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
22 Posts
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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. 

4:31 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Gulf countries surpass 1 million Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma

Member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) political and economic bloc have surpassed 1 million combined coronavirus cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday.

At least 1,001,594 total cases have been confirmed among the six nations, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, according to JHU.

Saudi Arabia has the highest tally among the six nations, with at least 355,489 confirmed infections.

3:56 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

South Korea reports nearly 350 new Covid-19 cases 

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korea reported 349 new coronavirus cases for Monday, bringing the nation’s total to 31,353, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Among the new cases, 320 were locally transmitted. The country's Covid-19 death toll now stands at 510, after one new fatality was reported in the past 24 hours.

The country's capital Seoul reported 133 cases for Monday -- all but one locally transmitted -- bringing its total caseload to 7,758, according to KDCA.

The city has identified several clusters, with dozens of cases linked to a sauna, high school, church and private institute, according to KCDA.

Restrictions tightened: On Monday, South Korea declared an “emergency period” in Seoul until the end of the year due to a spike in Covid-19 cases. 

Under the announcement, public transportation is reduced by 20% after 10 p.m. and gatherings of more than 10 people are banned until further notice.

4:40 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

ICU admissions in Germany reach highest level during the pandemic

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

A healthcare worker documents the treatment steps in the specially protected part of the intensive care unit of the University Hospital Greifswald next to the bed of a Covid-19 patient in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Greifswald, Germany, on November 23.
A healthcare worker documents the treatment steps in the specially protected part of the intensive care unit of the University Hospital Greifswald next to the bed of a Covid-19 patient in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Greifswald, Germany, on November 23.

There are 3,742 Covid-19 patients being treated in intensive care units (ICU) in German hospitals as of Monday, the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI).

Around 57% of the ICU patients need ventilation, data from DIVI showed. 

When taking into account patients admitted to ICU for other diseases, around 21,333 of the ICU beds in the country are currently occupied, leaving 6,616 beds vacant.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 13,554 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours -- 865 fewer than a week ago, according to the country's infectious disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute. 

The country's total caseload now stands at 942,687.

In addition, 249 new virus-related fatalities were reported Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 14,361.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to discuss further measures to curb the spread of the virus in a meeting Wednesday with the leaders of Germany's 16 federal states.

4:29 a.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Germany's state leaders agree on a plan to limit Christmas and New Year's celebrations

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

The Christmas illumination is switched on in the old town of Lübeck, Germany, on November 23.
The Christmas illumination is switched on in the old town of Lübeck, Germany, on November 23. Markus Scholz/picture alliance/Getty Images

Germany’s state premiers have agreed on a draft proposal to curb Christmas and New Year’s celebrations ahead of a crucial meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday, according to CNN affiliate n-tv.

The proposal includes the suggestion that up to 10 people can celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve together -- though children up to the age of 14 are excluded, n-tv reported. The proposed measures will be effective from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. 

The state premiers are also set to ban fireworks in popular public areas on New Year’s Eve to avoid large crowds forming, according to n-tv.