November 29 coronavirus news

By Nectar Gan, Brett McKeehan and Eoin McSweeney, CNN

Updated 0559 GMT (1359 HKT) November 30, 2020
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6:28 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

Czech government to let shops and restaurants reopen from Thursday

From CNN's Ivana Kottasova and Duarte Mendonca in London.

A health care worker conducts a Covid-19 test at a drive-in testing station on October 10, 2020 in Prague.
A health care worker conducts a Covid-19 test at a drive-in testing station on October 10, 2020 in Prague. Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

The Czech government will allow restaurants and non-essential shops to reopen from this Thursday, December 3, as the current wave of the coronavirus pandemic eases, Health Minister Jan Blatny said on Sunday.

The Czech government agreed unanimously that the country is ready to move from Level 4 risk to Level 3, based on the country’s Covid-19 risk assessment system, Blatny said.

This means all shops and restaurants can open, with the caveat of limiting customer numbers to allow for social distancing.

A night-time curfew will be lifted and limited sports activities can resume, the Health Minister announced.

The country's Prime Minister, Andrej Babis, is overseeing one of the worst coronavirus epidemics in the world. In October he stood in front of reporters during a live news conference and apologized to his people five times when announcing restrictions.

The Czech Republic was praised for the way it handled the first wave of the pandemic in the spring when the government imposed an early lockdown and made masks compulsory at a time when most of the Western world barely considered that move.

5:43 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

Hong Kong reports 115 coronavirus cases, its highest single-day increase since early August

From CNN's Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

 Beds at a temporary field hospital set up at the Asia World Expo on August 1, 2020 in Hong Kong.
 Beds at a temporary field hospital set up at the Asia World Expo on August 1, 2020 in Hong Kong. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Hong Kong has reported 115 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, marking the largest single-day increase in cases since August 2, when the city also recorded 115 cases, according to health officials in the city.

Of the 115 new cases, 109 were locally transmitted while the remaining six cases were imported from overseas, according to Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection. Among the 109 locally transmitted cases, 62 cases were linked to the night club cluster, bringing the total number of cases in the cluster to 479. The origins of 24 cases could not be traced.

“The epidemic is taking a turn for the worst,” said Dr. Chuang as she urged people to minimize social gatherings and limit the spread of the virus. Dr. Chuang added that the rising number of cases is “very alarming” and according to the trend the current situation is “more severe than the last wave.”

The new cases bring the total number of infections in the city to 6,239, while the number of deaths remained at 109 according to Dr. Chuang.

The city will suspend all face-to-face classes at kindergartens, primary and secondary schools from Wednesday onwards.

“This Wednesday (December 2) face-to-face classes and school activities all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools will be suspended until after the Christmas holiday,” the government said in a statement released on Sunday.

Hong Kong was a city lauded for its quick and effective response to the coronavirus pandemic, but in July health authorities warned of potential "exponential growth" in new cases of Covid-19.

5:02 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

The Denver Broncos have no quarterbacks for Sunday's Saints game due to NFL Covid-19 protocols

From CNN's Alanne Orjoux and Homero DeLaFuente

The Denver Broncos have lost all of their quarterbacks for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, after they were declared ineligible for play due to NFL Covid-19 protocols.

In a statement on Saturday, the Broncos said Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk Covid-19 close contacts" and must complete a five-day quarantine.

"The three quarterbacks, who are not experiencing any symptoms, immediately left the practice field and departed UCHealth Training Center. All three have consistently tested negative for Covid-19 via both daily PCR testing and additional POC testing administered as a precaution," the team statement said.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel and wide receiver Diontae Spencer were placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 list earlier this week.

Several Broncos players, including tight end Noah Fant, reacted to the NFL decision on social media.

Denver, currently at 4-6 for the season, are scheduled to play the 8-2 Saints, who have won seven straight games, Sunday afternoon.

Three players from the Broncos practice squad were elevated to the game-day roster on Saturday, according to the team's website: tight end Troy Fumagalli, linebacker Josh Watson and safety Alijah Holder.

The team has not announced a replacement quarterback.

Read the full story here

4:26 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

Pressure builds on Congress to help states with vaccine needs

From CNN's Maeve Reston

The U.S. Capitol building is seen reflected in a puddle in Washington, on November 10.
The U.S. Capitol building is seen reflected in a puddle in Washington, on November 10. Hannah McKay/Reuters

With federal health officials meeting this week to make crucial decisions about who they will recommend to get the coronavirus vaccine first, pressure is mounting on Congress to step back into the governing role that they have abdicated and strike an agreement not only on the expiring aid for struggling Americans, but also the dollars needed by cash-strapped states to ensure the vaccine is equitably and effectively distributed.

At a time when coronavirus cases are surging around the country, with the US hitting a new record for hospitalizations on Saturday, much attention has focused on encouraging news about the efficacy of three vaccine candidates, and Pfizer's application to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization -- with a decision expected within weeks of a December 10 meeting of a key FDA committee.

But enormous logistical and readiness hurdles remain within the 50 states given their variations in geography and weather; the availability of doctors, nurses and pharmaceutical employees who must be recruited and trained to administer the vaccine; the need for vaccine education campaigns to reach skeptical Americans and even the variance in each state's level of preparedness to find and vaccinate the patients who need protection the most.

Read the full story here

2:52 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

US reports more than 155,000 new Covid-19 cases

The United States reported 155,596 new coronavirus cases and 1,189 virus-related deaths Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country's total Covid-19 caseload stands at 13,244,417, with 266,047 deaths.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

CNN is tracking US cases here:

1:54 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

More than 91,000 Americans are now hospitalized for Covid-19

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

EMT Giselle Dorgalli performs chest compression on a patient who tested positive for coronavirus at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on November 19.
EMT Giselle Dorgalli performs chest compression on a patient who tested positive for coronavirus at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on November 19. Jae C. Hong/AP

The United States recorded a new high in Covid-19 hospitalizations Saturday, with 91,635 Americans now being treated in hospitals, according to the COVID Tracking Project (CTP).

The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals had hit new highs for 17 days in a row until Thursday, when 90,481 Americans were hospitalized, according to CTP.

On Friday, it dipped slightly to 89,834, but the decrease may have reflected inconsistencies in reporting around the Thanksgiving holiday.

12:40 a.m. ET, November 29, 2020

North Korea tightens border controls to stop coronavirus inflow, state media reports

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party Politburo in Pyongyang, North Korea, on November 15.
Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party Politburo in Pyongyang, North Korea, on November 15. Korea News Service via AP

North Korea is “increasing its number of guard posts” and “building a strong wall of defense at its borders” to stop coronavirus from entering the country, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday.

The public has been instructed to take immediate actions for any small abnormalities, to disinfect products and to remove garbage from the sea in an effort to stop the virus, the report said.

In addition, the report said the nation is “taking strong measures to root out any unhygienic or inappropriate conditions that could allow any room for transmission of the virus.”

South Korea’s spy agency told the parliamentary intelligence committee Friday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is making “unreasonable responses regarding Covid-19 prevention measures,” said Ha Tae-keung, a member of the committee briefed by the agency.

North Korea’s borders have been shut since January after reports of Covid-19 emerged in China. The regime claims it has no confirmed cases of coronavirus but many experts are skeptical.

According to the latest situation report released by the World Health Organization in early November, North Korea tested more than 12,000 samples for the coronavirus and received no positive results.

11:24 p.m. ET, November 28, 2020

Colorado governor and spouse test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Melissa Alonso and Jeremy Harlan

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news conference about the state's response to the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases, on Tuesday, November 24, in Denver.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news conference about the state's response to the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases, on Tuesday, November 24, in Denver. David Zalubowski/AP

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and his spouse have tested positive for Covid-19 and are both asymptomatic, according to a statement from the governor's office. 

"This evening, Governor Polis and First Gentleman (Marlon) Reis learned that they have tested positive for COVID-19," the statement reads. 

Both are feeling well and will continue to isolate in their home, according to the statement.

"Marlon and I are feeling well so far, and are in good spirits. No person or family is immune to this virus. I urge every Coloradan to practice caution, limit public interactions, wear a mask in public, stay six feet from others, and wash your hands regularly," said Polis, a Democrat.

The governor "will continue to fulfill his duties and responsibilities and continue to work remotely," according to the statement.

11:22 p.m. ET, November 28, 2020

Japan reports more than 2,600 new coronavirus cases, its highest single-day increase

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Notices are placed on seats in the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium requesting that people don't sit down as a measure to protect against spreading coronavirus, on November 28, in Kunigami, Japan.
Notices are placed on seats in the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium requesting that people don't sit down as a measure to protect against spreading coronavirus, on November 28, in Kunigami, Japan. Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Japan reported 2,688 new Covid-19 cases Saturday, its highest single-day increase since the pandemic began, the country’s health ministry said Sunday.

The new infections bring Japan's total caseload to 145,365. The country also recorded 32 coronavirus-related fatalities Saturday, pushing its Covid-19 death toll to 2,119.

The health ministry announced that a record 440 people with severe coronavirus symptoms were being treated in intensive care units. 

Of Saturday's new cases, 561 were reported in Tokyo -- the second day in a row that the capital has recorded more than 500 cases. The total number of cases in Tokyo now stands at 40,210.

Osaka, Japan’s second-biggest prefecture, recorded 463 new cases on Saturday.