UNDATED (AP) – European shares have opened higher after Asian shares logged moderate losses following a sell-off on Wall Street sparked by surging coronavirus counts and fresh pandemic shutdown measures. Shares gained in Paris, London and Shanghai but fell in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney on Thursday. U.S. futures were higher. Japan’s central bank kept its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged while downgrading its outlook due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Investors are awaiting U.S. economic growth numbers. Oil prices extended their losses on expectations that the pandemic may cause further disruptions that would crimp demand for energy.
BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Germans to expect a “difficult winter” as the number of newly reported coronavirus cases in the country hit a new high. Merkel spoke Thursday in Parliament a day after she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed upon far-reaching restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of bars and restaurants, limits on social contacts and bans on concerts and other public events. Germany’s disease control agency said authorities reported 16,774 new positive tests for COVID-19 in the past day, pushing the country’s total to close to half a million.
LONDON (AP) – The British government is insisting that a national lockdown would not be the right approach to deal with the resurgence of the coronavirus even as other countries in Europe are choosing variations on that route. A day after France and Germany ratcheted up their national responses to contain surges in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Britain’s Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the virus is “very concentrated in some places” so the correct approach is to target restrictions on those areas with the worst outbreaks.
BOSTON (AP) – Federal agencies say cybercriminals are unleashing a major ransomware assault against the U.S. healthcare system. Independent security experts say it has already hobbled at least five U.S. hospitals this week and could potentially impact hundreds more. In a joint alert, the FBI and two federal agencies say they have credible information of an imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers. They say malicious groups are targeting the sector with ransomware that could lead to data theft and disruption of healthcare services.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal health officials are issuing insurance coverage rules designed to deliver on the promise that every American will have access to free COVID-19 vaccines when they are approved. The regulations released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also increase what Medicare pays hospitals for COVID-19 treatments. The changes arrive at a time when coronavirus infections are rising in much of the country, signaling a third wave that could eclipse the number of cases seen earlier this year.