International update: Global Covid infections pass 56.3 million – US fatalities exceed quarter of a million

19th November 2020 (Last Updated November 19th, 2020 10:04)

19 November

 Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 56.3 million, meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.35 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 11.5 million. The US coronavirus death toll has passed the quarter million mark at 250,537 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

There are now more than 76,000 people hospitalised with Covid in the US. Officials said hospitals were straining to cope with the volume of patients, but there was some hope that Republicans were beginning to pave the way for cooperation with president-elect Joe Biden as he tries to coordinate a response to the crisis.

US States reported over 29,000 new infections last week in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, the steepest uptick since at least May, according to Covid Tracking Project data. State leaders, public-health experts and owners are sounding the loudest alarms over the spike in nursing homes and long-term care, where cases were falling until September.

New York’s recovery from the coronavirus outbreak suffered twin blows with the announcement of citywide school closings and the warning of massive cuts to public-transit service, after Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city had reached a 3% positivity rate that triggered a temporary halt to in-class instruction. Workers also face the prospect of longer commutes, after New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will have to slash subways and buses by 40% and chop commuter rail service by half if aid doesn’t come from Washington.

Japan: Japan has recorded a record number of new daily coronavirus infections. The health ministry said it had found 2,179 new cases in the previous 24 hours. The capital, Tokyo, also recorded a new daily record as it went into its highest level of alert.

India: India has edged closer to 9 million cases. It added another 45,576 new cases of the coronavirus, taking its total infections to 8.96 million, data from the health ministry said on Thursday.

Ukraine: Ukraine has seen its highest ever daily infection total with a record of 13,357 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

Samoa: The Pacific nation of Samoa has recorded its first ever case of Covid-19. Prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said that a sailor who had returned from New Zealand on a repatriation flight tested positive in a quarantine facility.

Germany: The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Germany increased by 22,609 to 855,916, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

Italy: Italy registered 753 deaths related to Covid-19 on Wednesday, the biggest daily increase in over seven months. New daily virus cases rose to 34,282 from 32,191 on Tuesday.

Turkey: Turkey reported 116 new deaths from coronavirus on Wednesday, its highest daily count since April. The latest data brought Turkey’s total death toll to 11,820, according to the Health Ministry.

Vaccine news

US: Lonza Group AG made its first commercial batch of the main ingredient in Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate in the US last week and plans to start European production by the end of the month, Chairman Albert Baehny said. Lonza’s effort is key to ensuring a smooth rollout of Moderna’s vaccine, should the shot prove to be safe as well as effective.

Freezers required to store Covid-19 vaccines are in place at health systems that are preparing to administer the initial doses once the shots receive a green light from regulators, US health officials said Wednesday. The federal government will have 40 million doses ready to distribute by the end of December should vaccines developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE, and Moderna Inc. receive emergency-use authorizations, said Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser of Operation Warp Speed, the effort to expedite the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

UK: Britain’s National Health Service is assembling a huge team of retired doctors, nurses and physiotherapists to implement the country’s biggest ever mass vaccination programme.

The University of Oxford confirmed that the Covid-19 vaccine it’s developing with AstraZeneca Plc produced strong immune responses in older adults in an early study, with pivotal findings from the final phase of trials expected in the coming weeks. The results, published Thursday in The Lancet medical journal, shed more light on preliminary data released in recent months showing the experimental shot generated an immune response in older people, who are at highest risk of severe illness.

Turkey: Turkey plans to buy 20 million doses of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine. The government is also in talks to buy vaccine doses from Pfizer and BioNTech, MPs were told on Thursday.

Lockdown updates

South Korea: South Korea may review raising the social distancing steps further to level 2 if the average daily number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases exceeds 200 for a week in the greater Seoul area, Edaily says, citing Sohn Young-rae, a health ministry spokesman. Under Level 2, schools stay open with limits on how many students can attend in-person classes. Restaurants and shops can remain open with strict virus control protocols, including keeping customer entry logs.

Australia: Outdoor exercise and dog-walking banned in South Australia. For six days, only one person from a household will be allowed to leave home each day, and only for essential reasons, authorities said. Schools, universities, cafes and restaurants are closed, weddings and funerals are banned and mask-wearing is mandatory.

Economy updates

UK: The labour market in London has been hit harder by the pandemic than other parts of the UK, a new study claims.