By MORGAN WINSOR, EMILY SHAPIRO and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide.
Over 51.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks. The criteria for diagnosis — through clinical means or a lab test — has also varied from country to country.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the virus has rapidly spread to every continent except Antarctica. The United States is the worst-affected nation, with more than 10.2 million diagnosed cases and at least 239,683 deaths.
Nearly 200 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least 10 of which are in crucial phase three studies. Of those 10 potential vaccines in late-stage trials, there are currently five that will be available in the United States if approved.
Here’s how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:
Nov 11, 10:40 am
Ethiopia’s case count tops 100,000 amid fears of civil war
Ethiopia has confirmed more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases, becoming one of just a handful of countries across Africa that have surpassed the grim milestone.
Other African countries with over 100,000 confirmed cases as of Wednesday are Egypt with 109,000, Morocco with 265,000 and South Africa with 740,000. Meanwhile, the 54-nation African continent is approaching 2 million confirmed cases, according to the latest data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The development comes as Ethiopia, one of Africa’s most populous countries, appears to be on the brink of civil war amid increasingly deadly skirmishes in its northern Tigray region between federal forces and Tigray’s ones.
The United Nations and other groups have warned of a brewing humanitarian crisis that could affect up to 9 million people.
Nov 11, 9:56 am
England to give university students 7-day window to travel home for Christmas
University students in England will be given a seven-day window next month to travel home before Christmas, with school campuses providing mass testing before they leave, according to new guidance published Wednesday by the U.K. government.
After a second nationwide lockdown ends on Dec. 2, students will be allowed to travel home on staggered departure dates set by universities from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9.
“The student travel window will mean students can travel having just completed the four-week period of national restrictions, reducing the risk of transmission to family and friends at home,” the U.K. government said in a press release announcing the new guidance.
The government is urging universities to transition to remote learning by Dec. 9 so students can continue their education while also having the option to return home to study from there. The government said it will also work closely with universities to establish mass COVID-19 testing capacity.
“Tests will be offered to as many students as possible before they travel home for Christmas, with universities in areas of high prevalence prioritised,” the government said. “If a student tests positive before their departure they will need to remain in self-isolation for the required period of 10 days. Moving all learning online by 9 December gives enough time for students to complete the isolation period and return home for Christmas.”
English students at universities in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland are instructed to follow the guidance relevant to where they are living before returning home.
The U.K. government’s universities minister, Michelle Donelan, acknowledged that the upcoming holidays “will feel different this year” due to the unprecedented situation.
“We have worked really hard to find a way to do this for students, while limiting the risk of transmission,” Donelan said in a statement Wednesday. “Now it is vital they follow these measures to protect their families and communities, and for universities to make sure students have all the wellbeing support they need, especially those who stay on campus over the break.”
Nov 11, 9:03 am
Texas becomes first US state to surpass one million cases
Texas has confirmed its one-millionth case of COVID-19, becoming the first U.S. state to do so.
The Lone Star state confirmed 12,337 new cases in the past day, bringing its cumulative total to 1,010,364 confirmed cases as of early Wednesday. The state also registered an additional 114 fatalities from COVID-19, bringing its death toll to 19,337, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Texas’ seven-day moving average of daily positive COVID-19 tests stands at 10%. Current hot spots within the southwestern state include the areas of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Meanwhile, California is on track to become the second U.S. state to surpass one million confirmed cases. The Golden State confirmed 8,135 new cases in the past day, bringing its cumulative total to 989,432 confirmed cases as of early Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Nov 11, 8:31 am
Europe clinches deal to buy up to 300M doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
Pfizer and BioNTech announced Wednesday that they have reached an agreement to supply up to 300 million doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine to Europe.
The agreement with the European Commission provides a supply of 200 million doses and an option to request an additional 100 million doses, according to a joint press release from Pfizer and BioNTech.
Doses allocated for European Union member states will be produced in BioNTech’s manufacturing sites in Germany as well as at Pfizer’s site in Belgium. If the vaccine candidate receives authorization from the European Medicines Agency, then doses will be ordered by the EU member states who have elected to receive the vaccine as part of the agreement.
Deliveries are anticipated to start by the end of 2020, subject to clinical success and regulatory approval, according to the press release.
“Today’s finalized supply agreement with the European Commission represents the largest initial order of vaccine doses for Pfizer and BioNTech to date and a major step toward our shared goal of making a COVID-19 vaccine available to vulnerable populations,” Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement Wednesday.
Last month, the European Medicines Agency began a rolling review of data on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine candidate to determine whether the drug should be authorized for use.
Pfizer, a New York-based pharmaceutical giant, and BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, announced Monday that the experimental vaccine appears to be at least 90% effective in an early analysis. The European Medicines Agency said in a statement Monday that it “has not yet had a chance to formally assess these efficacy data.”
Nov 11, 5:57 am
Vanuatu confirms first case since pandemic began
A small island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean has remained untouched by the coronavirus pandemic — until now.
Vanuatu confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health said the case is a 23-year-old man who had returned to the archipelago nation on Nov. 4, after traveling to the United States. He tested positive during a routine screening on the fifth day of quarantine.
The man, who hasn’t shown any symptoms, will remain in isolation until health clearance is provided, according to the health ministry.
“Physical distancing and personal protection measures were applied and maintained during the flight, throughout the arrival process, during transport to and during registration at the quarantine facility,” the ministry said in a press release. “The person had been identified during pre-travel registration as traveling from a higher-risk location, therefore was seated separately at the back of the plane and was screened and transported separately from other arriving passengers. The case did not share a room with anyone else at the quarantine facility and is reported to have adhered to all appropriate measures throughout the travel and quarantine process.”
Nov 11, 5:27 am
Russia records highest number of daily deaths
Russia registered 432 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, setting a new single-day record.
An additional 19,851 new cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed nationwide over the past day, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters. It’s the first time in six days that daily infections didn’t exceed 20,000.
The country’s cumulative total now stands at 1,836,960 cases with 31,593 deaths, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.
Moscow remains the epicenter of the country’s outbreak and recent surge. More than 22% of the newly confirmed cases — 4,477 — and nearly 17% of the new deaths — 73 — were reported in the capital, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Russian authorities have repeatedly said they have no plans to impose another nationwide lockdown.
The Eastern European country of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Nov 11, 5:17 am
Nearly 1,000 inmates at Colorado jail have tested positive
The El Paso County Jail in Colorado has had 976 inmates and 85 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The outbreak at the jail was first reported on Oct. 26, when eight employees across varying assignments were found to be infected. The following day, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office announced that two more deputies who work there and eight inmates had tested positive.
“An aggressive, prioritized COVID testing schedule was implemented for staff and inmates,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement on its website, where it provides updates on the outbreaks as test results become available.
There were 911 inmates and 73 staff members who tested positive on Monday alone. It’s unclear how many total inmates were in custody that day.
“The threat of further infection will continue to increase over the next several weeks,” the sheriff’s office said. “At this point in time, there have been no inmates who have had to be hospitalized. They are all being treated in the facility by our medical provider, WellPath.”
Visitation at the jail remains closed.
Nov 11, 4:09 am
US reports another record high of over 136,000 new cases
There were 136,325 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Tuesday, marking a new single-day record, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the seventh straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 new infections. Tuesday’s tally tops the nation’s previous all-time high of 128,412 new cases
A total of 10,257,825 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 239,683 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4.
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