The number of new Covid-19 infections per day in France is unlikely to fall to a 5,000 target by 15 December as the population is not sufficiently respecting social distancing measures, one of France*s top coronavirus experts said today.
Eric Caumes, head of infectious diseases at Paris hospital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, told LCI television that if the French are not cautious enough over Christmas and year-end holidays, it will lead to a third wave of the virus in mid-January.
President Emmanuel Macron has said the French lockdown that started on 30 October could be lifted on 15 December, if by then the number of new infections per day has fallen to 5,000.
“No, I do not think this target can be reached as the trend downward stopped, it is stabilising. So it will be difficult to reach that target,” Caumes said.
French health authorities reported 11,022 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Sunday, down from the 12,923 new infections detected the previous day.
It’s back to school today for some New York City schoolchildren, weeks after the schools were closed to in-person learning because of rising Covid-19 infections.
The city’s public school system, which shut down in-person learning earlier this month, will bring back preschool students and children in kindergarten through fifth grade, whose parents chose a mix of in-school and remote learning. Special education students in all grades who have particularly complex needs will be welcomed back starting Thursday.
Middle school and high school will remain all remote at least until after the holiday break, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said.
De Blasio announced on 18 November that public school buildings would close because the city had crossed a threshold set earlier of 3% of all the coronavirus tests performed over a seven-day period coming back positive.
The rate of positive Covid-19 tests is now over 5%, according to the city’s figures, but de Blasio has said it’s safe to reopen schools with beefed-up testing protocols — in part because few infections have been linked to the schools. On Friday, he told WNYC radio:
We have facts now for two straight months of extraordinarily low levels of transmission in our schools, our schools are clearly safer. This is what our health care leaders say. Our schools are safer than pretty much any place else in New York City. So, I really think everyone in the school community can feel secure because so many measures are in place to protect everyone.
De Blasio announced on 29 November that school buildings serving younger children and special-needs students would reopen with coronavirus testing increased from monthly to weekly. Masks and social distancing are required at all city schools.
About 190,000 students will be eligible to return to school buildings starting today. After closing schools in March, New York City was one of the first large US cities to reopen school buildings in September, but the majority of parents chose online-only learning for their children.
Children whose parents chose the hybrid model were previously inside physical classrooms from one to three days a week, but de Blasio said some students will now be in their school buildings five days a week.
That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today. Thanks for following along – and stay tuned for the latest with my colleague Haroon Siddique.
Here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- UK to administer first vaccine doses on Tuesday. Britain is set to administer the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, with the NHS giving top priority to vaccinating the over-80s, frontline healthcare workers and care home staff and residents. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be kept at -70C (-94F) and only lasts five days in a regular fridge. For that reason, it will first be administered in 50 hospitals. About 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week.
- Giuliani in hospital – reports. Multiple news outlets are reporting that Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to Donald Trump, has been admitted to hospital following the announcement by Trump on Twitter that Giuliani had tested positive for coronavirus. CNN, the New York Times and the ABC, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, report that Giuliani has been admitted to Georgetown University Hospital.
- President-elect Joe Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response. If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Biden expected to nominate Massachusetts General Hospital chief to run US CDC. US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to run the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the decision.
- In Australia, the city of Melbourne has welcomed its first international passenger flight in five months, an arrival that will test the state of Victoria’s revamped hotel quarantine system. Australia has since March closed its borders to non-citizens, but airports serving Victoria’s capital stopped accepting any arrivals in late June after an outbreak of Covid-19 that began at two hotels where arrivals were quarantining.
- South Korea expands testing. South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered testing for the new coronavirus to be expanded by mobilizing the military and more people from the public service, as the country continued to report triple-digit daily new cases.
- South Korea reported 615 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said, capping a month of triple-digit daily increases that have driven the nation’s largest wave of infections in nine months. Monday’s total was down slightly from Sunday, when the agency reported 631 new cases, the largest daily tally since a peak in February and early March.
- Public support for Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, has plummeted over the past month amid mounting criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A new poll by the Kyodo news agency shows support for his cabinet at 50.3%, down 13 percentage points from a month earlier. Disapproval rose from 19.2% to 32.6%.
- The Serum Institute of India has sought emergency use authorisation from India’s drug regulator for AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday, according to several reports in Indian media, citing the Press Trust of India. It applied to the Drugs Controller General of India, citing unmet medical needs due to the pandemic and in the interest of the public at large, the agency report said, citing official sources. The Serum Institute was not immediately available to Reuters request for comment.
- Japan is preparing to send nurses from the Self-Defence Forces to Osaka and Hokkaido to help treat a surge in coronavirus infections as soon as the two prefecture governments request it, chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said on Monday.
- Indonesia receives first vaccine shipment from China. Indonesia received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said, as the government prepares a mass inoculation programme.The vaccine still needs to be evaluated by the country’s food and drug agency while his administration prepares to distribute it across the vast archipelago of 270 million people, Jokowi said.
- The Arizona Capitol Times reports that the Arizona state legislature will close for the whole of this coming week, “after at least 15 current or future Republican legislators may have been directly exposed to Covid-19 by meeting with Rudy Giuliani.”
Some of England’s most ethnically diverse areas have suffered up to four times more coronavirus infections than mostly white neighbourhoods only a few miles away, a Guardian analysis reveals, as health experts said the UK had paid the price for failing to tackle structural racism.
A study of England’s 10 worst-hit council areas found huge disparities in the effect of Covid-19 on residents living alongside one another, with densely packed Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
In Blackburn with Darwen, which has experienced the UK’s highest coronavirus cases per capita, the contrast between neighbouring areas is stark. One in 10 people have had the virus in Bastwell, where 85.7% of residents come from a BAME background – four times higher than a neighbourhood five miles away where only 2% of people are non-white:
The World Health Organization is holding discussions on Monday about the feasibility of trials in which healthy young volunteers are deliberately infected with coronavirus to hasten vaccine development – amid questions over whether they should go ahead given the promising data from the frontrunner vaccine candidates.
Some scientists have reservations about exposing volunteers to a virus for which there is no cure, although there are treatments that can help patients. However, proponents argue that the risks of Covid-19 to the young and healthy are minimal, and the benefits to society are high:
Indonesia receives first vaccine shipment from China
Indonesia received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said, as the government prepares a mass inoculation programme.
The vaccine still needs to be evaluated by the country’s food and drug agency while his administration prepares to distribute it across the vast archipelago of 270 million people, Jokowi said.
UK to administer first vaccine doses on Tuesday
Britain is set to administer the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, with the NHS giving top priority to vaccinating the over-80s, frontline healthcare workers and care home staff and residents, Reuters reports.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be kept at -70C (-94F) and only lasts five days in a regular fridge. For that reason, it will first be administered in 50 hospitals. About 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week.
Provincial governments across China are placing orders for experimental, domestically made coronavirus vaccines, though health officials have yet to say how well they work or how they may reach the country’s 1.4 billion people, AP reports.
Developers are speeding up final testing, the Chinese foreign minister said during a US meeting last week, as Britain approved emergency use of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine candidate and providers scrambled to set up distribution.
Even without final approval, more than 1 million health care workers and others in China who are deemed at high risk of infection have received experimental vaccines under emergency use permission. Developers have yet to disclose how effective their vaccines are and possible side effects.
China’s fledgling pharmaceutical industry has at least five vaccines from four producers being tested in more than a dozen countries including Russia, Egypt and Mexico. Health experts say even if they are successful, the certification process for the United States, Europe, Japan and other developed countries might be too complex for them to be used there.
However, China said it will ensure the products are affordable for developing countries and has been actively pursuing deals across the world.
A plea from Dr. Anthony Fauci for people to “wear a mask” to slow the spread of the coronavirus tops a Yale Law School librarian’s list of the most notable quotes of 2020.
The list assembled by Fred Shapiro, an associate director at the library, is an annual update to “The Yale Book of Quotations,” which was first published in 2006, AP reports.
Also on the list is “I can’t breathe,” the plea George Floyd made repeatedly to police officers holding him down on a Minneapolis street corner. Several quotes from the presidential campaign appear including Joe Biden telling a student: “You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.”
Shapiro said he picks quotes that are not necessarily admirable or eloquent, but rather because they are famous or particularly revealing of the spirit of the times.