November 30 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Brett McKeehan, Emma Reynolds, Ed Upright, Jo Shelley, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0504 GMT (1304 HKT) December 1, 2020
17 Posts
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7:10 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Moderna to apply today for FDA authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine with "amazing" extra data

From CNN Health’s Elizabeth Cohen

Pharmaceutical company Moderna intends to apply Monday to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine.  

The company will ask the FDA to review an expanded data set showing the vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing Covid-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.  

This is striking,” said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee. “These are amazing data.”  

One other company, Pfizer, has already applied for FDA authorization for a coronavirus vaccine, with efficacy data very similar to Moderna’s results. The FDA is expected to review both companies’ applications in December, and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he expects the first vaccinations in the US to occur “towards the latter part of December.”   

By the end of 2020, Moderna expects to have approximately 20 million doses of its vaccine available in the United States, and it’s on track to manufacture 500 million to 1 billion doses globally next year, according to the company’s news release Monday. 

6:50 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Italy approves $9.6 billion stimulus package to tackle Covid-19 emergency

 From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa, Italy

People in a shopping district of Brescia, Italy, on Sunday, November 29.
People in a shopping district of Brescia, Italy, on Sunday, November 29. Stefano Nicoli/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Italy has approved a stimulus package worth €8 billion (about $9.6 billion) to support the sectors most affected by the pandemic, the government said Monday in a news release.

The package delays tax deadlines for businesses in the regions that are under the most severe Covid-19 restrictions, it said.

It also offers a €1,000 euro one-off allowance to workers in tourism, spas, the arts and sport, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The government's work continues "to expand and strengthen the support for Italian workers, professionals and businesses, which must not feel alone in the face of the difficulties that this Covid crisis poses, from which, I am sure, we will all come out soon together," Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri said Sunday evening on his Facebook page. 

The package also provides funds for the military and police forces.

Italy reported 20,648 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing its total infections to almost 1.59 million. It also reported 541 new deaths, bringing the total to 54,904 since the start of the pandemic.

The president of the Italian doctors' association (FNOMCeO) Filippo Anelli warned in a Monday news release that households should celebrate Christmas "with prudence."

"Deaths and infections among doctors have started rising again," he said, adding that 221 doctors have died since the start of the pandemic.

"At Christmas, the restrictive measures implemented by the government will certainly have cooled down the contagion curve. But this does not mean a free-for-all: the virus is still circulating, and in a much stronger way than in the summer, when we came out of two months of total lockdown," Anelli said.

"Let's not repeat the mistakes made in August, let's not jeopardize months of sacrifices in a few days. Let's continue to limit movement to what is necessary and to comply with preventive hygiene measures," he cautioned.

5:58 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Ski season is going ahead for some during the pandemic -- but it looks very different

From CNN's Stacey Lastoe

Avid snowboarder Jenny Leveille doesn't plan to rely on ski resorts' indoor facilities this season. This decision, she believes, will give her a possible advantage when it comes to coronavirus and swirling concerns over indoor exposure.

Leveille, who'll be heading to the mountains out West after Thanksgiving in Michigan, plans to return to her van -- which includes a bathroom -- when she needs a break for fuel or relief. 

"I'm hoping to have at least 50 days this year at as many resorts in the western US as possible," the 30-year-old said.

Ski season is underway, and changes are afoot. In Europe, Germany, hard hit by Covid-19, is aiming for a coordinated European Union approach to keeping ski resorts shut in Alpine countries for the holiday season in order to limit the spread of coronavirus. However, reaching an agreement with neighboring Austria is proving challenging, German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated last Thursday.

Meanwhile, some slopes have opened in Switzerland, which is not an EU member. The "future for the upcoming winter season looks bright," Mayor of Zermatt Romy Biner-Hauser told CNN on Thursday.

With its wide-open spaces, stashes of powder and even covering up to brave the elements, skiing might seem like the perfect pandemic sport -- if the proper precautions are taken. 

A face mask, a standard part of the skier's uniform, is a requirement this year. Resorts are implementing mask mandates except while guests are actively eating and drinking. Ski destinations are also limiting indoor capacity, adding outdoor capacity, adding hand-sanitizing stations on chair lift lines and reconfiguring how chair lifts are filled.

Read the full story here:

5:16 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

South Korea reports more than 400 new cases as tighter restrictions loom 

From CNN’s Jake Kwon in Seoul

A medical worker takes samples from a visitor at a coronavirus testing station in Seoul, South Korea, on November 27.
A medical worker takes samples from a visitor at a coronavirus testing station in Seoul, South Korea, on November 27. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea reported 438 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, and authorities will impose new restrictions in the capital Seoul, health officials said.

Of the new cases, 414 are local and 24 are imported, Jeong Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), said in a press release.

Jeong said that the virus was spreading predominantly among young people. During a wave of the pandemic in September, 58.9% of those infected were under 50. By comparison, in November, 74.6% of those infected are under 50.

The KDCA commissioner added that saunas and group exercise gyms in the Seoul Metropolitan Area would be closed from Tuesday until December 7.

She said that authorities would ban hotels from hosting year-end parties to curb the virus spreading among young people.

Authorities are further reviewing the social distancing level if the current trend of rising cases continues.

4:50 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

India says it can roll out "hundreds of millions of doses" of AstraZeneca vaccine by July

From CNN's Esha Mitra in New Delhi

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, an Oxford Vaccine Group researcher in a laboratory in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, an Oxford Vaccine Group researcher in a laboratory in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. John Cairns/University of Oxford/AP

India is preparing to distribute "hundreds of millions of doses" of coronavirus vaccines in the first and second quarters of 2021, according to Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawala.

Poonawala said at a press conference Saturday that the SII will produce and distribute Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The world's largest vaccine producer will apply for an emergency use license from India's drug authority in the next two weeks.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured SII's vaccine manufacturing facilities in three Indian cities to get a "first-hand perspective of the preparations, challenges, and roadmap in India's endeavour to vaccinate its citizens," according to a government press release. 

Poonawalla said that India had adequate cold storage facilities to store Covishield at the required temperature. 

While India's government hasn't placed an official purchase order for the vaccine, SII estimates that it could buy between 300 million and 400 million doses by next July. "We are trying to get to that target," Poonawalla added. 

4:08 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Covid-19 infections have dropped about 30% in England during lockdown, research shows 

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in Pisa, Italy

A deserted side road leading to the Covent Garden market is seen during the second lockdown in London, on November 28.
A deserted side road leading to the Covent Garden market is seen during the second lockdown in London, on November 28. David Mbiyu/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Covid-19 infections have dropped by "roughly" 30% in England during the second national lockdown, new research suggested on Monday.

The study was conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI from the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission program.

Swab tests on more than 105,000 people have shown coronavirus infections are declining, Imperial College London said on its website.

The report includes results from home coronavirus tests taken between November 13 and 24, and shows "an estimated 0.96% of England’s population has the virus, or around 1 in 100 people."

"This is roughly a 30% drop in the number of infections compared with previous findings, where more than 1 in 80, or 1.3% of people, had the virus as of November 2," the report found.

"We’re seeing a fall in infections at the national level and in particular across regions that were previously worst affected. These trends suggest that the tiered approach helped to curb infections in these areas and that lockdown has added to this effect," said Paul Elliot, director of the program at Imperial.

According to the research, the R-number has fallen to below 1, estimated at 0.88, "meaning that the country’s epidemic is currently shrinking rather than growing."

3:34 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

The US reported almost 138,000 more Covid-19 cases on Sunday

From CNN's Alta Spells

Cars line up during a Covid-19 testing and flu shot event at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington, on November 28.
Cars line up during a Covid-19 testing and flu shot event at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington, on November 28. David Ryder/Getty Images

The United States reported 138,903 new Covid-19 cases and 826 virus-related deaths on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The latest numbers bring the nationwide total to at least 13,383,320 infections. At least 266,873 people have died in the US from the virus, according to JHU.

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

Some background: On Sunday, cases in the US topped more than 100,000 for the 27th consecutive day -- as millions of Americans headed home after Thanksgiving.

A surge in new travel-related infections could overwhelm hospitals already stretched to capacity.

Hospitalizations of US Covid-19 patients also reached a record high of 93,238 on Sunday, trumping Saturday's 91,635 figure, according to the Covid Tracking Project. 

CNN is tracking the US cases: 

2:39 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Japan reports more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases, as serious infections continue to rise 

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo 

Japan recorded 2,056 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, according to its health ministry, with the number of serious infections in the country at its highest level yet.

The new infections bring Japan’s total caseload to 147,472. The country also recorded 13 virus-related fatalities Sunday, pushing its Covid-19 death toll to 2,132.

The number of people with severe Covid-19 symptoms has reached a record high, with 462 patients being treated in intensive care units on Sunday -- up 22 from the day before.

Tokyo: Of the new infections, 418 were recorded in the capital -- the fifth consecutive day that cases there have topped 400. Tokyo has reported a total of 40,628 Covid-19 cases.

Osaka: The second-biggest prefecture counted 381 new cases on Sunday, the fifth consecutive day that cases there have topped 300. Osaka also reported that six people, in their 70s to 90s, died on Sunday. 

Some restrictions: On Saturday, karaoke venues and restaurants serving alcohol in Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, and Nagoya started three weeks of restricted business hours to help combat the resurgence in infections.

2:00 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Kim Jong Un is cutting off his economic lifeline, China, to stave off Covid-19

Analysis from CNN's Joshua Berlinger

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Kim Jong Un appears to have kicked North Korea's pandemic prevention plan into overdrive, further tightening the country's nearly impassible borders, cutting off nearly all trade with China, and even allegedly executing a customs official for failing to handle imported goods appropriately. 

Beijing exported just $253,000 worth of goods to Pyongyang in October -- a drop of 99% from September to October, according to data published by China's customs administration. For context, that's less in terms of dollar value than China exported to Liechtenstein and Monaco during October. 

Why that matters: China is North Korea's biggest trading partner and effectively the Kim regime's economic lifeline -- the country basically doesn't import significantly from anywhere else.

Taking Covid seriously: The new customs figures, if accurate, show that Kim appears to be willing to pare back -- or even cut off -- trade with China to prevent the virus from entering North Korea, even if it means risking the country's food and fuel supply.

Alleged executions: North Korea has not publicly acknowledged the drop in trade, or the reason behind it, but the pandemic is the most likely explanation. Kim reportedly had two people executed for Covid-19 related crimes, including a customs official who did not follow virus prevention rules while importing goods from China. CNN has not been able to independently confirm news of the execution, nor have North Korean officials publicly confirmed it.

Other extreme measures: North Korean state media reported Sunday that authorities were enacting new, stricter anti-epidemic measures across the country, including increasing the number of guard posts at border crossings and tightening the rules of sea entry in coastal areas. Authorities have even been ordered to "incinerate seaborne rubbish."

Read the full analysis: