14:54 GMT29 November 2020
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    Global COVID-19 Cases Spike to Highest Level Post-Lockdown (244)
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    The global death toll from the coronavirus infection has topped 1.117 million; over 40.3 million cases of the infection have been detected, and more than 27.6 million people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University.

    A number of countries around the world has re-imposed COVID-related restrictions as they are facing a second wave of the pandemic.

    The United States still has the highest case count in the world, with 8,212,767 infection cases, including 220,110 fatalities and 3,272,603 recoveries. India has the second-largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, more than 7.5 million, while Brazil comes third in terms of coronavirus cases, with the total number of those infected with COVID-19 now over 5 million. 

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    • 03:14

      Record 1,336 New Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Bulgaria in Past Day - Health Ministry

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Bulgaria has confirmed a record number of new cases of COVID-19: 1,336 cases of the infection have been registered over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

      The ministry said the total number of people infected with COVID-19 in the country amounted to 31,863. Most cases have been recorded in Sofia, Plovdiv, and Blagoevgrad.

      A total of 1,019 people have died from coronavirus for the entire time of the pandemic, and 17,414 patients have recovered.

    • 01:36

      France to Allocate Another $2.8Bln to Hospitals to Respond to 2nd COVID-19 Wave

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - French Health Minister Olivier Veran announced the allocation of an additional 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) to medical institutions to help them overcome the second wave of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and cover their costs.

      “We are adding extra 2.4 billion euros for 2020 in hospital spending so that institutions can cope with the second wave with all the necessary equipment and financially compensate for their unrealized activities,” Veran told Les Echos newspaper.

      He noted that this aid package was in addition to the 1.5 billion euros allocated during the first COVID-19 wave.

      According to Johns Hopkins University, there are 937,275 confirmed coronavirus cases in France, with 33,928 deaths and 110,515 recoveries.

    • 18:20

      UEFA Cancels European Under-19 Championship in Northern Ireland Due to Difficult Situation With Coronavirus

      The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced the cancellation of the elite and final rounds of the 2019/20 UEFA Under-19 European Championship due to the difficult epidemiological situation in Europe.

      Previously, the elite part of the tournament was postponed from October to November, and the Final Eight was to be held in Northern Ireland in March 2021.

      "The UEFA Executive Committee also decided to cancel the Elite Round; and Final Tournament of the 2019/20 UEFA Under-19 European Championship – which was due to be hosted in Northern Ireland - due to the current unresolved epidemiological situation in Europe and resulting travelling difficulties," the statement says.

    • 16:42

      AstraZeneca's COVID-19 Vaccine Trial in US May Resume This Week, Report Says

      The trial of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine in the US is expected to resume as early as this week, Reuters reported, citing sources.

    • 16:26

      Greater Manchester to Move to Tier 3 COVID-19 Restrictions From Friday, UK PM Says

      "This evening, informed by the data we have just seen, I can announce that Greater Manchester will move to the Very High alert level," Johnson said Tuesday, as quoted by Reuters. 

    • 15:29

      Britain Reports Over 21,000 New COVID-19 Cases

      The United Kingdom reported 21,331 new cases on Tuesday — the highest daily number since the beginning of the pandemic.

      The same statistic by the Department of Health suggested that there had been 241 deaths in the last 24 hours. The statistic refers to them as "deaths within 28 days of positive test."

    • 15:08

      Germany's Bavaria Nearly Locks Down District Again Due to Resurgence of COVID-19

      Authorities in the Berchtesgadener Land region of Germany's southern state of Bavaria imposed on Tuesday a new set of strict coronavirus restrictions similar to a lockdown amid a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

      The restrictions entered into force at 2 p.m. local time (12:00 GMT) and will be in place for two weeks.

      The district authorities say that restrictions are needed to avoid a full lockdown, but when Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder announced the new measures the day before, he described them as "corresponding to a lockdown."

      "Physical contact must be reduced to a minimum," the Berchtesgadener Land authorities said in the order.

      Among other restrictions is a stay-home order, which excludes leaving for "essential reasons," such as going to work, shopping for groceries, getting medical assistance, walking children and pets, visiting family and attending family events. Citizens may go outside for sports activities, but only if they are alone.

      Furthermore, schools, museums, theatres, gyms, movie theatres and other public places will be closed. Church services will be possible if all protective measures are followed. Food businesses can only work for deliveries or take away services, but only until the 8 p.m. curfew begins.

      A fine of up to 25,000 euros ($30,000) could be imposed if the regulations are violated.

      Berchtesgadener Land is the first area in Germany to go back into a lockdown-like state since April. The resurgence of new cases in cities and districts across Germany from September-October has reached a point requiring a return of strict control measures.

    • 14:46

      COVID-19 Pandemic Fuels Cyberattacks, Makes Threats More Complex, EU Cybersecurity Agency Says

      The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the European Union's cybersecurity landscape over the past months due to government-imposed restrictive measures, such as quarantines, which have forced millions of people to work from home, shop online and engage in other internet activities that have sparked a surge in cybercrimes, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) said on Tuesday.

      According to the EU cybersecurity agency's eighth ENISA Threat Landscape (ETL) report, which encompasses data between January 2019 and April 2020, the top three cyber threats faced by the bloc are malware, web-based attacks and phishing, followed by identity theft, data leaks and cyberespionage, among others.

      "The ETL report warns that there is a long road ahead to reach a more secure digital environment. This is mainly due to the weakening of existing cybersecurity measures through changes in working and infrastructure patterns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This global phenomenon has led to a surge in cyber criminals’ personalised cyber attacks, using more advanced methods and techniques," ENISA said in a press release.

      The agency added that the number of fake online shopping websites had increased during the pandemic.

      "From copycats of popular brands websites to fraudulent services that never deliver the merchandise, the coronavirus revealed weaknesses in the trust model used in online shopping," the statement read.

      According to ENISA, a large number of cybercrimes in the EU still go unnoticed.

      In terms of COVID-19, Europe currently stands as the third-worst-affected region to the Americas and South-East Asia, with just above 8 million cases, as shown on the World Health Organization's dashboard.

    • 14:45

      Madrid Region Not Ruling Out Curfew to Stop Spread of COVID-19

      The Community of Madrid does not rule out the possibility of a curfew as a way to curb COVID-19 infections, the Spanish region's health advisor, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, said on Tuesday.

      According to Escudero, the measures limiting people's movement should remain in force, but a curfew can only be imposed by the central government.

      "There should be legal grounds, which the Community of Madrid does not have. It should be a decision made by the Spanish government. Such a decision does not seem bad as long as it allows to maintain the economic activity," Escudero stated at a press conference organized by the Europa Press agency.

      Nowadays, nine municipalities of the Community of Madrid are locked down, with people being able to leave only if there is a special necessity. Gatherings of more than six people are also prohibited.

      After over two weeks of the restrictions, the Community of Madrid managed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but the number of contagions remains high, with 439 cases per 100.000 inhabitants, according to the recent official data.

      The state of emergency expires on October 23 and the health ministry does not intend to extend it, obliging the authorities to look for new measures to curb the COVID-19 spread.

    • 14:28

      Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine for Animals Shows No Side Effects in Trials, Research Says

      A researcher works inside a laboratory of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology where the world's first coronavirus vaccine registered in Russia was developed, in Moscow, Russia

      Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine for Animals Shows No Side Effects in Trials, Research Says

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian coronavirus vaccine for animals has not shown any side effects in trials, the Veterinary and Life journal of the Russian federal veterinary and phytosanitary watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, reported on Tuesday.
      Read more
    • 14:19

      'Should Be Scrapped',London Mayor Says About Curfew Policy

      People enjoy their drinks at The Black Lion pub in central London on Saturday, 4 July, as the coronavirus lockdown was eased.

      London Mayor Khan Urges UK Government to Scrap Pub, Bar Curfew to Help Businesses

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The UK government's curfew that forces restaurants and pubs to close at 10:00 p.m. should be lifted in London now that the city has been placed in tier 2 of England's new three-tiered COVID-19 alert level system, the mayor of the UK capital, Sadiq Khan, said on Tuesday.
      Read more
    • 13:32

      UK Government Fails to Reach COVID-19 Agreement With Greater Manchester

      "I’m disappointed that despite recognising the gravity of the situation, the mayor has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government. I have therefore advised the prime minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement," housing minister Robert Jenrick said in a statement.

    • 13:17

      Swedish Public Among Least Likely to Take Extra Measures to Avoid COVID-19, Poll Shows

      The Swedish public is among the least likely in the world to take extra measures to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19, according to a fresh poll published by YouGov on Tuesday.

      Sweden has been one of only a handful of countries to have not implemented a nationwide lockdown in order to curb the coronavirus disease. Of 22 countries surveyed, Swedish people were the least likely to improve their personal hygiene, and the joint-least likely to avoid crowded public places, the pollster found.

      Just 9 percent of Swedish respondents said they would wear a facial covering while in public, by far the lowest of any country surveyed, the pollster also stated.

      Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden's no-lockdown COVID-19 policy, is highly regarded among the country's population, YouGov found. In total, 65 percent of respondents hold a positive view of the state epidemiologist, compared to just 30 percent who hold a similar view of Lena Hallengren, the country's minister of health, according to the survey.

      More than half (54 percent) of Swedes also approve of the government's handling of the coronavirus disease pandemic to date. This figure is lower than Sweden's Nordic neighbors Finland and Norway, but significantly above respondents in Spain, the UK, US, and France, according to data provided by the pollster.

      The poll surveyed 1,010 Swedish adults from 18-21 September.

      The Swedish government has not ordered schools, restaurants, and shops to close throughout the pandemic so far, although public gatherings were limited to a maximum of 50 people.

      Sweden's Ministry of Health has confirmed 106,380 cases of COVID-19 to date, resulting in the deaths of 5,922 people.

      A surge in new cases has been observed recently that has seen the number of positive tests registered each day reach June levels, and domestic media outlets have reported that tougher social distancing measures may be enforced.

    • 13:02

      Lockdown Has Gone, But Not Coronavirus, Indian Prime Minister Says

      “Today, the recovery rate in the country is good. The fatality rate is low. 5,500 people out of every million in India are infected, whereas in countries like the US and Brazil, this figure is around 25,000,” Modi said.

       

       

    • 13:01

      Singaporean Scientists Develop Fast Breathalyzer Test to Detect COVID-19

      Breathonix, a spin-off firm of the National University of Singapore, has developed a new, faster breathalyzer-type test kit to detect the coronavirus infection, the Straits Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

      According to the newspaper, the test kit — which is still at the prototype stage —  with an accuracy rate of more than 90 percent, is very easy to use and does not require specially trained personnel. To conduct it, a person needs to breathe into a tube. The test result will be ready in less than a minute.

      Breathonix's test differs from those currently on the market, as it does not detect viral fragments, like polymerase chain reaction tests do, or viral proteins, like rapid antigen tests, but registers chemical changes in a patient's breath.

      With a pilot clinical trial involving 180 patients at the National Center for Infectious Diseases already completed, researchers are planning to conduct additional trials among up to 600 patients over the next few months to validate the technology.

      So far, Singapore has confirmed more than 57,900 cases of the infection, including 28 fatalities.

    • 12:32

      UK Government to Fund Human Challenge Studies to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccine

      The UK government announced on Tuesday that it will invest £33.6 million ($43.5 million) to fund the so-called human challenge trials, in which healthy individuals will be deliberately exposed to the novel coronavirus after receiving a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, with the aim of speeding up research.

      “Human challenge studies offer the chance to accelerate development of promising vaccines against COVID-19, bringing them to people more quickly – potentially saving thousands of lives,” the government said in a statement.

      Up to 90 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 30 would take part in the study which is due to begin in January, 2021, if approved by the UK health regulators’ research ethics committee.

      The first stage of the project will be delivered by a partnership between the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Imperial College London, the Royal Free Hospital National Health Service Foundation Trust and hViVO, a leading company in this type of clinical tests.

    • 12:07

      US COVID-19 Cases Rise by 58,387

    • 11:55

      Spanish Government Considering Curfew to Contain COVID-19 Spread in Madrid

    • 11:14

      Russia Spent Over $1.8Bln on Fight Against COVID-19, Prime Minister Says

      Russia has spent more than 142 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) on the fight against the coronavirus, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday.

      "We closed borders, we were among the first in the world to do it to protect people. Response centers in the regions and the coordination council on the fight against the coronavirus were working almost 24 hours a day. The work of all emergency services, all hospitals and, of course, the first response teams, was adjusted. A system of stimulus packages for the medical personnel and our doctors who were treating the coronavirus patients was introduced," Mishustin said.

      "By the way, we spent more than 142 billion rubles on this," the prime minister said at a special session of the Valdai discussion club.

      In addition, the government supported the economy by offering interest-free loans to businesses to pay salaries and issuing a support package for the economic sectors that were hit the hardest, Mishustin said.

    • 11:06

      Pfizer, BioNTech to Conduct Trials of Candidate COVID-19 Vaccine in Japan

      US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech SE have announced on Tuesday that they will conduct combined phase 1 and 2 trials of their mRNA-based candidate vaccine against COVID-19 in Japan, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

      The study will involve 160 volunteers aged from 20 to 85 in Japan, and testing is set to get underway this current month, the broadcaster cited the two firms as saying.

      Once the trials have been completed, Pfizer and BioNTech SE said that they would apply to produce and sell the vaccine in Japan, providing that it is safe and effective, the broadcaster said.

      Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is also conducting trials of its vaccine against the coronavirus disease, produced in partnership with the University of Oxford, in Japan as companies rush to gain clinical approval.

      Pfizer and BioNTech SE signed an agreement with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in July to supply 120 million doses of their mRNA-based vaccine pending its success in trials and subsequent clinical approval.

    • 10:30

      Russia Records Over 16,000 COVID-19 Cases in Past 24 Hours

      Russia has registered 16,319 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from 15,982 yesterday, breaking the record for a second day in a row and taking the cumulative total to 1,431,635, the country's coronavirus response centre said on Tuesday.

      "In the past 24 hours, Russia has confirmed 16,319 COVID-19 cases in 84 regions, of which 4,664 (28.6 percent) were detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms," the response centre said, adding that the case count has reached 1,431,635.

      The largest increase was identified in Moscow, where 4,999 new positive tests were registered (down from 5,376 yesterday). A total of 695 new cases were recorded in St. Petersburg (up from 686 yesterday) and 426 cases were confirmed in the Moscow Region (down from 466 yesterday). No new cases were recorded in the Chukotka Autonomous Region.

      As many as 269 coronavirus patients died in the past 24 hours, up from 179 yesterday, raising the country’s death toll to 24,635.

      A total of 9,704 coronavirus patients were confirmed to have recovered over the past day, up from 5,328 yesterday, bringing the total to 1,085,608.

    • 09:18

      Finnish Flag Carrier to Cut Roughly 700 Jobs, Continue Temporary Layoffs Due to COVID-19

      Finnair, Finland's flag carrier, has said on Tuesday that agreements have been reached to cut approximately 700 jobs by March 2021 and continue temporary layoffs for the majority of the company's employees in Finland amid the ongoing economic pressures put on the aviation industry by the COVID-19 pandemic.

      In a press release, Finnair said that roughly 600 of the jobs will be cut in Finland, with the remaining 100 redundancies among employees currently based abroad. The flag carrier said that the job cuts will be implemented in full by the end of March.

      “I’m grateful that together with our employees, we were able to find savings solutions which helped us to save approximately 150 jobs at Finnair. Despite of that, this is a very sad day at Finnair. The corona pandemic has been completely unfair to our industry and unfortunately many Finnair employees now must experience its financial implications personally," Topi Manner, Finnair's CEO, said in the press release.

      Additionally, the bulk of the company's Finnish-based employees will remain laid off temporarily, the airline said.

      Finnair employs approximately 6,500 people, although the flag carrier has established a support program to help staff retrain and gain skills for other professions.

      “In addition to the usual work-to-work - placement assistance, we have been able to work together to build training and conversion pathways and measures to support entrepreneurship for those Finnair employees who want to expand their knowledge or consider becoming entrepreneurs," Johanna Karppi, Finnair's senior vice president for people and culture, said.

      Many airlines across the globe have been forced to make job cuts after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic this past spring left almost all international flights grounded.

      In the second quarter of 2020, the global aviation sector suffered a year-on-year loss in revenues of roughly 80 percent, according to data published by the International Air Transport Association.

    • 08:24

      Indian Court Acquits 20 Foreign Nationals Accused of Spreading COVID-19

      An Indian court on Tuesday acquitted 20 foreign Muslims from Indonesia and Kyrgyzstan (10 each) who were accused of spreading COVID-19 and violating lockdown norms. They had arrived in India with valid travel documents to participate in a religious summit organised by Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary movement that focuses on urging Muslims to return to their religion.

      The Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate held the police could not prove that these people were engaging in any illegal activity.

      “....there is no iota of evidence with prosecution to show any contravention of order by accused persons beyond all shadow of doubt,” said the court in its judgement, delivered on Monday.

       

    • 08:10

      UK Gov't, Manchester Mayor Face Looming Deadline Over Tougher COVID-19 Measures

       The UK government and the authorities in Manchester face a 12:00 deadline [11:00 GMT] on Tuesday to come to an agreement on moving the northern English city into the highest tier of the country's new COVID-19 alert system, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said, as Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham pushes the government to provide greater support to those who would be impacted by the new lockdown measures.

      According to Jenrick, who spoke to reporters late on Monday, the government and the city authorities have been locked in 10 days of talks to reach an agreement on moving Manchester from tier 2 to tier 3.

      Citing what he said was the worsening public health situation in Manchester, the housing secretary said that an ultimatum had been set for Tuesday.

      "I've written this evening to the mayor of Greater Manchester and to local leaders in the city region to say that if we're not able to reach an agreement by noon tomorrow [Tuesday] then with deep regret, I'll have to advise the prime minister that we're not able to reach an agreement at this time," Jenrick told reporters.

      Burnham, the Labour mayor of Manchester, has criticized the government for failing to provide the necessary economic support to mitigate the negative impacts of tougher lockdown measures.

    • 08:05

      Hong Kong Plans to Ease COVID-19 Restrictions as Infections Decline

      Hong Kong is set to relax its COVID-19 measures and allow gatherings for some activities such as weddings and organized tours, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

      An insider told the newspaper that local authorities in China’s special administrative region will allow gatherings of up to 50 people for weddings and tour groups of up to 30 people. At the moment, no more than 20 guests are allowed to show up for wedding ceremonies, while the limit on tour groups is four.

      Some restrictions will remain in place, such as face masks requirement for tourists during trips and a ban on food and drinks during weddings.

      Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that "the epidemic situation seems to be stabilized again." Government officials are expected to unveil details about relaxed measures later on Tuesday, according to South China Morning Post.

      To date, Hong Kong has confirmed over 5,200 COVID-19 cases, nearly 5,000 recoveries and 105 coronavirus related deaths. In October, the special administrative region is reporting 5-15 cases a day on average.

    • 07:31

      Ireland Announces Imposition of Tough Restrictions Starting Wednesday

    • 05:52

      India Reports 46,790 New Confirmed Cases, Lowest Daily Coronavirus Caseload in Nearly Three Months

    • 05:44

      Japan, China May Agree on Resuming Business Travel in October

      Tokyo and Beijing are negotiating the resumption of short and long-term business travel, with the agreement possibly reached later in October, the Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday, citing Japanese government sources.

      According to sources, the 14-day quarantine rule will not apply to short-term business travelers under the envisioned deal. Visitors in both countries will only be obliged to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test results and travel itineraries upon arrival. Moreover, students will be able to travel from China to Japan and vice versa if they observe a self-quarantine rule.

      At the same time, long-term residents and expats will still need to stay in isolation for two weeks.

      Tokyo and Beijing have been in talks to reopen borders since July, and leaders of both countries, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Chinese President Xi Jinping, agreed that resumption of business travel was necessary during their phone call in September.

      Japan has previously agreed on similar deals on resuming business travel with South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam as the country intends to reopen its borders to revive its coronavirus-hit economy.

    • 05:44

      New Zealand Registers 11 New Imported COVID-19 Cases Among Int'l Fisherman

      As many as 11 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified among international fishermen who recently arrived in New Zealand, the country's Health Ministry was cited by domestic media outlets as saying on Tuesday.

      The ministry said that 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease have been registered, and a further 14 potential cases are currently under investigation, the Newstalk ZB radio broadcaster stated.

      "All are imported cases detected at routine day 3 testing. None involve cases in the community," a Health Ministry representative was quoted as saying by the broadcaster.

      Les Morgan, the chief operating officer at Christchurch Airport's Sudima Hotel, told the broadcaster that a large number of international fishermen, predominantly from Russia and Ukraine, were in quarantine at his facility.

      "They're the only guests at the hotel and they've been model guests," Morgan told the radio broadcaster.

      In total, 440 fishermen from Russia and Ukraine are currently in quarantine at a managed isolation facility in Christchurch, the broadcaster said, adding that they traveled on Friday from Russia to New Zealand, via Singapore, on two charter flights.

      Since the start of the pandemic, just 1,887 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 have been registered in New Zealand by the Ministry of Health. The country's death toll currently stands at 25.

    • 04:39

      Canada's Cases Exceed 200,000

      The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada has exceeded 200,000, Health Canada reported.

      According to the government health department, for the entire time of the pandemic, the number of people infected in the country totaled 201,437, with 9,778 deaths and more than 169,000 recoveries.

      The largest number of cases was recorded in the provinces of Quebec (94,429) and Ontario (65,075).

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