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
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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:

1:21 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Venezuela suspends nationwide quarantine and lifts curfews on areas bordering Colombia and Brazil  

From CNN’s Tatiana Arias and CNNE’s Ana Cucalon in Atlanta

Starting Monday, Venezuela will suspend strict nationwide quarantine measures and lift curfews imposed on all towns along its borders with Colombia and Brazil, the country's President Nicolas Maduro said during a televised briefing late Sunday.

The easing of Covid-19 measures will last four weeks for economic and social activities during the month of December, Maduro said, adding that restrictions will resume in January.

Fifty-three sectors of the economy -- including sporting and musical events, gyms, and cafeterias -- will be able to resume activities.

Health protocols such as mask wearing, social distancing and mandatory quarantine for those entering the country will remain in place, Maduro said.

As of Saturday, Venezuela had reported 101,760 cases of Covid-19 and 892 related deaths, according to the country’s health ministry. 

​Some background: As well as imposing stay-at-home measures, doctors say Venezuela's government has been using motels and other facilities to quarantine suspected coronavirus patients. But these facilities have earned a reputation for being unsanitary, crowded and prison-like, with many Venezuelans fearing being locked inside them.

Read more here:

1:59 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

How Thanksgiving travel could result in more US hospitalizations by Christmas

From CNN's Holly Yan and Madeline Holcombe

Travelers wait in line for security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on November 29, in Seattle.
Travelers wait in line for security screening at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on November 29, in Seattle. David Ryder/Getty Images

Sunday was expected to be the busiest US domestic air travel day of the entire pandemic -- even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans not travel for Thanksgiving.

Roughly 6 million travelers passed through security at US airports after the CDC's travel warning in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

But it will be weeks before anyone knows how much of a role Thanksgiving gatherings and travel play in new hospitalizations and deaths.

"When you look at people who are hospitalized today, they were infected two weeks ago, maybe more," said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University. "And then it takes usually another week for folks to succumb to the illness."

So infections picked up on Thanksgiving "are going to show up in three weeks and are going to show up in deaths over Christmas and New Year's and are going to spread in every state," Ranney said.

Statistics reported in the days after the holiday might show a relative dip in Covid-19 cases, followed by a surge due to a lag in government agencies' reporting over the long weekend.

And given Covid-19's lengthy incubation time and how long it takes an infected person to test positive, cases related to Thanksgiving are unlikely to show in public data until the first full week of December at the earliest.

Read the full story:

12:35 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Indonesia reports its highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases yet

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Indonesia reported its highest daily increase in Covid-19 infections on Sunday, with 6,267 new cases, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 534,266, with 16,815 related deaths, the ministry said.

12:32 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Covid-19 disruptions could result in up to 100,000 extra malaria deaths this year, WHO report projects

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

The Covid-19 pandemic and reductions in access to effective antimalarial treatment caused by it could result in up to 100,000 additional deaths from malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Many countries have reported moderate levels of disruption, the WHO's World Malaria Report 2020 said.

Modeling analysis showed that reductions in access to effective antimalarial treatment of 10% could lead to an additional 19,000 deaths in the region. A 50% reduction could lead to 100,000 additional deaths by the end of 2020 -- even if all prevention campaigns are completed.

Malaria prevention campaigns involve long-lasting insecticidal nets, indoor residual spraying and seasonal malaria chemoprevention.

“While Africa has shown the world what can be achieved if we stand together to end malaria as a public health threat, progress has stalled,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said in a news release Monday. “COVID-19 threatens to further derail our efforts to overcome malaria, particularly treating people with the disease.”

There were an estimated 229 million malaria cases and 409,000 related deaths in 2019.

12:24 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

The US reached more than 93,000 coronavirus hospitalizations on Sunday -- the highest of the pandemic

From CNN's Chuck Johnston

Hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients in the United States reached a record high of 93,238 on Sunday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

The number trumped Saturday's 91,635 figure and marked the third time there have been more than 90,000 Americans hospitalized with Covid-19. The first was last Thursday with 90,481 patients, before a drop to 89,834 on Friday that could be attributed to inconsistencies in reporting over Thanksgiving.

Hospitalizations in the US have been hitting steady highs throughout November. The country surpassed 80,000 daily hospitalizations on November 19 and set new records steadily for 17 days straight until Friday, according to CTP.

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

"There's no way that the hospitals can be fully prepared for what we're currently facing," emergency medicine physician and CNN medical analyst Dr. Megan Ranney said.

This is like a natural disaster occurring in all 50 states at the same time."

Read more about the hospitalizations in the US:

12:20 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

New Orleans Saints fined by NFL for violating Covid-19 protocol, will lose draft pick

From CNN's Homero DeLaFuente and Kevin Dotson

The NFL has fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 for violating the league’s Covid-19 protocols, a source confirmed to CNN. 

The Saints will also lose a seventh-round draft pick for not wearing masks in the locker room after their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 18.  

The Saints are the second team to lose a draft pick for violating Covid-19 protocol this season. Earlier this month, the Las Vegas Raiders were stripped of a sixth-round pick. 

CNN has reached out to the Saints for comment. 

10:55 p.m. ET, November 29, 2020

White House coronavirus task force member says families who gathered at Thanksgiving should get tested

From CNN's Leanna Faulk

In order to mitigate the spread of the virus, White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx is encouraging Americans to get tested for Covid-19.

“If you're young and you gathered, you need to be tested about five to 10 days later,” Birz told CBS. “You need to assume that you're infected and not go near your grandparents and aunts and others without a mask.” 

Birx said people over the age of 65 should get tested immediately if they develop symptoms. 

“If you're over 65 or you have comorbidities and you gathered at Thanksgiving – if you develop any symptoms, you need to be tested immediately,” Birx said. 

Birx also encouraged families who gathered for Thanksgiving to consider wearing a mask while inside their homes to protect loved ones from possibly contracting the virus.