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Australia Blocks Travel As New Zealand Confirms Its First New Covid-19 Case In Months | Instant News

Top line

New Zealand officials confirmed Monday’s case of the highly contagious South African variant of the coronavirus, the first cases reported outside a quarantine facility in the country in months, prompting officials to do so. trail and cutting the potential for disease transmission through communities and forcing Australia to immediately halt travel bubble-free quarantine travel.

Key facts

A 56-year-old woman tested positive for the South African variant of Covid-19 after completing a two-week quarantine period at a hotel where she tested negative twice, New Zealand officials said Monday.

This is New Zealand’s first reported case of Covid-19 in months and health minister Chris Hipkins said It is “very likely” that the woman caught the virus from other people living in the quarantine facility.

15 of the woman’s close contacts have been identified and are being contacted, said Head of Health Ashley Bloomfield, adding that her husband and hairdresser, her closest contact, had tested negative.

The confirmation prompted Australia to immediately halt the bubble of quarantine-free travel with the island nation for 72 hours, which health minister Greg Hunt said was done “out of extreme caution” given the contagious South African variant and the woman outside. Public.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was told TVNZ said that although it has confidence in New Zealand’s disease control measures, “it is Australia’s decision on how they manage their borders.”

Key Background

New Zealand is widely considered to be one of the most successful countries in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, practically eliminating transmission within its borders. According to the health ministry websiteThe last reported infections due to community transmission occurred on November 18 and Johns Hopkins University reported a total of 2,288 cases and 25 deaths across the pandemic. The figure stands in stark contrast to many other developed countries, such as the US or the UK, even when adjusted for population and that success can, in part, be attributed to the strict lockdowns imposed and the country’s geographic isolation. Having largely brought the pandemic under control at home, Ardern wanted to help other countries around the world, at one point offerings up to Biden’s New Zealand health experts transition team to share what they have learned.

Important Quote

Ardern turn off called on New Zealand to close its borders in response to the news. “You will see that there is almost no country in the world that closes its borders to its citizens,” he said, adding that it doesn’t help to blame people with Covid-19. “Sometimes there is a tendency to be blamed. The message that I really want to convey here is that the most important for us is that people who are not well get tested, “Ardern said. “And they are less likely to do that if they feel they will be attacked if they test positive.”

Further reading

New Zealand confirmed its first COVID-19 case in months, triggering a halt to Australian travel (Reuters)

New Zealand, With Covid-19 Outbreak Under Control, In Conversations With Biden As US Exceeds 12 Million Cases (Forbes)

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REFILE-Shopee Sea group is stepping up Brazil operations, looking at potential sources of Latam | Instant News

(Corrected spelling from SEA to Sea in first paragraph)

SINGAPORE, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Shopee, the e-commerce arm of Southeast Asia Sea Ltd, is stepping up its operations in Brazil and evaluating the long-term potential of the Latin American market, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Shopee, Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform according to market researchers, launched its small presence in Brazil in late 2019 as a pilot initiative for its cross-border team.

The company is now expanding its presence and moving executives from Southeast Asia to Brazil, said the source who was briefed on the matter but declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The company declined Reuters requests for comment.

The shares of the tech group headquartered in Singapore jumped more than 400% in 2020, bringing its market cap to $ 120 billion. It raised nearly $ 3 billion in stock offerings last month.

On Linkedin, Shopee is currently recruiting more than three dozen positions in Brazil. Pine Kyaw, previously managing director for the fast-growing Shopee unit in Vietnam, is listed on the jobs platform as head of state Shopee Brazil. Kyaw could not be reached for comment.

Head of the Marine Corporate Office Yanjun Wang told investors in November that Shopee Brazil, although controlled across borders, is now being used by local sellers.

According to analytics firm App Annie, the Shopee Brazil app had more monthly active users in December than Amazon’s unit in the country, although it remains significantly behind major regional players, such as Argentine e-commerce market leader Mercado Libre.

The source said Shopee was assessing the potential of another Latin American market if Brazil proved successful, but had no definite expansion plans so far. One source noted that Mexico has a special interest. Market research firm eMarketer estimates that e-commerce sales will increase 36.7 percent this year in Latin America to US $ 84.9 billion.

Reporting by Fanny Potkin; editing by Richard Pullin


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Mexico’s death toll from COVID-19 will pass a bleak milestone of 150,000 | Instant News

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Outside a Mexico City cemetery, a family is hugging a box containing the ashes of their beloved grandmother.

The grandmother fell ill a few days after they met to celebrate New Year’s, and died shortly thereafter, family members said. He’s not even 60 years old yet.

Mexico is set to surpass 150,000 deaths from COVID-19, one of the world’s highest death tolls, a Reuters tally shows. tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi

His death toll closes the gap with India, a country several times larger. Only the United States and Brazil reported higher figures.

“You feel very helpless when you see your relatives walk away, when you have no way to do anything for them, to save them,” said Lesly Garcia. “It hurts not to see her again.”

Garcia, a student, was waiting to receive his grandmother’s ashes outside the cemetery when smoke billowed from the crematorium chimney.

Only a few people are allowed to attend each burial, an additional precaution to curb the potential spread of the highly contagious virus. Police check compliance.

Nearby, a group of men said their final goodbyes to the deceased whose ashes were kept in a small black box, decorated with a cross.

Some cried. With salsa music playing in the background, they took a sip from a small bottle of brandy one by one before pouring the liquor onto the box.

Against repeated calls by the authorities, Mexicans met to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Then, infections and deaths hit several records in January, official data show.

Mexico’s confirmed death toll had risen to 149,084 as of Saturday, and the number of infections to more than 1.75 million, authorities reported.

But health officials say the true number of cases and deaths is likely to be significantly higher.

Reporting by Josue Gonzalez and Ana Isabel Martinez in Mexico City; Edited by Matthew Lewis


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Australia approved the Pfizer vaccine, warning of limited global AstraZeneca supplies | Instant News

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Monday approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use but warned AstraZeneca’s international production problems meant the country needed to distribute locally produced shots earlier than planned.

FILE PHOTO: A syringe containing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease vaccine (COVID-19) prepared at CHIREC Delta Hospital in Brussels, Belgium January 21, 2021. REUTERS / Yves Herman / File Photo

The country’s medical regulator is among the first in the world to complete comprehensive approval for a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, noting it was a year since the first local coronavirus case was detected.

Priority group vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine is expected to begin in late February with 80,000 doses per week, Health Secretary Greg Hunt told reporters.

Pfizer has told the Australian government that it anticipates sustainable supply but will provide global production guidance “in mid-February to March on a weekly basis,” he said.

Australia’s renewal of launch comes after AstraZeneca Plc told EU officials on Friday it would cut its vaccine shipments to the block by 60% in the first quarter due to production issues.

Hunt said AstraZeneca had informed Australia that the company was “experiencing a significant supply shock and that means we will not get as much out of AstraZeneca as possible in March as they previously promised”.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved by Australia, which expects a domestic supply of CSL for the AstraZeneca vaccine in March, earlier than planned, with 1 million doses a week, he said.

“The decision to pay a premium for onshore, safe, sovereign vaccine production capacity through CSL, is putting Australia in a much safer position than almost any other country in the world,” Hunt said.

Australia has set a target of 4 million doses of vaccine by April. He has also committed to supply vaccines to Pacific Island countries in the future.

The Pfizer vaccine is temporarily approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) for Australians 16 years of age and over.

Australia will provide two doses of vaccine to each recipient at recommended times.

Quarantine and border officers, frontline health workers and elderly care staff and people with disabilities will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

There have been no new cases of community transmission in Australia in the past seven days, and no Australian citizen with coronavirus in a hospital intensive care unit. Hunt compared this to six million cases globally in the past 10 days and 125,000 lives lost.

“The comparison is almost unbelievable, the difference between where we are in Australia and abroad,” he said.

To keep that going, Australia on Monday suddenly suspended its bubble of travel with New Zealand for 72 hours and ordered everyone who had arrived since January 14 to isolate and be tested, after New Zealand confirmed its first case of COVID-19. community in a few months.

“This will be done on the basis of an abundance of caution while more is being learned about the events and cases,” Hunt told reporters at a later date.

Australia has had fewer than 28,800 cases in the past year, the majority in Victoria state, and 909 deaths.

Reporting by Kirsty Needham and Byron Kaye; Additioanal reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Edited by Diane Craft and Sam Holmes


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FOREX-Dollar strengthens on economic conditions, pandemic gloom dampens risk appetite | Instant News

* Graphics: World FX rates tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E

TOKYO, Jan 25 (Reuters) – The dollar held up against riskier currencies on Monday as weak economic data from Europe and renewed concerns about the coronavirus supported investor demand for safe-havens, stretching the greenback’s short position.

Economic activity in the eurozone shrank sharply in January as a tight lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic hit the bloc’s dominant service industry, while UK data showed UK retailers struggled to recover in December.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said on Friday that there was evidence a new variant of COVID-19 discovered late last year could be linked to higher mortality.

The news comes as bets on the dollar have become too solid, analysts said, with US data on Friday showing net dollar short positions swelling to the most since May 2011.

The dollar index stands at 90.247, flat on the day but down from last week’s low of 90.043 on Thursday.

The euro was also little changed at $ 1.2163, pausing after gaining 0.8% last week. The common currency was partly constrained by signs of political instability in Rome.

Italian bond yields rose by a margin in the German Bunds to the highest since November amid a political stalemate for Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who has so far failed to secure a ruling majority in the Italian parliament.

Conte called on centric and misaligned upper house lawmakers outside the coalition to join the ranks of his minority government but few responded.

“Given Conte winning the vote of confidence, dissolving parliament and elections is unlikely,” said Makoto Noji, head of currency strategy at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Nonetheless, the Italian case represents a risk of widespread political instability from popular discontent as society grows tired of the pandemic.

“The stock market rally during this pandemic depends entirely on fiscal expansion and debt monetization by the central bank,” said Noji. “Political instability can delay fiscal steps.”

In Washington, the honeymoon following Joe Biden’s inauguration as President last week means investors are hopeful that at least part of the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus assistance plan will be implemented soon. But Biden will likely need bipartisan support to push his agenda as Democrats narrowly control Congress while former US President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected early next month could complicate his efforts.

Against this backdrop, the Federal Reserve is expected to maintain its firm commitment to accommodative monetary policy when it holds its first policy meeting this weekend.

Elsewhere, the British pound held firm at $ 1.3684, not far from the 2-1 / 2-year high of $ 1.3745 touched on Thursday, thanks in part to the UK’s lead in COVID-19 vaccinations.

The dollar was trading flat at 103.80 yen.

Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Edited by Sam Holmes


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