November 9 coronavirus news

By Emma Reynolds, Zamira Rahim, Jenni Marsh, Joshua Berlinger and Stephanie Halasz, CNN

Updated 1:41 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020
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11:46 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

Belgium monitoring its mink farms after Danish virus outbreak

From CNN's James Frater

Minks sit in a cage at a farm where all minks must be culled due to a government order on November 7 in Bording, Denmark. 
Minks sit in a cage at a farm where all minks must be culled due to a government order on November 7 in Bording, Denmark.  Ole Jensen/Getty Images

Belgium is monitoring and testing its mink population weekly after Denmark reported a widespread outbreak of a new variant of the novel coronavirus at its mink farms.

The Danish government this week announced it planned to cull the nation's entire mink population of 17 million in order to contain the spread after it discovered evidence that the virus that causes Covid-19 had mutated in mink, after being passed on by humans.

Belgium has a smaller mink population, with 15 mink farms currently in operation in Flanders, the Flemish region in the country’s north, according to the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC). Fur farming is banned in the rest of the country.

Steven Van Gucht, head virologist at the Belgian Health Authority (Sciensano), told Belgian radio on Saturday: “Samples are collected every week at the mink farms to check if the new coronavirus strain has broken out at Belgian mink farms.

“So far, all tests have come back negative. If the new strain does show up here, all mink will have to be culled.”

However, he said he was “not that worried” about the new variant.

“It seems unlikely that the mink variant would have become more dangerous for people. On the contrary I suspect what has happened is that it has become better adapted to mink and so therefore it is probably less adapted to humans,” Van Gucht added.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Wednesday the decision to cull the minks had been made with a "heavy heart," but it was necessary based on the recommendation of health authorities.

Coronavirus mutations are not expected to alter vaccine efficacy, a World Health Organization scientist said in June.

Speaking at a briefing on Friday, another WHO expert, Maria Van Kekhove, cautioned that "mutations are normal."

9:16 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

Tackling coronavirus in the US is the first item on Biden and Harris' agenda

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris speak at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 4.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris speak at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 4. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Tackling the pandemic in the US is the first item on the Biden-Harris transition team’s website.

The US President-elect and vice president-elect pledge to ensure free, reliable testing for all Americans, a better supply of personal protective equipment, clear and consistent guidance and a $25 billion vaccine manufacturing and distribution plan.

The Biden team also plans to appoint Harris to head a task force to tackle racial and ethnic disparities regarding the impact of the virus.

The team plans to draw up a “nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that Americans can check in real-time to help them gauge whether local transmission is actively occurring in their zip codes.”

The Biden team said their White House will “immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization, which — while not perfect — is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic."

The team also intends to restore the Obama-era White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was disbanded in 2018.

The website also promises a national mask mandate but says it will get there by working with governors and mayors and “by asking the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis.”

The Trump Administration invested heavily in vaccine development and promised any approved coronavirus vaccine would be provided free of cost to all Americans. But the White House also struggled to deploy enough tests and PPE to those that needed it.

The current administration has also publicly battled with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about coronavirus guidance. 

The US is approaching 10 million diagnosed coronavirus cases (the CDC says the majority of cases have gone undiagnosed) and a quarter of a million deaths. 

On Saturday, Johns Hopkins University reported 126,742 daily new coronavirus cases in the US, the highest single daily count reported since the pandemic began.

8:20 p.m. ET, November 8, 2020

At least 50 million cases of Covid-19 recorded worldwide

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

The total number of reported coronavirus cases worldwide has exceeded 50 million according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

At 11:50am ET on Sunday, the number of cases was 50,052,204.

The country with the highest number of infections remains the US, followed by India, Brazil, Russia and then France.

Globally, there have been 1,253,110 deaths from Covid-19, according to JHU, almost 20% of which occurred in the United States.

CNN is tracking the worldwide spread of coronavirus here: