(Bloomberg) — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s confident students can return to schools at the end of September after two delays. Florida on Friday reported a low in positive Covid-19 tests last reached in early June.
Europe’s woes prompted London Mayor Sadiq Khan to threaten further measures to contain infections in the U.K. capital. Government estimates for England suggested 6,000 new infections per day in the community in the week ending Sept. 10, compared with 3,200 the previous week.
The European Union agreed with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc. to buy 300 million doses of any successful vaccine. Roche Holding AG said its Actemra drug reduced the need for ventilation in a third-phase clinical trial on hospitalized patients with Covid-19 and pneumonia.
Vienna, the Austrian capital, curtailed its ball season. Germany’s economy minister warned of the impact of further lockdowns.
Global Tracker: Cases pass 30 million; deaths approach 950,000U.S. stands on verge of dark new milestone: 200,000 virus deathsWorst shipping crisis in decades puts lives and trade at riskThailand reports first coronavirus death since early JuneFrance warns virus ‘very active’ as cases tick up across EuropeIndian economy heads for double-digit plunge as virus spikes
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Florida’s Positive-Test Streak at Lowest Since June (11:15 a.m. NY)
Florida reported 677,660 Covid-19 cases on Friday, up 0.5% from a day earlier, compared to an average 0.4% increase in the previous seven days. That’s a daily change of 3,204 cases, according to the health department report, which includes data through Thursday.
The new daily rate of people testing positive for the first time fell to 4.2% for Thursday, from 4.4% on Wednesday. The rate has been under 5% for seven consecutive days, a streak last matched in the period ending June 8.
Deaths among Florida residents reached 13,225, an increase of 1.1%, or 139.
Vienna Curtails Its Waltz-Celebrating Ball Season (10:50 a.m. NY)
Some of the best-known events of the Viennese ball season were canceled on Friday amid Austria’s surge in infections. There’s no decision yet about the world-famous Vienna Opera.
Physical distancing rules “are the opposite of a ball’s basic idea,” a spokeswoman for the Committee of the Viennese Traditional and Noble Balls was quoted as telling the APA newswire. The pandemic has hit the Austrian capital hard with a slump in tourism and conventions. Hotel bookings dropped by two thirds in the year through July compared with last year, according to the Vienna tourism board.
Portuguese Leader Pleads With Public (10:40 a.m. NY)
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa pleaded for people to use face coverings and follow distancing rules as new cases increase. “It’s not inevitable,” he said Friday. “We can stop this growth.”
The country is reporting the biggest rises in daily cases since April. There were 780 new cases in the latest 24 hour period, 10 more than on Thursday, taking the total to 67,176. Covid-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care fell.
Costa has said he wants avoid the “enormous cost” of lockdown measures adopted in March and April.
France Sport Teams Become Hotbeds (9:17 a.m. NY)
France’s soccer and rugby clubs have become hot spots for spread of the coronavirus after training and competition resumed following a summer break.
Since the end of July, health authorities have reported 88 Covid-19 clusters linked to sports clubs, most of them in the first two weeks of September, France’s public health agency said late Thursday.
U.K. Spread Accelerating With Lockdown Not Ruled Out (9:07 a.m. NY)
Boris Johnson’s government extended coronavirus restrictions across northern England and the Midlands, as ministers refused to rule out a short national lockdown to tackle a surge in infections.
Residents in parts of northwest England, the Midlands and West Yorkshire face measures including a ban on socializing with other people outside their own households, the Department of Health said on Friday.
For the U.K., the so-called R rate, or how many people each new Covid-19 case infects, is as high as 1.4, the government said, indicating the spread is accelerating.
De Blasio Vows Not to Take Easy Way of Remote Leaning (9:04 a.m. NY)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has confidence in his latest timeline for in-class learning and won’t “take the easy way” by instituting all-remote learning for the nation’s largest school district.
“Remote education is easier, it’s less helpful for our kids and our families, it sets them back and we’re not going to let that happen,” de Blasio said Friday in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
On Thursday, four days before all New York City schools were to reopen for in-person instruction, the mayor delayed classes for elementary schoolers until Sept. 29 and for middle- and high-school students until Oct. 1. The move, which followed an earlier delay that pushed the reopening to Sept. 21 from Sept. 10, frustrated parents and raised questions over whether the city would follow districts like Chicago and Los Angeles to start the year online.
Denmark Broadens Restrictions (8:35 a.m. NY)
Denmark is introducing a nationwide limit of 50 people on public gatherings and early closing times for bars and restaurants amid a record rise in Covid-19 cases.
From Saturday and until Oct. 4, businesses will be encouraged to let their employees work from home wherever possible. Citizens will be asked to limit their social circles, wear face masks in bars and restaurants and avoid public transport during rush hour, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference in Copenhagen.
Prague Closes Universities, Schools Still Open (7:17 a.m. NY)
The city of Prague ordered its universities to close for in-person learning after the Czech Republic reported a record jump in new coronavirus cases.
Starting next week, higher-education classes will move online in the city of 1.3 million people, Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib said on Twitter Friday. He said he had also wanted to close high-schools, but public-health officials rejected his proposal.
EU Seals Vaccine-Supply Deal With Sanofi/GSK (7:07 a.m. NY)
The European Commission announced a contract with drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline on the purchase of as many as 300 million doses of any successful Covid-19 vaccine.
The commission, the European Union’s executive arm in Brussels, said in late July it had concluded exploratory talks with Sanofi/GSK for the supply of that number of doses for EU countries. The deal is the second EU advance purchase agreement following one with AstraZeneca.
London Faces Restrictions (5:49 p.m. HK)
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he will be announcing restrictions over the “next few days and weeks.” While keen to avoid a version of lockdown used in other parts of the country, such steps were still a possibility, he said, according to LBC.
Earlier on Friday, the Evening Standard reported a surge of Covid-19 cases in London. The capital has recorded about 25 cases per 100,000 over the last seven days, rising from 18.8, according to the report, which didn’t say how it obtained the information.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also warned of “hard and difficult decisions in the coming days.”
Ghana Data Traffic Surge (5:24 p.m. HK)
Demand for data spiked in Ghana as more people worked from home after the government imposed virus-related movement restrictions, rising by 50%, according to the head of Vodafone’s local unit.
While Ghana’s gross domestic product shrank 3.2% in the three months through June from a year earlier, its information and technology sector expanded 74.2%.
Myanmar Election Delay (4:35 p.m. HK)
Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is under pressure to delay the November general elections as a resurgence in coronavirus cases has resulted in a strict lockdown across parts of the nation.
Opposition parties led by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party wrote to the Union Election Commission this week to demand the Nov. 8 poll be postponed.
Eastern European Records (4:10 p.m. HK)
Several eastern European nations published record numbers of infections on Friday as the pandemic continued to spread in a region that mostly avoided mass contagion earlier this year.
Czechs added 3,123 cases, more than eight times the peak in April, while Slovenia had 137 new confirmed infections before stricter regulations on wearing masks were set to kick in.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary, where the tally increased by 941 on Friday, said his cabinet will decide over the weekend whether to extend a moratorium on loan repayments.
First Thai Death Since June (4:09 p.m. HK)
Thailand reported its first death from coronavirus infection since June 2, two weeks after the nation ended a streak of 100 days without local transmission.
With the latest fatality, Thailand’s total death toll from the pandemic rose to 59. Earlier on Friday, the country reported seven imported Covid-19 cases, taking the total to 3,497.
Thailand, which was the first country outside China to detect the coronavirus, is among a handful of nations in the region which have managed to contain the pandemic.
French Official Warns Virus Still ‘Very Active’: (2:39 p.m. HK)
France’s daily coronavirus cases rose by more than 10,000 to the highest since the end of lockdown in May, with Health Minister Olivier Veran warning the disease “is again very active” in the country.
The uptick in French infections mirrors steady increases across Europe, with the number of new cases in Germany rising Friday by more than 2,000, the most since late April. Portugal on Thursday reported the most new infections in five months, with 770, while Spanish cases rose at a slower pace than the previous day but still by more than 4,500.
Health officials blame the increase on social gatherings, especially among younger people, and on travelers bringing the virus back from vacation. The upward trend threatens to derail Europe’s recovery from a collapse in activity in the second quarter, should governments be forced to further tighten restrictions on movement.
Roche Drug Reduces Ventilation Need for Trial Patients (1:52 p.m. HK)
Roche Holding AG said its Actemra drug reduced the need for ventilation in a third-phase clinical trial on hospitalized patients with Covid-19 and pneumonia. The patients who got the drug were 44% less likely to progress to ventilators, compared with others who just got the standard care, Roche said Friday.
Separately, the company said a new test it developed can quantitatively measure the level of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in patients who have been exposed to the virus.
Pakistan Sees Most Cases in Five Weeks (1:38 p.m. HK)
Pakistan reported 752 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the most in five weeks.
The country, which has the third-most cases in Asia, had seen new cases drop gradually over the past three months. Pakistan opened schools and marriage halls this month after it recently reopened most industries, including tourism.
Shipping Crisis Putting Lives, Trade at Risk (1:26 p.m. HK)
The coronavirus pandemic has shattered labor norms in the shipping industry, with violations of worker protections becoming common as countries remain wary of relaxing port and border restrictions.
Nearly 20% of the world’s 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea, but industry officials say their options are limited as changing immigration rules and limited air travel make it difficult and expensive to swap out workers.
If the crisis isn’t resolved soon it threatens to ripple up the supply chain, affecting commodities companies and retailers just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Germany’s New Cases Highest Since April (1 p.m. HK)
Germany recorded more than 2,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time since late April, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
There were 2,179 new infections in the 24 hours through Friday morning, up from 1,855 a day earlier and the most since April 24. That’s still well below daily gains of almost 7,000 seen at the height of the outbreak in late March and early April.
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North Cowichan council members face financial ding for bad behaviour – Cowichan Valley Citizen
Council members in North Cowichan will now have to pay a financial price if found guilty of contravening the municipality’s new standards of conduct policy.
In 2018, the municipality adopted the policy which set out the expectation for council members to adhere to when carrying out their duties and functions on behalf of North Cowichan.
If a council member is accused of harassment, bullying, intimidation, violence, and/or discrimination during these times, the municipality is mandated under the policy to hire a third-party investigator to determine the validity of the accusations.
The hiring of an investigator can be a significant expense, and council decided at its meeting on Oct. 21 that when a member of council has been found to have breached the policy, he or she must contribute towards the costs of the investigation.
For the first offence, council members will receive a 10 per cent pay reduction for 12 months, which is approximately $3,000 for a councillor and $8,000 for the mayor.
A second offence will result in a 15 per cent pay reduction, but if there is any overlap between the first offence and second offence, the offending council member will see a pay reduction of 25 per cent while those periods coincide.
Council members will face a 25 per cent reduction in pay for 12 months for the third and subsequent offences, and overlapping offences within those 12 months could result in reductions of 50 per cent where there are three concurrent offences, 75 per cent for four concurrent offences, or even 100 per cent if there are five or more concurrent offences.
Mayor Al Siebring said some may say that the financial penalties are overkill, but they are a good deterrent to bad behaviour of council members.
“Without this, our code of conduct would be just symbolic, but this will add some enforcement to it,” he said.
Coun. Kate Marsh said she was impressed with the repercussions council members could face when exhibiting bad behaviour.
“One of the challenging things about the code of conduct is consequences, and a cut in pay will add teeth to it,” she said.
HSBC considers paying 2020 dividend as profits beat estimates
HSBC said it would consider paying a “conservative” 2020 dividend after Europe’s largest bank unveiled a better-than-expected third-quarter profit on lower provisions for bad loans.
The lender on Tuesday reported a 36 per cent year-on-year drop in pre-tax profits to $3.1bn for the three months to September, which was above bank-compiled analyst forecasts of $2.1bn. Noel Quinn, HSBC’s chief executive, labelled the results “promising”.
HSBC shares rose as much as 5.3 per cent in Hong Kong on Tuesday after the results were released, hitting their highest level in about two months.
HSBC cancelled its payout for the first time in 74 years earlier this year following pressure from the Bank of England, infuriating its Hong Kong shareholders. It said a 2020 payout would depend on the bank’s forecasts for 2021 and its consultations with regulators. “We will seek to pay a conservative dividend if circumstances allow,” Mr Quinn said.
Provisions for bad loans dropped to $785m in the third quarter compared with $3.8bn in the previous quarter. The average analyst forecast was for $2bn in provisions for the third quarter.
The lender said it expected total loan losses to be closer to the lower end of the $8-13bn range it had earlier forecast for the whole year.
“This latest guidance, which continues to be subject to a high degree of uncertainty due to Covid-19 and geopolitical tensions, assumes that the likelihood of further significant deterioration in the current economic outlook is low,” the bank said.
The slower rate of new provisions in the third quarter came as the global economy tentatively reopened from strict lockdowns prompted by the pandemic.
This matched the trend last week at Barclays, which set aside an additional £608m, substantially lower than the £3.7bn reserved in the first six months of the year.
HSBC revenue fell by 11 per cent year on year to $11.9bn in the third quarter.
HSBC’s shares have plunged by more than 40 per cent this year as the lender struggles with the combined challenges of coronavirus, a UK regulatory ban on dividends, ultra-low interest rates and a confrontation between China and the west over Hong Kong, its most important market.
The bank said it expected to further cut costs. It would look to lower its original $31bn target for its annual cost base for 2022, adding it would release a “detailed and updated” transformation plan when it published its full-year results.
Mark Tucker, chairman, and Mr Quinn are re-evaluating a strategy unveiled only in February, preparing deeper cuts and exploring the sale of persistently underperforming businesses, such as its US retail arm, the FT has reported.
Mr Quinn said on Tuesday that the smaller fall in profits before tax for the quarter was in part due to the lower expected loan losses and “continued good cost management”.
HSBC said it expected to increase investment in Asia due to the region’s economies “rebounding strongly” from the pandemic. The bank said it would provide an update on the future of its French and US operations in February 2021.
The bank highlighted the passage of a national security law and US sanctions on 11 Hong Kong officials under a list of risks to its operations. The US has threatened secondary sanctions on financial institutions which fail to cut ties with the officials.
“The financial impact to the group of geopolitical risks in Asia is heightened due to the strategic importance of the region, and Hong Kong in particular, in terms of profitability and prospects for growth,” HSBC said.
Retiring finance minister Carole James tears up at outpouring of support
Signing thank you cards in her B.C. Legislature office is what “retirement” looks like for out-going finance minister Carole James.
“I guess I’m a failure at retirement so far,” laughs James. “I’m continuing on as a caretaker government for the next couple of weeks.”
This is the first election in three decades that the four-time MLA and former Greater Victoria School Board trustee hasn’t run.
“This is the first election since 1990 when my name wasn’t on the ballot when I went to vote so it was a very strange experience, very strange experience, going to take some adjustments no question about it,” James says.
James led the BC NDP for seven years — taking over in November 2003 when morale was low after the party had been decimated to just two seats in the 2001 election.
In 2005, she helped the NDP win more than 41 per cent of the popular vote and 33 seats — including her own riding of Victoria-Beacon Hill, beating incumbent Jeff Bray, who she’d lost to in 2001 by just 35 votes.
“There are nice people in politics and Carole is one of them,” Bray says.
“She has always been respectful, always been friendly and is always trying to do the right thing. ”
But one of the toughest political moments came in December 2010, when Jenny Kwan publicly criticized James and called for an immediate leadership convention.
“I joked I’ve seen the good the bad and the ugly in politics and I think lots of leaders have gone through that experience but I also think it strengthens your values,” James says.
James stepped aside but instead of quitting, she stayed on to help the party.
“Credit to her, rather than fighting back, rather than being bitter about it she doubled down and gave all of her time and effort to both incoming leaders who followed her,” says Stephen Smart, former press secretary to premier Christy Clark and a member of the press gallery during the leadership crisis.
As accolades pour in on social media for the 62-year-old who’s made friends across party lines, she can’t help but tear up.
“It really has been pretty overwhelming,” says an emotional James. “I get choked up thinking about it because it has really been such a privilege for me to be able serve my community.”
Focusing on her family and her health after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, James plans to take up boxing and hopes people will remember her for working hard and always keeping her integrity.
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