International update: Global Covid cases pass 40.4 million – US may authorize emergency use of vaccine in December

20th October 2020 (Last Updated October 20th, 2020 09:45)

20 October

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 40.4 million cases, reaching 40,403,779. The global coronavirus death toll is 1,118,361 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid-19 infections exceed 8.2 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 220,133 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

President Donald Trump has confirmed he will participate in a final presidential debate on Thursday. Topics will include the coronavirus pandemic. It comes as Trump said Americans were “tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots” discuss Covid.

The Covid-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting some crucial voters two weeks before Election Day, costing American lives and potentially hurting President Donald Trump, who has received overwhelmingly poor grades from Democrats and independent voters on his virus response.

Almost one-fourth of all hospital beds in the El Paso, Texas, area are occupied by virus patients and the region with almost 1 million residents has just 16 intensive-care beds available, state health department data showed.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “strong recommendation” for mask-wearing by both passengers and operators on planes, trains, buses and taxis to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The change was reported earlier by the Washington Post, which said it followed airline industry pressure and a request from Vice President Mike Pence. A note at the bottom of the CDC web page states it was last reviewed on Monday.

India: India has already seen a peak in the number of new coronavirus infections and may be able to contain the world’s second-largest outbreak by February, according to a government panel of scientists that attributed a recent slowdown to a harsh national lockdown earlier this year.

New Zealand: In New Zealand, 11 international seamen in a Christchurch hotel have tested positive for Covid and 14 more cases are “under further investigation”, according to the ministry of health.

Thailand: Thailand reported five imported cases of Covid on Monday, which took the nation’s total infections to 3,691. All the new cases were found in state quarantine.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria reported a record-high of 1,024 new cases, the first time daily infections have gone past 1,000. The number of people hospitalized and in intensive care units in the Balkan country are also at their highest.

Germany: Germany’s new coronavirus cases rose by 8,397, the highest level since the pandemic began. The record in new infections exceeded the previous high of 7,695 recorded last Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There were 44 new fatalities on Tuesday, lifting the overall number of deaths to 9,842.

South Korea: Daily new cases in South Korea fell to 58, marking the fifth consecutive day that the number of infections has been below 100. The slowdown comes as the Asian nation relaxed social distance measures and began gradually reopening classrooms and public parks and museums.

China: China has reported 19 new coronavirus cases for 19 October, up from 13 cases a day earlier, the health commission said on Tuesday. All of the new infections were imported. China also reported 24 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 33 a day earlier.

Vaccine news

Japan: Pfizer and BioNTech will start a phase 1/2 clinical trials for a candidate Covid vaccine BNT162b2 in Japan. The trial is placebo-controlled, randomized and observer-blind with enrolment of around 160 participants, and the estimated study completed date 30 November, 2021.

US: Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the US government could authorize emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine in December if it gets positive interim results in November from a large clinical trial, Wall Street Journal reported. He added that if results from the study take longer to get, authorization may not occur until early next year.

California will require a panel of health experts to review any coronavirus vaccine before allowing it to be distributed to the state’s 40 million residents, Governor Gavin Newsom said.

Singapore: Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases temporarily halted enrolling Covid-19 patients for a monoclonal antibody trial after the American pharmaceutical company that developed the drug, Eli Lilly, had to halt the trial last week on safety concerns, Straits Times reports.

Lockdown updates

Global: The World Health Organization has warned that quarantine failures are partly responsible for rising cases in the northern Hemisphere. The WHO’s emergencies director, Michael Ryan said the fact that self-isolation measures were not being enforced systematically was “a good part of the reason why we’re seeing such high numbers”.

Hong Kong: Chief Executive Carrie Lam said “conditions” weren’t right for Hong Kong to further relax social distancing measures, and that authorities would brief regarding the latest on the restrictions later Tuesday.

Japan: The governments of Japan and China will agree to resume business travel between the countries as soon as this week, Yomiuri reports, citing an unidentified Japanese government official. Those planning long stays will be required to undergo 14 day quarantine, but will be exempt for short stays provided certain conditions are met.

UK: In England, the strictest Covid restrictions will be imposed on nearly 3 million people across Greater Manchester if no deal is reached by midday on Tuesday, the government has said in a dramatic ultimatum.

Wales is to go into a two-week “firebreak” lockdown, under which schools, shops, pubs and hotels will close and citizens will be told to stay at home. The government said it was needed to prevent thousands more deaths and the NHS becoming overwhelmed.

Ireland: Ireland has announced a return to coronavirus lockdown. The prime minister, Micheal Martin, issued a nationwide “stay at home” order, but insisted schools would stay open. Measures coming into effect for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday will see all non-essential retail businesses close and bars and restaurants limited to takeaway or delivery service only. “Everyone in the country is being asked to stay at home,” Martin said in a televised national address.

Bulgaria: Plovdiv, the second-biggest city, introduced limits for the number of people in supermarkets, while regional authorities in the capital Sofia will tighten control over existing measures, which include wearing masks in closed spaces.

Economy updates

Thailand: Bank of Thailand’s new governor said he’s looking into new measures to boost the economy as it faces a long and uneven road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The policy response to the economic crisis should be long term, factoring in challenges likely to arise over the next two years, Governor Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput told reporters on Tuesday at his first press briefing since taking office this month.