November 24 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Adam Renton, Kara Fox, Antonia Mortensen, Ed Upright, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020
26 Posts
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8:05 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Malaysia's biggest glove maker temporarily shuts more than dozen factories after Covid-19 outbreak

From CNN's Chandler Thornton in Hong Kong and Angela Dewan in London

People wearing protective suits are seen behind barbed wire at the Top Glove hostel compound in Klang, Malaysia, on November 23.
People wearing protective suits are seen behind barbed wire at the Top Glove hostel compound in Klang, Malaysia, on November 23. Faris Hadziq/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Malaysia's biggest glove maker, Top Glove, has temporarily shut down more than a dozen of its factories after a Covid-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Health said that there were now 2,524 positive cases in a cluster that broke out on November 7 in areas in and around the state of Selangor, where the globe maker has several factories.
Of the new cases, 1,067 came from the cluster in Selangor state.

Top Glove confirmed in a press release Monday that it had completed a “full screening” of about 5,700 workers at their hostels and that they were “committed to proceed” with the Ministry of Health’s recommended screening tests for the rest of their workers and staff in their factories in the town Meru, which has been the center of the outbreak.

The company added that since November 18, 16 of its facilities in Meru have temporarily stopped production and 12 others are operating at limited capacity. 

Malaysia's Health Ministry said a restricted movement control order had been implemented in factory workers’ dormitories and houses since November 17, affecting 5,900 people. But the ministry added that the factory's management employs around 13,000 people across 28 buildings. Government agencies were in discussions Monday around the proposed closure of more factories in stages.

All people who tested positive have been hospitalized and close contacts are under quarantine, the ministry added.

On Monday, Director General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said that at 1,884 positive cases, Malaysia had reported the highest daily number of cases since the outbreak arrived to the country.

In recent decades, Malaysia has emerged as a leading supplier of disposable gloves, due to its vast rubber plantations and government support for an industry that generates billions of dollars in sales each year. 

Market leader Top Glove said it produces around a quarter of the gloves used worldwide in its 46 factories, mostly in Malaysia.

8:28 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Japan and China will restart business travel by end of November

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, holds a joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi after their meeting in Tokyo, Japan, on November 24.
China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, holds a joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi after their meeting in Tokyo, Japan, on November 24. Issei Kato/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Japan and China have agreed to resume business travel between the two countries by the end of the month.

In a joint press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday with the countries' respective foreign ministers, Japanese minister Toshimitsu Motegi said: "I am happy that we have agreed to start business track and residence track within this month. I hope this agreement will contribute to activate the economies of Japan and China as well as to promote mutual understanding."

"Business track" allows the entry of short-time business travelers without requiring a two-week quarantine under certain conditions to Japan.

Japan has resumed "business track" only with three countries: Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea. China is the biggest source of business travelers to Japan with 370,000 visited Japan from China on business purpose last year, according to Motegi.

This is the first face-to-face meeting between the foreign ministers of the second and third biggest economies in the world since the Covid-19 outbreak began. 

7:46 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

WHO scientists continue investigation into coronavirus origins and plan trip to China

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters is pictured in Geneva on August 17
The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters is pictured in Geneva on August 17 Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

World Health Organization (WHO) officials on Monday announced that an international team of scientists will be traveling to China "in due time" to continue an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

"We sent a pre-team of WHO staff to China over the summer to discuss with counterparts the nature in which the studies needed to take place. We've outlined Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies," Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, said during a media briefing in Geneva.

"The international team will travel to China, that is being discussed amongst the international team and the Chinese counterparts, and that will be arranged in due time," Van Kerkhove said.

WHO officials "look forward to making progress" on the investigation, not only into the animal origins of the virus but also into how the virus can jump from species to species, said Dr. Mike Ryan, director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme.

"The real question is -- the original species barrier, where did that occur? And that is still unknown," Ryan said during Monday's briefing.

Ryan added that the investigation starts where the first Covid-19 case was identified -- in Wuhan, China -- and then scientists will follow wherever evidence leads them.

"The terms of reference for the investigations clearly lay out in Phase 1 the necessary epidemiologic and clinical and serologic and retrospective studies that need to be done to establish whether or not there's any evidence trail that will lead back," Ryan said. 

"It is like looking for a needle in the haystack sometimes," Ryan added. "This is not easy to achieve. So we will pursue those investigations over the next couple of months in Phase 1 and hopefully move on to Phase 2."

7:33 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Virus rates are still falling in Belgium, though more slowly than at the start of November

From CNN's James Frater

People walk in Cinquantenaire park in Brussels, Belgium, on November 20.
People walk in Cinquantenaire park in Brussels, Belgium, on November 20. Francisco Seco/AP

The number of new Covid-19 cases in Belgium continues to fall, but it is declining more slowly than in the first half of November, said Steven van Gucht, head virologist of the Belgian health authority, Sciensano.

“The peak of the second corona wave is now two weeks behind us and all indicators continue to evolve positively. We are currently seeing a further decline in infection rates, hospital rates, and mortality rates," he added.

Over the past week, an average of 3,672 new daily cases were registered in the country. This corresponds to a decrease of 28%, or a halving of the number of infections every 15 days. “This makes this decline less pronounced than in the first half of November, when it recorded a fall of almost 50% on a weekly basis or a halving every 7 days,” Van Gucht said. 

Belgium's strict lockdown measures were put in place on November 2 and are due to last until December 13, with a review this coming Friday. Local media are reporting the strict measures may well be kept in place for the Christmas holidays to avoid another wave.

According to Van Gucht: “If this trend continues, we will detect an average of 500 new cases per day by the end of this year.”

Belgium has registered 559,902 Covid-19 cases so far, with a total of 15,755 deaths.

7:03 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Italy to start distributing Covid-19 vaccine at the end of January, says PM

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo in Rome and Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa

 Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks at a press conference on November 4, in Rome, Italy.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks at a press conference on November 4, in Rome, Italy. Alessandro Serranò/AM POOL/Getty Images

Italy wants to start distributing a Covid-19 vaccine at the end of January, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday during an interview on Italian television channel La7.

Conte added that the vaccine at the moment should not be administered on a mandatory basis but only voluntarily. The vaccine will be available first to the fragile and most exposed to danger, he said.

When asked if he would get vaccinated, Conte said he "will definitely do it," because when it will be distributed it will be "absolutely safe."

He also added he would not be among the first to be vaccinated since the "fragile and most exposed to danger need to have it first."

The European Union has signed deals for the supply of millions of vaccine doses with multiple drugmakers, including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer.

Italy’s coronavirus death toll reached 50,043 on Monday after an increase of 630 fatalities in the previous 24 hours, the Italian health ministry said on Monday.

The ministry added that the number of cases had increased by 22,930 bringing the total number to 1,431,795. 

Globally there are 1,390,516 coronavirus related deaths and Italy is ranked as the sixth highest in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

6:15 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Spain's King Felipe enters 10-day quarantine after contact tests Covid-19 positive

From CNN’s Tim Lister in Madrid

King Felipe VI of Spain is pictured at an awards event in Madrid on November 18.
King Felipe VI of Spain is pictured at an awards event in Madrid on November 18. Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

King Felipe VI of Spain will self-isolate for a period of 10 days after meeting someone on Sunday who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.  

In an announcement on Monday, the Palace of La Zarzuela in Madrid announced that "following the health regulations, from this moment on, [the King] will keep the mandatory quarantine period of 10 days, suspending all official activities during this period." 

King Felipe is 52. He attended two events Monday before the Palace made the announcement.

The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family will be able to continue with their activities normally, according to the Palace.

6:03 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Hong Kong tightens social distancing rules after infections spike from dance club cluster

From Eric Cheung in Hong Kong 

A health care worker holds a sign reading "Dancing Group," referring to the dance club coronavirus cluster, as people line up at a testing center in the Yau Ma Tei district of Hong Kong on Monday.
A health care worker holds a sign reading "Dancing Group," referring to the dance club coronavirus cluster, as people line up at a testing center in the Yau Ma Tei district of Hong Kong on Monday. Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hong Kong reported 80 Covid-19 cases from Monday, its highest single-day increase in cases since August 7, health authorities said on Tuesday. 

Among the new cases, 69 were locally transmitted, of which 54 were related to a recent cluster in dance clubs, according to Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection. Ten cases were untraceable, she said.

Starting Thursday, all bars, karaoke centers, public bathhouses, night clubs and party rooms will be forced to close for a week, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said on Tuesday. 

Restaurants will be required to limit the number of customers to half of its capacity, and no more than four diners will be allowed to sit at the same table, Chan added. 

All dining facilities will also be required to apply for a QR code for a contact tracing mobile app before December 3, Chan added, although the use of the app will be voluntary.

In response to the dance club cluster, people who visited 21 dance venues since November 1 have been ordered to take a mandatory Covid-19 test. 

Earlier Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government is working on extending the testing requirement to workers at elderly centers and nursing homes, as well as taxi drivers, to curb the latest outbreak. 

Anyone who fails to comply with the requirement could face a penalty of HK$2,000 ($258), while those who continue to refuse the order could receive up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$25,000. 

Lam said the government will allow residents to collect Covid-19 test kits at 121 locations across the city -- including post offices and major metro stations -- to boost testing rates. 

She added that from a global perspective, Hong Kong is "not doing bad at all." The total number of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong stands at 5,781. 

5:27 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

France expected to ease lockdown in three stages

From CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne in Paris

A cyclist rides on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris on November 23.
A cyclist rides on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris on November 23. Mario Fourmy/Abaca/Sipa USA

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce a slight easing of the country’s lockdown measures that have been in place since October 30.

Macron is expected to address the nation on Tuesday evening with his plan to exit the lockdown in three stages, according to a French government spokesman.

“The easing will be done in three stages in view of the health situation and of the risks tied to some businesses: a first step around Dec. 1, then before the holidays at the end of the year, and then from January 2021,” Gabriel Attal told Le Journal Du Dimanche on Sunday. 

Attal said that travel would continue to be limited to avoid another flare-up of the epidemic. 

On Monday, the French health agency reported that the positivity rate of people tested for Covid-19 is at its lowest in over a month at 13.3%.

The numbers of patients in hospital had also diminished in the previous 24 hours, the agency said.

Still, 500 people died from Covid-19 related illnesses in that 24-hour period, bringing the death toll in France to 49,232 people.

5:16 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Study finds a very small link between blood type O and lower risk for severe Covid-19 illness

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

A medical worker takes a blood sample from a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, on November 22.
A medical worker takes a blood sample from a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, on November 22. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Evidence has been accumulating that there might be an association between blood type O and a lower risk of Covid-19 and getting severely ill, and now a new study adds to that research.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine Monday, found that those with blood type O and negative Rh blood types may have a "slightly lower" risk for coronavirus infection and getting severely ill.

The researchers -- based in Toronto, Canada -- analyzed health data on 225,556 people who were tested for Covid-19 between January 15 and June 30.

There's a very small difference, however. The researchers found that 2.9% of those who tested positive for coronavirus had blood type O compared with 4.1% of people with type B, 3.8% of people with type AB and 3% of people with blood type A.

When it came to severe illness, the data showed that 0.5% of those with blood type O were among the patients with severe symptoms of Covid-19, or among those who died. That compared with 0.7% of people with blood type B, 0.7% with type AB and 0.6% with type A blood.

The study also found that 2.3% of those with rhesus-negative blood type had Covid-19 compared with 3.3% of those with Rh-positive blood type -- and 0.5% of those with Rh-negative blood type had severe disease or died compared with 0.6% of those with Rh-positive type.

The Rhesus-system is the second most important blood group system after ABO.

Yet these findings only suggest an association between blood type and Covid-19 risk.

More research is needed to determine the nature of that relationship -- and while there are some theories, researchers don't yet know what mechanism could explain the link between different blood types and Covid-19.