In today’s edition, key developments relate to relaxing lockdown measures. Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Vietnam are all navigating various stages of easing quarantine tactics and re-opening businesses. Multiple markets have flagged that if virus numbers spike following such procedures, lockdown measures will be re-implemented immediately.
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Latest Disease Updates
- As of 08:45 SGT on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 (01:45 BST / 20:45 ET Monday), 3,036,770 cases have been confirmed globally, with 210,804 deaths (7%)
- The US has reported nearly a million cases with 987,022 people infected, accounting for 32% of all cases which represents the highest rate of infection globally.
- Five countries – the US, Spain, Italy, Germany, France – continue to account for 57% of all cases worldwi
- NZ PM: “We have won that battle”: New Zealand says it has stopped community transmission of COVID-19, effectively eliminating the virus as new cases have been down to single figures for several days. From Tuesday, some non-essential businesses, healthcare and education activities will be able to resume but most people will still be required to stay at home at all times and avoid all social interactions as officials warned against complacency.
- Vietnam : Three months after its first case was detected, Vietnam appears, at least for now, to have fought off the virus with just two new infections reported in the past ten days; both students returning from Japan. Vietnam has not reported any deaths from the virus and most of the 270 people infected with the virus have recovered. Stores and restaurants began reopening last Thursday after the government imposed three weeks of restrictions.
- WHO warns against “immunity passports”: The World Health Organization has warned global governments against relying too heavily on antibody testing, as some nations consider “immunity passports” or certificates which show a person previously contracted COVID-19. The WHO stressed scientists still don’t know whether coronavirus antibodies provide immunity or reduce the risk of reinfection.
- Two US airlines to hand out masks: Delta and American Airlines will require thousands of employees to wear masks and will hand out masks for passengers. American Airlines will also provide sanitizing wipes for passengers. While air travel in the US is down some 95% from a year ago, flight crews have raised concerns about catching the virus on the job.
- Boeing to restart plane manufacturing: Plane manufacturer Boeing plans to reopen its Dreamliner factory in South Carolina in early May after it shut down operations there for nearly a month. Workers started returning to the company’s plants in the Seattle area last week, taking new precautions including increased distancing between employees.
- Emerging consumer trends: Market researcher Euromonitor has found dramatic shifts in consumer trends and values, including: a greater level of comfort with robots, chatbots and AIs, consumer expectations that companies support the fight against the virus rather than sell products, a rising sense of community values, greater support for local brands, and a rise in clean-air activism.
- Japan: The Japanese government has submitted a ¥25.69 trillion (USD$240 billion) reworked supplementary budget to parliament to fund a package of emergency measures addressing the economic impacts of COVID-19. (Japan Times)
- Thailand: Thailand has decided to extend its lockdown for another month but will allow some businesses, including shopping malls and hair salons, to reopen to ease the impact of business shutdowns. (Bangkok Post) Meanwhile, the board for Thailand’s state pharmaceutical manufacturer recently agreed to produce its own Favipiravi, the antiviral medicine which has been touted as a treatment for COVID-19, to meet demand for treatment in the country. (Bangkok Post)
- Australia: Australia has started to allow home visit and open beaches as coronavirus lockdown eases. (The Straits Times) Meanwhile, Australian researchers will examine worldwide data of COVID-19 patients in intensive care to determine if patterns emerge. (Sydney Morning Herald)
- Philippines: The Philippines may soon ease restrictions, President Rodrigo Duterte said. (Bloomberg)
India: India has begun blood therapy trials on COVID-19 patients. As part of the trial, plasma is separated from the blood drawn from a recovered COVID-19 patient and administered to a patient suffering from the coronavirus to help boost that person’s immunity against the disease. (The Straits Times)
- Indonesia: More than 2,200 Indonesians have died with acute symptoms of COVID-19 but were not recorded as victims of the disease, a Reuters review of data from 16 of the country’s 34 provinces showed. (The Straits Times)
- China: China has donated another batch of medical aid to Sri Lanka to support the island country in its battle against COVID-19. The medical aid included 20,000 test kits, 10,000 PPEs, and 110,000 facial masks, among other resources. (Xinhua)
DAILY FOCUS: Mental health
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 the impact on mental health treatment and support throughout the Asia Pacific. As a content warning; please be mindful that the following findings briefly reference suicide.
- Governments in Australia and New Zealand have led the way in providing mental health support for those impacted by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns and social distancing measures.
- New Zealand plans to make mental health and addiction services free for 1.5 million people. The government has also announced a range of apps to help its population look after their mental health.
- In Australia, Queensland is committing A$28m (US$18.1m) to mental health support. A health charity in Australia suggests a psychedelic drug could be used to deal with the psychological impact on those affected by the lockdowns and social distancing. The state of Western Australia launched a mental health campaign in April to help people deal with mental health challenges.
- A university study in Japan has revealed that the mental health of 35% of telecommute workers has deteriorated. In Singapore, there have been increases of 22% and 50% to calls to suicide prevention and calls to mental health helplines. respectively. Similarly, calls to mental health helplines have almost doubled in April in New Zealand. Suicides have increased in Thailand as a result of the economic hardship brought on my COVID-19.
- The government of Indonesia is offering public mental health consultations to help people deal with the impact of the pandemic.
- Johor Health Department in Malaysia is offering tele-counseling services to help people cope with social distancing measures. A mental health charity in Borneo is offering online support for people experiencing emotional and psychological challenges during the pandemic.
- The University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines is expanding its free mental health service to support frontline medical personnel, COVID-19 positive patients, those in mourning, and others with pre-existing conditions.
Media analysis of international, regional and national media in Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam between 9 – 26 April, 2020.
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.