NYC Cases Swell; Italy and Ireland to Ease Curbs: Virus Update

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New York City’s average daily Covid-19 cases increased to more than 1,500 for the first time since May. New Jersey is nearing 17,000 confirmed and probable virus deaths. Black Friday crowds were sparse in the U.S. as the virus accelerated the shopping day’s move online.

Britain’s estimated transmission rate is signaling the virus is no longer spreading exponentially. Ireland, the first western European country to reimpose a lockdown, is set to ease coronavirus curbs. Italy will also ease restrictions in the financial hub of Milan and four other areas.

AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine looks like it’s headed for an additional global trial as the drugmaker tries to clear up uncertainty around favorable results in its current study.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases exceed 61.1 million; deaths top 1.4 millionMacy’s, Target look like any regular day: Black Friday updateHospitals race to set vaccine priorities for health-care workersHow Covid-19 has turned the spotlight back on obesity: QuickTakeWorkers stick to office during U.K.’s second lockdowns: Chart

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chart, histogram: U.S. death toll tops 1,600 a day, highest since mid-May

© Bloomberg
U.S. death toll tops 1,600 a day, highest since mid-May

Italy Eases Restrictions (12:53 p.m. NY)

Italy’s government will ease restrictions for financial capital Milan and for industrial hub Turin starting on November 29, following a steady reduction in the number of coronavirus cases.

Health minister Roberto Speranza signed a new order Friday which will allow more movement and economic activities in five Italian regions, according to a statement.

Italy has avoided a second full nationwide lockdown, arguing its fragile economy must be shielded from another body blow following a strict three-month shutdown last spring.

Europe Seeks to Coordinate Ski Resort Openings (12:48 a.m. NY)

European nations are aiming for a common policy on opening ski resorts, according to France’s Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune.

France, Italy, Germany and other countries are in talks to avoid “unfair competition” between pistes should some be closed due to the pandemic and other allowed to open, he said on Europe 1 radio Friday. France has announced ski lifts won’t operate even though people can visit resorts.

New Jersey Nears 17,000 Covid-19 Fatalities (12:12 p.m. NY)

New Jersey is nearing 17,000 lab-confirmed and probable novel coronavirus-related deaths as the ranks of the sickest grow. So far this week the most densely populated U.S. state has reported 143 deaths and 20,611 cases.

The state’s 71 acute-care hospitals on Thursday night reported 2,496 in-patients, or 12% more than on Nov. 19. The 559 people in intensive-care units represented a 25% increase, and the 279 people on ventilators were 18% more. In all three areas, the state had a slight drop from Wednesday to Thursday, but health officials anticipate soaring numbers ahead, the potential result of Thanksgiving celebrations that didn’t adhere to distancing and masking advisories.

Crowds Thin on a Black Friday Reshaped by Covid-19 (11:46 a.m. NY)

Crowds were sparse on Black Friday, as the virus accelerated the shopping day’s move online.

On New York’s Fifth Avenue, the line outside the Philippine Consulate was longer than the tiny queue to get into Zara. At Macy’s Herald Square, the biggest department store in the U.S., it looked more like a normal day than the busiest shopping event of the year.

At International Plaza and Bay Street mall in Tampa, Florida, a half-full parking lot still allowed shoppers to easily find a spot shortly after the stores opened at 9 a.m. Lindsay Grinstead, marketing and sponsorship director at the mall, said new safety measures have helped the mall gain shoppers’ trust: It provided the stores with a virtual-line app that allows customers to scan a QR code and save their spot in the queue without having to physically stand in line. The mall also doubled the curbside pick-up capacity to more than 100 parking spaces. Masks are required inside the mall as well as in the stores, with some, like Hollister and Forever 21, even providing masks at their entrances.

Italy Cases, Deaths Steady (11:30 a.m. NY)

Italy reported 827 virus deaths and 28,352 new daily cases, in line with the previous day. The number of patients in intensive care units across the country continued to fall for the second day, while total number of hospitalized patients fell for the fourth day. New infections declined 24% from week ago.

France Expects Sanofi Vaccine in Large Amounts in June (11 a.m. NY)

Sanofi’s Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be available “en masse” in June, French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on RMC radio on Friday.

While vaccines from competitors will be available in large quantities starting March, the minister says she pushed for the European Commission to sign a deal for Sanofi’s shot, “because it is based on a very well-known vaccine, on which we have a lot of hindsight, and for which we therefore have great hopes.” The French drugmaker’s vaccine candidate relies on technology Sanofi uses to make influenza shots, as well as GlaxoSmithKline adjuvants which enhance the body’s immune response. Pannier-Runacher said three of the six vaccines for which the commission has already signed contracts will be partly manufactured in France.

NYC Daily Cases Rise Above 1,500 for First Time in Six Months (10:51 a.m. NY)

New York City’s daily Covid-19 cases increased to more than 1,500 for the first time since May, based on a seven-day average.

The seven-day average positive-test rate is 3.33%, the highest in recent weeks. The figure has been above 3% since it reach that level earlier this month, prompting a shutdown of city schools.

While cases and the positivity rate have been causes for concern for de Blasio, the hospitalizations have not approached an unmanageable level. There were 114 admissions on Nov. 25 for Covid-like illnesses, of which 45% were positive for the virus.

Spain Plans Three-Phase Vaccine Roll-Out (9:49 a.m. NY)

There’ll be three phases in Spain’s vaccine treatment, starting in January and running through the European summer, Health Minister Salvador Illa said Friday. During the first phase, residents and workers in nursing homes, front-line health workers and other health-care workers will be treated. Spain will get 140 millions doses to treat 80 million people.

U.K. Outbreak Stops Spreading Exponentially (8:47 a.m. NY)

Government scientists estimate Britain’s nationwide transmission rate for the outbreak, or ‘R’ number, has fallen to 0.9-1.0. The measure is below 1 for first time since Sept. 4, which would mean the virus is no longer spreading exponentially.

“The estimated growth rate means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 0% and 2% every day,” the government said in a statement.

Austria to Share Vaccine Allocation With Balkan Nations (8 a.m. NY)

Austria will share the vaccine doses it gets under the European Union’s joint procurement with the nearby countries of the Western Balkan, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. The country is entitled to 2% of the EU’s vaccine order, which is probably more than needed domestically.

The country’s Austria’s 7-day incidence of new cases fell for a 14th day, bringing the reproduction number down to 0.87, the lowest level since June. The country still recorded 400 new cases per 100,000 in the last 7 days, significantly more than neighboring Germany.

Russia May Start Covid Vaccine Supplies to Hungary in Dec. (7:15 a.m. NY)

Russia hopes to start supplying vaccines next month to Hungary, the first European country that received samples and documents of the Russian treatment. Russia also invited Hungarian doctors to observe testing and production in its local laboratories, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said after meeting Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in Budapest.

Talks between the two countries include technology transfer to potentially produce the vaccine in Hungary.

Cyprus Sets Nightime Curfew Starting Dec. 1 (6:30 a.m. NY)

Cyprus imposed a national nighttime curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The measure, along with other restrictions, will apply Dec. 1-14. If the situation doesn’t improve, then the government will need to take further protective measures, Health Minister Konstantinos Ioannou said in a televised statement.

Malaysia to Give Pfizer Shot to 20% of Population (5:57 p.m. HK)

Malaysia signed an agreement with Pfizer Inc. to obtain its Covid-19 vaccine for 20% of the population, or about 6.4 million people, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said. The country’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency will evaluate the vaccine for its safety and efficacy before it’s administered starting next year, the minister said in a Facebook post.

Oxford to Study Anti-Inflammatory Drug in Trial (5:25 a.m. HK)

U.K. researchers will begin testing a commonly available anti-inflammatory drug as part of a key trial by the University of Oxford.

Colchicine will be administered to at least 2,500 Covid-19 patients in the Recovery trial, and be analyzed for its potential to reduce mortality when compared with standard of care. The trial, which has enrolled 18,000 patients so far, is expected to take several months to complete.

Indonesia Record Deaths; Vaccine Delays Hit Nation (4:57 p.m. HK)

The country reported 5,828 new coronavirus cases and 169 new deaths on Friday, the highest daily increases since the outbreak began. Indonesia seeks to counter the pandemic with vaccines. Now, as the coronavirus spreads across its vast archipelago, pressure is building to get them to 270 million people living on 17,000 islands.

Ireland Set to Ease Lockdown (4 p.m. HK)

Ireland, the first western European country to reimpose a lockdown, is set to sign off on an easing of coronavirus curbs on Friday.

Prime Minister Micheal Martin will lay out a plan, which is likely to include reopening most stores, gyms and cinemas in coming days, after his cabinet finalizes the details. Bars serving food are likely to reopen, but so-called “wet pubs,” which serve only drinks, may remain closed. The government is also expected to relax a 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) curb on movement from home.

In contrast, across the border, Northern Ireland is moving to introduce new curbs, including the closure of non-essential stores.

Hungary to Decide on Christmas Opening (3:45 p.m. HK)

The country’s cabinet will decide on Dec. 11 whether coronavirus curbs can be eased around Christmas, Premier Viktor Orban said on Friday on radio.

While the proportion of hospitalized patients to overall infections has declined, altogether more people will need treatment as the virus is spreading and their number will reach 10,000 soon, he said. The country had 135 deaths and its 6,393 new daily cases were near a record high.

Bulgaria Death Rate Rise to Highest in Europe (3:05 p.m. HK)

Bulgaria surpassed the Czech Republic and Belgium to become the EU country with the highest number of deaths per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, according to data by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

The Balkan country’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who recovered from the virus two weeks ago, had repeatedly rejected a lockdown until this week. The government ordered a three-week partial closing starting Friday night — schools, restaurants, gyms and shopping centers will be closed, while private events are limited to 15 people.

Tokyo Posts Record Day of Cases (2:30 p.m. HK)

Tokyo posted its highest one-day number of coronavirus infections to date, with 570 cases recorded, on the final day before a request for bars and restaurants to close early comes into effect on Saturday.

Some of the increase is likely due to a three-day weekend through Monday, which typically delays testing and recording of cases. The seven-day average of cases stands at 411, still lower than earlier in the week. The city also reported the most tests ever conducted in a single day, at almost 10,000.

Severe Covid-19 cases in the capital, which the local government is tracking closely as its yardstick for requesting restrictions on businesses, rose to 61 from 60 the day before.

U.K. Moves to Get Vaccine Approved Before EU (8:03 a.m. HK)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock asked the U.K. medical regulator to potentially bypass its European Union counterpart and approve the supply of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine to speed its deployment.

AstraZeneca Eyes Extra Global Vaccine Trial (8:02 a.m. HK)

AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine looks like it’s headed for an additional global trial as the drugmaker tries to clear up uncertainty and confusion surrounding favorable results in its current study.

The company wants the new test to confirm the 90% efficacy rate that the shot showed in a portion of an existing trial, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said. It’s favoring that option rather than adding an arm to a separate study that’s already underway in the U.S.

Maradona Farewell Turns Chaotic, Upending Restrictions (3:23 p.m. NY)

Hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets of Buenos Aires to mourn Wednesday’s death of soccer icon Diego Maradona, upending the nation’s strict Covid restrictions.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Masses Mourn Maradona In Argentina, Upending Covid Restrictions

© Bloomberg
Masses Mourn Maradona In Argentina, Upending Covid Restrictions

People wait in line to pay tribute to the late Diego Maradona, outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Nov. 26.

Photographer: Pablo E. Piovano/Bloomberg

Pent-up emotions after eight months of curbs spilled over as people streamed into the palace known as Casa Rosada and police clashed with crowds in and around the Plaza de Mayo.

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