The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 57.7 million people and killed over 1.3 million. Here are the updates for November 20:

A view shows an almost empty street as the region of Campania becomes a
A view shows an almost empty street as the region of Campania becomes a "red zone," as part of tougher measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, in Naples, Italy, November 16, 2020. (Reuters)

November 20, 2020

Italy reports 37,242 cases

Italy has registered 37,242 new infections over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, up from 36,176 the day before.

The ministry also reported 699 virus-related deaths, up from 653 on Thursday.

There were 238,077 virus swabs carried out in the past day, the ministry said, against a previous 250,186.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 48,569 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain's.

UK reports 22,287 cases

Britain recorded a further 511 deaths within 28 days of a positive virus test, the health minister Matt Hancock said, up from 501 a day earlier.

There were 22,287 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the latest daily figures, down from 22,915 cases recorded on Thursday.

3,019 more patients recover in Turkey

Turkey reported 5,103 more virus patients over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

The country's overall tally now stands at 435,273, the ministry announced.

A total of 3,019 more patients recovered over the past day, bringing the tally to 367,592, while the death toll rose by 141 to reach 12,084.

Almost 157,000 tests were conducted across the country, bringing the total to over 16.94 million.

France reports 22,882 cases

The number of new infections in France rose by 22,882 to 2.11 million, slightly higher than the 21,140 reported on Thursday, while hospital numbers eased again.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,138 new deaths from the virus, of which 381 in hospitals and a multi-day batch of 757 in retirement homes, taking the total to 48,265. On Thursday, it had reported 429 hospital deaths but not retirement home deaths.

Pfizer seeks emergency use of Covid-19 vaccine in US 

Pfizer has asked US regulators to allow emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine, starting a process that could bring first shots as early as next month.

The announcement comes days after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech offered preliminary data to suggest its vaccine appears 95 percent protective.

Over the next few weeks, the US Food and Drug Administration and its scientific advisers will decide if there’s enough evidence to allow emergency vaccinations. If so, first supplies will be scarce and experts say it likely will be spring before there’s enough for early distribution.

Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar told “CBS This Morning” on Friday that Pfizer’s emergency use authorisation application for its coronavirus vaccine candidate “means that hope and help are on the way.”

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, has said in the meantime, citizens need to “double down on the public health measures” such as wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding travel and people outside the household during Thanksgiving.

The US leads the world with 11.7 million cases and more than 252,000 deaths.

Canada's daily cases could spike 12-fold by 2020's end

New daily cases of Covid-19 in Canada could soar to 60,000 by the end of the year, up from less than 5,000 now, if people increase their daily contacts, medical officials have said in a grim forecast.

Even if current restrictions on gatherings are maintained, new daily cases will jump to more than 20,000 over the same period, the officials told a briefing.

Several Canadian provinces are reimposing restrictions on movement and businesses as a second wave of the pandemic rips across the country.

Airlines need another $70B to $80B to survive – IATA chief

Airlines need up to another $80 billion to survive, the head of the industry's trade association has told a French daily, as many countries tighten restrictions to confront another wave of coronavirus infections.

"For the coming months, the industry is estimated to need $70 to $80 billion in additional aid," the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Alexandre de Juniac told La Tribune. "Otherwise they won't survive."

Greece: 2 private clinics appropriated to treat Covid-19

Greek authorities are taking over two private health clinics in the northern city of Thessaloniki as the region’s public hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Health Ministry said on Friday its request for private hospital beds to be made available voluntarily for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in northern Greece, where the outbreak is the most severe, had been rejected.

“Despite the effort, the finding of a mutually acceptable solution was not possible,” the ministry said. It added it was forcibly appropriating the two clinics and their staff as of Friday.

One of the clinics has 110 beds and the other 140. The state will pay for use of the clinics and the staff's salaries during the appropriation.

The head of Greece's union of private clinic owners, Grigoris Sarafianos, said health authorities requested on Thursday that 200 private beds be made available to the state for coronavirus patients by 9 pm local time the same day.

Sarafianos, who owns one of the two appropriated clinics, said, “We don't want to become centres of transmission,” said Sarafianos, adding that doctors and nurses would need special training to deal with Covid-19 patients.

Sarafianos also voiced concern that once the appropriation ends, prospective patients would avoid the two clinics for fear of catching the coronavirus.

Sweden registers record 7,240 new cases

Sweden, whose unorthodox pandemic strategy placed it in the global spotlight, has registered a record 7,240 new coronavirus cases, Health Agency statistics showed.

The increase compared with a previous high of 5,990 daily cases recorded earlier this month.

Sweden registered 66 new deaths, taking the total to 6,406. Sweden's death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours but lower than some larger European countries. 

Klopp backs Salah after positive tests following brother's wedding

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has refused to blame Mohamed Salah after the forward contracted the virus having attended his brother's wedding in Egypt, although the German said he would personally avoid social engagements.

Videos emerged of Salah dancing during the ceremony without a face mask or socially distancing, with the 28-year-old later testing positive for the novel coronavirus ahead of Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations clash against Togo last week.

Salah, who is the joint leading scorer in the Premier League this season with eight goals, returned another positive test on Wednesday and is set to miss Sunday's clash against league leaders Leicester City.

"I was in Germany in the summer and a friend moved a birthday party for me and I decided not to go. It was allowed. In other countries there's more social pressure and a brother's wedding is a special moment. My players are incredibly disciplined."

Japan's health experts urge pause in domestic travel as cases surge

Japanese health experts have said the government should consider pausing its domestic travel campaign in some regions amid a record surge in Covid-19 cases and as the nation heads into a holiday weekend.

The expert panel recommended excluding regions from the government's Go To Travel campaign if conditions worsen. It also said local governments should ask restaurants and bars to shorten business hours for about three weeks to dent the spike in cases.

"Stronger measures will be taken in a short period and in high-risk areas to avoid the kind of situation that would require the declaration of a state of emergency," Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters on Friday after meeting with the experts.

New cases have surged to record levels in Japan this week, prompting Tokyo municipal authorities to raise the city's epidemic alert to the highest level.

WHO advises against remdesivir for Covid-19 treatment

The anti-viral drug remdesivir should not be used to treat Covid-19 patients no matter how severe their illness as it has "no important effect" on survival chances, the World Health Organization said.

Denting hopes in one of the few treatments that had shown some initial promise in severe patients, a WHO Guideline Development Group of international experts said there was "no evidence based on currently available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes".

The United States, the European Union and other countries have granted temporary approval for the use of remdesivir after initial research showed it may shorten recovery time in some coronavirus patients.

President Donald Trump was treated with remdesivir among other medicines after he tested positive for Covid-19 in October.

Friday's WHO recommendation was based on four international randomised trials among more than 7,000 patients hospitalised with the virus.

Publishing updated treatment guidance in the BMJ medical journal, the panel acknowledged that their recommendation does not mean that remdesivir has no benefit for patients.

Portugal extends state of emergency amid virus

Portugal’s parliament has voted by a comfortable margin to extend the country’s state of emergency by two weeks amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

The state of emergency has allowed the government to impose nighttime and weekend curfews across most of the country.

Officials are expected to further tighten restrictions on movements in areas of high contagion. Health experts say they expect the recent resurgence of Covid-19 to peak next week.

Portugal’s 14-day cumulative number cases per 100,000 of population is 769, higher than neighbouring Spain and close to France and Italy, according to the European Centre for Disease Control.

Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita told lawmakers on Friday the government will likely need to extend the state of emergency again next month.

Swiss report 4,946 new cases

Infections in Switzerland have risen by 4,946 in a day, data from the country's health authorities showed.

The total number of confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein increased to 290,601 and the death toll rose by 111 to 3,575, while 252 new hospitalisations added to the strain on the health care system. 

Reinfection unlikely for at least 6 months, study finds

People who've had Covid-19 are highly unlikely to contract it again for at least six months after their first infection, according to a British study of healthcare workers on the frontline of fight against the pandemic.

The findings should offer some reassurance for the more than 51 million people worldwide who have been infected with the pandemic disease, researchers at the University of Oxford said.

"This is really good news, because we can be confident that, at least in the short term, most people who get Covid-19 won’t get it again," said David Eyre, a professor at Oxford's Nuffield Department of Population Health, who co-led the study.

Isolated cases of re-infection with Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, had raised concerns that immunity might be short-lived and that recovered patients may swiftly fall sick again.

But the results of this study, carried out in a cohort of UK healthcare workers - who are among those at highest risk of contracting Covid-19 - suggest cases of reinfection are likely to remain extremely rare.

German says infection numbers still need to fall significantly

Germany has managed to stabilise the number of coronavirus infections but has not yet reversed the trend, a government spokesman said.

The number of infections still needs to fall significantly, he added ahead of another meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel with state premiers over the issue on Wednesday.

The government's goal is to reduce infections to 50 cases per 100,000 people over seven days while the incidence now is around 140 cases, he said.

Finland to ban public meetings of more than 20 in Helsinki region

Public meetings of more than 20 people will be banned in the Helsinki region to combat a rise in case numbers, Finnish authorities said.

While Finland's 14-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants remains at Europe's lowest level at 58, public health authorities said the rate was nearly twice as high in the capital region and thus the new restrictions were needed. 

Russia reports record high 24,318 new infections

Russia has reported a record high of 24,318 new coronavirus infections, including 6,902 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national tally to 2,039,926.

Authorities also reported 461 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 35,311.

Serbian Church leader dies after contracting virus

The leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, has died after testing positive for the coronavirus, the church said Friday. He was 90.

The patriarch was hospitalised with the virus early in November, soon after attending the funeral of the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Bishop Amfilohije, who also died from complications caused by the Covid-19 infection.

“It was an honour to have known you," Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Instagram with a black and white photo of the patriarch. “People like you are never gone."

At that funeral, thousands of mourners, most of them with no masks or keeping any distance between each other, gathered at the funeral in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on November 1, in violation of coronavirus-fighting measures proclaimed by the small Adriatic state's authorities.

Greece appropriates 2 private clinics appropriated to treat patients

Greek authorities are taking over two private health clinics and their staff in northern city of Thessaloniki as the region’s public hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases, the country's Health Ministry said.

The ministry said it had requested beds in private hospitals be made available to the public health system for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, but that “despite the effort, the finding of a mutually acceptable solution was not possible.”

The ministry said that as of Friday it was forcibly appropriating the two clinics and their staff in Greece's second-biggest city, which is at the heart of the recent resurgence of the virus in Greece.

Hong Kong to close more schools to fight virus

Hong Kong has suspended in-person classes for lower primary school students after the city’s top health official said the coronavirus situation in the city was rapidly deteriorating.

Classes for primary 1 to 3 students will be suspended for two weeks from Monday. The suspension comes just over a week after kindergartens were ordered to close following an outbreak of upper respiratory tract infections.

Hong Kong confirmed 26 new coronavirus infections on Friday, 21 of which are local cases.

Hong Kong is due to launch an air travel bubble with Singapore on Sunday. Currently, the air travel bubble remains on track, although it could be suspended according to the agreement between Singapore and Hong Kong if the seven-day moving average for untraceable coronavirus infections exceed five in either city.

Australia's Victoria hits three weeks without infection

Australia’s once hard-hit state of Victoria has gone three weeks without a new case for the first time since February.

There are two just active coronavirus cases remaining across Victoria, according to figures released by the health department on Friday.

And after having other states in Australia shut their borders to Victoria, the state has decided to close its border with neighboring South Australia, which is experiencing a new spike in cases.

Victoria went through a prolonged surge of the virus that saw the city of Melbourne locked down, overnight curfews imposed and bans on family gatherings and extended travel outside the city.

Australia has had 907 coronavirus deaths, but 819 have occurred in Victoria.

Germany sets daily record with 23,648 new cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 23,648 to 879,564, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 260 to 13,630, the tally showed.

EU willing to approve two Covid-19 vaccines this year

The EU could approve two coronavirus vaccines being tested by Pfizer-BioNTech and by Moderna before the end of next month.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the European Medicines Agency could give "conditional marketing authorisation ... as early as the second half of December if all proceeds now without any problem".

Working together, US giant Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech have developed a vaccine the firms say has had successful clinical trials and have sent data to the EMA.

US biotech company Moderna has said its experimental vaccine is 95 percent effective.

The EU has contracts to reserve hundreds of millions of doses of future vaccines with BioNTech, Purevac, AstraZeneca and Sanofi if they can be brought to market.

Ukraine reports record daily infections 

Ukraine has registered a record 14,575 new virus infections in the last 24 hours, surpassing the previous day's record of 13,357.

The tally climbed to 598,085 cases, with 10,598 deaths, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said.

India's total infections cross 9-million mark

India has crossed the grim milestone of 9 million virus cases, with 45,882 new infections recorded in the last 24 hours.

India is only the second country to cross 9 million coronavirus infections after the US, but cases have slowed down in the country after hitting a peak in September.

Deaths rose by 584, with the total now at 132,162, the health ministry said.

Government officials and experts have warned that the country could still see a spike after the festival of Diwali was celebrated this month.

UK may ease Christmas rules as virus cases start to flatten

There are signs that virus cases in Britain are starting to flatten as a result of current lockdowns, health minister Matt Hancock says, paving the way fora Christmas period with less stringent restrictions.

"There are encouraging signs that the number of cases is starting to flatten, and that the lockdown that we brought in,earlier this month, is working," Hancock told Sky News, addingthat a UK-wide approach to rules for Christmas was being worked on.

"It of course won't be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place, but we hope that they'll allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people really look forward to."

US reports 2,200 deaths in last 24 hours

The United States has registered more than 2,200 deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours, a record high since May as the pandemic surges across the country.

The number of cases at 0030GMT Friday was 11,698,661 with 252,419 deaths, meaning 200,146 new infections and 2,239 more deaths in 24 hours.

US authorities have urged Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday next week as virus cases soar.

California announced a night-time curfew aimed at curbing the pandemic.

South Korea leaders urge public to stay at home

South Korea’s prime minister has urged the public to avoid social gatherings and stay at home as much as possible as the country’s coronavirus tally hovered above 300 for a third consecutive day.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said that the 363 cases additionally reported in the past 24 hours took the country’s total to 30,017 with 501 deaths.

South Korea’s caseload has been on a steady rise after it relaxed its physical distancing rules last month. Local authorities on Thursday toughened distancing guidelines in the greater Seoul area , the southern city of Gwangju and some parts in the eastern Gangwon province to prevent a further viral spread.

Mexico becomes fourth country to hit 100,000 deaths

Mexico has passed the 100,000 mark in Covid-19 deaths, becoming only the fourth country – behind the United States, Brazil and India – to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed deaths.

The country currently has a total of 1,015,071 confirmed cases.

Brazil will not exempt vaccine makers from liability

Brazil does not intend to draw up legislation that would exempt makers of vaccines from liability, the country's deputy health minister Elcio Franco has said.

Franco said meetings held this week in Brasilia with vaccine developers should lead to non-binding memorandums of understanding on possible future purchases of vaccines.

He said the prices and target populations will be factors in deciding any purchase. 

South Australia to lift lock-down early

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall says the region will lift its planned six-day lock-down earlier than expected, even after police were misled during contract tracing.

Police said the region would not have gone into lock-down if one virus contact did not lie and cause a "devastating impact" on the community. 

Marshall said the restriction will be lifted at midnight on Saturday.

Mainland China reports 17 new cases vs 12 a day earlier

Mainland China has reported 17 new virus cases on November 19, up from 12 a day earlier, the country's health authority said.

The National Health Commission said all new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed infections, also rose to 14 from 10 a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed virus infections to date in Mainland China stands at 86,398 cases, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

WHO advises against Gilead’s remdesivir for all hospitalised patients

The anti-viral drug remdesivir should not be used to treat Covid-19 patients no matter how severe their illness as it has "no important effect" on survival chances, the World Health Organization has said.

Scratching one of the few treatments that had shown some initial promise in severe patients, a WHO Guideline Development Group of international experts said there was "no evidence based on currently available data that it does improve patient-important outcomes".

The United States, the European Union and other countries have granted temporary approval for the use of remdesivir after initial research showed it may shorten recovery time in some patients.