Chinese police guard the entrance to the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

US travel bans to continue: Global virus update

Chinese police guard the entrance to the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

Key Developments:

US Travel Bans to Persist: Fauci

A ban on travel from the UK to the US will likely remain for months, and in the worst case may not end until a vaccine is available, Anthony Fauci told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper as he expressed hope one or more vaccines being developed could be ready by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

“I don’t think there’s going to be an immediate pullback for those kinds of [travel] restrictions,” Fauci said. “I think it’s more likely measured in months rather than weeks.”

Close to 4 million UK citizens visit the US a year. The US, with some exceptions, banned travel from China, the UK and the European Union and in May added Brazil as cases spiked there.

VW Sticks to Profit Goal Despite ‘Very Bad’ Second Quarter

Volkswagen AG is standing by its goal of posting an operating profit this year even as the collapse in car demand from the pandemic hits its second-quarter performance. The quarter is going to be “very bad,” and the German carmaker will have to be highly disciplined on spending to meet its target for the year, according to comments from Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess and Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter at an internal meeting with managers.

Finland Ends Use of Emergency Powers as Pandemic Eases

Grounds for emergency laws invoked in March no longer exist, Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters in Helsinki on Monday. The government now seeks to amend legislation to give it the tools to deal with a possible second wave of infections. Several areas of Finland have seen no new cases in several weeks, and there have been fewer than 10 deaths in the country during June.

Singapore to Ease Curbs, Resume Most Activities This Week

Singapore will further relax restrictions this week as the government judged the health situation to be under control.

Most activities will be allowed to resume June 19 subject to safe distancing principles, according to a release from the Ministry of Health. Small social gatherings of as many as five people can take place, while individuals must maintain a distance of at least one meter at all times.

The move to enter the second stage of a three-phase easing plan comes as cases in heavily impacted foreign worker dormitories dropped, community infection rates remained stable, and no new large clusters emerged.

Germany to Buy Stake in Vaccine Developer

Germany will buy a stake in CureVac AG, a player in the hotly contested race for a coronavirus vaccine.

The government said it plans to purchase about 23% of Tuebingen-based CureVac for 300 million euros ($337 million) via development bank Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau, known as KfW.

France may also announce support for a national vaccine effort on Tuesday, during a visit to a Sanofi plant. And just days ago AstraZeneca Plc reached a supply deal for a possible inoculation with four European Union nations, including Germany.

Iran Death Toll at Level Seen 9 Weeks Ago

In Iran, 113 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours as daily fatalities remained at levels last seen nine weeks ago, the government said.

The nation’s total death toll is 8,950, and 2,449 new cases brought total infections to 189,876.

Japan to Use Microsoft Contact-Tracing App: Nikkei

Japan’s government will distribute a coronavirus contact-tracing app developed by Microsoft Corp. as soon as this week, Nikkei reported, without attribution.

The distribution was delayed by more than a month because the government changed development guidelines. The app will use Bluetooth technology in smartphones to detect contact with infected people, Nikkei said.

German Recovery in Second Half Will Be Gradual

German economic activity will recover only gradually from the effects of the coronavirus, according to the Economy Ministry’s monthly report for June.

A strong recovery began in May and will continue slowly into the second half and beyond, the report said. While a deep recession bottomed out in April, the contraction in second-quarter GDP will be much greater than in the first quarter.

Sweden’s PM Hits Back at Criticism

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven rejected criticism of the country’s COVID-19 strategy, amid accusations that the softer lockdown his government chose has resulted in one of the world’s highest mortality rates.

“We’ve followed the same main strategy as others,” Lofven said in an interview on state broadcaster SVT on Sunday evening. “Which in other words means keeping the contagion at levels that the health-care system can handle.”

German Infection Rate Remains Above Key Threshold

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate held slightly above the key threshold of 1.0. There were 251 new infections in the 24 hours through Monday morning, bringing the total to 187,518 according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That compares with 41 the previous day. Fatalities increased by eight to 8,801.

The reproduction factor of the virus was at 1.05 on Sunday, according to a daily report by the Robert Koch Institute. This means that 10 people with the virus are estimated to infect just under 11 others. The government is trying to keep the figure below 1.0 to prevent exponential growth in the number of cases and a second wave of infections.

Indonesia Orders Firms to Stagger Duty Hours

Authorities in Jakarta ordered companies to implement new working hours to prevent overcrowding on the Indonesian capital’s public transportation during peak hours as shopping malls reopened after more than two months.

From Monday, employees at government ministries, state firms and private companies will start work either between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., or between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., according to a circular by the nation’s Covid-19 task force.

Beijing Locks Down Compounds Near Second Market

Beijing locked down 10 residential compounds in northwestern Haidian district on Monday, after finding coronavirus cases at nearby Yuquandong market, Li Junjie, executive vice head of Haidian district, said at a city government briefing. The cases at the market are linked to the epicenter Xinfadi wholesale market in southwestern Fengtai district.

Hong Kong Mulls Easing Gathering Limit

Hong Kong’s government could further relax a limit on public gatherings to allow groups of up to 12 people as early as the end of this week, South China Morning Post reported Sunday, citing unidentified people. Existing social distancing measures, including limiting public gatherings to eight and restrictions at restaurants, are due to expire Thursday.

South Africa Posts Record for Second Day

South Africa reported a record 4,302 new cases, bringing the total to 70,038. Cases in the central Gauteng region, which includes Johannesburg, the largest city, and Pretoria, the capital, continue to surge, rising at the fastest pace among nine provinces.

Cape Town, the main tourist hub, and the surrounding Western Cape province, remain the nation’s epicenter for the pandemic, with 61% of infections. The national death toll is 1,480.

Brazil Cases Climb, Deaths Rise

Brazil registered 17,110 new cases, a 2% increase, raising its total to 867,624, according to States Health Secretaries Council. Deaths rose by 612, or 1.4%, to 43,332. Sao Paulo state, the country’s most populous region, reported 10,694 total deaths and 178,202 cases.