The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 63.8 million people and cut more than 1.5 million lives short. Here are the developments for December 1:

People look on as they visit a shopping street ahead of Christmas amid the spread of the coronavirus in Rome, Italy, November 30, 2020.
People look on as they visit a shopping street ahead of Christmas amid the spread of the coronavirus in Rome, Italy, November 30, 2020. (Reuters)

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Italy reports 19,350 new cases, 785 deaths

 Italy has reported 785 deaths, up from 672 on Monday, and 19,350 new infections, compared with 16,377 the day before, the Health Ministry said.

The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has seen 56,361 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain's. It has also registered 1.62 million cases to date.

UK reports 13,430 new cases, 603 deaths

Britain has reported 13,430 new cases and 603 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, both up on Monday's tallies, according to government data. 

The nation has a total 1,643,086 cases and 59,051 fatalities.

Turkey reports 30,100 new cases

Turkey has registered 30,110 more infections, including 6,101 symptomatic cases, over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

The new symptomatic cases raised the country's total count to 506,966.

As many as 4,593 patients recovered over the past day, bringing the tally to 409,320, while the death toll rose by 190 to reach 13,936.

US government to meet vaccine makers, distributors next week

The US government has invited vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors and government officials to a "Covid-19 Vaccine Summit" next week, citing an invitation obtained by the news organization.

The meeting is scheduled for December 8 and will feature President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and private-sector executives, Stat News reported.

Palestine records 2,536 cases, 16 deaths

The Palestinian Health Ministry has recorded 16 new fatalities and 2,536 cases in the past 24 hours.

The ministry said on Tuesday seven deaths were recorded in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, while nine were in blockaded Gaza.

Tuesday's figures pushed total cases to 101,394, with 78,333 recoveries and 838 deaths.

France aiming for broader vaccination campaign in spring

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that France should be in a position to embark on a broader vaccination campaign between April and June next year, after initially targeting a much smaller group of people.

A first vaccination campaign starting towards the end of December or in January would be targeted at a smaller segment of the population, Macron told a news conference after meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

France's top health advisory body said on Monday it had recommended vaccinations should target retirement home residents and their staff first when doses reach the country.

Turkey's health minister wants vaccines available in December 

Turkey plans to start administering vaccines this month, according to the country's health minister.

Fahrettin Koca told reporters at the parliament that at least 10 million vaccine doses would be procured in December, along with 20 million doses in January and another 10 million in February.

The minister said Turkey's science committee is preparing plans to start vaccinating health workers on December 11, while Phase-3 trials of the Chinese vaccine are still ongoing.

US ready for 'immediate mass shipment' of vaccines

The US Transportation Department has said it made preparations to enable the "immediate mass shipment" of vaccines and completed all necessary regulatory measures.

The department said US agencies have been coordinating with private sector companies that will carry vaccines from manufacturing facilities to distribution centres and inoculation points. 

It added it has established "appropriate safety requirements for all potential hazards involved in shipping the vaccine, including standards for dry ice and lithium batteries used in cooling."

European regulator to decide December 29 on first virus vaccine 

The European Medicines Agency has said it will convene a meeting on December 29 to decide if there is enough data about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved, the regulator said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the EU medicines regulator said it had already begun a “rolling review” of the rival Moderna vaccine based on laboratory data previously submitted by the company and would now assess data on how well that vaccine triggers an immune response and whether it is safe enough for broad use across Europe.

The agency said that “if the data are robust enough to conclude on quality, safety and effectiveness,” then it could approve the Moderna vaccine at a meeting scheduled for January 12.

BioNTech, Pfizer ask EU to approve its Covid-19 vaccine

German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer say they have submitted an application for conditional approval of their coronavirus vaccine with the European Medicines Agency.

The two companies said Tuesday that the submission, which occurred Monday, completes the rolling review process they initiated with the agency on October 6.

The move comes a day after rival Moderna said it was asking US and European regulators to allow emergency use of its vaccine.

BioNTech said if the vaccine, currently named BNT162b2, is approved, its use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020.

The companies said last month that clinical trials with tens of thousands of participants showed the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95%. 

The success rate in particularly vulnerable older age groups was more than 94%, they said.

Concerns at Newcastle over virus outbreak at club

Newcastle reportedly closed its training facility and was carrying out mass testing for the coronavirus among its playing and backroom staff after an outbreak at the club.

The entire playing squad was asked to self-isolate on Monday, the Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday, and local media said the training ground was unlikely to open until Thursday at the earliest.

Newcastle’s next match in the Premier League is at Aston Villa on Friday.

A team must fulfill its schedule if at least 14 players are available to play, including those from the youth side, according to competition guidelines during the pandemic.

Neither Newcastle nor the Premier League have commented publicly on the situation.

Russia reports record 569 deaths, 26,402 new infections

Russia reported a record 569 deaths, bringing the official death toll to 40,464.

Authorities also reported 26,402 new infections in the last 24 hours, including 6,524 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national cumulative tally to 2,322,056.

Hamilton to miss Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive

Lewis Hamilton will miss the Sakhir Formula One Grand Prix after testing positive, the sport's governing body FIA said.

The Briton, who wrapped up a record-equalling seventh world title last month, was isolating according to local health guidelines in Bahrain, the FIA said.

"Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well," his Mercedes team said.  

UK's Gove: I don't think vaccine passports needed for theatre, sports events

Senior British minister Michael Gove said it was important to vaccinate as many people as possible against Covid-19, but he did not think people would need a vaccine passport to go to the theatre or to sports events.

In contrast, the minister in charge of vaccines, Nadhim Zadhawi, said that he expected people who refused the vaccine could find that they were refused entry to restaurants, bars, cinemas and sports venues. 

Singapore, Hong Kong delay travel bubble to next year

An air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has been delayed until next year, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said on Tuesday, due to a spike in cases in Hong Kong. 

Jakarta governor contracts virus as Indonesia infections spike

Anies Baswedan, the governor of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, said on Tuesday he had tested positive, as the world's fourth most populous country struggles to contain a spike in the number of infections. 

The 51-year-old governor of Southeast Asia's biggest city is among a number of politicians and officials to contract the virus. 

Indonesia's transportation and religious affairs ministers have previously been treated for the virus.

His deputy, Ahmad Riza Patria, also tested positive to the virus on Sunday, according to the city's website. Indonesia, a country of 270 million people, has posted three days of record-high case numbers in the past week. 

With more than 530,000 infections and nearly 17,000 deaths, the country has the highest tallies in Southeast Asia, though some health experts say limited testing and contact tracing is masking a far higher caseload.

WHO chief: Mexico in 'bad shape' with pandemic

The head of the World Health Organization said that "Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic and urged its leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus's comments came as Mexico's death toll rose to 105,940, the fourth highest in the world, with 1,113,543 confirmed cases. 

The country's actual numbers are believed to be much higher partly because of low testing levels.

“The number of increasing cases and deaths in Mexico is very worrisome,” he said in a press briefing.

Mexican President Andres Lopez Obrador has been criticised for often not wearing a mask and while not mentioning names or specific cases, the WHO chief urged the country's leaders to take the pandemic seriously.

Virus robs biblical Bethlehem of Christmas cheer

The virus has cast a pall over Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, all but shutting down the biblical town revered as Jesus’ birthplace at the height of the normally cheery holiday season.

Missing are the thousands of international pilgrims who normally descend upon the town. Restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops are closed. 

The renowned Christmas tree lighting service will be limited to a small group of authorised people, as will church services on Christmas Eve.

Bethlehem’s mayor, Anton Salman, said the city had planned to receive 3,000 invited guests, including local scout troops and musical bands from around the world that normally entertain visitors during Christmas Eve festivities.

He said the famed Christmas tree lighting, scheduled on Thursday, will be limited to just 15 guests, including local mayors, the district governor and the Latin Patriarch and other clergy.

He said officials are still working on a guest list for Midnight Mass, a solemn event led by the Latin Patriarch that is usually attended by religious leaders, local VIPs and hundreds of pilgrims from around the world.

The event will be closed to the general public but broadcast live for people to watch.

Germany registers 13,604 cases

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 13,604 to 1,067,473, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 388 to 16,636.

India reports over 31,000 new cases, lowest since Nov 17

India recorded 31,118 new cases, the lowest daily tally since November 17, data from the health ministry showed.

India now has 9.46 million infections, but the number of new daily cases has stayed below the 50,000 mark since November 7 despite a busy festival season last month, according to a Reuters tally.

Deaths rose by 482, bringing the total to 137,621.

Vietnam reports 1st local infection in 89 days

Vietnamese authorities are conducting intensive contact tracing after discovering the country's first confirmed local transmission of the virus in 89 days.

State media said that a 32-year-old man in Ho Chi Minh City tested positive after visiting a flight attendant who was undergoing self-quarantine at his home following his return from Japan two weeks ago. 

The flight attendant tested positive on Saturday, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said.

Health authorities ordered 137 people who had been in close contact with the man to stay in a central quarantine facility and shut down an English center where he works as a teacher, the newspaper said.

The new case ended Vietnam’s streak of 89 days without any known local transmission of the virus. Earlier, it went 99 days without local transmissions until a cluster of cases broke out at a hospital in Da Nang in central Vietnam in July.

Red Cross chief urges vaccine 'fake news' fight

The head of the world’s largest humanitarian network is urging governments and institutions to combat “fake news” about vaccines which has become “a second pandemic” and start building trust in communities around the world about the critical importance of vaccinating people.

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a virtual briefing to the UN Correspondents Association that “to beat this pandemic, we also have to defeat the parallel pandemic of distrust.”

He said there is “a growing hesitancy about vaccines in general, and about a Covid vaccine in particular” around the world, pointing to a recent Johns Hopkins University study in 67 countries that found vaccine acceptance declined significantly in most countries from July to October this year.

Americans face new restrictions after Thanksgiving

Americans returning home from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.

Los Angeles County imposed a stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents, and Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, banned high school, college and professional sports and decreed a quarantine for those who have traveled more than 150 miles outside the county.

In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii County said trans-Pacific travellers arriving without a negative Covid-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who have tested virus-free may be randomly selected for another test upon arrival. 

New Jersey is suspending all youth sports.

The outbreak in Santa Clara County “is like a high-speed train,” health officer Dr Sara Cody said.

“Our projections tell us that we are on target to derail by around the third week of December if we don’t apply the brakes right now with all our collective might,” Cody said.

Mexico records 285 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry has reported 6,472 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 285 additional fatalities, bringing the total int he country to 1,113,543 cases and 105,940 deaths.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Brazil reports 287 more fatalities

Brazil has reported 287 more Covid-19 deaths and 21,138 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the country's health ministry.

China reports 12 new cases

Mainland China reported 12 new Covid-19 cases on Nov. 30, down from 18 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority has said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that eight of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. The remaining four cases were local infections reported in the Inner Mongolia region.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to five from 17 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China now stands at 86,542, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

Trump's special adviser resigns

Dr Scott Atlas has resigned as special adviser to President Donald Trump, a White House official has said, after a controversial four months during which he clashed repeatedly with other members of the coronavirus task force.

"I am writing to resign from my position as Special Advisor to the President of the United States," Atlas said in a letter to Trump dated Dec. 1, according to Fox News, which first reported his resignation.

Atlas, a neuroradiologist, apologised on Twitter this month fo r giving an interview to Russia's Kremlin-backed television station RT, saying he was unaware it was a registered foreign agent in the United States.

Atlas has been sharply criticised by public health experts, including Anthony Fauci, the leading US infectious disease expert, for providing Trump with misleading or incorrect information on the virus pandemic.

Croatia PM Plenkovic tests positive

Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic tested positive for the new coronavirus on Monday but is "feeling well," his cabinet has said, as the country hit a new record death toll.

Plenkovic, 50, who has led Croatia since 2016 as chief of the conservative HDZ party, started isolating two days ago after his wife contracted the virus.

He had initially tested negative but a new test on Monday was positive, the cabinet said, adding that he would isolate for 10 days.

"The Prime Minister is feeling well at the moment, continues his activities and carries out his duties from home , following the instructions of doctors and epidemiologists," the cabinet said in a statement.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies