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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, AstraZeneca approved to restart US vaccine trial

Johnson & Johnson trial reportedly close to resuming

A volunteer takes part in a vaccine trial in Johannesburg, South Africa.   © Reuters

Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Follow the latest updates.

Global cases have reached 42,114,524, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 1,143,291.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:

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UPDATES CLOSED

Saturday, October 24 (Tokyo time)

5:01 a.m. AstraZeneca says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the green light to restarting trials of a coronavirus vaccine candidate co-developed by the University of Oxford AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine candidate.

"The FDA reviewed all safety data from trials globally and concluded it was safe to resume the trial," the drugmaker says in a statement.

This includes Brazil, the company says. Earlier this week, a death of a volunteer in a Brazilian trial of the vaccine was reported.

"It is not unusual that in large scale vaccine trials, some participants will become unwell, and every case has to be evaluated to ensure the careful assessment of safety," according to the statement.

4:10 a.m. Johnson & Johnson's trial of a coronavirus vaccine candidate will resume "very soon" after being put on hold in response to a medical problem with one of the participants, The Washington Post reports, citing two people familiar with the U.S. drugmaker's plans.

3:00 a.m. U.S. deaths from COVID-19 could reach 500,000 by February without more widespread use of face masks, a study by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation shows.

That would be double the current death toll of 223,000 based on data from Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center.

2:00 a.m. Seeking a way to host the Olympics games in 2021 without igniting an outbreak of coronavirus infections, Japan is considering a plan to allow foreign athletes and spectators into the country, but under strict restrictions such as on where they can go, Nikkei has learned.

The government should move forward with a plan to take in the foreign arrivals for the Summer Games, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has told his cabinet.

Friday, October 23

10:30 p.m. Japan has had a mixed response so far to the recommendations for an extended New Year holiday.

Giving workers continuous time off until Jan. 11 poses a hurdle for companies. "It is not easy to change manufacturing schedules," a spokesperson for beverage group Kirin Holdings says.

A source at one automaker who asked not to be named says: "This is a problem that involves the entire supply chain. It's not something that one company can decide on its own."

Japanese typically ring in the New Year with a visit to a shrine. Earlier this month, the Jinja Honcho, a national association of around 80,000 shrines, issued recommendations that include asking visitors to wear a mask and disinfect their hands before pulling the bell rope.

Japan isn't the only country rethinking New Year's celebrations. New York's Times Square will hold a "scaled-back" and "virtually enhanced" New Year's Eve event this year open only to "an extremely limited group of in-person honorees," according to a statement. In normal years, around 1 million revelers crowd into Times Square to watch the iconic "ball drop."

8:20 p.m. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has told Health Minister Roman Prymula to quit -- and vowed to fire him if he does not -- over a scandal involving a meeting held at a restaurant closed under anti-COVID restrictions, Reuters reports. "When our medical staff are fighting on the front line to save lives of our fellow citizens, such a thing is absolutely inexcusable," Babis tells reporters. The country's total cases have surpassed 223,000 after a recent surge.

8:00 p.m. Malaysia reports 710 new cases, down from Thursday's 847. The country has seen its total cases double in the past month, reaching 24,514, with 214 deaths.

6:35 p.m. Poland will close restaurants and bars for two weeks and limit public gatherings to five people, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says, after cases surged to a new daily high of more than 13,600. Older school children will move to distance learning.

6:10 p.m. The Japanese government will ask companies to extend the upcoming New Year holiday by about one week in a bid to mitigate crowding by people visiting relatives or going on vacation and lower the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. Under the plan, companies that would usually go back to work on Jan. 4 will be asked to wait until Jan. 12.

5:40 p.m. Indonesia reports 4,369 cases, down from 4,432 a day earlier, bringing the country total to 381,910. There were 118 deaths, pushing the total to 13,077.

5:10 p.m. The COVID-19 virus is spreading more quickly than in the spring, after its resurgence began in August, French government scientific adviser and epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet told BFM TV, adding that the fight against the disease would be a "marathon". He spoke the day after France published a record 41,622 daily tally of new infections, bringing the country just shy, at 999,043, of a million cases. France will pass that threshold on Friday, becoming the second Western European country to do so after Spain.

Airport personnel monitor a thermal scanner at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines.   © Reuters

5:00 p.m. The Philippines reports 1,923 new infections, up from 1,664 a day earlier. It also reports 132 additional deaths, the largest daily increase in 15 days. Total confirmed cases have increased to 365,799, while deaths have reached 6,915.

3:15 p.m. The Philippines will allow foreigners with valid investor visas to enter the country starting Nov. 1. They also must have booked a quarantine facility in advance, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

3:07 p.m. Tokyo reports 186 cases, bringing the total in the capital to 29,706. The number of severely ill patients in Tokyo stands at 23, down from 22 the previous day.

2:30 p.m. The Czech Republic registers 14,151 cases, down from a record of 14,968 the previous day. The country, which is seeing Europe's biggest surge in new cases, has recorded 223,065 infections since March.

1:14 p.m. India reports 54,366 cases in the last 24 hours, down from 55,839 the previous day, bringing the country total to over 7.76 million. Deaths jumped 690 to 117,306. Of the country's total cases, about 9% are active patients and over 89% have recovered. India's mortality rate stands at 1.51%, according to health ministry data.

1:00 p.m. Manila cancels an annual procession of a centuries-old statue of Jesus Christ that typically draws millions. The Philippines, renowned for its religious rituals, has the second-highest number of infections and deaths in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia.

12:50 p.m. Australia will allow more citizens and permanent residents to return each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says, as cases slow to single digits. Since July, Australia has capped the number of residents allowed to reenter the country each week to reduce the spread of the virus, despite mandatory 14-day quarantines. Morrison said the current cap will rise to 5,865 people in November, an increase of 290.

11:00 a.m. Indonesia's financial authority says it has extended loan restructuring incentives for banks until March 2022 as part of efforts to cushion the blow from the pandemic. The authority will allow banks to not immediately make provisions for bad loans, among other incentives to keep the financial system stable. Loan restructuring has reached 904.3 trillion rupiah ($61.77 billion) for 7.5 million debtors as of Sept. 28. Gross non-performing loans reached 3.15% in September, down from 3.22% a month earlier.

9:58 a.m. South Korea reports 155 cases, up from 121 a day ago, bringing the country total to 25,698 with 455 deaths.

9:15 a.m. During the final U.S. presidential debate, President Donald Trump says, "It's not my fault that [the coronavirus] came here, it's China's fault."

9:05 a.m. Qantas Airways says state border closures in Australia have cost it 100 million Australian dollars ($71.3 million) in earnings for the first quarter and will also dampen performance in the second quarter. The airline is running at under 30% normal domestic capacity due to the closures, having expected to be operating at around 60%.

9:00 a.m. China reports 18 cases -- all imported -- for Thursday, compared with 14 a day earlier. There were also 11 new asymptomatic patients on the day, compared with 25 on Wednesday.

8:45 a.m. Japan's core consumer price index fell 0.3% in September from a year earlier, marking the second straight month of decline. The figure indicates that the pandemic is adding deflationary pressure to the economy. Most of the decrease was due to slumping energy costs and a government-funded discount program for domestic travel aimed at supporting Japan's ailing tourism.

A health worker handles plasma and blood samples during a coronavirus disease vaccination study in the U.S. on Sept. 24.   © Reuters

8:05 a.m. Using the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients -- or so-called convalescent plasma -- as a treatment is of little benefit in helping hospitalized patients fight the infection, according to results of an Indian trial. Published in the BMJ British Medical Journal on Friday, the results show that convalescent plasma, which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people, failed to reduce death rates or halt progression of the disease. The findings come from a study of over 400 hospitalized patients and are a setback for a treatment that U.S. President Donald Trump widely touted in August as a "historic breakthrough."

5:35 a.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir for treating hospitalized patients, making it the first and only drug approved for the disease, reports Reuters.

4:15 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump has tested negative for COVID-19 ahead of Thursday's last presidential debate against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Reuters reports, citing Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Biden has also passed a test for the deadly coronavirus, according to U.S. media reports.

Trump resumed in-person campaigning earlier this month after a brush with COVID-19 that put him in the hospital for a weekend. But he refused to join a subsequent debate with Biden, the second of three planned events, after organizers decided to make it virtual rather than face to face. Read more of Nikkei Asia's U.S. election coverage.

Remdesivir has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19.   © Reuters

3:13 a.m. American Airlines reports its earnings for the third quarter, bringing the collective loss for three of the largest airlines in the U.S. to $9.6 billion due to the drop in passenger numbers and such expenses as early retirements.

American, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have all been mired in red ink since the first quarter, when the coronavirus pandemic began. Since October, when government aid to airlines stopped, American and United have put a total of 32,000 employees on unpaid furlough. Delta has 12,000 on unpaid furlough.

Thursday, October 22

11:59 p.m. Portugal announces that three northern municipalities will go under partial lockdown. From Friday, around 161,000 residents in the municipalities of Felgueiras, Lousada and Pacos de Ferreira will only be able to leave home for work, school or other essential activities such as buying food and medicine.

10:30 p.m. The operator of Japan's Narita International Airport says coronavirus testing centers will begin operation an Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the Tokyo-area hub on Nov. 2.

8:34 p.m. The Indian state of West Bengal reports 4,069 new infections, its biggest daily tally as thousands of people thronged the streets for a major Hindu festival that began last week. India, which has seen a sharp drop in infections since a September peak, currently has a total of 7.71 million cases, the second highest in the world.

6:00 p.m. Indonesia reports 4,432 new infections, up from 4,267 a day earlier and taking the national total to 377,541, government data shows. There were 102 new deaths, bringing the total to 12,959.

5:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 185 new infections, up from 150 the previous day and bringing the capital's total to 29,520.

5:00 p.m. The Philippines confirms 1,664 new infections, the third straight day of fewer than 2,000 additional daily cases, and 38 more deaths. Total confirmed infections have risen to 363,888, while deaths have increased to 6,783.

4:35 p.m. The European Union wants the World Health Organization to become more transparent about how countries report emerging health crises, a draft proposal on reforming the U.N. agency says, according to Reuters. The paper, drawn up by the German government after discussions with other member states following criticism of China's initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the latest to outline the EU's monthslong plans to address WHO's shortcomings on funding, governance and legal powers.

3:00 p.m. The number of confirmed cases in Germany rises by more than 10,000 in a single day for the first time, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases shows. The institute recorded 11,287 new cases in its daily update for a total of 392,049. The previous day's increase was 7,595, and the reported death toll rose by 30 to 9,905.

1:16 p.m. India's COVID-19 tally tops 7.7 million after 55,839 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, up from 54,044 the previous day. The death toll jumped by 702 to 116,616.

1:00 p.m. Japan's Fujifilm Holdings says it has partnered with Shanghai-based Carelink Pharmaceutical to seek approval in China for Avigan to treat COVID-19 and influenza. Carelink will use Fujifilm's data on Avigan in seeking imported drug approval. The companies also plan to develop an injectable form of the drug.

11:30 a.m. Japan is considering easing entry restrictions on business travelers for stays of up to three days in an attempt to revive economic activity, government sources say. The territories being considered for the scheme include Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. The plan could take effect next month.

10:33 a.m. South Korea confirms 121 new cases, up from 89 a day ago. Total infections reach 25,543 with 453 deaths.

Countries like Thailand that bank on huge flows of Chinese tourists to keep their economies rolling will have to make do without most of these big spenders, at least through the winter.   © Reuters

9:10 a.m. China will continue to suspend outbound group tours and ban travel agencies from allowing inbound tours due to the risk of a resurgent virus this winter, authorities say. China first suspended both domestic and outbound tours in January.

9:03 a.m. China reports 14 new cases for Wednesday, compared with 11 a day earlier. All 14 were imported. The country also reports 25 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 15 a day earlier.

7:40 a.m. The number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals hits 40,000 for the first time since August, according to a Reuters tally, as the nation battles a surge in infections led by Midwest states. Hospitals have seen a 36% rise in coronavirus patients over the past four weeks, and Midwest hospitals are setting new records every day.

5:30 a.m. The trend of Japanese staying home more amid the country's COVID restrictions has not sparked a hoped-for baby boom, data shows. Pregnancies reported to local governments from January to July fell 5.1% on the year to 513,850, the health ministry says. That's a decline of about 28,000 pregnancies, with the decrease for the months of May to July an even sharper at 11.4%.

3:15 a.m. The International Monetary Fund's latest Regional Economic Outlook for the Asia-Pacific region draws three initial lessons from Asian nations' coronavirus responses: The first is, "Containment measures should be activated early, when infection rates are still low." Next, "Exiting lockdowns after the virus has been suppressed leads to better health and economic outcomes." Finally, "A comprehensive testing and tracing system can minimize the risk of second waves."

An employee is seen at Brazil's Reference Center for Special Immunobiologicals, where trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine are conducted.   © Reuters

2:13 a.m. Brazil health authority Anvisa says trials of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford would continue after the death of a volunteer involved in the tests. The volunteer was a Brazilian who had been given a placebo, a Brazilian newspaper reported.

1:45 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is back in Tokyo after an international diplomatic debut that was punctuated by COVID-19 tests. Suga took PCR and antigen tests before leaving Japan and upon his return. He also flew with fewer aides than is customary, granting a request by his hosts to keep his entourage at a minimum, according to Japan's Foreign Ministry. Read more about his trip.

12:30 a.m. German Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive for the coronavirus, the health ministry says, adding that he had placed himself in home quarantine.

Wednesday, October 21

10:59 p.m. The Czech government orders most shops and services to close and seeks to limit movement to essential trips only to curb Europe's fastest growth in new coronavirus infections, reports Reuters.

9:04 p.m. Iran's health ministry reports 5,616 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours, the highest daily number since February. That brings the national tally to 545,286 in the Middle East's hardest-hit country.

8:48 p.m. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says on Facebook that his government will not buy China's Sinovac vaccine, after the health minister said on Tuesday it would be included in the nation's immunization program.

7:27 p.m. Malaysia reports 732 new infections, raising its total to 22,957. It also recorded six new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 199.

5:28 p.m. Indonesia reports 4,267 new infections, taking the overall tally to 373,109, data from the country's COVID-19 task force showed. It also confirmed 123 new deaths, taking total fatalities to 12,857.

A woman wearing a face mask and shield visits the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo.   © Reuters

4:01 p.m. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said 79 percent of volunteers for next summer's Olympics and Paralympics are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. More than 13,400 registered volunteers responded to the metropolitan government's survey, which was was conducted in August.

3:18 p.m. The Eastern Chinese city Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, begins taking applications from residents who wish to be dosed with a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine. The two-dose regimen will cost 456 yuan (about $68), according to state broadcaster CCTV. No vaccine developer anywhere has completed final stage of trials, but China allows people with urgent need, including medical workers, to receive candidate vaccines under an emergency arrangement.

2:14 p.m. India reports 54,044 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 46,790 the previous day, pushing the country total to 7.65 million. The death toll jumped by 717 to 115,914.

2:05 p.m. The coronavirus pandemic is threatening already aging Asian economies with a baby bust, sending some governments scrambling to introduce new programs to encourage citizens to marry and have more children.

1:00 p.m. Malaysia's consumer price index fell for the seventh straight month in September, declining 1.4% from a year earlier, government data showed. The drop was more than the 1.3% decline forecast by 10 economists in a Reuters poll. In August, the index had fallen 1.4%.

A line of shoppers forms in a Subang Jaya supermarket after the government announced new virus-related restrictions for Kuala Lumpur and in the neighbouring state of Selangor.   © Reuters

12:06 p.m. All Nippon Airways will post a worst-ever net loss of 500 billion yen ($4.74 billion) for fiscal 2021 as it suffers from a sharp decline in passengers due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nikkei learned on Wednesday.

11:30 a.m. Australian retail sales fell 1.5% in September from the month before, initial estimates showed, although analysts said a solid rise in quarterly sales on a year ago still augered well for an economy facing its worst downturn in a generation. The month-on-month fall in September followed a 4% decline in August, reflecting a second-wave outbreak and strict lockdown in Victoria, the second-largest state.

11:21 a.m. Bank of Japan board member Makoto Sakurai said the central bank must take "swift and appropriate" action if the coronavirus shock delays the country's economic recovery. If the pandemic takes longer than expected to contain, that could push more companies under, saddle commercial banks with bad loans and threaten Japan's financial system, he said.

10:43 a.m. Australia's most heavily hit state, Victoria, logged a sixth consecutive day of new cases in the low single digits. The state government said it was on track to announce fresh easing measures over the weekend. The state hopes to revitalize outdoor dining over the summer in the hard-hit hospitality sector by allowing pop-up restaurants in public gardens and downtown parking lots.

10:41 a.m. Cathay Pacific Airways says it will slash 8,500 jobs as part of a major restructuring to deal with its ongoing woes brought on by the pandemic. Hong Kong's flagship carrier will also eliminate Cathay Dragon as a separate unit for regional flights with immediate effect and divvy up its routes between its main Cathay Pacific brand and budget unit Hong Kong Express.

9:59 a.m. Venezuela plans to vaccinate citizens with Russian and Chinese treatments that could arrive in December or January, President Nicolas Maduro says.

9:14 a.m. New Zealand reports two new cases linked to a port worker who tested positive over the weekend as well as 23 imported cases, taking the country's total confirmed cases to 1,556.

A Sydney fish market in June following the easing of restrictions over COVID-19.   © Reuters

9:09 a.m. China reports 11 new mainland cases for Tuesday, down from 19 a day earlier. The country has now reported a total of 85,715 confirmed cases since the outbreak began, with a death toll of 4,634.

6:24 a.m. Officials in California, home to Disneyland, gave no clear date for the reopening of large theme parks, saying they must wait until a county's COVID-19 risk level drops to the lowest tier of "minimal" spread, reports Reuters.

4:28 a.m. The Brazilian government will include China's Sinovac vaccine in its national immunization program, state governors say after a meeting with the country's health minister, in addition to the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

3:00 a.m. Scientists at Imperial College London plan to deliberately infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus early next year in the world's human challenge trail. The study, backed by 34 million pounds, or $44 million, of British government funding, is scheduled to begin in January in London. The aim is to find out how people immunized with different vaccines respond to the virus.

Such a study could save time in eliminating a large number of vaccine candidates.

1:30 a.m. The U.S. reports more than 58,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest number since Aug. 5, signaling a worrisome trend.

The number of new infections reported Monday is higher than the 48,210 reported Sunday, and also higher than the 41,653 reported a week earlier, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University,

When the seven-day average is larger than the 14-day average it suggests infections are accelerating.

Americans line up to vote early in the presidential election in Milwaukee even as the coronavirus cases rise.    © Reuters

Tuesday, October 20

10:40 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 "may be over, but the virus is still around," urging people to continue taking all precautionary measures against the coronavirus.

"If you are stepping out without masks, you are putting [others around you] at risk," he says, as people flock to marketplaces ahead of upcoming festivals. Modi adds that he is working to ensure everyone in the country will have access to a vaccine once it is developed.

India's total cases currently stand at over 7.5 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

8:30 p.m. Hong Kong's unemployment rate rises to 6.4% for July to September, up from 6.1% for the previous rolling three-month period, marking the highest figure since 2004 during the aftermath of the SARS epidemic.

Hong Kong faces rising unemployment as the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom over the economy.   © Reuters

7:45 p.m. Cases are coming down in some countries, but not Russia, which just reported a daily record of 16,319. Meanwhile, Malaysia continues to grapple with its latest wave, reporting 862 cases -- slightly shy of the record 871 logged on Sunday.

5:30 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,602 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 368,842, government data show. There were also 117 new deaths caused by the virus, taking the total fatalities to 12,734.

5:00 p.m. The Philippines reports 1,640 new infections, the lowest daily increase in infections in four weeks, and 17 additional deaths. Total confirmed cases increased to 360,775, while deaths reached 6,690 -- the second highest tallies in Southeast Asia behind Indonesia.

4:14 p.m. Officials in Qingdao, where 12 cases have surfaced this month, say they have found sufficient evidence for the first time showing the virus can survive for long periods on the outer packaging of frozen food, then be transmitted. To prevent further infections, Qingdao will test every package of frozen goods, and handlers will be required to stay in designated areas and be tested every three to five days.

3:10 p.m. Pfizer and BioNTech SE announce the Japan start of combined Phase I and Phase II clinical trials of their mRNA vaccine candidate. The study will recruit 160 people 20 to 85 years old. The pharmaceuticals earlier agreed to supply Japan with 120 million doses of their now experimental coronavirus vaccine in the first half of 2021.

2:50 p.m. A Kuwaiti-flagged livestock ship docked off Australia's west coast is evacuated after at least half the 52 crew test positive for COVID-19, Reuters reports. The cluster is the fourth detected aboard a ship arriving at a Western Australia port over the past month, in a state that has otherwise been free of the virus for weeks.

2:00 p.m. India reports 46,790 cases in the last 24 hours -- the lowest daily count in nearly three months -- bringing the country total close to 7.6 million. The death toll jumped by 587 to 115,197.

12:30 p.m. Thailand's economy faces severe shocks from the pandemic, with a recovery expected to take at least two years, the country's new central bank governor says. Economic problems can be solved in time but there are "no magic bullets," Bank of Thailand Gov. Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput told a briefing.

11:26 a.m. Japan and China are expected to agree as early as this month on resuming business travel between the two countries, Japanese government sources say. Under the planned agreement, short-term travelers will be exempted from a 14-day self-isolation period upon arrival provided they take preventive measures.

Tourists will be excluded from an agreement in the works by Japan and China on easing coronavirus travel restrictions.    © Reuters

11:00 a.m. South Korea confirms 58 cases, marking the fifth straight day of fewer than 100 cases. Of the new infections, 41 were locally transmitted.

10:10 a.m. Australia's Victoria state may hasten the easing of social distancing measures after reporting just one case on Tuesday, State Premier Daniel Andrews says. New infections were down from four on Monday, extending a run of single-digit daily increases to almost a week.

9:40 a.m. China reports 19 cases for Oct. 19, up from 13 a day earlier. All new infections were imported. The country also reports 24 asymptomatic patients on the day, compared with 33 a day earlier.

9:15 a.m. Passengers traveling to Hong Kong and Italy from the U.K.'s Heathrow Airport will undergo a one-hour coronavirus test before flying out under plans to open up international travel, The Times reports. Rapid tests will be introduced from Tuesday at Heathrow to allow travel to countries where a negative test result is needed to avoid quarantine, the newspaper said.

5:30 a.m. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes down 400 points as the prospects dimmed for a last-ditch effort between the White House and Congress to negotiate a coronavirus relief package.

Rapid tests will be introduced from Tuesday at Heathrow Airport to ease entry into countries that have implemented strict quarantine measures.   © Reuters

5:00 a.m. U.S. President Trump attacks Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, in a conference call with campaign aides, calling the doctor a "disaster"

"People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong," Trump says.

4:55 a.m. The operator of two restaurants in Yokohama's Chinatown -- one of the biggest in Japan -- is preparing to file for bankruptcy. This would mark the dining district's first bankruptcy connected to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the local branch of research firm Teikoku Databank.

The two restaurants, Sangokuengi and Mankinro Bekkan, have already closed. Their business was in decline before the pandemic, Teikoku Databank says.

2:30 a.m. It is unlikely Britain will see widespread use of a coronavirus vaccine before next spring, the government's chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance says. There is no proven vaccine against the virus, and development of one is seen as key to containing outbreaks that have remerged globally in recent weeks.

2:00 a.m. A closely watched gauge of U.S. housing market sentiment has hit a record high for the second straight month as Americans leave cities to buy single-family homes in the suburbs.

"Traffic remains high and record-low interest rates are keeping demand strong as the concept of 'home' has taken on renewed importance for work, study and other purposes in the COVID era," says Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

The association reports that the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose to 85 in October, up 2 points from the previous month. Forecasters surveyed by Dow Jones had expected about 82.

1:30 a.m. The Maldives' gamble to open borders in mid-July has begun to reap small but promising returns as international airlines arrive with Western tourists seeking a reprieve from the life-sapping grip of the pandemic to laze at the country's luxury resorts.

"A good thing that is happening is the duration of stay has increased, tripling during the last two months," Minister of Tourism Abdulla Mausoom said in an interview with Nikkei Asia. "The average has been 20 days-plus, while in 2019 it was seven to eight days."

The Maldives tourism minister says some visitors extend their stay due to unhappiness over how their own countries are handling the pandemic.   © Getty Images

Monday, October 19

11:39 p.m. Singapore Airlines has withdrawn plans for three-hour scenic flights after receiving criticism from environmental groups.

The flag carrier had sought to use grounded passenger jets for paid flights to nowhere back to the airport from which they departed.

The move garnered interest when it was first reported, but environmental activists claim it would lead to unnecessary emission of greenhouse gases.

"They decided the negatives outweighed the positives," a person familiar with the company's plans says.

10:55 p.m. Shares in Japanese health and beauty products maker Unicharm touch an all-time high on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Monday as investors bet on earnings growth fueled by continued demand for masks.

Katsuro Hirozumi, an analyst at Daiwa Securities, says the company could benefit from consumers using shopping vouchers distributed as a travel incentive in the government's Go To Travel campaign.

10:15 p.m. Japan's next sumo tournament in November will let in about 5,000 spectators, twice the limit for the previous one in September.

9:55 p.m. Nearly 300 Indian migrant workers who were laid off by a construction company in Saudi Arabia owing to the coronavirus pandemic have sought the Indian government's help to collect unpaid earnings, Reuters reports, citing lawyers and campaigners.

6:36 p.m. Britain's Oxford University says initial findings from a study on the long term impact of COVID-19 found a large number of patients discharged from hospitals still have symptoms of breathlessness, fatigue, anxiety and depression two to three months after contracting the virus.

5:47 p.m. Worldwide coronavirus cases surpass 40 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S., India, and Brazil remain the worst affected countries in the world. But many European countries, including France, Germany and Italy, have recently reported record daily increases in infections.

5:15 p.m. The Philippines records 2,638 new coronavirus infections and 26 additional deaths. The country's total number of confirmed has reached 359,169, while its death toll stands at 6,675.

4:50 p.m. Russia's daily tally of coronavirus cases surges to a new high of 15,982, including 5,376 in the capital, Moscow, pushing the national case total to 1,415,316. Authorities reported 179 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 24,366.

Cathay Pacific expects to operate at less than half its pre-pandemic capacity next year as the Hong Kong-based airline tries to restructure for a period of reduced travel demand.   © Reuters

4:10 p.m. Poland plans to open a temporary hospital at the national stadium in Warsaw as it faces a spike in coronavirus cases and a health care system overload, the government says. Poland has broken records for daily cases and deaths in recent weeks, with doctors reporting shortages of personnel, hospital beds and equipment.

3:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 78 new infections, down from 132 a day earlier, bringing the capital's total to 29,046.

2:00 p.m. Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways says it expects to operate less than 50% of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity next year as it nears completion of a strategic review that could lead to major job losses. The airline plans to operate around 10% of its pre-pandemic capacity for the remainder of 2020, with most international borders still closed.

1:32 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, agree to resume regular flights between their countries at an early date, and to implement a "business track" that would allow executives and skilled workers to travel without a 14-day quarantine period, provided they follow certain COVID-19 precautions.

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, left, shakes hands with Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc: The two countries have agreed to resume regular flights between their countries.   © Reuters

1:35 p.m. India's coronavirus cases cross 7.5 million threshold after 55,722 fresh infections were reported in the last 24 hours, down from 61,871 the previous day.The country's total now stands at 7.55 million, while the death toll has climbed to 114,610 after 579 new fatalities since Sunday morning.

12:00 p.m. Thailand's domestic car sales contracted for a 16th straight month in September, down 4.1% from a year earlier to 77,433 vehicles as the coronavirus outbreak affected demand, the Federation of Thai Industries says. But sales rose 12.4% from August, helped by the easing of virus restrictions, government relief measures and new model launches. In August, car sales dropped 12.1% from a year earlier.

11:10 a.m. China's industrial output in September rose 6.9% from a year earlier, data shows, up from a 5.6% gain in August and expanding for the sixth straight month in a boost to an economy recovering from the coronavirus shock. China's retail sales edged up 3.3% last month from a year earlier, beating analysts' forecast for 1.8% growth, compared with 0.5% growth in August.

11:00 a.m. China's gross domestic product grew further in the July-September quarter on rising consumption and external demand, reflecting the efficacy of its fiscal stimulus to overcome the impact of the coronavirus. Growth during the third quarter improved to 4.9% year-on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics says.

Construction sites in Shenzhen. China's GDP grew 4.9% in the July quarter, a year-on-year spurt that reflects the efficacy of fiscal stimulus to overcome the impact of the coronavirus.   © Kyodo

9:56 a.m. Australian shares gain after Victoria state eased its months-long coronavirus lockdown and after U.S. officials said a new stimulus package could pass before elections on Nov. 3. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8% or 46.7 points to 6,223.20, led by miners and financials. The benchmark fell 0.5% on Friday.

9:34 a.m. Japan's exports in September fell at a slower pace than in the previous six months as U.S.-bound shipments of cars started to recover from COVID-19 lows, government data shows. Total exports lost 4.9% year-on-year, a larger decline than the 2.4% drop expected by economists in a Reuters poll. The latest reading follows six months of double-digit declines, including a 14.8% drop for August.

9:20 a.m. The United States has lost a considerable degree of influence in the Indo-Pacific region due to its domestic and international handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an assessment released by an Australian think tank. The Asia Power Index, released by the independent Lowy Institute in Sydney, ranks 26 countries and territories according to the power they have in the region.

9:05 a.m. China reports 13 new cases for Oct. 18, the same as a day earlier. All of the new infections were imported. China also reports 33 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 34 a day earlier.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Japanese corporations' hiring activities. 

6:00 a.m. Major companies in Japan are set to hire 105,442 people graduating from universities in spring, 11.4% fewer than seven months ago, according to a Nikkei survey. The double-digit decrease is the first since 2010, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Nikkei surveyed 1,036 corporations, asking the number of students promised to be hired as of Oct. 1 and compared the figures for 927 companies comparable with a year earlier.

5:05 a.m. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gives mayors the power to shut public squares as he unveils a further package of measures to try to halt a sharp rise in cases, according to Reuters. Daily cases on Sunday had hit a new record 11,705. "The situation is critical. The government is there, but everyone must do their part," the prime minister says.

1:53 a.m. The head of the International Monetary Fund calls for significant steps to address the increasingly unsustainable debt burdens of some countries, urging creditors and debtors to start restructuring processes sooner rather than later. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva says the Group of 20 major economies could help matters by extending a six-month freeze in official bilateral payments from low-income countries but that more urgent action is needed.

Sunday, October 18

7:05 p.m. Malaysian health authorities report 871 new cases, a record daily count, raising the country's total infections to 20,498. The country, which imposed targeted lockdowns this month as infections surged, also records seven new deaths, bringing total fatalities to 187.

5:07 p.m. The Philippines' health ministry reports 2,379 new confirmed cases and 50 additional fatalities, bringing the country totals to 356,618 cases and 6,652 deaths. It also says 14,941 more individuals had recovered from COVID-19, bringing total recoveries to 310,158.

4:56 p.m. Indonesia reports 4,105 new coronavirus infections, taking the total to 361,867, data from the country's COVID-19 task force shows. The data adds 80 new deaths, taking the total to 12,511. Both the number of cases and deaths in the country are the highest in Southeast Asia.

3:32 p.m. Australia's state of Victoria, the epicenter of the country's coronavirus outbreak, will see more freedom of movement as of Monday after monthslong restrictions, but retailers and restaurants must wait longer. After more than 100 days in a strict lockdown that allowed two hours of outdoor activity a day, the 5 million people living in Melbourne, Victoria's capital, will be able to spend as much time exercising outdoors as they wish. Retailers and restaurants may only offer take-away or delivery orders, with the state government eyeing their reopening by Nov. 1.

2:00 p.m. Thailand reports three additional locally transmitted cases, a day after reporting its first local infections in more than a month. The three patients are family members of two Myanmar nationals who previously tested positive in the country's northern province bordering Myanmar, the government's coronavirus taskforce says.

11:30 a.m. Saudi Arabia allows its citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform prayers at one of Islam's most holy religious sites, Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, for the first time in seven months, state television reports. Earlier this month Saudi Arabia allowed citizens and residents to perform the Umrah pilgrimage at Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, after a seven-month pause due to coronavirus concerns.

9:30 a.m. China reports 13 new cases for Oct. 17, the same as a day earlier. All of the new infections were imported. The country also reports 34 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 11 a day earlier.

9:15 a.m. New Zealand reports a new case as the virus re-emerges after many days of no transmission within the country's borders. The infected person was identified early, limiting further transmission risk.

3:20 a.m. France reports a record number of new cases, 32,427, after reporting 25,086 on Friday. The total number of infections now stands at 867,197 while the total deaths stand at 33,392, up by 90 from Friday.

Saturday, October 17

11:30 p.m. China's disease control authority says contact with frozen food packaging contaminated by living new coronavirus could cause infection. The authority had detected and isolated living coronavirus on the outer packaging of frozen cod during efforts to trace the virus in an outbreak reported last week in the city of Qingdao.

A worker for China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention swabs frozen fish for coronavirus testing at Wandong market in Guiyang on July 1.   © Reuters

5:29 p.m. Indonesia reports 4,301 cases, bringing the country total to 357,762.

4:45 p.m. Austria's daily number of new cases has surpassed 2,000 for the first time, according to newspaper Kronen Zeitung.

1:52 p.m. Thailand reports its first two locally transmitted cases in more than a month.

10:06 a.m. China reported 13 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Oct. 16, compared with 24 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Saturday. As of Friday, mainland China had 85,659 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said. The COVID-19 death toll stands at 4,634.

7:51 a.m. Ratings agency Moody's cut the United Kingdom's debt rating to "Aa3" from "Aa2" on Friday over the huge economic hit from the coronavirus crisis, Brexit and the lack of clear budget plans from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government.

6:31 a.m. Europe's tiny Andorra formally joined the International Monetary Fund on Friday, becoming the crisis lender's 190th member state as the tourism and trade-dependent principality struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.

5:20 a.m. Guitar sales have taken off in the U.S. during the pandemic. Homebound Americans seem to be putting more time and money into online music lessons.

Fender CEO Andy Mooney says the maker of the Stratocaster and other venerable models expects sales this year to grow by double digits to a record high. Many of the buyers are young beginners, and half of them are women and girls, Mooney says.

4:07 a.m. Total U.S. coronavirus cases have topped 8 million, with daily new infections approaching a peak set in July. The virus is spreading notably in battleground states for next month's presidential election.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week's latest updates.

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