Coronavirus Outbreak: Live Updates and News for Sep. 30, 2020

Britons saved almost a third of their income during the lockdown, data showed Wednesday as Conservative lawmakers warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson to give them control over his strategy to combat the virus.

In the U.S., seven former Food and Drug Administration commissioners appealed for the agency to decide on vaccine approvals free of political interference, to gain public trust and help combat the pandemic. Meanwhile, an early study showed Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. antibody cocktail may help reduce virus levels and symptoms in patients.

Walt Disney Co. is laying off 28,000 employees in its U.S. resort business, while Royal Dutch Shell Plc will cut as many as 9,000 jobs by the end of 2022. In Thailand, the tourism council expects the slump in arrivals to continue through the yearend.

Key Developments:

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

Becton Dickinson 15-Minute Virus Test Cleared in Europe (2:30 p.m. HK)

Becton Dickinson & Co.’s Covid-19 test that returns results in 15 minutes has been cleared for use in countries that accept Europe’s CE marking, the diagnostics maker said Wednesday.

The test is part of a new class of quicker screening tools named for the identifying proteins called antigens they detect on the surface of SARS-CoV-2. Becton Dickinson expects to begin selling the test, which runs on the company’s cellphone-sized BD Veritor Plus System, in European markets at the end of October. It will likely be used by emergency departments, general practitioners and pediatricians.

Shell to Cut Up to 9,000 Jobs as Virus Forces Reorganization (2:16 p.m. HK)

Royal Dutch Shell Plc will cut as many as 9,000 jobs as Covid-19 precipitates a companywide restructuring into low-carbon energy.

Job reductions of 7,000 to 9,000 are expected by the end of 2022, including around 1,500 people taking voluntary redundancy this year, Shell said Wednesday in a statement. The company sees sustainable annual cost savings of $2 billion to $2.5 billion by that time.

Britons Saved on Unprecedented Scale During Coronavirus Lockdown (2:07 p.m. HK)

Britons saved almost a third of their income during the lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered stores and sent the economy into its deepest slump for centuries.

The saving ratio soared to an unprecedented 29.1% in the second quarter, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday. The figures confirmed Britain as the worst-performing major advanced economy during the quarter, with gross domestic product shrinking 19.8%, slightly less than previously estimated.

Rebel Tories Warn Boris Johnson Faces Defeat on Virus Powers (2:04 p.m. HK)

Boris Johnson will try to regain control of his coronavirus strategy as a rebellion from his own Conservative colleagues and a series of government gaffes knocked his plans off course.

The U.K. prime minister was warned by Conservative lawmakers that he faces a damaging defeat on his Covid regulations Wednesday if he fails to give Parliament more powers to scrutinize the rules before they come into force.

Gasoline Prices Overtake Diesel With Cars Favored Amid Virus (12:29 p.m. HK)

Asian gasoline has surged to a record premium to diesel as the use of private vehicles rise while public transport and industrial activity remain sluggish, highlighting the uneven demand recovery from Covid-19.

After a brief slump in early September, motor fuel prices have rebounded amid signs cars and motorbikes are being favored to avoid infection. Diesel — commonly used by buses and trains — has fallen amid weak demand and a global glut of middle distillates that’s being caused by many refiners having only limited scope to adjust the mix of oil products they’re making.

Thailand’s Fiscal Deficit Reaches 3.9% of GDP in Oct.-June (12:08 p.m. HK)

Thailand’s fiscal deficit was 614.4 billion baht, or 3.9% of gross domestic product, in the first nine months of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

Government revenue dropped 10.3% year-on-year to 2.34 trillion baht due to the impact of the pandemic and implementation of government relief measures to support people impacted by the virus, which includes tax relief measures, the ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Zhifei Biological Rises on License for Covid Vaccine Production (11:48 a.m. HK)

Chongqing Zhifei Biological rose as much as 5.2%, after saying its wholly-owned subsidiary won a government license to produce a coronavirus vaccine.

Anhui Zhifei Longkema Biological Pharmaceutical has gotten approval from the medical products administration of Anhui province, which has recently expanded production licenses to include coronavirus vaccine efforts, according to a filing late Tuesday.

Thai Tourism Council Sees 99.5% Drop in Fourth-Quarter Visitors (11:37 a.m. HK)

The Tourism Council of Thailand expects 50,000 foreign visitors to enter the country in the fourth quarter, generating about 4.5 billion baht in receipts, a contraction of 99.1% from a year earlier.

It forecast 2020 foreign tourist arrivals will drop 83% to 6.74 million, while revenue slides by a similar percentage to 336.5 billion baht.

South Africa’s Lockdown Reverses Nine Years of Job Gains (11 a.m. HK)

The number of people who work in South Africa fell to the lowest level in almost a decade in the second quarter as a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in 2.2 million job losses.

Still, the official unemployment rate declined to 23.3% because the restrictions meant people were unable to seek work, and were therefor not counted as officially unemployed. According to the expanded definition, which includes people who were available for work but not looking for a job, unemployment rose to 42%.

Zhoushan Port Restricts Ships With Recent Indian Crew Changes (10:46 a.m. HK)

China’s Zhoushan port is restricting the entry of ships that recently conducted crew changes involving Indian nationals, said shipbrokers and an official at the Zhoushan government’s propaganda office.

Ships that have conducted Indian crew changes within a month of arriving at the Chinese port will not be allowed to berth, or will be requested to wait at anchorage. The new rules will be effective for two weeks from Sept. 29 as part of a trial.

AirAsia Japan Plans to End Operations, Yomiuri Says (7:08 a.m. HK)

AirAsia Japan told relevant authorities that it plans to end its operations, Yomiuri reports, without attribution.

The low cost carrier, whose major investors include AirAsia and Rakuten, resumed flight operations in August, but demand remained weak on the back of the coronavirus pandemic.

U.K. Ventilators Sit in Storage (7:01 a.m. HK)

The vast majority of the thousands of ventilators manufactured under an emergency U.K. program to treat Covid-19 patients have gone unused and are sitting in storage, the government’s public spending watchdog said in a new report.

The U.K. government spent about 277 million pounds ($356 million) on a program called the Ventilator Challenge that produced 15,200 ventilators, according to the report released Wednesday by the National Audit Office. Of those, only about 450 units, or roughly 3%, have been distributed.

CDC Director Overruled on Extending Cruise Ship Ban: Axios (6:55 a.m. HK)

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was overruled when he advocated extending the ban on passenger cruises into next year, Axios reports, citing two unidentified people with direct knowledge of the conversation.

Redfield argued for extending the ban until February at a meeting today of the administration’s coronavirus task force. Vice President Michael Pence, who led the meeting, told Redfield they would pursue a different plan, two task force members said. The administration plans to extend the no-sail order until Oct. 31, which matches the industry’s self-imposed ban.

American Air Joins Virus Testing Rush (6:15 a.m. HK)

American Airlines Group Inc. joined the dash among U.S. carriers to offer preflight coronavirus testing. The initial phase, starting next month, will involve Jamaican residents traveling to their home country through American’s hub at Miami, the carrier said in a statement Tuesday. A negative test would waive a 14-day quarantine requirement on arrival in the country. The program could be expanded later to all passengers traveling to Jamaica.

American also will offer tests between Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Hawaii as of Oct. 15. Further expansion could include the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries.

Former FDA Commissioners Seek End to Interference: Washington Post (5:20 a.m. HK)

Seven former Food and Drug Administration commissioners appealed for the agency to decide on coronavirus vaccine approvals free of political interference, to gain public trust and help combat the pandemic.

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