Osaka Alert at Highest; South Korea Cases Rise: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — Osaka raised its virus alert to the highest level after a rise in serious cases put strain on the Japanese prefecture’s medical system, while South Korea’s number of newly confirmed cases rose to the highest since early March.


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In the U.S., New York City’s average number of coronavirus cases and its infection rate hit the highest levels since May, while statewide daily infections closed in on 10,000. New Jersey reported record cases. California will impose a new shelter-at-home order if hospitals start running short of intensive-care capacity.

President-elect Joe Biden said he would ask all Americans to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for the first 100 days of his administration. Moderna Inc.’s vaccine appears to offer protection against the coronavirus that will last a minimum of three months and potentially much longer, researchers found. Facebook said it will start removing false claims about immunizations that have been debunked by public health experts.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases reach 65 million; deaths top 1.5 millionPfizer scaled back vaccine output targets earlier this yearCovid fighters run out of weapons with virus spreading in homesCovid’s Sun-Belt return targets Miami, Phoenix and Las VegasOperation Warp Speed and U.K. vaccine drive leave Europe behindN.Y. developers hire influencers to sell homes during CovidVaccine Tracker: Covid-19 inoculations are about to begin

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chart, histogram: U.S. sets record with more than 2,800 virus deaths

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U.S. sets record with more than 2,800 virus deaths

China’s Meat Imports May Fall with Testing (11:54 a.m. HK)

China’s vigorous testing of all inbound frozen food shipments for virus risk, as well as the recovery in domestic hog numbers, could cause meat imports to plunge as much as 30% next year.

Philippines Allows Conventions in Malls, Hotels (11:36 a.m. HK)

Philippines has allowed hotels, malls and restaurants to host meetings and conventions after reported coronavirus infections declined in the past days.

Economic managers are pushing to further reopen the economy that’s forecast to shrink as much as 9.5% this year. The Philippines has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, even as daily cases have declined over the past days.

South Korea’s Newly Confirmed Cases at Highest since March (8:43 a.m. HK)

South Korea reports 629 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours vs. 540 a day earlier, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website.

The number of newly confirmed cases was at the highest since early March and officials are eyeing more steps to curb the virus spread.

Japan’s Second-Biggest Region on Highest Alert (7:14 a.m. HK)

The Osaka prefectural government raised its virus alert to the highest level after a rise in serious cases put strain on its medical system.

Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, at a news conference late Thursday, urged residents to stay home until Dec. 15. Schools will remain open but bars and restaurants in certain districts are being asked to close early.

a group of people walking down a street: Views of Downtown Osaka As Coronavirus Resurges in Japan

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Views of Downtown Osaka As Coronavirus Resurges in Japan

Pedestrians cross a road in front of Osaka station earlier on Sunday.

Photographer: Soichiro Koriyama/Bloomberg

Osaka reported 386 new cases Thursday; number of patients with serious conditions rose to 136, meaning two-thirds of hospital beds have been occupied, according to Kyodo.

Biden Says He’ll Ask All Americans to Wear Masks for 100 Days (7:06 a.m. HK)

President-elect Joe Biden said he would ask all Americans to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for the first 100 days of his administration as well as issue a “standing order” requiring face coverings in federal buildings and on all interstate transportation.

“Not forever, for 100 days,” he said. “And I think we’ll see a significant reduction” in infections.

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: President-Elect Joe Biden Attends Television Interview

© Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America
President-Elect Joe Biden Attends Television Interview

Joe Biden arrives at the Queen Theater to participate in an interview with CNN on Dec. 3.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

North Carolina Hits Record Cases, Hospitalizations (7 a.m. HK)

North Carolina reported a record 5,637 new infections and the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to “take personal responsibility” in following the state’s mask order and other health measures but warned of tighter restrictions. “Everything is on the table in weeks to come,” he told reporters, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

Texas’ Caseload Explodes (6:17 p.m. NY)

Texas logged its fourth straight day of 10,000-plus new virus cases, the longest such streak since the height of the state’s initial outbreak in July, state health department figures showed.

The second-largest U.S. state posted 13,857 new diagnoses, driving the cumulative total to 1.22 million. Virus hospitalizations climbed for a sixth straight day, reaching 9,151, a 54% increase from a month ago, the data showed.

Delaware Issues Stay-at-Home Advisory (5:01 p.m. NY)

Delaware issued a stay-at-home advisory, halting in-person learning at schools, prohibiting winter sports competitions and requiring people to wear masks indoors if mixing with another household. The order runs from Dec. 14 through Jan. 11.

The state already requires masks in public settings — and the new order does not change the rules for people at work or commuting.

Colorado Projects Thousands More Deaths (4:43 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 could kill between 2,000 and 4,400 people in Colorado this month, based on official state modeling data released Thursday. “The numbers could go up by as much as several thousand deaths,” said Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, during an online news conference.

It is estimated 1-in-40 of the state’s population of 5.7 million are currently infected, Samet said. “We have a population that is fatigued with doing what it needs to do,” Samet said. “I don’t like to be a grim prognosticator here. But if the curve keeps rising” it’s estimated “we’ll see more hospitalizations, more cases, more deaths,” he said.

N.Y. Hospitalizations Most Since May (4:01 p.m. NY)

Coronavirus hospitalizations in New York topped 4,000 for the first time since late May, as new cases in the state closed in on 10,000 a day, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Of the more than 203,000 tests conducted statewide on Wednesday, 9,855, or 4.84%, were positive, including hot spot areas, Cuomo said at a briefing in Albany. There were 4,063 hospitalizations, up 139 from the day prior, and 61 virus-related deaths.

The state is focusing on increasing the number of hospital beds available as fears of overwhelming the hospital system increase. There currently are about 53,000 hospital beds statewide, 35,000 of which are occupied, Cuomo said.

The state can increase to up to 75,000 beds using its “surge and flex” program, he said, adding that about 19,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized at the peak of the pandemic in March and April.

a man riding on the back of a truck: New York City Braces For Increase In COVID-19 Cases

© Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America
New York City Braces For Increase In COVID-19 Cases

Medical workers transfer a patient to the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York City on Dec. 1.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

California to Lock Down If ICUs Fall Short of Capacity (3:49 p.m. NY)

California, the first state to tell residents to stay home to fight the coronavirus pandemic, may be about to do it again.

Governor Gavin Newsom warned Thursday that the state would impose a new shelter-at-home order if hospitals start running short of intensive-care capacity, a dire possibility that could happen in some areas as soon a this week.

a person walking down a city street: Los Angeles Mayor Issues Order For Residents To Stay Home

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Los Angeles Mayor Issues Order For Residents To Stay Home

A pedestrian crosses a street in downtown Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 3.

Photographer: David Swanson/Bloomberg

“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” he said.

The order would be imposed in specific regions — such as the San Francisco Bay Area or Southern California — rather than statewide. It would take effect once a region’s hospitals had only 15% of their intensive care unit beds available, a threshold none has crossed so far. If imposed, the order would last three weeks.

Ramaphosa Reinstates Curbs in South African Hot Spot (1:50 p.m. NY)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reimposed several curbs aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic in one of the nation’s biggest municipalities, which is battling a second wave of infections.

A 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew will be reinstated in Nelson Mandela Bay in the south of the country, Ramaphosa said in a televised address on Thursday. Alcohol sales be restricted and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces will be forbidden.

The number of new coronavirus cases in South Africa jumped to 4,400 on Wednesday, the highest since mid-August, Ramaphosa said. Of the 800,872 people diagnosed with the disease in the country so far, 92% have recovered, while 21,803 have died.

N.J. Reports Most Cases Since Pandemic Began (1:35 p.m. NY)

New Jersey reported 4,913 new cases of Covid-19, the most since the state’s first case was disclosed on March 4. The high number partly reflects vastly expanded testing: Like many states early in the pandemic, New Jersey tested only those with virus symptoms. Now the state routinely processes 30,000-plus specimens per day, and last month ran more than 75,000 tests over 24 hours.

a person sitting in a car: As Covid Cases Surge In New Jersey, The State Adds Testing Sites

© Photographer: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images North America
As Covid Cases Surge In New Jersey, The State Adds Testing Sites

COvid-19 test site in Paramus, New Jersey. on Dec. 3.

Photographer: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The positivity rate, 13.68% on Nov. 28, is the highest since May as was the number of patients currently hospitalized, at 3,292. In addition, 64 deaths were reported.

Moderna Vaccine May Offer Lasting Protection (11:57 a.m. NY)

Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer potent protection against coronavirus that will last a minimum of three months and potentially much longer, according to a letter from the researchers who conducted the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The number of antibodies produced to fight the infection dropped slowly over time, though they remained elevated and started to plateau three months after volunteers received the second injection.

While specific details the immune response needed to confer lasting immunity to the virus are still unclear, the initial findings suggest the vaccine has the potential to provide durable immunity, they said.

The vaccine also triggered the production of helper T cells, a critical component of the immune system, 43 days after volunteers received their first shot, though longer studies are needed and are underway, they said.

Italy Reports Record Deaths (11:44 a.m. NY)

Italy reported a record number of daily coronavirus deaths Thursday, surpassing March’s peak, as the government laid out a plan to restrict movements over the coming holiday season.

New fatalities linked to the pandemic hit 993, ahead of 969 on March 27. Some 23,225 new cases were recorded, down 20% from the same day last week. The test positivity rate was stable, at about 10%.

The Italian government approved a new plan to stem the spread of the virus over the Christmas and New Year season, banning movements between regions from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6. Movements between different towns will also be halted on Dec. 25, Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

Fauci Says He Will Stay on Under Biden (10:10 a.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the U.S., will continue at the National Institutes of Health under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, he told CBS in an interview.

Fauci also said he’ll take a Covid-19 vaccine in public after it has been approved by the FDA, adding he wished the U.K. had spent more time reviewing the Pfizer vaccine.

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