- More than 52 million people have contracted COVID-19 globally and 1,287,051 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
- Infections, hospitalisations and deaths surged across the United States, as New York imposes new restrictions.
- Governments across Europe scrambled amid an alarming rise in case numbers.
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California passes 1 million cases
California became the second US state to surpass one million coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to a tally from the Bay Area Mercury News and reported by the AP and others.
California was long considered a guide for how to successfully contain the virus, but the number of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in California rose by 32 percent over the past two weeks and intensive-care admissions have spiked by 30 percent, Dr Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary said on Wednesday.
Dr George Rutherford, UC San Francisco epidemiologist, told the AP: “We are an oasis of doing the right thing and we are an oasis in terms of per capita counts. But the but the cases are no longer flat … you [can] reach a point and they can really rise rapidly. And that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
Texas reported one million cases on Wednesday.
Brazil in talks with Pfizer for vaccine supply by early 2021
Pfizer’s head in Brazil said the drugmaker is negotiating with the largest nation in South America to supply its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.
“We are working strongly with the Brazilian government to try to fast-track the availability [of the vaccine] in Brazil as fast as possible,” Carlos Murillo, Pfizer’s Brazil country manager, said during an online event.
Pfizer earlier this week said initial data from its late-stage trials showed the vaccine to be more that 90 percent effective, putting it in the lead among major pharmaceutical companies racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to help stop the pandemic that has claimed over 1.2 million lives globally.
The vaccine, however, needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, a potential barrier in developing countries where finding the necessary storage chain could be an obstacle.
COVID-19 cases hit Caribbean cruise
One of the first cruise ships to ply Caribbean waters since the pandemic began ended its trip early after at least five passengers tested positive for the virus.
The SeaDream I is carrying 66 crew and more than 50 passengers, with the majority of passengers hailing from the US according to Sue Bryant, who is aboard the ship and is a cruise editor for The Times and The Sunday Times in the United Kingdom.
She told The Associated Press that one passenger became sick on Wednesday and forced the ship to turn back to Barbados, where it had departed from on Saturday. However, the ship had yet to dock in Barbados as local authorities tested those on board. The captain announced that at least five passengers have tested positive, Bryant said.
Ukraine President Zelenskyy hospitalised
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was hospitalised after he contracted coronavirus earlier this week, a presidential official said.
“He first went home, but decided to move to Feofania (a hospital). To accurately isolate and not expose anyone,” a presidential spokeswoman told Reuters.
“There are better conditions for patients. Nothing serious,” she said referring to the president’s health.
Zelenskyy said on Monday he tested positive for coronavirus. Three other top officials, including the finance minister, the defence minister and Zelenskyy’s top aide were also reported to be infected.
Chicago mayor warns of rising death toll
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the third-largest city in the US could see 1,000 more COVID-19 deaths by the end of 2020 if residents do not change their behaviours and do more to stop the spread of the virus.
Lightfoot issued a 30-day advisory that will begin on Monday, calling upon residents to stay at home and not to have visitors, even for Thanksgiving. If residents travel out of the state, they must quarantine for 14 days or submit a negative virus test, she said during a news conference.
Lebanon virus infections pass 100,000 mark
Lebanon’s coronavirus infections crossed the 100,000-mark on Thursday, as the country prepared to enter a new two-week lockdown.
The health ministry said the number of people who have tested positive with COVID-19 had reached 100,703, including 775 deaths.
Lebanon, with a population of about six million, is recording some 11,000 coronavirus infections on average each week, the ministry said.
“We’ve reached a stage of critical danger, as private and public hospitals don’t have the capacity to receive severe cases,” caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said in a televised address on Tuesday.
He said the new lockdown, with limited exemptions, would last until November 30.
US airlines caution on winter challenges
Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines cautioned that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases may have a negative impact on travel over the upcoming US holiday season, a period the sector had hoped would see improved bookings.
The US Transportation Department said the country’s airlines carried 65 percent fewer passengers in September versus the same month last year, the smallest decrease since March.
Airlines are making a renewed push for $25bn in assistance after a $25bn programme of mostly cash grants for payroll approved by Congress in March expired on September 30.
American Airlines and United Airlines last month furloughed 32,000 workers.
North Dakota governor moves to allow infected nurses to keep working
The North Dakota Nurses Association said it does not support a move to allow healthcare workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus but do not have symptoms to remain on the job.
Governor Doug Burgum supported the idea to ease the stress on hospitals and medical personnel amid skyrocketing coronavirus cases in North Dakota.
The nurses’ association said guidance from the CDC said the decision should be left to the coronavirus positive nurse whether to work.
North Dakota has the highest number of new coronavirus cases per capita in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins data, with one in every 83 residents testing positive in the past week.
Georgia secretary of state to quarantine
After his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger plans to get tested and to quarantine just as the state is preparing for a hand tally of the presidential race, his office said.
Tricia Raffensperger tested positive on Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs told The Associated Press news agency. Brad Raffensperger was en route to get tested and plans to self-quarantine as a precaution even if his test is negative, Fuchs said.
Bangladesh extends school shutdown due to second COVID-19 wave
Bangladesh is extending its closure of schools and educational institutions until December 19 amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections during the winter.
So far, the country has confirmed 427,198 cases and 6,140 deaths from COVID-19.
The government closed schools and educational institutions on March 17. It has extended the closure several times, most recently until November 15.
Coronavirus cases proliferate in many US states
More than a dozen US states have doubled their COVID-19 caseloads in the last 14 days compared with the previous two-week period, as the pandemic spreads relentlessly across much of the country.
In the Midwest, Iowa was the worst affected state, followed by Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois.
Yesterday, the United States reported a record number of new coronavirus cases. Doctors and nurses continue to be overwhelmed with all-time high hospitalizations. Please—wear a mask.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) November 12, 2020
Illinois has emerged as the pandemic’s new epicentre in the region as well as across the country. In the past two weeks, the state reported about 130,000 cases, the highest in the US.
The number of people hospitalised with the virus surged to at least 64,939 by late Wednesday, the highest ever for a single day during the pandemic. The death toll rose by 1,464 to a total of 241,809.
US labour market gradually healing
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a seven-month low last week, but the pace of decline has slowed amid a surge in cases.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 48,000 to a seasonally adjusted 709,000 for the week ended November 7.
Despite claims dropping to their lowest since March, they remained above their peak of 665,000 during the 2007-09 Great Recession.
US data suggests economic recovery may be weakening
Fed chair Jerome Powell said that while he still sees the US recovery on a “solid path”, the turn for the worse in the pandemic could deal the economy a blow.
Reservations for in-restaurant dining fell for the fourth week in a row, according to data from OpenTable, while employment at a sample of small businesses also has fallen steadily for a month, according to data from time management firm Homebase.
Foot traffic to retail sites has at best remained steady, according to data from mobile phone tracking firm Safegraph. And similar data from Unacast has fallen weekly since early October.
Greek hospital staff demand hirings as cases, deaths spike
Dozens of hospital workers held protests at hospitals in Greece, demanding more medical staff be hired as the country struggles to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus that has led to a new lockdown being imposed.
As of Wednesday night, Greece had a total of 1,104 intensive care unit beds, of which 496 were set aside for COVID-19 patients. Of those, 335 are already occupied.
On Thursday, authorities reported 50 new deaths and more than 3,300 new confirmed infections – both record high daily numbers. Greece’s total confirmed COVID-19 infections stand at 66,637 with an overall death toll of 959 in the country of about 11 million.
Fur industry faces scrutiny over fears mink could spread COVID-19
A troubling development has surfaced on the pandemic front – a mutated strain of coronavirus found on mink farms in Denmark.
Minks are raised and killed for their fur around the world, including in the United States, Denmark, Argentina, China, Spain and Poland.
Denmark has already slaughtered 10 million minks for fears that they could trigger new COVID-19 outbreaks, and the United Kingdom’s health minister urged countries to rethink mink farming in the face of the threat.
Read more here.
Jordan’s interior minister resigns
Jordan’s interior minister resigned after a public outcry at gatherings and troubles in the aftermath of parliamentary elections that breached a five-day national lockdown aimed at curbing a surge in COVID-19 cases, state media said.
Interior Minister Tawfiq al-Halalmah said he took “moral” responsibility for the unruly events that followed announcements of the results of parliamentary elections held on Tuesday.
Jordan which has now become one of the region’s most heavily hit countries, posted 5,685 new daily infections and 80 deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 132,086 cases and 1,547 deaths so far.
Trump adviser tests positive for virus
US President Donald Trump’s adviser Corey Lewandowski has tested positive for the coronavirus, a source familiar with his diagnosis confirmed to Al Jazeera.
Numerous White House and campaign officials have tested positive in this latest wave of infections, including Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.
France to impose more restrictions if COVID-19 situation worsens
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government will impose further restrictions if the coronavirus outbreak worsens in the coming days.
Castex also told a news conference that authorities could ease restrictions for Christmas holidays if conditions allow.
Coronavirus infections surge in Italian jails: Guards’ union
An Italian prison guard union said COVID-19 is spreading rapidly through the country’s jails and urged the government to do more to contain the outbreak.
On November 8, 1,265 guards and prisoners tested positive for the new coronavirus, almost four times the 344 who tested positive 13 days earlier, union data showed.
Jails in Milan and Naples were hit especially hard, and guards accounted for almost 60 percent of all those infected.
German minister sees COVID-19 restrictions through winter
Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said he expects restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic to continue through winter, with life unlikely to get back to normal in December or January even if infections fall.
Germany reported 21,866 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 727,553 and jumping back above 20,000 after four days below that figure, while the death toll rose by 215 to 11,982, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
709,000 seek US jobless aid as pandemic escalates
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits in the US fell last week to 709,000, a still-high level but the lowest figure since March and a further sign that the job market might be slowly healing.
Yet the improvement will be put at risk by the sharp resurgence in confirmed viral infections to an all-time high – well above 120,000 a day. Cases are rising in 49 states, and deaths are increasing in 39. The nation has now recorded 240,000 virus-related deaths and 10.3 million confirmed infections.
UK reports record daily total of 33,470 COVID-19 cases
The United Kingdom reported 33,470 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the highest daily total to date, as the government struggles to control a second wave of infections going into the winter.
The death toll in the UK is higher than the other worst-affected countries in Europe and the number of people killed by coronavirus is only higher in the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered England back into a monthlong national lockdown amid concerns that a rising number of infections could overwhelm the health service.
Dow falls 180 points as COVID-19 worries eclipse vaccine rally
Wall Street’s main stock indexes were mixed at the open of trading on Thursday as surging COVID-19 infections in the US and Europe eclipsed promising vaccine news that sparked a rally earlier in the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 180 points or 0.61 percent to 29,217.51 in the opening minutes of trading on Wall Street.
A powerful rally took hold on Monday after Pfizer said a late-stage clinical trial showed the COVID-19 vaccine candidate it is developing with Germany’s BioNTech proved 90 percent effective.
Read more here.
New York issues new COVID-19 restrictions
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has imposed a new round of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus as the infection rate climbs and hospital admissions soar.
Cuomo ordered bars, restaurants and gyms in the state to shut at 10pm (03:00 GMT) nightly and capped the number of people who could attend private parties at 10.
The new measures, which take effect on Friday, came a day after California and several states across the Midwest tightened restrictions on residents to try to curb the rapid spread of the virus.
Read more here.
Coronavirus research gets $500m in pledges at Paris forum
Governments and private charities will commit to more than $500m to boost research into the novel coronavirus at the Paris Peace Forum, organisers of the event said.
The forum, an annual meeting of heads of state and government with civil society organisations and charitable foundations, said the funds would come from those participating in the ACT-Accelerator initiative, a programme designed to ensure global access to COVID-19 tests, therapeutics and vaccines.
Read more here.
Iran passes grim milestone of 40,000 deaths from COVID-19
Iran has passed a grim milestone of 40,000 coronavirus deaths, with the latest 10,000 added in less than a month, as the country struggles to contain its most widespread wave of infection yet.
The Iranian health ministry announced 457 fatalities on Thursday, along with 117,517 new infections, pushing the total case count past 726,000, although officials have warned that is a significant undercount.
Read more here.