Ukraine has registered a record 256 new Covid-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours and the total toll reached 10,112, the health minister said on Wednesday. Maksym Stepanov also said that 12,496 new confirmed infections had been registered and it had taken the total cases to 570,153.
I am handing over the blog to my colleague Alexandra Topping in the UK.
Thanks for reading but if you’re just joining, here are the main developments of the past few hours:
- The US medical establishment has urged Donald Trump to share crucial data with the president-elect, Joe Biden, in order to save lives and prevent the country’s healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
- Several US states including Iowa have backtracked on earlier policies and recommended that people wear masks as cases in the US continue to spread. Senator Chuck Grassley, at 87 the oldest member of the US upper house, has become the latest high-profile figure in Washington to test positive.
- Almost half the headtechers in England are considering quitting after the virus is brought under control, according to a union survey. It comes as 598 more people died on Tuesday within 28 days of testing positive for Covid 19, bringing the UK total to 52,745. This represents the highest daily increase since 12 May.
- Businesses in Tokyo could be asked to shorten opening hours in order to contain a worsening outbreak of the virus that has seen cases in the Japanese capital reach a record daily high of 472 on Wednesday.
- Turkey is imposing fresh restrictions in the wake of a sharp rise in cases. Restaurants and cafes will be asked to close at 5pm from Friday, and a parital lockdown will be imposed on the country at weekends.
- British Airways is to launch a voluntary coronavirus test for passengers travelling to the UK from three American airports. The airline said it will trial a testing regime, which will involve hundreds of travellers on particular routes from the US to Heathrow.
- South Australia has imposed a six-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown to beat an outbreak of cases in the state’s capital, Adelaide. Most schools will be closed, as will universities, pubs, cafes and food courts.
Businesses in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, could be asked to shorten their opening hours in order to contain an outbreak of the virus that has seen cases in the city reach a record daily high of 472 on Wednesday.
The business news outlet Nikkei said the city authorities were considering raising its alert level for infections to the highest of four stages. As part of that move, some businesses could close more often, Nikkei said, citing multiple unnamed sources, Reuters reports.
The announcement will be made on Thursday, it said.
The highest alert level indicates that “infections are spreading” versus the current alert of “infections appear to be spreading”.
Tokyo is hoping to stage the Olympic Games in the summer of next year.
Our columnist John Harris has been investigating how Amazon has benefited hugely from the pandemic as households all over the world increased their shopping online. he asks how it became so powerful – it doubled quarterly profits in July to $5.2bn (£3.95bn), compared with $2.6bn at the same point in 2019 – and whether governments should think about clipping its wings.
Read his full report here:
Almost half of the headteachers in England are considering quitting their jobs after the pandemic, according to a union survey. A poll by the National Association of Head Teachers found that 47% said they were likely to leave their jobs prematurely, once they had steered their schools through the Covid crisis.
Heads interviewed by the Guardian said they were stressed and exhausted because of the enormous pressures of dealing with Covid.
You can read the full report by Sally Weale, our education correspondent, here:
As we mentioned earlier, the Australian state of South Australia has gone into a six-day lockdown to contain an outbreak in the suburbs of Adelaide, the capaital of the state. It is the biggest outbreak in the country for weeks.
You can read our full report here.
The UK music industry will halve in size because of the pandemic, according to a new report.
UK Music, the industry’s umbrella organisation, says the sector grew by 11% last year to be worth £5.8bn to the UK economy. But that will be reversed in 2020 thanks to the shutdown of the live music scene.
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, the chief executive of UK Music, said that the pandemic has dealt a “catastrophic blow” with thousands of jobs at risk.
“Our music industry is a key national asset,” said Njoku-Goodwin. “As this report shows, it contributes £5.8b a year to the economy, generates £2.9bn in exports and supports almost 200,000 jobs. The UK music industry was a vibrant, fast-growing and commercially successful sector before the pandemic hit.”
Read the full story here:
Turkey has joined the growing list of countries that are imposing another lockdown in the wake of a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
The interior ministry said on Wednesday that new measures limiting the working hours of restaurants and cafes, malls and hairdressers to 7am to 5pm will take effect from Friday evening. A partial lockdown will be imposed at weekends until further notice, while cinemas will be closed for the rest of the year.
Ankara reported 3,819 new symptomatic cases on Tuesday and 103 COVID-19 deaths in the country, taking the total death toll to 11,704.
Record daily cases recorded in Tokyo, media reports
Daily coronavirus cases in Tokyo have hit a record of 493, local media reported on Wednesday. The previous high was on 1 August.
Last week officials in Japan warned of a rising tide of infections that cause cause a third wave of the virus.
Regulators in the US have given the go ahead for the emergency use of the first rapid coronavirus test that can be performed entirely at home and delivers results in 30 minutes.
The announcement by the Food and Drug Administration represents a major step in efforts to expand testing options for Covid-19 beyond health care facilities and testing sites. However, the test will require a prescription from a doctor which could limit its uptake.
There have now been 11.34 million cases of coronavirus in the US and almost 250,000 deaths. Forty-one U.S. states have reported daily record increases in Covid-19 cases in November, 20 have registered new all-time highs in coronavirus-related deaths from day to day, and 26 have reported new peaks in hospitalizations, according to a Reuters tally of public health data.
US doctors urge Trump to cooperate with Biden
The US medical establishment has joined forces to urge Donald Trump to share crucial data with the president-elect, Joe Biden, in order to save lives and prevent the country’s healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
An open letter from three leading healthcare organizations says action is needed to help the Democrat’s new administration to ramp up its coronavirus plans as state and local governments scramble to fight the virus in the absence of a coordinated national strategy, Reuters reports.
“Real-time data and information on the supply of therapeutics, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity and workforce availability to plan for further deployment of the nation’s assets needs to be shared to save countless lives,” said the letter, signed by heads of the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Hospitals Association.
It comes after Biden warned “more people may die” if the incumbent president keeps blocking a smooth succession to the next administration in January.
Dr Vivek Murthy, co-chair of Biden’s Covid-19 taskforce, said on Tuesday that he and other medical advisers had been unable to discuss the pandemic with current administration officials, an obstacle that could compromise theUS response to the virus.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 17,561 to 833,307, figures from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. Deaths rose by 305 to 13,119, the tally showed. China said on Wednesday it had recorded eight new cases on Tuesday, down from 15 cases a day earlier.
Earlier, Mexico’s health ministry reported 1,757 new infections and 165 further deaths, bringing the official totals to 1,011,153 cases and 99,026 dead.
The Philippines is crazy about Christmas, with celebrations usually cranking up from September and lasting through to February for some people. The pandemic and the ravages of three powerful tropical storms in recent weeks have inevitably put a dampener on things but the enthusiasm for festivities cannot be entirely subdued in the predominantly Catholic country.
Our south-east Asia correspondent, Rebecca Ratcliffe, and Carmela Fonbuena in Manila report on why it means so much to Filippinos.
Swiss ski resorts are banking on tighter precautions against Covid-19 and the national love of the outdoors to boost the industry this winter.
Didier Defago, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion who is now president of the Wallis ski lift association, told Agence France-Presse that his region has made wearing masks mandatory everywhere except on the slopes and cable cars must keep the windows open the whole day to help air to circulate despite the cold.
In Verbier, one of the biggest resorts, police patrol the lift departure area to make sure everyone is respecting the anti-Covid measures.
Switzerland has recorded more than 274,000 cases and 3,664 deaths from coronavirus.
I’m Martin Farrer, picking up blogging duties from Ben Doherty.
The surge seen on global stock markets in the wake of positive news about potential vaccines against Covid-19 has subsided a little thanks to renewed concerns about the wider impact of the disease on world econmies.
The Nikkie in Tokyo has slipped 0.8% in Wednesday trade after the S&P500 fell on Wall Street in the preceding session. Some bourses have climbed into pisitive territory in Asia such as Sydney and Seoul but overall the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares was flat. The S&P is seen falling 0.3% when it opens on Wednesday while the FTSE100 is London is expected to slip into the red by 0.1%.
“Given the rapid gains over the last 10 days or so, a correction was inevitable,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.
Also in the US, doctors and nurses in North Dakota say an order to keep working even after testing positive to Covid-19 puts lives in danger, as the state is caught between a Covid surge and a statewide shortage of healthcare workers.
US states flip-flop on restrictions as cases surge
In the US, the deadly rise in Covid-19 cases across the country is forcing state and local officials to adjust their blueprints for fighting the virus, with Republican governors adopting mask mandates — skeptically, in at least one case — and schools scrapping plans to reopen classrooms. The US, the most infected country on earth, is approaching a quarter of a million deaths.
The steps face blowback from those who question the science behind mask wearing and social distancing and fear the new restrictions will kill off more jobs and trample on their civil liberties.
In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds had pushed back against a mask mandate for months but imposed a limited one Tuesday, becoming the latest GOP holdout to change course on face coverings. At the same time, she claimed “there’s science on both sides” about whether masks reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, public health officials are bracing for a holiday-fuelled surge. Doctors are urging families to stick to small gatherings.
Governors in Ohio, Maryland and Illinois imposed restrictions on business hours and crowd sizes Tuesday, and their counterparts in Wisconsin and Colorado proposed economic relief packages.
Los Angeles County, with a population of 10 million, ordered similar business restrictions.
More on Moderna.
The UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has refused to disclose whether he will profit from a surge in the share price of the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer Moderna, one of the biggest investments held by the hedge fund he co-founded before entering parliament.