Coronavirus updates, December 2: Latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Nationwide confirmed coronavirus cases jump past 403,000; death toll crosses 8,160; global death toll tops 1,479,000

Web Desk

Pakistan's COVID-19 tally rose to 403,311 on Tuesday after 2,829 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 2, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 403,311

• AJK: 6,982

• Balochistan: 17,215

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 4,667

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 30,748

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 47,701

• Punjab: 120,356

• Sindh: 175,642

Deaths: 8,166

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 1,375

• Punjab: 3,066

• Sindh: 2,962

• Balochistan: 169

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 97

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 324

• AJK: 173

More than 63,788,113 infections have been confirmed globally with over 1,479,442 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University tally.

11:58pm — Paris, France — New COVID-19 cases up 14,064 in 24 hours

French health authorities reported 14,064 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, up from Tuesday's 8,083.

The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections in hospitals rose by 313 in 24 hours to 37,002. This brought the total death tally to 53,816.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases now totals 2,244,635, the fifth highest tally in the world.

11:35pm — Mexico  City, Mexico — Govt signs deal with Pfizer for 34.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Mexico has signed an agreement with Pfizer to acquire 34.4 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, the country's health ministry announced in a tweet.

The health ministry said it expects to receive 250,000 doses in the month of December and will prioritize vaccinating health care workers.

11:09pm — Madrid, Spain — Govt sets 10-person limit for Christmas, New Year parties

The Spanish government has agreed with regional authorities that up to 10 people will be allowed to gather at a household for the Christmas and New Year holidays to avoid spreading the coronavirus, Health Minister Salvador Illa said.

The agreement, which applies to celebrations on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and on New Year's day, means a slight relaxation of the current general rule that allows gatherings of up to six people, except in some regions that have defined their own limits.

Movement between regions will be banned, with some exceptions, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6, Illa told a news conference.

10:49pm — London, UK — PM Johnson says some months until all vulnerable get COVID jabs

British Prime Minister said on Wednesday it would be some months before all the most vulnerable people received COVID-19 vaccines with England's health service boss saying the bulk of the jabs would be given between January and April.

"It will inevitably take some months before all the most vulnerable are protected," Johnson told a media conference after Britain approved the first COVID vaccine tested in wide-scale clinical trials.

10:16pm — London, UK — PM Johnson might take COVID shot on TV, but won't jump queue

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson might be persuaded to take a COVID-19 vaccination on television to show it is safe but he would not have one before those in greater need, his press secretary said.

Johnson, 56, who spent time in intensive care earlier this year after contracting COVID-19, has hailed the UK approval of Pfizer Inc's vaccine as a global win and ray of hope amid a pandemic that has hurt the economy and upended normal life.

But, like other leaders, Johnson cannot be seen to be jumping the queue for the vaccine, ahead of more vulnerable people. However, he wants to illustrate its safety to try to persuade others to take it when it is more widely available.

Asked if the prime minister would take the shot live on television, press secretary Allegra Stratton said she had not asked him directly.

"I don't think it would be something he would rule out," she said. "But I think we also know that he wouldn't want to take a jab that should be for someone who is extremely vulnerable, clinically vulnerable and who should be getting it before him."

9:30pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab bans indoor dining amid worsening coronavirus situation

The government of Punjab has announced a complete ban on indoor dining amid a worsening coronavirus situation across Pakistan, as per a notification issued.

According to the notification from Punjab's Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department (P&SHD), dining inside hotels, cafes, and restaurants has been banned.

People may only have meals in open spaces at the various restaurants, hotels, and food points, the Punjab government said.

9:00pm — Karachi, Pakistan — CM Sindh tests negative for COVID-19 

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah has said that he has tested negative for coronavirus, in a tweet, nearly a month after he had contracted the infection. 

Announcing on Twitter, the provincial minister thanked his well-wishers for their prayers for his speedy recovery.

8:40pm — WHO answers COVID-19-related queries from social media users in a live session

8:20pm — Pfizer-BioNTech seeks full marketing approval from UK for COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer is seeking full marketing authorisation from Britain for its COVID-19 vaccine, an executive said on Wednesday as the US drugmaker gears up to deliver by the weekend the first shots following approval for emergency use in the country.

The application for full approval is “in parallel” with emergency use, said Berkeley Phillips, medical director of Pfizer UK, in a briefing.

He said regulators will review the same data provided for emergency use by Pfizer and its partner and BioNTech for full approval. He did not say when that decision may come.

8:05pm — Interpol warns that COVID-19 vaccines could be targeted by criminals

The Interpol global police co-ordination agency warned on Wednesday that organised criminal networks could be targeting COVID-19 vaccines, and could look to sell fake shots.

Interpol, which is headquartered in France, said it had issued a global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries, warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

7:55pm — WHO continues to recommend implementation of coronavirus SOPs

7:45pm — EU criticises 'hasty' UK approval of COVID-19 vaccine

The European Union criticised Britain’s rapid approval of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, saying its own procedure was more thorough, after Britain became the first western country to endorse a COVID-19 shot, Reuters reported.

The move to grant emergency authorisation to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been seen by many as a political coup for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has led his country out of the EU and faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic.

The decision was made under an ultra-fast, emergency approval process, which allowed the British drugs regulator to temporarily authorise the vaccine only ten days after it began examining data from large-scale trials.

7:35pm — Moscow, Russia — Putin tells officials to start mass vaccinations against COVID-19 next week

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered authorities to begin mass vaccinations against COVID-19 from next week in Russia, Reuters reported.

“Let’s agree on this - you will not report to me next week, but you will start mass vaccination ... let’s get to work already,” Putin told Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.

7:20pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Federal capital reports 6 new deaths over last 24 hours

The federal capital reported six new fatalities from coronavirus during the last 24 hours, District Health Officer Islamabad said on Wednesday.

However, with 5,463 active cases, about 415 individuals have recovered from the infection so far.

7:08pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Farogh Naseem tests positive for coronavirus

Law minister Farogh Naseem has tested positive for coronavirus, the law ministry confirmed.

The law minister said that he is feeling COVID-19 symptoms and that he would continue to work from his home in Karachi.

7:06pm — Karachi, Pakistan — Murtaza Wahab directs law department to enforce coronavirus SOPs

Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab has directed law department and attached offices to enforce coronavirus SOPs after it was observed that employees were not following them in true letter and spirit.

6:38pm — Berlin, Germany — Brexit Britain just approved a European vaccine, German health minister says

Celebrating Britain's swift approval of BioNtech and Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine as a benefit of Brexit is misplaced since the vaccine was itself a product of the European Union that Britain has left, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

Spahn told journalists that while Britain had been the first to approve the vaccine, he was optimistic that the European Medicines Agency would soon follow. The time difference was due to Britain and the US having conducted an emergency approval process, while the EU was using a regular process.

"But a few remarks on Brexit to my British friends: Biontech is a European development, from the EU. The fact that this EU product is so good that Britain approved it so quickly shows that in this crisis European and international cooperation are best," he said.

6:00pm — Vienna, Austria — Schools, shops to reopen, as lockdown eases, ski opening looms

Austrian shops and primary schools will reopen on Monday when the country's current lockdown eases, and skiing will be allowed as of Dec. 24, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

His government said in a statement that until Jan. 10 anyone arriving from a country with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks will have to go into quarantine. That covers nations including Italy and Germany and makes short ski holidays for people from those countries almost impossible

5:30pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — Rehman Malik calls upon govt to declare medical emergency

PPP Senator Rehman Malik, the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, called upon the PTI-led government to declare a medical emergency at a time when "hospitals in Islamabad are overflowing with coronavirus cases".

In a press conference, Malik said citizens had complained that other patients were unable to get beds. "More people are being affected by the second wave of the coronavirus [pandemic]," he said.

"Many countries have now bought vaccines; our government should also make vaccines a priority," he added. "Beds and oxygen should immediately be provided in the hospitals and vaccines obtained soon."

The senator also noted that the government should convene a session of the Parliament to discuss the pandemic and that the prime minister sit down with all parties and find a solution.

"There is also a risk of a third wave of coronavirus [pandemic]," he warned. "The prime minister should clarify his plan on the coronavirus situation."

3:45pm — Paris, France — Interpol warns that COVID-19 vaccines could be targeted by criminals

The Interpol global police co-ordination agency warned on Wednesday that organised criminal networks could be targeting COVID-19 vaccines, and could look to sell fake shots.

Interpol, which is headquartered in France, said it had issued a global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries, warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

"As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organisations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains. Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives," said Interpol secretary general Juergen Stock.

3:15pm — Geneva, Switzerland — WHO issues fresh advice on mask-wearing for public, health workers

People living in areas with COVID-19 spread should wear masks in shops, workplaces and schools if ventilation is not adequate, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in new advice issued on Wednesday.

Health workers could wear N95 masks if available when caring for COVID-19 patients, but the only proven protection is when they are doing aerosol-generating procedures, the UN agency said, updating its previous guidance of June.

3:00pm — Brussels, Belgium — EU drug watchdog urges longer approval process after UK authorises Pfizer COVID shot

The European Union's drug regulator said on Wednesday that its longer approval process for COVID-19 vaccines was safer, after Britain granted an emergency authorisation to the experimental shot being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Asked about the UK approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the European Medicines Agency said: "EMA considers that the conditional marketing authorisation is the most appropriate regulatory mechanism for use in the current pandemic emergency." It said that procedure was based on more evidence and more checks than the emergency procedure chosen by Britain.

EMA said on Tuesday it will decide by Dec. 29 whether to authorise Pfizer's vaccine.

2:00pm — Lahore, Pakistan — PML-N MPA submits resolution in provincial assembly for SOP violations in Sunday market  

PML-N MPA Rabia Nusrat submitted a resolution in Punjab Assembly over the SOP violations in the Islampura Sunday market.

The resolution says that the SOPs violations are ongoing in the market and the management is involved in spreading the coronavirus in the market.

1:30pm — Moscow, Russia — Russia reports record 589 coronavirus deaths, 25,345 new infections

Russia reported a record 589 deaths linked to the coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the official number of deaths to 41,053.

Authorities also reported 25,345 coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, including 5,191 in the capital Moscow, and 3,684 in St Petersburg, bringing the national cumulative tally to 2,347,401. 

12:30pm — Warsaw, Poland — Poland to surpass one million coronavirus cases on Wednesday: minister

Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country would surpass one million on Wednesday.

In response to a question from a journalist on private radio station TOK FM on whether Poland would surpass one million coronavirus cases on Wednesday, Niedzielski answered yes.

12:10pm — London UK — UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use

Britain on Wednesday said it had approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use and that it will be rolled out for use from next week.

"The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use," the government said.

"The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week."

12:00pm — Govt to provide coronavirus vaccine free of cost: Dr Nausheen 

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Nausheen Hamid shared that the government will provide the coronavirus vaccine free of cost to the people.

“The government is collecting funds for the coronavirus vaccine. We will provide the coronavirus vaccine free of cost,” Hamid said on Geo Pakistan. She added that the government will start the vaccination from the second quarter of 2021.a

11:00am — Peshawar, Pakistan — LRH Director Tariq Burki tests positive for coronavirus 

Director of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital Muhammad Tariq Burki has tested positive for the coronavirus, said a spokesperson.

The hospital’s spokesperson said that Burki had quarantined himself at his home. He added that Deputy Director of the hospital Bilal Bashir has taken charge of director for the time being.

10:45am — Mumbai, India — India coronavirus cases stay below 50k for 25th straight day

India's daily coronavirus cases continued to stay below the 50,000 mark for the 25th straight day, with 36,604 new infections reported, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday.

The country now has 9.5 million total infections, but cases have been dipping since a peak in September, in spite of a busy festival season last month.

Daily cases rose by less than 40,000 for the third straight day on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally.

Deaths rose by 501, the health ministry said, with the total now at 138,122.

10:15am — Shanghai, China — Mainland China reports nine new COVID-19 cases, down from 12 a day earlier

Mainland China reported nine new COVID-19 cases on December 1, down from 12 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Wednesday.

The National Health Commission, in a statement, said seven of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. Two new local cases were reported in the Inner Mongolia region, the commission said.

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

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 86,551, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

10:00am — Christchurch, New Zealand — Eighth Pakistani player tests positive for coronavirus, PCB confirms

The Pakistan Cricket Board announced Wednesday that another member of the squad in New Zealand has tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total COVID-19 cases to eight.

"Out of 54, a total of eight Pakistan cricket team members have tested positive following day 1, 3 and 6 tests," said the PCB in a statement released after discussions with the New Zealand authorities.

The PCB said that out of the eight, two have been labelled "historic", making them "not infectious".

"They are now observing the isolation period on the same floor as the other members of the squad who have tested negative," read the statement.

Read more here.

9:45am — Washington, USA — US CDC to shorten COVID-19 quarantine to 10 days: federal spokesperson

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon shorten the length of self-quarantine recommended after potential exposure to the coronavirus to 10 days, or 7 days with a negative test, a federal spokesperson said on Tuesday.

CDC currently recommends a 14-day quarantine in order to curb the transmission of the virus.

9:30am — Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico reports 8,819 new coronavirus cases, 825 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry on Tuesday reported 8,819 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 825 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,122,362 cases and 106,765 deaths.

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

9:15am — Former Bollywood actor Sunny Deol tests positive for coronavirus  

Bollywood actor turned politician Sunny Deol announced on Wednesday taht he had tested positive for the coronavirus, reported Indian media 

The 64-year-old said he is health is fine and has gone into isolation. The BJP lawmaker in Punjab had appealed to people who had come in contact with him is the last couple of days to get themselves tested.

"I got a corona test done and the report has come out as positive. I am under isolation and my health is fine. I request all those who came in contact with me in the last couple of days to isolate themselves and get themselves tested," Doel had tweeted in Hindi that was translated by NDTV.

9:00am — Berlin, Germany — Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 17,270

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 17,270 to 1,084,743, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday.

The reported death toll rose by 487 to 17,123. (Reporting by Berlin Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)