Asia Pacific Update: March 24
In today’s edition, key developments relate to the accelerated nature of the pandemic. WHO have warned it took only four days for global infection numbers to rise by 100,000. To combat the impacts of the high-velocity spread, car manufacturers are leveraging their resources to produce more ventilators and some countries are using military aircraft to transport existing ventilator orders.
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Latest Disease Updates
Live coronavirus case update
As of 09:30 SGT on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (01:30 GMT / 21:30 ET, Monday), 378,601 coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally, with a total of 16,505 deaths, according to John Hopkins University. While Greater China has the highest number of cases with 81,498 people infected, Italy has the highest number of deaths globally and nearly double the number of deaths in China. The toll in Italy stands at 6,077 deaths, and 63,927 infections across the country. Significantly, the US now has the third highest number of cases globally with 43,901 people infected.
- Senate Democrats block relief package: US Democrat Senators blocked action on a US$1.8 trillion economic stimulus package for a second time on Monday as talks continued with the Trump administration to resolve differences. Democrats say the package does not go far enough and want to secure stronger protections for American workers and restrictions for bailed-out businesses.\
- Fed unveils market intervention measures: The US Federal Reserve unveiled a new generation of lending facilities to prevent a liquidity crunch from turning into a solvency crisis for American businesses. In a move designed to support large and small businesses and keep markets functioning, the central bank will buy as much government-backed debt as needed to bolster the markets for housing and Treasury bonds.
- UK PM: “You must stay home”: More than 1.5bn people – a fifth of the world’s population – have been told to stay home. The UK is latest country to introduce new instructions requiring people to stay at home unless they are shopping for basic necessities, doing daily exercise, need medical care, or are travelling to and from work where “absolutely necessary”. Shops selling non-essential goods are being told to shut and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together are prohibited.
- WHO: the pandemic is “accelerating”: With nearly 380,000 confirmed cases globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating”. It took 67 days from the first reports of COVID-19 to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000, and just four days for the third 100,000. But the WHO chief urged countries to adopt rigorous testing and contact-tracing strategies as, he said, it is still possible to “change the trajectory”.
- Dick Pound: Olympics will be postponed: International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will be postponed by one year because of coronavirus. Australia and Canada have already said they will not compete in Japan, and the US has joined calls for the Games to be delayed. The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee urged the “IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors.”
- Singapore: From Friday Mar 27, all travelers to Singapore including residents and long-term pass holders will have to submit a health declaration online before proceeding to immigration clearance. The new rules were announced as the number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore rose to 509. (CNA)
- Australia: The Australian states of Queensland and Tasmania have closed their state borders to non-essential travelers. (Sydney Morning Herald)
- China: Wuhan is preparing for the restoration of public transport, requiring the public to first use QR codes to register themselves. (Xinhua)
- Hong Kong: Hong Kong is closing its borders to all non-residents and plans to ban the sale of alcohol at thousands of bars and restaurants in an effort to stop new surge in coronavirus cases. (South China Morning Post)
- India: The Indian government has announced that domestic flights will stop operating for a week from Tuesday, March 25 – 31. No commercial flights are currently allowed in India. (Times of India)
- Japan: The Tokyo governor has urged residents to abide by social distancing rules, and warned the capital could face lockdown if the number of coronavirus cases dramatically rises. (Japan Times)
- New Zealand: A nationwide lockdown will be imposed from Wednesday as New Zealand raises its coronavirus alert level from 3 to 4, closing schools and introducing self-isolation measures. (NZ Herald)
- South Korea: South Korea has seen decreases in new local cases, with Monday (March 23) marking the 13th day in a row that there were less than 100 new infections. (The Korea Herald)
- Thailand: Thailand’s first field hospital for non-critical COVID-19 patients will open on Wednesday at a university campus, providing another 308 beds to help those in need of care. (Bangkok Post)
- Indonesia: Researchers say Indonesia could be grappling with up to 71,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of April. Indonesia has seen cases double in three days. (Jakarta Post)
- Carmakers answer pleas to help produce ventilators: Major car plants in the US, Europe and Asia have halted production to try to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. But they are still pledging to help make ventilators and other vital medical equipment. One brand has begun converting one of its car plants in China to start making about one million masks a month. The company expects production to begin within weeks.
- China factories work 24/7 to produce ventilators: Bloomberg reports China’s ventilator manufacturers are operating at maximum capacity after receiving dozens of foreign orders and are working around the clock to supply Italy and New York. The report says some countries are chartering planes or using military aircraft to pick up the machines.
- Hong Kong reveals aviation rescue package: Hong Kong’s airport authority has injected an additional US$128 million to boost 400 companies adversely impacted by the losses in the aviation industry. Backdated from February, airlines will receive a full waiver on five months of charges involving parking and air bridge fees for grounded planes, as well as a 40% reduction over four months on landing charges.
DAILY FOCUS: Diagnostics and testing
As part of our daily monitoring of the latest developments and impact on businesses, each day we will take a deeper dive into one sector. Today, we look at diagnostics and testing – tracking national and international coverage over the past fortnight.
- In Australia, as with other APAC countries affected by COVID-19, there is a fear that medical equipment supplies will run out. It recently received its first shipment of new COVID-19 test kits. The Federal Government has announced A$15.6m (US$9.21m) for coronavirus testing and treatment research.
- The Philippines government announced 100,000 COVID-19 test kits have arrived in Manila on Saturday – this represents the second batch of donations from the Chinese government.
- The Jack Ma Foundation is sending one (1) million masks and 500,000 test kits to the United States to help combat COVID-19, another 2 million masks and 400,000 test kits to 24 Latin American countries, and 1.8 million masks and 210,000 test kits to Cambodia and Laos, among other Asian nations.
- A firm in South Korea has acquired European CE marking for its COVID-19 detection kit which is being launched worldwide. Its product is reported to feature “high efficiency and simplicity of large-capacity testing”. A US firm has received approval to export its diagnostic kit from Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. A further 45 test kits are awaiting approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country forecasts surging demand for its testing kits.
- In Japan, a firm has launched a ’15 minute test kit’ for COVID-19′, with an accuracy rate of 95%.
- Thailand claims to have developed a low cost COVID-19 test kit which provides results within an hour. It was developed in partnership with the Wittayasirimethi Institute, the Faculty of Medicine of Siriraj Hospital and PTT Public Company.
- Vietnam is exporting its COVID-19 test kits to Ukraine and Finland this week.
- In Malaysia, a firm claims its COVID-19 rapid test kit has qualified for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration in addition to the European CE mark, but this is disputed by the local health ministry.
Media analysis of stories covering the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam between March 10 – 23.
About COVID-19 News Roundup:
- The content of this news bulletin is a summary of publicly available news articles on events and developments related to COVID-19.
- The views and opinions reflected by these headlines do not necessarily represent those of Weber Shandwick.