(June 11): A jump in virus cases and hospitalizations in some U.S. states has sparked concern of a second wave, as America’s total infections neared 2 million. The World Health Organization warned that a persistent increase in cases in Latin America is of deep concern.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast a global economic slump of 6% this year. Starbucks expects the pandemic to reduce sales this quarter by as much as US$3.2 billion (S$4.43 billion). Walt Disney Co. plans a reopening of California’s Disneyland Resort in July.

Tokyo is considering easing restrictions on Thursday, according to a local media report, while a person who attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Australia at the weekend has tested positive. China is offering employees of some large state-run companies the option of being inoculated with two vaccines currently in development if they intend to travel overseas.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 7.3 million; deaths exceed 413,000
  • Second U.S. wave emerges after state reopenings
  • Protester in Australia tests positive after attending rally
  • U.K.’s Johnson clashes with his own scientists on virus failures
  • Anger grows against India’s Modi among workers hit by lockdown
  • The US$1,000 haircut is alive and well as NYC reopens
Black Lives Matter Rally Protester Tests Positive in Australia (9:46 a.m. HK)

A protester who attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne last weekend has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Victoria state government said.

The person may have been infectious while attending the June 6 march and authorities are undertaking contact tracing, according to an emailed statement. The man was wearing a mask during the protest and wasn’t showing symptoms at the time, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The rally attracted an estimated 10,000 who protested against racism and for additional protections for Indigenous Australians.

Health officials and leaders in Australia, the U.S. and U.K. have warned that mass gatherings in the streets in support of racial equality risk inadvertently re-sparking the virus.

China Reports 11 New Imported Coronavirus Cases (8:16 a.m. HK)

China reported 11 new coronavirus cases with all of them imported into the country. The new infections include six in Shanghai and three in Guangdong province, according to a statement from China’s National Health Commission. The country has 83,057 confirmed virus cases and the nation’s death toll stands at 4,634.

Japan to Cap Visitors at 250 a Day When Border Reopens: Yomiuri (7:53 a.m. HK)

The government is considering capping the number of people allowed into Japan when it reopens its borders for business travel this summer, Yomiuri reported without attribution. Arrivals could be limited to 200 to 250 a day from Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand with plans to establish screening measures for Japanese national traveling abroad, Yomiuri said.

Tokyo Mulls Easing Restrictions to Step 3: TBS (7:16 a.m. HK)

Tokyo is considering moving to the next stage of its reopening road map as a recent uptick in cases has stabilized, according to a local report, a move that would allow businesses including karaoke and theme parks to reopen their doors.

The move to step three of the city’s reopening comes as authorities are considering lifting the “Tokyo Alert” issued last week urging greater vigilance against the pandemic, broadcaster TBS reported, citing an unidentified official. Both moves may come as early as Thursday, the report said.

“We’ll check all the data and if the data goes down from the standard of the alert, then we are ready to ease the restrictions and also step up to three,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said when asked in an interview with Bloomberg News if the city would move to step three of its road map.

The new stage would end calls for certain businesses to stay closed, enabling amusement centres and internet cafes to reopen. Pachinko parlours, most of which have already reopened despite government requests to remain shut, will also be officially permitted. Bars and restaurants would be allowed to serve until midnight, versus 10 p.m. under current guidelines, and large-scale events of up to 1,000 people could be held.

Disney Aims to Open California’s Disneyland in July (6:20 a.m. HK)

Walt Disney Co. said it proposed plans for a phased reopening of its Disneyland Resort in southern California in July.

Pending state and local government approvals, the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks would reopen on July 17. The Grand Californian and Paradise Pier hotels would open on July 23. Disney said it will manage attendance through a new system that will require all guests to obtain a reservation in advance.

Texas Reports Biggest Jump in Cases (5:33 p.m. NY)

Texas recorded 2,504 new cases, the highest one-day total since the pandemic emerged, according to state health department figures. The count climbed by 3.2% to 79,757, exceeding the seven-day average of 2.2%.

Deaths rose by 1.7% to 1,885 -- the steepest increase in a week -- while hospitalizations climbed 4.7% to 2,153 for the fourth straight daily advance. The escalation came as Governor Greg Abbott tweeted a public service announcement that featured baseball legend Nolan Ryan urging Texans to wash their hands and to not be “a knucklehead.”

U.S. Cases Rise 1.1% (4 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased by 21,245 on Wednesday to 1.99 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The 1.1% increase matched the daily average over the past seven days. Deaths rose 0.9% to 112,441.

  • Florida reported 67,371 cases, up 2.1%, compared with an average increase of 2% in the previous seven days. Deaths reached 2,801, an increase of 1.3%.
  • New York reported 674 new cases, bringing the total to 380,156, according to the state’s health department.
  • California cases climbed 2% to 136,191 while deaths rose 1.7% to 4,776, according to the state’s website.
Luxembourg Loosens Confinement Measures (1:24 p.m. NY)

Luxembourg further loosened its virus-related confinement measures on Wednesday after finding no negative effects since schools, restaurants and cafes reopened over the last two weeks, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said at a press conference.

Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to accept bookings of up to 10 people per table, up from four people since they reopened on May 29. Indoor and outdoor playgrounds will be allowed to open again, and children under age 13 will no longer be required to wear masks while outside, Bettel said.

Summer activities and camps for kids will also be allowed this summer, under certain sanitary measures.

Latin America of ‘Deep Concern,’ WHO Says (12 p.m. NY)

A persistent increase in cases in Latin America is of “deep concern,” Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said at a briefing in Geneva. Health services in the region are coming under strain and there’s no evidence that shows whether the arrival of winter in the Southern Hemisphere will increase the spread or not, he said.

The pandemic is growing in many regions, and countries should be more ambitious than just flattening the curve, Ryan said. Africa has seen a recent increase in cases in the past week, though the death rates in most countries are 1% or less, possibly because their populations tend to be younger, Ryan said.

Russian health authorities should review how they’re reporting Covid-19 deaths accurately because it’s unusual that the death rate is so low, Ryan also said. The country has done a lot of testing, which may be one explanation, though other similar nations have higher rates.

Johnson Relaxes U.K. Virus Rules (12:37 p.m. NY)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson relaxed the U.K.’s coronavirus lockdown rules further, saying people from two households will be allowed to mix -- so long as one is a single-adult household.

From this weekend, adults who live alone, as well as single-parent families, will be able to form a support “bubble” with one other household, which can have more than one adult, Johnson told reporters on Wednesday.

They won’t have to heed social-distancing rules requiring people to stay 2 meters (6 feet) away from each other. But households won’t be able to link up with more than one other under the plan.

Trauma Wards Fill Up in South Africa After Alcohol Ban Lifted (10 a.m. NY)

Trauma admissions in South African hospitals have surged since a nine-week ban on alcohol sales was lifted on June 1, filling beds needed to accommodate a rapid rise in coronavirus patients.

The ban was imposed as part of a lockdown the government instituted on March 27 that aimed at readying the health system for the virus and curbing its spread. While that dealt a heavy blow to some 25,000 liquor stores and 65,000 bars and restaurants that sell alcohol, South Africa’s so-called excess death rate plunged, making it one of a handful of countries globally to register fewer rather than more deaths during the pandemic.

The weekly number of deaths from unnatural causes –- mainly homicides and road accidents –- fell to 400 by the end of April, the lowest on record, from 1,200 in January, data compiled by the South African Medical Research Council show.

Binge drinking is widespread in South Africa, which features consistently on the World Health Organization’s list of the 20 nations with the highest per-capita alcohol consumption.

Germany Moves to Stem Spread Among Seasonal Farm Workers (9:55 a.m. NY)

Germany has agreed to a set of social-distancing rules for seasonal farm workers to stem the potential spread of the coronavirus among the vulnerable group after entry restrictions are lifted on June 15.

Even after Germany tightened border controls in response to the pandemic, some 39,000 seasonal workers, many from eastern Europe, have entered the country as part of an exemption since March. The new rules, in place until the end of the year, include directives such as dividing labourers into teams that work together and share living quarters, the ministry said in a statement.

Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee to Scale Back 2021 Games (9:17 a.m. NY)

The 2021 Olympic Games will scale back the number staffers and the size of ceremonies at next year’s event, according to its organizing committee in Tokyo.

About 200 events, programs and services are being reviewed, Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Officer Toshiro Muto said Wednesday. There are no plans to reduce the number of athletes or spectators and cancellation of the games isn’t being considered.

Starbucks Sees Potential US$3.2 Billion Sales Hit (8:42 a.m. NY)

Starbucks Corp. expects the pandemic to reduce sales this quarter by as much as US$3.2 billion, dragging down the coffee chain’s performance as it sees a recovery stretching into next year. The company, which like other restaurants has had a difficult time offering guidance, said Wednesday it expects to report an adjusted loss of 55 to 70 cents a share when it next releases earnings.

The guidance underscores the depth of the challenges for customer-facing businesses. The coffee seller, which is exploring new store formats to stimulate demand, is being closely watched as a barometer of customers’ willingness to leave their homes and open their wallets as the pandemic subsides.

Travel to Europe Will Be Allowed Again Starting July 1 (6:34 a.m. NY)

The EU plans a “gradual and partial” easing of a ban on most travel to the bloc as of July 1, the EU’s foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Wednesday in Brussels.

A curb on non-essential travel to the EU is due to lapse on June 15 after being introduced in mid-March for 30 days and extended twice as Europe stepped up the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.