New restrictions amid surge in US, Europe cases: Coronavirus news

US firm Moderna says its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective, becoming the 2nd promising announcement in the battle against COVID-19.

Moderna says its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective, in the second promising announcement in the battle against COVID-19 [Tobias Schwarz / AFP]
  • More than 54 million people had contracted COVID-19 globally and 1,321,712​ had died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • Infections, hospitalisations and deaths continued to surge across much of the United States as states impose new restrictions.
  • Governments in Europe scrambled amid an alarming rise in case numbers.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. This is Jihan Abdalla.

Australian state reports one new case amid cluster fears

Australia’s fifth most populous state on Tuesday reported one new COVID-19 case overnight, dampening fears of another deadly cluster emerging in a country that has largely eradicated the virus.

South Australia on Monday reimposed social distancing restrictions after detecting 21 cases of COVID-19, the bulk of which were acquired locally.

Australia has now recorded about 27,800 infections and 906 deaths, far fewer than many other developed nations.

The majority of infections were in Victoria state, which forced nearly 5 million people into a stringent lockdown for more than 100 days after a surge in cases.

The outbreak has now been contained, with Victoria recording no new cases for the last 16 days.

Dow and S&P rally to record closes on Moderna COVID vaccine news

The Dow and S&P 500 indexes rallied to record closes on Monday after Moderna said preliminary trial data showed its COVID-19 vaccine to be 94.5 percent effective.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session up more than 470 points or 1.60 percent at 29,950.44.

The broader S&P 500 index – a proxy for the health of US retirement and
college savings accounts – gained more than 41 points or 1.16 percent
to finish at 3,626.98.

Read more here.

France’s COVID-19 infections down, hospitalisations up

French health authorities on Monday reported 9,406 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, a more than one-month low and a figure sharply down from Sunday’s 27,228 and way below the all-time high of 86,852 reached on November 7.

Nonetheless, the number of people hospitalised for the disease was up by 416 to reach a new all-time high of 33,497. And COVID-19 fatalities increased by 506, to 45,054, versus a seven-day moving average of 581.

France has the world’s fourth-highest tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases, at 1,991,233.

Biden calls on Congress to pass new COVID-19 relief package

President-elect Joe Biden called on Congress to come together and pass a new coronavirus relief package.

“Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and business, then we can start to build back better than before,” Biden said In remarks on the economy.

President-elect Joe Biden, speakomg about economic recovery in Wilmington, Delaware [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]

Texas surpasses 20,000 coronavirus deaths

In a grim new milestone, Texas, the US’s second most populous state confirmed 20,000 COVID-19 deaths.

That is the second highest death count overall in the US, trailing only New York, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Germany postpones decision on further lockdown measures until next week

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that federal and state leaders have agreed to postpone until November 25 a decision on further lockdown measures to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Merkel said a majority of state leaders did not want to see a tightening of restrictions before next week, but, she added: “I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today, but there was no majority for that.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attending a session of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany [Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

UK orders 5 million doses of Moderna vaccine

Britain has secured five million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna after it reported positive trial results, health minister Matt Hancock said, with the earliest doses expected for delivery in spring.

“We have today secured an initial agreement for five million doses of the Moderna vaccine,” Hancock said at a news conference.


Italy calls in war-zone doctor to sort out health crisis in southern region

The Italian government called upon one of the country’s leading emergency healthcare experts, who usually operates in war zones, to assist in a growing coronavirus health crisis in the southern region of Calabria.

Gino Strada, a surgeon, has set up hospitals in conflict zones around the world, including Sudan and Afghanistan.

Healthcare in Calabria, one of Italy’s poorest areas, has come sharply into focus this month, with two health chiefs being forced to quit in swift succession because of doubts over their ability to handle the coronavirus crisis.


Pedestrians walk near public health signs in London, Britain [Toby Melville/Reuters]

COVID restriction tiers in England may need strengthening, expert says

The government will have to consider strengthening the three-tier system of restrictions used to control the spread of COVID-19 when the full lockdown in England ends, a medical adviser said.

“We see very little effect from tier one. And I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine’s available for everyone,” Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, told a news conference.

“We expect if the lockdown is working, and we’re all doing the best we can to have reduced or no social contact with other people that we will start to see cases decline over the next week,” Hopkins said.

Sweden imposes new restrictions

Sweden placed a nationwide limit of eight people for all gatherings in an effort to bring down coronavirus infections. The limit takes effect on November 24 and will last for four weeks.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference that the situation will get worse and appealed to Swedes to “do your duty” and “take responsibility to stop the spread” of COVID-19.

Sweden had opted for a different – and much debated – approach to handling the pandemic by keeping large sections of society open.

People walk at the Drottninggatan shopping street, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in central Stockholm, Sweden [Fredrik Sandberg/ TT News Agency via Reuters]

WHO says no time for COVID complacency despite vaccine news

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that there is no time for complacency in confronting the coronavirus, despite positive news about possible vaccines.

“Right now we are extremely concerned by the surge in #COVID19 cases we’re seeing in some countries,” Ghebreyesus tweeted.

“Particularly in Europe and the Americas, #healthworkers and health systems are being pushed to the breaking point.”


65 virus cases, with 1 cluster, among WHO Geneva staff

The World Health Organization has recorded 65 cases of the coronavirus among staff based at its headquarters, including at least one cluster of infections, an internal email obtained by The Associated Press showed.

The revelation came amid a surge of cases in Europe, host country Switzerland, and the city of Geneva, in particular, and the email said about half of the infections were in people who had been working from home. But 32 were in staff who had been working on the premises of the headquarters building.

Dow jumps 360 points on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine news

The Dow and S&P 500 indexes rallied on Monday after Moderna said preliminary trial data showed its COVID-19 vaccine to be 94.5 percent effective – the second promising announcement from the vaccine front in as many weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average vaulted more than 364 points or 1.23 percent at the open of trading on Wall Street, bringing the 30-share index within striking distance of the 30,000 mark.

Read more here.

Moderna said preliminary data from a continuing phase three study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine showed it to be 94.5 percent effective [Hans Pennink/AP Photo]

Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5 percent effective

US biotech firm Moderna Inc on Monday said preliminary data from a continuing phase three study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine showed it to be 94.5 percent effective.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” said Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel in a statement. “This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease.”

Read more here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies