11 December

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 69.6 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,583,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 15.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 292,179 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A top coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden delivered a stern holiday message to Americans on Thursday – “no Christmas parties” – and warned they face a Covid-19 siege for weeks to come despite the latest moves toward US government approval of a vaccine.

New York’s new cases declined to 10,178 from 10,600 a day earlier, while the number of patients in intensive care units increased and another 92 people in the state died, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Sweden: Stockholm’s ICU capacity reached 99% this week, as infection rates in the largest Nordic capital soar. Across Sweden, there were only 148 ICU beds left as of Thursday. Efforts to expand capacity are being complicated by a shortage of trained staff, with many on sick leave after months of overtime. Others quit their jobs after the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.

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Russia: Russia reported a record monthly death toll of 22,571 in October, more than 80% above the previous peak in May, according to the State Statistics Service. The data, released on Thursday and based on death certificates, are considered more accurate than the daily figures reported by the government’s virus-response office. Russia has the fourth-most cases in the world. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said this week that its death rate is lower than those in many other countries.

Italy: Italy reported 887 new virus-linked deaths on Thursday, compared with 499 the day before, bringing the total to 62,626. Cases increased by 16,999, compared with 12,756 on Wednesday. Italy, which was Europe’s early epicenter of the pandemic last winter, reported has reported almost 1.79 million cases since the outbreak began.

South Korea: South Korea will mobilise military forces in the capital Seoul to help frontline health workers deal with a surge in coronavirus, with 689 new cases reported on Friday, and as the death toll and number of patients in critical care rose.

Vaccine news

US: FDA panel approves Pfizer vaccine. A panel of outside advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted overwhelmingly to recommend emergency-use authorization of a vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and its German partner, BioNTech SE.

The largest union of US airline pilots is asking the government to give cockpit crews preference for receiving the coronavirus vaccine to ensure its shipment by air cargo isn’t interrupted. Cargo-airline pilots “have experienced an alarming increase in Covid-19 exposure and infections,” Joseph DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a letter to Senate lawmakers dated Wednesday.

Canada: Canada on Wednesday approved the use of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE and vaccinations are expected to start next week with high-risk people such as healthcare workers receiving the first doses. Ontario expects to receive “a very small number” of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming days and will prioritize health workers in long-term care homes and other high-risk settings, Premier Doug Ford said on Thursday. The province will administer the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to those workers on 15 December in Toronto and Ottawa.

Mexico: An advisory committee for Mexican health regulator Cofepris will review Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine application on Friday, a health official said, as the country registered another 11,897 coronavirus cases and 671 more deaths.

Australia: The Australian government has terminated its agreement with Australian biotech company CSL Limited to supply 51m doses of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Queensland, after vaccine trial participants returned false positive test results for HIV.

Singapore: Biotech company Tychan will start a phase 3 clinical trial in Singapore for its novel monoclonal antibody TY027, according to a statement. TY027 is being explored for treatment of Covid-19 patients to slow the progression of the disease, accelerate recovery and potentially provide temporary protection from infection.

Lockdown updates

Japan: An expert panel that advises the Japanese government called for a suspension of its “Go To Travel” campaign in areas where the outbreak is most severe, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of coronavirus policy, told reporters in Tokyo.

US: Pennsylvania is suspending indoor dining from Saturday and prohibiting gatherings and events of more than 10 people, Governor Tom Wolf said on Twitter. The measures will remain in place until 4 January. Daily cases in the state hit a record of more than 12,000 last week. The latest count was 11,064 on Wednesday, according to state health data. Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a “modified stay-at-home order” that requires people to stay at home from midnight to 5 am, with exemptions including grocery shopping, work travel and medical emergencies, from Monday through to 31 January. Virginia counted a record 4,398 new cases a day earlier.

France: Theatres, museums and cinemas, along with sports facilities, will remain shut, instead of reopening as planned next week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday. A nighttime curfew will take effect on 15 December, he said. Meanwhile, travel across the country will now be permitted. Some 14,000 new Covid cases were reported nationwide on Thursday, almost triple a target set by President Emmanuel Macron, who said the lockdown could be lifted by mid-December if new cases averaged 5,000 a day.

Economy updates

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Airlines said it’s making 250 flight attendants redundant due to the prolonged impact of the pandemic. “Hong Kong Airlines has been compelled to adjust our operations significantly in the past year due to travel restrictions,” the company said in an emailed statement.