(Bloomberg) — New Zealand will begin reopening its border next month, end the “fort” institutions that kept Covid-19 out of much of the pandemic, and join a global battle for travel resume.
Pfizer Inc. has asked US regulators to approve an additional booster shot for seniors. It is estimated that nearly half of Hong Kong’s population has likely contracted the virus. South Korea could relax social distancing rules for private gatherings and restaurants.
China eased quarantine rules a bit, cutting mandatory home isolation for discharged Covid patients in half to seven days. Infections in Asia’s largest economy rose the most since the early days of the pandemic on Tuesday, and cities across the country responded with additional curbs.
Philippine capital remains among the loosest curbs (8:17 a.m. HK)
The Philippine capital will remain under the widest movement restrictions from March 16 to 31 as the government looks to boost economic activity amid dwindling Covid-19 infections.
Metro Manila, which accounts for a third of the country’s economic output, will remain below Alert Level 1 where businesses can fully operate, communications secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement. Forty-seven other areas were also placed under the lowest alert level. The restrictions are reviewed every two weeks.
China relaxes quarantine rules for Covid (7:49am HK)
China has halved the length of mandatory home isolation for discharged Covid patients to seven days, according to a revised message posted on the State Council’s website late Tuesday. Previously, they had to stay home for 14 days, according to a separate report from state news agency Xinhua.
Pfizer asks FDA to release another booster (7:45am HK)
Pfizer Inc. said it has asked US regulators to approve an additional Covid-19 booster shot for seniors, in an effort to protect vulnerable adults as the immunity afforded by the first three doses wanes.
The New York-based drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech SE said on Tuesday they have applied for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a second booster of their vaccine, Comirnaty, for people 65 and older who are already receiving a booster from one of the following drugs. the approved Covid-19 vaccines.
New Zealand border reopening (7:41am HK)
New Zealand will begin reopening its border to the world next month, ending the ‘fortress’ institutions that kept Covid-19 out of much of the pandemic.
Vaccinated Australians will be allowed in without having to isolate themselves upon arrival from 12:59pm on April 12, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in Wellington on Wednesday. The border will open at midnight on May 1 for visitors from other visa-exempt countries, such as the US, UK, Japan, Singapore and Germany.
“We are ready to welcome the world back,” Ardern told a news conference.
Hong Kong closes beaches (18:29 HK)
Hong Kong will close its beaches from Thursday, local media reported, days after a social media outcry linked to photos of the city’s residents enjoying the sand and waves as authorities shut down the neighboring Chinese tech center of Shenzhen.
Beaches will be cordoned off to prevent the public from entering, a flashback to last summer when they were closed for several months due to a previous flare-up. The city’s famous country parks also close all barbecue and camping areas.
Hong Kong announced 27,765 cases and 228 deaths on Tuesday.
Pudong in Shanghai encourages working from home (15:29 HK)
Shanghai’s Pudong district is encouraging businesses to adopt flexible work arrangements as the city battles a worsening Covid outbreak.
Businesses are being encouraged to let employees work from home, according to a statement on the official WeChat account of the Pudong government. Shanghai reported 105 local Covid cases and international flights are being diverted out of the city to ease pressure on quarantine hotels and isolation facilities.
Amazon, Walmart Orders Likely Delayed Due to Lockdowns (3:25 PM HK)
According to an industry association, orders placed with Amazon.com Inc.’s global e-commerce platforms. and Walmart Inc. are being slowed down by lockdowns and restrictions in some of China’s major manufacturing hubs.
Shenzhen, home to about half of all online retail exporters in China, was locked up for at least a week on Sunday to try to contain an expanding outbreak. The 17.5 million residents were told to work from home, with all non-essential businesses and public transport closed. In nearby Dongguan, a major hub for shoes, toys and textiles, factories in areas where there are virus cases have been told to close, and schools and restaurants have been effectively closed.
“Shenzhen has now hit the pause button, shutting down operations for almost all sectors, and we are no exception,” said Wang Xin, head of Shenzhen Cross-Border E-Commerce Association. Wang’s organization represents some 3,000 exporters in the city, China’s main tech hub.
Nearly half of HK population already has Covid: survey (1:14pm HK)
About half of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million residents are already infected with Covid-19, according to an estimate of the damage caused by the deadly microwave wave that engulfed the city.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong have determined that about 3.6 million Hong Kongers have contracted the disease as of March 14. That’s more than an estimated 1.8 million infections that they concluded up to March 7 to have developed based on disease modeling and an in-depth analysis of the ongoing outbreak.
As the current wave peaked on March 4, many more people will catch Covid before it ends, the researchers said. The total is likely to rise to about 4.5 million, they said. More than 5,100 people will die from Covid on May 1, the researchers predict, compared to a previous estimate of about 5,010.
South Korea May Lift Restaurant Hours Limit: Munhwa (12:11 PM HK)
South Korean authorities are discussing easing social distancing measures, including lifting the limit for people in private gatherings and allowing cafes and restaurants to stay open later, Munhwa Ilbo newspaper said, citing a non- identified government official.
Current rules allow restaurants and cafes to be open until 11pm, while private gatherings of up to 6 people are allowed. The government could announce that the new rules will come into effect from March 21, after existing measures lapse, the newspaper said.
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