26 November

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 60.3 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.4 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Americas: The Americas reported more than 1.5m cases in the last seven days; the highest weekly number since the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization regional branch PAHO said. The rapid surge of infections in the US continued and cases accelerated in countries of North, Central and South America, PAHO said. In Canada, infections were rising particularly among the elderly and indigenous communities.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 12.7 million, meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 262,266 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The daily death toll in the US reached 2,157 – one person every 40 seconds. It was the first time since May that deaths had passed 2,000 in 24 hours.

Covid-19 has killed more than 100,000 residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the US according to a report  from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on health issues. The US passed the grim milestone on Tuesday.

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President-elect Joe Biden called on Americans to unite in the face of a “long, hard winter,” using a Thanksgiving address to grieve for those lost to the pandemic and promise that the nation would beat it in the new year. “We have fought a nearly yearlong battle with a virus in this nation. It’s brought us pain and loss and frustration, and it has cost so many lives – 260,000 Americans – and counting,” he said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

California reported 18,350 new virus cases, shattering the daily record set last weekend. The 14-day average rate of positive tests climbed to 5.9%, a three-month high and up 2 percentage points in just two weeks. The most populous state is grappling with a virus resurgence spreading faster than ever.

Texas reported 14,648 new infections, a second straight daily record, according to figures from the Department of State Health Services. El Paso County has the most cases in the state, at 37,114, the figures show. That far exceeds infections in more populous Dallas County and Harris County, home of Houston.

A new government report says the US is still missing nearly eight coronavirus infections for every one counted. By the end of September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that as many as 53 million Americans had been infected. That is just under eight times the confirmed cases reported at the time. Previously, the CDC estimated that one of every 10 infections were being missed.

A sharply divided US Supreme Court blocked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from reimposing strict attendance caps at worship services at some synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in parts of Brooklyn and Queens that have become Covid hotspots. With Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority, the court voted 5-4 to bar Cuomo from enforcing his 6 October “Cluster Initiative” against houses of worship that sued to challenge the restrictions.

New York state had 6,265 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest since 24 April , according to a briefing from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The overall positive testing rate was 3.62%.

India: India reported nearly 45,000 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, bringing its total recorded outbreak to 9.27 million, the largest in the world after the US, with 135,223 deaths.

Mexico: Mexico reported 10,335 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday night, bringing the total to 1,070,487, according to data released by the Health Ministry. Deaths rose 858 to 103,597. In Mexico City, 61% of hospital beds with ventilators are occupied, up from 53% a week earlier. Mexico has been criticized for its lack of testing, with officials acknowledging the country’s actual virus toll is probably much higher than reported.

France: France registered 16,282 new Covid cases on Wednesday, health authorities reported. The seven-day average of infections, which smooths out swings in cases over the course of a week, fell to 14,994, the lowest since 9 October. Deaths linked to the virus rose by 381 to 50,618.

Turkey: Turkey changed its reporting method for Covid-19 cases after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca came under increasing criticism for not fully disclosing the number of people who test positive for the virus, much like the rest of the world does. Turkey reported 28,351 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, Koca said in televised press conference. The total death from the virus rose by 168 to 12,840.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s government will empower doctors to mandate Covid-19 tests for suspected virus patients starting Saturday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said on Thursday. The measure will last until 11 December.

South Africa: Hospital operators have warned of a potential surge in coronavirus cases during the December holiday season, when millions of people travel to holiday destinations, home towns and villages. The pandemic peaked in Africa’s most industrialized economy in late July, but case numbers have picked up again before the busiest time of the year for intra-provincial journeys and social gatherings.

Germany:    Germany reported 410 deaths in 24 hours; its worst such toll since the pandemic began. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,268 to 983,588 data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

South Korea: South Korea has reported its highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since March, despite the recent introduction of stricter social distancing measures in Seoul and other virus hotspots. The country reported 583 infections on Thursday, the first time they had topped 500 since 6 March.

Iran: Iran recorded its worst daily caseload, with the health ministry reporting 13,843 new infections. That pushed the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, told state TV the death toll rose by 469 in 24 hours to 46,207.

Ukraine: Ukraine registered a record 15,331 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said on Thursday, up from a previous record of 14,580 reported on 21 November.

Italy: Authorities in Sicily asked Cuba’s government to send to the region about 60 health operators, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical personnel during the second wave. The request was filed this week to the Italian embassy in Cuba and consists of intensive care specialists, nurses, anaesthetists, resuscitators, virologists and pneumologists, the Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported.

Japan: Tokyo reported another increase in severe cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, to 60 from Wednesday’s 54, a day after the city asked residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors. Tokyo reported 481 new infections in all on Thursday. Serious cases, which the city defines as those requiring a ventilator or ECMO machine, have surged almost 50% this week.

Vaccine news

Philippines: The Philippines will sign an agreement Friday to buy two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc. Included in the agreement are private companies that will help pay for the purchase, said Carlito Galvez, the country’s vaccine czar. A similar arrangement can be done with other vaccine manufacturers if the transaction is non-profit and they can bring down prices, he said. The government aims to vaccinate as many as 30 million people a year. Galvez on Wednesday said the Philippines, which has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, plans to buy as many as 50 million vaccine doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

South Korea: Hanmi Pharm shares rose by as much as 11% after Maeil Business Newspaper reports the Korean company is in talks with global pharmaceutical firms to make genetic vaccines for Covid-19 on contract. Hanmi Pharm can produce as many as 100 million units of genetic vaccines annually, the report says, citing the firm.

Lockdown updates

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors on Wednesday agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of Covid-19 infections ahead of the Christmas period.

Malaysia: Malaysia will impose mandatory Covid-19 screening for 1.7 million foreign workers due to the high number of cases in the group, Star reports, citing Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. The government also will impose a 50,000 ringgit ($12,240) fine per worker on employers that house foreign workers in crowded spaces.

Economic updates

US: Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September, as the company struggles with limited customers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Uganda: The pandemic has driven up Uganda’s poverty rate to 28% from 18% pre-Covid, New Vision newspaper reports, citing a Finance Ministry official. More than 3 million Ugandans have slipped into poverty since the outbreak began, according to the report.

Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to price a 60 billion yen bond ($575 million) Friday, with the proceeds used to offer small-to-mid sized companies long-term funding at low interest rates. The city’s decision to specify the use of proceeds for pandemic-related relief “resonated with a lot of investors,” according to Kosuke Suzuki, deputy director of the bond section at Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s finance bureau.