above. Australia has confirmed at least 35 cases of thrombocytopenia syndrome following administration of the shot, including two deaths.
Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine will be the preferred option for those under 60, Health Minister Greg Hunt said at a press conference.
Japan Vaccine ‘Passports’ (11:26 a.m. HK)
Japanese local governments will issue proof of vaccination documents to people who have received Covid-19 inoculations, probably starting next month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said.
The documents will initially be provided to those who need them to travel abroad. Digital versions of the certification will also be considered.
New Zealand Vaccine Rollout (9:48 a.m. HK)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a vaccine rollout to the general population will begin next month, starting with people who are 60 or older from July 28, then 55 or older from Aug. 11.
Separately, New Zealand extended a pause on quarantine-free travel from Australia’s Victoria for another five days to 11:59 p.m. on June 22, but expects to lift it after then.
Beijing Hits 80% (8:49 a.m. HK)
More than 80% of the adult population in Beijing, or 15.6 million people, were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Wednesday, the Beijing Daily reported. China has administered 924 million vaccine doses in total.
Thailand Reopening Target (8:20 a.m. HK)
Thailand plans to fully reopen to foreign visitors in 120 days and give at least one vaccine dose to the majority of residents by early October to revive the tourism-reliant nation’s economy, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said. Some places will open earlier, with Phuket set to lead the way on July 1.
Texas Virus Hospitalisations Plummet (6:30 a.m. HK)
Virus hospitalisations in Texas have fallen to levels not seen since April 2020, when the pandemic was only beginning to spread in the second-largest U.S. state.
The hospital tally of virus patients has dropped to 1,560 in a state of 29 million people, down 90% from the peak of about 14,200 on Jan. 11, according to state health department data. Virus patients occupied less than 4% of intensive-care beds almost everywhere in the state and in some regions stood at less than 1%.