November 10 coronavirus news

By Zamira Rahim, Stephanie Halasz, Ben Westcott, Steve George, Emma Reynolds, CNN

Updated 0504 GMT (1304 HKT) November 11, 2020
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9:35 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Hospitals in Swedish capital under "great strain" as cases surge

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Hospitals in the Swedish capital Stockholm are struggling to cope with a sharp increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to the regional health authority. 

Björn Eriksson, Stockholm’s regional healthcare director, said that hospitals were having to postpone certain planned procedures, but he assured the public that they were ready to take care of all Covid-19 patients.

Sweden took a sharply different approach to its European neighbours in its Covid-19 response in the spring. The country did not enter lockdown and instead issued guidance to citizens, urging them to practice social distancing and personal hygiene. Its coronavirus death toll during the spring was one of the highest in the world per capita.

The regional health authority reports that 349 patients are in hospital in Stockholm, an increase of 76 from the end of last week. The numbers may appear low, but Sweden currently has an infection rate of approximately 346 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than Finland (53), Denmark (254) and Norway (112), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s latest data. 

“The strain on our emergency hospitals is great,” Eriksson said.
“We consider the situation to be serious and are increasing coordination within the Stockholm Region in order to continue to be one step ahead in our planning so that healthcare capacity increases faster than healthcare needs.”

Sweden has tightened its guidance this month, limiting the number of people gathering in restaurants and bars as cases surge.

As of Friday, Sweden has registered 6,022 Covid-19 related deaths and a total of 146,461 cases, according to official health data. 

9:05 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Europe hopeful over vaccine as region feels pain of renewed lockdowns

From CNN's Nada Bashir

A couple walk by The Louvre Museum during a government-imposed lockdown on November 6 in Paris .
A couple walk by The Louvre Museum during a government-imposed lockdown on November 6 in Paris . Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

European countries have welcomed Pfizer's announcement that it believes its vaccine is more than 90% effective with relief, as much of the region remains under lockdown. Here's what's happening in some countries:

Germany

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Pfizer's announcement, based on early data, was “very encouraging" and that he was “very pleased” that a German research and development team played a role. German company BiOnTech has been Pfizer's partner in the vaccine's development.

Germany has registered 15,332 new coronavirus cases since Monday, as well as 154 further coronavirus-related deaths. The country's total death toll now stands at 11,506 according to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

France

A French government spokesperson said Tuesday that it was too early to propose a “loosening of the rules” on coronavirus restrictions in France. The spokesperson added that while there is some evidence that restrictive measures imposed by the government “might be having an impact,” the country must remain “cautious."

The spokesperson’s remarks come just a day after France’s National Health Agency Director Jérôme Salomon said that the country’s second wave of Covid-19 had yet to peak.

Italy

Five more local regions in Italy have been declared "orange zones," meaning tighter restrictions will come into effect in the areas starting Wednesday and last for at least two weeks.

The regions of Abruzzo, Umbria, Toscana, Liguria and Basilicata will see “non-essential” shops close, and bars and restaurants will be limited to serving takeaway only. People will also be restricted from leaving their towns of residence.

Portugal

The government of Portugal imposed a two-week state of emergency in 121 municipalities on Monday, mostly concentrated around the country's two largest cities, Lisbon and Porto. In those municipalities, a mandatory curfew between 11p.m. and 5a.m. local time has been introduced, with an extension from 1p.m. – 5a.m. over the weekend. 

Mandatory body temperature checks will be carried out when accessing workplaces, schools, universities and public transport, as well as commercial, cultural and sports venues.

It is now also compulsory to wear a face mask in all public areas, including outside if social distancing is impossible to maintain.

8:33 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Danish government backtracks on Covid-19 order to cull healthy mink

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen and Mick Krever

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

Denmark's government has backtracked on an order to kill all mink in the country after conceding it had no legal authority to order a mass cull.

Denmark ordered the cull, which included killing healthy mink, after finding that a coronavirus mutation had spread widely across more than 200 Danish mink farms. The mutated virus has also spread to 12 humans.

Though healthy minks may have been saved from the cull for now, a prior government order requiring the killing of all infected mink herds, as well as herds within a radius of 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles), appears to still be in place.

Prior to the culls, Denmark was home to more than 15 million mink, which are raised for their pelts. The country's human population stands at around 5.5 million.

The cull of uninfected mink was thrown into doubt when questions were raised about the order's legal basis, according to state broadcaster TV2.

After facing questions from the opposition, the government admitted that it did not have the legal authority to order the cull of healthy mink on farms unaffected by the outbreak.

Covid-19 mutations are normal, and it is not yet clear if this mutation was significant.

“There are huge doubts relating to whether the planned cull was based on an adequate scientific basis,” Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the leader of the Liberals opposition, told broadcaster TV2.

“At the same time, one's depriving a lot of people of their livelihoods.”

Europe’s CDC has said that the mutation “may have implications for immunity, reinfections and the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines,” but that “there is currently a high level of uncertainty over this.”

8:20 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

What we know about the Pfizer vaccine

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

US drugmaker Pfizer's announcement Monday that it believes its Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective has triggered a wave of optimism around the world, parts of which are under a second round of lockdown, desperately looking for a way out.

Pfizer's announcement, based on early data from its Phase 3 trial, was much better than expected and some experts are saying doses could be produced and distributed in the next month. The trial of the vaccine, made in partnership with Germany's BioNTech, has enrolled more than 43,500 participants since July 27.

  • Timeline: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious disease expert, says doses could be given to people "by the end of November, the beginning of December."
  • Global doses: The US drugmaker believes it could make up to 50 million doses available globally this year, and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
  • Caveats: While the development has been welcome around the world, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNN: "How long this protection lasts is something we don't know."
  • Challenges: US State health officials have expressed concerns about the requirements for handling Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be stored at the extremely cold temperature of minus-75 degrees Celsius (minus-103 Fahrenheit), far below the capacity of standard freezers.
  • Safety: Pfizer says “no corners were cut” in the vaccine's development, saying there are no safety concerns.
  • Progress: As of Sunday, 38,955 of the volunteers in the Pfizer trial have received a second dose. The company says 42% of international trial sites and 30% of US trial sites involve volunteers of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.
  • Market reaction: The news on Pfizer triggered a rally Monday, but global stocks petered out Tuesday, with some major indexes still inching up.
7:32 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

US state officials "daunted" over how to distribute the most fragile vaccine in American history

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, John Bonifield and Sierra Jenkins

A patient participates in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on May 4 in Baltimore, Maryland. 
A patient participates in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on May 4 in Baltimore, Maryland.  University of Maryland School of Medicine/AP

State health officials in the US have told CNN that they are feeling “overwhelmed” and “daunted” at the prospect of distributing Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine, should it become widely available soon.

On Monday, Pfizer announced that early data from its Phase 3 trial showed its vaccine was more than 90% effective. The drug giant could apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as early as this month. 

The vaccine's handling requirements are stringent — it has to be stored at about minus-75 degrees Celsius (minus-103 Fahrenheit), more than 50 degrees Celsius lower than any other vaccine currently on the market in the US.

The required conditions are far colder than the temperatures in freezers kept in doctors' offices, pharmacies and public health clinics.

Molly Howell, who’s in charge of the immunization program in North Dakota, said she felt “overwhelmed” and “daunted” while watching a webinar last month on how to distribute Pfizer’s vaccine. 

"How are we going to do this?” she texted a colleague who was also on the webinar. 

Her colleague responded with an exploding head emoji.

Pfizer has offered “thermal shippers” about the size of a suitcase to keep the vaccine cold. They’re only temporary, and need to be replenished with dry ice every five days. 

“It would be hard to with a straight face say, ‘Oh, we're all set,’” said Christine Finley, Vermont’s immunization program manager. 

“[This] equals a challenge I don’t think we’ve ever seen before.” 

6:57 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Vaccine hesitancy could undermine Covid-19 response, British scientists say

From CNN's Zamira Rahim

People gather to protest against a coronavirus vaccine and restrictions on October 17 in London.
People gather to protest against a coronavirus vaccine and restrictions on October 17 in London. Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Misinformation, mistrust and public hesitancy to take a coronavirus vaccine could undermine the fight against Covid-19, British scientists said, warning that the UK may not meet the threshold of vaccine uptake to protect the community.

If a vaccine is released, 80% of the population will likely need to be vaccinated to offer widespread protection, according to a report published Tuesday by The British Academy and The Royal Society.

But it found that around 27% of people in Britain felt uncertain about receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, while 9% said they were "very unlikely" to be vaccinated.

The report urges the UK government to address public concerns over vaccine safety and efficacy. But in order to ensure such widespread uptake, scientists have urged the British government to tackle the public's concerns about vaccines.

"To achieve the estimated 80% of uptake of the vaccine required for community protection, we need a serious, well-funded and community-based public engagement strategy," said Professor Melinda Mills, the report's lead author.

"There needs to be a frank conversation with the public about just how long it will take and that things will not immediately go back to normal when vaccines arrive."

She added: "We must learn from lessons of history and move away from the one-way provision of information and instead generate an open dialogue that addresses misinformation and does not dismiss people’s real vaccine concerns and hesitancy."

6:23 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Some children in England have lost basic skills, like how to use a knife and fork, report finds

From Amy Cassidy in Glasgow

A classroom at Vaughan Primary School in London sits empty on May 12, as part of the Covid-19 mandatory lockdown.
A classroom at Vaughan Primary School in London sits empty on May 12, as part of the Covid-19 mandatory lockdown. James Veysey/Shutterstock

School closures and restrictions on movement have caused children in England without strong support structures to regress in key skill areas, including numeracy, reading and writing, and even how to use a knife and fork.

The findings were laid out in a report Tuesday by Ofsted, an education standards watchdog which monitors schools in England. Ofsted employees carried out the assessment by visiting more than 900 education and social care providers during September and October. 

Some children in the earliest years of education had to return to nappies despite having been potty-trained, according to the report, while many in the same age group also lost early progress with words and numbers.

"Among older children, inspectors heard that many now lack stamina in reading and writing; some have lost physical fitness; and others are showing signs of mental distress, manifesting in an increase in eating disorders and self-harm," the report added.

Chief Education Inspector Amanda Spielman said the decision to keep schools open during England’s second national lockdown in November was “very good news indeed."

"The impact of school closures in the summer will be felt for some time to come – and not just in terms of education, but in all the ways they impact on the lives of young people," Spielman added.

Despite educational institutions reopening this autumn, an increasing number of parents are choosing to homeschool. Teachers say parents are motivated by virus fears, as opposed to a commitment to delivering robust home education.

Ofsted said it was also concerned about a fall in referrals to social services, which raises alarm bells that abuse may be going undetected.

6:10 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

"Lockdown" is Collins Dictionary's word of the year

From CNN's Zamira Rahim

A municipal worker disinfects the empty Monastiraki square in Athens, Greece, on November 7, the first day of a three-week lockdown.
A municipal worker disinfects the empty Monastiraki square in Athens, Greece, on November 7, the first day of a three-week lockdown. Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Collins Dictionary's word of the year is typically a sign of the times — previous winners include Gangnam Style (2012), photobomb (2014) and binge-watch (2015). But in 2020 the dictionary's pick is decidedly bleaker: "Lockdown."

Collins said it has registered over 250,000 usages of "lockdown" this year so far, compared to just 4,000 usages in 2019.

Collins selected the term from a longlist dominated by pandemic-related terms, including "coronavirus," "furlough" and "key worker."

According to Collins, the dominance of words linked to Covid-19 was "no surprise."

"Something that changed everyone’s lives so profoundly – leaving no country or continent untouched – was bound to have a significant impact on our language," a Collins spokesperson said.

"Our lexicographers chose ‘lockdown’ as Word of the Year because it is a unifying experience for billions of people across the world, who have had, collectively, to play their part in combating the spread of Covid-19."

On its website, Collins described lockdown as "the condition we’ve most dreaded in 2020 – a state of national stasis, where almost everything that constitutes normal public life is suspended."

5:12 a.m. ET, November 10, 2020

Australia records 3 days of no local infections for the first time since March

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

People shop at Bourke Street mall in Melbourne, Australia, on November 7.
People shop at Bourke Street mall in Melbourne, Australia, on November 7. Diego Fedele/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Australia has recorded three consecutive days of zero locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases for the first time since March.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement Tuesday on Twitter, while urging Australians to continue following safety measures and to not become complacent.

Australia has 27,678 total confirmed Covid-19 cases and 907 deaths from the virus, as of Monday.