Coronavirus live news: Germany extends partial lockdown as Ukraine reports record daily cases

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Coronavirus live news: Germany extends partial lockdown as Ukraine reports record daily cases” was written by Matthew Weaver(now) and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Thursday 26th November 2020 09.17 UTC

Sadiq al-Mahdi in 2019
Sadiq al-Mahdi in 2019.
Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi, who was overthrown in the 1989 military coup that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, has died after a coronavirus infection, Reuters reports.

Mahdi, 84, had been taken to hospital in the United Arab Emirates three weeks ago.

His moderate Umma party was one of the largest opposition parties under Bashir, and Mahdi remained an influential figure even after Bashir was toppled in April 2019.

Sudan’s transitional administration, which governs under a power sharing deal between the military and civilian groups, declared three days of mourning.

Last month, Mahdi’s family said he had tested positive for Covid-19. He was transferred to the UAE for treatment a few days later following a brief hospitalisation in Sudan.

In a statement, the Umma party said Mahdi would be buried on Friday morning in the city of Omdurman in Sudan.

Updated

A man wearing a protective mask walks in front of a public tv screen showing Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, speaking at a press conference
A man wearing a protective mask walks in front of a public TV screen showing the Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, speaking at a press conference.
Photograph: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Bars and restaurants in Tokyo have been asked to close early for the next three weeks as the city attempts to avoid a year-end surge in Covid-19 cases.

The governor, Yuriko Koike, said places serving alcohol, including karaoke venues, should close by 10pm from Saturday until 17 December.

Speaking to reporters she said:

To prevent a further spread of infections and protect the lives of the residents of Tokyo, we are taking brief and intensive measures. We realise this is an extremely important time of year for business owners, but if we don’t stop this now it’s just going to keep going.

Japan’s national and local governments do not have the legal powers to enforce business closures or European-style lockdowns. Businesses that comply will be eligible for a one-off payment of ¥400,000 (£2,900) from the metropolitan government.

The requested restrictions on opening hours are the first since the end of August, when Tokyo was confronted by a second wave of infections. Daily cases have been rising again in recent weeks, with 401 on Wednesday, following a record 537 last week. The city now has a total of 38,598 cases.

In addition to health ministry advice to avoid the “three Cs” – confined and crowded spaces, and close human contact – Koike has unveiled “five smalls” – precautions that should be taken when dining out.

Under these guidelines, people should eat in small groups, keep their meals brief, avoid eating from shared plates, talk quietly and observe established preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand sanitising and visiting only properly ventilated places. Koike has also asked people to avoid non-essential outings and to work remotely where possible.

Several parts of Japan have witnessed a surge in new infections, prompting the government this week to remove Sapporo and Osaka from a subsidised tourism campaign aimed at propping up regional economies during the pandemic.

Japan’s third wave has prompted warnings about the strain the rise in serious cases is placing on hospitals. Toshio Nakagawa, the president of the Japan Medical Association, said more beds were being taken up by patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms, forcing staff to scale down the treatment of other illnesses.

“We need to act urgently or we will face a nationwide crisis,” Nakagawa said, urging authorities to restrict business operations. “As medical professionals, we believe that vigorous disease prevention is also best for the economy.”

Japan has fared better than many other countries since the start of the pandemic. As of Wednesday, it had 135,400 cases and 2,001 deaths, the health ministry said.

Updated

Merkel warns restrictions may last until next year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wears a face mask before delivering a speech during a session at the Bundestag
German chancellor Angela Merkel wears a face mask before delivering a speech during a session at the Bundestag.
Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Restrictive measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Germany will be in place until at least the end of December and possibly longer, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, has told parliament.

She said:

Given the high number of infections, we assume that the restrictions which are in place before Christmas will be continue to be valid until the start of January, certainly for most parts of Germany.

We have to say, unfortunately, that we cannot promise an easing for Christmas and New Year’s.

She confirmed that Germans will be allowed to congregate in groups of up 10 people over Christmas. But she urged the public to remember that there around 27 million vulnerable Germans who can’t be protected.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday, while the death toll rose by 389 to 15,160.

Merkel said the number of Covid cases in Germany was “stagnating at a high – far too high – level”.

Late last night she agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states to extend and tighten the coronavirus lockdown until December 20, but ease rules over the Christmas holidays to let families and friends celebrate together.

Merkel’s chief of staff said rules limiting social contact might be needed for longer.

“We have difficult winter months ahead of us. This will continue until March,” Helge Braun told RTL television.

“After March, I am very optimistic because we will probably be able to vaccinate more and more people and it will be easier to keep infection rates low with the spring.”

Merkel said vaccines could arrive before Christmas.

Updated

Finland’s coronavirus situation has worsened rapidly in recent days, the prime minister, Sanna Marin, has warned.

Finland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 75.8 on Wednesday, Europe’s second lowest level behind Iceland, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data showed.

But Marin warned the number of new cases was rising at a worrying pace.

Speaking at a press conference she said: “I strongly appeal to the local and regional authorities to work together to ensure that the disease situation is kept under control.”

Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist advising the government in France, has said the country can return to normal by autumn 2021 if more than 80% of the population can be vaccinated.

But in an interview on BFMTV he warned getting the vaccinate is no guarantee against becoming sick.

Speaking while wearing a mask he also cautioned that masks may be necessary while the virus remains in circulation. “We must be vigilant” he said.

The New Zealand government has issued the touring Pakistan cricket team with a “final warning” after six of the team tested positive following rule breaches while they were isolation in Christchurch.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health on Thursday said all 53 members of the travelling party, including players and staff, were tested on arrival on 24 November and the positive results are from those tests.

New Zealand Cricket said in a statement all players in the squad had tested negative four times before leaving Lahore. Two of the six results were “historical” infections while four were new. NZC said it had been made aware members of the squad may have breached strict biosecurity protocols on the first day of their 14-day mandatory isolation.

As part of measures to prevent Covid-19 being brought into the country, the team were not allowed to socialise, eat or train together outside their small bubbles while in isolation.

The health ministry said: the team as a whole has been issued with a final warning”. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield added:

It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport, but in return teams must stick to the rules that are designed to keep Covid-19 out of our communities and keep our staff safe.

Read more here:

The UK government is facing calls to publish scientific advice on the relaxing of Covid-19 rules over Christmas amid warnings that a single infectious guest could infect a third of those at a household gathering.

Under rules revealed by the prime minister on Tuesday, up to three households can form a “bubble” for five days over Christmas.

It prompted some scientists to speak out, warning that mixing will inevitably lead to an increase in infections come the new year, leading to deaths. Some said the government should have put greater emphasis on the dangers and potential control measures.

Now experts have called for the government to release advice given by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

Read more here:

People pay tribute in Buenos Aires to one of the best footballers in history
People pay tribute in Buenos Aires to one of the best footballers in history
Photograph: Roberto Tuero/REX/Shutterstock

There wasn’t much sign of social distancing in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires last night, at the start of three days of national mourning for the footballer Diego Maradona.

 

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said he’s considering limiting Christmas celebrations to six people, Reuters reports.

Speaking on Wednesday Sánchez he said:

This is not a number we have pulled out of nowhere. It is a number which health professionals, scientists have told us is sufficiently rigorous and restrictive to prevent another surge in infections.

The central government is still negotiating the next round of restrictions with regional authorities, meaning some changes could be introduced.

The health ministry recorded 10,222 new cases on Wednesday, while the death toll rose by 369 to 44,037, slowing from the previous day’s jump of 537, which marked a record for the second wave.

Photographer Jill Mead has taken a poignant set of pictures of London during the second lockdown.

Updated

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, in Sydney.

I’m off to our socially distanced office Christmas party and am very glad to be nowhere near this Turkey:

Ukraine reports record daily cases

Ukraine registered a record 15,331 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 14,580 reported on 21 November.

He said the total number of cases had climbed to 677,189, with 11,717 deaths.

Medical specialists pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease in KyivDoctors and medical specialists wearing personal protective equipment pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus, Kyiv, Ukraine 25 November 2020.
Medical specialists pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease in Kyiv
Doctors and medical specialists wearing personal protective equipment pose for a picture in a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus, Kyiv, Ukraine 25 November 2020.

Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Disney to lay off 32,000 workers in first half of 2021

Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September, as the company struggles with limited customers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs will be in the first half of 2021, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Earlier this month, Disney said it was furloughing additional workers from its theme park in Southern California due to uncertainty over when the state would allow parks to reopen.

Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney, Anaheim, California, USA.
Disneyland Resort and Downtown Disney, Anaheim, California, USA.
Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Disney’s theme parks in Florida and those outside the United States reopened earlier this year without seeing new major coronavirus outbreaks but with strict social distancing, testing and mask use.

Disneyland Paris was forced to close again late last month when France imposed a new lockdown to fight a second wave of the coronavirus cases.

The company’s theme parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo remain open.
Disney did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on whether the 28,000 layoffs announced earlier were included in the latest figure, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Variety that the figure includes the previously announced number.

Summary

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • Germany extends partial lockdown. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.
  • South Korea reports highest cases since March. South Korea has reported its highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since March, despite the recent introduction of stricter social distancing measuresin Seoul and other virus hotspots. The country reported 583 infections on Thursday, the first time they had topped 500 since 6 March.
  • CDC estimates only 1 in 8 infections caught. A new government report says the US is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted. By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time. Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.
  • Global cases surpassed 60m, according to researchers at both Johns Hopkins University. According to Reuters, the pace of new infections is accelerating and the United States is reporting its worst numbers of hospitalisations.
  • Authorities in Sicily asked Cuba’s government to send to the region about 60 health operators, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical personnel during the second wave. The request was filed this week to the Italian embassy in Cuba and consists of intensive care specialists, nurses, anaesthetists, resuscitators, virologists and pneumologists, the Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported.
  • The Americas reported more than 1.5m cases in the last seven days; the highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization regional branch PAHO said. The rapid surge of infections in the US continued and cases accelerated in countries of North, Central and South America, PAHO said. In Canada, infections were rising particularly among the elderly and indigenous communities.
  • The daily death toll in the US reached 2,157 – one person every 40 seconds. It was the first time since May that deaths had passed 2,000 in 24 hours.
  • Germany reported 410 deaths in 24 hours; its worst such toll since the pandemic began. It came as the chancellor Angela Merkel met with 16 federal state leaders to discuss restrictions for the Christmas and new year holidays.
  • Iran recorded its worst daily caseload, with the health ministry reporting 13,843 new infections. That pushed the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, told state TV the death toll rose by 469 in 24 hours to 46,207.

A little more than half the 26,700 Australians stranded overseas in September who Scott Morrison suggested could come home by Christmas have returned to Australia.

Despite the prime minister boasting on Thursday that 35,000 Australians have returned home since September, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials revealed that just 14,000 of those were registered with the department.

That means of the original cohort who had registered by 18 September, more than 12,000 Australians are yet to return home:

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 389 to 15,160, the tally showed.

Podcast: how vaccines lead to immunity – podcast

With a number of Covid-19 vaccines seemingly on the way, Nicola Davis talks to Prof Eleanor Riley about how they might help the body’s defence mechanisms fight the virus:

Six members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team have tested positive for Covid-19 in managed isolation in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The affected players have been moved to quarantine, the ministry of health said, and all training at outside facilities would be cancelled.

In addition, since their arrival, several team members have been seen on CCTV at the facility breaching managed isolation rules, MoH said.

All incidents of breaches occurred within the facility and there is no risk to the public, but the team as a whole has been issued with a final warning.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said any breaches of managed isolation rules were taken very seriously.

“It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport, but in return teams must stick to the rules that are designed to keep Covid-19 out of our communities and keep our staff safe.”

It is unclear if the team’s match with the Black Caps on December 18 will go ahead.

India recorded 44,489 new coronavirus infections, data from the health ministry showed on Thursday, the 19th straight day that single-day cases have stayed below the 50,000 mark.

India’s coronavirus tally now stands at 9.27 million, the second-highest in the world, after the United States.

Deaths rose by 524, taking the total to 135,223.

South Korea reports highest cases since March

South Korea has reported its highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since March, despite the recent introduction of stricter social distancing measuresin Seoul and other virus hotspots.

The country reported 583 infections on Thursday, the first time they had topped 500 since 6 March.

While previous clusters were traced to large church gatherings, authorities are now battling several additional routes of transmission, including private get-togethers. The armed forces ordered a 10-day ban on leave after a series of outbreaks at military facilities, including 60 cases among recruits beginning their 18-month national service at a camp in Yeoncheon near the border with North Korea.

“Covid-19 has arrived right beside you and your family,” the health minister, Park Neung-hoo, said at a televised meeting with health officials. “In particular, the spread of infections among young generations is extraordinary.”

Some experts said the government had been too quick to ease social distancing measures earlier this year after a second wave of infections appeared to have passed.

“The easing was done because of economic concerns and growing fatigue but it was premature and sowed the seeds of complacency among the public,” Kim Woo-joo, a professor of infectious diseases at Korea University Guro Hospital in Seoul, told Reuters.

The surge in infections among younger people comes ahead of nationwide university exams on 3 December. Students have been told not to attend cram schools or take private lessons in preparation for the exams, which will involve around half a million college hopefuls.

“Infections are emerging concurrently in our daily lives including family gatherings and informal get-togethers which makes it difficult for the government to take preemptive action,” the education minister, Yoo Eun-hae, told a briefing.

Of Thursday’s cases, 553 were locally transmitted and almost 73% of those were in the greater Seoul area, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. Total infections in South Korea, which has been widely praised for its response to the pandemic, stand at 32,318, with 515 deaths.

Updated

In a global push to end violence against women, activists held rallies Wednesday and world leaders called for action to stop the abuse, which has worsened because of the coronavirus pandemic this year, AP reports.

Protests from France to Ukraine were held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to draw attention to domestic violence in what is an uphill struggle to protect millions of women killed or abused every year by their partners and close relatives.

In Rome, the office of the prime minister was being lit in red and red banners tumbled from trade union offices in Florence to demand an end to violence against women. Italy was a hotbed for Covid-19 infections this year, forcing the government to impose lockdowns to keep the virus out. In an unintended consequence, domestic violence cases began to grow.

Even if detailed statistics were hard to come by, organizations and countries, from the United Nations to the European Union, France and Britain, all said that the pandemic had so far been an additional source for men to mistreat women.

In Ukraine, the Femen feminist activist group staged a protest outside the president’s office with a brief topless protest.

Police officers arrest an activist of Femen movement protesting outside Ukrainian President’s to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Kiev on 25 November 2020.
Police officers arrest an activist of Femen movement protesting outside Ukrainian President’s to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Kiev on 25 November 2020.
Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

UN agency UNAIDS said that “evidence shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in significant increases in gender-based violence in nearly all countries,” especially for women trapped at home with their abuser.

“Men’s violence against women is also a pandemic — one that pre-dates the virus and will outlive it,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of the UN Women agency.

“Last year alone, 243 million women and girls experienced sexual or physical violence from their partner. This year, reports of increased domestic violence, cyberbullying, child marriages, sexual harassment and sexual violence have flooded in,” she said.

In Turkey, where at least 234 women were killed since the start of the year, according to government figures, riot police in Istanbul blocked a small group of demonstrators from marching to the city’s iconic Taksim Square to denounce violence against women. The government has declared the square off-bounds for demonstrations.

Elsewhere in Istanbul, some 2,000 other women staged a peaceful demonstration calling on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to remain committed to a European treaty on combatting violence against women.

Podcast: How the Covid-19 pandemic has increased Amazon’s dominance

As high street rivals were forced to close this year, Amazon has gone from strength to strength. But reports of conditions in some of its huge warehouses have brought a new level of scrutiny, as John Harris explains:

A recent survey conducted by the Novus polling institute suggested that 26 percent of Swedes do not plan to take any of the Covid-19 vaccines being developed and 28 percent are undecided, AFP reports.

Forty-six percent said they would get a jab.

Of those opposed, 87 percent said it was due to fears over as-yet unknown side effects.

Health authorities in the Scandinavian country in 2009 urged the public to voluntarily take the Pandemrix vaccine against swine flu, made by British drug company GlaxoSmithKline.

A woman rides an electric scooter wearing a protective mask, amid the continuous spread of the coronavirus pandemic, along Standvagen in Stockholm, Sweden, 20 November 2020.
A woman rides an electric scooter wearing a protective mask, amid the continuous spread of the coronavirus pandemic, along Standvagen in Stockholm, Sweden, 20 November 2020.
Photograph: Tt News Agency/Reuters

More than 60 percent heeded the call – the highest level in the world.

Hundreds of young Swedes suffered debilitating narcolepsy after a mass vaccination campaign against the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic.

The experience has shaken Swedes’ confidence in any future vaccine against the new coronavirus, compounding fears about unknown long-term side effects.

In the US, national reading and math tests long used to track what students know in those subjects are being postponed from next year to 2022 over concerns about whether testing would be feasible or produce valid results during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Center for Education Statistics announced Wednesday.

AP: The biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress evaluations used for the Nation’s Report Card were slated early next year for hundreds of thousands of the country’s fourth and eighth graders. But widespread remote learning and health protocols would have added big complications and costs because the model uses shared equipment and sends outside proctors to conduct the testing in schools.

Pushing ahead with testing in 2021 runs the risk of spending tens of millions of dollars and still not getting the data necessary to produce a reliable, comparable picture of state and national student performance, NCES Commissioner James Woodworth said in a statement. By law, they would have to wait another two years for the next chance at testing.

Testing in 2022 instead “would be more likely to provide valuable — and valid — data about student achievement in the wake of Covid-19 to support effective policy, research, and resource allocation,” the leaders of the National Assessment Governing Board said in a separate statement supporting the move.

José Manuel Mireles, one of leaders of a civilian militia formed in 2013 to fight a drug cartel in western Mexico, died Wednesday, a government health agency confirmed.

Mireles was a physician who worked for the federal Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers.

The agency confirmed his death, but did not give a cause. Those operating Mireles’ personal Twitter account said he died of the effects of Covid-19.

Leaders like Mireles and Hipolito Mora organized people in the western state of Michoacan to fight the Knights Templar drug cartel. The cartel had controlled almost every aspect of life in parts of Michoacan, extorting money systematically from residents.

Doctor José Manuel Mireles.
Doctor José Manuel Mireles.
Photograph: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

After largely expelling the cartel, some of the vigilante-style groups eventually fought among themselves, and some came under the influence of other gangs.

The government at first channeled weapons to the self-defense militias, and then tried to disarm and demobilize them.

Mireles was arrested on weapons charges and spent nearly three years behind bars awaiting trial before being freed on bond in May 2017. He was acquitted in 2018.

Updated

Barack Obama has said part of the reason more than 73 million Americans voted to re-elect Donald Trump in the election was because of messaging from Republicans that the country was under attack – particularly white men.

In an interview with the radio show the Breakfast Club on Wednesday to promote his new memoir A Promised Land, Obama said Trump’s administration, which he did not name directly, ‘objectively has failed, miserably, in handling just basic looking after the American people and keeping them safe’, and yet he still secured millions of votes:

 

CDC estimates only 1 in 8 infections caught

A new government report says the US is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted.

By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time.

Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.
The latest CDC calculation is meant to give a more accurate picture of how many people actually have caught the virus since the pandemic began. Of the 53 million estimated infections, the CDC says about 45 million were sick at some point and about 2.4 million were hospitalized.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has warned Britain that its Covid-19 economic emergency has only just begun after responding to news of the deepest slump in more than 300 years by pledging a fresh £55bn to tackle the pandemic.

On the day that the daily death toll from the virus reached a new second-wave peak of 696, the chancellor said that despite borrowing a peacetime record of £394bn this year, he would need to carry on spending in order to protect lives and livelihoods.

Sunak said his one-year spending plan for the economy included the biggest sustained increase in infrastructure investment for four decades, and involved more money for housing, railways, broadband upgrades and Boris Johnson’s green agenda, totalling £100bn next year:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed hope that the arrival of the first vaccines in coming weeks would help turn the corner on the pandemic.

“A lot indicates that 2021 will bring us relief,” she said.

The country’s disease control agency released a new version of its contact tracing app Wednesday that includes reminders for people to share positive test results with people they were in close proximity to.

The app had been downloaded 22.8 million times by Friday. Its decentralized, privacy-focused design has been copied by several other European countries.

More on Germany now, with the AP:

During a seven-hour video call, federal and state officials also agreed on a number of new restrictions.

These include:

—Limiting private gatherings to five people from up to two households, not counting children under 14. Over the festive period that number will be increased to 10, to allow for small family gatherings.

—Traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks will be discouraged, and banned entirely in some popular streets and squares.

—Employers will be encouraged to let staff work from home 23 December to 1 January.

—Masks will be required in front of stores, in parking lots and in most secondary schools.

—The number of customers allowed into larger stores will be reduced.

The government also plans around 17 billion euros ($20 billion) more in aid to compensate businesses hit by the shutdown, on top of 15 billion euros provided by federal authorities in November.

Germany, which has 83 million people, was credited with a relatively good performance in the first phase of the pandemic. It still has a lower death rate than several other European countries, and its current shutdown has been relatively mild.

Germany has reported a total of 961,320 virus cases since the pandemic began, including 14,771 deaths.

Germany extends partial lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.

Germany embarked on a so-called “wave-breaker” shutdown on 2 November, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities but leaving schools, shops and hair salons open. It was initially slated to last four weeks.

Merkel said the measures will now be extended until at least 20 December, with a goal of pushing the number of new coronavirus cases in each region below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

“We have to continue to pursue this goal,” she told reporters in Berlin.

Merkel said that while existing measures have succeeded in halting a surge in new coronavirus infections, they have stabilised at a high level.

Germany’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 18,633 new cases over the past 24 hours — compared with 17,561 a week earlier.

“We can’t be satisfied with this partial success,” she said, noting that health officials on Wednesday also reported 410 deaths linked to Covid-19, the highest single-day total yet.

“(This) reminds us in the saddest way that behind the statistics are human fates,” Merkel said.

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

My name is Helen Sullivan, and this time last year I was in Beirut preparing to have my first ever thanksgiving. Where were you – and do you celebrate the turkey holiday?

Let me know on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

As the world reported its highest daily death toll of the pandemic so far, with 12,785 Covid deaths reported in 24 hours, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.

Germany embarked on a so-called “wave-breaker” shutdown on 2 November, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities but leaving schools, shops and hair salons open. It was initially slated to last four weeks.

Merkel said the measures will now be extended until at least 20 December, with a goal of pushing the number of new coronavirus cases in each region below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week.

“We have to continue to pursue this goal,” she told reporters in Berlin.

  • Global cases surpassed 60m, according to researchers at both Johns Hopkins University. According to Reuters, the pace of new infections is accelerating and the United States is reporting its worst numbers of hospitalisations.
  • Authorities in Sicily asked Cuba’s government to send to the region about 60 health operators, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical personnel during the second wave. The request was filed this week to the Italian embassy in Cuba and consists of intensive care specialists, nurses, anaesthetists, resuscitators, virologists and pneumologists, the Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported.
  • The Americas reported more than 1.5m cases in the last seven days; the highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization regional branch PAHO said. The rapid surge of infections in the US continued and cases accelerated in countries of North, Central and South America, PAHO said. In Canada, infections were rising particularly among the elderly and indigenous communities.
  • The daily death toll in the US reached 2,157 – one person every 40 seconds. It was the first time since May that deaths had passed 2,000 in 24 hours.
  • Germany reported 410 deaths in 24 hours; its worst such toll since the pandemic began. It came as the chancellor Angela Merkel met with 16 federal state leaders to discuss restrictions for the Christmas and new year holidays.
  • Iran recorded its worst daily caseload, with the health ministry reporting 13,843 new infections. That pushed the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, told state TV the death toll rose by 469 in 24 hours to 46,207.

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