On Monday, AstraZeneca said its Covid-19 vaccine was “highly effective.” This comes after similarly positive vaccine news from drug companies Pfizer, which last week applied for emergency use, and Moderna.
- Map of U.S. hot spots and worldwide Covid-19 cases.
- Tracking surges in states across the country this winter.
- Map of travel restrictions and which states have a mask mandate.
- Click here for more of NBC News’ Covid-19 coverage.
Stella Kim and Reuters
7h ago / 12:18 PM UTC
South Korea toughens Covid-19 restrictions as cases continue to surge
The South Korean government moved to implement tougher social distancing measures amid a burgeoning third wave of coronavirus infections on Tuesday.
The country’s head of the Disease Control and Prevention Agency, Jeong Eun Kyeong, warned that if the spread of the virus is not curbed, infections could grow exponentially from the 349 new cases recorded on Tuesday.
South Korea has been praised for its early tracing, testing and quarantine efforts to keep the virus in check, but health officials have been sounding the alarm about clusters of infections in the densely-populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to around half of the country’s 52 million residents.
As of Tuesday, major coffee shops in Seoul will be required to only offer takeaway and delivery service, while restaurants must close to in-person dining after 9 p.m. Other restrictions will be placed on facilities like gyms, with attendance caps on religious gatherings and sporting events.
The country has reported 31,353 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with 510 deaths — far fewer than in the U.S. or Europe.
8h ago / 11:32 AM UTC
Japan pauses domestic travel push in two cities as Covid spreads
TOKYO – Japan paused its domestic “Go To Travel” promotion campaign in two cities following sharp rises in COVID-19 infections, a government minister said on Tuesday, a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s plan to help prop up regional economies.
Critics of the program had said it risked spreading the infection from major cities to the countryside.
“We have agreed to temporarily exclude trips destined for the cities of Sapporo and Hokkaido from the travel campaign,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Tuesday.
8h ago / 11:20 AM UTC
Creating a Covid-19 vaccine is only the first step. Reaching the world is the next.
LONDON — If any coronavirus vaccine wins regulatory approval and becomes available to people in the coming months, its speedy deployment will have smashed what was previously thought possible.
And yet that might be the easy part.
Rolling out Covid-19 shots to even a fraction of the world’s 7.8 billion people will require conquering an epic supply-chain challenge at a scale that dwarfs any other in history.
“It’s going to be an extraordinary logistic challenge,” David Salisbury, the British government’s former director of immunization, told NBC News. “I just hope it works.”
Click here to read the full story.
The Associated Press
8h ago / 11:18 AM UTC
England to cut travel quarantines to 5 days with tests
LONDON — Just in time for holiday travelers, England is cutting the two-week quarantine facing people arriving from regions not on Britain’s coronavirus safe list, reducing it to as little as five days if they test negative for Covid-19.
The change to the quarantine rules, which was announced Tuesday and takes effect on Dec. 15, has been long-awaited by the travel industry, one of the worst-hit sectors during the pandemic. The change will bring the rules governing quarantines in England more in line with other European countries, including Germany.
Under the new rules, passengers can reduce the 14-day quarantine period by paying for a test from a private firm on or after Day 5 of their arrival at a potential cost of around 100 pounds ($133). Results normally take up to 48 hours but sometimes can come the same day.
5h ago / 2:33 PM UTC
Swedish watchdog finds serious failures in Covid care at nursing homes
STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s health watchdog said on Tuesday it had uncovered “serious shortcomings” in Covid-19 care for residents of nursing homes where thousands have died, increasing pressure on the country’s unorthodox pandemic strategy.
Nursing homes were ravaged by the initial wave of the coronavirus, prompting Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s somber admission in May that the country had failed to protect its elderly.
Known for its rejection of lockdowns and masks, Sweden has suffered many times more Covid-19 deaths per capita than its neighbors — though fewer than countries such as Spain — a failure authorities have in part blamed on inadequate controls and care at nursing homes.
7h ago / 11:42 AM UTC
Malaysia to shut some factories of world’s biggest latex glove maker
Malaysia will close some factories of the world’s largest maker of latex gloves in stages as it moves to screen employees for Covid-19 after more than 2,000 workers tested positive, authorities said.
Top Glove has racked up record profits this year on sky-rocketing demand for its products and protective gear, thanks to the pandemic.
But 28 factory buildings will be shut in phases after 2,453 workers tested positive for the virus, from 5,767 screened, the country’s director-general of health Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Monday. The cases are the country’s largest active cluster and its second largest since the start of the pandemic.
The government put up barbed wire fences in front of the workers’ hostels on Tuesday, with checkpoints that were guarded by police and army personnel.
Top Glove has around 16,000 employees and runs 47 factories across Malaysia, Thailand, China and Vietnam, with 36 of them producing gloves. Europe and North America are its biggest markets.
7h ago / 11:44 AM UTC
Spain’s King Felipe in quarantine after close contact with Covid-19 case
Spain’s King Felipe VI started 10 days of quarantine on Monday after coming into close contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid-19, a Royal House source said.
The king, 52, has cancelled his public appearances during the quarantine period after the person tested positive on Monday, one day after they were in close contact, the source added.
Queen Letizia and their two daughters will continue their royal activities, the source said.
Spain, one of the epicenters of the early outbreak in Europe, has registered more than 1.58 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, western Europe’s second highest tally after France, and 43,131 deaths.
The Associated Press
7h ago / 11:41 AM UTC
Australian airline boss wants ‘vaccine passport’ for travelers
The boss of Australia’s largest airline said Monday that once a coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available, it may require passengers to use it before they can travel abroad.
Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said he’s been talking to his counterparts at other airlines around the world about the possibility of a “vaccination passport” for overseas travelers.
“We are looking at changing the terms and conditions to say for international travelers that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” Joyce told Australia’s Network Nine television.
Australia has imposed some of the most severe border restrictions in the world since the pandemic began, closing its borders to most international visitors. The country has weathered the pandemic, with nearly 28,000 cases and just over 900 deaths since pandemic began, fewer than many other nations of its size.
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