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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 24th Nov 2020

News Highlights

WHO warns against premature reopening as Europe gears up for festive season

With Christmas around the corner, European countries that imposed lockdown restriction in early November are facing pressure from retailers to end the mandatory closure of shops deemed non-essential at the busiest time of the year. Coronavirus cases have been falling lately in some European countries, but the WHO is warning against a premature opening of the economy saying that doing so could lead to another surge in cases as they did in the spring.

Millions tested again in China after Covid-19 clusters in three cities

Chinese health authorities have imposed lockdowns and shut down schools in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli and are testing millions of citizens after discovering multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases in the cities. The number of cases in the country remain low, especially when compared to the U.S. and European nations, but the recent spikes in cases has indicated that the virus is still a risk despite having been largely controlled in China.

PM Modi to meet state leaders as India mulls more lockdowns to curb second wave

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with the chief ministers of states on Tuesday, via video-conference, to review the coronavirus situation in the country and the possibility of yet another lockdown. Several states have already imposed night curfews and other restrictions on their citizens to curb a rise in cases after the festive season of Diwali. It is more likely, however, that PM Modi will leave the final decision up to the states themselves.

New Zealand study charts Covid-19 spread on international flight despite negative tests

New Zealand health officials released a report last week mapping the findings of a recent case study of coronavirus transmission aboard a flight from Dubai to Auckland in September, despite all passengers testing Covid-19 negative prior to the journey and social distancing guidelines being maintained throughout. Seven of the 86 passengers tested positive on arrival in New Zealand and researchers concluded that at least 4 people were infected during the flight by an asymptomatic carrier who was shedding the coronavirus.

Lockdown Exit
England to use testing to shorten quarantine for incoming passengers
England will introduce a new system on Dec. 15 allowing passengers arriving from high-risk countries to take a COVID-19 test after five days of quarantine and to be released from any further self-isolation if they test negative. Airlines and other companies in the travel and tourism industries had been calling for such a scheme for months, having suffered devastating consequences from a 14-day quarantine rule that has deterred people from travelling. “The move will give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
India’s top court slams states for COVID surge
India’s Supreme Court has excoriated regional governments, including Delhi’s, over the surge in COVID-19 cases and warned the situation could worsen further if authorities did not effectively deal with the pandemic. The court, which took up the issue on its own, is seeking status reports from New Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam, which have recorded a spike in cases, about the management of patients and steps taken to ease the situation. “We are hearing of a huge spike in the current month. We want a latest status report from all states. Worse things may happen in December if states aren’t well prepared,” the three-judge bench said, according to broadcaster NDTV. The judges were particularly concerned about Delhi, which has been topping India in the number of infections and deaths. “What extra efforts are you taking? … Delhi has to answer a lot of things,” the judges told Delhi government lawyers in court.
Covid: Australia state reopens border after Covid cases plummet
The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has reopened its border with neighbouring Victoria for the first time since July after coronavirus cases there fell to zero. Victoria, which imposed a tough lockdown after a surge in cases, has reported no new infections since the beginning of November. The state is also relaxing its rules on wearing face masks. Australia has recorded about 900 deaths and 28,000 infections in total.
Covid-19 lockdown recovery sees record increase in retail sales for September quarter
Data released by Stats NZ today shows retail sales values have seen the highest jump year-on-year in the three months to September since at least 1995, when records began. But, the rise didn’t make up for the historic fall of 15 per cent ($3.6 billion) in the June 2020 quarter, which was affected by the pandemic. “While Auckland recorded the largest dollar value increase, in percentage terms the increase was lower than that for other main regions, partially due to a further lockdown period,” retail statistics manager Sue Chapman said.
Singapore upgrades Q3 GDP as lockdown measures ease
Singapore’s economy contracted less than initially estimated in the third quarter due to gradual easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures, official data showed on Monday. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 5.8% year-on-year in the third quarter, the ministry of trade and industry said on Monday, versus the 7% drop seen in the government’s advance estimate.
Gaza declares COVID-19 disaster with health system near collapse
A rapid rise in coronavirus infections in the Gaza Strip has reached a “catastrophic stage”, with the blockaded Palestinian enclave’s medical system likely to collapse soon, health officials warn. COVID is spreading exponentially in Gaza – one of the most crowded places on Earth – especially in refugee camps, and the health ministry has warned of “disastrous” implications.
Doctors say CDC should warn people the side effects from Covid vaccine shots won't be 'a walk in the park'
The CDC must be transparent about the side effects people may experience after getting their first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, doctors urged during a meeting Monday with CDC advisors. Dr. Sandra Fryhofer said that both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines require two doses and she worries whether her patients will come back for a second dose because of potentially unpleasant side effects after the first shot. Both companies acknowledged that their vaccines could induce side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with mild Covid-19, such as muscle pain, chills and headache.
England gets new set of restrictions for end of COVID-19 lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
Exit Strategies
Here’s how the U.S. government plans to distribute the first Covid-19 vaccines.
In the wake of a steady stream of positive results indicating the effectiveness of several coronavirus vaccines, the official in charge of the federal coronavirus vaccine program explained on Sunday news shows how the vaccines might be distributed to Americans as early as next month. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed, said that within 24 hours after the Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine, doses will be shipped to states to be distributed. “Within 48 hours from approval,” the first people would likely receive injections, Dr. Slaoui said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
Qantas announces Covid-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all passengers
An airline has revealed that it will demand proof of a Covid-19 vaccination from international passengers. Head of Australian carrier Qantas has confirmed that having the jab - and being able to prove it - will be required by every passenger wanting to fly abroad on their services. CEO Alan Joyce said that as soon as a vaccine became available, it will become a condition of travel, deeming it a necessity for international travel.
Covid-19 visiting scheme in place at 'small number' of care homes
Most of Northern Ireland's care homes have not implemented a visiting scheme eight weeks after it was announced by the health minister, the chief nursing officer has said. Charlotte McArdle said a "small number" of homes had started up the so-called care partners scheme. Normal care home visits have been suspended due to Covid-19. The care partner initiative allows a designated relative or carer to visit a resident. Guidance on the scheme was announced by Health Minister Robin Swann on 23 September.
UK PM Johnson sets out new measures to replace COVID lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
Covid-19: Tougher tier rules when England lockdown ends
Boris Johnson has confirmed that the national lockdown in England will come to an end on 2 December and individual regions will return to tiered restrictions. Gyms and non-essential shops in all parts of England will be allowed to reopen, weddings, funerals and group worship can take place and pubs will no longer have to close at 22:00, where tier rules allow. However, Boris Johnson warned that tier restrictions will have to be toughened to bring down the R rate.
In Italy, theater reopens in town devastated by COVID
In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theater in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened this weekend after three years of renovations. But the planned gala celebration had to be postponed, and new productions for an annual festival dedicated to the city’s native composer Gaetano Donizetti had to be streamed online from an empty theater. Festival musical director Riccardo Frizza said the autumn festival was envisioned as a life-affirming moment for the city and province, where 6,000 people died in a single month last spring.
US, Germany and UK could start Covid vaccinations as early as December
As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the US, UK and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December, while Spain said it would start administering the vaccine to its citizens in January. Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine as early as this week, even before the US authorises it, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday. Pfizer and BioNTech could secure emergency US and European authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed a 95% success rate and no serious side effects.
European nations plan cautious easing of lockdowns for Christmas
Policymakers across Europe are preparing to relax Covid-19 lockdowns for the second time this year as they look to “save Christmas” and enable family reunions for 500m across the continent — except this time, they are avoiding calling it a reopening. Restrictions implemented at the end of October throughout the continent are starting to yield results, with a slowdown in new infections recorded in most countries according to data tracked by the Financial Times. This is fuelling calls from retailers to end the mandatory closures of shops deemed non-essential during the most lucrative trading month of the year. The UK, France and Ireland are among the countries where lockdowns are due to expire in early December.
WHO Warns Europe Against Lifting Lockdowns Too Early Amid Slight Decline In Coronavirus Cases
While Europe is starting to see the first early signs that the coronavirus spike across the continent is beginning to ease, World Health Organization officials warn that European countries need to take care to not lift lockdowns too early and repeat the mistakes governments made in the spring that could lead to another surge in cases. David Nabarro, the WHO’s special coronavirus envoy, said to Swiss newspaper Solothurner Zeitung that European countries are in danger of setting themselves up for a third coronavirus wave in early 2021, before vaccines in the works could be widely administered to the general public, according to Deutsche Welle. To prevent another large outbreak after current restrictions are pulled back, he advised European governments to only ease lockdowns after coronavirus infection rates show a clear, sustained decrease.
Gyms and non-essential shops will open after England lockdown ends: BBC
Gyms and non-essential shops in all areas of England are expected to be allowed to reopen when the country’s current lockdown ends on Dec. 2, the BBC reported on Monday.
Partisan Exits
Anti-lockdown protestors burn masks in NYC following demonstrations in California
Anti-lockdown protestors on Sunday burned face masks as they marched through Manhattan following similar demonstrations in California, upstate New York and Minnesota. Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have prompted state and city officials around the United States to issue new lockdown guidance. As a result demonstrators gathered in Washington Square Park, New York City, on Sunday afternoon for the 'No Lockdown in NYC' event. They carried signs reading 'Stop Covid Tyranny', 'No More Lockdowns' and 'Medical Freedom Now'.
Covid: Thirteen arrests at Liverpool anti-lockdown demo
Thirteen people have been arrested after an anti-lockdown protest in Liverpool on Saturday. Police originally held 15 people but said some had been "de-arrested and issued with fixed penalty notices". Hundreds of people have gathered for weekend rallies since the second national lockdown began on 5 November. At Saturday's protest, a 36-year-old man, from Kirkby, was held on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker after an officer was pushed in the chest.
German minister condemns lockdown protesters' Nazi victim comparisons
German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, on Sunday lashed out at anti-mask protesters comparing themselves to Nazi victims, accusing them of trivialising the Holocaust and “making a mockery” of the courage shown by resistance fighters. The harsh words came after a young woman took to the stage at a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Hanover on Saturday saying she felt “just like Sophie Scholl”, the German student executed by the Nazis in 1943 for her role in the resistance.
Liberal MP breaks ranks with SA Government to label coronavirus lockdown an 'overreaction'
A country Liberal MP has lashed out at the South Australian Government over its handling of the latest coronavirus outbreak, saying the hard lockdown was an overreaction which "hung businesses out to dry". Backbencher Nick McBride, whose electoral district MacKillop includes parts of SA's south-east, said health authorities should not have "taken the word of one person" to impose a lockdown on the entire state.
New Zealand leader Ardern offers virus know-how to Joe Biden
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus. Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke very favorably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic. “What has been really at the center of our response has been some fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation,” Ardern said. “That’s over and above what we’ve done at our borders.”
New Zealand offers Biden tips on COVID-19 after successful response
New Zealand's prime minister said she has offered to help President-elect Joe Biden manage his response to the coronavirus pandemic once he is inaugurated. “I offered to him and his team access to New Zealand health officials in order to share their experience on things we’ve learnt on our COVID-19 journey,” Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, according to Reuters. New Zealand has garnered international praise for its response to the pandemic, with fewer than 100 current cases reported in the country as of this week. Ardern implemented strict nationwide lockdown measures twice this year, a decision public health experts credit with being instrumental to slowing the spread of the virus.
Majority of Croatians sceptical of coronavirus vaccine
A majority of Croatians do not plan on taking a vaccine to immunise against the coronavirus once it becomes available, a recent survey has found. According to the poll, which was conducted by the Valicon market research company and published by Croatian news agency RTL last week, 43 percent of respondents said they would definitely or would probably vaccinate, mostly citing responsibility towards others and that a higher rate of vaccination will limit infections as reasons. But 57 percent said they definitely would not or probably would not vaccinate, citing mistrust of the vaccine until it was proven to be safe, while a large number of respondents also said they feared there could be side effects. Others said they would not vaccinate because they believed they were not at risk, while a quarter of respondents said the virus constantly mutates and that vaccinating would not protect them. The survey gathering opinions from 523 people in Croatia comes as a global scientific race is under way to produce an effective vaccine for the coronavirus.
UK aims to inoculate those most at risk from COVID by Easter - Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he hoped almost all Britons at high risk from COVID would be vaccinated against the disease by Easter. “We should be able to inoculate, I believe on the evidence I’m seeing, the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter,” Johnson told a news conference.
Johnson says there will be no compulsory COVID vaccination
Britain’s government will not force people to have vaccinations against COVID-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. “There will be no compulsory vaccination. That’s not the way we do things in this country,” Johnson told a news conference. “We think it (vaccination) is a good idea, and you know I totally reject the propaganda of the anti-vaxxers, they are wrong,” he said. “Everybody should get a vaccine as soon as it is available.
England to allow 4,000 fans at elite events in lowest-risk areas
Up to 4,000 spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor elite sports events in the lowest-risk tier one areas of England when a month-long national lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 is lifted on Dec. 2, the British government said on Monday.
US nurses’ union warns of hospital stresses amid COVID-19 surge
Nurses from the profession’s largest union in the United States have warned of dire stresses on the healthcare system as the country sees a new surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations. In a news conference on Monday, members of the National Nurses United, which represents 170,000 registered nurses across the US, detailed harrowing accounts of hospital understaffing, a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and an inadequate response from local and federal authorities.
Continued Lockdown
Germany set to extend coronavirus restrictions to December 20
Germany Germany plans to extend its current lockdown restrictions until at least December 20, according to a draft agreement among the 16 state governors due to be discussed with Chancellor Merkel on
Germany Moves Toward Tightening Partial Lockdown Until Dec. 20
A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc prevented a majority of people from getting the disease but fell short of the bar set by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. The virus is forecast to claim another 30,000 American lives by mid-December. New York state will reopen an emergency facility on Staten Island, where hospital capacity is strained. New York City will be in “dire, dire shape” without federal aid, its mayor said. And in neighboring New Jersey, the number of patients in intensive care jumped 13% in one day.
Coronavirus: German states plan December offensive
To tighten the screws in a bid to salvage some semblance of normalcy at Christmas. That seems the essence of a new COVID strategy for December and January being hammered out by Germany's regional leaders.
Germany looks set to extend lockdown into December as infections remain high
Germany could be preparing to extend its current lockdown into December as the number of coronavirus infections remains high across the country. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet state leaders on Wednesday. Berlin is hopeful a coronavirus vaccine can soon be rolled out.
'Lockdown is working', says Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on COVID-19 plan
As Europe is battling the second wave of the novel coronavirus and has initiated a second lockdown, Spain is one country where the government is satisfied with the 'plan'. Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, on Saturday, appreciated the progress the country has made in the last few weeks and said the plan of containing the virus through lockdown "is working".
'I want to break free': Underground Paris party defies lockdown
On a darkened residential street in Paris, a gate left partly open signals the entrance to an abandoned train tunnel -- and an illegal rave party for 300 people looking for an escape from France's Covid-19 lockdown. "We decided to mount a resistance and issue this call to hide together and party because there's no longer any place for young people to be together," says the 27-year-old organiser, who declined to give his real name but asked to be called "Alexandre." The sentiment is apparently widespread, since French police have had to crack down on dozens of illegal parties since the partial lockdown was announced in October to combat a new surge in coronavirus cases.
Man fined for breaking French Covid lockdown to 'smash a guy's face in'
French police have fined a man who left his home with a written lockdown declaration stating he was out to “smash a guy’s face in”. The man, who has not been named, had reportedly correctly filled in the legally required declaration, known as an “attestation”, with his name, address and time he left his home in Lannion, Brittany. However, officers found that instead of ticking one of the boxes stating a legitimate reason to go outside during France’s national lockdown – these include going shopping, visiting the doctor, travelling to work or exercising for up to one hour at a maximum distance of 1km – the man had written “aller péter la gueule à un mec”, an activity not covered by the form.
France set to continue coronavirus lockdown while easing some restrictions
French President Emmanuel Macron could announce a slight easing of lockdown measures on Tuesday when he addresses the nation in a primetime speech to update on the country's COVID-19 situation. The president is expected to announce an adaptation of restrictions which have been in place since the end of October. Many expect that non-essential commerces may be able to reopen in the month of December. The government has pushed Black Friday back to December 4, the economy minister announced, in order to allow shops to "reopen in the near future", for instance. "To be clear: the lockdown will continue and so there will continue to be limits on travel," said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal in an interview with the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. There will be three steps of relaxing restrictions, starting in the beginning of December, then before the Christmas holidays, and finally in January 2021, Attal specified.
Pandemic inflames violence against women
No country has been spared the coronavirus epidemic, nor the scourge of domestic violence, which has surged during lockdowns as the day marking such violence approaches on Wednesday. From a spike in rapes in Nigeria and South Africa, increased numbers of women missing in Peru, higher rates of women being killed in Brazil and Mexico and overwhelmed associations in Europe: the pandemic has aggravated the plague of sexual violence. According to U.N. data released in late September, lockdowns have led to increases in complaints or calls to report domestic abuse of 25 percent in Argentina, 30 percent in Cyprus and France and 33 percent in Singapore. In essentially all countries, measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in women and children being confined at home.
French business activity at six-month low after second lockdown: PMI
French business activity contracted this month at the fastest pace since May as the second coronavirus lockdown this year clobbered the dominant services sector, a survey showed on Monday. Data compiler IHS Markit said that its preliminary purchasing managers index dropped to 39.9 from 47.5 last month, falling much further below the 50-point mark dividing expansions from contractions. While the lowest figure since France was emerging from its first lockdown in May, the reading nonetheless was far better than April’s all-time low in the depths of the first lockdown.
UK shopper numbers down 55.4% as English lockdown bites
The number of shoppers across British retail destinations fell 55.4% in the week to Nov. 21 from a year earlier, mainly reflecting the impact of a second full week of England’s COVID-19 lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a month-long lockdown in early November after coronavirus infection cases and deaths started to rise again, angering businesses and some of his own political party over the economic consequences. The lockdown closed all non-essential shops, along with pubs, cafes and restaurants except to offer takeaway food. People have also been encouraged to work from home if possible.
Scientific Viewpoint
New Zealand study details COVID-19 spread on long-haul flight despite tests
A recent case study details COVID-19 transmission on a New Zealand long-haul flight, even with negative pre-departure testing results and social distancing requirements. The 12-page report, released by New Zealand health officials last weekFriday, follows a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to one passenger traveling on an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand in September. Though the traveler tested negative with a PCR test before the flight, researchers concluded that "at least four in-flight transmission events of SARS-CoV-2 likely took place" as the pre-symptomatic yet contagious person infected at least four others. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.
AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine Up to 90% Effective in Late-Stage Trials
AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford added their vaccine candidate to a growing list of shots showing promising effectiveness against Covid-19—setting in motion disparate regulatory and distribution tracks that executives and researchers hope will result in the start of widespread vaccinations by the end of the year. AstraZeneca and Oxford said their vaccine was as much as 90% effective in preventing the infection without serious side effects in large clinical trials, though they said the vaccine’s efficacy is up to 90% in late stage trials
AstraZeneca: COVID-19 vaccine shown to be 'highly effective'
Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world. The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine. AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it potentially easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.
AstraZeneca says COVID-19 'vaccine for the world' can be 90% effective
AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.
Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective
Oxford-AstraZeneca has announced its COVID-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective US already has a deal to purchase 300 million doses for $1.2 billion. The British drugmaker is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. Unlike its rivals, however, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, which makes it easier to distribute
Bill Gates: 'almost all' Covid-19 vaccines will work by February 2021
Bill Gates has been a polarising figure during the coronavirus pandemic, but now the billionaire philanthropist has reason to be hopeful. Speaking to CNN, Gates explained how he felt ‘almost all’ of the coronavirus vaccines in development will be ready by February next year. The first two vaccines expected to be granted FDA approval in the US are the ones developed by Pfizer and Moderna. But Gates says the others in development – from the likes of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax – will also be successful. ‘Almost all the vaccines will work and with very high efficacy levels,’ Gates told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Covid-19 pandemic: Merkel 'worried' about vaccines for poor countries
Germany's chancellor has raised concerns about the world's poorest securing access to Covid-19 vaccines. Angela Merkel was speaking at a G20 summit which saw leaders promise a fair distribution of jabs. But Mrs Merkel warned progress was slow, saying she would raise the matter with global vaccine alliance GAVI. "We will now speak with GAVI about when these negotiations will begin because I am somewhat worried that nothing has been done on that yet," she said.
Covid-19: Daily coronavirus test plan to cut contacts' 14-day self-isolation
Daily coronavirus tests will be offered to close contacts of people who have tested positive in England, as a way to reduce the current 14-day quarantine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people will be offered tests every day for a week - and they will not need to isolate unless they test positive. He also said rapid tests will allow every care home resident to have up to two visitors tested twice a week. Labour welcomed increased testing but raised concerns over test-and-trace. The chairman of the Independent Care Group which represents independent care homes, Mike Padgham, said the government was being "rather ambitious".
AstraZeneca says COVID-19 'vaccine for the world' can be 90% effective
AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.
Decades of work, and half a dose of fortune, drove Oxford vaccine success
It took Oxford University’s brightest minds decades of work to give them the expertise to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In the end, it was a momentary error - and a dose of good fortune - that carried them over the line. The Oxford vaccinologists were exhilarated on Monday when drugmaker AstraZeneca, with whom they developed the shot, announced that it could be around 90% effective, citing data from late-stage trials. “It can only happen if extraordinary support is provided,” Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute which developed the shot, told Reuters. “We had pretty well the whole institute in Oxford working on this vaccine.” While skill and hard work drove development, AstraZeneca said it was a minor mistake that made the team realise how they could significantly boost the shot’s success rate, to as much as 90% from around 60%: by administering a half dose, followed by a full dose a month later. The Oxford vaccinologists were exhilarated on Monday when drugmaker AstraZeneca, with whom they developed the shot, announced that it could be around 90% effective, citing data from late-stage trials. “It can only happen if extraordinary support is provided,” Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute which developed the shot, told Reuters. “We had pretty well the whole institute in Oxford working on this vaccine.”
Health experts in B.C. divided over merits of severe Australian-style lockdown
Former Vancouverite Graham Barron can really appreciate what freedom feels like. Barron lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two young children. For nearly three months beginning in August, they endured one of the world's most severe lockdowns. "It was really hard," Barron said. "It was difficult to be at home all the time." Overnight curfews were put in place. Residents could only leave home for an hour at a time, and only within five kilometres. Masks had to be worn everywhere.
COVID-19 vaccines: How do the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford coronavirus jab candidates compare?
Three trials of vaccines that will be available to the UK have all reported they are around 90% effective in late stage trials. The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine announced its phase three results on 23 November. It was the final of the three, with Pfizer/BioNTech the first to announce its results, followed a week later by Moderna, but that vaccine is still in trials.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Delaware COVID-19 numbers hit high mark before Thanksgiving
The seven-day average daily coronavirus case count in Delaware set an all-time high as the state tested a record number of people in the days before Thanksgiving. The News Journal reports that the state reported 486 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, raising the seven-day average of new cases to a record 428.4. On Wednesday, the state recorded nearly 11,000 tests, the most ever in one day. The numbers show more people in Delaware are seeking out a test and a significant portion of them are returning positive results. The daily average percent of tests that are positive is 5.9%, the highest it’s been since early June. The average daily case count has grown by 90% over the past two weeks.
Italy's COVID-19 death toll passes 50,000, with 630 new fatalities
Italy reported 630 COVID 19-related deaths on Monday, rising from 562 the day before and taking the official toll since its outbreak began in February to 50,453, according to health ministry data. Italy, the first Western country to be hit by the epidemic, becomes the sixth nation in the world to surpass 50,000 deaths, and the second in Europe after Britain. The health ministry also reported 22,930 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, down from 28,337 the day before, with the fall reflecting the usual drop in the number of swabs conducted on Sundays. There were 148,945 coronavirus tests carried out in the past day, the ministry said, against a previous 188,747.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak orders statewide 'pause' for three weeks with restaurants, bars and casinos being forced to reduce capacity as COVID-19 cases surge
Nevada Gov Steve Sisolak has ordered a statewide 'pause' for three weeks Under Sisolak's latest public health orders, restaurants and bars must reduce operations from 50% to 25% of capacity. There are also additional social-distancing requirements, including prohibitions on service without advance reservations, according to the governor. Casinos, which reopened in June after being ordered closed for more than two months following COVID-19 outbreak, will likewise be capped at 25% capacity. Nevada has set daily records for hospitalizations in the last week alone. On Friday, the state reported the most hospitalizations since the pandemic hit the US in March with 1,288; on Sunday, the state reported 1,273 hospitalizations
A birthday lunch left 15 Texas relatives battling covid-19: ‘Please don’t be like my family’
Enriqueta Aragonez reclined on a hospital bed in Arlington, Tex., with plastic tubes snaking from her nose and pneumonia in both of her lungs. The 57-year-old had a message for everyone doubting the need for covid-19 restrictions. “I went to my nephew’s house and loved seeing my family, but now, I’m fighting against covid-19,” Aragonez said in a video message. “Please protect yourself. It’s real.” Aragonez is one of 15 family members who contracted the coronavirus after a small indoor birthday celebration earlier this month where no one wore masks. Weeks later, in an emotional video shared by the city of Arlington, the family is begging others to avoid gathering with anyone outside their immediate household.
3 million new Covid-19 infections were reported in November, as hospitalizations reach a record high
November isn't even over, and the US has already seen more new Covid-19 cases than any other month of this entire pandemic. More than 3 million new cases were reported between November 1 and 22, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That's about a quarter of all US cases since the beginning of this pandemic. Yes, testing has increased. But it hasn't kept pace with the rate of new infections. As of late last week, the number of daily new cases increased 25% compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Shanghai airport momentarily descends into chaos after workers test positive for Covid-19
Shanghai's biggest international airport momentarily descended into chaos Sunday night, after authorities ordered a mass testing drive in response to a small outbreak of Covid-19 linked to several cargo handlers. Since the beginning of November, seven cargo workers and their close contacts at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport have been diagnosed as confirmed coronavirus cases, including two reported on Sunday. In a bid to contain the cluster, authorities ordered all cargo staff at the airport to undergo coronavirus tests overnight and set up a temporary testing site on the second floor of a parking garage, according to a statement from the Shanghai government.
Covid: 'Entire families in hospital after coronavirus surge'
On 14 October, Farah Husain, a critical care specialist in Delhi's largest Covid-19 hospital, heaved a sigh of relief. "After a gruelling four months for healthcare workers in dedicated Covid hospitals, India records lowest daily rise in new cases," she tweeted. Barely a month later, Dr Husain sounds wistful. "I really thought we were past it. Now we are facing the intensity of a winter surge of coronavirus," she told me. Doctors fear that Delhi may well become the epicentre of India's first wave of winter infections.
Millions of Americans set to ignore warnings against Thanksgiving travel
Ominous warnings came as Donald Trump appeared to admit that coronavirus is “running wild” across the US, in contrast with his statements throughout the election campaign that the virus would simply “go away” or “disappear” and, more recently, that the country was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic. As new Covid-19 infections in the US approached 200,000 a day, Trump tweeted on Saturday night to insist things were bad outside the United States as well, posting: “The Fake News is not talking about the fact that ‘Covid’ is running wild all over the world, not just in the US.”
Maharashtra considering another lockdown to cap Covid-19 surge
The Maharashtra government will decide in the next eight days whether to impose curbs or a complete lockdown depending on the surge in Covid-19 cases, Vijay Wadettiwar relief and rehabilitation minister said Monday. He said that such measures will have to be taken if lives are to be saved. “If needed, in the next eight days, after careful study we will decide whether there is a need for a complete lockdown or imposition of some curbs or add new conditions. Such measures will have to be taken because ultimately lives are important,” the minister said.
Will India Announce Lockdown? PM Modi to Meet CMs of States Tomorrow to Review COVID Situation
Looking at the rising cases of coronavirus across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet the chief minister of states on Tuesday via video-conferencing. During the day-long meeting with the chief ministers, PM Modi will review the CIVUD situation and as per their suggestions, he will take possible decision. As a number of states have partially announced lockdown by imposing night curfews and Section 144, it is possible that PM Modi might announce another lockdown in states where the cases are rising in rapid rate. However, the Centre would give states the power to decide on the announcement of lockdown
South Korea's capital Seoul announces new coronavirus controls
Authorities in the South Korean capital on Monday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting nightclubs, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation. The measures going into effect on Tuesday also include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of more than 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take out and delivery after 9 p.m., and public transportation will be limited after 10 p.m. Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup told reporters one-third of city employees will work from home. He recommended that churches convert to online worship services only.
The Scientist Who Saved Japan Once Now Battles a New Virus Surge
Having mocked him at first for his theories on how the coronavirus spread, the world came to recognize the effectiveness of Japanese scientist Hitoshi Oshitani’s “Three C’s” approach to the pandemic: avoiding closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations where the virus thrives. It’s a strategy that’s helped Japan avoid thousands of deaths without a lockdown -- but one that’s now being challenged with infections rapidly escalating as cold weather sets in. Oshitani fears the nation may not be ready. “People’s concern is decreasing,” Oshitani, a virologist and infectious disease specialist, said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “We may see a sudden increase in severe cases and deaths.”
China tests millions after coronavirus flareups in 3 cities
Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities across the country last week. As temperatures drop, widescale measures are being enacted in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli, even though the number of new cases remains low compared to the United States and other countries that are seeing new waves of infections. Experts and government officials have warned that the chance of the virus spreading will be greater in cold weather. Recent flareups have shown that there is still a risk of the virus returning, despite being largely controlled within China.
Hungary imposes restricted shopping hours to protect elderly in pandemic
Hungary’s government on Monday limited retail store visits in an effort to separate elderly shoppers and contain the coronavirus pandemic in the most vulnerable over-65 age group. “This government decree serves the protection of the elderly,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a Facebook video. “The pandemic’s statistics clearly show that the most endangered age group is that of our parents and grandparents. Let’s take care of them.” Hungary has tried for months to avoid a second lockdown and prevent further harm to the economy but was forced to close secondary schools and impose an 8 p.m.-5 a.m curfew.
In Malaysia's Sabah, pandemic rages as migrants flee testing
Some flee on boats. Some hide in the stilts under their homes. Others run into the woods. All across Malaysia’s Sabah region on Borneo island, stateless residents and undocumented migrants are fleeing public health officials conducting coronavirus screenings, fearful of being detained or deported. The race to tackle COVID-19 in Sabah, Malaysia’s biggest palm oil producing state, is being complicated by an estimated one million undocumented migrants and stateless residents who account for a third of the population.
Lithuanian parliament sets week-long recess as COVID-19 cases spike
Lithuania’s parliament goes into a week-long hiatus from Tuesday to help contain the spread of COVID-19 among its members. The Baltic country’s government is considering extending and tightening its COVID-19 lockdown by closing shopping centres as the current level of restrictions had done little to curb a second wave of the disease among the population. The number of new COVID-19 infections in Lithuania more than doubled over the the past two weeks despite the lockdown that took effect on Nov. 3, when 316 cases per 100,000 people were registered over the preceding two weeks.
Lockdown Restrictions Likely to Return in This State Amid Surge in COVID Cases
Amid the sudden spurt in coronavirus cases, the Himachal Pradesh government is planning to impose a few restrictions across the state. The development comes a day after Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur presided over a meeting with the district level officers at Mandi to review the COVID-19 situation in Mandi district. “Keeping in view the upsurge in the COVID-19 cases in the state, the government would consider imposing a few restrictions to avoid social gatherings and ensure that people take all necessary precautionary measures. It is also important to regularly monitor the COVID-19 positive cases kept in home isolation as that number is more than those admitted in hospitals”, the CM said.
South Korea records a spike in Covid infections with 386 new cases as Asia battles rising cases
South Korea had eased social distancing in October after months of few cases But infections are rising and experts fear they could see 1,000 a day in weeks Japan has scrapped a government campaign to encourage eating out
Coronavirus cases rise in South Korea after restrictions were eased
South Korea has reported 386 new cases of coronavirus in a resurgence that could force authorities to reimpose stronger social distancing restrictions after easing them in October to spur a faltering economy. The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency raised the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 30,403, including 503 deaths. More than 270 of the new cases have come from the Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to track transmissions in schools, private tutoring academies and religious facilities.
New Lockdown
Bulgaria Plans Lockdown to Contain Coronavirus Infection Surge
Bulgaria plans to close schools, restaurants and shops and ban all sports events, private celebrations and excursions as it struggles to contain a coronavirus case surge. The Balkan country's health minister Kostadin Angelov said on Monday that the measures, to be debated by the centre-right government on Wednesday, were aimed at preventing a struggling health system from being overwhelmed. New coronavirus cases have doubled in the past week to 23,569, Bulgarian health ministry data showed, bringing the total number to 121,820 in the country of 7 million.
Toronto enters virus lockdown as US looks to vaccine rollout
Canada's biggest city entered lockdown on Monday in the latest bid to curb coronavirus infections, with case numbers surging across North America even as US officials said vaccinations could be available within weeks. Toronto banned private indoor gatherings and capped the size of weddings and funerals for four weeks from midnight, with officials warning that hospitals risked being overwhelmed without quick action. "I've been clear on this: the situation is extremely serious and further action is required," Ontario premier Doug Ford had told journalists ahead of the lockdown.
Pizza worker at centre of South Australia lockdown 'unaware' of public attention
In Australia, the Spanish national at the centre of a police investigation into his failure to disclose to contact tracers he worked shifts at the Woodville Pizza Bar is unaware of the growing public focus on him as he remains in hotel quarantine, Guardian Australia has learned. The 36-year-old man, currently on a temporary graduate visa in Australia, had his devices seized by South Australian police over the weekend after they issued a search warrant to obtain them from his quarantine hotel room. All the focus on the one man is causing concern among contact tracing experts, who argue it might hinder people coming forward for testing. They say the best way to get the most accurate information from people during contact tracing interviews is to ensure their privacy and protect them from punishment.
More English regions to face tougher COVID rules after lockdown ends
England’s tiered system of regional COVID restrictions will be toughened up when a national lockdown ends on Dec. 2 and some areas will move into a higher alert level than the one they were in before, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. “I’m sorry to say we expect that more regions will fall, at least temporarily, into higher levels than before,” Johnson said in a statement to parliament.