Coronavirus live news: Russia records worst day for new infections; India passes 9m cases

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Mexico deaths pass 100,000 as fragments found in Victorian sewage” was written by Lisa Cox (now), Nadeem Badshah, Nazia Parveen, Haroon Siddique, Kevin Rawlinson, Martin Farrer and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Saturday 21st November 2020 01.10 UTC

1.10am GMT

12.57am GMT

Marshall is asked if he admits there have been shortcomings in South Australia’s hotel quarantine system.

“Not at all. There will be a thorough investigation but what we have said since day one is this is a highly contagious disease … we know that, very highly trained nurses and with all of their PPE, they have been able to contract the disease, so we know there is a risk associated with every time we bring somebody into this country,” he says.

“But we do believe we have an obligation to play our part in this national repatriation of Australian citizens.”

Updated at 12.58am GMT

12.53am GMT

Steven Marshall is talking about the lifting of the hard lockdown in South Australia at midnight tonight.

“The vast majority of businesses will be back trading. There will be some restrictions right through to the 1 December,” he says.

“The No 1 priority is getting businesses stood up as quickly as possible.”

He is asked if there will be compensation for businesses affected by the hard lockdown this week.

“Compensation is not something we are contemplating at this point in time,” Marshall says.

“What we’re trying to do is get through the situation, this very difficult situation, get back to the situation that we had prior to the Parafield cluster emerging. Which was, I think, the best level of restrictions in the entire country.”

He says he doesn’t want South Australian residents to think that there is no further risk in the community once that lockdown lifts tonight.

“I don’t want anyone watching this telecast to think that the risks are over,” he says.

“While the risk is far more diminished … the risk is still there, it is a real risk that we need to adhere very strictly to the restrictions.”

Updated at 12.59am GMT

12.48am GMT

Two new cases in Queensland today, both in hotel quarantine. There are no new local cases.

12.40am GMT

Reporters are asking about the timeline in South Australia from the case at the pizza bar and the decision to lock down the state.

A reporter asks: Can you give us a precise time, please, about when you were aware or made aware of the pizza box, and then the decision to lock down, to recommend a lockdown to the commissioner?

Spurrier: I cannot tell you exact times, you know, I am very busy and I got lots of information coming to me. But [we heard] about the Stamford case and told the press. Later that evening, certainly after eight or nine o’clock at night, when I got home, I received this other case, which I was told was the pizza delivery person … I know people have a thing about the pizza box but it was a person that had a pizza there or a pizza delivery but had only had a small time of exposure to the pizza bar.

That meant that anyone else who had a short time of exposure in the same setting could have potentially contracted the virus.

Updated at 12.44am GMT

12.25am GMT

NSW records no new local Covid-19 cases

New South Wales has recorded another day of no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19.

Ten cases were reported in overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, bringing the total number of cases in NSW since the start of the pandemic to 4338.

There were 16,329 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with 18,391 in the previous 24 hours.

NSW Health is treating 70 Covid-19 cases, none of whom are in intensive care. Most cases, 96 per cent, are being treated by NSW Health in non-acute, out-of-hospital care.

Updated at 12.33am GMT

12.22am GMT

South Australia’s police commissioner, Grant Stevens, has been talking about the investigation involving the Woodville pizza bar and the worker who failed to disclose his job at the bar.

He says there are 20 officers following up on that one case.

Stevens says the worker involved is a 36-year-old man on a temporary graduate’s visa.

The man is in quarantine and the investigation is continuing.

12.17am GMT

Spurrier is saying early detection of those first cases made it possible for health authorities to trace and get a handle on the cluster quickly.

She makes some clarifications about the case linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar, which is now subject to an investigation.

Spurrier says: “To be clear, the decision to lock down hard, and I know it has been very difficult for people in South Australia, and perhaps difficult to understand, was not based on the interview with one man.

“We would never make those decisions in isolation of just one piece of information, it is very complex.”

Updated at 12.44am GMT

12.11am GMT

A little more from that press conference in South Australia.

The chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, says the state is averaging 28 hours to turn around results of a Covid-19 test.

She says the next week will be crucial.

“It is now the time of this outbreak that we will start to see, in the next week, anyone in the community who we haven’t been able to identify through our extensive contact tracing who may start to become positive,” she says.

She says now is the time for anyone with any symptoms, even if they are minor, to get tested.

12.08am GMT

South Australia records one new Covid-19 case

South Australia’s chief health officer, Nicola Spurrier, says the state has one new confirmed case of Covid-19. It is a close contact of another case and the person had been in isolation so there is no risk to the community.

“He has been in quarantine since his partner tested positive, so it is definitely linked to the Parafield cluster,” she says.

“We do expect to see more cases, but we are hoping that they will all be people in quarantine, and we are actually doing regular testing of people in quarantine.”

There are now 26 cases linked to the cluster and more than 5400 close contacts are in quarantine.

“We still have some work to do, but just to say that we have made huge inroads into the investigation and getting on top of this outbreak,” Spurrier says.

12.03am GMT

The South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, has been speaking in Adelaide.

He says he is pleased the state’s hard lockdown will lift at midnight tonight.

But he wants to make clear “we are not out of the woods yet”.

“The expert health advice we have received is that we are still managing a very dangerous cluster and although we are reducing those restrictions, we are still very concerned about this cluster,” he says.

“There are still many people that we need to identify and put into a quarantine situation and get testing results and that needs to happen today, all resources have been deployed to that very important task.”

11.47pm GMT

US president-elect Joe Biden, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed in a meeting on Friday that Congress should pass a package of coronavirus economic aid in its current session, Reuters reports.

“That package should include resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, relief for working families and small businesses, support for state and local governments trying to keep frontline workers on the payroll, expanded unemployment insurance and affordable health care for millions of families,” the joint statement, released by Biden’s office, said.

Biden, who is due to take office on 20 January, has been pushing for quick action on a coronavirus relief bill, but Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been far apart for months on the scope and cost of such a measure.

Schumer said on Thursday that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had agreed to resume coronavirus relief talks. Staff members representing McConnell, Schumer, Pelosi and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy met on Thursday, according a senior Democratic aide.

Updated at 11.50pm GMT

11.25pm GMT

In the US, officials have confirmed Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, tested positive for Covid-19 this week.

He is experiencing no symptoms, according to a spokesman.

The president’s eldest son managed to evade infection after the White House super-spreader event earlier this year led to positive tests for many around him, including his father and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.

But he tested positive at the start of the week for Covid-19, according to a statement from his spokesman.

“Don has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result,” the spokesman said. “He’s been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended guidelines.”

Updated at 11.41pm GMT

11.20pm GMT

Reuters reports:

The US Food and Drug Administration’s outside advisers will meet on 10 December to discuss whether to authorise the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech for emergency use, the agency said on Friday.

The move comes after Pfizer applied for the authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine earlier in the day, the first such application in a major step toward providing protection against the new coronavirus.

“While we cannot predict how long the FDA’s review will take, the FDA will review the request as expeditiously as possible,” FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

The meeting of Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will discuss the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine candidate.

The FDA is not obligated to abide by its advisory panel recommendations, but typically does.

Updated at 11.41pm GMT

11.09pm GMT

In Australia, Victoria’s health minister, Martin Foley, has been speaking in Melbourne about the traces of coronavirus that were detected in sewage in the Altona catchment.

The catchment covers suburbs including Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes, and residents or people who have visited are being encouraged to get tested if they have any symptoms.

Foley says detection of the virus in wastewater was unexpected.

“The result is really unexpected, given that there have been some eight weeks since the last known resident in these areas had a coronavirus illness or diagnosis,” he says.

Updated at 11.40pm GMT

10.54pm GMT

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, will urge other G20 leaders to take more ambitious action to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and to address climate change at a weekend virtual summit in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports.

In remarks ahead of the meeting, Johnson appealed to leaders of the other nations that make up the G20 group of major economies to honour their promise to do “whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic and protect lives and livelihoods”.

He will also use Sunday’s session to call on those leaders yet to make net zero commitments to make the same pledge, just under a month before Britain co-hosts the Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December.

“The G20 committed in March to do ‘whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic and protect lives and livelihoods’. As we meet this weekend, we must hold ourselves to account for that promise,” he said before addressing the summit.

“If we harness the collective ingenuity and resources of the G20, we can chart a path out of the pandemic and build a better, greener future.”

Updated at 11.05pm GMT

10.33pm GMT

In the US, Wisconsin’s governor issued an emergency health order on Friday requiring face masks to be used indoors except at home, a move aimed at slowing a surge in coronavirus infections that is pushing hospitals to the limits of their capacity.

The face-covering mandate marked the latest in a flurry of new restrictions by state and local officials nationwide to tamp down Covid-19 cases soaring with the onset of winter.

Public health experts say greater social mixing and indoor gatherings as the weather turns colder ahead of the holiday season is fuelling the escalating contagion, threatening to inundate already strained healthcare systems.

“Wisconsin hospitals are overwhelmed and facing staffing shortages,” said the Wisconsin governor, Tony Evers, a Democrat, according to Reuters.

His state is one of several in the upper midwest registering some of the highest rates of positive results from Covid-19 tests.

The order, which remains in effect for 60 days, requires everyone to wear masks indoors whenever non-household members are present.

Children younger than five years of age are exempt, as are individuals who have breathing difficulties.

The governor announced the declaration of an emergency hours after one of the nation’s leading public health officials, Dr Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, appealed to Americans to avoid unnecessary travel and limit social gatherings during next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Updated at 10.41pm GMT

10.21pm GMT

G20 nations must help plug a .5bn funding gap for a World Health Organization-led programme to distribute coronavirus vaccines and pave the way for an end to the pandemic, a letter seen by AFP on Friday said.

The letter, sent ahead of this weekend’s virtual G20 summit, was signed by the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, the WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

“A commitment by G20 leaders at the G20 summit in Riyadh to invest substantially in the ACT-Accelerator’s immediate funding gap of .5bn will immediately save lives, lay the groundwork for mass procurement and delivery of Covid-19 tools around the world, and provide an exit strategy out of this global economic and human crisis,” the letter dated 16 November said.

“With this funding, and a joint commitment to spend a proportion of future stimulus on the Covid-19 tools needed globally, the G20 will build a foundation to end the pandemic,” added the letter addressed to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the current G20 president.

ACT-Accelerator is an initiative led by the WHO that promotes an equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments globally.

There was no immediate comment from G20 organisers in Riyadh.

Major pharmaceutical companies are now closing in on vaccines against the virus, amid a global rise in cases that has caused some countries to reimpose restrictions to curb transmission.

“The recent breakthroughs on Covid-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope” but they must “reach everyone”, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Friday.

“Over the past seven months, countries have invested bn in the effort to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. But bn more is needed – including .2bn before the end of the year,” he added.

In September, the United Nations estimated that the ACT-Accelerator had received only some bn of the bn needed to meet the goal of producing and delivering 2bn vaccine doses, 245m treatments and 500m diagnostic tests over the next year.

The International Monetary Fund managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, warned on Thursday that the global economy faces a hard road back from the Covid-19 downturn even as a medical solution to the crisis is now in sight.

Updated at 10.33pm GMT

10.06pm GMT

In Australia, the ABC has given an update on the Parafield cluster in South Australia. There are currently 25 cases in that cluster.

SA Health added another venue to the list of locations of concern on Friday night, a business called SA Structural, which is in the suburb of Edinburgh.

Anybody who visited that business on 12 November will need to go into self-isolation and monitor themselves for symptoms.

Updated at 10.46pm GMT

9.54pm GMT

Toronto returns to lockdown

Canada’s largest city is going back into lockdown because of a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The Ontario provincial government announced on Friday that Toronto and the Peel Region suburb will go into lockdown on Monday.

AP reports health officials announced they won’t allow indoor organised events or social gatherings except for members of the same household. Restaurants and bars will only be allowed to offer takeout and delivery.

Retail will only be open for kerbside pick up or delivery except for big box stores. Gyms will also be closed. Schools will remain open.

The stricter measures come as Ontario reports 1,418 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, including 393 in Toronto and 400 new cases in Peel Region.

“We have flattened the epidemic curve before and I am confident we can do it again,” Ontario chief medical officer of health, Dr David Williams, said.

Canada including Ontario flattened the curve after locking down when Covid-19 cases surged in North America in the spring.

Schools were closed and many businesses were temporally shut. Mask wearing became widespread and did not become a political issue.

There have been more 318,000 confirmed cases in Canada since the pandemic began, a contrast to its southern neighbour which has been doing more than half that number per day.

Updated at 11.01pm GMT

9.43pm GMT

Brazil coronavirus cases surpass 6 million

Brazil surpassed 6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the country’s health ministry said, becoming the third country in the world to pass that milestone after the United States and India.

Brazil recorded 38,397 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 552 deaths from Covid-19, the health ministry said on Friday. The official death toll has risen to 168,613, according to ministry data.

Updated at 11.02pm GMT

9.33pm GMT

Victoria records 22nd day of zero cases

Victoria has recorded another day of no new coronavirus cases and no deaths. There is now just one active case in the state. A case that was under review on Friday was found to be negative after further testing.

Updated at 9.36pm GMT

9.29pm GMT

Covid fragments found in Victorian sewage

In Australia, health authorities in the state of Victoria have issued a plea for residents in a Melbourne suburb to come forward for testing after traces of coronavirus were unexpectedly found in sewage.

Fragments of the virus have been detected in a wastewater sample that was collected from the Altona sewage catchment on Wednesday 18 November.

The Department of Health and Human Services say the result is unexpected because it has been about eight weeks since someone in the area had the virus.

Residents and visitors to Altona and surrounding suburbs from last Monday to Wednesday are urged to get tested if they have any symptoms, no matter how mild.

Suburbs in the wastewater catchment include Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes.

Meanwhile in South Australia, an Adelaide pizza bar has been under police guard as a taskforce investigates information that was provided to the state’s contact tracing teams.

It comes after a worker lied to contact tracers about his job at the pizza bar, which authorities said on Friday had sparked an unnecessary lockdown of the state.

South Australia’s lockdown lifts at midnight tonight.

Updated at 9.35pm GMT

9.25pm GMT

People whose immune systems responded strongly to a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may be less likely to become severely ill if they are infected with coronavirus, new data suggests.

The MMR II vaccine, manufactured by Merck and licensed in 1979, works by triggering the immune system to produce antibodies.

Researchers reported on Friday that among 50 Covid-19 patients under the age of 42 who had received the MMR II as children, the higher their levels of so-called IgG antibodies produced by the vaccine and directed against the mumps virus in particular, the less severe their symptoms.

People with the highest mumps antibody titers had asymptomatic Covid-19. The findings “may explain why children have a much lower Covid-19 case rate than adults, as well as a much lower death rate,” co-author Jeffrey Gold said in a statement.

The majority of children get their first MMR vaccination around 12 to 15 months of age and a second one from 4 to 6 years of age.”

9.00pm GMT

A summary of today’s developments

  • Iran will impose tougher restrictions nationwide from Saturday as the Middle East country hardest hit by the coronavirus battles a third wave of infections. The toughest measures, under which non-essential businesses and services are to close, will be imposed in the capital Tehran and about 160 other high risk “red” cities and towns, state media said.
  • Drugmaker Pfizer Inc is hoping to rapidly roll out its experimental Covid-19 vaccine around Latin America soon after it gets emergency authorisation in the US, a senior executive said, which could be as early as next month.
  • France has recorded a further 1,138 deaths over the past 24 hours from the virus, taking the total to 48,265. France has also reported 22,882 cases in the past 24 hours, compared with 21,150 on Thursday.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that growing antimicrobial resistance is as dangerous as the coronavirus pandemic — and threatens to reverse a century of medical progress. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the issue “one of the greatest health threats of our time”.
  • Brazil is expected to pass 6 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Friday, as the world’s third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again amid fears that a second wave is underway.
  • Portugal’s parliament approved a 15-day extension of a state of emergency from next week to allow continuation of coronavirus measures as the government considers fresh steps.
  • Canada is seeing a big rise in Covid-19 cases that could overwhelm the hospital system, an emotional prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said, imploring Canadians to stay home as much as possible.
  • Turkey’s daily death toll from the coronavirus hit a record high of 141 on Friday, according to data from the health ministry, as the country braced for nationwide measures amid a surge in cases.
  • Italy recorded 699 more coronavirus fatalities on Friday, up from 653 on Thursday, and more than 37,000 new infections. The daily tally of new cases increased by more than 1,000 to 37,242.

Updated at 10.10pm GMT

8.52pm GMT

Coronavirus tests imported from South Korea by the governor of the US state of Maryland were flawed and ended up not being used, The Washington Post reported.

The newspaper said Maryland governor Larry Hogan spent .46m in April to import 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea.

But the tests turned out to be flawed and the state “quietly” paid the same South Korean company an additional .5m for 500,000 replacement tests, the Post said.

It said a University of Maryland laboratory abandoned its use of the replacement tests after a spate of suspected false positives but a private lab continues to use them.

Around 370,000 of the replacement tests have been used by the private lab, the Post said.

Hogan, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, trumpeted the arrival of the South Korea tests in April and praised the assistance of his South Korean-born wife in obtaining them.

Hogan declined requests to comment on the newspaper’s story, the Post said.

Updated at 10.11pm GMT

8.40pm GMT

Iran will impose tougher restrictions nationwide from Saturday as the Middle East country hardest hit by the coronavirus battles a third wave of infections.

The toughest measures, under which non-essential businesses and services are to close, will be imposed in the capital Tehran and about 160 other high-risk “red” cities and towns, state media said.

Cars will not be allowed to leave or enter the “red” cities and other driving restrictions will be imposed in an effort to encourage people to stay home.

Lighter restrictions will apply to lower risk “orange” and “yellow” areas. The restrictions are to last at least two weeks, state media said.

Iran reported a near-record 479 Covid-19 deaths over the past 24 hours to take its total to 43,896, a health ministry spokeswoman told state TV on Friday, while its total cases rose by 13,260 to 828,377.

Meanwhile, Reza Malekzadeh, a deputy health minister in charge of research, turned in his resignation over differences with Health Minister Saeed Namaki.

A flawed management … and your lack of consultation with experts and researchers and heeding their recommendations and warnings has caused many human casualties,” Malekzadeh said in his resignation letter, according to the state broadcaster IRIB.

Updated at 10.16pm GMT

8.24pm GMT

Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has suggested that criticism of the country’s pandemic polices are political attacks and compared critics to “vultures”.

Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in confirmed Covid-19 deaths, becoming only the fourth country to do so.

His administration has cast doubt on the usefulness of face masks — the president almost never wears one — and defended its low rate of testing.

Obrador said: “Why change?”

Just because the ones who used to steal and loot don’t like what we are doing, or don’t like seeing us in power?”

Updated at 10.17pm GMT

8.10pm GMT

A woman kisses an icon as preparations take place for the funeral ceremony for the late Serbian Patriarch Irinej on November 20, 2020, at Belgrade’s Saint Sava Orthodox Church. - Patriarch Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, died of coronavirus on November 20, 2020, three weeks after his unofficial second-in-command also succumbed to Covid-19, the church said.
A woman kisses an icon as preparations take place for the funeral ceremony for the late Serbian Patriarch Irinej on November 20, 2020, at Belgrade’s Saint Sava Orthodox Church. Patriarch Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, died of coronavirus on 20 November, 2020, three weeks after his unofficial second-in-command also succumbed to Covid-19, the church said.
Photograph: Andrej Isaković/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 10.17pm GMT

7.58pm GMT

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc is hoping to rapidly roll out its experimental Covid-19 vaccine around Latin America soon after it gets emergency authorisation in the US, a senior executive said, which could be as early as next month.

Alejandro Cané, the North America chief of scientific and medical affairs for Pfizer’s vaccines division, told Reuters in an interview in Buenos Aires that Latin America and elsewhere in the world should have a “similar timeline” to the US.

“At the beginning the idea is to have the vaccine authorized in the United States,” Cané said. “We are confident that in the next weeks or month we will have the vaccine not only in use in the US and Europe, but also in Latin American countries.”

Pfizer is applying to US health regulators on Friday for emergency use authorisation of its COVID-19 vaccine, the first such application, which marks a major step toward providing protection against the deadly virus.

In the UK, its vaccine is being assessed by regulators and if approved could be rolled out from next month, the government said.

Updated at 10.18pm GMT

7.43pm GMT

The US is now averaging over 1,300 Covid-19 deaths per day — the highest rate since May.

The overall death toll has reached about 253,000, by far the highest in the world. Total confirmed infections have eclipsed more than 11.7 million, after the biggest one-day gain on record Thursday — almost 188,000.

And the number of people in the hospital with Covid-19 hit another all-time high at more than 80,000.

With health experts concerned that Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will fuel the spread of the virus, many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions.

California ordered a 10pm to 5am curfew starting Saturday, covering 94% of the state’s 40 million residents.

The Texas border county of El Paso, where more than 300 people have died from Covid-19 since October, is advertising jobs for morgue workers capable of lifting bodies weighing 175 pounds or more.

Officials are offering more than an hour for work described as not only physically arduous but “emotionally taxing as well”.

Updated at 7.50pm GMT

7.33pm GMT

7.27pm GMT

France has recorded a further 1,138 deaths over the past 24 hours from the virus, taking the total to 48,265.

France has also reported 22,882 cases in the past 24 hours, compared with 21,150 on Thursday.

Updated at 10.19pm GMT

7.17pm GMT

The World Health Organization has warned that growing antimicrobial resistance is as dangerous as the coronavirus pandemic — and threatens to reverse a century of medical progress.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the issue “one of the greatest health threats of our time”.

Resistance is when bugs become immune to existing drugs — antibiotic, antiviral or antifungal treatments — rendering minor injuries and common infections potentially deadly.

Resistance has grown in recent years due to overuse of such drugs in humans and also in farm animals.

Antimicrobial resistance may not seem as urgent as a pandemic but it is just as dangerous,” Tedros told a virtual press conference.

“It threatens to unwind a century of medical progress and leave us defenceless against infections that today can be treated easily.”

Updated at 7.30pm GMT

7.10pm GMT

Brazil is expected to pass 6 million confirmed cases of Covd-19 on Friday, as the world’s third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again amid fears that a second wave is underway.

The South American nation will join the United States and India as the only countries to have passed the 6 million mark. With almost 170,000 confirmed fatalities, Brazil has the world’s second highest death toll.

After three months of falling numbers since peaking in late July, infections are increasing again, government data shows.

Many places went into lockdown after the virus first appeared in Brazil in February, but life in the largest cities has largely returned close to pre-pandemic normality in recent weeks, with bars, restaurants and stores full of people, often wearing no masks.

In the last few days, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have registered a surge in hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19. In Rio this week, 90% of the intensive care units in public hospitals were occupied, according to the Rio state health secretary’s office.

Updated at 7.31pm GMT

6.58pm GMT

Swiss doctors have urged those vulnerable to Covid-19 complications to record their wishes for end-of-life care in advance to help ease pressure on intensive care units, drawing criticism from an advocacy group.

Pro Senectute Schweiz, an organisation for the elderly, said the doctors’ appeal was premature and excessive but medics insist such patient decrees are necessary in the heart-wrenching reality of caring for critical patients during this pandemic.

As health systems grapple with soaring infection rates, medical professionals working with limited resources and finite space in ICUs can at times face agonising dilemnas, and ethical questions around treating Covid-19 patients have spawned a government review in Britain and a court fight in Germany.

Warning that Switzerland was running low on intensive care beds, the Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SGI) called this week on the “especially imperiled”, including people over 60, or with health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, to put their wishes on paper in case the worst should happen.

This will support your own relatives, but also the teams in the ICUs, as they make decisions so the treatment can be done in the best possible manner according to the individual patient wishes,” SGI said in a statement.

Pro Senectute Schweiz said the call by the SGI, while in normal times sensible advice, created an impression of urgency inappropriate for a decision that demands deep consideration.

The SGI appeal … takes place in the context of an absolute emergency situation in which Switzerland does not yet find itself in,” the group said.

SGI president Thierry Fumeaux, an ICU doctor in the western Swiss city of Nyon, said the group was not aiming to put anyone under pressure or to free up beds, only to encourage them to think ahead.

This is not a call for sacrifice. It’s just a call to take responsibility for their autonomy,” Fumeaux said.

Updated at 10.21pm GMT

6.49pm GMT

G20 nations vowed to continue doing everything possible to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, warning in excerpts of a draft communique that the global economic recovery remains “uneven, highly uncertain, and subject to elevated downside risks”.

A final statement will be released by leaders from the United States, China and other Group of 20 nations after they meet by video conference on Saturday.

In the draft, the leaders noted that the coronavirus crisis had hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest, and said some countries may need debt relief beyond a temporary freeze in official debt payments that ends in June 2021.

Updated at 10.22pm GMT

6.38pm GMT

Portugal’s parliament approved a 15-day extension of a state of emergency from next week to allow continuation of coronavirus measures as the government considers fresh steps.

“This approval reflects well the collective commitment to fight Covid-19,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Twitter. “With the mobilisation of all we will be able to overcome the virus.”

The nationwide state of emergency, which came into force for 15 days on 9 November and included a night-time curfew and a half-day lockdown on weekend days across 191 of the country’s 308 municipalities, will now be extended until at least 8 December.

Portugal, with around 10 million people, has recorded almost 250,000 coronavirus infections and 3,762 deaths, relatively low figures compared to some European countries. But cases have been rising and are putting the health system under pressure.

6.12pm GMT

Canada seeing massive increase in Covid cases

Canada is seeing a big rise in Covid-19 cases that could overwhelm the hospital system, an emotional prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Friday, imploring Canadians to stay home as much as possible.

A second wave is ripping across the country, forcing several provinces to reimpose restrictions on movement and businesses. Cases continue to increase and authorities say some people are being more careless about taking precautions.

November 6, 2020
The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
Photograph: Patrick Doyle/Reuters

Trudeau, who said “a normal Christmas is quite frankly right out of the question”, spoke shortly after Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, predicted new daily cases could soar to 60,000 by the end of the year from less than 5,000 now.

Cases across the country are spiking massively. We are facing winter, that’s going to drive people inside more and more, and we’re really at risk of seeing case loads go up and hospitals get overwhelmed,” said a clearly upset Trudeau.

“So we need to do everything we can, right now, to slow the spread of Covid-19,” he told reporters, stressing the need to curb personal contacts as much as possible.

Updated at 6.44pm GMT

5.56pm GMT

The Dutch government will prioritise people aged over 60, those in health risk groups and frontline health care workers for coronavirus vaccinations when the shots become available.

Outlining its strategy, the country’s health ministry said vaccinations would be free and voluntary.

Dutch authorities have bought 25m syringes and extra freezers for vaccines that need to be stored at very low temperatures, the ministry said.

Luckily, the Netherlands has experience with large vaccination campaigns,” the health minister, Hugo de Jonge, said.

20 November 2020
Dutch health minister Hugo de Jonge.
Photograph: Phil Nijhuis/EPA

“When vaccines are delivered, everything is ready. That will probably be in the first months of 2021. But if vaccine makers succeed in delivering in December, we can get to work straight away.”

The ministry said that based on recent reports from producers working on vaccines, it expects to be able to vaccinate around 3.5m people in the first quarter of 2021.

The government will begin by offering vaccinations to the approximately 155,000 people who live in care homes, and those who live in psychiatric institutions as well as the staff.

In addition to the cost of the vaccine shots, the expected cost of the immunisation operation in the country of just over 17 million people is expected to be between €900m-€1bn.

Updated at 6.38pm GMT

5.37pm GMT

Greek authorities are taking over two private health clinics in the northern city of Thessaloniki as the region’s public hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The health ministry said its request for private hospital beds to be made available voluntarily for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in northern Greece, where the outbreak is the most severe, had been rejected.

Despite the effort, the finding of a mutually acceptable solution was not possible,” the ministry said. It added it was forcibly appropriating the two clinics and their staff as of Friday.

One of the clinics has 110 beds and the other 140. The state will pay for use of the clinics and the staff’s salaries during the appropriation.

The head of Greece’s union of private clinic owners, Grigoris Sarafianos, said health authorities requested that 200 private beds be made available to the state for coronavirus patients by 9pm on Thursday.

Sarafianos, who owns one of the two appropriated clinics, said an agreement reached with health authorities in March and renewed in September was for private clinics to provide beds for non-coronavirus patients.

“We don’t want to become centres of transmission,” said Sarafianos, who added that doctors and nurses would need special training to deal with Covid-19 patients.

Sarafianos also voiced concern that once the appropriation ends, prospective patients would avoid the two clinics for fear of catching the coronavirus.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said fears of transmission of the virus to other patients were unfounded.

“When we are at war, we treat the entire country as one health district,” Petsas told ERT1 television. He said patients without the coronavirus would be transferred from the appropriated clinics to other private or public facilities.

He said the appropriated clinics would be used for simple hospital beds and not intensive care units.

Greece largely escaped the initial outbreak of coronavirus in the spring, with the government credited for imposing an early lockdown.

But it has seen a major resurgence of the virus after the summer, leading to dozens of deaths each day and thousands of new infections.

Updated at 6.00pm GMT

5.26pm GMT

France is preparing to reopen stores for the crucial Christmas shopping season, encouraged by data suggesting that the country is past the worst of its second wave of coronavirus infections.

Thanks to curfews and lockdowns, confirmed new infections dropped 40% last week, admissions to hospital fell 13%, and the number of new intensive care patients was down 9%, the national health agency Santé Publique France reported.

Shop owners have been lobbying to be allowed to reopen as early as next week as the government sought to hammer out arrangements for the Black Friday shopping splurge that would make the retail bonanza compatible with ongoing health protocols.

An update on store openings is expected on Tuesday, when Emmanuel Macron goes on television to update the country on coronavirus measures, his office said.

“Although indicators are still at high levels, they suggest that the peak of the second wave is behind us,” the agency said, but warned that it was too early to relax lockdown measures.

November 17, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron
Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

The number of Covid deaths has stabilised after several weeks of increases, the agency said, with 3,756 recorded fatalities compared with 3,817 a week earlier.

Updated at 5.59pm GMT

5.06pm GMT

German police have opened a murder inquiry against a senior doctor in the western city of Essen after two seriously ill coronavirus patients died from lethal injections.

The doctor, 44, who had been working at the University Hospital in Essen since February, is suspected of having killed two men, aged 47 and 50, who were in intensive care with very severe cases of the disease, police said.

The doctor, who was arrested on Wednesday, confessed to one of the killings, saying he had wanted to spare the patient and his relatives further suffering.

The Bild daily reported that he had informed the patients’ families before killing them with a lethal injection.

Ill patients can request help in ending their lives in Germany under a court ruling issued last year, but it was unclear if this had happened in this case.

Assisted deaths are particularly sensitive in Germany due to the legacy of the Holocaust.

The Essen hospital said the doctor had been suspended and that it was helping police with their inquiries.

The western industrial region, of which Essen is part, of is experiencing one of Germany’s most severe outbreaks of the pandemic, with 166 cases diagnosed per 100,000 population over the past week, far above the government’s target of 50.

Updated at 5.55pm GMT

4.55pm GMT

Turkey records its highest virus death toll

Turkey’s daily death toll from the coronavirus hit a record high of 141 on Friday, according to data from the health ministry, as the country braced for nationwide measures amid a surge in cases.

The data showed 5,103 new Covid-19 patients were recorded in the country, while the overall death toll rose to 12,084. Since July, Ankara has only reported symptomatic Covid-19 patients, a move critics say hides the true scale of the outbreak.

On Tuesday, the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced the tighter restrictions, including weekend curfews and limitations on the opening hours of restaurants, cafes and shopping malls.

Updated at 5.46pm GMT

4.25pm GMT

Italy records 699 deaths in 24 hours

Italy recorded 699 more coronavirus fatalities on Friday, up from 653 on Thursday, and more than 37,000 new infections.

The daily tally of new cases increased by more than 1,000 to 37,242.

Silvio Brusaferro, the chief of the Italian National Institute of Health, said the pandemic was “everywhere” but the infection curve was beginning to flatten.

Almost 34,000 people across the country have been admitted to hospital with Covid-19, of whom 3,748 are in intensive care.

Updated at 5.10pm GMT

4.02pm GMT

Far-right militants in Europe and the US are increasingly forming global links and using the coronavirus pandemic to attract anti-vaccine activists and conspiracy theorists to their cause, research commissioned by the German foreign ministry has found.

The study carried out in Germany, France, Britain, the US, Sweden and Finland by the Counter Extremism Project documents the emergence of a new far-right movement since 2014 that is “leaderless, transnational, apocalyptic and oriented towards violence”.

The extremists believe in the nationalist theory of “great replacement” being orchestrated to supplant Europe’s white population.

And they are increasingly networking across national borders with other like-minded militants, including with Russian and eastern European extremists.

Music festivals and mixed martial arts fights are rallying points, where extremists also seek to draw new members, the study notes.

The pandemic has also become an opportunity seized on by the extremists to “expand their mobilisation efforts around anti-government conspiracy myths criticising the current restrictions”, it says.

Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, tweeted: “Rightwing extremism is the biggest threat to our security across Europe.”

The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas.
The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas.
Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Voicing alarm that the movement was “increasingly acting and networking internationally”, Maas said Germany was seeking to counter the menace through coordinated action with other EU members.

During a rally of almost 10,000 opponents of government-imposed social restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Berlin this week extremists mingled among a motley crew of protesters.

About a dozen demonstrators shouted “Sieg Heil” while performing the stiff-armed Hitler salute in the presence of police, according to an AFP reporter.

Antisemitic slogans have been used at some of the demonstrations against coronavirus policies in Germany.

Updated at 4.35pm GMT

3.51pm GMT

Wealthy countries have reiterated their opposition to a proposal to waive intellectual property rules for Covid-19 drugs, according to three trade sources, despite pressure to make an exception to improve access to treatment for poorer countries.

Supporters of the waiver say existing intellectual property (IP) rules create barriers on access to affordable medicines and vaccines and they want restrictions to be eased, as they were during the Aids pandemic.

But opposition from the European Union, the United States and some other wealthy countries at a meeting on Friday, means the proposal set to go before the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) general council next month is likely to fail.

If rich countries prefer profits to life, they will kill it by tying it down in technicalities.” said a delegate supporting the motion who attended the closed-door meeting.

The 164-member WTO body usually has to agree by consensus unless members agree to proceed to a vote, which is exceptional.

A second trade source said developing countries denied that IP rights were creating barriers, saying their suspension, “was not only unnecessary but would also undermine the collaborative efforts to fight the pandemic that are already under way”.

Diplomatic missions for the United States and the EU in Geneva did not immediately provide a comment.

The proposal was raised by India and South Africa in October. Since then, China, which has five Covid-19 vaccine candidates in late-stage trials, has voiced its support, as have dozens of other WTO members, mostly from developing countries.

The World Health Organization says it supports tackling barriers to access to Covid-19 medicines, as does Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, selected by a panel to be the WTO’s next director general.

Lobbying outside the global trade body has also intensified. This week, more than 100 civil society organisations wrote to EU lawmakers urging them to back the waiver.

Updated at 4.27pm GMT

3.22pm GMT

A substantial part of the Spanish population will be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the first half of 2021, the country’s prime minister has announced.

Pedro Sánchez also highlighted a steadily slowing pace of contagion after restrictions imposed in recent weeks.

18 November 2020
Pedro Sánchez leaves the Lower House in Madrid, Spain.
Photograph: Emilio Naranjo/EPA

The government has set aside more than €1bn for coronavirus vaccines next year and created a committee to establish who comes first.

Sánchez said the government would announce a vaccination plan on Tuesday, without elaborating.

Promising data from phase 3 trials of potential vaccines by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and others has recently boosted hopes that vaccines against the pandemic disease may be ready for use soon.

Officials have said Spain hoped to get the first 20m vaccine doses from Pfizer in early 2021. There is also a plan to buy 31.6m doses of the vaccine being developed by Britain’s AstraZeneca between December and June, if it is ready.

The vaccination would be free, according to the health minister, Salvador Illa.

Spain, whose 1.54m infections are western Europe’s second-highest after France, imposed a six-month state of emergency at the end of October, giving regions legal backing to impose curfews and restrict travel.

Sánchez said that path proved to be adequate:

“For two consecutive weeks, we have seen new infections falling at a sustained pace.”

New infections measured over the past 14 days have fallen to 436 per 100,000 people, from 530 in the first week of November, he said.

Updated at 3.49pm GMT

3.12pm GMT

A British study that found people who have had Covid-19 are unlikely to contract the disease again for at least six months is good news and also provides hope for vaccines, a World Health Organization senior official said.

“This is really good news to see that we are seeing sustained levels of immune response in humans so far,” Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, told a news conference.

It also gives us hope on the vaccine side.”

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, added:

We still need to follow these individuals for a longer period of time to see how long immunity lasts.”

Updated at 3.30pm GMT

3.03pm GMT

Hello, I will be updating the global blog for the rest of the afternoon. Please do send any stories and tips to nazia.parveen@theguardian.com or follow me on Twitter to send me a DM.

2.13pm GMT

New daily cases in Canada could soar to 60,000 by the end of the year, up from less than 5,000 now, if people increase their daily contacts, medical officials have warned in a grim forecast.

Even if current restrictions on gatherings are maintained, new daily cases will jump to more than 20,000 over the same time period, the officials told a briefing. Several Canadian provinces are reimposing restrictions on movement and businesses as a second wave of the pandemic rips across the country.

2.12pm GMT

Reuters are reporting that Sweden, whose unorthodox pandemic strategy placed it in the global spotlight, has registered 7,240 new coronavirus cases today. It reports that the increase compared with a previous high of 5,990 daily cases recorded earlier this month.

Sweden registered 66 new deaths, taking the total to 6,406, says Reuters. Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours but lower than some larger European countries.

Updated at 4.25pm GMT

2.03pm GMT

A couple of interesting studies related to Covid antibodies – neither yet peer reviewed – have been published by UK academics today.

The first, a collaboration between the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, found that individuals who have previously had Covid-19 are highly unlikely to contract the illness again, for at least six months following their first infection.

It involved 12,180 health workers at OUH between April and November.

The healthcare workers were tested for antibodies to detect who had been infected before and then tested staff regularly for Covid-19, both when they became unwell with symptoms and also as part of regular testing of staff.

During the study, 89 of 11,052 staff without antibodies developed a new infection with symptoms and 76 tested positive when symptomless. By comparison none of the 1,246 staff with antibodies developed a symptomatic infection and only three developed a asymptomatic one.

One of the authors on the paper, Professor David Eyre of the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health, said:

We will continue to follow this cohort of staff carefully to see how long protection lasts and whether previous infection affects the severity of infection if people do get infected again.

In a separate study, led by experts at the University of Birmingham, researchers studying a group of UK healthcare workers discovered that non-white individuals, recovering from Covid displayed higher antibody levels than white individuals, with significantly greater levels observed in Asian individuals.

This was based on antibody testing on a cohort of 956 UK healthcare workers who self-isolated between March and June 2020 because of Covid-19.

Study lead Prof Alex Richter, honorary consultant in Clinical Immunology at the University of Birmingham, said:

We were surprised to find that risk factors associated with severe Covid-19 were also associated with higher antibody levels in convalescent health care workers after mild disease. We need to understand this observation and the role of antibodies in Covid-19 as this has implications for vaccination and convalescent plasma as a treatment.

Updated at 3.00pm GMT

1.03pm GMT

Health authorities in Italy’s South Tyrol region today began a three-day programme of mass screening for coronavirus, seeking to conduct voluntary rapid tests on 70% of the local population.

The mainly German-speaking province in northern Italy, also known as Alto Adige, said infection rates had “reached such proportions” to make testing 350,000 people key to quickly rooting out virus spreaders.

By 9am GMT the province had tested more than 24,000 people and found 596 positive for Covid-19.

South Tyrol is currently classified as a “red” or high-risk zone under Italy’s system of regional coronavirus restrictions.

The mass screening in the area, which includes part of the Dolomites range, comes ahead of the planned reopening of primary schools and nurseries on Tuesday.

Italy was the first country in Europe to bet big on rapid “antigen” coronavirus tests, and its apparent success encouraged Britain, the United States, Slovakia and others to follow suit.

However the tests, which are roughly 80% to 90% accurate, have not stopped an outbreak that has rocketed from around 500 cases a day in August, when they were first rolled out, to more than 35,000 now.

Residents undergo a free rapid antigen nasopharyngeal swab test for Covid-19 at a testing facility set up in a school sports hall today in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Northern Italy, during a three-day mass screening session
Residents undergo a free rapid antigen nasopharyngeal swab test for Covid-19 at a testing facility set up in a school sports hall today in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Northern Italy, during a three-day mass screening session
Photograph: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 4.25pm GMT

12.46pm GMT

Madrid to close its borders with other regions for 10 days in December

The regional government of Madrid has said the area will close its borders with other regions between 4 and 14 December in an effort to stop transmission of the virus over the long bank holiday weekend that begins on Friday 4 December and runs through the following Monday and Tuesday.

Over the period, travel into and out of the region will only be permitted on justified or emergency grounds.

“We want things to be as good as possible as we approach Christmas,” Antonio Zapatero, the region’s deputy public health minister, said on Friday, adding that the decision to limit people’s movements had been taken “in the interests of prudence”.

Spain’s nationwide curfew, declared under the current state of emergency, is expected to remain in force until at least the beginning of next year. In Madrid, people have to remain at home from midnight to 6am and gatherings – as elsewhere in Spain – are capped at six people.

There are signs that the pandemic is beginning to stabilise in the Madrid region. Over the past two weeks, the region has recorded 297.3 cases per 100,000 people – down from 324.4 a week ago. Across Spain as a whole, there are 436.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Last week, 34.2% of the region’s intensive care units were occupied by Covid patients. Yesterday, the figure stood at 31.4%.

To date, Spain has logged 1,541,574 cases of the virus and recorded 42,291 deaths.

Updated at 1.37pm GMT

12.44pm GMT

Spain will have vaccinated a large part of its population of 47 million against the coronavirus by mid-2021, the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said today.

He said the government had put together “a comprehensive vaccination plan” that would be presented at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, making Spain the first country within the European Union, alongside Germany, to fully map out such an immunisation scheme. Sánchez said the government had been working on the plan since September, adding:

We are ready. Our forecasts, under almost any reasonable scenario, show that a very substantial part of the Spanish population will be able to be vaccinated, with all guarantees, within the first half of the year.

The move, he said, would make Spain “the first country within the EU, along with Germany, to have a full vaccination plan”.

Spain has been badly hit by the pandemic, suffering more than 1.5 million confirmed infections – the EU’s second-highest number of cases after France.

As of last night, it had lost 42,291 lives to the virus, ranking fourth within the bloc after the U K, Italy and France.

Last month the Spanish health minister, Salvador Illa, said the government had authorised the purchase of 31.5m doses of a Covid-19 vaccine currently being developed by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

The supply of the vaccine is part of an EU scheme and it could start reaching Spain in December “if there are no delays,” he said at the time.

Updated at 1.39pm GMT

12.02pm GMT

Summary

Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:

  • The drugmaker Pfizer applied to US health regulators for emergency use authorisation (EUA) of its vaccine. It came just days after the firm and its German partner BioNTech SE reported final trial results that showed the vaccine was 95% effective with no major safety concerns.
  • Russia recorded its greatest daily caseload increase since the pandemic began. Moscow said it had confirmed 24,318 new infections, bringing the cumulative national tally to 2,039,926.
  • India has recorded more than 9 million coronavirus cases. The country added , 45,882 new infections in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, and now has 9,004,365 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker site, and 132,162 deaths.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the US diseases expert, is back. After months of sparring with Donald Trump, the scientist spoke at a White House briefing again as the outbreak continues to spread rapidly. It is the only country with more cases than India, with the national total now on 11.72 million with 250,000 dead. California has imposed a curfew on most of its 40 million residents.
  • Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in Covid-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.
  • The EU will pay more than bn to secure 425m doses of vaccines being developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac, Reuters reports. The bloc has agreed to pay €15.50 euros (.34) per dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and slightly less for the Curevac treatment.
  • Almost a million people in China have taken an emergency Covid-19 vaccine that is still in its testing phase, the company Sinopharm has said.
  • Remdesivir should not be used in hospitals to treat Covid-19, the WHO has warned. Donald Trump tried to push the treatment and took it himself when he contracted Covid-19. But the WHO says there is no evidence it works.
  • South Australia’s six-day lockdown is being cut short three days early at midnight on Saturday after it emerged that a man infected with Covid-19 had lied to contact trace investigators.

11.55am GMT

Vaccine manufacturer seeks authorisation in US

Pfizer has applied to US health regulators for emergency use authorisation (EUA) of its vaccine; a major step toward providing protection for pandemic-weary Americans.

The application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comes just days after Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE reported final trial results that showed the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 with no major safety concerns.

Updated at 12.09pm GMT

11.54am GMT

German cases stabilising but not declining, says government, after 23,648 new infections reported

Germany has managed to stabilise the number of infections but has not yet reversed the trend, a government spokesman has said.

The number of infections still needs to fall significantly, he added ahead of another meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel with state premiers over the issue on Wednesday. The government’s goal is to reduce infections to 50 cases per 100,000 people over seven days while the incidence now is around 140 cases, he said.

With the latest daily increase in cases the worst such figure seen in the country since the outbreak began, pressure is rising on Germany’s 16 federal states to implement stricter restrictions.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases recorded 23,648 confirmed new cases and 260 new deaths, which now stand at 13,630, an increase of more than a third in four weeks.

The mass-selling Bild newspaper has reported that Merkel wants any new measures to remain in place until January instead of the weekly approach favoured by state leaders. Bild quoted Merkel as telling members of her conservatives that she wanted “proposals to be made, not only for two weeks but rather with a perspective until January”.

Updated at 12.59pm GMT

11.49am GMT

Poland has found 18 cases among mink farm workers as it continues tests among the animals, but does not believe the workers were infected by the animals, sanitary and veterinary authorities said.

Poland, which is a major producer of mink fur, started testing among its farmed minks and checks among the workers earlier this month after a mutated virus was detected in farmed minks in Denmark, leading to a nationwide cull there.

While the authorities have not yet received results of the animal tests, it said Covid-19 cases were confirmed among people connected with the farms.

The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate said there were 18 cases of infections among farm workers that were unrelated to each other. “Currently, there is no basis to conclude that minks were the source of infection for these 18 cases,” it told Reuters.

The inspectorate said it had analysed all infections among farm workers and their families since the beginning of the pandemic. Veterinary authorities said earlier this month they had ordered tests in 18 farms in four administrative regions of the country. Industry groups objected strongly to the tests, worrying they could lead to a nationwide cull.

Poland is one of the world’s top producers of mink fur, with 354 farms, containing around 6 million minks.

11.20am GMT

Coronavirus infections rose by 4,946 in a day, data from Swiss health authorities shows.

The total number of confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein increased to 290,601 and the death toll rose by 111 to 3,575, while 252 new hospitalisations added to the strain on the health care system.

10.57am GMT

A substantial part of the Spanish population will be vaccinated in the first half of 2021, the country’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez has claimed.

He said the government will unveil a vaccination plan next Tuesday but did not give any details. The government has created a special committee to establish who would be vaccinated first when a vaccine is available.

10.55am GMT

Ukraine hopes to receive 8 million doses of a vaccine in the first half of next year, its health minister has said, as the country reports 14,575 new infections in the last 24 hours; passing the previous worst toll of 13,357, which was recorded only the day before.

The tally climbed to 598,085 cases, with 10,598 deaths, Maksym Stepanov said.

The daily infection tally began rising in September and has been consistently high ever since, spurring the government to impose a national lockdown at weekends.

The lockdown means closing or restricting most businesses except essential services such as grocery shops, pharmacies, hospitals and transport.

Stepanov told Reuters on Wednesday that Ukraine faced a “very severe” period but will not tighten lockdown restrictions because measures taken last week should stabilise the situation.

Ukraine participates in the global Covax facility, which has been set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries. Stepanov said Ukraine hoped to receive enough vaccine for up to 20% of its population.

This is 8 million doses. By 7 December, we must sign all technical documents and expect that in the first half of 2021 we will already start receiving the vaccine.

He said the first tranche could total 1.2 million doses and it would be used primarily for groups most at risk. He gave no further details.

Stepanov said Ukraine had also held talks with all possible vaccine manufacturers and suppliers and already issued budget funds for the purchases.

9.55am GMT

The developers of Russia’s second vaccine have said mass production will begin in 2021.

A recent surge in cases has taken Russia past the 2 million threshold, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France in total infections. Authorities have resisted imposing lockdowns across the country as they did earlier this year, however, preferring targeted, regional measures.

Russia said its first vaccine, named Sputnik V, was 92% effective, according to interim trial results. Around 500,000 doses are due to be produced in November. Moscow approved it after only limited safety testing and without the support of the World Health Organization.

Post-registration trials for the second vaccine, EpiVacCorona, being developed by Siberia’s Vector institute, are underway. The institute said 15,000 doses of the vaccine have been issued and, by the end of the year, 50,000 doses would be released.

Vector’s vaccine centre said all volunteers injected with EpiVacCorona had developed antibodies, the Interfax news agency reported without specifying the number of people involved.

The vaccine’s effectiveness can only be assessed when preliminary or final results of the post-registration trials are released, Vector said.

9.38am GMT

Hong Kong has reported a spike in daily cases to 26 two days before an arrangement with Singapore to allow a limited number of passengers to fly both ways without having to go through quarantine kicks in.

Hong Kong has been spared the dramatic escalations seen in other major cities, but the rise was big by its standards, with daily cases having mostly been in the single-digits or low double digits in recent weeks.

Of the 26 confirmed cases, 21 were local transmissions, prompting the health secretary Sophia Chan to say the Chinese-ruled city “probably entered” a fourth wave of infections.

Hong Kong health authorities said another 40 people were likely to be infected, pending final confirmation.

It comes as a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is due to begin on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Under the arrangement, people would be allowed to travel between the two cities without observing quarantine but must take a test before departure and upon arrival. There would be no restrictions on the purpose of travel.

Travellers would also have to take designated flights, with only Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines having been selected to operate these flights for now. If the situation deteriorated in either city the travel bubble would be suspended, the two governments have said.

Hong Kong has recorded around 5,500 cases and 108 deaths since the pandemic began.

9.24am GMT

Public meetings of more than 20 people will be banned in the Helsinki region, Finnish authorities have said.

While Finland’s 14-day average of 58 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants remains Europe’s lowest, public health authorities said the rate was nearly twice as high in the capital region and, therefore, the new restrictions are needed.

8.54am GMT

The French high-end department store chain Galeries Lafayette, which expects the pandemic to halve its revenue this year, fears foreign tourist flows may not be back to pre-crisis levels before 2024. Its chief executive Nicolas Houze has told BFM Business radio:

This year, our revenue will be cut in half. 2020 will be difficult, 2021 also. We should return to break-even in 2022.

Retailers – particularly those who depend heavily on tourists – have been hit hard by government-enforced lockdowns and restrictions on international travel.

8.31am GMT

Moreover, some Russian hospitals are experiencing serious drugs shortages and cannot restock because of panic buying, high demand and problems with a new labelling system, officials, distributors and doctors have said.

Russia, which has reported the world’s fifth-highest number of cases, is struggling to cope with a second wave and the healthcare system outside Moscow is close to breaking point, Reuters reports.

Doctors in more than a dozen regions face big shortages of antibiotics, antiviral drugs and other medicines used to treat Covid-9, three local officials and three drugs vendors have told the news agency. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the co-owner of a large pharmaceuticals distributor said:

Head doctors call me every few minutes and beg for medicine. They have nothing to treat patients. And I have nothing for them to deliver.

The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week he was aware there were problems.

We know that there is a shortage in certain regions, this is unacceptable. The government is making very vigorous efforts to prevent this.

The health ministry did not reply to Reuters’ request for comment.

A doctor from the Bashkiria region in south-central Russia told the news agency a hospital in her town was short of antibiotics because of the large influx of patients. She declined to be identified.

Russian doctors use a specific programme with specific drugs to treat Covid-19 patients. It includes the antibiotics Levofloxacin or Azithromycinum, and local antiviral drugs such as umifenovir, documents seen by Reuters show. Those antibiotics and antiviral drugs are now running short, regional officials say.

8.26am GMT

Russia suffers worst day for new cases

Russia has recorded it worst daily caseload increase, with 24,318 new infections on Friday. That includes 6,902 in the capital Moscow and brings the national tally to 2,039,926.

Authorities also reported 461 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 35,311.

8.24am GMT

Gilead’s drug remdesivir is not recommended for patients hospitalised with Covid-19, regardless of how ill they are, as there is no evidence it improves survival or reduces the need for ventilation, a World Health Organization panel has said.

The advice is another setback for the firm, which grabbed worldwide attention as a potentially effective treatment in the summer after early trials showed some promise.

At the end of October, Gilead cut its 2020 revenue forecast, citing lower-than-expected demand and difficulty in predicting sales of remdesivir, which is also known as Veklury.

The antiviral is one of only two medicines currently authorised to treat Covid-19 patients across the world, but a large WHO-led trial known as the Solidarity Trial showed last month that it had little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays for patients.

Gilead has questioned the Solidarity Trial’s results.

Veklury is recognised as a standard of care for the treatment of hospitalised patients with Covid-19 in guidelines from numerous credible national organisations.

We are disappointed the WHO guidelines appear to ignore this evidence at a time when cases are dramatically increasing around the world and doctors are relying on Veklury as the first and only approved antiviral treatment for patients with Covid-19.

The WHO’s Guideline Development Group (GDG) panel said its recommendation was based on an evidence review that included data from four international randomised trials involving more than 7,000 patients hospitalised with Covid-19.

After reviewing the evidence, the panel said it concluded that remdesivir, which has to be given intravenously and is therefore costly and complex to administer, has no meaningful effect on death rates or other important outcomes for patients.

Updated at 8.27am GMT

7.51am GMT

There are signs that the UK’s caseload curve is starting to flatten as a result of the lockdown, its health secretary Matt Hancock has said, paving the way for a Christmas period with less stringent restrictions. He has told Sky News:

There are encouraging signs that the number of cases is starting to flatten, and that the lockdown that we brought in, earlier this month, is working.

It of course won’t be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place, but we hope that they’ll allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people really look forward to.

7.46am GMT

Greek authorities are taking over two private health clinics and their staff in northern Greece as the region’s public hospitals are under severe pressure from a surge in cases over the past few weeks, the country’s Health Ministry has said.

According to the Associated Press, the ministry said it requested that beds in private hospitals be made available to the public health system, but that a “mutually acceptable solution was not possible”.

As of Friday, therefore, the ministry is forcibly appropriating the two clinics and their staff in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest urban centre which is at the centre of spiralling cases.

A nationwide lockdown has been imposed until the end of the month, with shops, schools, bars, restaurants and all entertainment venues shut and a 9pm to 5am curfew in place.

Those who wish to leave home can do so only for specific reasons and must notify authorities by telephone text message or carry a self-written permit. There is no limit, however, on how long people can leave their homes for, or how many times per day.

7.39am GMT

There is evidence that the firebreak in Wales has helped lower the rate of transmission, the country’s first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

It comes as Northern Ireland announces its own firebreak-style lockdown, due to start next week. The Labour politician told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

[Cases] have fallen every day for the last 10 days, so right across Wales we’ve seen the incidence rate going down, we’ve seen the positivity rate going down.

He cited Merthyr Tydfil, one of the worst affected areas before the firebreak, where cases had fallen from 760 per 100,000 to below 260.

Our assessment is that the firebreak has done what we hoped it would do.

Drakeford said there were the “first signs” of the number of people needing hospital beds reducing and bed numbers “stabilising”. He added that he has discussed a possible UK-wide approach to Christmas restrictions with the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and the other first ministers of the devolved administrations. A further meeting is planned for next week.

We agreed some broad parameters on Wednesday and remitted officials of all four administrations to work now on the detail, so I remain hopeful that it will be possible to reach a four-nation approach to Christmas.

I certainly think that is the right thing to do – if it is achievable – and certainly Wales will be at the table next week looking to find an agreement.

Drakeford said an agreement on permitting travel across the UK during the Christmas season was “top of the list of things to agree”, even if a wider agreement was not possible.

I really do hope we can have a common approach to travel. It is very important for people in Wales, so many families here will have families in England and elsewhere and will be hoping to have visits from family members who live outside Wales. On travel, I am more hopeful than I was even on other aspects of our discussion.

7.26am GMT

Irinej, who has died aged 90, was a conservative who wielded major political influence. He had been diagnosed with the virus on 4 November and had been in a military hospital in the capital Belgrade since then.

He tested positive three days after attending the funeral of Metropolitan Amfilohije, the most senior cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, who also died from Covid-19.

I was honored to know you. People like you never depart,” Vucic wrote on his Instagram account under a black and white photo of Irinej.

The Patriarch’s condition aggravated early on Thursday when he was intubated, his medical team said.

Irinej became the 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 2010. The church has around 12 million followers, mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia, and dioceses in the United States, Australia and Western Europe.

Irinej adamantly opposed the independence of Kosovo, Serbia’s former predominantly Albanian southern province, considered a medieval cradle of Serbian Orthodox Christianity and where some of church’s most important monasteries are based.

He said Serbia should join the European Union “if the EU respects Serbian identity, culture and religion”.

The election of the new Patriarch among bishops will take place in the coming months.

Coronavirus has so far infected more than 104,000 people and killed 1,110 in Serbia; a country of 7.2 million.

7.07am GMT

Summary

Thanks joining me in the blogosphere. I’m handing over to my colleague Kevin Rawlinson now but if you’re just joining us or just getting up to speed with the news, here are the main developments of the past few hours:

  • India has recorded more than 9 million coronavirus cases. The country added , 45,882 new infections in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, and now has 9,004,365 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker site, and 132,162 deaths.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the US diseases expert, is back. After months of sparring with Donald Trump, the scientist spoke at a White House briefing again as the outbreak continues to spread rapidly. It is the only country with more cases than India, with the national total now on 11.72 million with 250,000 dead. California has imposed a curfew on most of its 40 million residents.
  • Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in Covid-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.
  • The EU will pay more than bn to secure 425m doses of vaccines being developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac, Reuters reports. The bloc has agreed to pay €15.50 euros (.34) per dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and slightly less for the Curevac treatment.
  • Almost a million people in China have taken an emergency Covid-19 vaccine that is still in its testing phase, the company Sinopharm has said.
  • Remdesivir should not be used in hospitals to treat Covid-19, the WHO has warned. Donald Trump tried to push the treatment and took it himself when he contracted Covid-19. But the WHO says there is no evidence it works.
  • South Australia’s six-day lockdown is being cut short three days early at midnight on Saturday after it emerged that a man infected with Covid-19 had lied to contact trace investigators.

6.54am GMT

Irinej, the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox church, has died of Covid-19, the country’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, has announced, according to Reuters. He was 90 and had contracted Covid earlier this month.

Serbian patriarch Irinej.
Serbian patriarch Irinej.
Photograph: Darko Vojinović/AP

6.46am GMT

Ukraine registered a record 14,575 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Friday. It breaks the previous daily record of 13,357.

The country now has 598,085 cases, with 10,598 deaths, he added.

Updated at 6.46am GMT

6.33am GMT

Almost a million people in China have taken an emergency Covid-19 vaccine that is still in its testing phase, the company Sinopharm has said.

Chinese authorities released the vaccine, developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), to select groups of people in July including Chinese government officials, students, and workers travelling overseas, before the vaccines had been proven to work.

Helen Davidson has the full story here:

6.27am GMT

One benefit of the slightly farcical early ending of the South Australia lockdown is that the first cricket Test between Australia and India scheduled for 17 December in Adelaide is looking more likely to go ahead.

The first test of the Australian summer was under threat after the state went into a six-day lockdown this week. But it is now set to be lifted three days early, giving a huge boost for cricket fans.

Here’s the full story:

Updated at 6.34am GMT

6.06am GMT

EU to pay bn for vaccines – report

The European Union has agreed to pay more than bn to secure hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine being developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac, an EU official involved in the talks told Reuters.

The bloc has agreed to pay €15.50 euros (.34) per dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, according to the official.

FILE PHOTO: Syringes are seen in front of displayed Biontech and Pfizer logos in this illustration taken November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

That would mean an overall price of up to €3.1bn (.7 billion) for 200 million doses, rising to €4.65bn euros if another optional 100 million doses are purchased under the deal, the official said.

The EU has separately agreed to pay €10 (.84) per dose for an initial supply of 225 million doses of the vaccine candidate from CureVac, a discount from the €12 the company set as the price for the shot, the official said.

Updated at 6.08am GMT

5.46am GMT

The six-day lockdown imposed on South Australia will end three days early at midnight on Saturday after it emerged that a man infected with Covid-19 had lied to contact trace investigators.

To the fury of the state premier, Steven Marshall, and probably most South Australians, the man told investigators he had been a customer at Woodville pizza bar where a Covid-positive security guard from a quarantine hotel worked.

The Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide, South Australia.
The Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide, South Australia.

Photograph: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

The investigators thought the man’s case meant many other customers could have picked up the disease in an outbreak that was one of Australia’s most serious for weeks. But it turned out the man worked at the pizza bar and therefore was deemed a close contact of the security guard, lessening the risk to the wider community.

“To say I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement,” Marshall said.

“The selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation. His actions have affected businesses, individuals, family groups and is completely and utterly unacceptable.”

You can read more about the whole farrago here:

5.33am GMT

Germany added another 23,648 confirmed cases on Thursday, taking its total to 879,564, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

The reported death toll rose by 260 to 13,630, the tally showed.

5.28am GMT

As India passes the grim 9 million-case milestone, concerns about the coronavirus are particularly acute in the capital, New Delhi, Agence France-Presse reports.

The city is facing the dual scourge of winter pollution and Covid-19 and has seen infections soar past half a million with a record rise in daily cases.

On Thursday, the city’s government quadrupled fines for not wearing a mask from 500 rupees ($US6.74) to 2,000 in an effort to get a grip on the outbreak.

A health worker takes a break in Delhi.
A health worker takes a break in Delhi.
Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP

Hospital beds are also running short. A government mobile app showed on Thursday that more than 90% of intensive care beds with ventilators were occupied in the city.

Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, responded by announcing the addition of 1,400 intensive care beds.

The western city of Ahmedabad, home to six million people, has also seen an uptick in cases and the authorities have imposed an indefinite nighttime curfew.

5.11am GMT

Asian stock markets have struggled again overnight after US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin called for an end to coronavirus pandemic relief for struggling businesses.

He has written to the US Federal Reserve saying that the 0bn allocated to treasury for assistance should be handed back to Congress to reallocate.

That sent the Nikkei down 0.5% in Tokyo, although they’re flat in Sydney and Seoul and up 0.45% in Hong Kong. Chinese mainland shares are also up slightly.

The S&P500 on Wall Street will open 0.5% lower later as a result but the FTSE100 is on course for a 0.2% rise at the opening.

4.56am GMT

India passes 9 million cases

India has recorded more than 9 million coronavirus cases, with 45,882 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday.

The country now has 9,004,365 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker site, and 132,162 deaths.

India is only the second country to cross 9 million coronavirus infections, after the United States, but cases have slowed down in the country after hitting a peak in September.

Government officials and experts have warned that the country could still see a spike after the festival of Diwali was celebrated this month.

Updated at 5.02am GMT

4.48am GMT

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan for today. Thanks for following a long – and stay tuned for more updates from the inimitable Martin Farrer.

As a parting gift, I offer you this beautiful fashion editorial produced by my colleagues in Australia:

4.47am GMT

Leaders from Japan and New Zealand on Friday warned countries against the temptation of retreating into trade protectionism, saying that keeping markets open is the way to restore a global economy battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking by video link from Tokyo to a meeting of Asia-Pacific CEOs, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said a “free and open Indo-Pacific will be the cornerstone for the prosperity of this region.”

Japan and 14 other Asian neighbours on Sunday signed the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Suga, who took office in September, said Japan will next push for a wider free trade pact among the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

“Amidst a risk of inward-looking temptations in the face of the slump of the global economy, making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important,” he said. “While continuing to promote WTO reform, Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.”

The event came ahead of a meeting late Friday of APEC leaders hosted by Malaysia that will be conducted via video conference due to the pandemic. Malaysian officials said US President Donald Trump, who is busy challenging the outcome of the recent presidential election, will participate.

Trump last participated in the APEC forum in 2017 and last weekend skipped the East Asia Summits, also held online. Trump, or his representative, was initially due to speak to the CEOs Friday morning but that was canceled, with no reasons given.

4.11am GMT

Churches in the Philippine capital Manila have been told not to hold any Christmas carol activities this season as part of measures to limit the transmission of Covid-19.

The Philippines, a catholic majority country, has one of the longest Christmas periods in the world, with celebrations beginning at the start of September and, for some, lasting as late as Valentine’s Day.

It’s the country’s most important holiday, but this year’s festivities will be different: as well as a ban on carols in church, there are also limits on church attendance, a curfew and a ban on mass gatherings. Celebrations have also been dampened by the economic crisis, which has left millions without work.

Church officials said carols had been banned because experts believe the virus is more likely to be transmitted if people are signing, according to reports by the Philippine News Agency.

Customers walking away with newly-purchased lanterns for the festive season in San Fernando town in Pampanga province, Philippines.
Customers walking away with newly-purchased lanterns for the festive season in San Fernando town in Pampanga province, Philippines.
Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

3.58am GMT

In Thailand, mask-wearing and hand-washing routines introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have also led to far fewer cases of other respiratory diseases in Thailand this year, according to medical experts.

A report by KhaosodEnglish found that cases of influenza so far this year are 70% lower than across the whole of 2019. Reported cases are their lowest in five years.

“Even during this cold season – viruses love it – we are finding fewer patients than last year,” Rungrueng Kitphati, spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health, told the news outlet.

According to the Department of Disease Control, between 1 January and 10 November, there were 116,052 reported cases of influenza, including three deaths nationwide. This compares with 390,773 cases of influenza, and 27 deaths, recorded between 1 Jan 2019 and 7 Jan 2020.

Hand foot and mouth disease cases have also fallen.

Despite reporting the first known coronavirus case outside China, Thailand has managed to avoid a major outbreak, thanks to a strict lockdown, border closures and mask wearing. The country has recorded 3,888 cases and 60 deaths.

3.45am GMT

Here is the video of Dr Fauci speaking earlier at the coronavirus task force press briefing – his first appearance at the White House podium in months:

Updated at 4.43am GMT

3.26am GMT

Lithuanian defence minister, senior Pentagon official test positive for Covid-19

Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis has tested positive for Covid-19 and Anthony Tata, one of several senior US defence officials who met him at the Pentagon last week, also tested positive on Thursday, the Pentagon said.

The Lithuanian embassy told the Pentagon of Karoblis’s positive test on Thursday, it added. Tata, who performs the duties of undersecretary of defence for policy, had met Karoblis on 13 November.

All the senior US defence officials who met Karoblis on 13 November and Monday, including Acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller, were tested for Covid-19, the Pentagon said in its statement.

3.24am GMT

Here is more on Rachel Maddow’s return to air:

Maddow made an emotional return Thursday to her MSNBC show, saying her partner’s bout with Covid-19 was so serious they thought it might kill her.

Maddow has been off the air for roughly two weeks since disclosing she had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. Maddow didn’t disclose who it was at the time, but said Thursday evening it was her partner, Susan Mikula.

“At one point, we really thought it was a possibility it might kill her and that’s why I’ve been away,” Maddow said.

“She is the centre of my life,” she added.

Maddow said her partner is recovering and will be OK, but that it didn’t seem that way at the outset of her illness. Maddow said she’s tested negative so far for the virus.
She is the host of MSNBC’s most-watched show and did the broadcast from inside her home, encountering some technical difficulties before laying out their coronavirus experience.

“Don’t get this thing. Do whatever you can to keep from getting it,” Maddow said. “For Thanksgiving next week, you really are just going to have it at home without people coming over.”

Maddow said her quarantine would end soon, but she’d be “broadcasting like this until it’s safe for me to be around my coworkers.”

3.10am GMT

A lesson on “acceptable risk” (and love) from MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow:

3.02am GMT

For a break from coronavirus, here is how a giant, inflatable duck became the symbol of Thailand’s protests:

2.38am GMT

Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert, has promised that “the cavalry is on the way” in the form of a coronavirus vaccine but urged one last great national effort to stop the spread.

Fauci was speaking at the White House coronavirus taskforce’s first press briefing since July. He was joined by Vice-president Mike Pence and response coordinator Deborah Birx, but there was no sign of Donald Trump or his controversial adviser Scott Atlas.

The taskforce broke its long silence as the virus surges to new highs, infecting more than 158,000 Americans – and killing in excess of 1,100 – every day. The total death toll now stands at a quarter of a million. Trump, little seen in public and refusing to accept election defeat, has been accused of all but giving up on the fight:

2.24am GMT

2.09am GMT

A little more on the “lie” that sent an entire Australian state in lockdown. South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens is clarifying this now. He says the state would NOT have gone into lockdown if this person were truthful.

The lie was -the person claimed that they had purchased a pizza from the pizza shop, where in fact they were working there and had been working there for several shifts

That clearly changes the circumstances and had this person been truthful to the contact tracing teams, we would not have gone into a six-day lockdown.

The second consequence of that lie is this person has numerous associates, persons of interest that we are now trying to identify and locate that we would not have had to do so had they been truthful from the beginning. There is an absolute need for us to move quickly over the next 24-36 hours to identify and locate these people so we know we have eliminated the risk of this particular strain spreading further into the community.

2.02am GMT

The state of South Australia will come out of its snap six-day coronavirus lockdown earlier than expected, with most activities permitted to restart from midnight on Saturday, state Premier Steven Marshall said on Friday.

Coronavirus infections have slowed dramatically in recent weeks in Australia, with South Australia one of the few places still recording community transmission of the disease.

Marshall said the state will ease restrictions, including immediately allowing people to leave their homes to exercise, after it was realised that contact tracers were misled by a person working in the epicentre of the recent outbreak.

1.43am GMT

Mexico becomes fourth country to pass 100,000 deaths

Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in Covid-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

But the living will bear the scars too: along with their lost friends and loved ones, many surviving coronavirus victims in Mexico say the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico resembles a divided country, where some people are so unconcerned they won’t wear masks, while others are so scared they descend into abject terror at the first sign of shortness of breath.

1.24am GMT

Mainland China reported 17 new Covid-19 cases on Nov. 19, up from 12 a day earlier, the country’s health authority said on Friday.

The National Health Commission said all new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed infections, also rose to 14 from 10 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections to date in Mainland China stands at 86,398 cases, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

1.04am GMT

Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt said Thursday he planned to attend a college football game over the weekend and spend Thanksgiving with his parents and family, even as cases in the state continued to surge this week and the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with Americans not to travel for the holidays, AP reports.

During a press conference with state health officials, Stitt said he planned to attend the University of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State University football game in Norman on Saturday and spend time with his family, including his parents, over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I think Oklahomans should be with their loved ones over Thanksgiving,” Stitt said.
Stitt’s plans contradict guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday that encouraged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people from outside their household.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, 16 November, 2020.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, 16 November, 2020.
Photograph: Sue Ogrocki/AP

Stitt also didn’t wear a mask during Thursday’s press conference inside a crowded conference room at the state Capitol, despite issuing an executive order this week requiring state employees to wear masks inside state buildings.

Meanwhile, mayors in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the state’s two largest cities, urged Oklahomans to consider taking even more precautions over the next 10 days to minimise the number of people they come into contact with as the number of cases and hospitalisations have surged in recent weeks.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said that while his Thanksgiving celebration typically involves dozens of family members, this year’s will be just with his wife and two children.
“We’re doing that because we want to keep our family safe,” Bynum said. “I think it’s important that elected officials set that example.”

12.50am GMT

WHO warns against taking remdesivir

Remdesivir, one of the drugs Donald Trump took when he developed Covid-19, should not be used in hospitals because there is no evidence it works, the World Health Organization has advised.

The US president was an enthusiastic proponent of the drug, to the point where he boasted in July that he had bought up the world’s entire stock for Americans. The WHO’s guidelines committee, however, has said Covid patients may be better off without it.

The WHO issued what it calls a “living guideline”, which can be updated as evidence comes in, largely as a result of a Solidarity trial it led in several countries. Solidarity allocated patients randomly to several drugs including remdesivir and found that those who took it were no more likely to survive severe Covid than those who did not.

There are other issues with remdesivir. Made by the US company Gilead, is extremely expensive and has to be given intravenously. The guideline, published in the British Medical Journal, concluded that “most patients would not prefer intravenous treatment with remdesivir given the low certainty evidence. Any beneficial effects of remdesivir, if they do exist, are likely to be small and the possibility of important harm remains”:

12.37am GMT

The NHS is preparing to open dozens of mass vaccination centres across England to vaccinate people against Covid-19.

There will be at least 42 centres, based in places such as conference centres, and the NHS is planning to hire tens of thousands of staff to run them, the Health Service Journal reported.

The fresh details of how people will get the vaccine come as NHS England prepares to publish its “deployment plan” for how it will store, distribute and administer the vaccine:

12.26am GMT

California enacts coronavirus curfew for majority of state’s 40m residents

California will impose a temporary overnight curfew affecting nearly the entire population beginning this weekend, as the state battles to get a surge in coronavirus cases under control.

The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced the limited stay-at-home order on Thursday, saying that all non-essential work and gathering must stop from 10pm to 5am. The order will apply to the 41 counties currently in the most restrictive tier of reopening rules, which accounts for nearly the entire state population of 40 million people:

12.15am GMT

CDC advises against Thanksgiving travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans not to travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, due to the nationwide surge in new coronavirus cases.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Dr Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said during a briefing today.

“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Walke added.

Walke particularly expressed fear about the possibility of Americans unknowingly spreading coronavirus to family members, saying, “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”

In a set of updated guidelines, the CDC recommended celebrating Thanksgiving virtually or only with members of one’s own household.

The guidance says, “In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.”

The news comes a day after the US coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000, which is far higher than any other country in the world:

11.54pm GMT

China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine

Chinese President Xi Jinping is calling for closer international cooperation on making a vaccine for the coronavirus available, as his government announces that the vaccine developed by state-owned pharmaceutical company SinoPharm has been administered to 1m people.

Xi spoke Thursday in an address delivered via video at an event at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Xi said: “To beat the virus and promote the global recovery, the international community must close ranks and jointly respond to the crisis and meet the tests.”
He said cooperation would include closer coordination on policies for development and distribution of a vaccine.

Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm are in the late stages of testing vaccines, putting them among nearly a dozen companies at or near that level of development. That has introduced both commercial and political competition among countries and companies to be the first to offer a solution to the pandemic.

“To justify its authorisation of an unproven vaccine, Beijing said the products’ use had been restricted to high-risk individuals, though that included not only obvious groups like frontline health professionals, but also school, supermarket and public transport workers.”

The South China Morning Post reports that SinoPharm’s CEO has said there have been “no adverse effects” in any of those who have received the treatment. The paper reports:

Besides the recipients of the Sinopharm jabs, authorities in Zhejiang said they had made a Covid-19 vaccine developed by the privately owned pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotec available to high-risk groups in the east China province under the emergency use scheme.

Exactly how many citizens have received the jabs is unknown, but local and foreign media reports showed images of people lining up outside disease control and prevention centres to receive them.

To justify its authorisation of an unproven vaccine, Beijing said the products’ use had been restricted to high-risk individuals, though that included not only obvious groups like frontline health professionals, but also school, supermarket and public transport workers.

11.40pm GMT

Summary

Hello and welcome to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest from around the world. I am on Twitter here if you need me.

The South China Morning Post reports that China has administered an experimental vaccine developed by state-owned company Sinopharm to 1 million people under the government’s emergency-use scheme. We’ll have more on this shortly.

Meanwhile authorities at the US Centres for Disease Control have told Americans not to travel next week for Thanksgiving celebrations, and not to spend the holiday with people who aren’t in their household.

Here are the key developments from the last few hours:

  • Northern Ireland faces two weeks of tougher lockdown restrictions from the end of next week, as non-essential retail will also close. Health minister Robin Swann had warned colleagues that a delayed lockdown risked seeing the country’s health services overwhelmed
  • Spain has announced 16,233 new cases and 252 more deaths from the virus. It takes Spain’s death toll to 42,291 since the start of the pandemic.
  • France’s health minister, Olivier Veran, has admitted that the mental health of the French was deteriorating during the second lockdown. The admission came as the French death toll from coronavirus increased by 429 to 47,127 people.
  • Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, warned Italians they would have to shun “hugs and kisses” at Christmas. The health ministry recorded 653 further coronavirus fatalities, taking Italy’s death toll from the virus to 47,870.
  • The US government will extend a ban on non-essential travel at land borders with Canada and Mexico until 21 December. The rules were first introduced in March to stop the virus’ spread, and will be in place for another 20 days. They were due to expire on Saturday.
  • A new mutated strain of coronavirus from mink farms in Denmark is “most likely” extinct, the health ministry said, following a cull of the animals. But the authorities in Sweden are investigating number of cases of Covid-19 among people who work in its mink industry.
  • The latest post Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU have been paused at a crucial stage after one of the EU team tested positive for Covid. The health of Brexit negotiators is the top priority, Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost, said after his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier announced the suspension of the talks.
  • Ireland’s department of health has recommended a cull of mink to stop the risk of the mink mutation spreading to Ireland. Ireland also announced that its R rate has increase from 0.6 to 0.7 to 0.9.
  • Hungary’s plans to import and possibly use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine raise safety concerns and could damage trust in potential shots, the European Commission has warned. Meanwhile, trials of the Sputnik V vaccine have resumed after a temporary suspension in Russia.
  • Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak has risen to 43,418, with 476 deaths in the past 24 hours. Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, expressed concern that countries in the Middle East are lowering their guard after tough lockdowns imposed earlier this year.
  • Poland reported a new daily high of 637 coronavirus-related deaths. There were 23,975 new cases reported on Thursday, the health ministry said.
  • Japan is on “maximum alert” after logging a record number of daily coronavirus infections, its prime minister has said. The comments came as Tokyo raised its alert level to the top of its four-tier system, with local media saying the capital would report a record number of infections for a second day running.
  • Russia has surpassed 2m coronavirus cases after reporting a record 23,610 infections and 463 deaths related to Covid-19.
  • The total number of coronavirus infections on the continent of Africa also surpassed 2m.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Hits: 1846