COVID-19 SUMMARY: First cases of coronavirus among its mink detected in Lithuania, Disney layoffs 32,000 employees, U.K.’s national lockdown to end next week


26th November 2020 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 60,930,143 with 1,430,693 deaths as of 11.30pm today.


More than 20 million people across large swathes of England will be forced to live under the toughest category of COVID-19 restrictions when a national lockdown ends on 2nd December, while London was placed in the “high alert” second-toughest tier.

The second wave of COVID-19 infections that has hit Sweden could peak in mid-December, health officials said on Thursday, stressing developments will depend on how well the public follows social distancing advice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed England’s national lockdown will end next week, to be replaced by a tougher three-tier system of regional restrictions.

French PM Jean Castex said it will be possible to travel abroad from 15th December, when the government plans to lift its latest lockdown. Travelers must check the health situation in the destination country ahead of travel, Castex said on Thursday. Ski resorts will be open over holiday period but ski lifts will remain closed.

Swedish confidence in the nation’s strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic has slumped. A poll published on Thursday showed that 82% of Swedes are either “somewhat” or “very worried” as to whether their health-care system can meet the challenge facing it.

European dividend futures are stirring from their months-long slumber, reflecting investor expectations that positive COVID-19 vaccine updates on top of trillions of dollars in stimulus will fast-track an anticipated recovery in company profits.

Rome’s Fiumicino airport will run COVID-tested flights to and from the United States operated by Delta Air Lines and Alitalia, it said on Thursday, adding it will be the first airport in Europe to offer the service on transatlantic flights.

In cavernous cold-storage warehouses at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, KLM workers are gearing up for a surge next year in COVID-19 vaccine cargos that will need to be flown around the world at ultra-low temperatures.

The state premier of Thuringia on Thursday announced a first mass test for children in the district of Hildburghausen, Germany’s coronavirus hotspot, to find out to what extent they contribute to a rapid surge in infections.

Lithuania’s health agency said on Thursday it had found the first cases of coronavirus among its mink, as 22 dead mink on a farm in central Lithuania tested positive. The tests at the 60,000-strong mink farm started after minks began dying unexpectedly, and the farm now suspects the mink got the virus from an infected worker, its director told local media.

U.S. and Canada

President Donald Trump’s annual Thanksgiving proclamation calls for Americans to “gather” for the holiday, even though federal public health officials have explicitly warned against it. The final line of the proclamation, issued by the White House press secretary’s office Wednesday evening, reads: “I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.”

Several federal agencies have recommended that the White House lift an entry ban on non-U.S. citizens arriving from Europe that was put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Every day since 3rd November, more than 100,000 new infections have been reported. Every day for more than two weeks, climbing hospitalizations hit another national record. And every single day, hundreds of Americans die of the virus, with both Tuesday and Wednesday recording a daily death toll of more than 2,100 deaths.

Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it would lay off about 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September, as the company struggles with limited customers due to the coronavirus pandemic. The layoffs will be in the first half of 2021, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Texas reported 14,648 new infections, a second straight daily record, according to figures from the Department of State Health Services.

California reported 18,350 new virus cases, shattering the daily record set last weekend. The 14-day average rate of positive tests climbed to 5.9%, a three-month high and up 2 percentage points in just two weeks.

Central and Latin America

Argentines in their thousands, wearing soccer jerseys and face masks, packed into snaking queues on the streets of Buenos Aires on Thursday to pay their last respects to flawed soccer genius Diego Maradona – despite concerns around the spread of COVID-19.

Mexico reported 10,335 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday night, bringing the total to 1,070,487, according to data released by the Health Ministry. Deaths rose 858 to 103,597.

China and Hong Kong

As global COVID-19 infections surge, China is pushing a narrative via state media that the virus existed abroad before it was discovered late last year in the central city of Wuhan, where it was traced to a seafood market. Chinese state media have cited the presence of the coronavirus on imported frozen food packaging, as well as scientific papers claiming that the coronavirus was circulating in Europe earlier than previously believed, as evidence that China may not have been its origin.

 The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health in Hong Kong has announced that as of 0.00am, 26th November, the CHP was investigating 81 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, taking the number of cases to 5,948 in Hong Kong so far (comprising 5,947 confirmed cases and one probable case).

Elsewhere in the world

Russia expects to begin to vaccinate the population this year and will roll out the program in stages, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.Russia has had nearly 2.2 million COVID-19 cases, the fifth most globally, and on Thursday reported a record 524 deaths in the last day.

Georgia is to introduce more coronavirus restrictions including new curfew hours, the closure of most shops, restaurants, swimming pools and gyms and the restriction of transport and a ban on sports and cultural events.

Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi, who was overthrown in the 1989 military coup that brought Omar al-Bashir to power, has died from a coronavirus infection, his party said on Thursday.

Iran reported a record 13,961 new virus cases on Thursday, setting a record for the third straight day. 

India reported nearly 45,000 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, bringing its total recorded outbreak to 9.27 million — the largest in the world after the U.S. — with 135,223 deaths.

Pakistan’s prime minister has ruled out imposing another COVID-19 lockdown, saying he does not want people to die of hunger while trying to save them from the pandemic.

Tokyo reported another increase Thursday in severe cases of COVID-19, to 60 from Wednesday’s 54, a day after the city asked residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors.

South Korea’s daily COVID-19 infections jumped to nearly 600, the most since March, with the spike expected to wane next week as the impact of stricter social-distancing measures is felt.

Singapore confirmed its first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 in almost two weeks, the country’s health ministry said.

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.