10 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 68.9 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,569,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 15.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 289,431 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University It looks like the US will again confirm a record new death toll for Wednesday, for the first time exceeding 3,000 deaths – higher than the toll of 9/11 – in 24 hours.

The pace of Covid-19 hospitalizations appears to be slowing in the US., with the average number of in-patients increasing by fewer than 500 a day from December 4 to 9, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show. There were 105,035 coronavirus patients hospitalized as of Wednesday, up 2.4% from 102,579 on Friday. California accounted for about half of the national increase, with 1,289 additional Covid-19 hospitalizations over the period. It had 10,230 coronavirus cases in hospitals as of Wednesday, more than any other state.

New Mexico recorded 100% utilization of its intensive-care beds, with 23.4% of all hospitalized patients in the states suffering Covid-19. Coronavirus cases accounted for at least a fifth of all hospitalized patients in Nevada, Arizona, South Dakota and Rhode Island.

Italy: The coronavirus was circulating in Italy as early as the end of November 2019, according to a new report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lending weight to other studies that have suggested an earlier appearance of the disease in Europe.

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South Africa: South Africa is now experiencing Covid-19 ‘second wave’, the health minister declared Wednesday.“ As it stands as a country we now meet that criteria,” Zweli Mkhize said in a statement, as the country registered nearly 7,000 new cases in the last 24-hour cycle. The country now counts 828,598 infections after 6,709 new cases were detected between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Australia: Australian scientists said on Thursday they had developed a rapid genome sequencing method that would cut to within four hours the time taken to trace the source of coronavirus cases, helping to quickly contain any future outbreaks.

Japan: Japan has reported a record daily number of coronavirus cases, prompting health experts to urge people not to travel in the run-up to the New Year holidays. The country reported 2,811 new infections on Wednesday, as well as a record 555 people with serious Covid symptoms, the Kyodo news agency said.

China: A citizen journalist detained for more than six months after reporting on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has had a feeding tube forcibly inserted and her arms restrained to stop her pulling it out, her lawyer has claimed. Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, has been on a hunger strike at a detention facility near Shanghai. Zhang was arrested in May and accused of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble”, an accusation frequently used against critics and activists inside China, after reporting on social media and streaming accounts. Last month she was formally indicted on charges of spreading false information.

South Korea: Citizens in the greater Seoul area can take virus tests for free for the next three weeks regardless of their symptoms, South Korean Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said in a government meeting Thursday. The nation reported 682 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours compared with 686 a day earlier, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website.

Vaccine news

India: A drug approval panel in India has asked the Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd. and Bharat Biotech to submit more data on the safety and efficacy of their coronavirus vaccines before it can consider their applications for accelerated approvals of their shots.

Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd., India’s largest hospital chain, says it’s ready to administer one million coronavirus vaccine doses a day, but the government has not made clear how vaccines will be distributed and whether private health-care networks will be involved.

UK: The UK’s National Health Service warning about allergies came a day after the U.K. became the first western nation to begin a Covid vaccination program.

US: Half of Americans would take vaccine, poll shows. A survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows about a quarter of US adults aren’t sure if they want to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Roughly another quarter say they won’t.

Less than half of the available 6.4 million doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine will be initially sent out to states, and 500,000 will be held separately in reserve by the government, according to a top official at Operation Warp Speed, Gustave Perna.

Pfizer Inc. said some documents it had submitted to Europe’s top drug regulator regarding its Covid-19 vaccine had been accessed in a cyberattack on the agency. The drugmaker and partner BioNTech SE said in a statement that they had been told by the European Medicines Agency that some documents relating to the regulatory submission for their vaccine and that had been stored on the EMA server had been unlawfully accessed.

France: More than half of the French don’t plan to get a shot against Covid-19, according to a survey by pollster Elabe for BFM TV published on Wednesday. Of those surveyed, 52% said they certainly or probably won’t get vaccinated, up four points from two weeks earlier. That’s even as 70% of respondents said they’re worried about the coronavirus. Resistance to the vaccine is greatest in political groups opposed to the government of Emmanuel Macron, the survey found.

Lockdown updates

US: The White House coronavirus task force recommended to President Donald Trump that the US start allowing in travellers from Brazil, the UK and 27 other EU countries, CNBC reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Travel restrictions on travelers from China and Iran wouldn’t be relaxed, according to the recommendation, which wasn’t unanimous.