International update: Global Covid infections pass 63.3 million – more than 1.47 million deaths

1st December 2020 (Last Updated December 1st, 2020 12:45)

1 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 63.3 million.  Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.47 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The director general of the World Health Organization has warned that spending time with friends and family at Christmas is “not worth putting them or yourself at risk”. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the body’s director general, said people should consider whether travelling during the festive period is necessary.

US: The US coronavirus death toll is 268,103 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, total infections number more than 13.5 million.

Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of Covid infection in blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine US states between 13 December 2019, and 17 January, 2020, according to a study published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn has been summoned to a meeting by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to explain why he hasn’t moved faster to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, Axios reported, citing two senior administration officials. The meeting is set for Tuesday at 9:30 am in Washington, Axios said.

White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas, who won President Donald Trump’s favor by advocating the loosening of social distancing restrictions during the pandemic, resigned his post on Monday, according to a White House official.

Texas’s virus hospitalizations rose to 8,900, the third straight daily increase and the highest since 1 August, when the state’s initial outbreak was still raging.

France: France has seen its death toll rise by 406 to 52,731. Its health ministry said there were 4,005 new cases, fewer than on Sunday. It has also seen a fall in people in intensive care, and in the numbers admitted to hospital due to the virus. The country’s seven-day average of daily new infections stands at 11,118, an almost two-month low.

Brazil: Brazil’s health ministry has confirmed 21,138 new cases of Covid-19 and 287 deaths. Earlier on Monday, the WHO urged its government to be “very, very serious” about its rising coronavirus infection numbers, as more than 170,000 have now been killed.

Mexico: Mexico is in a “bad shape” as coronavirus cases and deaths surge, according to the WHO. The country’s death rally is now more than 105,500 and confirmed cases have passed 1.1 million. Public health experts believe it is likely to be significantly higher.

UK: The Labour party will abstain in a vote on England’s new coronavirus tier system on Tuesday over a disagreement on support for the hospitality sector.

Italy: Italy’s new virus cases on Monday were the lowest in five weeks. The country reported 16,377 daily cases, compared with 20,648 on Sunday. The country’s total virus deaths surpassed 55,000 on Monday, with 672 daily fatalities, compared with 541 the day before.

Vaccine news

Serbia: Serbia is to start tests of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, as it continues talks with Pfizer about purchasing its jab. Laboratories will get 20 doses this week for testing, according to a statement from the country’s prime minister, Ana Brnabić.

US: Vice President Mike Pence told governors on Monday that distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could begin by the third week of December, signalling that US regulators will swiftly approve an emergency authorization for the first shots.

Moderna Inc. requested clearance for its coronavirus vaccine in the US after a new analysis showed the vaccine was highly effective in preventing Covid-19, with no serious safety problems.

Lockdown updates

Colombia: Colombia will keep its land and river borders closed until 16 January in an attempt to stem Covid’s spread.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong has set up a hotline for the public to report suspected violations of social distancing orders on private yachts, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a briefing. Enforcement authorities will also step up scrutiny of junk boat parties.

US: California is considering a return to stay-at-home orders as hospitalizations from the coronavirus soar, with projections showing that intensive-care demand will exceed capacity in the next month.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will toughen the limit on outdoor gatherings to 25 people from 150 and halt indoor high school sports for the rest of 2020 after reporting more than 28,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past week, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a nationwide weekday curfew starting at 9 pm and ending at 5 am as the country copes with about 30,000 new cases per day. On the weekend, the curfew is stricter, running from 9 pm Friday to 5 am on Monday.

Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte extended the existing movement restrictions in the capital region through year-end, while keeping most of the country under the most lenient status. The capital Metro Manila and Davao City, which is the main economic center on the island of Mindanao, are among the few areas placed under the so-called general community quarantine status.

Malaysia: Malaysia will extend its movement control order on Top Glove Corp.’s worker dormitories in Klang for 14 days because of rising coronavirus cases. The order had been due to end Monday. The government last week ordered Top Glove to close 28 of its factories in phases, after its Klang facility recorded 1,067 Covid-19 cases out of 1,884 new daily cases in Malaysia.

Economy updates

Global: Opec will hold a second day of talks on Tuesday, as the oil producers’ club hopes to reach an agreement over cuts to production. Demand has been affected by the pandemic, with the current Opec president, Abdelmadjid Attar, saying it had caused “immense challenges”.

Rating agency Moody’s has said that most countries still face a “significant negative shock” from the pandemic, and vaccine trials have not caused it to change its forecasts.

US: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is cautioning lawmakers that the US economy remains in a damaged and uncertain state, despite progress made in the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

Philippines: The Philippines is looking at subsidizing coronavirus tests for tourists to boost its pandemic-battered tourism industry that’s gradually reopening to domestic travelers, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday. Travel vouchers for the subsidized tests from state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila will be given to tourists, she said, without elaborating who can qualify.