Italy Adds Restrictions; Denmark Finds Mutation: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- European nations are imposing more measures to battle the resurgent coronavirus, with Greece nearing a lockdown and Italy enacting curbs in Milan and Turin. Belgium reported record hospital admissions, Austrian infections hit a daily high and France has the most intensive-care usage since April.
Denmark said it found a new strain of Covid-19 after an outbreak in the country’s mink population led to a mutation of the virus that might hamper efforts to develop a vaccine.
Total cases in India, second in number to the U.S., rose to 8.31 million. In Australia, the state border between the two biggest urban centers will reopen on Nov. 23 after the city of Melbourne ended a lockdown last week.
- Global Tracker: Cases surpass 47.7 million; deaths top 1.21 million
- Johnson wins lockdown approval after warning of soaring U.K. deaths
- WHO, nations’ Covid response hampered by politics, reviewer says
- Delays hit Oxford vaccine production for U.K. government supply
- New lockdown probably means BOE unanimity on QE extension
- Vaccine Tracker: Clinical trials restart in hopeful sign
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Italy Targets Milan, Turin in Clampdown (4 p.m. NY)
Italy targeted the financial capital of Milan and key industrial hubs in the north with a set of tough new restrictions. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday that the northern region of Lombardy around Milan, as well as Piedmont and its capital Turin, fall into the country’s highest-risk zones. That will trigger measures restricting people to the cities and towns where they live starting Friday.
Unlike last spring’s national lockdown, industrial operations will remain open even in the worst-hit zones in an attempt to shield the economy. The new decree runs from Friday to Dec. 3, with the toughest restrictions imposed for a period of at least 15 days.
French ICU Use at Highest Since April (3:20 p.m. NY)
France reported a an additional 385 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, while the use rate of intensive-care unit beds reached the highest level since late April.
Confirmed infections increased by 40,558 to 1.54 million, French health authorities reported. The seven-day average of new cases, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, rose to 44,027.
Colorado Warns Residents on Holiday Plans (2:52 p.m. NY)
Colorado is on course to exceed intensive-care unit bed capacity at Christmas time, state health officials said Wednesday, warning residents to tone down holiday plans. “Don’t travel,” Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School School of Public Health, said during a news briefing.
Hospitalizations are projected to set a record in several days with Denver and neighboring Adams County one level below “stay at home” restrictions and transmission rates rising across all age groups statewide.
Colorado’s current case count is the highest since the start of the pandemic, said Rachael Herlihy, state epidemiologist. She urged residents to “double down” on social distancing.
N.J. Adds to Quarantine List (2:07 p.m. NY)
People coming to New Jersey from Oregon and Washington must quarantine for two weeks, bringing the list of proscribed states and territories to 43.
The advisory applies to any person arriving from a place with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average, Governor Phil Murphy said Wednesday in a news release. Neighboring Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware qualify, but the region’s interconnections make enforcing the rule impractical, he said.
“As a second wave of Covid-19 has begun across the nation and our state, we must do everything possible to stop the further spread,” Murphy said in the release.
Those quarantining should venture out only for medical care, food and other essential items, according to the release.
Greece Heads Toward Lockdown (2 p.m. NY)
Greece is heading to a national lockdown after reporting Wednesday 2,646 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, a second-straight daily record increase. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with medical advisers Wednesday and will make announcements Thursday on national TV on confronting the virus.
Experts advised the government to impose a national lockdown for 30 days and the premier will “take health experts’ proposals into account,” Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias said in an interview with ANT1 TV. Greece also reported 18 more deaths in the past 24 hours, while the occupancy rate of intensive-care units stands at 63%.
N.J. Cases Reach Five-Month High (1:30 p.m. NY)
New Jersey reported almost 2,500 new cases, the most in five months. Hospitalizations also jumped, to 1,213, the most since June 23.
Essex County, which includes hard-hit Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, reported the most new cases, 356. Two other counties had more than 200.
Governor Phil Murphy has held off on reopening more of the economy, including indoor dining, amid a resurgence of cases in recent weeks.
NYC Sees Hospitalizations as ‘Cause for Concern’ 12:01 p.m. NY)
New York City’s total of people admitted to hospitals with Covid-like symptoms jumped to 114 as of Nov. 2, a 37% increase over the previous day, causing increased concern, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Although only 26% of those hospitalizations that day have so far been confirmed to be infected with the virus, the seven-day average of newly diagnosed cases also increased, to 628 from 605 the previous day. The mayor attributed that rise to continuing higher than average infection in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, and increased testing capacity that has reached 75,000 a day, and has detected more cases.
The increased hospitalizations and new cases “worries me; we’re keeping a close eye on that,” de Blasio said. The city’s 1.74% seven-day average of positive test results indicated stabilization in that data, which has hovered between 1.5% and 2%. He described that level as “something we can handle for now but not for the long term.”
U.K. Records Almost 500 New Deaths (11:15 a.m. NY)
The U.K. reported 492 additional deaths from coronavirus within 28 days of a positive test on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since its second surge in the disease.
MPs on Wednesday approved new measures to control the spread of the disease in England, but Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said those restrictions will take some time to have an impact.
“Sadly we know that the trend in deaths will continue to rise over the next few weeks,” Doyle said in an emailed statement.
An additional 25,177 cases were reported, higher than the 7-day average of 22,330, as calculated by Bloomberg News.
Bulgarian Premier Cites Own Illness in Rejecting Lockdown (11:18 a.m. NY)
Bulgaria’s prime minister isn’t planning a nationwide lockdown despite a record numbers of new coronavirus cases, saying his own experience with the disease shows it can be beaten.
Boyko Borissov, who is at home after catching the virus last month, kept social-distancing restrictions to a minimum until two weeks ago despite a resurgence in the virus across Europe.
“The country won’t be closed, quite the opposite -- now I feel more certain as a leader than ever,” Borissov said in a video on Facebook Wednesday. “I’m strong, I feel confident enough to convince the people to overcome the virus.”
Kenya Suspends Political Rallies (10:52 a.m. NY)
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended political rallies as part of measures to curb the coronavirus, after a surge in cases followed easing of restrictions in September.
The decision to ban big political gatherings for 60 days comes as leaders jostle to mobilize supporters for a potential referendum next year, in which Kenya’s government could be restructured.
The East African nation has 58,587 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,051 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry. Of those, about 15,000 new infections and 300 deaths were recorded in the past month alone.
Denmark Finds New Strain That Might Hurt Vaccine Effort (10:47 a.m. NY)
Denmark has found a new strain of Covid-19 after an outbreak in the country’s mink population led to a mutation of the virus that might hamper efforts to develop a vaccine.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said “there is a risk that the effect of a future vaccine will be weakened or, in a worst case scenario, be undermined,” during a virtual press briefing on Wednesday.
Her government has passed on the information to the World Health Organization, and now plans to cull Denmark’s entire mink population. According to Kopenhagen Fur, an auction house owned by Denmark’s mink breeders, 16 million animals are raised each year.
Ukraine Nears Limit of Covid Treatment Capacity (8:51 a.m. NY)
Ukraine reported 9,524 new cases on Wednesday, along with 199 new deaths. That breached the benchmark of 9,000 daily infections for the first time, the level that Unicef previously estimated would stretch the country’s hospital capacity to the maximum.
“The situation is quickly changing from difficult to catastrophic,” Health Minister Maksym Stepanov told lawmakers in Kyiv this week. “It is impossible to pass the next wave lightly. No matter how quickly we add hospital beds, the coronavirus spreads faster.”
Delays Hit Oxford Vaccine Production (7:27 a.m. NY)
The U.K. is struggling to stock up on supplies of a potentially game-changing coronavirus vaccine, a top government official has said. Kate Bingham, chair of the U.K. Vaccine Taskforce, said only 4 million doses of the experimental shot being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will be available by the end of the year, far fewer than the 30 million that were due to be ready by September.
The question is moot for now given that no vaccine has been approved for use and trials are still ongoing. But the difficulties cast doubt on how fast the U.K. will be able to deploy a vaccine that officials see as potentially critical in allowing life to return to normal. AstraZeneca declined to comment.
Austria’s New Infections at High (7:07 a.m. NY)
Austria reported a record 6,211 new infections on Wednesday, the second day of its new lockdown, taking the 7-day average to 5,086. There were 35 deaths caused by the virus in the last 24 hours, the highest daily rate since the pandemic started.
A soft lockdown started yesterday, shutting down cinemas, theaters and gyms, while keeping open schools and most shops. The government warned that it may take one to two weeks until that resulted in a decline of the new infections.
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