(Bloomberg) — South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged citizens to stay home and cancel gatherings. South Australia will lift its lockdown early and immediately allow outdoor exercise, amid early signs its cluster of Covid-19 infections is being contained.
A senior Pentagon official tested positive for the virus. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said APEC countries will need to focus on those most affected as the region turns to economic recovery following the pandemic.
The WHO advised against against using Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir for hospitalized coronavirus patients, despite U.S. regulators granting the drug a quick approval. California imposed a late-night curfew to battle a case surge.
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Senior Pentagon Official Tests Positive (11:15 a.m. HK)
Retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata, a top Pentagon official, tested positive for Covid-19, Bloomberg reported. It’s the second time the outbreak has hit senior ranks of the U.S. military in recent weeks.
Tata, 61, was tested for the virus along with other top U.S. defense officials after Lithuanian diplomats informed the Pentagon that Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis tested positive after visiting the building on Nov. 13 and Nov. 16, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
On Friday last week, Karoblis met with Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, Tata and the secretaries of the Army and Air Force, Hoffman said. Separately, Karoblis met on Monday with the secretary of the Navy.
Ardern Urges Recovery Focus on People Most Affected (10:37 a.m. HK)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that as the Asia-Pacific region turns to economic recovery following the pandemic, countries will need to focus on those most harshly affected — including indigenous communities and women.
Arden, addressing a virtual session as a part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, said APEC nations were rightly focused on the economic response to Covid-19.
“Our recovery needs to focus very heavily on ensuring that we are focused on skills and trade training and job creation that equally addresses those hardest hit areas,” she said.
Japan’s Suga Urges Highest Alert (10:17 a.m. HK)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, speaking in Tokyo, said the country should be on highest alert over the virus, and that authorities would press ahead with health care preparations.
Commuters walk through Shinbashi district in Tokyo on Thursday.
Photographer: Soichiro Koriyama/Bloomberg
Mexico Fourth Country to Surpass 100,000 Deaths (9:23 a.m. HK)
Mexico reported 576 new Covid-19 deaths Thursday night, making it the fourth country whose toll from the virus has surpassed 100,000. The nation’s total cases rose 4,472 to 1,019,543, according to data released by the Health Ministry.
South Australia to Lift Lockdown Early (9:19 a.m. HK)
South Australia will lift its lockdown early and immediately allow outdoor exercise, amid early signs its cluster of Covid-19 infections is being contained.
Steven Marshall in Adelaide on Friday.
Photographer: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images
The original six-day lockdown that began Thursday will end at midnight Saturday, Premier Steven Marshall told reporters. The ban on exercise and even dog-walking had made the state’s measures among the strictest in the world.
California Imposes Late-Night Curfew (9 a.m. HK)
Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a curfew on the majority of residents to stymie the virus’s transmission, boosting measures to stop an outbreak while stopping short of a full lockdown. The move reflects growing alarm among state officials as the third wave of coronavirus cases to hit California gains momentum.
A medical worker administers a Covid-19 test at a testing site in San Francisco, California, on Thursday.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
People in counties designated as having a widespread outbreak — areas that encompass 37 million people, or 94% of the population — will have to stop nonessential work and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to a statement from Newsom’s office. The order will take effect on Nov. 21 and last for a month.
South Korea Urges Citizens to Not Meet, Dine Together (8:45 a.m. HK)
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged citizens to stay home and cancel gatherings, as the country’s confirmed cases exceeded 300 for a third day. The government will minimize face-to-face meetings from next week, he said in a nationwide address.
The government urges companies to implement a work-from-home scheme and will push forward the annual state college entrance exam as scheduled in December. South Korea is currently working on securing vaccines, he said.
South Korea earlier reported 363 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
EU Says BioNTech, Moderna Vaccines Approval Possible in Dec. (8:15 a.m. HK)
BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. could receive conditional European Union marketing authorization for their Covid-19 vaccines in the second half of next month, according to the head of the bloc’s executive arm.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Medicines Agency was in close contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the evaluation of the shots being developed by both companies.
“EMA is in daily calls with the FDA to synchronize the assessment and, if all proceeds with no problems, EMA tells us that the conditional marketing authorization for BioNTech and Moderna could happen as early as the second half of December 2020,” she told reporters after EU leaders discussed the pandemic via video.
Trump Opposes Lockdown; Birx Urges Vigilance (8:05 a.m. HK)
Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, urged Americans to be vigilant as the pandemic surges across the U.S. But Vice President Mike Pence said President Donald Trump opposes lockdowns and closing schools to curb the spread.
The task force briefed reporters Thursday for the first time since April, after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended earlier that Americans cancel Thanksgiving travel plans. The events showed that the administration is coming to grips with the pandemic’s rising toll after Trump downplayed the outbreak.
WHO Recommends Against Remdesivir (8 a.m. HK)
The World Health Organization advised against treating hospitalized coronavirus patients with Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, weeks after U.S. regulators granted the drug a speedy approval.
The recommendation is a blow to the drug, one of the first thought to offer a meaningful benefit in treatment of coronavirus patients after a study showed it reduced their recovery time. The antiviral has been widely used widely to treat Covid-19 — and was among the drugs President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with the disease in October.
“There is currently no evidence that it improves survival or the need for ventilation,” a panel of WHO-convened experts developing Covid-19 treatment guidelines said in The BMJ medical journal.
Texas Sees Case Record (7:33 a.m. HK)
Texas had a record 12,293 new coronavirus cases, smashing its old peak from mid-July, when the second most-populous U.S. state saw its first major wave of Covid-19. The new cases-count surged 45% in 24 hours, according to state health department figures Thursday.
Governor Greg Abbott earlier ruled out a return to lockdown status to combat surging virus hospitalizations across the Texas, saying proponents overestimate what would be achieved. “Statewide, we’re not going to have another shutdown,” he said during a briefing in Lubbock, one of the state’s worst hot spots.
DC-Area Cases At Record (7:15 a.m. HK)
Coronavirus infections continue to rise in the greater Washington region, with more than 5,000 new cases reported on Thursday, a daily record.
The Capital itself had 213 new cases and an two additional deaths, according to figures from the mayor’s office, pushing the seven-day average to 167. Maryland reported 2,910 new cases on Thursday, a daily high, and Virginia had 1,954 new cases, for a regional total of 5,077. Daily Covid cases in the region have averaged 4,109 over the past week and doubled since late October.
U.S. INSIGHT: Virus, Vaccine, Fiscal Aid — 2021 Growth Path
The Smithsonian Institution said Thursday on Twitter that it would temporarily close its eight facilities in the Washington region that had recently reopened, including the National Zoo, starting on Monday. No planned reopening date was offered.
Japan Expert Warns Virus Situation Severe (7:12 a.m. HK)
Takaji Wakita, the head of an expert panel advising the Japanese health ministry, said the current situation was “very severe” and warned that if nothing was done, the chances of the coronavirus spreading more rapidly were “very high,” Kyodo reported Thursday.
California Orders Late-Night Curfew (5:30 p.m. NY)
California imposed a curfew across the vast majority of the state, ordering residents to stay home late at night as cases soar.
People in counties designated as having a widespread outbreak — areas that encompass 94% of the population — will have to stop nonessential work and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to a statement from Newsom’s office.
The order remains takes effect Saturday and will be in force at least until Dec. 21, the state health department said in a statement.
L.A. County Reports Record Cases (4:55 p.m. NY)
Los Angeles County reported more than 5,000 new cases on Thursday, more than the previous daily record in July.
County health director Barbara Ferrer said this week she would implement tougher protocols, including closing restaurants for all but take-out food, if cases remain at more than 4,000 for five days in a row. Wednesday’s number was just shy of that.
New Hampshire Imposes Mask Mandate (4:13 p.m. NY)
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu imposed a statewide mask mandate Thursday, saying it’ll help keep the economy open as infections rise to records.
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