COVID-19 SUMMARY: U.K.’s COVID-19 death toll surpasses 60,000, Italy bans movement between regions during the Christmas holidays, Moscow to begin mass vaccinations Saturday


4th December 2020 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 65,189,701 with 1,505,912 deaths as of 1am today.


The promise of COVID-19 vaccines is “phenomenal” and “potentially game-changing”, World Health Organization European director Hans Kluge said on Thursday, a day after Britain became the first Western country to approve a shot. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend countries issuing “immunity passports” for those who have recovered from COVID-19, but is looking at prospects of deploying e-vaccination certificates like those it is developing with Estonia.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday that the world could be fighting the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic for decades to come even if vaccines are quickly approved.

The United Kingdom’s total death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 60,000 on Thursday, by the government’s preferred measure of deaths within 28 days of a positive test. The UK is set to receive its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the coming hours, England’s deputy chief medical officer said Thursday. A survey by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) found 31 EU/EEA countries and the United Kingdom are considering prioritizing “older age groups, healthcare workers and persons with underlying conditions” to receive COVID-19 vaccines first.

The UK toll is the fifth highest in the world after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico. It is the highest in Europe ahead of Italy and France.

Italy’s regions on Thursday hit out at the government over its latest curbs to control the coronavirus, saying they were not consulted over measures that were too hard on families and did not compensate hard-hit businesses. Under a decree approved late on Wednesday, Italians will not be able to move between the country’s 20 regions from 21st December to 6th January except for work, medical reasons or emergencies. On Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day they cannot even leave their towns.

Czechs raised glasses in pubs, grabbed lunch again at restaurants and hit the shops for the first time since October on Thursday as coronavirus measures were eased before the Christmas season.

The Spanish region of Catalonia will not relax coronavirus restrictions on Monday as originally planned because of worsening infection rates, officials said, prompting some ski slopes to postpone their planned opening next week.

Prince Harry has said the COVID-19 pandemic is like a punishment from nature.  “Somebody said to me at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s almost as though Mother Nature has sent us to our rooms for bad behavior, to really take a moment and think about what we’ve done,” Prince Harry said during an interview released Tuesday on video-on-demand platform WaterBear. 

Greece extended its lockdown until 14th December, said Stelios Petsas, a government spokesman. “

Germany’s coronavirus situation remains ”tense,” the head of the country’s infectious disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), warned Thursday. Germany has extended restrictive measures designed to curb the spread of coronavirus until 10th January, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced late Wednesday following a meeting with the country’s state leaders.  

Hungary reported a record 182 covid deaths, with the daily toll having stayed consistently above 150 for almost a week. There were 7,693 coronavirus patients in hospital, including 663 on ventilators, the government said Thursday. 

U.S. and Canada

The US recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring, while the number of Americans hospitalised with the virus has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time and new cases has begun topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released on Thursday.

Global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines would generate estimated economic benefits of at least US$153 billion in 2020-21 and $466 billion by 2025 in 10 major economies, a report by the Eurasia Group has found. 

White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci will meet with President-elect Joe Biden’s team on Thursday for his first substantive talks with the new administration about how to combat the virus that has killed some 273,000 Americans.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said there was some positive movement in congressional efforts to reach a compromise on a new coronavirus aid bill but he gave no hints on when such a deal might be struck.

Dr. Henry Walke, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 incident manager, said that as Americans continue through the holiday season, they should avoid travel and stay home.

Another 712,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Labor Department, as the job market recovery continues to slow. That was a bit lower in the previous week, which was revised higher.

 The U.S. passenger and cargo airline industry saw total employment fall by nearly 29,000 workers through the month ending in mid-October as government restrictions on laying off workings expired.

The percentage of people that tested positive for COVID-19 citywide is 3.9%, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, and the seven-day rolling average, which the mayor said has really increased, stands at 5.19%.

The United States health care system is quickly heading toward a “breaking point” as the country reported its highest one-day death toll since the coronavirus pandemic began, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta said.

Delta Air Lines said it will begin asking international travellers coming into the United States for coronavirus contact tracing information.

The US federal government has bought 650,000 additional doses of Eli Lilly and Co’s monoclonal antibody treatment for coronavirus, bringing the total US purchase to 950,000 treatment courses. 

With vaccines against COVID-19 on the verge of being rolled out around the world, Facebook said it will start removing false claims about the immunizations that have been debunked by public health experts. 

China and Hong Kong

The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health in Hong Kong announced that as of 0.00am, 3rd December, the CHP was investigating 90 additional confirmed COVID-19, taking the number of cases to 6,590 in Hong Kong so far (comprising 6,589 confirmed cases and one probable case).

Elsewhere in the world

Moscow will open mass COVID-19 vaccination centres on Saturday offering shots of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, according to the city’s mayor.

Iran surpassed 1 million total coronavirus cases on Thursday after reporting 13,922 infections in 24 hours, the health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state-media. 

Japan recorded 41 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, its highest daily increase of new deaths since 8th May, the country’s Health Ministry announced today.

Serbia ordered a partial lockdown for retailers and most services over the weekend, allowing groceries, gas stations and pharmacies to stay open, while also curbing working hours for non-essential business even during weekdays.

Thailand has contact traced 700 people after 10 Thai nationals illegally crossed into the country from Myanmar, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health.

The health ministry of Indonesia confirmed 8,369 new cases in the 24 hours through midday 3rd December, beating the previous record of 6,267 on 29th November.

A total of 1,075 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Malaysia on Thursday. along with 11 deaths, the second-highest daily casualty rate reported since the pandemic hit the country earlier this year.

Information compiled from REUTERS, CNN, CNA and Bloomberg.