The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 55 million people and killed over 1.3 million. Here are the updates for November 17:

A woman possibly suffering from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is carried on a stretcher by White Cross rescue workers in front of her home in Giussano, near Monza, Italy, on November 16, 2020.
A woman possibly suffering from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is carried on a stretcher by White Cross rescue workers in front of her home in Giussano, near Monza, Italy, on November 16, 2020. (Reuters)

November 17, 2020:

Italy reports 32,191 new cases and 731 deaths

Italy has registered 32,191 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry has said, up from 27,354 the day before.

The ministry also reported 731 Covid 19-related deaths, up from 504 the previous day and the highest daily toll since April 3, when the country was in full national lockdown.

There were 208,458 coronavirus swabs carried out in the past day, the ministry said, against a previous 152,663.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 46,464 Covid-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain's, and 1.24 million cases.

France becomes first European nation to top 2 million cases 

France has became the first European country to surpass 2 million coronavirus cases despite an October 30 nationwide lockdown that has led to a sharp decline in new infections.

France is fourth in the number of infections reported, with 2,036,755, behind the United States, India, and Brazil, with a death toll topping 45,000.

France ranks seventh in Covid-19 deaths globally.

Europe has reported nearly 14.5 million Covid-19 cases so far, making it the worst-affected region in the world and accounting for more than 26 percent of all infections so far, according to the tally.

Spain reports 435 new deaths, new infections slow down

Spain's death toll from the coronavirus rose by 435 to 41,688, the steepest daily increase in the second wave of contagion, but new infections continued to slow, Health Ministry has said.

The cumulative tally of infections in the Western European country with the highest caseload after France rose by 13,159 from Monday to 1,510,023, well below record daily increases of some 24,000 in late October and over 18,000 a week ago.

The pressure on intensive care units across Spain diminished slightly for the first time after a long period of rises, with 32.3 percent of all ICU beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, down from almost 33 percent on Monday.

Turkey imposes weekend curfews to fight virus

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced weekend curfews and ordered restaurants to switch to takeout service only to fight rising coronavirus infections and growing deaths.

The latest wave of restrictions also includes the closure of all cinemas and restricted hours for most stores and shopping malls.

Elementary schools will switch to remote learning until the end of the year.

Turkey registered 3,819 more Covid-19 patients and 103 deaths over the past 24 hours, according to figures released by the Health Ministry.

Coronavirus situation remains very serious – Merkel

The coronavirus situation in Germany is still very serious even though infection numbers are not rising so fast, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, after federal and state leaders postponed until November 25 a decision on further lockdown measures.

"Infection numbers aren't growing exponentially anymore, but are still far too high. So we have to reduce contacts, reduce contacts, reduce contacts," Merkel told a business event organised by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, noting that 30-40 percent of the German population belonged to vulnerable groups.

Russia reports record high of 442 deaths

Russia has reported a record high of 442 deaths related to the novel coronavirus, taking the official death toll to 33,931.

Authorities also reported 22,410 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, including 5,882 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national tally to 1,971,013.

Cases in India drop to lowest since mid-July

Daily infections in India have fallen to their lowest since mid-July, with 29,163 new cases reported for the last 24 hours, taking the total to 8.87 million, the health ministry said.

India has the second-highest number of infections behind the United States, since hitting a peak in September.

Indians celebrated Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, over the weekend, and experts have warned that the festival season could lead to a new spike.

Deaths rose by 449 over the last 24 hours, the ministry also said, with toll now at 130,519.

Australia scrambles to contain new cluster

Australian authorities have conducted mass tests and about 4,000 people were confined to quarantine in the hope of stifling a new cluster of cases after hopes it had been largely eradicated.

The state of South Australia reimposed social distancing restrictions on Monday after detecting 21 cases of the coronavirus, most of which were acquired locally.

The cases were the first local transmissions of the virus in Australia in nine days.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said testing had identified five new cases in the past 24 hours, while 14 people were suspected to be infected and were awaiting test results.

Germany's cases rise by 14,419 to 815,746 

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 14,419 to 815,746, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 267 to 12,814, the tally showed.

South Korea tightens social distancing rules

South Korea says it will tighten social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area and some parts of eastern Gangwon province to try to suppress a coronavirus resurgence there.

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said it was necessary to adjust the distancing rules for two weeks to prevent a spread of the virus across the country.

Under the new rules to be effective starting Thursday in those areas, authorities are banning gatherings of more than 100 people during rallies, festivals, concerts and academic events. Customers at theatres, concerts and libraries are required to sit at least one seat apart from each other, while audiences at sporting events will be limited to 30% of the stadium's capacity.

The new rules also ban dancing and moving to others’ seats at nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities, and drinking and eating at karaoke rooms and concert halls.

South Korea added 230 more virus cases on Tuesday, raising the country’s total to 28,998, including 494 deaths.

Pfizer to start immunisation pilot program in four US states

Pfizer Inc said it would start a pilot program for immunisation in four US states to help refine the plan for delivery and deployment of its vaccine candidate.

The four states – Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee – were selected for the program because of their differences in overall size, diversity of populations and immunization infrastructure, the drugmaker said in a statement.

"The four states included in this pilot program will not receive vaccine doses earlier than other states by virtue of this pilot, nor will they receive any differential consideration," Pfizer said. 

China reports 15 new cases

Mainland China reported 15 new cases on November 16, up from eight cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Tuesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement all new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. 

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not count as confirmed cases, fell to 12 from 14 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China now stands at 86,361, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.

More than a million kids in US test positive

The number of US infants, children and teens diagnosed with Covid-19 has surpassed 1 million, according to data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The total hit nearly 1.04 million kids on Nov. 12, including nearly 112,000 new cases in that week. That was the highest weekly total of any previous week in the pandemic, the academy said.

AAP President Sally Goza called the data “staggering and tragic.” Children generally are much more likely than adults to have mild cases but hospitalisations and deaths do occur.

The data, based on reports from state health departments, show at least 6,330 pediatric hospitalisations and 133 deaths since May.

Those numbers are incomplete as they do not include data from every state.

Virus vaccine to be free in Belgium

The Belgian government said it intends to make any coronavirus vaccine available to around 70 percent of the population, some eight million people, and free of charge.

The jab will not be compulsory, added Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke as he and regional counterparts attended an interministerial health conference.

"The objective is to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population. Priority groups will be determined on the basis of scientific opinion and social debate," Vandenbroucke stated.

"Vaccination will be free for every citizen" receiving it, he a dded.

Belgium, population 11.5 million, has registered almost 540,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 14,000 deaths to date. Its death rate per million residents is one of the worst in Europe.

As an EU member state Belgium is engaged in bloc-wide procedures for bulk purchases of anti-Covid-19 vaccines once they emerge in the coming months.

Texas surpasses 20,000 virus deaths, second highest in US

Texas surpassed 20,000 confirmed virus deaths, as the pandemic continues to surge in the US.

That is the second-highest death count overall in the US, trailing only New York, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. It's the 22nd-highest per capita at 69.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

So far, Texas leaders have given no indication of forthcoming restrictions to keep people from gathering and spreading the virus. Instead, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in recent days has been emphasising that new therapeutics and vaccines are expected to become available soon.

Luis Suarez tests positive before World Cup qualifier match

Atletico Madrid and Uruguay forward Luis Suarez has tested positive, the Uruguay national team said in a statement on Monday.

Uruguay's statement said top scorer Suarez and stand-in goalkeeper Rodrigo Munoz plus a staff member had tested positive. Other members of the squad had all tested negative ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier at home to Brazil.

The statement added that both players and the staff member were in good health and said the team had followed protocol and taken the appropriate measures following the results.

Biden cites importance of sharing vaccine plans

President-elect Joe Biden says that more coronavirus deaths will be the consequence of the Trump administration refusing to share its vaccine distribution plans with his incoming administration.

Asked about the importance of obtaining such plans, Biden said Monday after a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, that “more people may die if you don’t coordinate.”

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have spoken about the dangers of the Trump administration’s refusal to provide them with information and resources needed to ensure a smooth transition.

President Donald Trump has continued to falsely claim he won the Nov. 3 election, citing unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

Biden says a vaccine is vital to repairing nation’s economy, Biden says, “If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind.”

Biden says he understands Trump’s “reluctance” to admit defeat and share plans but calls it “a shame.”

Brazil reports over 13,000 new cases

Brazil recorded 13,371 additional confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, and 216 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

Brazil has registered nearly 5.9 million cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 166,014, according to ministry data

Turkey looks to implement concrete measures against spike

Turkey's advisory science board has recommended that the government should implement concrete measures to slow the spread of Covid-19, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday, as the number of daily cases has spiked in recent weeks.

In a written statement following a meeting of the board, Koca said the members had discussed preventative measures, emphasising that the main cause of the spread was people moving around and being in crowded spaces.

He added that people increasingly spent time in enclosed spaces as winter months came.

"It was decided to recommend that concrete measures that prevent the spread of the disease are implemented," he said.

The science board does not have the authority to implement measures but makes recommendations to President Tayyip Erdogan's government on what steps should be taken.

Istanbul's mayor called on Saturday for a lockdown of at least two weeks to contain an "out of control" rise in cases, and said virus-related deaths in the city alone outstripped reported nationwide figures.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies