Coronavirus latest: Hong Kong shuts bars and clubs for 3rd time in bid to curb surge


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Updated at 11/24/2020, 4:07:30 PM BST

Texas shatters record for daily new cases

Peter Wells

Texas on Tuesday shattered its record for daily cases, reporting nearly 14,000 new infections.

A further 13,998 new cases were revealed by the health department this afternoon, up from 6,576 on Monday. That soared past the previous record of 12,597 set on Saturday.

Texas has now averaged more than 10,000 cases a day over the past week, a threshold it never exceeded during its surge alongside other sunbelt states during the summer.

While an increase in testing volumes may explain some of the increase in daily cases, a rise in hospitalistions and deaths over recent weeks suggest coronavirus has reestablished itself in the state.

There are currently 8,495 people in Texas hospitals receiving treatment for Covid-19, the most since August 4 and representing an increase of 142 over the past 24 hours.

Hong Kong shuts bars and clubs for 3rd time

Hong Kong will close bars and nightclubs for the third time this year to curb a surge of Covid-19 cases.

More than 180 infections have emerged in recent days at dancing clubs and dance studios, but authorities declined to shut those venues down.

“All bars or pubs, bath-houses, clubs or nightclubs must be closed,” the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Hong Kong recorded 80 more cases on Tuesday, 54 of them linked to the dance club cluster.

“There have been several days with multiple cases of untraceable sources, and almost one-third of infected people were asymptomatic,” said Sophia Chan, food and health secretary.

Bars in the Chinese city were first closed in April for a month, and again from mid-July to mid-September.

Canada signs Covid-19 therapy deal with Eli Lilly

The Canadian government on Tuesday signed a deal with US drugmaker Eli Lilly for 26,000 doses of its Covid-19 monoclonal antibody therapy.

Under the agreement, deliveries of Bamlanivimab will begin in December and be completed in February 2021.

Canada would have the option to purchase more.

Eli Lilly co-developed the therapy with AbCellera Biologics, a Vancouver-based biotechnology company.

Chicago to extend Covid-19 relief measures

Chicago said on Tuesday it would extend regulatory relief to businesses affected by the pandemic, as the US city’s mayor warned against Thanksgiving get-togethers that could spread the Covid-19 virus further.

The city said it would extend temporary relief efforts such as licence renewals, while allowing restaurants and cafés to expand outdoor dining.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she did not want the city to share the fate of neighbouring Canada, where cases surged after its Thanksgiving holiday last month.

“Canada celebrated Thanksgiving on October 12,” Ms Lightfoot wrote on Twitter. “What happened shortly after is what we want to avoid. It’s not too late to change your traditional Thanksgiving plans to protect the people you love.”

New Zealand probes airline crew member in China

New Zealand is investigating a possible coronavirus infection in a staff member of the country’s flag carrier in China.

The health ministry said Air New Zealand informed the government of the potential infection on Monday after the crew member tested positive.

The crew are remaining in Shanghai for tests, which have all been negative so far for other members.

“The ministry is continuing to investigate the circumstances of this possible case,” officials said in a statement.

Vaccine cements Oxford’s place as Covid-19 leader

Clive Cookson

The UK’s University of Oxford has emerged as a global leader in the scientific battle against coronavirus — a bright spot in Britain’s generally less than stellar record in handling the pandemic.

The university was in the spotlight on Monday for the vaccine that reported encouraging efficacy results, but it also runs the world’s biggest clinical trial of Covid-19 treatments and leads academic analysis of infections for the UK’s Office for National Statistics, among other coronavirus projects.

No other university anywhere can match what Oxford has achieved, said Peter Hale, executive director of the Foundation for Vaccine Research in Washington DC. “They were first out of the gate on coronavirus research back in January and have kept their frontrunner status,” he said. “I consider them ‘the little engine that could’.”

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News you might have missed …

Business travellers coming into England for trips of up to three days could be exempt from the quarantine system under plans floated on Tuesday. A government task force said in a report that the exemption could be introduced in early 2021, although the visitors would be banned from socialising while in England.

The makers of Russia’s flagship Covid-19 vaccine said on Tuesday that interim results from phase 3 trials showed efficacy rates outperforming western vaccines. The state-run Gamaleya Institute said data showed the vaccine’s efficacy was 91.4 per cent 28 days after the first shot, rising beyond 95 per cent after 42 days.

The UK government has approached telecoms operators in a bid to ensure almost 50 coronavirus vaccination centres for healthcare workers in England have fast broadband connections so they can be up and running within a week. The biggest providers, BT and Virgin Media, are among companies asked to assess 47 locations.

Oil prices touched their highest level since March on Tuesday, rising above $47 a barrel after a raft of positive vaccine news sparked a comeback in one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained more than 3 per cent to reach as high as $47.82 a barrel.

International retail chains were on Tuesday counting the cost of the collapse in world travel, as Abercrombie & Fitch said it would speed up closure of flagship stores and Tiffany said sales fell sharply in Europe and the Americas. Other retailers lamenting the tourism slump include Macy’s.

Accor, Europe’s largest hotel company, is merging a quarter of its brands into a new $1bn company with the owner of the Hoxton hotel chain in a bid to move away from a traditional overnight accommodation model that was already being shaken up before the pandemic. The new entity will operate under the Ennismore name.

JD Sports has emerged as the last remaining bidder for Debenhams, as the historic department store chain’s battle for survival nears its conclusion. An agreement on the business’s future is likely to be reached within days, and failure to secure a deal would be likely to result in the liquidation of the company.

Compass has warned it expects office workers to continue working from home even after the pandemic subsides, creating a long-term challenge for the catering group. Dominic Blakemore, chief executive, said he expects white-collar workers to work from home half the week, which would depress its annual sales by 5 per cent.

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