Coronavirus updates, December 3: 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 406,810 on Thursday after 3,499 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 3, is as follows:

Total confirmed cases: 406,810

• AJK: 7,067

• Balochistan: 17,268

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 4,683

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 31,165

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 47,919

• Punjab: 121,083

• Sindh: 177,625

Deaths: 8,205

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 1,378

• Punjab: 3,091

• Sindh: 2,968

• Balochistan: 169

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 97

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 329

• AJK: 173

More than 64,469,705 infections have been confirmed globally with over 1,492,029 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University tally.

End of live updates for December 3 

11:55pm — Dublin, Sharp fall in Irish COVID-19 cases has likely ended - official

A sharp fall in COVID-19 cases in Ireland is likely to stall following the ending on Dec. 1 of six weeks of strict lockdown, a senior health official said.

"I wouldn't expect case counts to decline any further in the coming week or 10 days," Philip Nolan, Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group told journalists after reporting a seven-day daily new case average of 254, down from almost 1,200 six weeks ago.

Ireland’s COVID-19 reproduction number, which measures the number of people who become infected from each positive case, is currently between 0.8 and 1, but is likely to rise over the Christmas period as social contacts increase, Nolan said.

11:38pm — Washington, US — CDC reports 272,525 deaths from coronavirus

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 13,822,249 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 196,227 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 2,762 to 272,525.

11:08pm — London, UK — Britain to compensate against severe COVID-19 vaccine side-effects

Britain said it will add COVID-19 vaccines to an existing scheme to cover liabilities from any potential severe side-effects of the shots, a day after it became the first Western country to approve a vaccine against the illness which has created global havoc.

10:32pm — Paris, France — PM says COVID-19 vaccines will be free for all

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said it was "a matter of weeks" before the country will start rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations and that they will be free for all.

Castex also told a news conference that the vaccinations would be deployed in three phases.

9:36pm — Washington, US — Airlines cut 29,000 workers through mid-October 

The US passenger and cargo airline industry saw total employment fall by nearly 29,000 workers through the month ending in mid-October as government restrictions on laying off workings expired.

The US Transportation Department said U.S. airlines employed 673,278 workers in mid-October, which was 81,749 fewer than in March when U.S. travel demand started falling dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic. The department said that since March, United Airlines has reduced its workforce by 32%, or 29,243 employees, while Delta Air Lines eliminated 32% of its jobs, or 28,751 employees.

9:00pm — Mexico City, Mexico — President Manuel hopes to start Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Dec

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he hopes that distribution of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will begin this month, a day after the government said it had reached a deal with the U.S. drugmaker to acquire 34.4 million doses.

Lopez Obrador added that more analysis is still needed to determine priorities among groups set to receive the vaccine. 

8:30pm — Geneva, Switzerland — WHO looks at possible 'e-vaccination certificates' for travel

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend countries issuing "immunity passports" for those who have recovered from COVID-19, but is looking at prospects of deploying e-vaccination certificates like those it is developing with Estonia.

Estonia and the United Nations health agency in October started a pilot project for a digital vaccine certificate - a "smart yellow card" - for eventual use in interoperable healthcare data tracking and to strengthen the WHO-backed COVAX initiative to boost vaccinations in developing countries.

The reality of vaccinations is growing, since Britain on Wednesday approved a COVID-19 shot from Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, while other companies Moderna and AstraZeneca have delivered positive trial data amid their push for approval.

7:51pm — Stockholm, Sweden — Top health official says no need for face masks as COVID-19 deaths top 7,000

Sweden has not needed face masks yet, a top health official said, as deaths from the pandemic climbed above 7,000 and a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) expanded recommendations for when masks should be used.

The WHO said on Wednesday that, where the epidemic was spreading, people - including children and students aged 12 or over - should always wear masks in shops, workplaces and schools that lack adequate ventilation, and when receiving visitors at home in poorly ventilated rooms.

However, the Swedish Health Agency, largely behind Sweden's no-lockdown strategy, has refrained from recommending masks, citing poor evidence of their effectiveness and fears that masks might be used as an excuse to not isolate when experiencing symptoms.

"Face masks may be needed in some situations. Those situations have not arisen in Sweden yet, according to our dialogue with the (healthcare) regions," Anders Tegnell, Sweden's chief epidemiologist, told a news conference on Thursday.

7:18pm — Islamabad, Pakistan —  ICT records 417 new cases

6:50pm — Zurich, Switzerland — Health minister says virus situation "very worrying"

Switzerland cannot allow a third wave of the coronavirus, Health Minister Alain Berset said, calling the situation "very worrying" as infection levels stabilise at a high level and saying the country may need to act to tighten restrictions.

6:17pm — Paris, France — Sanofi to publish COVID-19 vaccine price in development with GSK after Phase I/II trial results

French drug maker Sanofi will announce the price of the potential COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline after it has released Phase I/II results of the trials, vaccines chief Thomas Triomphe said on Thursday.

The company is expected to release the results from the Phase I/II clinical trials this month.

It is also developing a vaccine with U.S. biotech firm Translate Bio, with clinical human trials expected to start this month.

5:46pm — Tehran, Iran — coronavirus cases exceed 1 million : health ministry

Iran's total cases of novel coronavirus hit 1 million with 13,922 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said, as the Middle East's worst-affected country's death toll reached 49,348.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 358 people had died from the coronavirus since Wednesday and that confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection had reached 1,003,494.

5:04pm — London, UK — English COVID tracers no longer contacting children separately, boosting figures

England's COVID-19 test and trace system has stopped trying to contact under-18s separately to ask them to self-isolate if a parent says they will tell their child, helping to boost the proportion of contacts of cases successfully traced.

After weeks near a record low of around 60% of contacts of positive cases being successfully traced, 72.5% percent of the 246,604 people identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the week to Nov 25. were reached.

"Under-18s in a household will no longer be contact traced individually, providing the parent or guardian in the household confirms they have completed their legal duty to inform their child to self-isolate," the health ministry said in its weekly bulletin on Thursday.

4:20pm — Zurich, Switzerland — Swiss report 4,455 new coronavirus cases in a day

Coronavirus infections rose by 4,455 in a day, data from Swiss health authorities showed.

The total number of confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein increased to 340,115 and the death toll rose by 80 to 4,747, while 194 new hospitalisations kept pressure on the health care system.

4:00pm — Paris, France — Former French President Giscard d'Estaing dies of COVID-19 complications at 94

Former President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who championed European integration and helped modernise French society in the 1970s, has died at the age of 94 after contracting COVID-19.

Giscard’s foundation said he passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region of central France. He had been admitted to hospital in September with respiratory complications, and was hospitalised again in mid-November.

His funeral will be an intimate family affair, the Valery Giscard d’Estaing Foundation said on Twitter.

Giscard was elected president in 1974 at the age of 48 to become France’s youngest postwar leader.

3:45pm — Jakarta, Indonesia — Indonesia sees new daily record 8,369 coronavirus cases

Indonesia recorded its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections on Thursday, with 8,369 new cases, according to its COVID-19 task force.

This brought the total number of infections in Indonesia to 557,877. The task force data also showed 156 new deaths related to COVID-19, taking the total to 17,355.

Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the Southeast Asia region.

3:30pm — Peshawar, Pakistan — District administration arrest 52 for not wearing masks on BRT

District administration of Peshawar arrested 52 people for not wearing masks while travelling on the Bus Rapid Transit System of the city.

The arrests were made from Saddar, Hashtnagari and GT Road.

3:15pm — Islamabad, Pakistan — PM Imran Khan to address UNGA's special session on coronavirus tomorrow

Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the special session of the United Nations General Assembly’s regarding the coronavirus on Friday morning.

According to the schedule, PM Imran will address the UNGA at 3am on Friday. He will be the 51st speaker of the session and will speak after the prime minister of Thailand.

Read more here.

3:00pm — Lahore, Pakistan — Public rallies should be postponed to contain the virus: Ulema

Pakistani Ulema on Thursday unanimously agreed with the government that public rallies should be postponed considering the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Religious scholars were having a meeting with the President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi to discuss the role of mosque in spreading awareness about COVID-19 and how Ulema can convince people to follow the government's coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, President Alvi said that akin to the government, religious scholars have also expressed their concern over the rising number of cases in the country during the ongoing second wave of the infection.

"It has been decided that a day of prayer will be observed on December 4," President Alvi said. "The Ulema have also urged people to be careful when they are going to markets and other crowded places."

President Alvi said that back in April, religious scholars had fully assisted the government with the implementation of the SOPs, adding that the Ulema agree with the government's stance and have appealed to the opposition to postpone public rallies to contain the virus.

"On behalf of the state, I would like to recognise religious scholars' efforts in spreading the message of discipline without which we would not have been able to control the spread of the virus during the first wave," the president said.

Read more here.

2:45pm — Shibli Faraz urges people to practice caution amid rising cases

Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Thursday urged the people to practice precaution as the “intensity” of the second wave of the coronavirus increase.

The senator said that PM Imran Khan had adopted the right strategy during the first wave that saved many lives and will be taking more precautionary measures during the second wave.

“People should strictly adhere to the SOPs in view of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Care should be taken to ensure that both the health and employment of the people are not affected,” said Faraz on Twitter.

2:30pm — Beirut, Lebanon — Lebanese minister says COVID cases rising, beds won't suffice

Lebanon will not have enough hospital beds to cope with increasing COVID-19 cases, the health minister in the caretaker government warned on Thursday, saying compliance with a two-week lockdown that ended this week had been patchy.

In a Tweet, Hamad Hassan said cases were on the rise and although more hospital beds had been added, these would not be enough.

Intensive care units were at critical capacity when Lebanon ordered the lockdown and caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab had warned the shutdown may be extended if people did not comply.

The health ministry said on Wednesday 1,842 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths had been recorded in the past 24 hours. Recorded deaths due to COVID-19 total 1,055 in the country of 6 million, where healthcare is deteriorating.

2:00pm — Helsinki, Finland— Finland to vaccine its population for free against COVID-19

Finland's government said on Thursday it had agreed a national strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations, planning to give them to everyone and to begin with vaccinating selected healthcare staff from January onwards.

"Finland's goal is to protect the entire population by offering the vaccine free of charge to all those willing and who don't have a health obstacle," Minister of Social Affairs and Health Krista Kiuru told reporters on Thursday. 

1:30pm — Balochistan govt to give risk allowance to healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients 

Balochistan government Spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani announced that the provincial government will provide coronavirus risk allowance to the frontline healthcare workers.

Balochistan Govt allows COVID Risk allowance for health personnel, performing duties related to COVID-19 patients in the health institutions," said the spokesperson in a tweet along with the notification.  

1:15pm — Moscow, Russia — Russia reports record 28,145 new coronavirus cases, 554 deaths

Russia confirmed a record 28,145 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, including 7,750 in Moscow, taking the national total to 2,375,546.

Authorities also reported 554 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 41,607 since the pandemic began.

1:00pm — Karachi, Pakistan — More smart lockdowns imposed in District Central 

District administration of Karachi’s central district on Thursday imposed smart lockdown in more areas from December 2 till December 16.

DC Central said that smart lockdown has been imposed in different areas of Gulberg, North Nazimabad, Liqauatabad and North Karachi.

The DC said that the SOPs will be strictly followed in the areas under the lockdown. He added that only general stores, pharmacies and stores selling essential items will be allowed to operate.

12:30pm —  Peshawar, Pakistan — Masks made compulsory for passengers on BRT buses

The BRT service in Peshawar has made it compulsory for passengers to wear a mask while using the transport.

“People travelling the BRT bus must wear masks,” said the spokesperson. He added that a vigilance team will make sure that coronavirus SOPs are followed in the BRT buses.

“Passengers violating the coronavirus SOPs will be fined,” said the spokesperson.

12:15pm — PTI MNA Noor Alam Khan tests positive for coronavirus 

PTI MNA Noor Alam Khan announced on Thursday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

"I have tested COVID-19 positive, please do pray for me," said the MNA in a tweet.  

12:00pm — Gujranwala, Pakistan — Traffic police issues SOPs for bus stops 

Traffic Police in Gujranwala issued the SOPs for public transports at bus stops.

Chief Traffic Police Officer warned that strict action will be taken against those people found violating the SOPs. He also added that passengers temperature will have to be checked before they are allowed to board the bus.

He also said that transports owners will have to provide face masks to the passengers.

11:30 — 48 NBA players test positive for COVID-19 as league gears up for new season

Forty-eight NBA players tested positive for COVID-19, the league said on Wednesday, as players returned to their team's home markets for the start of the 2020-21 season on December 22.

The NBA said it tested 546 players as part of its "initial return-to-market testing phase," which kicked off between Nov. 24 and Nov. 30. Anyone who tested positive was placed in isolation until cleared under league rules.

The league had few issues keeping its "bubble" environment at Walt Disney World free of the novel coronavirus as it carried out the end of their delayed season earlier this year, but now faces many of the same challenges other North American leagues have playing in the COVID-19 era.

11:00am — Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico reports 11,251 new coronavirus cases, 800 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry on Wednesday reported 11,251 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 800 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 1,133,613 cases and 107,565 deaths.

The 11,251 new cases announced on Wednesday represent one of the biggest one-day totals recorded by Mexico since the pandemic began.

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

10:30am — Berlin, Germany — Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 22,046 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,046 to 1,106,789, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 479 to 17,602, the tally showed.

10:00am — Lahore, Pakistan — Punjab govt bands indoor dining   

The Punjab government has imposed complete ban on indoor dining in restaurants, cafes, hotels, etc. 

Only outdoor dining, with adequate spacing between tables, and takeaway would be allowed. 

Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Punjab issued the orders under Punjab Infectious Diseases (Prevention and Control) Act 2020 and with the CM’s approval.

9:30am — Mumbai, India — India's coronavirus infections below 40,000 for fourth day in a row

India's daily rise in coronavirus infections stayed below 40,000 for a fourth straight day, as 35,551 new cases took the tally to 9.53 millon, health ministry data showed on Thursday.

India's daily rate has fallen since the south Asian nation reported the world's highest such tallies through most of August and September, despite a busy festival season last month that experts had warned could trigger a spike in infections.

But its tally remains the world's second highest after the United States, where the figure is 13.7 million.

Deaths in India rose by 526, taking the toll to 138,648, the ministry added.

9:00am — Shanghai, China — Chinese mainland reports 16 new imported COVID-19 cases

The Chinese mainland registered 16 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, all from overseas, according to the National Health Commission on Thursday.

Of the imported cases, eight were reported in Shanghai, four in Guangdong, two in Shandong, and one each in Hubei and Shaanxi provinces, the commission said in its daily report.

No COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Wednesday, and 18 patients were discharged from hospitals.