(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Melbourne on eve of lockdown liberation
Australia’s epicentre of COVID-19 infections, its second-most populous state of Victoria, said on Tuesday it had gone 48 hours without detecting any new cases for the first time in more than seven months. From Wednesday, Victoria will allow restaurants and cafes to re-open in its capital of Melbourne after a stringent lockdown lasting more than three months.
Despite dwindling infections and businesses set to reopen, Victoria will only ease limits on social gatherings in the home, allowing two adults and dependents from one house to make one daily visit to one other household.
Melbourne’s release from lockdown has boosted hopes for attendance at its traditional Boxing Day cricket test from Dec. 26, and the Australian Open, where the world’s top tennis players are set to play 2021’s first Grand Slam in January.
British study finds evidence of waning antibody immunity
Antibodies against the coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population in summer, a study found on Tuesday, suggesting protection after infection may not be long-lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community.
Although virus immunity is a complex and murky topic and may be assisted by T cells, as well as B cells that can stimulate swift production of antibodies following virus re-exposure, the researchers said the experience of other coronaviruses suggested immunity might not be enduring.
Those confirmed by a gold standard PCR test to have COVID-19 had a less pronounced decline in antibodies, versus those who were asymptomatic and unaware of their original infection. The findings from scientists at Imperial College London, released as a pre-print paper, have not yet been peer-reviewed.
New business jet travellers help fuel order recovery
Affluent travellers avoiding commercial flights during the pandemic are helping fuel a recovery in pre-owned corporate aircraft deals this year and reviving some demand for new planes even as the business aviation industry braces for a slump in 2020 deliveries.
Jets built as corporate aircraft, which can carry from roughly a handful to 19 travellers, tout less risk of exposure to the virus because their passengers can avoid airports and generally select who comes on board.
Pre-owned jet deals are bouncing back to near 2019 levels, while lawyers and brokers are seeing orders for new planes trickle in after a pandemic-induced lull, generating cautious optimism for corporate planemakers as they begin reporting quarterly earnings this week.
Japan’s deepening demographic crisis
Tumbling numbers of pregnancies and marriages in Japan during the pandemic are likely to intensify a demographic crisis in the rapidly ageing nation. Japan has the most aged society in the world, with more than 35% of its population expected to be 65 and over by 2050, a trend that poses risks for economic growth and strains government finances.
Recent official data showed a fall of 11.4% in the number of notified pregnancies during the three months to July from a year earlier, while the number of marriages over the same period dropped 36.9%. The sharp decline in marriages matters because the majority Japan’s babies are born in wedlock.
Policymakers are scrambling to tackle the crisis, covering fertility treatment with health insurance and doubling to 600,000 yen ($5,726) the ceiling on a one-off government allowance for newlyweds.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)