Thursday, November 5, 2020
France reports new record daily number of cases
French director of public health on Thursday reported 58,046 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, setting a daily record for the second time in four days, versus 40,558 on Wednesday.
The figure was published shortly after Paris announced new restrictive measures on top of a second national lockdown enforced since last Friday.
The number of people in France who have died from the virus infections rose by 363 to 39,037, versus 385 on Wednesday and a seven-day moving average of 431.
The cumulative number of cases now totals 1,601,367.
UK PM Johnson hopes for as normal a Christmas as possible
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped Britain could return to some form of normality before Christmas if people stick to the rules as England enters its second countrywide lockdown for a month.
“I have no doubt that people will be able to have as normal a Christmas as possible and we will be able to get things open before Christmas,” he told a media conference on Thursday.
He added that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
“The UK government and the devolved administrations are working together on a joint approach to the Christmas period, because all of us want to ensure families can come together, wherever they live,” he told a media conference.
“The advice I’ve received suggests that four weeks is enough for these measures to make a real impact so these rules will expire.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s test and trace programme has not had the impact the government wanted but it is improving, Johnson said.
“I understand people’s frustrations with NHS test and trace and it has come in for a lot of criticism and clearly it has taken too long for people to get their results sometimes, but they are improving,” he told a media conference.
“Yes, it hasn’t had as much impact as we would have wanted, but there’s no doubt that by identifying people who have the disease, identifying the localities where people have the disease, we’ve been able to get the R (rate) down in a way that I don’t think we would otherwise have done.”
Over 2,300 new cases in Turkey
Turkey registered 2,311 more infections over the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry data released Thursday.
The country’s overall tally now stands at 386,820.
Some 1,714 more patients recovered over the past day, raising the tally to 332,379, while the death toll rose by 81 to reach 10,639.
A total of 146,028 more tests were conducted across the country, bringing the total to over 14.7 million.
The figures showed that the number of patients in critical condition currently stands at 2,564, with 4.7% this week suffering from pneumonia.
Italy posts daily record of 34,505 new cases
Italy has registered 34,505 new infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, its highest ever daily tally and up from 30,550 on Wednesday.
The ministry also reported 445 deaths, up from 352 the day before and the first toll above 400 since May 2.
A total of 40,192 people have now died in Italy from the virus, which becomes the sixth country in the world to report more than 40,000 deaths.
It has registered some 824,879 coronavirus infections since the start of its outbreak.
The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy’s financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area, reporting 8,822 new cases on Thursday against 7,758 onWednesday.
The southern Campania region was the second-worst affected, chalking up 3,888 cases.
WHO warns of ‘explosion’ of virus cases in Europe
The World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe on Thursday said it was seeing an “explosion” of cases in the region and warned of a “tough time” ahead as mortality rates rose.
“We do see an explosion…. in the sense it only takes a couple of days to have over the European region an increase of one million cases,” WHO’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge told AFP.
Kluge said the mortality rate could be seen rising “little by little.”
“It’s going to be a little bit of a tough time, we need to be honest on that,” he said.
In spite of the rapidly rising cases, Kluge cautioned that closing schools should be seen as a last resort, especially in light of there being “no reasons to say that schools are a main driver of the transmission.”
“We need to keep the schools open really until last because we cannot afford a Covid-19 lost generation,” Kluge said.
However the regional director also said that the “status quo is not an option” and called for “proportionate targeted measures,” which could be scaled up.
Kluge stressed that governments should take into account two things: “coherence, so people see that we don’t flip-flop, and…predictability, so people know if this threshold is being reached, this is what is going to happen.”
He also called for the widespread use of face masks.
“With general mask wearing and strict control of social gatherings we can save 266,000 lives by February in the whole European region,” Kluge said.
Switzerland records massive spike
Coronavirus infections rose by 10,128 in a day, data from Swiss health authorities showed on Thursday, as the country that took eight months to reach 100,000 cases needed just another two weeks to top 200,000.
Switzerland also announced on Thursday it was cutting the number of trains to neighbouring Italy, Germany and France amid partial lockdowns in each of the countries and as travelers avoid cross-border public transportation as governments appeal for them to keep a distance from others.
Total confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring Liechtenstein increased to 202,504 and the death toll rose by 62 to 2,337. Switzerland had breached the 100,000 case mark only on Oct. 23.
Hospitalisations rose by 399 as the government deployed army personnel to help the hard-pressed health care system cope with the surge in admissions.
UK extends wage support scheme until March amid new lockdown
The British government and the Bank of England joined forces Thursday to provide further support to an economy that is set for a difficult winter following the imposition of new coronavirus lockdown measures.
Hours after the central bank increased its monetary stimulus by a bigger than anticipated 150 billion pounds ($195 billion), Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said the government’s salary support program will be extended through March. The move will be a relief to employers and employees in firms that have had to close as a result of the heightened restrictions and face depressed demand when they are allowed to reopen.
The extension of the program, which sees the government pay 80% of the wages of people retained by firms rather than being made redundant, up to 2,500 pounds a month, comes on the day that England is back in lockdown and the other nations of the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are living under heightened restrictions.
Anger as Italy’s new ‘red zones’ prepare for lockdown
Italy’s newly-designated coronavirus “red zones” braced Thursday for a fresh lockdown as anger rose against the government, accused of penalising some regions while being too lax towards others.
At the Scala in Milan, gloom reigned after the prestigious opera house was forced to cancel its opening night next month, and non-essential shops served their last customers before a lockdown Friday set to affect over 16 million people.
Lombardy, which includes Milan, was designated “high-risk” this week, along with fellow northern regions Piedmont and Val d’Aosta, and Calabria in the south, under a new colour-coded scheme drawn up by Rome.
Southern regions Puglia and Sicily were designated orange, or medium-risk, and will face less restrictive measures, while the rest of Italy was yellow. All of Italy is facing a new night curfew from Friday.
Head of Serbian Orthodox Church in hospital with coronavirus
The 90-year-old patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church has been hospitalized after testing positive for the coronavirus, days after leading prayers at a large public funeral for the head of the church in Montenegro, who died after contracting the virus.
The Serbian Orthodox Church said late Wednesday that Patriarch Irinej was hospitalized but had no COVID-19 symptoms and was in “excellent general condition.”
Serbia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that the patriarch was admitted to a military hospital in Belgrade where he could be under “medical sup ervision and control.” The ministry said he was in good condition and did not have a fever or other signs of illness.
On Sunday, Patriarch Irinej led the prayers inside a packed church for the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Bishop Amfilohije, who had died after contracting COVID-19.
India sees early vaccine launch as AstraZeneca deliveries run late
India raced ahead with work on its coronavirus vaccine while Britain’s AstraZeneca said its deliveries were running “a little bit late” as countries around the world sought to conquer the pandemic and rescue their economies.
An Indian government-backed vaccine could be launched as early as February – months earlier than expected – as last-stage trials begin this month and studies have so far showed it is safe and effective, a senior government scientist told Reuters.
Bharat Biotech, a private company that is developing COVAXIN with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had earlier hoped to launch it only in the second quarter of next year.
“The vaccine has shown good efficacy,” senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant, who is also a member of its COVID-19 task for ce, said at the research body’s New Delhi headquarters.
“It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available.”
Bharat Biotech could not immediately be contacted.
A launch in February would make COVAXIN the first India-made vaccine to be rolled out.
Swedish PM self-isolates as nation sees rising virus cases
Sweden’s leader has gone into protective self-isolation even after a person close to him tested negative, as Sweden experiences its own fall surge of cases.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven broke the news on Facebook on Thursday, the same day as the Scandinavian country appeared likely to pass the threshold of 6,000 overall coronavirus deaths.
“The developments are going in the wrong direction fast. More are infected. More die. This is a serious situation,” he wrote.
“On the doctor’s advice, my wife Ulla and I will stay isolated for the time being,” Lofven wrote.
“We are fine and have no symptoms. In accordance with recommendations from health officials, we will take a coronavirus test as soon as possible.”
“This is the only responsible thing to do in this situation,” he added, saying the person close to him had been in contact with another person who had tested positive.
More US soldiers contract Covid-19 in South Korea
The novel coronavirus has further spread among US soldiers stationed in South Korea.
A statement by US Forces Korea (USFK) on Thursday said that 10 soldiers, including their dependents, tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in South Korea between October 23 and November 3.
The latest Covid-19 cases among the USFK staff and their families have brought total cases to 288. All those testing positive for the virus have been quarantined.
There are 28,500 USFK soldiers stationed in South Korea since the 1950s Korean war.
Meanwhile, South Korea itself is battling the rise in infections with 125 more cases reported on Thursday, including 108 local infections, taking the national caseload to 27,050, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Around 475 people have died due to the Covid-19 in the country which conducted over 2.6 million coronavirus tests since January 3.
Uzbekistan to test three vaccines, plans no lockdown
Uzbekistan has no plans to impose another lockdown despite the growth in Covid-19 cases globally and intends to take part in the final trials of Chinese and Russian vaccines, a senior health official said.
Tashkent is in talks with China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical, a unit of Chongqing Zhifei, and Sinopharm about stage III trials, as well as the developers of Russia Sputnik V vaccine, deputy health minister Shakhrukh Sharakhmetov said.
The country of 34 million has imposed two nationwide lockdowns this year to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but hopes that extensive preparations for a potential second wave will allow it to avoid imposing severe restrictions again.
Uzbekistan has not carried out mass testing.
Cases peaked between July and September and so far have not spiked again. This month, the number of daily new infections has gradually edged below 250, with an overall total of 67,626 cases and 575 deaths.
Indonesia reports 4,065 new infections, 89 deaths
Indonesia has reported 4,065 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, taking the total to 425,796, data from its Covid-19 task force showed.
It also added 89 new deaths, taking total fatalities to14,348. Indonesia has the most coronavirus cases and deaths in Southeast Asia.
Greek PM orders nationwide lockdown
Greece’s conservative government has ordered a nationwide lockdown for three weeks to help contain a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the new restrictions will come into effect on Saturday, November 7.
Malaysia reports 1,009 new cases, six deaths
Malaysia’s health ministry has reported 1,009 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 36,433 infections.
The Southeast Asian country also recorded six new fatalities, raising the death toll from the pandemic to 277.
India reports daily jump of 50,210 infections
India has reported a daily jump of 50,210 coronavirus infections, taking its total to 8.36 million, the health ministry said.
This was the highest daily jump in cases since October 25, according to a Reuters tally.
Cases in India have been dipping since hitting a peak in September, but experts warn that the Diwali festival season could lead to a spike.
Deaths rose by 704, with total mortalities now at 124,315, the ministry said.
Covid restrictions to be widened in Paris – mayor
Paris will be placed under more restrictions to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, including a requirement for more shops to close in the evening, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told BFM TV.
Russia reports 19,404 new cases, 292 deaths
Russia has reported 19,404 new coronavirus cases, close to a record high that included 5,255 infections in Moscow and took the national tally to 1,712,858.
Authorities also reported 292 virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 29,509.
Czech Republic reports 12,088 new cases
The Czech Republic has reported 12,088 new coronavirus cases for November 3, and 259 new deaths, data from the health ministry showed.
The tally of infections rose to 362,985 in the nation of 10.7 million people, while deaths stood at 3,913.
The increase in deaths, however, was spread over several days because of reporting issues and was not limited to the past 24 hours.
Ukraine reports record daily high new cases
Ukraine has registered a record 9,850 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the health minister said, up from a high of 9,524 reported a day earlier.
Total infections stood at 430,467 with 7,924 deaths by Thursday, Maksym Stepanov said.
Germany’s cases rise by 19,990
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 19,990 to 597,583, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.
The reported death toll rose by 118 to 10,930, the tally showed.
China suspends entry for residents of Britain
China is suspending entry for most foreign passport holders who reside in Britain, reacting to a new surge of coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom.
The suspension covers those holding visas or residence permits issued prior to November 3, with exceptions for diplomats and some others. Foreign nationals wishing to visit China for emergency needs may apply for special case visas.
The Chinese Embassy in London says the suspension will be “assessed in accordance with the evolving situation and any adjustment will be announced accordingly.”
China has largely contained the spread of coronavirus within the country but continues to record imported cases, including another 20 reported Thursday.
Chinese officials require all people arriving in China to undergo two weeks of quarantine.
Londoners hit the city one last time before new lockdown
Londoners have shrugged off a resurgent pandemic and flocked to pubs and restaurants on Wednesday night, hours before the introduction of a new month-long lockdown across England.
While the UK’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 492, the most since mid-May, London’s Soho entertainment district was busy with revellers seeking one last night out before lockdown.
People have been ordered to stay at home from 0001GMT on Thursday to combat a surge in new infections that scientists say could, if unchecked, cause more deaths than a first wave that forced a three-month lockdown earlier this year.
The United Kingdom has the biggest official death toll in Europe and is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day.
Scientists warned the “worst-case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded without action.
UK employers turn to temporary staff as crisis mounts again
British employers have cut their hiring for permanent positions for the first time in three months in October and relied increasingly on temporary staff in the face of the second wave of coronavirus restrictions, a survey has shown.
The growing number of people looking for work pushed down starting pay, and the number of vacancies posted by companies seeking to hire workers fell slightly, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and accountants KPMG said on Thursday.
Firms appeared better prepared to operate through the new restrictions than they were in March, but the outlook was concerning, REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said.
“We face a challenging winter and temporary work will be a vital tool for keeping businesses going and people in work,” he said.
The REC/KPMG measure of temporary hiring hit its highest level since December 2018.
France reports over 40,000 new cases
France has registered 40,558 new cases, compared to 36,330 on Tuesday and a record of 52,518 on Monday, health ministry data showed.
The total number of cases increase to 1,543,321 but the ministry added that the number of new cases reported was a minimum number due to problems with data gathering.
The ministry also reported that the number of people who have died from the virus increased to 38,674, from 38,289 on Tuesday. It said there were 394 new deaths in hospitals over the past 24 hours.
Mainland China reports 28 new cases
Mainland China has reported 28 new confirmed cases on November 4, compared to 17 a day earlier, the country’s health authority said.
Of the total, 20 were imported infections, the National Health Commission said.
There were 24 new asymptomatic cases discovered on Wednesday, down from 128 a daily earlier.
Total confirmed cases in mainland China have now reached 86,115, with the number of deaths unchanged at 4,634.
Chile, Peru green-light AstraZeneca vaccine trials
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has said the country’s health regulator had given the go-ahead for clinical trials of AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine.
Pinera said the AstraZeneca trial would follow one by America’s Johnson & Johnson that is already underway and another by China’s Sinovac, whose first vaccine doses arrived in Chile on Wednesday.
He said Chile had been working “for months” to ensure sufficient and timely access to vaccines, and hoped to start rolling them out to vulnerable populations “in the first few months of next year.”
Also on Wednesday, Peru said Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca laboratories would begin trials of coronavirus vaccines in the country next week.
Two weeks ago, Peru said it had withdrawn from signing a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca because it did not provide data on its vaccine studies.
Australia signs two more vaccine deals
Australia has signed two deals to buy 40 million doses of vaccines from Novavax and 10 million from Pfizer and BioNTech as the country’s virus hot spot reported zero cases for the sixth straight day.
Thursday’s agreements follow deals in September worth $1.22 billion with AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd for a total of nearly 85 million vaccine doses.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government was on track to roll out the coronavirus vaccines in the country from March next year.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine along with AstraZeneca’s and Novavax’s are among the leading candidates in the race to be the first to get regulatory approval in the United States and Europe.
Australia has reported just over 27,600 cases, including 907 deaths, far less than most other developed countries.