U.S. Virus Cases Rise 1.2%; Low Asymptomatic Risk: Virus Update


(Bloomberg) --

Transmission of the coronavirus by people who aren't showing symptoms is "very rare," the World Health Organization said as infections surpassed 7 million globally. The genetic-testing company 23andMe said blood type may play a role in who is susceptible.

New York City began the first phase of its reopening. A report showed that lockdowns and other public-health measures may have prevented about a half-billion infections in six countries, including China and the U.S.

The U.K. death toll rose by fewer than 100 for the second straight day, and London reported no new fatalities in 24 hours for the first time since its lockdown began. Sweden's prime minister was forced to defend his Covid-19 strategy after opposition parties mounted a scathing attack on his government.

Key Developments:

Virus Tracker: Cases pass 7 million; deaths exceed 404,000New York's positive test rate falls to new lowBig pharma looks beyond Covid-19 with AstraZeneca eyeing GileadData fiasco fuels fury against Brazil's BolsonaroMask or no mask? And which kind? What the experts say: QuickTake

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg's Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. For a look back at this week's top stories from QuickTake, click here.

New Jersey Hospitalizations Wane (4:40 p.m. NY)

New Jersey, the hardest-hit U.S. state after New York, had its fifth straight day of fewer than 2,000 hospitalizations from Covid-19, Governor Phil Murphy said. He also asked residents protesting the killing of George Floyd to get tested for the virus.

Murphy said he was encouraged by the hospitalization numbers: 1,740 patients were being treated, down from more than 8,000 at the April peak. Intensive-care units had 498 cases, a 50% drop over three weeks.

U.S. Virus Cases Rise 1.2% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.2% as compared to the same time Sunday, to 1.95 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That's higher than Sunday's 1% rate but matched the average over the past seven days. Deaths rose 0.7% to 110,771.

Florida reported 64,904 cases, up 1.5% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.9% in the past seven days. Deaths rose 0.4% to 2,712.Only 1.2% of New York state residents tested Sunday were infected, the lowest since the pandemic began, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cases rose 0.2% to 378,799, compared with the average of 0.3% over the past seven days.California cases rose 1.9% to 131,319 while deaths increased 0.6% to 4,653, according to the state's website.

Asymptomatic Transmission Is 'Very Rare': WHO (3:23 p.m. NY)

Transmission of the coronavirus by people who aren't showing symptoms is "very rare," the World Health Organization said Monday, contradicting speculation by public health officials and researchers that the disease was being spread by people who weren't showing signs of illness.

"It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual," Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO's emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a briefing in Geneva. She said her comment is based on detailed reports of contact tracing from various countries.

Earlier research sparked concern that the virus would be difficult to contain because of asymptomatic transmission. The New England Journal of Medicine, in an article dated May 28, warned that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by seemingly healthy people is "the Achilles' heel of Covid-19 pandemic control."

Blood Type May Play Role, 23andMe Says (2:18 p.m. NY)

Research from genetic-testing giant 23andMe Inc. found differences in a gene that influences a person's blood type can affect a person's susceptibility to Covid-19.

Preliminary results from more than 750,000 participants suggests type O blood is especially protective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, the company said on Monday. The findings echo other research that has indicated a link between variations in the ABO gene and Covid-19.

Scientists have been looking at genetic factors to try to determine why some people who contract the new coronavirus experience no symptoms, while others become gravely ill. In April, 23andMe launched a study that sought to use the millions of profiles in its DNA database to shed light on the role genetics play in the disease.

Poland Shuts Coal Mines as Infections Spike (12:55 p.m. NY)

Poland halted work in 12 coal mines after one of the biggest spikes in new coronavirus cases in the European Union raised questions about the government's handling of the pandemic.

Poland registered 599 new cases of the virus on Monday, it's biggest daily increase since the start of the outbreak. It followed a weekend with 1,151 new infections, the largest jump in over two days.

N.Y. Infection Rate Hits Record Low (11:55 a.m. NY)

The infection rate in New York state fell to 1.2% on Sunday, the lowest since the pandemic began in March, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The state performed more than 58,000 tests, he said. The rate in New York City, which began the first phase of reopening Monday, was 2%, down from almost 60% nine weeks ago at the height of the outbreak.

Lockdowns May Have Helped Prevent Half a Billion Cases (9:20 a.m. NY)

Lockdowns and other public-health measures may have prevented about half a billion coronavirus infections in six countries, including China and the U.S.

The virus has now caused some 7 million reported cases of Covid-19, with more than 400,000 fatalities. Published Monday in the journal Nature, the first peer-reviewed analysis of the impact of health policies suggests that the toll would have been vastly worse without lockdowns, social distancing, travel restrictions and other interventions. Many coronavirus infections are relatively mild, and most of the roughly 500 million averted cases would have gone undetected, according to the study.

U.K. Reports Fewer Than 100 New Deaths, Zero in London (9:17 a.m.)

The U.K. death toll rose by 55 to 40,597, the fewest since before a lockdown was declared on March 23 and the second consecutive daily increase below 100. On Sunday, the country reported an additional 77 deaths.

There were no new fatalities reported by hospitals in London over the previous 24 hours for the first time since the lockdown began, according to NHS England, although it does expect a "small number" of deaths that occurred in the capital to be reported in the coming days.

Speaking on a call with reporters, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman, James Slack, said the government's goal is to open non-essential shops starting June 15 and outdoor spaces in pubs, bars and restaurants from July 4.

"I expect the government to be in a position to outline the next steps on non-essential retail in the coming days," Slack said.

Moscow to Ease Many Restrictions (8:07 a.m. NY)

Moscow will start lifting most of the remaining virus-related restrictions starting Tuesday, accelerating plans to lift the lockdown as the infection rate has fallen and the Kremlin lays plans for a vote that could extend President Vladimir Putin's rule.

People will again be allowed to travel around the city without a digital pass, while hair dressers and other services can open for the first time since late March on Tuesday, according to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin's blog. Restaurants will be allowed to open verandas next week and by June 23 kindergartens, sports facilities and playgrounds will open.

Moscow, where the epidemic in Russia is concentrated, has seen the 7-day moving average of the new infection rate fall to 1.1% from about 20% in early April. The city of 12.5 million has recorded nearly 200,000 cases.

Singapore to Hand Out Virus Tracing Devices This Month (7:21 a.m. NY)

Singapore expects to deliver the first batch of portable contact-tracing devices in the latter half of this month.

The device, to be distributed to everyone in the country of 5.7 million, will not be used for location tracking, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in a briefing on Monday. The move to introduce the device met resistance among some Singaporeans, with a petition gaining 35,000 signatures. The country has among the most coronavirus cases in Asia, with more than 38,000 confirmed as of Monday.

U.K. Teachers' Union Faults Safety in School Opening (6:30 a.m. NY)

The NASUWT, a U.K. teachers' union, said it has been inundated with reports from teachers and school leaders whose employers are forcing them to work in ways that are unsafe.

The government allowed a phased reopening of schools earlier this month, starting with nurseries and primary school pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6. From June 15, secondary schools, sixth forms, and further education colleges can begin offering some face-to-face support to year 10 and 12 pupils.

The union said that staff from minority communities "continue to search in vain" for any recognition by the Department for Education of the higher levels of risk they face.

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