The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 65 million people and cut more than 1.5 million lives short. Here are the developments for December 3:

Medical workers visit a home of patients suspected to be suffering from the coronavirus to carry out a swab test, in Rome, Italy, on December 3, 2020.
Medical workers visit a home of patients suspected to be suffering from the coronavirus to carry out a swab test, in Rome, Italy, on December 3, 2020. (Reuters)

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Italy reports record daily death toll at almost 1,000

Italy has recorded its highest daily death toll from coronavirus with 993 fatalities in the last 24 hours, despite a downward trend in infection rates.

The previous grim record of 969 deaths was set on March 27, when Italy was under national lockdown after becoming the first European country to be hit by the global pandemic. 

The country's death toll now stands at 58,038.

The Health Ministry reported 23,225 new cases on Thursday, compared to 40,902 on November 13.

World leaders meet to forge path to end pandemic

The UN General Assembly president has opened the world body’s first special session on the virus, calling it a historic and overdue moment of reckoning to forge a path to end the pandemic that not only ensures people everywhere have access to vaccines but mobilizes financial resources for "an inclusive and resilient recovery."

Volkan Bozkir said the world is looking to the United Nations for leadership and action "to address the greatest challenge our world is facing today."

Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen government ministers are scheduled to speak during the mainly virtual special session that began with Bozkir asking masked ambassadors and diplomats from the UN’s 193 member nations in the assembly hall to stand in silent tribute to the 1.5 million people who have lost their lives to the virus.

French PM says vaccines will be free for all

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said it was "a matter of weeks" before the country will start rolling out vaccinations and that they will be free for all.

French health authorities reported new 12,696 infections over the past 24 hours, down from Wednesday's 14,064, while the number of patients hospitalized for the disease fell at a one-month low.

The number of people in France who have died from the virus rose by 324 to 54,140, versus increase of 310 the day before. The cumulative number of cases now totals 2,257,331. 

Turkey records over 32,000 daily cases 

Turkey has recorded 32,381 new cases, including asymptomatic ones, over the past 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed.

President Tayyip Erdogan announced new measures on Monday to combat the surge in cases and deaths, including introducing a weekday curfew and a full lockdown at weekends.

The death toll, rose by 187 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities to 14,316 the ministry data also showed. 

Spain reports over 6,000 new cases

Spain has reported 6,104 new cases, bringing the national tally to 1,693,591, the sixth highest in the world according to official data.

The country's total fatalities rose to 46,038 with 254 new deaths in 24 hours.

Iran surpasses one million Covid-19 cases

Iran said its novel virus infections surpassed one million cases, as the authorities consider easing restrictions in many parts of the Middle East's hardest hit country.

The Islamic republic has recorded 1,003,494 Covid-19 infections since announcing its first cases in February, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television.

The novel virus has killed 49,348 people in Iran over the same period of time, according to official figures.

Africa foresees 60 percent of people vaccinated in 2-3 years

Africa aims to have 60 percent of its population vaccinated against Covid-19 within the next two to three years, the African Union's disease control group has said.

The continent of 1.3 billion people has recorded more than 2.2 million confirmed virus infections, according to a Reuters tally.

Some European countries expect to start rolling out vaccination campaigns in the next few weeks, but the control group said that vaccinations were unlikely to start in Africa until midway through next year.

Turkey announces vaccination plan for Chinese CoronaVac

Turkey’s Health Minister has announced a vaccination plan starting with an experimental “inactivated vaccine” later this month to combat the pandemic amid a surge in infections and deaths.

Fahrettin Koca had previously announced an agreement with Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech for 50 million doses of CoronaVac, which is currently in Phase 3 trials. Koca said in a statement that the first shipment of the inactivated vaccine will arrive in Turkey after December 11.

Inactivated vaccines are made by growing the whole virus in a lab and then killing it.

Italy curbs Christmas travel to avoid 'third wave'

Italy announced national travel restrictions for the Christmas holidays designed to limit the spread of the virus in the European country first hit by the pandemic.

The new rules, together with an existing curfew and other regulations already in place, seek to curb circulation throughout the country during the festive period by limiting the number of gatherings.

Earlier this year, a punishing lockdown of all Italy's 60 million residents helped bring the outbreak under control, but the government is trying to avoid missteps made over the summer after the lockdown lifted, when the return of vacationers fuelled a new rise in cases.

Infections in Russia hit new record

Infections in Russia hit a new record, as the country’s authorities reported 28,145 new confirmed cases – the highest daily spike in the pandemic and an increase of 2,800 cases from those registered the previous day.

Russia’s total number of Covid-19 cases – nearly 2.4 million – remains the world’s fourth-highest. The government coronavirus task force has reported 41,607 deaths in the pandemic.

The country has been swept by a rapid resurgence of the outbreak this fall, with numbers of confirmed infections and deaths regularly hitting new highs and significantly exceeding those reported in the spring.

US daily death toll from Covid-19 surpasses 2,700 – John Hopkins

The US death toll from the virus has surpassed 2,700 in one day as of Wednesday evening, the highest since April.

The new tally of 2,731 fatalities – by Johns Hopkins University – raises the overall known death toll in America to 273,181 since the pandemic started late last year. Worldometer tracking website put it at an even higher 279,867.

The number of new infections over the past 24 hours was 195,121, the university said. Worldometer estimated new cases stood at over 203,737.

Global daily deaths hit a new high

Daily virus-related deaths hit record-high with 12,378 fresh fatalities worldwide as the total number of lives lost inched towards 1.5 million, tracking website Worldometer showed. The grim milestone occurred as the total number of cases rise to almost 65 million.

South Korea reaches deal to buy AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate

South Korea has reached a deal with AstraZeneca PLC to purchase its virus vaccine candidate as it seeks to secure supplies amid a resurgence of outbreaks, local media reported.

The government has said it was in final talks with global drugmakers including AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson over their experimental vaccines, and launched a preliminary review of AstraZeneca's product in October for potential fast-track approval.

The JoongAng Ilbo newspaper said health authorities signed a contract with the Britain-based company on November 27, and were nearing agreements with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, citing an unidentified government official.

Germany reports 22,046 cases

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 22,046 to 1,106,789, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 479 to 17,602, the tally showed. 

South Africa fears virus comeback as cluster outbreaks flare

Localised virus outbreaks in parts of South Africa have raised fears that the country could see a resurgence in cases compounded by gatherings during the upcoming festive season.

Officials in Africa's hardest virus-hit country are scrambling to contain infections after a flare-up was reported in the impoverished Eastern Cape province and adjacent Western Cape province last month.

The national number of new daily cases crept over 3,000 last week, up 50 percent from an average of 2,000 earlier in November.

China orders inspections to prevent virus spread via cold chain 

China is carrying out sweeping inspections on food importers, supermarkets, e-commerce platforms and restaurants to prevent the spread of virus through imported cold chain products, the country's market regulator said.

"The current epidemic prevention and control situation is still complex and austere, and the risk of the disease entering through imported cold chain links is continuously rising as the exchange of international personnel and good s increases," State Administration for Market Regulation said in a statement on its website.

While China has already stepped up testing and disinfection of imported frozen products at ports and in local markets, driving up costs and curbing demand, the latest comments from Beijing showed inspections on cold chain imports would only strengthen.

Nearly 9 percent of NBA players test positive

Nearly 9 percent of players tested positive for virus upon returning to their NBA home markets before the opening of training camp, the league and the National Basketball Players Association announced in a joint statement.

The tests were administered to 546 players, with 48 yielding positive results (8.8 percent) between November 24-30.

Going by health and safety guidelines provided to teams in the last several days, those results mean that players who develop no symptoms of the virus have to stay away from team facilities for 10 days. Players who are symptomatic cannot return until the symptoms have been gone for 10 days.

Australia aims to complete review of Pfizer's vaccine by Jan 2021

Australia's pharmaceutical regulator said it is on course to review Pfizer's vaccine by January 2021, with the country sticking to a March timetable to start vaccinations.

Britain on Wednesday approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine, jumping ahead of the rest of the world in the race to begin the most crucial mass inoculation programme in history.

But John Skerritt, the head of Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration said it would likely complete its review by "late January" and has told staff not to plan a holiday to get the work done.

South Korean students take exams amid viral spike

Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 35 confirmed virus patients, took the highly competitive university entrance exam despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules.

The Education Ministry said about 493,430 students were taking the one-day exam at about 1,380 sites across the nation. They include hospitals and other medical facilities with the 35 virus patients and hundreds of others placed under self-quarantine.

This year’s exams had been originally scheduled for November but were delayed due to the virus outbreak.

India reports less than 40,000 cases

India reported less than 40,000 new virus cases in the past 24 hours for a fourth straight day as it awaits a vaccine rollout for its vast population. With 35,551 fresh infections, India’s confirmed tally crossed 9.5 million. For more than three weeks, India’s single-day cases have remained below 50,000.

The Health Ministry also reported 526 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities to 138,648. India doesn’t have any advance purchase agreement with any vaccine manufacturer. 

Nearly 100 world leaders to speak at UN session on virus

Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen government ministers are scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly’s special session that opens on Thursday to discuss the response to virus and the best path to recovery from the pandemic, which has claimed 1.5 million lives and shattered economies in both rich and poor countries.

Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said when he took the reins of the 193-member world body in September that it would have been better to hold the high-level meeting in June. Nonetheless, he said on Wednesday that the session “provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat Covid-19”.

France's Giscard dies from Covid-19 complications

Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing has died from complications linked to Covid-19, his foundation said.

"In accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in the strictest family intimacy," the Foundation Valery Giscard d'Estaing said on Wednesday.

Giscard was admitted to hospital in September with respiratory problems. He recovered but was re-admitted in mid-November. He was 94.

Mexico reports 800 more deaths 

Mexico's health ministry has reported 11,251 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 800 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,133,613 cases and 107,565 deaths.

The 11,251 new cases announced on Wednesday represent one of the biggest one-day totals recorded by Mexico since the pandemic began.

US hospitalisations top 100,000

The number of people being treated in US hospitals for Covid-19 topped 100,000 for the first time on Wednesday, a monitor said.

"There are 100,226 people currently hospitalised with Covid-19 in the US, the first time hospitalisations have exceeded 100k," the Covid Tracking Project said in a tweet.

Germany to extend restrictions until January 10

Germany will extend restrictive measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus until January 10, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said after talks state leaders.

"The states will extend their measures from December 20 until January 10," said Merkel on Wednesday. 

"In principle things will remain as they are."

Brazil surpasses 174,500 deaths

Brazil has reported 49,863 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 698 new deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry has said.

The South American country has now registered 6,436,650 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 174,515, according to ministry data issued on Wednesday. 

Brazil has the world's second deadliest outbreak behind only the United States.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies