By Powerscourt on 25/10/2020
Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 25 October 2020
Reported new cases in the US edged down yesterday from Friday’s high, but that doesn’t mean relief for the Trump campaign. Mike Short, chief of staff to vice-president Mike Pence, tested positive for coronavirus. Pence himself is clear but it is a further reminder that President Trump might be wrong to insist that the country is ‘rounding the corner’. New York and New Jersey recorded their highest new cases since May.
Trump is not the only president feeling the heat. Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, has tested positive and he and his chancellery are in quarantine. He visited the National Stadium in Warsaw on Saturday where an emergency hospital is being assembled. Poland is in the grip of the second wave and has hit record levels of new infections on several days recently, as have a number of European countries.
After news that leading vaccine trials are making fast progress, scientists have sounded notes of caution about how they will be used. Professor Adam Finn of Bristol University has spoken of the practical difficulties of finding and using the best vaccine for a particular group (such as the vulnerable or elderly) if there is rapid adoption of the more experimental vaccines which look likely to be approved first. He maintains that we should be comparing the effectiveness of early vaccines better. Dr Gregory Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times: “The complexity and chaos and confusion that will happen in a few short months has hardly dawned on anybody.”
In the UK, there have been a few glimpses of light which might help people cope with the latest round of tighter restrictions. Ministers are considering reducing quarantine times for those who test positive to seven or ten days. The Canary Islands, an enduringly popular winter sun destination, are back on the safe list. And for those undaunted by quarantine requirements on return, Austrian ski-resort Ischgl intends to open from 26 November. In addition to strict disinfection measures and rules around masks and distancing, the resort has vowed to ban alcohol. Curbing the ‘party tourism’ the resort is known for will be key to attracting skiers after the outbreak early this year centred around the Kitzloch bar and resort.
WHAT ARE COMPANIES SAYING?
Royal Mail will hire 33,000 temporary workers over the Christmas period in anticipation of surging demand for online shopping with high streets closed, the Sunday Times reports. Executive chairman Keith Williams told the paper it is a “big logistical challenge”.
Japan’s largest airline operator will reportedly cut 3,500 jobs in three years due to the effects of falling demand due to coronavirus. Japanese media report that this will be one part of a restructuring plan to be announced in the coming week in anticipation of a prolonged downturn in travel demand.
The company is one of a number of Japanese office, medical and industrial goods suppliers installing robots in their warehouses and distribution centres. The head of Askul’s logistics unit told the FT: “There is less chance for people to contact each other as a result of people not walking [around at work] due to automation. It was very effective for our working environment.” Automation is increasingly viewed as necessary in the context of business continuity plans.
IN THE NEWS
Retailers put ‘pandemic clauses’ into leases – The Sunday Times
Britain on brink of a double-dip recession – The Sunday Telegraph
Sunak’s £12bn scheme for self-employed was ‘terribly targeted’, says analysis – The Observer