We’re just four days away from Thanksgiving, and coronavirus cases are rising across the country.
The US surpassed 12 million cases of the virus yesterday — and nearly a quarter of those cases were recorded in November.
As Americans begin to prepare for the holiday, here’s the latest on the pandemic:
- Staggering Covid-19 numbers: Saturday was the 19th day in a row that the US reported over 100,000 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins. The spring and summer peak records of new cases did not exceed 60,000.
- Long lines at food banks: With less than a week until Thanksgiving, the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is forcing some Americans to go to food banks for the first time. At a food drive in DeKalb County, Georgia, people lined up at 5:30 a.m. ET yesterday for an event that was not supposed to start until 10 a.m., Bioreports’s Natasha Chen reported. Meanwhile, at the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles, volunteers are working to ensure residents do not go hungry this Thanksgiving. They expected about 1,000 people to line up. If you are facing food insecurity today, learn how to get help here.
- Experts urge Americans to skip travel this holiday: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week urged against Thanksgiving holiday travel. The nation’s top health experts are urging Americans to alter their holiday plans this year, too: White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Americans should limit indoor gatherings to immediate households this Thanksgiving. And Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’ll be having a Thanksgiving Zoom call with his three daughters.
- The good news? Experts say promising vaccines are on the horizon. On Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech submitted an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Earlier this week, Pfizer said a final analysis of the Phase 3 trial of the vaccine showed it was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Monday set out the government’s plan for England to exit its second national lockdown on December 2, outlining what is expected to be a “strengthened” tier system for the country, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said Sunday.
“The Prime Minister will be setting out more details tomorrow about the next steps and our fight against coronavirus,” Sunak told Sky News.
“The good news is, we will be exiting national restrictions on the 2nd of December, as the Prime Minister said at the beginning of the month-long restrictions,” he added.
According to the Chancellor, the Prime Minister is expected to chair a cabinet meeting on Sunday afternoon to “discuss the details for re-entering the tier system” in England.
“We’ll be going back into a tiered system, which is a far better way to tackle this on a localized approach,” Sunak continued.
While the Chancellor declined to comment on whether a 10 p.m. curfew on the hospitality sector would be extended, a government source said Sunday that the curfew would be extended by one hour to 11 p.m. as part of the government’s plan to exit the nationwide lockdown.
On Monday, the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is also expected to publish documents showing that previous tier restrictions were ineffective, the source added.
It comes just a week after Public Health England’s Dr. Susan Hopkins said the government would need to consider “strengthening” the tier system until an effective vaccine becomes widely available in the UK.
“We have recognized that the tiering of the country has had a different effect in each area,” the UK medical adviser said Monday.
“We see very little effect from Tier 1 and I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months,” she added.
Hong Kong reported 68 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, marking the highest single-day increase in cases since August 16.
Of the 68 new cases, seven were imported while 61 were locally transmitted, according to Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection. Among the 61 local cases, 49 are connected to previously confirmed cases, and the source of infection for the remaining 12 cases could not be traced.
“The situation is very difficult to control,” said Dr. Chuang, who cited asymptomatic cases who continued their daily routine without knowing they had the virus.
Earlier on Sunday, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said that “we are now facing a very severe situation in Hong Kong, the number of unlinked cases has been increasing in the past few days.” Chan added that health officials are now testing more people to deal with the recent outbreak.
On Saturday, a much-anticipated quarantine free travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong was postponed for two weeks due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong.
The 71 new cases bring the city-wide number of cases to 5,629, while the number of deaths remains at 108.
South Korea reported 330 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 30,733, according to Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Among them, 302 were locally transmitted. The death toll rose by two to 505.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo announced at a briefing on Sunday the government’s decision to raise social distancing measures to level 2 in the Seoul Metropolitan area for two weeks, starting November 24.
For a third day in a row, more than 300 local transmissions have been reported daily — with 200 from the Seoul metropolitan area.
Under level 2, mask wearing is mandatory in all indoor facilities, entertainment facilities like clubs are prohibited, restaurants can only do deliveries and takeouts after 9 p.m., gatherings will be limited to less than 100 people, and schools have to operate at one-third capacity.
Park warned that Korea is in a risky situation where a much larger mass infection could take place than in the first and second waves.
The UK’s 10 p.m. curfew for hospitality will be moved to 11 p.m. local time, according to a government source.
On Monday, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is expected to publish documents showing the previous tier restrictions were not effective, the source said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also expected to present his plan for tougher coronavirus restrictions to members of Parliament on Monday.
He has faced criticism over the 10 p.m. curfew from business owners and customers, some of whom have complained it created a rush outside establishments every evening.
The United States reported 177,552 new coronavirus cases and 1,448 deaths on Saturday, according to John Hopkin’s University.
The country has now reported a total of 12,088,410 cases, including 255,861 deaths, according to the university’s tally.
The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as repatriated cases.
Bioreports is tracking the US cases:
North Korea on Sunday called for stricter border control and coronavirus restrictions amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Worker’s Party of Korea.
“We need to rigorously guard the blockade of barriers in order to defend the nation’s safety and people’s well-being” in the health crisis, the paper said.
It urged people to be a “true patriot” and follow coronavirus restrictions.
North Korea has repeatedly claimed it is free of the coronavirus. In a speech last month its leader Kim Jong Un said he was thankful for the country not having a single coronavirus victim.
Victoria, the state once at the center of Australia’s Covid-19 epidemic, has announced a further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions as it continues to report no new cases.
“Three months ago, Victoria had 4,293 active cases. Today we have one. It’s an incredible achievement. And the clearest evidence there is of our determination to not only get on top of this virus – but to squash it,” Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement released Sunday.
The eased restrictions, due to kick in at 11:59 p.m. Sunday night, include:
- The number of visitors allowed in one household will increase from two to 15 per day.
- Public outdoor gatherings will be allowed at a maximum of 50 people.
- The number of attendees at weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies indoors will be increased to 150 people.
- Cinemas, galleries, and museums will be allowed to host up to 150 people indoors.
Victoria reported no new coronavirus cases on Sunday. The state’s total caseload stands at 20,345, with 819 deaths. There is currently only one active Covid-19 case in the state.
Japan’s daily coronavirus infections hit a record high for the fourth day in a row, with 2,508 cases recorded on Saturday, according to the Japanese Health Ministry.
The spike brings the nationwide caseload to 130,891. The country also saw 11 virus-related fatalities on Saturday, bringing the total death toll to 1,987.
Prime Minster Yoshihide Suga said Friday the government’s travel and dining promotion program will be halted in coronavirus hotspots to curb further infections.
“In the areas where the infection increase reaches a certain level, we will take stronger prevention measures in coordination with prefectural governors,” Suga said. The areas and date of the temporary cancellation are to be determined next week.
On Saturday, Japan’s capital Tokyo recorded its highest number of daily infections with 539 cases. Osaka, the country’s second largest city, also reported a record high of 415 new cases.