U.K. Virus ‘Out of Control’; Cuomo Warns of Spread: Virus Update

More than 16 million Britons are required to stay at home as a full lockdown came into force Sunday in London and southeast England, part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s effort to contain an “out of control” mutation of the coronavirus. The U.K. reported the most Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic.

European countries responded by suspending travel links. The U.S. doesn’t need to take that step for now, a member of the White House virus task force said, but Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed concern that untested passengers from the U.K. could be carrying the mutation to New York.

Covid-19 immunizations with the newly-authorized Moderna Inc. shot are likely to begin Monday. The elderly and front-line essential workers should be next in line for vaccines, an advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Sunday.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 76.8 million; deaths top 1.69 million
  • Vaccines don’t mean we’ll see the last of Covid, experts warn
  • Moderna shot cleared in U.S., ready for delivery starting Sunday
  • World looks to spring for virus relief as vaccinations start
  • Europe isolates U.K. as mutant virus ruins Christmas
  • Can I be required to get vaccinated?: QuickTake
  • Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click CVID
U.K. Virus ‘Out of Control’; Cuomo Warns of Spread: Virus Update

WHO Working With U.K. to Study Mutation (4:46 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization is working with scientists in the U.K. to understand if a new coronavirus variant reported there spreads easier, causes more severe illness and evades the antibody response generated by vaccination, Maria van Kerkhove, the agency’s technical lead on Covid-19, told BBC Sunday.

“What they’re working on is to understand if it is the variant itself that is causing its ability to spread more easily, or if it’s a combination of behavioral factors of individuals,” Van Kerkhove said. “So far, the information that they have shared with us is that it doesn’t have any impact on the vaccines and it doesn’t seem to cause any difference in clinical picture or it doesn’t seem to cause more severe disease.”

Front-Line Workers, Elderly Next Up for Vaccines: CDC Advisers (4:40 p.m. NY)

The elderly and front-line essential workers, including firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers, should be next in line for coronavirus vaccines, an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted on Sunday.

The first round of vaccinations, which started last week, is going mostly to to health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Turkey Suspends Flights From U.K. and Other Nations (4:36 p.m. NY)

Turkey temporarily halted flights from the U.K., Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa after the U.K. government warned that a new, fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus was “out of control,” Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a Twitter post.

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the suspension in coordination with the Transportation Ministry, Koca said. He didn’t elaborate on the time frame.

U.S. Has Administered 556,208 Vaccine Shots in First Week (4:33 p.m. NY)

U.K. Virus ‘Out of Control’; Cuomo Warns of Spread: Virus Update

The U.S. has administered more than half a million Covid-19 vaccine doses in the first week of the country’s mass inoculation campaign, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

The shots, made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, are being distributed mostly to front-line health-care workers around the country. In total, 556,208 shots have been administered of 2.84 million distributed so far, the agency said online. The Atlanta-based CDC is tracking the shots as part of the nationwide rollout, as well as to monitor their safety.

North Carolina Cases at Highest Level (4:20 p.m. NY)

North Carolina reported 6,900 new cases, the third highest number after a week with the most infections of the pandemic. The weekly average of cases has roughly doubled over the last month, as have fatalities, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Hospitalizations have slowed slightly over the last two days.

California Reports Worst Week Yet (2:40 p.m. NY)

California’s new Covid-19 cases surged by 302,690 this week, the state’s worst seven-day period, to 1,854,456, the health department’s website shows. If California were a country, it would rank ninth on a list of most coronavirus cases, between Italy and Spain. It would place 17th for deaths, between South Africa and Indonesia.

The state’s 14-day average positivity rate climbed to 12%, an eight-month high. California added 46,474 new cases yesterday, while deaths climbed 161 to 22,593. The number of available intensive-care unit beds in the state rose by 69 to 1,353 despite an increase in hospital admissions of 352 to 17,750.

Italy Says Traveler from U.K. Has Mutation (2:35 p.m. NY)

Italy’s health ministry said a patient who entered the country in recent days from the U.K. was diagnosed with the new virus variant. The person and his close contacts are in isolation and followed all protocols, the ministry said in a press release.

Cuomo Worries U.K. Mutation Arriving in N.Y. (2:23 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he worries that the coronavirus mutation in the U.K. may be arriving in New York, saying it is negligent of the federal government not to require testing or to curb travel.

U.K. Virus ‘Out of Control’; Cuomo Warns of Spread: Virus Update

Howard Zucker, the state’s commissioner of health, said testing hasn’t turned up any cases of the variant. But Cuomo compared the situation to the spring, when the virus arrived largely via Europe. He said six flights are arriving each day from the U.K. to New York.

“This is the same mistake -- and literally six flights a day,” he told reporters on a conference call. “All it takes is one person.”

Cuomo reported 9,957 new cases, a second day of lower infections after the New York hit a record for the entire pandemic. Another 123 people died, the fourth consecutive day with more than 100 fatalities. Hospitalizations and the positive-test rate fell slightly.

France Has Fewest Deaths in Almost Two Months (2:20 p.m. NY)

France’s deaths linked to the coronavirus rose by 131 to 60,549 on Sunday, the smallest increase since Oct. 25. The country registered 12,799 new cases, with the pace of infections increasing for the fifth straight day. Hospitalizations and patients in intensive care increased, after falling for most of the past week.

Canada Cases Top Half a Million (2:17 p.m. NY)

Canada surpassed 500,000 Covid-19 cases, with infections in Ontario and Quebec, the two most populous provinces, running close to the highest levels on record. The nation added almost 6,500 cases on Saturday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News.

Quebec registered 2,146 new cases, the most since the pandemic began, according to the province’s website. Ontario, which tightened restrictions on Friday, added 2,316 cases compared with a record of 2,432 on Wednesday.

Moderna Shots Likely to Begin Monday, Slaoui Says (1:29 p.m. NY)

Covid-19 immunizations with the newly-authorized Moderna Inc. shot are likely to begin Monday morning, said Moncef Slaoui, head of the U.S. government’s vaccine drive.

Operation Warp Speed plans call for 5.9 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 2 million doses of the Pfizer Inc./BioNTech SE vaccine to ship on Monday, Slaoui said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

U.K. Virus ‘Out of Control’; Cuomo Warns of Spread: Virus Update

Communication with state governors is being increased to avoid confusion about the vaccine pipeline, he said. Gustave Perna, the U.S. army general running the distribution effort, on Saturday blamed a miscommunication for leading some states to complain that they were having their allocations reduced without explanation.

France Suspends Travel From U.K. as EU Coordinates (1:11 p.m. NY)

France will suspend all travel from the U.K. from midnight for 48 hours while EU members coordinate on the matter. “We need to take the time to build a robust health protocol,” said French Junior Transportation Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri on LCI TV on Sunday. People and freight toward the U.K. aren’t affected, the French prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Bulgaria Cancels U.K. Flights (1:04 p.m. NY)

Bulgaria’s government said it’ll cancel all flights to and from the U.K. until Jan. 31 to limit the impact of the coronavirus mutation. The Balkan country, which has one of the highest death rates from the virus in the EU, also introduced a 10-day quarantine for all arrivals from the U.K.

Ireland to Restrict Travel With Britain (12:55 p.m. NY)

Ireland will ban flights with Britain because of the coronavirus mutation and restrict ferries to cargo, the government said. The restrictions will last at least until Tuesday and do not apply to Northern Ireland.

Ireland’s chief medical officer pleaded with people to avoid seeing elderly relatives and friends over the holidays to avoid possibly exposing them to the coronavirus, as case numbers continue to surge.

Ireland reported 764 new cases on Sunday, the most since Nov. 5. The seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people has more than doubled in a week, with “every indicator of disease severity moving in the wrong direction,” the nation’s CMO Tony Holohan said.

U.S. Ban on U.K. Flights Isn’t Needed, Virus Team Member Says (12:30 p.m. NY)

The U.S. doesn’t need to suspend flights from the U.K. because of the coronavirus mutation that helped prompt an emergency lockdown for London, a member of the White House virus task force said.

“I really don’t believe we need to do that yet,” Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Giroir and Vivek Murthy, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for surgeon general, both expressed confidence that vaccines developed to fight Covid-19, two of which have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S., will be effective against the mutated form of the virus.

Mutant Virus Probably Not More Lethal, Gottlieb Says (11:45 a.m. NY)

The new strain of the coronavirus is not fully understood, but it’s probably not more lethal, Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner and Pfizer Inc. board member, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He added that it does seem to be more contagious.

Greece Lengthens Quarantine for U.K. Travelers (11:25 a.m. NY)

All passengers coming from U.K. to Greece should stay in home isolation for seven days instead of three days, matching the requirement for other countries, starting Monday, according to Greek authorities.

Greece reported 588 new Covid-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total to 131,072. A countrywide lockdown is in place until Jan. 7.

U.K. Reaches Highest Daily Total (11:19 a.m. NY)

The U.K. reported 35,928 cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, the most for a day since the pandemic began and more than 10,000 above the weekly average. Fatalities, often lower on weekends due to reporting delays, were 326, less than the trailing seven-day average.

The country passed 2 million cases on Saturday, seven weeks after crossing the 1 million mark. New travel and social restrictions came into effect in London and much of southeastern England today after a new variant of the virus that spreads more quickly was identified.

Italy’s Cases Slow, Positive Tests Rise (11:15 a.m. NY)

Italy reported a slight drop in the number of new coronavirus cases Sunday, amid concerns of a new strain of the virus which prompted the government to halt travel from the U.K.

While reported cases fell to 15,104 compared to 16,308 the day before, the positive-test rate increased to 11% from 9.2% the day before. Another 352 people died.

Germany to Restrict Air Travel With U.K., South Africa (11:05 a.m. NY)

Germany is suspending passenger air traffic with the U.K. at midnight Sunday, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on ARD television. Travel links with South Africa are also being restricted because the coronavirus mutation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel favors a complete suspension EU suspension of U.K. travel that also includes rail and sea, with cargo exempted, Bild reported.

U.K. Virus ‘Out of Control’; Cuomo Warns of Spread: Virus Update

Italy Suspends U.K. Flights (9:40 a.m. NY)

Italy suspended flights with the U.K. in what Health Minister Roberto Speranza called a precautionary measure pending more clarity on the mutant Covid-19 virus strain cited by the U.K.

Eurostar Trains Won’t Run London to Brussels, Amsterdam (9:30 a.m. NY)

Eurostar trains between London, Brussels and Amsterdam won’t run on Monday after the Belgian government closed the border with the U.K. for 24 hours starting midnight Sunday, Eurostar International Limited said in a tweet.

Dutch Government Bars Inbound U.K. Flights (3:36 p.m. HK)

The Dutch government halted inbound passenger flights from the U.K. starting 6 a.m. Sunday, according to an official statement. The restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 1 “at the latest.”

A Covid-19 case in the Netherlands in early December turned up the same virus variant observed in the U.K. and is being investigated further, according to the statement.

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