International update: Global Covid cases near 47 million – T-cell immunity likely to last six months

3 November 2020 (Last Updated November 3rd, 2020 10:10)

3 November

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 46.9 million, meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.2 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that a recent spike in Covid-19 cases in some countries in Europe and North America presented leaders with a “critical moment for action”. “Seize the opportunity, it’s not too late.”

T-cell Covid immunity ‘present in adults six months after first infection’. Cellular (T-cell) immunity against the virus that causes Covid-19 is likely to be present within most adults six months after primary infection, with levels considerably higher in patients with symptoms, a study suggests.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 9.2 million. The US coronavirus death toll is 231,562 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Donald Trump tries to stoke fears of Covid lockdown under Joe Biden. Speaking in Iowa on Sunday, the president said the election was a “choice between a deadly Biden lockdown … or a safe vaccine that ends the pandemic”.

The Georgia health department ordered counties on Monday to allow people exposed or infected with Covid-19 to vote in person on Election Day, instead of staying in quarantine. The order came a day after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the exposed could vote, as long as certain protocols were followed. The protocols require voters to tell poll workers their condition.

Virus hospitalizations swelled in Houston and four other Texas cities as conditions deteriorated in the Lone Star state’s worst hot spots. Almost 14% of hospital beds in the fourth-biggest US city are occupied by Covid-19 patients. Statewide, Covid-19 hospitalizations are approaching 6,000 – a level not seen since late August. Texas has now surpassed California for the most US cases, with 938,503, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Covid-19 continues to spread at alarming rates throughout the US Midwest, with record numbers of infections recorded across the region over the weekend.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters Monday that her state recorded 2,954 cases, only slightly fewer than the state’s record of 3,004, set on Friday. There has been a 13.4% increase in the number of cases during the past week alone, she said.

Wisconsin reported 3,433 new cases Monday, compared with about 4,000 in California — which has nearly seven times the population.

Iowa’s 14-day positivity rate reached 14.5%, more than twice the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases among people 18-40 now account for nearly half of all cases in Iowa; only 19% of cases are people aged 61 or older.

The governor of Colorado sounded a note of exasperation Monday as the state racked up new virus cases in the thousands. “We’re not doing a good enough job, my fellow Coloradoans. We need to do better,” Governor Jared Polis said at a news conference in Denver.

China: China reported 49 new Covid-19 cases for 2 November, up from 24 a day earlier, the national health authority reported on Tuesday. The National Health Commission said in a statement 44 of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas.

Panama: President Laurentino Cortizo is self-isolating after a close co-worker tested positive for coronavirus, the presidency said on Monday. Cortizo has taken two coronavirus tests, which were both negative, but will continue isolating “until he repeats the tests in a few days”, the presidency said on Twitter.

France: France reported a record 52,518 new Covid-19 on Monday and the number of people hospitalised with the disease rose by more than a 1,000 for the fourth time in eight days, as the pandemic showing no signs of abating despite a new lockdown.

Slovakia: Slovakia carries out Covid mass testing of two-thirds of population. Two-thirds of Slovakia’s population of 5.4 million people were tested for coronavirus over the weekend as part of a programme aimed at making it one of the first countries to test its entire population.

Netherlands: coronavirus infections fall for third day straight in the Netherlands. The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands rose by nearly 8,300 over the past 24 hours, the slowest pace in roughly two weeks.

Iran: Iran reports record high Covid death toll as travel bans go into force. Iran reported a record 440 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing the country’s death toll to 35,738 as a ban on travel in and out of major cities came into force.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria reported record-high Covid-19 deaths for Monday, with the number of patients in intensive care units also at its highest. New cases in the Balkan country doubled last week. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, himself recovering from the virus at home, said the government isn’t planning a lockdown.

Germany: The government imposed a partial lockdown, which started Monday, aimed at reducing social contact with measures including closing bars and restaurants. A key concern is the rapid increase in severely sick patients. Health Minister Jens Spahn noted that the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has almost tripled in the past two weeks to over than 2,000.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will offer free virus tests for kindergarten, primary and high school staff in phases next week. Four community testing centers operated by private laboratories will provide tests for HK$240 ($31).

Vaccine news

US: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he won’t enter a data-sharing agreement with the federal government for its vaccine program, saying that the agreement endangers undocumented immigrants. Cuomo said he’s asking the Trump administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal offices why they’re requiring ID numbers of those who will receive the vaccine

Lockdown updates

Canada: Canada announced new requirements for travellers on Monday, and fines of up to $1,000 for those who do not comply.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s quarantine hotels are approaching capacity as the military warns there may not be room to house Kiwis planning to return home for Christmas.

UK: The prime minister rejected criticism he was too slow to act, telling lawmakers he makes “no apology” for doing his “level best” to avoid national measures that are set to come into force on Thursday. Boris Johnson said there is “no alternative” to imposing a coronavirus lockdown across England to stop the health service being overwhelmed and doctors having to choose which patients to treat.

Portugal: President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said he is pondering declaring a state of emergency as a preventive measure to fight the spread of the coronavirus at a time when infections are soaring.

Italy: Italy is set to create a three-tier system for regional curbs, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in parliament on Monday. Shopping malls are set close at weekends across the country, while secondary schools will be shut with pupils moving to online lessons. Museums will close nationally. Conte continues to resist a full national lockdown. Italy’s coronavirus strategy is ‘wasting time’, says scientific advisor.

Germany: Germany begins ‘light lockdown’ today, as the country’s disease control agency recorded 12,097 new confirmed Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours. Bars, cinemas, theatres, museums, fitness studios and swimming pools will remain closed from today, while cafes and restaurants are allowed to offer takeaway food only. Meetings in public are restricted to two households and no more than ten people. Unlike during the first lockdown in the spring, schools and nurseries will stay open.

Singapore: Students age seven and above have to start using either the government’s contact-tracing token or mobile app from December as the city-state seeks to resume more activities. Singapore had earlier announced that the “TraceTogether” technology must be used at venues including restaurants, offices and shopping malls.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong extended social distancing rules that were set to expire Thursday by another week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a briefing. Noting the financial hub has only seen six local cases in the last week, she warned residents to maintain vigilance and avoid unnecessary gatherings amid a general “fatigue” following 10 months of Covid-19 restrictions.

Malaysia: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin ordered the National Security Council to review social distancing rules in order to break the chain of transmission as cases rise across the country. The council will deliberate proposals on stricter rules at a meeting Tuesday.

Thailand: The Thai government is studying the possibility of reducing mandatory quarantine to ten days from 14 to attract more foreign visitors, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said. The Cabinet will hold an off-site meeting in the tourist hot spot of Phuket on Tuesday.

US: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered residents to stay home between 10 pm and 5 am except for essential activities, and will require many businesses to shut starting at 9:30 pm. Face coverings will now be required in all public places, even if social distancing can be maintained, and indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to ten people and must disperse by 9:30 pm. The state has seen cases soar by 278% since Labor Day, the governor’s office said in a statement Monday.

Economy updates

Global: More liquefied natural gas is being traded than a year ago for the first time since the pandemic upended consumption. Global imports in October rose 3.8% from a year earlier, the first monthly year-over-year gain since May, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The rebound can be primarily attributed to an increase in demand from larger end-users in Asia, which have mostly weathered the pandemic better than Europe or the US

Europe: The European Union (EU) has agreed to provide Mozambique with 100 million euros ($116.30 million) in coronavirus-related aid. The EU cut off direct budget support to Mozambique in 2016 after the country revealed the existence of hefty state-guaranteed loans that it had not previously disclosed.

China: Lenovo Group reported a record quarterly profit after booking one-time gains and selling more PCs to meet remote work and study needs. The Chinese company, which kept its position at the top of the worldwide PC market, saw net income increase 53% in the September quarter, beating analysts’ estimates.

Australia: Australia’s central bank cut interest rates and announced a new bond-buying program as it seeks to ensure a rapid recovery across an economy now free of lockdowns.