International

Coronavirus digest: Rome imposes night curfew

Italy’s Lazio region, which includes the capital, Rome, has imposed a curfew from midnight to five in the morning. Spain became the first Western European country to exceed 1 million infections.

Italy’s Lazio region, which includes the capital city, Rome, will impose an overnight five-hour curfew starting at the end of the day, the stroke of midnight on Friday. The measure will continue for 30 days.

The Governor, Nicola Zingaretti, who had also earlier contracted the virus, signed the ordinance on Wednesday. Italy’s Premier Giuseppe Conti asked Italians to limit their movements and refrain from any “superfluous actions.”

Lazio residents will not be able to leave their homes from midnight to five except to go to or return from work or other emergency reasons. 

Here are the latest updates from Europe and the rest of the world.

Europe

The Robert Koch Institute recorded more than 11,200 new COVID-19 cases in Germany over the past 24 hours. It’s the first time since the start of the pandemic that the country’s daily caseload has reached a five-figure tally.

Spain became the first Western European country to exceed 1 million known infections in total. The Health Ministry reported 16,793 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,005,295 since its first case was diagnosed on January 31.

France followed soon after; the Johns Hopkins University tally put the country’s total just clear of 1 million early on Thursday. Seven countries have cleared that milestone to date, but four of them — the US, Russia, Brazil and India — have far larger populations than Spain, France and Argentina. 

In the UK, a record 27,000 new cases were announced on Wednesday as the country reintroduced restrictions in particularly affected areas.  

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he wants “red zone” measures to be extended to the entire country amid a record spike in infections.

The country has two stages of alertness prior to a full lockdown: “red” and “yellow” zones. The capital, Warsaw, is already a red zone. Red and yellow zones alike require that masks be worn in public indoor spaces and social distancing be observed.

The main differences between the two tiers include additional restrictions on restaurant opening hours and on large private gatherings like weddings, the closure of swimming pools and gyms, and limits on the numbers of people in shops or on public transport.

Americas

A participant in the COVID-19 vaccine trial has died in Brazil, health authorities said. Trials will be continuing for the vaccine, which is being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Oxford confirmed in a statement that “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.”

A source told Reuters that the trial would have been suspended as a precaution until precise cause of death was determined if the volunteer who died had received the COVID-19 vaccine. This suggests that the person was part of the control group that was given a meningitis jab.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday appeared to reject his government’s earlier announcement that it would purchase millions of doses of an experimental vaccine being developed in China.

Bolsonaro’s Health Minister had announced the deal alongside the mayor of Sao Paolo, a political rival of the president. 

“The Brazilian people will not be anyone’s guinea pig,” Bolsonaro said on social media. He noted that the vaccine was yet to complete testing, though that is the case for all possible vaccines in development at present. “My decision is not to purchase such a vaccine.”

Monday’s original announcement had made it clear that the purchase was contingent on the vaccine clearing clinical trials successfully.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the USA have risen by 36%, as states in the Midwest report rising numbers. In October, 16 states have reported their highest numbers of daily hospitalizations during the pandemic.

All of Puerto Rico’s emergency 911 call centers were shut down on Wednesday, after several employees tested positive for the virus. 

Two new numbers were provided for the emergency management agency as alternatives. But people calling the first number reported that they heard a recorded message asking them to call 911 for emergencies.

Public Safety Secretary Pedro Janer said the reopening of the call centers would be announced soon, after they were thoroughly cleaned. 

Asia

India has seen a rise of 55,839 infections, taking the country’s tally to 7.71 million, according to Health Ministry figures. The number is down from a peak in September. The death toll from the virus in the past 24 hours rose by 702, with the toll now standing at 116,616.

India now has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world after the US, which has registered 8.3 million coronavirus cases.