Coronavirus live news: Iran death toll exceeds 40,000; warning that Diwali could be ‘super spreader event’

 

This article titled “Coronavirus live news: Iran death toll exceeds 40,000; warning that Diwali could be ‘super spreader event'” was written by Haroon Siddique (now); Amelia Hill and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Thursday 12th November 2020 11.56 UTC

Russia is another country to report record high number of coronavirus deaths today, with authorities in Moscow warning they could consider imposing additional restrictions if the situation worsened.

There were 439 deaths linked to the virus reported in Russia today.

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said he did not expect the surge in cases in the capital, which reported nearly 6,000 new infections today, to subside any time soon. He said about 12,000 coronavirus patients were currently hospitalised.

The sprawling city of nearly 13 million people has already ordered bars, restaurants and nightclubs to close at 11pm, and moved university and college students to online learning.

“I hope that more restrictions will not be needed, but that will depend on the situation,” Sobyanin said in an interview with state television.

Nationwide, Russian authorities reported 21,608 new infections over the last 24 hours.

Wary of crippling the economy and destroying jobs, they have said they will not reimpose a full lockdown like that seen earlier this year, stressing the importance of hygiene, social distancing and targeted measures in certain regions instead.

With 1,858,568 infections since the start of the pandemic, Russia has the world’s fifth largest number of cases after the United States, India, Brazil and France. Russia has reported 32,032 deaths to date from Covid-19.

Updated

Croatia today reported 3,082 new cases of Covid-19, the highest daily number since the global pandemic hit the country nine months ago, although the prime minister, Andrej Plenković, said the overall rate of increase was slowing.

The south-east European nation of 4 million people has registered a total of 75,922 cases of the respiratory disease with 925 fatalities to day. There are now 16,388 active cases.

Plenković appealed to citizens to respect protective measures. He said:

We are in the toughest period of the epidemic, but a good thing we see is that a rise in the number of newly infected is slowing down [over the course of the past week].

Croats are obliged to wear face masks in indoor public spaces and on public transport, while employees are urged to organise work from home wherever possible. But the conservative government has said it will try to avoid a blanket lockdown or a curfew to avoid crippling the economy

Updated

Dozens of hospital workers have held protests at hospitals in Greece, demanding more medical staff be hired as the country struggles to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus that has led to a new lockdown being imposed.

The country’s health system has come under increasing pressure due to an increase in the number of people seriously ill with Covid-19. As of last night, Greece had a total of 1,104 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, of which 496 were set aside for Covid-19 patients. Of those, 335 are occupied.

The government has stressed it has massively increased the country’s intensive care capacity, noting there were a total of just over 500 ICU beds in Greece when it came to power after elections in mid-2019.

In a speech this morning on the government’s handling of the pandemic, the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said:

Every humanly possible effort was made so that we can, in the intervening time between the first wave and where we are today, reinforce the ICUs with beds and personnel. Whatever was humanly possible to be done has been done and continues to be done.

Mitsotakis said that no matter how many ICUs a country has, “and obviously we prefer to have more rather than fewer, a health system cannot cope if we do not hit the problem at the start of the chain. The start of the chain is the uncontrolled spread of the virus mainly through crowding and contact with people we do not know.”

The prime minister said the resurgence of the virus in Greece and the rest of Europe was due to “young people having fun. I’m not saying this as criticism, of course young people are more susceptible to such behaviour. But it’s an observation and it needs to be heard.”

In the initial outbreak of the pandemic in the spring, Greece imposed an early lockdown, a move that was credited with keeping the number of deaths and seriously ill very low. But a resurgence of the virus this autumn has led to a rapidly increasing number of people in ICUs, and a sharp increase in deaths.

As of last night, Greece’s total confirmed coronavirus cases stood at just over 63,300 with 909 deaths in the country of about 11 million people.

Healthcare workers hold placards and banners protesting at the Greek government’s handling of the pandemic.
Healthcare workers hold placards and banners protesting at the Greek government’s handling of the pandemic.
Photograph: Nikolas Georgiou/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

Iran death toll exceeds 40,000

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has risen above 40,000 after 457 more fatalities were recorded in the past 24 hours.

The number of people who have died from Covid in Iran, which has the highest death count in the Middle East, now stands at 40,121.

Health ministry data showed the total number of identified cases has reached 726,585. The health ministry spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, told state TV that Iran had identified a further 11,517 new cases over the last 24 hours.

Updated

Hello, this is Haroon Siddique taking over the blog. If you want to get in touch you can do so

via Twitter @Haroon_Siddique

or email haroon[dot]siddique[at]theguardian[dot]com

France’s minister of economy, Bruno Le Maire, said on Thursday the crucial Christmas season for businesses and shopkeepers could be saved, provided people stick to strict guidelines under the current lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“What I wish is that we can save December for retailers … What will dictate the decision of the prime minister and of the president is the protection of the safety of the French population,” Le Maire told BFM Business radio, according to Reuters.

If the population sticks to current guidelines, “we could have a dynamic December”, he said.

Updated

And that’s it from me. I am now placing you in the hugely capable hands of Haroon Siddique.

Two pieces of sports news.

Firstly, the Football Association has said it has asked the government to consider allowing England to play their Nations League match against Iceland at Wembley “by giving travel exemption to the Icelandic team subject to strict medical protocols”.

Secondly, France 24 is reporting that fans may be asked not to cheer at the Tokyo Olympics to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus, a top official said on Thursday.

The comments follow a gymnastics test event in Tokyo on Sunday where mask-wearing spectators, urged not to shout or cheer, confined themselves to polite applause and murmurs of approval.

Tokyo 2020’s chief executive, Toshiro Muto, said fans arriving in Japan may be spared a mandatory two-week quarantine, saying it would be too hard to enforce. But he said officials were also considering urging fans not to shout or talk loudly, to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infections at the postponed 2020 games.

“There’s a possibility that we might ask the (Olympic) spectators to refrain from shouting or talking in a loud voice,” said Muto after a committee meeting.

“When we think of the impact, we believe it is an item for consideration, to reduce the risk of airborne droplets.”

However, Muto added that the “practicality and feasibility” of clamping down on cheering needed to be considered.

While sports competitions around the world have resumed after shutting down for the pandemic, most are taking place behind closed doors.

Fans are allowed at sports events in Japan, usually in limited numbers, but they are advised not to shout and cheer.

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen his longtime adviser Ron Klain to reprise his role as chief of staff, thereby installing an aide with decades of experience in the top role in his White House, AP reports.

Klain will lead a White House likely to be consumed by the response to the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spread across the nation, and will face the challenge of working with a divided Congress that could include a Republican-led Senate. Klain served as the coordinator to the Ebola response during the 2014 outbreak.

Klain served as chief of staff for Biden during Barack Obama’s first term, was chief of staff to Vice-president Al Gore in the mid-1990s and was a key adviser on the Biden campaign, guiding Biden’s debate preparations and coronavirus response. He has known and worked with Biden since the Democrat’s 1987 presidential campaign.

The choice of Klain underscores the effort the incoming Biden administration will place on the coronavirus response from day one. Klain also played a central role in drafting and implementing the Obama administration’s economic recovery plan in 2009.

Updated

An informative daily infographic showing the up-to-date coronavirus situation in Australia.

California is nearing the unwelcome milestone of a million Covid-19 cases, reports AP.

For months, the virus has hammered the economy, disproportionately affected the poor, and upended daily life – and now the state and the rest of the country are trying to curb another surge of infections.

California will be the second state – behind Texas – to eclipse a million known cases. The grim milestone in a state of 40 million people comes as the US has surpassed 10m infections. Eleven counties this week have had to reimpose limits.

The timeline of Covid-19 in the US often comes back to California. It had some of the earliest known cases among travellers from China, where the outbreak began. The death of a San Jose woman on 6 February is the first known coronavirus fatality in the US. That same month, California recorded the first US case not related to travel and the first infection spread within the community.

Health officials have warned against get-togethers as the holidays approach and people spend more time indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.

Updated

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Thursday the number of Covid-19 deaths is set to rise and it expects an uncontrolled spread of the disease in some parts of the country, reports Reuters.

Updated

Global oil demand is unlikely to get a significant boost from the roll-out of vaccines against Covid-19 until well into 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday, a view that is likely to dampen oil price gains since vaccine progress was announced earlier this week.

“It is far too early to know how and when vaccines will allow normal life to resume. For now, our forecasts do not anticipate a significant impact in the first half of 2021,” the IEA said in its monthly report, reported by Reuters.

“The poor outlook for demand and rising production in some countries … suggest that the current fundamentals are too weak to offer firm support to prices.”

Who’s getting their hands on the #Covid19 vaccine? Not frontline healthcare workers in low- and middle-income economies. It’s also not time to reinvigorate outdated debates about China, Russia and western scientific races.

Interesting article in our Comment section by Clare Wenham, assistant professor in global health policy at the London School of Economics, and Mark Eccleston-Turner, lecturer in global health law @KeeleUniversity

Updated

The Gates Foundation added another $70m of funding on Thursday to global efforts to develop and distribute vaccines and treatments against the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it hoped other international donors would also pledge more.

An extra $50m will go to the Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC) led by the Gavi vaccine alliance, the foundation said, and another $20m to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) which is co-funding development of several Covid-19 vaccine candidates, reports Reuters.

“We have to ensure that everyone gets equal access to tests, drugs, and vaccines when they are available – no matter where you live in the world,” the foundation’s co-chair, Melinda Gates, said in a statement. “Our pledge today … means we are getting closer to having the resources needed to help the world fight this virus.”

Along with the World Health Organization, Cepi and Gavi are co-leading a global scheme known as the Access to Covid-19 Tools (Act) accelerator, which aims to speed up development, production and fair access to Covid-19 drugs, tests and vaccines.

Updated

European shares retreated from eight-month highs on Thursday as surging coronavirus infections raised doubts about a quicker economic rebound and overshadowed several upbeat quarterly earnings reports, reports Reuters.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down 0.7% by 08.04 GMT, taking some of the shine off gains of more than 13% this month that had set it on course for its best monthly performance ever.

London’s FTSE 100 fell 0.9% as data showed the UK economy grew by a slower than expected 1.1% in September from August, even before the latest restrictions on businesses.

The German engineering group Siemens shed 3.4% even as it reported better-than-expected profit at its industrial business in the final set of results overseen by Siemens’ long-standing chief executive, Joe Kaeser.

Updated

Israeli’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he is working “around the clock” to make a deal with the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, following promising preliminary results from its Covid-19 vaccine trial.

Fearing Israel could be left without an early vaccine, the country’s leader said he had held two phone calls with Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla – one at 2am local time on Thursday – in the hopes of signing an agreement.

Netanyahu said in a statement that the call was “very warm and cordial” but did not announce an agreement had been signed. “The whole world wants to get [Pfizer’s] medicines. We are negotiating with them,” he said.

Interim results from Pfizer this week suggested that its two-shot vaccine, developed with the German firm BioNTech, was 90% effective.

Local media in Israel, a country of 9 million people, reported the prime minister was looking to source about 6m doses. Pfizer has not commented on any deal.

Israel has deals in place with at least two other pharmaceutical firms for vaccines and is developing its own, but officials do not expect to start vaccination drives with those unreleased products for several months.

Updated

AP is looking at whether it is safe to fly during the pandemic. From 1 December, reports the news agency, Southwest Airlines will join United and American in allowing every seat on planes to be sold. JetBlue will scale back the number of blocked seats, and – along with Delta and Alaska – plans to drop all limits some time next year.

The airline industry says it is safe to fly, pointing to a report it funded that found the risk of viral spread on planes very low if everyone wears a mask as planes have good ventilation and strong air filters.

But the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that sitting within 6ft of other passengers – sometimes for hours – can still increase your risk of infection. And although airlines are still requiring passengers to wear masks, there is no guarantee everyone will comply. More than 1,000 people who refused to wear masks have been banned by US airlines.

Remember, says AP, that flying also means spending time in airport security lines and gate areas, where you might come into close contact with others.

In an October travel update, the CDC emphasised the importance of wearing a mask and recommended checking whether infections are rising in the area to which you’re travelling.

Updated

The Philippine health ministry has reported 1,407 new coronavirus infections and 11 more deaths, the lowest daily increase in fatalities in nearly three months.

The ministry said total confirmed cases rose to 402,820, while deaths reached 7,721. The Philippines has the second highest Covid-19 cases and deaths in south-east Asia, next to Indonesia.

Updated

Delhi warns Diwali could be ‘super spreader event’

A senior health department official in Delhi has said that Diwali, starting on 14 November, could be “a super spreader event [but] the public just doesn’t see the threat”, reports Reuters.

India has so far reported about 8.6m coronavirus infections – the world’s second highest after the US – and 127,571 deaths. But overall, it has been adding fewer cases daily since a mid-September peak, and its fatality figure of 92 per million people is well below the world’s tally of 160 and the US’s 711.

Still, the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research says the recent fall in cases nationally could be undone if there is a resurgence in infections around Diwali.

Federal authorities have asked the local government in the capital to prepare resources to handle as many as 15,000 cases a day and test more aggressively.

More than half of the city’s 16,511 Covid hospital beds were occupied as of Wednesday, government data showed, with more than 24,000 other patients isolating at home. There is no separate data for ICU beds.

Updated

Indonesia has signed $1bn loan deal with Australia’s government to be used to help combat the coronavirus pandemic in the south-east Asian country, Indonesia’s finance minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, said on Thursday.

“Everybody, all parts of society, are hurt by this Covid-19 [outbreak] and the role of fiscal policy, together with other instruments, like monetary policy, is very critical during this difficult time,” Sri Mulyani told a streamed news conference.

Indonesia has recorded the highest number of coronavirus infections and fatalities in south-east Asia, with 448,118 cases and 14,836 deaths by Wednesday, according to the country’s Covid-19 task force.

Updated

Italy is experiencing a virus surge with hospitals facing breaking point, according to a report by AP.

The Italian doctors federation called this week for a nationwide lockdown to forestall a collapse of the medical system, marked by the closure of non-emergency procedures. The government is facing tougher criticism than in the spring, when the health crisis was met with an outpouring of solidarity.

As of Wednesday, 52% of Italy’s hospital beds were occupied by Covid-19 patients, above the 40% warning threshold set by the Health Ministry.

Nine of Italy’s 21 regions and autonomous provinces are already securely in the red-alert zone, above 50% virus occupancy, with Lombardy at 75%, Piedmont at 92% and South Tyrol at an astonishing 99%.
Lombardy, Italy’s most populous and productive region, is again the epicenter of Italy’s pandemic.

The region’s hospitals are responding by reorganising wards in a bid to avoid shutting down ordinary care, as happened spontaneously during Italy’s first deadly coronavirus spike.

But nonetheless, hospitals in Lombardy and neighbouring Piedmont — designated red zones by the government last week — have closed surgical, paediatric and geriatric wards to make room for COVID patients. Veneto, still a lowest-tier yellow zone, is preparing to cancel all non-urgent procedures this week.

Updated

Turkey has banned smoking in public places across the country to curb the spread of Covid-19, AP is reporting.

The interior ministry said smoking would be banned in busy streets, bus stops and public squares when necessary. It said the nationwide mask mandate in public spaces, which has been in effect for several months, must be followed at all times and smokers were routinely violating the mask rule.

The ministry also said provinces can decide to impose curfews on senior citizens above the age of 65 if they are seeing increases in the number of critical patients. The governors of Istanbul and Ankara have already reintroduced measures this week, allowing senior citizens to leave their homes only between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Turkey has seen a spike in infections since lifting partial lockdowns and reopening businesses in late May. The latest Health Ministry figures show 86 new fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 11,145.

Good morning from GMT – and starting gently with you all, I’ve got news from Reuters that while lockdown may have shut Czech theatres, Prague residents hungry for entertainment have found that watching a live performance can be as easy as grabbing a takeaway

Prague troupe Cirk La Putyka has opened a “Culture Window” at a Prague marketplace building where an audience of up to four outside can watch a five-minute live show of music, acrobatics and dancing inside, while still observing social distancing rules.

The window, which opened on Tuesday for two nights of performances, draws its inspiration from pick-up windows for food orders at restaurants that have also been forced to shut dining spaces due to tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Cirk La Putyka in Prague
New circus company shows art through take away window amid coronavirus in Prague. Spectators look on the ‘The take away window of culture’ performance created by the contemporary circus company Cirk La Putyka in Prague.
Photograph: Martin Divíšek/EPA

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today. I’m handing over to my splendid colleague Amelia Hill.

Summary

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • The US confirmed its highest 24-hour infection total to date – with a world record of 136,000 cases recorded in one day. The US also suffered its highest death toll since early May, with 1,984 coronavirus deaths.
  • Texas passes 1m cases. Texas on Wednesday became the first state with more than 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, and California closed in on that mark as a surge of coronavirus infections engulfs the country.
  • Auckland, New Zealand asks people to work from home tomorrow. The department of health has asked all New Zealanders who live or work in Auckland central city to stay home tomorrow after further details emerged of the mystery case of Covid-19, whose point of infection is as yet unknown.
  • Athletes arriving at Tokyo Olympic Games will be exempt from isolation requirements. Athletes arriving in Tokyo for next year’s Olympic Games, postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be exempt from the 14-day isolation period Japan has imposed on anyone arriving from overseas to help stop the virus spreading.
  • Cyprus has announced partial lockdowns in the towns of Limassol and Paphos to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases. The local measures, which include a ban on travel into and out of the towns and a nightly curfew, will take effect from Thursday and last until the end of November.
  • Sweden’s PM, Stefan Lofven, said his government plans to ban nationwide the sale of alcohol after 10pm in bars, restaurants and night clubs from 20 November in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19. Sweden has witnessed record numbers of new coronavirus infections in past weeks, which is burdening the country’s health care system and intensive care wards.
  • Spain’s coronavirus death toll surged to over 40,000 with infections passing the 1.4 million mark, while the rate of new cases continued to grow, health ministry data showed. A further 349 people died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 40,105 in Spain – the fourth-highest within the European Union after the United Kingdom, France and Italy.
  • South Africa will open up travel to all countries and restore normal trading hours of alcohol, despite having the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the continent, in an effort to boost the tourism and hospitality sectors, the president Cyril Ramaphosa said.
  • Officials and doctors in Pakistan urged people to stay at home as the air quality in Lahore deteriorated to hazardous levels, putting an additional burden on the fragile healthcare system amid a surge in coronavirus deaths and new infections.
  • The New York governor Andrew Cuomo imposed a new round of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus as the infection rate climbed and hospitalisations soared in the state. Taking effect on Friday, Cuomo ordered bars, restaurants and gyms in the state to shut down on-premises services at 10pm nightly, and capped the number of people who could attend private parties at 10.
  • Turkey banned smoking in crowded public places to slow a recent surge in symptomatic patients with coronavirus, as the government warned citizens to abide by protective measures. It comes as daily cases surged to 2,693 on Wednesday.
  • Greek authorities announced stricter restrictions on movement, extending a curfew nationwide after infections broke fresh records, reporting 2,752 new cases on Wednesday. Four days after the country went into a second lockdown to curb the surge in cases, the government said all circulation would be banned between 9pm and 5am.
  • Spain will demand a negative Covid-19 test for all travellers arriving from countries with a high risk for coronavirus from 23 November. Visitors will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test result within the previous 72 hours to be granted entry and officials will be allowed to ask for proof of the test results.

Athletes arriving at Tokyo Olympic Games will be exempt from isolation requirements

Athletes arriving in Tokyo for next year’s Olympic Games, postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be exempt from the 14-day isolation period Japan has imposed on anyone arriving from overseas to help stop the virus spreading.

Olympic organisers said on Thursday details still need to be worked out, but measures for athletes are likely to include coronavirus testing within 72 hours before arriving in Japan. But they warned decisions on spectators from overseas have yet to be made, saying a 14-day quarantine was “impossible”.

“Athletes, coaches and Games officials that are eligible for the Tokyo Games will be allowed to enter the country, provided significant measures are made before they get to Japan,” Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Officer Toshiro Muto told a news conference.

Athletes wearing protective masks amid the coronavirus outbreak take part in the opening ceremony of Friendship and Solidarity Competition, the first international event at a Tokyo Olympic venue since the Games were postponed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan, 8 November 2020.
Athletes wearing protective masks amid the coronavirus outbreak take part in the opening ceremony of Friendship and Solidarity Competition, the first international event at a Tokyo Olympic venue since the Games were postponed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan, 8 November 2020.
Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Muto was speaking after a meeting between officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the national government and Tokyo 2020 organisers on infection prevention procedures during the Games.

He said a decision on foreign spectators would be made next year, depending on pandemic developments.

“By next spring, we will be coming up with a plan for spectators, including non-Japanese spectators,” he said. “It is impossible to set a 14-day quarantine period for foreign spectators, so tests before and upon arrival are needed.”

Japan has held several recent test events, including a four-nation gymnastics meet last weekend, in which spectators have been admitted, but these were limited to residents of Japan.

International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach is due in Japan for a three-day visit next week, at which Muto said he expected details of coronavirus counter-measures would be ironed out.

California nears 1m confirmed infections

California looks set to be the second state — behind Texas — to eclipse a million known coronavirus cases. The grim milestone in a state of 40 million comes as the US has surpassed 10 million infections.

The state currently has 989,400 cases confirmed.

The timeline of Covid-19 in America often comes back to California. It had some of the earliest known cases among travellers from China, where the outbreak began. The Feb. 6 death of a San Jose woman is the first known coronavirus fatality in the U.S. That same month, California recorded the first US case not related to travel and the first infection spread within the community.

On 19 March, Governor Gavin Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order, shuttering businesses and schools to try to prevent hospital overcrowding.

The spread slowed, but California faced the same challenges as other states: providing enough protective gear for health workers, doing enough testing and providing timely results, tracking infections and those potentially exposed.

A man wearing a face mask walks past a mural in South Central Los Angeles. In November 2020, California is reaching an unwelcome coronavirus record: its 1 millionth positive test.
A man wearing a face mask walks past a mural in South Central Los Angeles. In November 2020, California is reaching an unwelcome coronavirus record: its 1 millionth positive test.
Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

As the state tried to balance public health and the economy, cases rose as it relaxed business restrictions. Eleven counties this week had to reimpose limits.

The virus has struck poor Californians and Latinos especially hard. Latinos make up 39% of the population but account for more than 60% of infections.

In working-class neighborhoods near downtown Los Angeles, one in five people tested positive at community clinics during the pandemic’s early days, said Jim Mangia, president and chief executive of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center.

Many caught the virus in essential low-wage jobs or on public transit and brought it back to crowded homes.

The United States continued to notch up grim records on Wednesday as it battles through the coronavirus pandemic, with a worsening outbreak in the northeast of the country adding pressure on top of an already reeling Midwest, Reuters reports.

New Covid-19 infections of 142,279 were at an all-time daily high for a second day in a row and above 100,000 for an eighth consecutive day, according to a Reuters tally.

The number of people hospitalised with the virus also surged, to at least 64,939 by late Wednesday, the highest ever during the pandemic. The death toll rose by 1,464.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was the latest state official to impose a new round of social distancing restrictions on Wednesday, in an attempt to protect a state that was the epicentre of the US outbreak in its early stages.

The US has reported a total of about 10.4 million cases and 241,809 deaths throughout the pandemic.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 21,866 to 727,553, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 215 to 11,982, the tally showed.

Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, said on Thursday it has made 40 million doses of AstraZeneca’s potential Covid-19 vaccine, and would soon begin making Novavax’s rival shot, as they both seek regulatory approval.

Serum said it has enrolled 1,600 participants in India for late-stage trials of AstraZeneca’s candidate, and also plans to seek regulatory approval to run late-stage trials for the Novavax vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, co-developed by Oxford University, is the most advanced in human testing in India, Serum said.

Time for a soothing break from coronavirus and capitalism.

In Australia, a team of researchers has spotted the elusive bigfin squid in Australian waters for the first time. Two voyages to the Great Australian Bight, one in 2015 and another in 2017, recorded the cephalopod in waters kilometres below the ocean’s surface. Bigfin squid – also known as magnapinna – can measure up to seven metres in length:

 

Reuters: Alibaba and JD.com said the United States was the top seller of goods to China during the Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza yesterday, which generated about $116 billion in merchandise volume for the pair.

Singles’ Day is usually a one-day sales event, the world’s biggest, eclipsing Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. Many online companies offer deals at the event.

This year, companies including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD.com Inc offered promotions over several days, with sales widely interpreted as indicative of China’s rebounding post-virus economy.

Customers, unable to travel abroad because of the Covid-19 pandemic, snatched up deals from brands including Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Fast Retailing Co Ltd’s Uniqlo.

Auckland, New Zealand asks people to work from home tomorrow

The department of health has asked all New Zealanders who live or work in Auckland central city to stay home tomorrow after further details emerged of the mystery case of Covid-19, whose point of infection is as yet unknown.

The student, a young woman, began displaying symptoms on Monday and continued going to work at her customer-facing job in the central city, despite being tested for Covid-19 and being told to stay home. The woman’s manager told her to come to work, and wear a mask instead – ignoring health advice.

The woman lived alone in a large block of apartments, and all residents there are being asked to stay home until they have all been tested. The woman also took a number of uber’s to her job in the central city, and frequently bought food and takeaways from the CBD while she was symptomatic.

More information will emerge tomorrow on whether Auckland will need to move up alert levels.

An elderly woman living in a care home has become the first person to die of Covid-19 in Gibraltar.

The tiny British enclave on the southernmost tip of Spain has managed to keep its numbers under control by adopting an aggressive track-and-trace policy.

Chinese airlines will need 8,600 new airplanes worth $1.4tn over the next 20 years, Boeing Co said on Thursday.

Boeing’s latest estimate for the period to 2039 is 6.3% higher than the U.S. plane-maker’s previous prediction of 8,090 planes last year, despite the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic.

China will also need $1.7tn worth of commercial services for its aircraft fleet, Boeing said.

In the US, celebrations marking Veterans Day gave way to somber virtual gatherings Wednesday, with many of the nation’s veterans homes barring visitors to protect their residents from the surging coronavirus that has killed thousands of former members of the US military, AP reports.

Cemeteries decorated with American flags were silent as well, as many of the traditional ceremonies were canceled. With infections raging again nationwide, several veterans homes are fighting new outbreaks.

In New York City, a quiet parade of military vehicles, with no spectators, rolled through Manhattan to maintain the 101-year tradition of veterans marching on Fifth Avenue. President Donald Trump took part in an observance at Arlington National Cemetery, while President-elect Joe Biden placed a wreath at the Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia.

Residents and staff watch during a socially-distanced Veterans Day ceremony at the Southern Nevada State Veterans Home, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Boulder City, Nevada.
Residents and staff watch during a socially-distanced Veterans Day ceremony at the Southern Nevada State Veterans Home, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Boulder City, Nevada.
Photograph: John Locher/AP

More than 4,200 veterans have died from Covid-19 at hospitals and homes run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and nearly 85,000 have been infected, according to the department.
That death toll does not include an untold number who have died in private or state-run veterans facilities, including the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts, which had nearly 80 deaths earlier this year. Two former administrators were charged with criminal offenses after an investigation found that “utterly baffling” decisions caused the disease to run rampant there.

American veterans are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their age and underlying health conditions, some of which can be traced to exposure to the Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange and smoke from burning oilfields in the Persian Gulf.

Updated

Across the Pacific:

French Polynesia, which has one of the highest incidence of Covid-19 per capita outside mainland Europe, has recorded another 345 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the archipelago’s tally to 11,316.

52 people have died in the pandemic. But this number is likely to rise, with 21 currently in intensive care.

French Polynesia had recorded just 62 cases – most in visiting police and military personnel – when it opened its borders in July and abolished mandatory quarantine requirements. But the French territory has since been forced to impose a nightly curfew, and meetings in public have been limited to six people.

While France is in a nationwide lockdown, French Polynesia has been exempted.

French Polynesia is dealing with a significant outbreak of Covid-19 infections, one of the highest outside mainland Europe.
French Polynesia is dealing with a significant outbreak of Covid-19 infections, one of the highest outside mainland Europe.
Photograph: Suliane Favennec/AFP/Getty Images

The Vanuatu government locked down the main island of Efate after it recorded its first case of Covid-19 on Wednesday, a citizen repatriated from the United States who tested positive in quarantine.

The 23-year old man is asymptomatic and is being held in an isolation ward at Port Vila Central Hospital.

“I want to assure our people that the Government will apply strict protocols and Covid-19 measures to ensure the case doesn’t spread and our country remains safe,” Vanuatu Prime Minister Bob Loughman said.

“The situation is under the government’s control.”

The Marshall Islands has declared it is, again, Covid-19, free, after the country’s lone case, at the US army base in Kwajalein, was declared free of the virus.

“We will have our yellow flags back up this week,” the government’s chief secretary Kino Kabua said on Wednesday. Yellow flags are used to designate Covid-free status in the Marshalls.

“He ceased to pose an infectious threat on 8 November 2020 – his 12th day of supervised and secured quarantine – and has been assessed as recovered and no longer an active case of Covid-19 by his primary physician,” a statement from the chief secretary’s office said.

In several regions of Russia, particularly in Siberia, doctors and patients have reported extreme pressure on emergency services.

Russia has the fourth-highest virus caseload in the world with more than 1.83 million registered infections, and over 31,500 deaths. While Moscow remains the epicentre of the outbreak, the regions now account for about three quarters of the country’s overall caseload compared to just under half in the spring.

In late October, a video that was later confirmed by authorities showed bodies piling up in a morgue in the Altai region.

A member of staff handles papers in a new medical facility for Covid-19 patients built at Volgograd Regional Infectious Diseases Hospital No 2 in Volzhsky, 20km northeast of Volgograd, Russia.
A member of staff handles papers in a new medical facility for Covid-19 patients built at Volgograd Regional Infectious Diseases Hospital No 2 in Volzhsky, 20km northeast of Volgograd, Russia.
Photograph: Dmitry Rogulin/TASS

In a small hospital in the Far North, a nurse who asked that her last name be withheld, said she regularly had to take care of around 30 coronavirus patients on her own.

But, nurse Alexandra said, she could only use one respirator mask per day.

“One of my colleagues quit on her first day. She said she couldn’t work in this hell,” she told AFP.

Concerned that the situation may further deteriorate, many medical workers are moving to Moscow or the second city of Saint Petersburg, which offer better salaries and working conditions in virus units.

The chief physician at Moscow’s Inozemtsev Hospital, Alexander Mitichkin, has hired about 300 medical workers from around the country.

“Some will stay here after the epidemic because we all need the best specialists,” he said.

Here is the full story on Brazil ’s health regulator allowing the resumption of late-stage clinical trials for China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine:

Texas passes 1m cases

Texas on Wednesday became the first state with more than 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, and California closed in on that mark as a surge of coronavirus infections engulfs the country.

Reuters: Texas, the second-most populous state, has recorded 1.02 million coronavirus cases and over 19,000 deaths since the outbreak began in early March, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The US has recorded over 240,000 deaths and more than 10.3 million confirmed infections, with new cases soaring to all-time highs of well over 120,000 per day over the past week. Health experts have blamed the increase in part on the onset of cold weather and growing frustration with mask-wearing and other precautions.

Texas reported 10,865 new cases on Tuesday, breaking a record set in mid-July. One of the hardest-hit places is the border city of El Paso; its county has nearly 28,000 active cases and has suffered more than 680 Covid-19 deaths.

Here is the full story on New Zealand’s mystery Covid case:

Stocks in Asia were set to continue their gains on Thursday, buoyed again by continued global stimulus efforts and hopes of a coronavirus vaccine, Reuters reports.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 shares rose 0.29% in early trading, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures fell 0.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures rose 0.56%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.01% higher.

The gains in Asia came after a mixed performance for US stocks. The Nasdaq closed up 2% on Wednesday as investors switched back to technology stocks and away from economically sensitive sectors as they weighed Covid-19 vaccine progress and the likely timing of an economic rebound.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23.29 points, or 0.08%, to 29,397.63 and the S&P 500 gained 27.13 points, or 0.77%, to 3,572.66.

Pedestrians are reflected in a window of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney on November 9, 2020.
Pedestrians are reflected in a window of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney on November 9, 2020.
Photograph: Joel Carrett/AFP/Getty Images

The momentum of vaccine hopes and encouraging comments from European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde on continued economic support boosted European shares higher for the third straight session.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 1.08% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.05%.

The US dollar rose and the safe-haven yen weakened again on Wednesday as markets continued to adjust to higher interest rates and prospects for economic growth.

The Australian dollar was flat versus the greenback at$0.728.

The New Zealand dollar was also muted in early trading after it soared on Wednesday to its strongest in a year and a half as traders scaled back bets that the central bank there would move to negative interest rates.

Updated

Brazil says Chinese vaccine trial can resume after suspension

Brazil health regulator Anvisa on Wednesday allowed resumption of late-stage Brazilian clinical trials for China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine, which had been suspended due to a study subject’s death that was registered in Sao Paulo as a suicide, Reuters reports.

Brazilian medical institute Butantan said in a statement it would restart trials later on Wednesday.

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, a longtime China critic who has baselessly dismissed the Sinovac vaccine as lacking in credibility, had hailed Monday’s suspension as a personal victory.

Bolsonaro reiterated, however, on Wednesday evening that his government would purchase whatever vaccine is approved by Anvisa and the Health Ministry, which could ultimately include the Sinovac vaccine, if approved.

The decision to suspend the trial – one of Sinovac’s three large late-stage studies – was criticized by the trial organizers, who said the move had taken them by surprise and that there had been no need to stop the study as the death had no relation to the vaccine.

The suspension further inflamed tensions between Bolsonaro and Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who has pinned his political ambitions on the Chinese vaccine that he aims to roll out in his state as early as January, with or without federal assistance.

Anvisa, in its statement on Wednesday, said the initial information it received about the case, which led to the suspension, had been incomplete and lacked the cause of the “severe adverse event.” It has strongly dismissed suggestions the decision could have been politically motivated.

“After evaluating the new data presented by the sponsor … Anvisa understands that it has sufficient reasons to allow the resumption of vaccination,” the agency said.

“It is important to clarify that a suspension does not necessarily mean that the product under investigation does not offer quality, safety or efficacy,” Anvisa added.

Sinovac, in a statement said: “We are confident in the safety of the vaccine, fully understand and appreciate Anvisa’s strict supervision and timely resumption of the clinical studies.”

New Zealand identifies one new community case of coronavirus

A new, mysterious case of Covid-19 has been recorded in New Zealand’s largest city, and so far it has no links to the border or anyone that works there.

The person, a university student, became symptomatic on Monday and continued going to their job in the CBD. Authorities believe they may have become infected the previous Saturday, but as yet they are not sure how, or where.

Urgent genome testing is underway to see if the case has links to other domestic or international outbreaks, and the student has been placed in a quarantine hotel.

The announcement caused concern for many Aucklanders, worried that they may face moving up an alert level. Another press conference on the case is scheduled for 5 pm, local time.

More on this soon.

Britain is “sleepwalking into a debt crisis” after a steep rise in emergency borrowing by low- and middle-income households to cope with the Covid-19 jobs crisis.

Research by the debt charity Stepchange found that household borrowing and arrears linked to the coronavirus pandemic have soared 66% since May to £10.3bn. The number of people who are in severe debt has risen to 1.2 million – nearly doubling since March – with a further 3 million people at risk of falling into arrears after taking on extra short-term loans.

Phil Andrew, the charity’s chief executive, said: “This report paints a picture of a nation sleepwalking into a debt crisis. Despite a bold initial reaction to the pandemic, the government and financial services sector’s toolkit of responses has not evolved, and the result is a spiralling number of people being plunged into debt due to Covid-19. And the worst is yet to come”:

China reports 15 new coronavirus cases

Mainland China reported 15 new Covid-19 cases for 11 November, down from 17 cases a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Thursday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that one of the new cases was a local infection in Tianjin. The remaining 14 cases were imported infections that originated from overseas, the commission said.

The total number of new asymptomatic cases fell to six from 15 reported a day earlier. China does not count symptomless patients as confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China to date now stands at 86,299, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Denis Campbell and Lisa O’Carroll report:

Thousands of hospital staff will join the drive to vaccinate all adults in England against coronavirus and will be deployed at mass vaccination centres to give the jab to up to 5,000 people a day, NHS officials involved in the plans said.

The NHS intends to use football stadiums, town halls and conference centres in England to inoculate at least 2,000 people each day.

The new facilities will be additional to the 1,560 community-based vaccination centres run by GPs, which will dispense 200 to 500 jabs a day. All the venues will do temperature checks on people before entry allowing space for social distancing and a 15-minute recovery time:

Summary: New York reimposes restrictions as US sees world record 136,000 cases in one day

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

My name is Helen Sullivan, you can get in touch with me here, and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next while.

As the US confirmed its highest 24 hours total to date – with a world record of 136,000 cases confirmed in one day, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced new curbs on Wednesday.

Restaurants, bars and gyms will have to close at 10 p.m. across New York state, and people will also be barred from hosting private gatherings with more than 10 people.

Cuomo says the new restrictions going into effect Friday are necessary because new coronavirus infections have been traced to those types of activities. Businesses can reopen each morning.

Cuomo spoke as rates of coronavirus infection continued to rise in New York and elsewhere. He said that 1,628 people were hospitalised across the state for Covid-19 on Tuesday and that 21 people had died.

The new closing time applies to all establishments that are licensed by the State Liquor Authority. Only carry-out service will be allowed after that.

Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:

  • Cyprus has announced partial lockdowns in the towns of Limassol and Paphos to curb a surge in Covid-19 cases. The local measures, which include a ban on travel into and out of the towns and a nightly curfew, will take effect from Thursday and last until the end of November.
  • Texas became the first US state with more than 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases. California is also closing in on that mark as a surge of coronavirus infections engulfs the country from coast to coast.
  • Sweden’s PM, Stefan Lofven, said his government plans to ban nationwide the sale of alcohol after 10pm in bars, restaurants and night clubs from 20 November in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19. Sweden has witnessed record numbers of new coronavirus infections in past weeks, which is burdening the country’s health care system and intensive care wards.
  • Spain’s coronavirus death toll surged to over 40,000 with infections passing the 1.4 million mark, while the rate of new cases continued to grow, health ministry data showed. A further 349 people died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 40,105 in Spain – the fourth-highest within the European Union after the United Kingdom, France and Italy.
  • Despite having the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the continent, South Africa will open up travel to all countries and restore normal trading hours of alcohol in an effort to boost the tourism and hospitality sectors, the president Cyril Ramaphosa said.
  • Officials and doctors in Pakistan urged people to stay at home as the air quality in Lahore deteriorated to hazardous levels, putting an additional burden on the fragile healthcare system amid a surge in coronavirus deaths and new infections.
  • The New York governor Andrew Cuomo imposed a new round of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus as the infection rate climbed and hospitalisations soared in the state. Taking effect on Friday, Cuomo ordered bars, restaurants and gyms in the state to shut down on-premises services at 10pm nightly, and capped the number of people who could attend private parties at 10.
  • Turkey banned smoking in crowded public places to slow a recent surge in symptomatic patients with coronavirus, as the government warned citizens to abide by protective measures. It comes as daily cases surged to 2,693 on Wednesday.
  • Greek authorities announced stricter restrictions on movement, extending a curfew nationwide after infections broke fresh records, reporting 2,752 new cases on Wednesday. Four days after the country went into a second lockdown to curb the surge in cases, the government said all circulation would be banned between 9pm and 5am.
  • Spain will demand a negative Covid-19 test for all travellers arriving from countries with a high risk for coronavirus from 23 November. Visitors will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test result within the previous 72 hours to be granted entry and officials will be allowed to ask for proof of the test results.
  • The total number of coronavirus cases registered in Italy since the start of the pandemic surpassed the one million mark, the health ministry said.
  • Slovakia’s government will extend its state of emergency powers for the rest of the year to battle a surge in coronavirus cases.

Updated

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