The novel coronavirus has infected more than 60 million people and cut short over 1.4 million lives. Here are the updates for November 25:

Healthcare personnel work with a patient inside a room for people with Covid-19 at a hospital in Hutchinson, Kansas, US on November 20, 2020.
Healthcare personnel work with a patient inside a room for people with Covid-19 at a hospital in Hutchinson, Kansas, US on November 20, 2020. (Reuters)

November 25, 2020

US hits highest death toll since May with hospitals already full

Daily US deaths surpassed 2,000 for the first time since May and with hospitals across the country already full, portending a surge in mortalities to come as the pandemic casts a shadow over the holiday season.

The death toll reached 2,157 on Tuesday, one person every 40 seconds, with another 170,000 people infected, numbers that experts say could grow with millions of Americans disregarding official warnings and traveling for Thursday' s Thanksgiving holiday.

The deadliest day in more than six months was still short of the record of 2,806 deaths on April 14, in the early stages of the pandemic, according to a Reuters tally of official data. That one-day figure is sometimes reported higher due to a backlog of deaths that were not compiled until April 14.

With US hospitalisations reaching a record high of 87,000 on Tuesday, the nation's leading infectious diseases official urged people to keep Thanksgiving gatherings as small as possible.

Turkey signs deal with China for 50M vaccine doses

Turkey has signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Koca also said the vaccine will be free for Turkish citizens.

Sinovac's experimental vaccine CoronaVac triggered a quick immune response, but the level of antibodies produced was lower than in people who had recovered from the virus, preliminary trial results showed.

CoronaVac and four other experimental vaccines developed in China are in late-stage trials to determine their effectiveness.

Speaking in Ankara after a coronavirus science council meeting, Koca said Turkey is also in talks with other vaccine developers.

"The important thing here for us to start using vaccines which are known to be effective and reliable ... I think the vaccination calendar could start on December 11," Koca also said.

Turkey recorded 28,351 new cases of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the first time since July Ankara has included asymptomatic cases in the total.

Data from the Health Ministry showed that 168 people had died, highest since the beginning of the outbreak. 

France new cases surge, deaths also mount

France reported a new surge in confirmed cases over the last 24 hours along with another rise in deaths, according to data published from the country's health ministry.

The ministry said there had been a further 16,282 new confirmed cases over the last 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed cases in France to 2,170,097.

It added the death toll had risen to 50,618, up by more than 380 from the previous day.

Britain records 18,213 new cases, 696 deaths

The United Kingdom recorded 18,213 new infections and 696 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus, according to official data.

The deaths figure was the highest since May 5.

Tuesday's data had shown 11,299 new cases and 608 deaths. 

WHO experts would like to go to Wuhan, China, to probe virus origin

Researchers led by the World Health Organization would like to go back to a wholesale food market in Wuhan in China to follow up initial cases of Covid-19 which emerged in the city and investigate how the virus probably first spread from bats.

Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert in animal diseases, said that the team would like to re-interview early cases and find infected workers who may have "important information" on where they may have picked up the virus.

The WHO has had assurances from China that an international field trip to investigate the origins of the virus will be arranged as soon as possible, its top emergency expert Mike Ryan said on Monday.

Chinese researchers are carrying out epidemiological studies into early cases and conditions at the Wuhan market while the international team of 10 experts is to carry out phase 2 studies.

Italy reports 25,853 new cases, 722 deaths

Italy reported 722 deaths, down from 853 the day before, and 25,853 new infections, slightly up from 23,232 on Tuesday, the health ministry said.

There were 230,007 swabs carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 188,659.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 52,028 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain's. It has also registered 1.48 million cases.

While Italy's daily death tolls have been amongst the highest in Europe over recent days, the rise in hospital admissions and intensive care occupancy has slowed.

The number of people in hospital stood at 34,313 on Wednesday, a decline of 264 from the day before.

The number in intensive care rose by 32, following an increase of six on Tuesday, and now stands at 3,848.

When Italy's second wave of the epidemic was accelerating fast in the first half of November, hospital admissions were rising by around 1,000 per day, while intensive care occupancy was increasing by about 100 per day.

The northern region of Lombardy, centered on Italy's financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area on Wednesday, reporting 5,173 new cases. 

Island of Kauai reports first coronavirus death

The first death on the island of Kauai has been reported.

Mayor Derek Kawakami announced in a statement this week that an elderly resident of the island with no travel history had died from the coronavirus, which has killed 232 others in Hawaii.

The Garden Island reports that a Kauai resident died in Arizona earlier this year.

The island reported four newly confirmed virus cases Monday, including one adult resident and three adult visitors. 

Kauai currently has 117 confirmed virus cases since the pandemic began. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested.

Spain considers limiting Christmas celebrations to six people

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that his government was considering limiting Christmas celebrations to six people in an effort to curb the spread.

The restrictions will be negotiated with regional authorities, meaning some changes could still be introduced.

Some regional health chiefs, including in Catalonia and Madrid, are advocating for a less stringent limit of 10 people for holiday gatherings.

While the rate of infection in Spain has slowed in the past month, its overall tally of nearly 1.6 million cases is the second highest in western Europe after France.

On Tuesday, the death toll rose by 537 to 43,668, marking the highest daily increase of the pandemic's second wave. 

Merkel says Germany can't extend economic aid for whole winter 

Germany will not be able to keep in place its financial lifeline for businesses forced to close by the pandemic through the whole winter, Chancellor Angela Merkel told federal state leaders, Bild newspaper reported.

The government expects economic aid for businesses to total $12-18 billion in November and sources estimate additional costs for December could come to some $18-$23 billion. 

Croatia marks record high number of new cases

Croatia has registered a record number of daily cases as authorities consider additional measures to try to stem the outbreak.

The national response team said that 3,603 infections have been registered in the past 24 hours and 56 patients have died.

Since February 25, when the first case was registered in the country of 4 million, 111,617 persons have tested positive for the coronavirus and 1,501 have died.

Croatian media say that because of the latest outbreak, some hospitals are running out of beds and infected patients have had to be placed in tents.

Authorities are reportedly considering introducing new nationwide restrictive measures that could include closing cafes and restaurants.

Surge affecting Minnesota nursing home staffing

A current surge of cases throughout Minnesota is affecting staffing levels at many nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

That's forcing the state to send the National Guard to help out in some homes, while the administration is also asking state employees to consider volunteering in facilities with critical staff shortages.

The Star Tribune reports Wednesday that Minnesota Department of Health data shows 90 percent of the state’s nursing homes and 58 percent of assisted-living facilities have active outbreaks.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Tuesday that 47 long-term care facilities are in “a crisis staffing situation” and are receiving active support from the state, including help from federal health nurses.

Gov. Tim Walz’s administration is also taking the unusual step of e-mailing all state employees and asking them to consider volunteering for two-week stints in long-term care facilities, particularly in greater Minnesota.

World scrambles for vaccine deals as cases surge past 60M

Countries around the world are scrambling to finalise vaccine deals as the global number of infections surged past 60 million.

Scientists are urging caution and US officials plead with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving.

The holiday weekend is expected to fuel a surge of infections in the United States, which leads the world with soaring infections and the daily toll on Tuesday climbing above 2,000, the highest 24-hour tally since early May.

Hopes for a successful vaccine, boosted by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, have boosted world stock markets.

But an approved vaccine is unlikely to be widely available for months while scientists insist on the continued need for vigilance as politicians seek to relax curbs for Christmas amid a second wave of the pandemic.

Turkey hopes to have vaccine ready by April

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a Turkish-developed vaccine could be ready for use by April.

In an address to legislators from his ruling party Wednesday, Erdogan also said that, once ready, Turkey plans to share the vaccine with the world.

Erdogan said Turkey has repeatedly urged countries “not to sacrifice the vaccine to political and commercial ambitions” and to make it “the joint property of all humanity.”

He added: “We are planning to put the vaccine that we are developing in the service of all humanity under the best conditions possible.” He did not elaborate.

The vaccine, ERUCOV-VAC, is being developed by Erciyes University, in the central Turkish province of Kayseri, and is currently undergoing phase 1 of testing.

Erciyes University Rector Mustafa Calis said this week that phase 2 testing could start soon.

Malaysia's Top Glove says virus outbreak may push prices up

Malaysia's Top Glove, the world's largest maker of rubber gloves, said that supply disruptions at its factories due to an outbreak may push glove prices up.

The company said it shuttered 20 of its factories in an area outside Kuala Lumpur in stages since November 17 after nearly 3,000 workers tested positive for the virus. 

Another eight facilities in the same area are currently running below 20 percent of capacity, and will also be closed to screen and quarantine workers.

Managing director Lee Kim Meow told the news conference that there have been no order cancellations so far. He said priority will be given to hospitals and essential services amid the shortage, and voiced confidence that the issue will be resolved quickly.

Top Glove produces about 90 billion rubber gloves a year, and exports to 195 countries.

LA shuts restaurants as virus surges

A restaurant dining ban in Los Angeles was due to come into force as officials warned Americans to stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday, while parts of Europe eyed looser lockdowns over the festive season.

The three-week order in America's second-biggest city will begin as California faces record cases, and its health secretary urged people to avoid large family gatherings.

The US government's health protection agency has, for the first time, called on Americans not to travel for an annual holiday which usually sees families get together over turkey, yams and cranberry sauce.

With the US confronted by soaring numbers of deaths and new cases, plans to deliver a vaccine to Americans are accelerating.

There were more than 86,000 hospitalisations in the US on Tuesday, a record, as well as 167,000 new cases and more than 2,000 deaths.

China stepping up virus testing on imported food packaging

China is stepping up virus inspections on imported food packaging as cooler weather brings new waves of infections in several overseas countries, Chinese officials said.

Packaging is “not exempt" from carrying the virus, deputy director of the National Food Safety Risk Assessment Center Li Ning told reporters.

While the virus positivity rate for tests on packages was just 0.48 per 10,000, that proportion is increasing along with the number of tests being conducted, Li said.

She said the virus could “to some extent” be passed to humans from packaging, although neither Li or any other official at Wednesday’s news conference mentioned any such confirmed cases.

Poland reports new daily record of 674 deaths

Poland reported a new daily record of 674 deaths, while new daily cases surpassed 15,000.

The country reported 15,362 new daily cases, amounting to a total of 924,422 confirmed cases and 14,988 deaths.

Virus hits Italian birth rate

The pandemic has hit Italy's already historically-low birth rate, new projections from the national statistics agency reveal.

Italy had last year already recorded its lowest number of births for 150 years, at 420,000, but this could fall to 408,000 in 2020 and 393,000 in 2021, according to Istat.

Women and young people have been particularly badly affected by the crisis caused by coronavirus, which first hit Italy earlier this year, sparking an economically crippling national lockdown.

The pandemic destroyed 80 percent of jobs gained by women since the financial crisis of 2008.

Between 2008 and 2019, Italy recorded an extra 602,000 jobs held by women.

But it only took three months between April and June this year to lose 470,000 of them.

In Italy, only half of women work, compared to 73 percent in Germany, 62 percent in France and 58 percent in Spain. Only Greece has a worst female employment level in Europe, at just 47 percent.

Lithuania extends lockdown as cases surge on

The outgoing Lithuanian government extended a lockdown in the country until December 17, when the new government is expected to take over, as cases in the country continued to soar.

The Lithuanian government said the lockdown had stabilised new infections at about 11,000 per week, twice as high as during the week of November 4 when the three-week lockdown was announced.

"The spread has slowed somewhat, but the situation remains really serious," Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said during a televised cabinet session. 

Hospitals full as second wave of virus grips Pakistan

Intensive care units across Pakistan are nearing capacity as a second, deadlier wave of builds momentum and officials struggle to counter public indifference to the pandemic.

Several doctors told AFP that hospitals are having to turn away suspected patients, with the potential for a major health care crisis increasing daily.

Doctors said the virus was proving "far more lethal" this time around. Authorities this week ordered the closure of educational institutes and banned indoor dining at restaurants.

The new outbreak has surprised Pakistan, where for months many have been saying the pandemic was done.

Pakistan has confirmed more than 382,000 cases including over 7,800 deaths since the virus arrived in late February.

Iran sees record daily high of 13,843 cases

Iran registered a daily record high of 13,843 new cases, the health ministry said, pushing the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East's worst-hit country.

Ministry's spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that the death toll rose by 469 in the past 24 hours to 46,207.

Iran's health officials have voiced alarm over a surge in infections, urging the nation to adhere to the health protocols, including wearing face masks and social distancing.

On Saturday, Iran introduced tougher restrictions for two weeks to stem a third wave of coronavirus infections, including closing non-essential businesses and travel curbs.

WHO says virus cases in Europe are slowing down

The World Health Organization has said that the pandemic has “slowed down” in the past week although death rates continued to rise, with more than 67,000 new deaths reported.

The UN health agency said in its latest epidemiological update that even though there was a “downward trend” in the number of cases in Europe, the region still has the biggest proportion of new cases and deaths globally.

 WHO noted that Africa reported the highest increase in new cases and deaths, driven by South Africa, Algeria and Kenya.

In the past week, WHO said, the number of new cases reported in Europe dropped by about 6 percent after a 10 percent decline the previous week, suggesting that lockdowns across the continent are effectively slowing transmission.

Russia reports record 507 deaths

Russia has reported a record 507 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking its national death toll to 37,538 since the pandemic began.

Authorities also confirmed 23,675 new cases of the virus, including 4,685 in Moscow, pushing the total number of infections to 2,162,503 since the start of the outbreak.

Bulgaria imposes lockdown as cases surge

Bulgaria has said that it would close schools, restaurants, shopping malls and gyms until December 21 as it struggles to contain a surge in new coronavirus infections.

The restrictions, which will start late on Friday, are aimed at preventing a strained health system from being overwhelmed and at halting the spread of infections in the Balkan country of 7 million people.

Bulgaria registered 4,382 new infections, bringing the total number to 129,348.

Bulgaria's fatalities per 100,000 people have been the third highest in the European Union over the past 14 days, after Belgium and the Czech Republic, data showed. 

In total, 3,226 people in Bulgaria have died from this year.

Poland reports new daily record of 674 deaths

Poland has reported a new daily record of 674 coronavirus-related deaths, while new daily coronavirus cases surpassed 15,000.

The country reported 15,362 new daily cases, amounting to a total of 924,422 confirmed cases and 14,988 deaths. 

Indonesia reports record daily rise in infections

Indonesia has reported a record daily rise in coronavirus infections with 5,534 new cases, bringing the total to 511,836, according to its Covid-19 task force.

The task force's data also showed 114 new deaths, bringing total fatalities to 16,225.

Southeast Asia's biggest country has the region's highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths. 

UK estimates 2.7 mln people on furlough at end of September

Around 2.7 million British workers were still fully or partly on furlough at the end of September, according to an estimate from Britain's tax office.

The figures also showed that the government's Job Retention Scheme had cost 43.0 billion pounds ($57.3 billion) as of November 15.

EU must not relax measures too quickly, chief executive says

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned against relaxing lockdown measures too quickly, telling the European Parliament there was a risk of a third wave of infections.

"I know that shop owners, bartenders and waiters in restaurants want an end to restrictions. But we must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes," von der Leyen said. "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," she told EU lawmakers.

Tokyo urges shorter timings for bars and restaurants

The Japanese capital will urge shorter working hours for bars and restaurants and ask residents to stay indoors as much as possible amid a spike in coronavirus cases, Tokyo's governor said on.

"We realise this will be a great burden on business owners but we ask for their understanding and cooperation," said Governor Yuriko Koike, adding that establishments would be eligible for government cash assistance over the 10 pm closures, set to run from Saturday until December 17.

Osaka is also asking bars and restaurants to shorten their hours, its mayor, Ichiro Matsui, said.

"We have got to extinguish this," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Tokyo's tally of daily infections stood at 401.

Global cases now over 60 million

The number of coronavirus cases has surpassed the grim milestone of 60 million, according to a tracking portal.

The United States is the worst affected country in terms of caseload followed by India and Brazil.

India reports over 44,000 cases, most in Delhi

India has registered 44,376 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours.

The latest increase has taken the total number of cases to 9.22 million, the Health Ministry said. Deaths rose by 481, driving the total fatalities to 134,699.

India’s confirmed daily toll has remained below 50,000 for a few weeks, after peaking in September. But several cities have witnessed a surge in cases, prompting some state governments to clamp additional restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

In Mumbai in southern India, travellers from New Delhi, Rajasthan and Gujarat will have to undergo mandatory coronavirus tests before entering the city.

The three northern states are witnessing the latest surge in infections.

The situation remains grim in New Delhi, which is recording the highest number of cases in the country. The capital is reporting nearly 100 deaths on average every day for the last two weeks.

US to distribute 6.4 million vaccine doses in first tranche

The United States plans to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the first week after it is cleared for emergency use, which is likely next month, officials said.

General Gustave Perna, chief operations officer for the government's Operation Warp Speed, told reporters some 40 million doses of vaccine would be available by the end of December.

Perna said that 64 jurisdictions across the US, including the 50 states, territories like the capital Washington and Puerto Rico and Indian reservations, received their allocation numbers on Friday.

The amount they receive will be proportionate to their population size.

Singapore nearly virus-free after local cases and clusters cease

Having once had the highest rate in Southeast Asia, Singapore has all but eradicated the virus after reporting 14 days without any new local cases on Tuesday, and saying it had snuffed out the last cluster of infection at a worker dormitory.

While Singapore has reported zero local cases for two weeks, there has been a trickle of infected people arriving from abroad who have been immediately isolated, authorities say.

Tuesday marked the first time Singapore said it had no live clusters of infection across the island since the start of its outbreak.

Singapore had to impose a two-month lockdown to curb the spread of the disease in April. While life has returned to relative normal since then, mask wearing is mandatory, there are strict social distancing rules, and the island's borders remain largely closed. 

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 18,633  RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 18,633 to 961,320, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 410 to 14,771, the tally showed. 

South Korean protests fan virus fears

South Korea has called on unionists to cancel protests as the country grapples with a third wave of infections, warning any violations of social distancing measures will be punished.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said up to 200,000 members would go on strike but protests would be limited to nine people in Seoul, where public gatherings of 10 or more are banned.

Dozens of union members joined rallies in other places that were not subject to stricter distancing, including one in the southeastern city of Changwon which was attended by about 30 people.

Union members are protesting over provisions of a bill which would ban labourers from occupying certain facilities at workplaces during strikes.

The rallies have revived memories of a major outbreak following a political protest in August.

Australia's most populous state eases curbs

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) state will ease social distancing restrictions and remove requirements for companies to allow employees work from home after recording nearly three weeks without any local transmission, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

In a bid to revive Sydney's business areas, Berejiklian said the state will from Dec 14 remove an order that requires employers to allow employees to work from home.

The announcement came as NSW recorded no local transmission for the 18th consecutive day.

Mexico sees over 800 deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 10,794 additional cases of the novel coronavirus and 813 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of cases to 1,060,152 and the death toll to 102,739.

Health officials have said the real number of infections is likely significantly higher.

Canada's Alberta bans indoor gatherings

The Canadian province of Alberta has said that it would immediately ban indoor social gatherings, soon halt classes for some students and reduce retail store capacities to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Premier Jason Kenney also capped attendance at worship services, and said in-person dining at restaurants would be limited to members of the same household eating together.

Brazil deaths mount

Brazil registered 31,100 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours and 630 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry has said.

The South American nation has now registered 6,118,708 cases since the pandemic began and the official death toll has risen to 170,115, according to ministry data.

Colombian first lady tests positive

Colombian first lady Maria Juliana Ruiz has tested positive for coronavirus, the government has said, but is asymptomatic.

President Ivan Duque and the first lady have regular coronavirus tests due to their high levels of exposure and busy schedules, the president's office said in a statement.

Ruiz, who along with her husband was tested on Monday, is following quarantine rules as established by the health ministry, the statement added. Duque received a negative result.

Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez tested positive for coronavirus a month ago and was also asymptomatic.

The Andean country has reported more than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus, as well as 35,479 deaths due to Covid-19, the disease it causes.

Los Angeles to consider stay-home order as virus spreads

Officials in the US' largest county will discuss a possible stay-home order just days before Thanksgiving after a spike of coronavirus cases surpassed a threshold set by Los Angeles public health officials to trigger one.

An “impressive and alarming surge” of more than 6,000 new cases put Los Angeles County over a five-day average of 4,500 cases per day, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday. She declined to take action until county supervisors meet Tuesday.

If the county orders residents to stay home, it would be the first such action since mid-March when Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom followed the lead of several counties and issued a statewide order that closed schools and severely restricted movement, except for essential workers and for people buy groceries or pick up food.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies