Coronavirus updates, December 1: Latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Nationwide confirmed coronavirus cases jump past 400,000; death toll crosses 8,090; global death toll tops 1,467,000

Web Desk

Pakistan's COVID-19 tally rose to 400,482 on Tuesday after 2,458 new cases were detected in the past 24 hours across the country.

The province-wise break up of the total number of cases as of 9:00 am, December 1, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 400,482

• Sindh: 174,350

• Punjab: 119,578

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 47,370

• Balochistan: 17,187

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 30,406

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 4,658

• AJK: 6,933

Deaths: 8,091

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 1,369

• Punjab: 3,036

• Sindh: 2,935

• Balochistan: 167

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 97

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 318

• AJK: 169

More than 63,192,543 infections have been confirmed globally with over 1,467,174 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University tally.

11:35pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — ICT records 283 new cases, four deaths

11:12pm — Washington, US — First COVID-19 shots could be given 24-to-48 hours after FDA nod

Healthcare workers and others recommended for the first COVID-19 inoculations could start getting shots within 24 hours after the vaccine receives regulatory authorization, the chief adviser for the US government's Operation Warp Speed program said on Tuesday.

Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive overseeing the vaccine portion of the US program, said he hopes 20 million people will have been vaccinated by the end of this year.

"Within 24 hours, maybe at most 36 to 48 hours, from the approval, the vaccine can be in people's arms," Slaoui said at an event conducted by The Washington Post.

Slaoui said practice shipping runs - without vaccines - have been conducted to prepare for initial distribution expected to begin in mid-December once Pfizer Inc receives an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine.

10:35pm — Washington, US — Govt to meet COVID-19 vaccine makers, distributors next week 

The US government has invited vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors and government officials to a "COVID-19 Vaccine Summit" next week, Stat News reported, citing an invitation obtained by the news organization.

The meeting which is scheduled for Dec. 8 will feature President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and private-sector executives, the report said.

10:20pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran Khan calls for serious decisions during COVID

Prime Minister Imran Khan, chairing a federal cabinet meeting, said that the country needed serious decisions and attitudes to tackle coronavirus. 

9:50pm — Rome, Italy — 19,350 new coronavirus cases, 785 deaths reported

Italy reported 785 coronavirus-related deaths, up from 672 on Monday, and 19,350 new infections, compared with 16,377 the day before, the health ministry said.

The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has seen 56,361 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain's. It has also registered 1.62 million cases to date.

There were 182,100 swabs carried out in the past day, down from a previous 130,524.

9:23pm — London, UK — 13,430 new COVID-19 cases, 603 deaths reported

Britain reported 13,430 new COVID-19 cases and 603 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, both up on Monday's tallies, according to government data.

8:30pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Cabinet approves allocating $150 million for coronavirus vaccine

The Cabinet has approved allocating a sum worth $150 million for the coronavirus vaccine, sources informed Geo News, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to the sources, the Cabinet green-signaled a recommendation to vaccinate health workers and people over 65 years of age in the first phase.

7:30pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Federal capital restricts indoor dining

"Indoor dining has been restricted in Islamabad," the city's deputy commissioner, Muhammed Hamza Shafqaat, announced on Twitter. "Only take aways and dining outside in open area is allowed. 

"All Assistant Commissioners / Sub Divisional Magistrates are in field ensuring the orders issued under Epidemic Diseases Act in order to prevent further covid infection," he added.

7:08pm — London, UK — Johnson urges lawmakers to back regional COVID restrictions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged lawmakers to support his new system of regional coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, arguing in the face of criticism from his own party that the system was needed to keep the virus under control.

"With the spread of the epidemic varying across the country, there remains a compelling ... case for regional tiers in England," Johnson told parliament, batting away critical interventions from several unhappy lawmakers.

6:35pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Sindh registers 27 deaths, 1,292 infections

Chief Minister Sindh said that the province had registered 27 deaths and another 1,292 infections in the past 24 hours.

The chief minister said that the death toll to 2,962 and the cases have risen to 175,642.

6:09pm — Moscow, Russia — Govt tries to import COVID-19 drugs as deaths hit high

Russia is trying to import foreign-made drugs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic due to a shortage of products at home, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said, as authorities reported a record 569 new daily deaths from the coronavirus.

Russia has several vaccines against the virus in the works and produces some drugs domestically, including Coronavir and Avifavir, both of which are based on favipiravir, which was developed in Japan and is widely used there as the basis for treatment.

During a meeting with senior government officials on Tuesday, Murashko said there was a problem with the supply of favipiravir in some regions.

"Supply volumes of anti-clotting agents have increased. But we still see that a shortage for the network remains, and so we are working with the trade and industry ministry on additional deliveries from abroad," he said.

4:15pm — Karachi, Pakistan — MQM-P senator tests positive for coronavirus

MQM-P Senator Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh has tested positive for the coronavirus, his spokesperson Babar Malik confirmed.

Shaikh was put on oxygen support, Malik said, appealing the public for prayers for the senator's quick recovery.

3:45pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Pakistan has lost 100 healthcare workers to coronavirus

Almost 100 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 in Pakistan to date, as concerns once again grow on lack of personal protective equipment for those on the frontlines of the pandemic's second wave in the country.

The tally by the National Command Operation Center (NCOC) includes doctors, nurses and medics who put their lives at risk to care for others since the first case of the deadly virus was reported in Pakistan in late February.

Of the 100 who died during the pandemic, 71 were doctors, 26 paramedics, two nurses and one a medical student, according to the official figures.

At least 10,314 healthcare professionals have been infected, majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a figure of 2,638, followed by 2,463 in Sindh and 2,534 in Punjab.

Read more here.

3:30pm — Islamabad's positivity ratio at 4.3%

3:00pm — Frankfurt, Germany — Pfizer-BioNTech apply for EU emergency authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech have applied to the European drugs regulator for conditional authorisation of their COVID-19 vaccine, following similar steps in the United States and Britain, the companies said on Tuesday.

The application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after the companies applied for U.S. approval on Nov. 20, taking them a step closer to launching their vaccine.

In their pursuit of a European launch, potentially this year, the partners are neck-and-neck with rival Moderna , which said on Monday it would ask the EU regulator to recommend conditional approval for its shot.

US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech reported final trial results on November 18 that showed their vaccine candidate was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, with no major safety concerns, raising the prospect of US and European approval as early as December.

The European filing completes the so-called rolling review process, which was initiated with the EMA on October 6.

2:30pm — Peshawar, Pakistan — Heath emergency extended in KP due to second wave of COVID-19: Jhagra

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra has said that heath department has extended the health emergency in the province till the end of March 2021 due to the second wave of Corona virus pandemic.

According to Radio Pakistan, a notification regarding the emergency has been issued by the Health Department under the Epidemic Control and Emergency Relief Act 2020.

2:00pm — Sukkur, Pakistan — Four doctors of civil hospital test positive  

Four doctors at Sukkur’s civil hospital have tested positive for the coronavirus, confirmed the medical superintendent.

According to the MS, the hospital's chief cardiologist and head of ICU are among the infected doctors. He added that the affected doctors have been quarantined at their homes.

1:30pm — Moscow, Russia — Russia reports record 569 coronavirus deaths, 26,402 new infections

Russia reported a record 569 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the official death toll to 40,464.

Authorities also reported 26,402 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, including 6,524 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national cumulative tally to 2,322,056. 

1:00pm — Manama, Bahrain — Lewis Hamilton tests positive for coronavirus

Lewis Hamilton will miss the Sakhir Formula One Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, the sport's governing body FIA said.

The Briton, who wrapped up a record-equalling seventh world title last month, was isolating according to local health guidelines in Bahrain, the FIA said.

"Apart from mild symptoms, he is otherwise fit and well," his Mercedes team said.

12:45pm — Peshawar, Pakistan — Smart lockdown imposed in five areas of Peshawar

District Authority in Peshawar imposed a smart lockdown in five different areas of the provincial capital.

The notification shared by the administration said that the lockdown will be imposed from 6pm in Hayatabad, Gulberg and University Town.

The notification stated that the vegetable shops, general stores and Tandoors will only be allowed to open.

12:30pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Provinces making arrangements for rapid antigen testing in major hospital  

Provincial representatives on Tuesday informed the National Command and Operation Centre that they were making the necessary arrangements to hold Rapid Antigen testing in all major hospitals.

During today's meeting, the NCOC was informed that based on recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other reputed guidelines, a national policy was framed to initiate Rapid Antigen Testing to detect coronavirus through swift method; under strict control.

The executive director of NIH briefed the forum that all the provinces were taken on board to devise a unified strategy to hold antigen testing as per the international standards.

The NCOC was informed that initially all government authorised public sector laboratories can perform the antigen tests for the specified categories. They were also told that testing by the private labs will be at the discretion of provincial authorities.

12:00pm — Berlin, Germany — Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 13,604 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 13,604 to 1,067,473, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday.

The reported death toll rose by 388 to 16,636. 

11:45am — Islamabad, Pakistan — Historical positivity rate at 7.2% 

The historical case positivity rate stands at 7.2% while today's rate is 6.0%. Azad Jammu and Kashmir has the highest positivity rate at 14.5%, Sindh is second with 10.1%, and Balochistan third with 9.4%. Islamabad reported 4.3%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 3.8%, Punjab 3.5% and Gilgit Baltistan 2.6%.

In cities, the highest case positivity rate was observed in Mirpur with 20.62%, followed by Peshawar at 19.58 and Hyderabad at 19.03%. Karachi recorded 13.9%, Abbottabad 11.21%, Multan 10.66% and Rawalpindi 9.27%.

Read more here.

11:15am — Mumbai, India — India reports over 31,000 new COVID-19 cases, lowest since Nov 17

India recorded 31,118 new coronavirus cases, the lowest daily tally since November 17, data from the health ministry showed on Tuesday.

India now has 9.46 million COVID-19 infections, but the number of new daily cases has stayed below the 50,000 mark since November 7 despite a busy festival season last month, according to a Reuters tally.

Deaths rose by 482, bringing the total to 137,621.

11:00am — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab govt to set up two new testing labs in province

Punjab government has approved for setting up two new coronavirus testing labs in Multan and Rahim Yar Khan announced Special Assistant to CM Punjab Firdous Ashiq Awan.

Awan said that the labs can carry out 25,000 tests daily. She added that the Punjab government was confident of defeating the second wave of the coronavirus. 

10:45am — Saudi Arabia not to holds Hajj till vaccine becomes available: Minister 

Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri shared on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia will not hold Hajj as per routine till the vaccine of the coronavirus becomes available.

“Saudi government says Hajj will be held under SOPs till coronavirus vaccine is available,” said Qadri. He also stated that there has been no conversation regarding the Hajj subsidy.

10:30am — New York, USA — COVID-19 drives 40% spike in number of people needing humanitarian aid, UN says

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a 40% increase in the number of people needing humanitarian assistance around the globe, the United Nations said on Tuesday, as it appealed for roughly $35 billion to help many of those expected to be in need next year.

"If everyone who will need humanitarian aid next year lived in one country, it would be the world's fifth largest nation," UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said.

"The pandemic has wreaked carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries," he added.

The United Nations has set out 34 humanitarian response plans covering 56 countries for 2021, aiming to help 160 million of what it forecasts to be 235 million most vulnerable people worldwide facing hunger, conflict and the impacts of climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

"We always aim to reach about two-thirds of those in need because others, for example the Red Cross, will try to meet the remaining gap," Lowcock said.

He said this year donors gave a record $17 billion to fund humanitarian operations and data showed that aid reached 70% of the people targeted.

While Lowcock noted the $35 billion needed for 2021 was a lot of money, he said it was a "very small" amount compared to what rich countries have spent protecting their citizens during the pandemic.

10:00am — Education institutions closed down due to rising cases: Mahmood 

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said that the educational institutions across the country had to be closed down due to rising coronavirus cases. 

"We had to close educational institutions because coronavirus infections were rising very fast. It was done with a heavy heart," said Mahmmod in a tweet. 

The minister appealed to the students to use the time awa from school "not as a holiday but to revise their courses, do homework". 

9:45am — Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico reports 6,472 new coronavirus cases, 285 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry on Monday reported 6,472 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 285 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,113,543 cases and 105,940 deaths.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases. 

9:30am — Geneva, Switzerland — WHO says Mexico in 'bad shape' on coronavirus, sees 'serious problem'

The head of the World Health Organization said on Monday that Mexico is in "bad shape" regarding the coronavirus as infections and deaths surge, and urged the government to be serious about addressing the pandemic.

Mexico's coronavirus death tally, the fourth highest in the world, stands above 105,500. Confirmed cases are in excess of 1.1 million, but public health experts say the true figure is likely significantly higher.

"The number of increase in cases and deaths in Mexico is very worrisome," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press briefing in Geneva. The number of weekly deaths had gone from 2,000 the week of October 12 to around 4,000 by November 23, he added. "This shows Mexico is in bad shape."

At least seven of Mexico City's 54 public hospitals treating COVID-19 patients are at full occupancy for coronavirus beds with respirators, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The OCHA said another 14 health centers risk being stretched, with COVID-19 bed occupancies exceeding 70%. It noted that Mexico's health ministry reported 63% of all general hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the capital are occupied.

"When both indicators, deaths and cases, increase I think this is a very serious problem and we would like to ask Mexico to be very serious," said Tedros.

9:00am — Shanghai, China — Mainland China reports 12 new COVID-19 cases vs 18 a day earlier

Mainland China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on November 30, down from 18 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Tuesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement eight of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. The remaining four cases were local infections reported in the Inner Mongolia region.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to five from 17 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mainland China now stands at 86,542, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.