Life

U.K. Plans Tighter Limit on Home Gatherings as Virus Surges

Coronavirus: Excess deaths in England and Wales higher than five-year average for third week running

The number of excess deaths in England and Wales has remained higher than average for the third week running, ONS figures show.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 9,032 excess deaths registered in England and Wales for the week ending 28 August.

That is 791 more deaths than the five-year average.

But this was 599 fewer deaths than the previous week, the data reveals.

South African economy contracts 51% q/q in Q2

PRETORIA, Sept 8 (Reuters) – South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 51.0% quarter on quarter in the second quarter of 2020, the fourth contraction in a row, data from the statistics agency showed on Tuesday.

GDP shrank 17.1% year on year in the three months to the end of June, reflecting the impact of the country’s tough lockdown to contain the coronavirus. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Alexander Winning)

Head of UK government's legal department quits over Brexit deal threat – FT

LONDON, Sept 8 (Reuters) – The head of the British government’s legal department has quit over suggestions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is threatening to override the Brexit divorce deal with the European Union, the Financial Times said on Tuesday.

The newspaper said Jonathan Jones was leaving his job due to a dispute with Johnson’s office over its reported plans to undercut the Withdrawal Agreement treaty signed in January in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol. (Reporting by Michael Holden Editing by William Schomberg)

South Africa's Q2 expenditure on GDP down 52.3% q/q

PRETORIA, Sept 8 (Reuters) – South Africa’s second quarter expenditure on gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 52.3% in quarter-on-quarter terms after contracting by a revised 2.1% in the first quarter, data from the statistics agency showed on Tuesday.

Household consumption expenditure fell 49.8% in the second quarter and gross fixed capital formation shrunk 59.9%. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Alexander Winning)

Emerging-Market Stocks Weighed Down by Growing Virus Cases

The acceleration in emerging market coronavirus infections relative to developed countries is beginning to weigh on EM equities.

After holding steady for much of the summer against developed peers, average daily cases in nine emerging markets — including India, Brazil and Russia — jumped higher again from late July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Since the end of that month, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has lagged the MSCI World Index of developed market shares by almost 3 percentage points.

“Emerging markets have yet to see infections topping out, whereas the focus is shifting in developed nations to post-pandemic economic measures,” said Kota Hirayama, a senior emerging-market economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo. “EM economies are more susceptible to downward pressures from the pandemic, so overseas investors are hesitant to invest.”

Among the 10countries that have the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, eight of them are emerging economies, including India and Brazil. Compared with advanced economies, emerging-market economic activity has fallen faster and deeper as the Covid-19 shock hit,according to Bloomberg Economics

Nine biopharma CEOs pledge to make safety the main focus in coronavirus vaccine development

  • The CEOs of nine major drugmakers have pledged to make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals their main priority in the development of vaccines to combat Covid-19. 

The CEOs of nine major drugmakers announced Tuesday that they have pledged to make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals their main priority in the development of vaccines to combat Covid-19. 

The heads of AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, and Sanofi, voiced their commitment to uphold the integrity of science as they work towards potential regulatory filings and approvals of the first coronavirus vaccines.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

U.K. Plans Tighter Limit on Home Gatherings as Virus Surges

Boris Johnson’s officials are drawing up tighter rules on home gatherings in England to stop the spread of coronavirus, as the government’s pandemic strategy comes under renewed pressure from a surge in cases.

The prime minister’s team is looking at measures to cut the legal maximum number of people who can meet inside a private home from the current limit of 30, a senior government official said. Options include tougher police enforcement to break up groups that are too large, the official said.

Hancock Blames Young People for ‘Concerning’ U.K. Covid Rise

The move comes amid growing concern that coronavirus may be spreading rapidly in the U.K. again after a period of decline. Latest figures showed 2,948 further virus cases were reported Monday, on top of 2,988 on Sunday, in highs not seen since May.

The U.K.’s testing program is also coming under pressure. Sarah-Jane Marsh, director of testing at NHS Test and Trace, apologized on Tuesday for the fact that people are struggling to get tested, blaming a bottleneck at laboratories.

“All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don’t look overcrowded, it’s our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch-point,” she said on Twitter. “We are doing all we can to expand quickly.”