The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 58.2 million people and killed over 1.3 million. Here are the updates for November 21:

People queue to receive food donations from the Tooting Community Kitchen, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, November 21, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
People queue to receive food donations from the Tooting Community Kitchen, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, November 21, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls (Reuters)

November 21, 2020

England will end Covid lockdown with stricter tiered system

England will end a national Covid-19 lockdown on December 2 and move into tougher tiered regional restrictions than before, with more areas facing severe constraints to prevent the virus from reigniting, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said.

Johnson ordered England in to a month-long lockdown in early November after infection cases and deaths started to rise again, angering businesses and some of his own political party over the economic consequences.

A second wave of infections has started to flatten, official data shows, but scientific advisers are expected to warn on Monday that previous regional restrictions did not go far enough and harder measures are needed to prevent another national lockdown.

Iran closes businesses, curtails travel amid virus surge

Iran shuttered businesses and curtailed travel between its major cities, including the capital of Tehran, as it grapples with the worst outbreak of the virus in the Mideast region.

Top Iranian officials initially downplayed the risks posed by the virus outbreak, before recently urging the public to follow measures like wearing masks and avoiding unessential travel.

Iran has recorded daily death tolls of above 430 over the past five days. The Iranian Health Ministry said on Saturday that the total number of confirmed cases has risen to above 840,000.

US hits 12 million virus cases as many Americans defy Thanksgiving travel guidance

The United States recorded its 12th million virus case, even as millions of Americans were expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring warnings from health officials about furthering the spread of the infectious disease.

More than 12,010,000 cases of the virus were reported, according to a Reuters tally of public health data, capping a series of days with record-breaking infections, with the Midwest experiencing one of the most dramatic increases in cases per capita.

The virus has claimed more than 255,000 lives in the United States - more than in any other nation - according to the Reuters tally - and the recent escalation has prompted more than 20 states to impose sweeping new restrictions this month to curb the virus.

France reports 17,881 new confirmed virus cases in 24 hours

The number of new avirus infections in France rose by 17,88, lower than the 22,882 reported on Friday.

The health ministry also reported 276 new deaths from the virus in hospitals over 24 hours, against 386 on Friday.

Total deaths in France from the virus now stand at 48,518, of which 33,231 in hospitals.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 dropped for the fifth day in a row and was down at 31,365.

Virus deaths jump to daily record in Greece

Greece reported 108 coronavirus-related deaths, a daily record, with hospitals in the north of the country under pressure as available intensive care beds filled up from the surge in infections.

After a two-month lockdown in March, which helped contain the spread of infections, a spike since October forced the government to impose a second nationwide lockdown this month that officially expires at the end of the month.

However, this could be in doubt.

“Lifting the lockdown on December 1 does not seem realistic right now,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told state TV ERT on Friday.

Portugal to ban domestic travel, close schools around national holidays

Portugal is to ban domestic travel and close schools around two upcoming holidays in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus ahead of Christmas, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said.

Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 pm on November 27 to 5 am on December 2, and then again from 11 pm on December 4 to 5 am on December 9, to prevent movement around national holidays on December 1 and December 8.

Schools will close on the Mondays before both holidays, while businesses must close early. Employers are being encouraged to give workers the day off in order to minimise travel activity.

Italy reports 34,767 new cases, 692 deaths

Italy has registered 34,767 new coronavirus infections in the space of 24 hours, the Health Ministry has, slightly down from 37,242 the day before.

The ministry also reported 692 Covid-19-related deaths after 699 on Friday.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has suffered 49,261 deaths from Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain's. 

It has also registered 1.38 million cases.

The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy's financial capital Milan, remained the hardest-hit area on Saturday, reporting 8,853 new cases, down from 9,221 the day before. 

Turkey reports over 5,500 more patients

Turkey registered 5,532 more coronavirus patients over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

The new cases raised the country's overall count to 440,805.

A total of 3,233 more patients recovered over the past day, bringing the tally to 370,825, while the death toll rose by 135 to reach 12,219.

More than 152,000 Covid-19 tests were conducted across the country, taking the total to over 17 million.

The number of patients in critical condition now stands at 4,121, with 3.8% this week suffering from pneumonia, the data showed.

UK records 19,875 new cases, 341 deaths

The United Kingdom recorded 19,875 new Covid-19 cases and 341 deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus within 28 days, official data has shown.

Both figures marked a drop from Friday's data which showed a daily rise in cases of 20,252 cases and 511 deaths.

Hundreds of Danish mink breeders stage tractor demos

Hundreds of Danish farmers and mink breeders have demonstrated with tractors against a government decision to cull their minks to halt the spread of a coronavirus variant.

More than 500 tractors, many decked out with the Danish flag, drove past the government's offices and parliament in Copenhagen to the port. 

Another 400 staged a similar protest in the country's second city, Aarhus.

Prime Minister Frederiksen's government has acknowledged that its decision to cull more than 15 million minks had no legal basis for those not contaminated by the Covid-19 variant, infuriating breeders.

Denmark, a country of around 5.8 million people, has been the world's leading exporter of mink fur for several decades.

Russia reports record 24,822 new infections

Russia has reported a daily record of 24,822 new coronavirus infections, including 7,168 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national tally to 2,064,748.

Authorities also reported 467 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 35,778.

Czech deaths double in three weeks, pass 7,000

The number deaths in the Czech Republic linked to Covid-19 has doubled in November and passed the 7,000 mark, health ministry data showed.

Recorded fatalities reached 7,021 as of Saturday, compared with the 3,523 recorded by the end of October, according to the figures.

The country, one of the worst hit in Europe by the pandemic, has seen a fall in the number of new cases and hospitalised patients in recent weeks, allowing the government to ease some curbs.

The health ministry reported 5,809 new cases for November 2 0, less than a half the peak numbers seen at the turn of October and November.

The number of hospitalisations dropped to 6,307 compared with a peak of 8,283 recorded on November 6.

Japan hits record number of new cases again

Japan is scaling back on the government-backed “GoTo” campaign to encourage travel and dining out, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached a record for the third day straight, at 2,418.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the decision at a government panel on coronavirus pandemic measures.

Stressing the need for “utmost caution,” he said the campaign’s travel discounts will no longer apply to hard-hit areas, and discounts on eating out will end temporarily.

Japan has never had a total lockdown. It has had fewer than 2,000 deaths so far related to the coronavirus.

But worries have been growing about a spike in infections over the three-day weekend. Monday is Labor Thanksgiving, a national holiday.

Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble postponed

Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.

The air travel bubble, originally slated to begin on Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference on Saturday.

Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases, including 13 untraceable local infections.

The travel bubble arrangement would originally have allowed visitors between both cities to travel without having to serve a quarantine as long as they completed coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations, and flew on designated flights.

“In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture,” Yau said.

Ukraine reports record 14,580 daily infections

Ukraine has registered a record 14,580 new coronavirus infections during the past 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said, surpassing the previous day's record of 14,575.

The total tally climbed to 612,665 cases, with 10,813 deaths, he added.

South Korea mulls steps as new cases rise

South Korea has reported 386 new cases of the 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 on Saturday 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.

Infections were also reported in other major cities, including Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju and Asan.

South Korea has so far managed to weather the pandemic without major lockdowns, relying instead on an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign and mask-wearing.

Officials eased distancing measures to the lowest level in October, which allowed high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and fans to return to professional sports.

Pakistan hits new Covid-19 peak since mid-July

Pakistan has seen the highest single-day deaths, and new coronavirus cases since mid-July.

The country, which wrestles to contain a second wave of Covid-19, recorded 2,843 fresh infections, pushing the total caseload to 371,508, including 328,931 recoveries, while the number of active cases stood at 34,974.

The previous daily infection record since July was 2,738.

Another 42 people died from the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the highest single-day toll since July 15. The fresh fatalities pushed the death toll to 7,603.

The country has recorded over 35,000 cases this month, following the looming flu season.

Pakistan was one of the countries where coronavirus cases started to significantly drop in mid-July.

Hospitals in New Delhi near capacity

India has reported 46,232 new cases in the past 24 hours, with the situation particularly alarming in New Delhi.

The next two weeks in the post-festival season, including celebrations for the Diwali holiday, are going to be important in determining which way the virus will go. The Health Ministry registered 564 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 132,726.

While the pace of new cases in the country of 1.3 billion appears to be slowing, experts have cautioned that official figures may be offering false hope since many infections are undetected.

Germany's cases rise to  22,964

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 22,964 to 902,528.

The reported death toll rose by 254 to 13,884, the data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

China starts mass testing 3 million in Tianjin

China is starting mass testing on 3 million people in a section of the northern city of Tianjin and has tested 4,015 others in a hospital in Shanghai after the discovery of a pair of cases there.

The National Health Commission recorded seven new domestically transmitted cases, including five in Tianjin and two in Shanghai.

China’s total number of confirmed cases is now 86,414.

Donald Trump Jr. tests positive

Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of President Donald Trump, has been quarantining after learning he has been infected with the coronavirus.

The younger Trump learned his diagnosis at the beginning of the week and has had no symptoms, said a spokesperson, who was granted anonymity to discuss private medical information.

Trump Jr. is following all medically recommended guidelines for the disease caused by the virus, the spokesperson added.

The 42-year-old is the latest member of the president's family to become infected with a virus that has killed more than 250,000 Americans and infected nearly 12 million others.

Duterte ends overseas travel ban on healthcare workers

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved ending a ban on deploying the nation's healthcare workers, clearing the way for thousands of nurses to take up jobs overseas.

"The president already approved the lifting of the temporary suspension of deployment of nurses and other medical workers," Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello told Reuters.

But to ensure the Philippines, which has the second-highest number of the virus cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, will have enough medical professionals to fight the pandemic, only 5,000 healthcare workers will be allowed to leave every year, Bello said.

Mexico adds 6,426 confirmed cases

Mexico's health ministry reported 6,426 new confirmed coronavirus infections in the country and 719 deaths, bringing the official totals to 1,025,969 cases and 100,823 dead.

Health officials have said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher than the official tally. 

Mainland China reports 16 new cases 

Mainland China reported 16 new virus cases on November 20, down from 17 the previous day, with seven cases of local transmission and nine cases originating overseas, the country's health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin that five of the local transmissions took place in Tianjin and two in Shanghai.

Tianjin, which neighbours the capital Beijing, will launch a three-day universal screening programme covering nearly 3 million of its residents on Saturday.

Local officials said on Friday that one community in Tianjin had been placed in lockdown and around 1,900 people have been quarantined, according to the China Daily newspaper.

Mainland China also reported another 18 cases of asymptomatic cases on November 20, up from 14 on the previous day.

G20 determined to use all tools to contain pandemic

G20 nations are determined to continue doing everything possible to contain the pandemic, warning in a draft communique that the global economic recovery remains "uneven, highly uncertain, and subject to elevated downside risks."

Bringing the pandemic under control is the key to supporting a global economic recovery, the G20 leaders said in the draft, excerpts of which were seen by Reuters.

A final joint statement will be released by leaders from the United States, China and other Group of 20 nations after they meet by video conference on Saturday.

AstraZeneca starts new Covid-19 prevention trials of antibody cocktail

AstraZeneca started late-stage trials of an experimental long-acting monoclonal antibody combination drug it hopes could be used as a so-called prophylactic to prevent Covid-19 infection in at-risk people for up to 12 months.

The Phase III international clinical trial will recruit a total of 5,000 people across countries in Europe and the United States to assess the safety and effectiveness of the antibody cocktail, known as AZD7442.

The prophylactic treatment differs from a vaccine in that it introduces antibodies, rather than prompting the body's immune system to make them. It may prove useful in people whose immune systems are weaker or compromised, and who don't respond to vaccination. 

Separately, AstraZeneca is developing a Covid-19 vaccine in conjunction with researchers at Oxford University.

Brazil virus cases speed past 6 million 

Brazil surpassed 6 million confirmed virus cases, the health ministry said, as the world's third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again amid fears that a second wave is underway.

The South American nation joined the United States and India as the only countries to have passed the 6 million mark. With almost 170,000 confirmed fatalities, Brazil has the world's second highest death toll.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies