FirstFT: China experiences first Omicron Covid circumstances


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The Omicron coronavirus variant has been found for the primary time on mainland China, according to health authorities, piling strain on officers already contending with an outbreak in one of many nation’s most vital manufacturing hubs.

Officers and state media stated the Omicron case was “imported” by an arrival within the port metropolis of Tianjin, south-east of Beijing, the place travellers are quarantined earlier than they’re allowed to proceed on to the Chinese language capital.

Afterward Tuesday, state tv reported {that a} second Omicron case had been found within the southern metropolis of Guangzhou. It concerned an area resident who had returned to China final month and spent two weeks in quarantine in Shanghai with out the virus being detected.

President Xi Jinping’s administration is pursuing a “zero Covid” coverage the world over’s most populous nation, partially due to considerations concerning the comparatively low efficacy of China’s home made vaccines and the potential loss of life toll if Covid-19 spreads freely among the many nation’s 1.4bn folks.

In the meantime, two doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine present 70 per cent protection in opposition to being admitted to hospital with the Omicron variant, in keeping with the primary real-world evaluation of safety in opposition to extreme illness with the brand new pressure in South Africa.

However the defence provided in opposition to Omicron is decrease than the 93 per cent safety supplied in opposition to the Delta variant, the report from Discovery Well being, the biggest personal healthcare supplier in South Africa discovered.

Chart illustrating that English data shows substantially increased risk of breakthrough infections with Omicron, but boosters push risk back down towards Delta levels

What adjustments are you making in your life, if any, owing to the Omicron variant? Share your ideas with me at [email protected]. Thanks for studying FirstFT Asia. Right here’s the remainder of right this moment’s information — Emily

1. Goldman and JPMorgan plan bumper bonuses The US banks are getting ready to pay out bumper bonuses to their funding bankers following a document yr for deal exercise. Goldman is contemplating growing its bonus pool by about 40-50 per cent in contrast with final yr, whereas at JPMorgan the pool could possibly be as a lot as 40 per cent bigger, in keeping with folks briefed on the matter.

2. Prime Trump aide faces contempt vote The US Home of Representatives is poised to vote to carry Donald Trump’s former chief of workers Mark Meadows in felony contempt, as newly revealed textual content messages present recent element about what was taking place contained in the Trump White Home through the January 6 Capitol riot.

3. Blinken blasts ‘aggressive’ China US secretary of state Antony Blinken has criticised “Beijing’s aggressive actions” in opposition to its neighbours on his first go to to south-east Asia since taking workplace. In a speech in Jakarta, Blinken stated President Joe Biden deliberate to host regional leaders within the coming months as he tries to rebuild credibility following Donald Trump’s administration.

4. Toyota to spend $35bn on electrical push The Japanese carmaker stated it’s going to pour $35bn right into a shift towards electric vehicles because the world’s largest carmaker units itself up for direct rivalry with Tesla and joins different teams in a push for carbon neutrality.

5. Males urged Japan’s first feminine commerce union head to show down job
Male colleagues of Tomoko Yoshino, the primary lady to go Japan’s largest commerce union affiliation, begged her to turn the job down as a result of they believed her gender made her incapable of preventing company Japan for greater wages, she stated in an interview with the Monetary Occasions.

Tomoko Yoshino: ‘They stated it was too tough for a girl to deal with the job in such a tough time’ © Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Coronavirus digest

  • Hong Kong is getting ready to resume quarantine-free travel. In the meantime,
    Hong Kong’s central financial institution is sending care packages to bankers in quarantine.

  • The UK will take away all 11 international locations from England’s coronavirus travel “red list”, as ministers settle for that the Omicron variant can not be contained.

  • Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral capsule cuts the chance of hospitalisation or loss of life by up to 89 per cent in high-risk sufferers, in keeping with last trial outcomes.

  • Creating international locations in Asia will develop at a slower pace than anticipated this yr and subsequent, the Asian Improvement Financial institution stated.

  • Science editor Clive Cookson explains why the human immune system finds it so hard to detect the brand new variant.

Chart showing that preliminary data from South Africa suggest that among adults, the share of Covid patients requiring acute or intensive care is lower than in past waves

The day forward

Australia loosens journey restrictions The nation will reopen to foreign visa holders and vaccinated vacationers from South Korea and Japan. (Sky Information)

UK inflation figures Knowledge launched right this moment are anticipated to point out inflation having risen to about 4.5 per cent in the November. Even with these indicators of financial power, the Financial institution of England is unlikely to boost charges, because it weighs the potential influence of Omicron.

Federal Reserve policy-setting assembly The top of the Fed’s two-day assembly will conclude with a press convention, a brand new set of financial projections and an updated “dot plot” of particular person rate of interest projections. US producer costs rose on the fastest pace on record in November, piling strain on the Fed to dial down pandemic emergency coverage settings.

Has inflation pushed up costs the place you reside? Inform us in our newest poll. And comply with together with our inflation tracker for the most recent figures.

What else we’re studying

The US will not be chargeable for China’s rise The west struggles to grasp that the remainder of the world has company of its personal, writes Janan Ganesh. Whereas the west might need postponed China’s arrival on the prime desk, at some price, preventing it outright was by no means in its energy.

Crunch time for the ECB The European Central Financial institution has sounded extra dovish than most central banks however, scarred by previous criticism of getting raised rates of interest too quickly, it’s reluctant to wind back its support after struggling for years with low inflation and sluggish progress.

Gaming wants to finish its stereotyping of the Arab world As soon as the inventory villains of conflict video games had been Nazis, however right this moment, following 9/11 and the conflict on terror, they’re jihadis, faceless terrorists with robes and beards that exist solely to hate the west and absorb bullets. Fixing the issue of Arab stereotypes in video games requires two discrete approaches, writes Tom Faber.

Ghislaine Maxwell trial shines mild on class divide Class is threaded by means of the story of Jeffrey Epstein, the late intercourse offender. At its centre was Maxwell, an Oxford-educated socialite, who witnesses stated lured them once they had been younger and poor right into a world past their imaginations.

The house of Jeffrey Epstein in Palm Seashore, Florida © Miami Herald/Tribune Information Service/Getty

Why the Indian farmers’ motion is a lesson in democracy Their victory suggests the treatment to democratic backsliding is extra political participation from residents, writes Mukulika Banerjee, writer of Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India.


Movie critic Danny Leigh critiques the perfect movies that take you to Hong Kong. “Paris has romance and New York has the skyline. Hong Kong has heartache, thriller — and . . . a wealth of stylised, site-specific, vastly influential motion and crime films,” he writes as a part of the FT Globetrotter guide to the territory.

A portrait of a now-vanished Hong Kong: Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in Wong Kar Wai’s beautiful ‘Within the Temper for Love’ © Album/Alamy

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