LA orders stay-home, US sees deadliest day ever: Virus Update

LA orders stay-home, US sees deadliest day ever: Virus Update

A worker deposits a novel coronavirus test in a barrel in Los Angeles, California, on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)
A worker deposits a novel coronavirus test in a barrel in Los Angeles, California, on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)

The US had its deadliest day ever, with Covid-19 fatalities topping 2,700, according to Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalisations in the country surpassed 100,000 for the first time.

Los Angeles ordered residents to stay home and businesses that require in-person work to cease operations.

The UK became the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, clearing Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE’s shot before decisions by the US and European Union. The daily death toll from the virus in Germany rose to the highest since mid-April, and Chancellor Angela Merkel extended the nation’s partial lockdown for three more weeks.

Japan’s Osaka Prefecture will issue a red alert for the first time as soon as Thursday, signalling that the region is in a state of emergency, due to rising number of serious patients, broadcaster TBS reported without attribution.

Indonesia sees record daily cases

Indonesia recorded its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections on Thursday, with 8,369 new cases, according to its Covid-19 task force.

This brought the total number of infections in Indonesia to 557,877. The task force data also showed 156 new deaths related to COVID-19, taking the total to 17,355.

Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the Southeast Asia region.

Turkey announces vaccination road map

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca outlined a road map for vaccination as the country struggles with an increasing number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

The first batch of vaccines is expected to arrive after Dec 11 and people including medical staff and those over 65 years old with chronic diseases will be vaccinated in the first phase, according to minister’s remarks in state Anadolu news agency.

Although Koca didn’t mention a specific vaccine name, Turkey has previously said it agreed with China to purchase 50 million doses over the next three months. The country is also in discussions for 1 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE.

Los Angeles orders residents to stay home

The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, issued an order for residents to remain in their homes and for all businesses that require in-person work to cease operations.

The measure comes as the city is “close to a devastating tipping point,” said the statement.

The strict order carved out exceptions for faith-based outdoors services, homeless people and essential businesses like supermarkets and banks.

Osaka to signal state of emergency

Based on Osaka’s three-tier alert system, a red alert indicates the medical system is under incredible strain.

It calls for people not to travel and facilities that could be the source of cluster outbreaks to close. Tokyo found 533 new virus cases, 54 of which are serious.

Japan authorities have been urging preparations for a “worst-case scenario” as serious cases have risen to a record across the country.

Tokyo raised its Covid-19 alert to the highest of four levels last month, as daily infections in the Japanese capital increased by more than 500.

US sees deadliest day as hospitalisations pass 100,000

The US recorded its deadliest day ever, with Covid-19 fatalities reaching more than 2,700 to surpass the previous peak in April, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The total death toll in the country is at more than 273,000, the most of any nation, as hospitals in some regions are approaching capacity.

The Rust Belt, New York and California are likely to drive up the pace of deaths in coming weeks as the US approaches 300,000 fatalities, based on a forecast from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Reich Lab.

The death toll is rising as hospitalisations in the US surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Hospitalisations increased by more than 1,000 a day at the end of November, data released from the Department of Health and Human Services show.

California recorded a 38% surge from Nov 23 to Dec 1, with 8,171 coronavirus patients as of Tuesday. Arizona’s Covid-19 inpatients jumped 28% to 2,479.

Australia state investigates first case in 25 days

Australia’s New South Wales state has recorded its first new case of the coronavirus in 25 days after a woman working at a quarantine hotel in Sydney tested positive.

Authorities are investigating whether she became infected in the community or through work at the facility, the state health department said in a statement Thursday. The woman’s five family members were tested overnight and all returned a negative result for the virus.

Myanmar locks down second-biggest city

Myanmar has imposed a strict stay-at-home order for two weeks in Mandalay district, home to the nation’s second-largest city, to contain a surge in cases after the Nov 8 general election, according to a statement by Mandalay Region Government.

Nearly 2 million people from seven townships must stay at home Dec 5-18, except for work and health reasons, according to the order.

Eli Lilly to provide treatment

The US government paid Eli Lilly & Co $812.5 million to secure an additional 650,000 vials of Covid-19 antibody treatment to be administered in December and January to non-hospitalised patients at the early stages of disease.

Operation Warp Speed, the multi-agency effort to accelerate access to treatments, had previously paid Lilly $375 million for an initial 300,000 doses of its monoclonal antibody, bamlanivimab.

As a part of that deal, Lilly agreed to supply the U.S. with an additional 650,000 doses with an important caveat: the country would have to demonstrate an ongoing need for the treatment, which is difficult to manufacture and limited in quantity.

Now, as the US continues to see a surge in cases, that option has been exercised.

Germany extends partial lockdown

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will extend its partial lockdown by three more weeks as the country struggles to regain control of the coronavirus spread.

Bars, gyms and cinemas will remain closed until Jan 10 and the government will reconvene with regional leaders on Jan 4 to reassess the restrictions, Merkel said on Wednesday after talks with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states.

Germany’s infections rates are still far too high and need to come down faster, Merkel said in Berlin.

Merkel’s administration last week already extended a partial shutdown until Dec. 20 while keeping schools and much of the economy open. The partial lockdown has yielded little progress in slowing the spread to levels the government has determined as manageable.

Spain limits Christmas groups to 10

Spain will allow families to meet in groups of up to 10 on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as part of its restrictions on festive season gatherings, Health Minister Salvador Illa said in a news conference Wednesday.

The government is seeking to strike a balance between permitting small-scale festive gatherings and combating the pandemic.

The government will also restrict travel between mainland Spanish regions from Dec 23 to Jan. 6, unless journeys are for family gatherings, he said.

New York expecting 170,000 doses

New York expects to receive 170,000 doses of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine on Dec 15, governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Healthcare workers in the most high-risk jobs, such as emergency rooms, as well as nursing-home residents and staffers will receive the vaccine first, Cuomo said at a virus briefing in Albany.

To be effective, experts say the vaccine must cover 75% to 85% of the population, Cuomo said. “That is a tremendously high percentage on every level.”

Two doses are required per person, so the state will receive an additional 170,000 from Pfizer 21 days after the first.

The state expects additional shipments of the Pfizer vaccine and about 40,000 doses from Moderna later this month, Cuomo said. The shipments will then continue to arrive on a rolling basis.

Cuomo acknowledged that the first few batches won’t cover everyone, but he said he expects they will cover most of the approximately 85,000 nursing-home residents and 130,000 staff members. There are about 600,000 health-care workers in the state, he said.

NYC surge won’t deter schools plan

New York City’s new coronavirus cases hit 1,809 on Monday, its highest daily tally since May 3 and 144 more than the previous day.

Yet its school system remains on track to reopen for pre-kindergarten and elementary students Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

City public and private hospitals reported 1,203 Covid-related hospitalisations as of Nov 30, up 90 from the previous day and its highest level since June, according to state data.

But the mayor said hospitals remain able to handle the increasing load. The city recorded a 4.80% seven-day average positive infection rate, edging closer to a 5% public-health safety threshold established months ago.

Germany seeks shot doses beyond EU deal

Germany is conducting direct negotiations with domestic vaccine developers to obtain more doses than would be allocated through the shared European Union plan, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday.

The country is in talks with BioNTech SE, Pfizer Inc’s partner on the first vaccine approved in a Western country against the virus, as well as CureVac NVand IDT Biologika GmbH, Spahn said. All three German companies received funding through a government program to support Covid vaccine development.

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