U.K. to Approve Vaccine; Record Cases in Indonesia: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

The U.K. is poised to become the first country to approve Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine. Indonesia’s new coronavirus infections surged by the most since the outbreak began, while South Korea said it would tighten restrictions outside Seoul.

San Francisco followed Los Angeles in imposing tighter restrictions as the U.S. added 153,035 new cases Saturday. New York City authorities shut down what they described as an illegal nightclub where almost 400 people broke social distancing rules to party, the New York Times reported. Colorado Governor Jared Polis and his partner tested positive for the virus.

China halted imports from a Chilean seafood producer as a precautionary measure after detecting the Covid-19 pathogen on the supplier’s packaging. The Hong Kong government is considering suspending all in-person classes at primary and secondary schools soon, local media reported.

Key Developments:

Global Tracker: Cases exceed 62.3 million; deaths near 1.5 millionPayrolls in U.S. set to tread higher in pandemic slogCovid drugs From Lilly, Regeneron raise concerns over access and timingThe pandemic has broken shale and left oil markets in OPEC’s handsTrudeau ready to open spending taps for coronavirus and beyondDecades of gains over U.S. poverty at risk of being wiped outHow Covid-19 has turned the spotlight back on obesity: QuickTake

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Indonesia Reports Record Jump in New Cases (5 p.m. HK)

Indonesia’s new coronavirus infections surged by the most since the outbreak began, with the Central Java province overtaking Jakarta in the increase in daily cases. The government confirmed 6,267 new cases in the 24 hours through midday Sunday, with Central Java accounting for a third of them.

While Jakarta remains the virus hot spot with more than a quarter of the country’s confirmed cases, other provinces are starting to see more infections after many Indonesians traveled during a long weekend in October. The government is considering whether to cut short the year-end public holiday if officials can’t safely curb the spread.

South Korea Announces Tighter Restrictions Outside Seoul (4:15 p.m. HK)

At a press conference, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government will maintain social-distancing rules in the greater Seoul area at level 2, which bans gatherings in high-risk facilities such as night clubs and karaoke bars, and prohibits restaurants from serving customers after 9 p.m. Outside the capital region, the restrictions will be raised to level 1.5 starting Tuesday. The higher level means eating and dancing at high-risk facilities will be barred, and restaurants and theaters will need to enforce distancing between tables and seats. The country’s daily new infections has climbed by more than 400 for four straight days.

Hong Kong Officials Discuss Suspension of Face-to-Face Classes: Media (4:08 p.m. HK)

As locally transmitted cases rise, authorities are considering such a measure, local media reported. No final decision has been made, the South China Morning Post said, but added it could come as soon as Sunday. Now TV and Oriental Daily said Hong Kong would suspend all in-person classes by the end of this week. All of them cited people they didn’t identify.

New Cases in Russia Decline for a Second Day (3:31 p.m. HK)

Russia reported 26,683 fresh coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with the number declining for a second day. The new additions took the total to 2.269 million, according to data from the Russian government’s virus response center. In the past day, 459 people died of the disease, taking the total death toll to 39,527.

Saudi Pharma in Talks With Germany’s CureVac for Shot (1:57 p.m. HK)

Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances Corp. signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with German biotech company CureVac NV to provide a Covid-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia. CureVac’s coronavirus vaccine showed a good immune response in early trials and its chief executive officer said advanced clinical trials are on track to start by year-end.

South Australians Urged to Get Tested (11:45 a.m. HK)

A large number of South Australians are being urged to get a coronavirus test — even if they do not have symptoms — in the wake of an infected man leaving quarantine and visiting several shops and businesses in Adelaide last Sunday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The man, in his 30s, is believed to have caught the virus through a casual contact at Flinders University.

Colorado Governor Polis Tests Positive (10:55 a.m. HK)

The governor of Colorado, where an estimated one in 41 of the state’s 5.7 million residents carried the Covid-19 virus over the past week, has tested positive and is resting at home. Governor Polis, an early advocate of masks, issued a statement Saturday night saying his partner was also infected. Earlier in the week, the governor of neighboring Wyoming tested positive.

North Korea Strengthens Border to Contain Spread (10:32 a.m. HK)

The country has intensified virus prevention measures around its border areas, strengthening protocols and monitoring of movements, KCNA reported Sunday.

U.K. Secures More Doses of Covid-19 Vaccine (9:10 a.m. HK)

The government signed a deal for a further 2 million doses of Moderna Inc.’s vaccine candidate, bringing the total to 7 million for the U.K., according to a statement. The government said it has now secured 357 million vaccine doses from 7 different developers.

China Finds Covid-19 Virus in Frozen Crab Packaging From Chile (9 a.m. HK)

Import applications from Chilean seafood producer Pesquera Isla Del Rey SA will be suspended for one week after a nucleic acid test on the packaging of a batch of frozen crab showed positive results for the pathogen, the General Administration of Customs said in a statement on its website on Saturday.

China has been vocal about finding traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on packaging and food, raising fears that imported items are linked to recent resurgences. Beijing has ordered a range of precautionary steps, creating disruptions with its trading partners.

Underground New York Club Shut Down for Breaking Rules (8:41 a.m. HK)

City’s deputy sheriffs closed the nightclub early Saturday, New York Times reported. Four people were charged with various offenses including violation of city and state coronavirus emergency orders.

San Francisco Sets New Curbs, Faces ‘Dangerous’ Period (8:18 a.m. HK)

San Francisco was moved to the most restrictive tier by California following a jump in coronavirus cases, prompting a slew of new measures across the city. “I don’t know how to be more clear — this is the most dangerous time we’ve faced during this pandemic,” said Mayor London Breed.

The new restrictions will kick off Sunday, starting with the closing of movie theaters, gyms, museums, zoos and aquariums, and even houses of worship. The capacity at indoor stores, including pharmacies, will be cut by half to 25%.

Los Angeles, which imposed another stay-home order starting Monday, said the measures are less stringent than those issued in March despite a sudden case surge because face-wearing and social distancing have proven effective. The city has more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other U.S. county, with a five-day average of more than 4,500 new cases.

McConnell Suspends Senate G.O.P. Lunches (7:56 a.m. HK)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed fellow Senate Republicans on Saturday that he is temporarily suspending their in-person lunches amid increasing coronavirus cases nationally, including some more conference members this month. The Republican senators were told of change to their lunch meetings in calls Saturday, said a person familiar with McConnell’s decision.

The Republicans have been holding socially distanced lunches since May. Altogether, eight senators have had positive tests for the virus, according to https://www.govtrack.us/covid-19. All eight are among the Senate’s 53 Republicans.

Johnson Hints at Looser Restrictions in England (7:05 a.m. HK)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised a review of England’s new Covid-19 restrictions on Dec. 16, the Press Association reported. Input will come from local public health officials, with government ministers making a final decision. Each region will be reviewed every two weeks.

More than 150 people were arrested during anti-lockdown protests in central London, for offenses including breaching health regulations and assaulting a police officer, the Metropolitan Police said. In South Wales, police handed out 12 fixed penalties and 15 warnings to drivers as part of random checks to make sure people going into the capital Cardiff were allowed to do so.

Most in France Wouldn’t Get Covid Vaccine, Study Finds (7 a.m. HK)

A new French survey found that 59% of respondents said they wouldn’t get a Covid-19 vaccine once it becomes available, Le Journal Du Dimanche reported on Sunday, citing the findings of the Ifop survey carried out on Nov. 26-27.

Brazil Cases, Deaths Continue Rise in Second Wave (5:11 p.m. NY)

Brazil ended its third week of newly surging cases with another 51,922 infections reported Saturday. Another 587 people died on Saturday, also at the end of three weeks of a rising level of fatalities.

Cases and fatalities in Brazil had been steadily falling since a peak in July. Deaths are now roughly at same level as in May, and cases on par with early July. The nation has the most infections after the U.S. and India.

U.K. Poised to Be First to Approve Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine (4:50 p.m. NY)

The U.K. may approve the vaccine as early as next week, becoming the first ahead of a long line of countries waiting for protection from the coronavirus, a person familiar with the situation said, asking not to be identified because the process is confidential.

The U.K. had long signaled it would move fast on any promising vaccine candidate. Russia and China have cleared vaccines for general use, but they’re unlikely to be adopted in the U.S. and Europe.

Three Added to Biden’s Covid-19 Transition Team (4:03 p.m. NY)

Joe Biden’s transition team named three more experts to its Covid-19 Advisory Board, which is helping guide the president-elect to fulfill the key campaign promise of a robust, national strategy against the resurgent virus.

The new members are Jane Hopkins, a nurse specializing in mental health who worked most recently in Washington state; Jill Jim, executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health; and David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington University who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations.

New York Hospitalizations Rise (2:16 p.m. NY)

New York state reported 6,063 cases Saturday, a marked drop from the spike of 8,176 the previous day, when a record 219,442 tests were conducted, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. Cuomo has adopted what he calls a “micro-cluster” strategy that targets an increasing number of areas with higher infection for tighter restrictions. The positivity rate inside those areas is 5.65%, outside 3.45%, he said.

New York City reported 1,589 new cases, based on a seven-day average, the most since May. It was the second consecutive day over 1,500.North Carolina reported 1,840 Covid-19 patients in the hospital, a record, state data showed on Saturday.Iowa reported outbreaks of three or more infections at 153 long-term care facilities, according to state data. Just over a week ago, the number was 114. Deaths in the facilities number 1,059, almost half the total 2,360 recorded in Iowa since the start of the outbreak, the data show.South Dakota reported a record 54 deaths, putting fatalities for November over 500. Total deaths since the start of the pandemic are just under 1,000.California reported 11,996 new cases, with new infections declining for a third day after hitting a record earlier in the week. That brings the total to 1.18 million. The state also added 56 new deaths, with its fatalities at 19,089.

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