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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, US urges WHO to invite Taiwan to meeting

Malaysia plans to increase COVID fund; Japan's new cases stay above 1,000

A press conference of the World Health Organization is held at WHO headquarters in Geneva.   © Reuters

Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Follow the latest updates

Global cases have reached 49,114,225, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 1,239,757.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:


Saturday, November 7 (Tokyo time)

5:45 a.m. Can COVID-19 be transmitted through sex? Ranjith Ramasamy and his team at the University of Miami are studying the effect of the disease on male sex organs, the Florida-based Sun Sentinel reports.

"What most surprised us is the fact the virus can be present in the testes of asymptomatic men and linger long after they test negative, even if they have no testicular pain," Ramasamy is quoted as saying.

5:00 a.m. In the two days after the U.S. election day on Tuesday, new COVID-19 cases topped 100,000, reaching a record high of 121,888, data gathered by Johns Hopkins University shows.

New COVID-19 deaths in the U.S surpassed 1,000 on both Wednesday and Thursday, adding to a pandemic death toll that is already the world's highest.

3:45 a.m. Japan's Sega Sammy Holdings seeks to cut about 650 jobs through an early retirement program as the pandemic sinks customer traffic at its video game arcades.

The company has said it plans to exit the amusements business in Japan but will continue to develop video game machines.

1:57 a.m. Latvia's government declares a four-week lockdown starting on Nov. 9 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, reports Reuters. The Baltic nation reported 367 new cases on Friday, bringing the total number to 7,119 with 87 deaths. It had only 2,086 total cases on Oct. 1.

1:30 a.m. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says signs of improvement in the American economy, including a drop in the jobless rate, is reason for making the next coronavirus stimulus package smaller and more targeted.

"I think it reinforces the argument that I've been making for the last few months, that something smaller -- rather than throwing another $3 trillion at this issue -- is more appropriate," Reuters quotes McConnell as saying at a news conference.

Friday, November 6

11:30 p.m. Japan reports 1,104 new COVID-19 cases, marking two straight days over 1,000. The coronavirus had not spread at that pace for two consecutive days since late August.

10:50 p.m. The U.S. unemployment rate falls to 6.9% in October, down 1 percentage point from September in the sixth straight month of improvement, according to preliminary data from the Department of Labor.

9:36 p.m. Malaysian Finance Minister Zafrul Aziz submits a 322.5 billion ringgit ($78.04 billion) budget to parliament, an expansionary package that far exceeds estimated government revenue of 236.9 billion ringgit. Zafrul said the government is seeking legislators' approval to raise the ceiling of a dedicated COVID-19 fund to 60 billion ringgit from the permitted 45 billion ringgit, taking into account the recent resurgence of the virus.

8:41 p.m. Singapore Airlines reports a record S$2.34 billion ($1.74 billion) net loss for the July-September quarter, hit by a plunge in passenger numbers due to the pandemic and impairment charges on older aircraft. The loss compares with a S$94.5 million profit in the same period last year. Revenue tumbles 81% to S$783.8 million.

8:06 p.m. The World Health Organization says it is looking at biosecurity in countries where there are mink farms after Denmark ordered a nationwide cull of the animals due to a widespread coronavirus outbreak among them.

7:53 p.m. Malaysia reports 1,755 new cases, its biggest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, taking the country's tally to 38,189 infections. The Southeast Asian country also records two new fatalities, raising the death toll to 279.

6:48 p.m. The U.S. mission in Geneva issues a statement urging Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, to invite Taiwan to take part in a virtual meeting of 194 member states scheduled next week which will be hosted by the international body and is set to focus on the pandemic and related health issues.

6:15 p.m. Denmark's State Serum Institute, which deals with infectious diseases, has found mink-related versions of coronavirus in 214 people since June, according to a report on its website, updated on Nov. 5. One strain of the mutated coronavirus, which has prompted Denmark to cull its entire population of mink, has, however, only been found in 12 people and on five mink farms so far.

Minks are seen at Hans Henrik Jeppesen's farm near Soroe, after government's decision to cull his entire herd due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Denmark Nov. 5.   © Reuters

5:50 p.m. Malaysia's government will propose raising by 20 billion ringgit ($4.84 billion) the ceiling of a newly established fund to deal with the pandemic, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz says. The move will increase the size of the COVID-19 fund to 65 billion ringgit, to fund aid packages and the needs of frontline workers and future procurement of vaccines, Tengku Zafrul said while presenting the government's 2021 Budget.

5:45 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,778 new infections and 94 COVID-19 deaths, government data shows. The country's totals of 429,574 cases and 14,442 deaths from the coronavirus are the highest in Southeast Asia.

5:00 p.m. The Philippines records 2,092 new infections and 52 more deaths. Its total confirmed cases have risen to 391,809 while deaths reached 7,461, a fifth of those in the past month.

4:00 p.m. Novartis' arthritis drug canakinumab failed to help COVID-19 patients survive without invasive ventilation compared with standard therapy, the Swiss drugmaker says, dashing hopes that the drug could be repurposed during the pandemic. The medicine, approved as Ilaris for juvenile arthritis and other conditions, also did not meet its key secondary endpoint of reducing COVID-19 mortality in a late-phase clinical trial.

3:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 242 new infections, down from 269 a day earlier and bringing the capital's total to 32,135.

A man and his children ride a bicycle in Hanoi during the coronavirus outbreak: Vietnam has decided to try to contain COVID-19, rather than rush to secure possibly expensive vaccines.   © Reuters

2:50 p.m. Vietnam will try to contain COVID-19, rather than rush to secure possibly expensive vaccines, Reuters reports. The country has kept infections to 1,210 with only 35 deaths and has gone over two months without community transmission. "The vaccine is a story for the future," said Vu Duc Dam, head of the country's coronavirus task force and deputy prime minister. "Demand is far higher than supply, and we have to pay large deposits to secure our position, which I see as very high risk and a waste of money and time. ... We will continue to deal with COVID as we are now."

12:53 p.m. Toyota Motor nearly doubles its full-year net profit forecast to 1.42 trillion yen ($13.7 billion) as the Japanese automotive giant mitigates the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, helped by speedy recoveries in the U.S. and Chinese markets and improved cost efficiency.

An early stage trial showing faster recovery times for patients treated with Celltrion's experimental COVID-19 drug is good news for the company as it plans to seek approval for emergency use of the treatment by the end of this year.   © Reuters

11:30 a.m. South Korea confirms 145 new coronavirus cases, up from 125 a day ago. Total infections have reached 27,195, with 476 deaths.

10:20 a.m. South Korean drugmaker Celltrion says patients treated with its experimental COVID-19 antibody drug showed a mean 44% improvement in recovery times compared to getting a placebo in a small early stage trial. The result bodes well for Celltrion, which plans to seek conditional approval for the monoclonal antibody treatment, CT-P59, for emergency use by the end of this year in South Korea.

10:05 a.m. The United States on Thursday reported a record increase in new cases for the second day in a row, with at least 109,658 new infections as people waited for the result of the presidential election, according to a Reuters tally. U.S. cases have risen by more than 100,000 for three out of the last seven days, putting pressure on hospitals in several states and causing families to rethink their plans for Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 26.

9:40 a.m. China reports 36 new cases for Thursday, compared to 28 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 30 were imported and six were locally transmitted cases in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

9:10 a.m. Japan's household spending slumped 10.2% in September from a year earlier, government data shows, a sign that sluggish domestic demand will continue to drag on any recovery for its economy.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks about current coronavirus statistics, testing and lockdown measures during a news conference at No. 10 Downing St. in London on Thursday.   © Pool Photo/Reuters

9:00 a.m. British police said they had arrested 104 Londoners on Thursday for breach of coronavirus regulations. Prime Minister Boris Johnson last Saturday ordered England back into a national lockdown starting Thursday morning after the United Kingdom passed the milestone of 1 million COVID-19 cases, but people gathered in central London despite the new restrictions.

4:25 a.m. Hungary will start importing small quantities of a Russian-made COVID-19 vaccine in December for final testing and licensing, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says in a Facebook video.

2:43 a.m. Greece ordered a nationwide lockdown for three weeks, its second this year, to help contain a resurgence of COVID-19 after a sharp increase in infections this week, reports Reuters.

1:41 a.m. The Moroccan government, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund say they will postpone plans to hold the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings in Marrakesh in October 2021 until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, November 5

11:33 p.m. China bars non-Chinese travelers from Britain, France, Belgium, the Philippines and India, imposing some of the most stringent entry curbs of any country as coronavirus cases surge around the world, reports Reuters. The restrictions cover those with valid visas and residence permits and take effect in conjunction with a more restrictive testing regime for arrivals from several other countries.

A woman shops at a market in Jakarta amid the coronavirus pandemic.   © Reuters

8:13 p.m. Indonesia says it will offer sovereign guarantees on loans to businesses. Under a new regulation, the government will guarantee against the risk of defaults on loans, debt securities and other risks for financial institutions that provide financing to state and municipality-owned companies, regional governments and private companies. The government will cover both the principal and interest on loans to non-private companies at the time of default. But coverage for private ones would depend on their financial condition and ability to pay.

8:00 p.m. Bangladesh signs a deal with the Serum Institute of India to buy 30 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca. "Whenever the vaccine is ready, the Serum Institute will give us 30 million doses in the first phase," health minister Zahid Maleque told reporters after the deal was signed in Dhaka. Five million doses per month would be purchased through Bangladesh drug maker Beximco Pharmaceuticals.

6:14 p.m. Investor confidence in Thailand's financial markets over the next three months dropped to a seven-month low, due to the pandemic and local protests. A survey in October by the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations showed its confidence index fell to 61.27, the lowest since a record low of 56.7 in March.

6:00 p.m. Indonesia reports 4,065 new infections, up from 3,356 a day earlier and taking the country total to 425,796, government data show. It also added 89 new deaths, taking total fatalities to 14,348.

5:50 p.m. South Korea says it has alerted about 1,000 people who attended the memorial of the late Samsung Group patriarch Lee Kun-hee last week to get tested for coronavirus after one person who attended tested positive. A local journalist who covered the memorial developed symptoms two days later and tested positive on Monday. At least six new coronavirus cases, including two colleagues and two family members, had been linked to the journalist.

5:20 p.m. Paris will be placed under more restrictions to curb the virus's worsening spread, including a requirement for certain shops that sell takeaway food and drinks to close by 10 p.m. local time. The new restrictions come on top of a nationwide lockdown. On Wednesday, France reported 40,558 new COVID-19 cases and a further 385 deaths.

5:10 p.m. The Philippines reports 1,594 new infections, up from 987 a day earlier and bringing the country total to 389,725. Total deaths increased by 49 to 7,409.

4:23 p.m. Nintendo posts a record operating profit of 291 billion yen ($2.7 billion) for the April-September period as strong demand for its Switch gaming console and smash-hit title "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" boosted sales amid the pandemic, the Japanese company says.

3:00 p.m. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and four cabinet ministers are in quarantine after having met with Hungary's foreign minister the same day the visiting dignitary tested positive for the coronavirus. Hun Sen on his Facebook page said he has tested negative and would abide by the country's coronavirus guidelines and stay quarantined for 14 days, during which time he will not meet with family members or attend public events.

1:50 p.m. India reports 50,210 new daily infections, taking its total to 8.36 million. The country's daily caseload peaked in September and has been sliding ever since, but experts warn that Diwali, one of Hinduism's most popular festival seasons, could send numbers back up. Deaths rose by 704, with total mortalities now at 124,315.

1:00 p.m. Indonesia fell into recession for the first time in two decades, as the pandemic took a toll on Southeast Asia's largest economy, government data shows. The country's real gross domestic product plunged 3.49% in the three months ended September from a year earlier. The slowdown follows a 5.32% contraction in the previous quarter.

12:30 p.m. Global infections surpass 48 million, and the U.S. remains the worst-affected nation, followed by India and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University.

11:07 a.m. The U.S. sets a one-day record for new infections with at least 102,591 cases, one day after Americans voted in the presidential and other elections, according to a Reuters tally. Nine states report record one-day increases: Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin.

Denmark, one of the world's main mink fur exporters, worries that a new coronavirus mutation that has jumped from the animals to humans can resist vaccines.   © Reuters

11:00 a.m. South Korea confirms 125 new coronavirus cases, up from 118 a day ago. The country's total infections have reached 27,050, with 475 deaths.

9:38 a.m. China reports 28 new cases, compared to 17 a day earlier. Of the total, 20 are imported infections. It also says 24 new asymptomatic cases have been discovered, down from 128 a daily earlier.

7:50 a.m. Australia signs deals to buy 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Novavax as well as 10 million from Pfizer and BioNTech, as the country's virus hot spot reports zero cases for the sixth straight day. The agreements follow deals in September worth 1.7 billion Australian dollars ($1.22 billion) with AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd. for a total of nearly 85 million vaccine doses. The contracts with Novax, Pfizer and BioNTech are worth about A$1.5 billion.

5:50 a.m. Denmark intends to cull about 15 million minks now that a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals has spread to humans. The mutation has decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of future vaccines.

5:15 a.m. A plunge in tourism to Japan has a silver lining for the country's fight against smuggling. The value of taxes evaded by sneaking gold into the country fell 62% on the year in the 12 months to June, the Ministry of Finance reports. While higher fines for violators contributed to the decrease, a drop in international arrivals also played a role by closing an avenue for smugglers.

Tax evasion from gold smuggling fell 60% in the year to June, Japanese authorities report. (Photo by Masaru Shioyama)

4:45 a.m. Italy's financial capital of Milan and other parts of its industrial north are back under lockdowns, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says, as the country takes stronger measures against the spread of COVID-19.

2:35 a.m. New auto sales in Southeast Asia improve for a fifth straight month as the region's economies gradually return to a semblance of normality amid the pandemic. September sales fell 16% from a year earlier to 242,801 vehicles, a narrower decline than in the preceding month, data from the region's six leading auto markets shows. The biggest market, Thailand, saw sales slip by only 3%. Malaysia reports a 26% increase, marking the fourth-straight month of gains, as tax breaks and automaker incentives embolden car buyers.

1:55 a.m. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that lawmakers need to agree on a new coronavirus aid bill "by the end of the year," and that he hopes wrangling between Republicans and Democrats over the package will end now that election day has passed.

12:30 a.m. An unexpected casualty of the pandemic: mink in Denmark. The European nation's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says all of the mink in the country will be culled after a mutation was found that could spread the coronavirus to humans, according to media reports. Denmark is the world's biggest producer of mink skins, according to the Danish Agriculture & Food Council.

Wednesday, November 4

11:00 p.m. In a sign of how the hard-hit cruise industry is coping with the pandemic, the Japanese port of Kobe has restarted with a focus on domestic tourists.

The Nippon Maru, the first cruise ship out of Kobe in more than eight months, has returned to port after a two-night jaunt to Chiba Prefecture. Kobe, Japan's seventh-largest port for cruise ships, expects a more than 70% drop in traffic this year.

One challenge will be developing high-value tour packages for Japanese tourists to offset the loss of foreign travelers.

Protecting against the virus is a top priority after examples of mass onboard infections like on the Diamond Princess earlier this year. Masks are required for all passengers, and surfaces are frequently disinfected. Crews have trained for sailing to the nearest hospital in the event that a positive case emerges on board.

Passengers seem upbeat under the circumstances.

"We were hoping for [cruises] to resume," says a 70-something traveler taking a long-awaited husband-and-wife trip. "Moving hotels like this are perfect for us seniors."

The cruise ship Nippon Maru docked at the port of Kobe after a three-day voyage. (Photo by Shoya Okinaga)

8:30 p.m. Hungary's foreign minister has tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Thailand, according to AP. Peter Szijjarto and his delegation had just come from Cambodia, where he met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials on Tuesday.

The minister and the Cambodian leader were pictured together maskless.

Cambodian officials say the delegation members all tested negative prior to their departure.

8:15 p.m. Foreign investment pledges to Thailand dropped 29% on the year in the January-September period, Reuters reports, as the pandemic deterred investors. The tally amounted to 118.5 billion baht ($3.8 billion), with Duangjai Asawachintachit, secretary-general of the Board of Investment, insisting to reporters that the country remains attractive despite months of political protests.

6:22 p.m. Indonesia reports 3,356 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking its total number of cases to 421,731, data from the country's COVID-19 task force shows. There are 113 more deaths, taking total fatalities to 14,259. As of Wednesday, 353,282 people had recovered from the virus in Indonesia, the data showed.

5:43 p.m. England's National Health Service is gearing up to distribute possible COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas in case one of the candidates is ready by the end of the year, the head of the state-run health care system says.

4:52 p.m. Japan's transport ministry says taxi drivers in Tokyo can refuse passengers who are not wearing face masks, amid persistent concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

3:52 p.m. German automaker BMW said Wednesday that its third-quarter profit rose almost 10%, thanks to rebounding Chinese demand for luxury cars and reaffirmed its earnings outlook, even as a wave of coronavirus infections continues to sweep Europe and the U.S.

2:53 p.m. Malaysia-based carrier Malindo Air has launched a retrenchment exercise ranging from termination to a year's unpaid leave for 2,647 employees, the human resources ministry said on Wednesday, as the coronavirus pandemic batters the aviation industry.

2:00 p.m. India's service industry expanded for the first time in eight months in October but pandemic-hit companies continued to cut jobs, according to a private survey. The findings -- coupled with a similar survey on Monday that found manufacturing growing at its fastest pace in over a decade -- suggest a recovery in Asia's third-largest economy. Meanwhile, the Nikkei/IHS Markit Services Purchasing Managers' Index for India climbed to 54.1 in October from September's 49.8. It was the highest reading since February and well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

1:16 p.m. India reports 46,253 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 38,310 the previous day, pushing the country's tally to 8.31 million. The death toll jumped by 514 to 123,611.

11:56 a.m. Malaysian state oil company Petronas said late Tuesday that it had approved an additional 10 billion ringgit ($2.40 billion) dividend to the government to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

11:23 a.m. Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda says a resurgence in coronavirus infections in the U.S. and Europe was among the concerns over the overseas economic outlook, in an online meeting with business leaders in Nagoya, central Japan.

10:45 a.m. The recovery in China's service sector extended into a sixth month in October, an industry survey shows, with hiring rising to the highest level in a year but overseas demand slipping. The Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 56.8 from September's 54.8, the highest reading since June, and well above the 50 reading that separates growth from contraction.

10:32 a.m. South Korea confirms 118 new coronavirus cases, up from 75 a day ago. The country's total infections have reached 26,925, with 474 deaths.

10:27 a.m. Philippine exports grew 2.2% in September from a year earlier, the first monthly rise since February, as the pandemic-hit economy gradually reopened, government data shows. Imports shrank by 16.5%, the slowest pace since February.

9:43 a.m. Some Bank of Japan policymakers called for deeper scrutiny on how to address the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic as the economic outlook remains highly uncertain, minutes of the central bank's September rate review show.

9:01 a.m. A study of the lungs of people who have died from COVID-19 finds persistent and extensive lung damage in most cases, and may help doctors understand what is behind "long COVID," in which patients suffer symptoms for months. Scientists said they also found unique characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which may explain why it inflicts such harm.

The research team analyzed samples of tissue from the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys of 41 patients who died of COVID-19 at Italy's University Hospital of Trieste between February and April 2020.

7:26 a.m. Germany is scouting trade fair halls and airport terminals to use as potential mass vaccination centers, as it draws up plans to inoculate the nation as soon as the first coronavirus shot gains European approval, reports Reuters, citing state health officials. Berlin expects the first COVID-19 vaccines to be available in early 2021.

6:30 a.m. China has taken an early lead in developing COVID-19 vaccines. With limited alternatives, many Southeast Asian countries that rely on Chinese vaccines are anxious to avoid antagonizing Beijing -- helping to boost its international clout. Find out more with this week's The Big Story.

4:30 a.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tells clinical laboratory staff and health care providers that COVID-19 antigen tests can produce false positive results.

This can occur when can users do not follow the usage instructions for the tests, which offer rapid detection, the FDA says.

2:10 a.m. Turkey will close all businesses -- including restaurants, hairdressers and wedding halls -- at 10 p.m. daily to control the spread of the coronavirus, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

Turkey reports 2,343 new COVID-19 patients and 79 deaths for Tuesday, the Anadolu news agency reports, citing Health Ministry data.

Tuesday, November 3

11:45 p.m. Germany's health minister says Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir helps some COVID-19 patients, which is why the country added to its stockpile of the treatment.

"Because it makes sense in some situations and because the need has risen enormously we have procured additional supplies of remdesivir," Jens Spahn is quoted as saying by Reuters.

A traveler walks through Beijing Daxing International Airport in September.   © Reuters

9:40 p.m. The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo says that Japanese travelers to China will be required to take both PCR and antibody tests for COVID-19 within two days before traveling to the country and show negative results for both.

This represents a toughening of the rules for visitors from Japan, which have been required since September to take a PCR test within 72 hours of travel.

Starting Nov. 8, all visitors to China will be required to show proof they are negative for COVID-19.

7:30 p.m. Chinese students acquired 99% fewer visas to study in the U.S. during the April-September half, a result of concerns over COVID-19 and tougher screenings by the U.S. amid tensions between the two countries, new data shows.

The number of F-1 student visas issued to applicants in mainland China came to just 808 in the six months through September, down 99% from 90,410 in the same period a year earlier, according to data released by the U.S. Department of State. Chinese students make up the largest share of international students in the U.S., at roughly 30%.

5:43 p.m. Indonesia reports 2,973 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, taking the total number of infections to 418,375, data from the country's health ministry shows. It also reports 102 additional deaths, raising the number of fatalities to 14,146. The Indonesia Medical Association said earlier on Tuesday that 161 doctors, including nine dentists, had died from the virus in the March to October period.

5:01 p.m. The Philippine health ministry records 1,772 new coronavirus infections and 49 more deaths. In a bulletin, the ministry said the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 387,161 while deaths have reached 7,318. The Philippines has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.

A child waves Australia's national flag.   © Reuters

1:10 p.m. The Reserve Bank of Australia, in an attempt to boost the economy amid the pandemic, says it will buy 100 billion Australian dollars ($70.41 billion) of government bonds with maturities of around five to 10 years over the next six months, with the first auction slated for Thursday. The central bank also cut its target for three-year bond yields to a record low 0.1%, from 0.25%, to align with the cash rate, which, it pledged will remain unchanged until inflation is sustainably within its 2%-3% target band.

9:44 a.m. South Korea's core consumer price index for October declined 0.3% year-on-year, marking the sharpest fall since September 1999, as the pandemic dampened domestic demand and a temporary government subsidy on mobile phone bills weighed on prices.

8:30 a.m. The seven-day moving average of global coronavirus infections exceeds 500,000 cases for the first time ever, according to tallies by Johns Hopkins University, with total cases reaching 46.8 million.

Europe and the U.S. have seen case surges in recent weeks, with American presidential election battleground states in the South and the Midwest particularly hard hit.

8:05 a.m. Argentina will import 10 million doses of Russia's experimental COVID-19 vaccine between December and January, as infections continue to climb in the South American country.

The vaccine, known as Sputnik V, is given in two doses and could begin arriving as early as next month, the government says in a news release. The price of the Russian vaccine would be "more or less average" compared with others, President Alberto Fernandez says in the release.

4:50 a.m. The virus that causes COVID-19 damages the membranes of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, contributing to low oxygen levels in the blood, researchers have found.

Damaged red cells cannot repair themselves and circulate for up to 120 days before the body replaces them with new ones. This might help explain why some COVID-19 symptoms can last for months, Reuters quotes study co-author Angelo D'Alessandro of the University of Colorado Denver as saying.

3:35 a.m. Spain and France set national records for new COVID-19 cases, with the former reporting more than 55,000 on Monday and the latter 52,000.

1:30 a.m. Australia's population growth is forecast to fall to the lowest level in a century as coronavirus-related entry restrictions cut into the immigration that has boosted the country's numbers for decades.

The government predicts the growth rate will slow to 0.2% in the fiscal year to next June. That would be the slowest pace of increase since World War I, says Alan Tudge, minister for population, cities and urban infrastructure.

Immigration is expected to post the first net decline in 75 years in fiscal 2020 -- a decrease of 72,000, compared with a net increase of 154,000 in fiscal 2019.

Monday, November 2

11:50 p.m. Even with air travel down, Taiwan's Starlux Airlines will open a new route to the Osaka-area Kansai International Airport on Dec. 15.

Announced Monday, the route will offer two flights a week between Taipei and Kansai.

This marks the first regular service to Japan for young Starlux, which went into business in 2018. The company expects demand to recover once the coronavirus pandemic abates.

It is not alone: Japanese budget airline Peach Aviation restarted service between Kansai and Taipei on Oct. 25.

10:40 p.m. Japan's northernmost region of Hokkaido reports 96 new cases of COVID-19, its highest number to date. Its capital city of Sapporo sets a record for a third day in a row.

Hokkaido, popular with Chinese and other international tourists, was an early hot spot when the coronavirus first arrived in Japan.

7:13 p.m. Malaysia reports 834 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 33,339 infections. The Southeast Asian country also confirms two new deaths.

6:17 p.m. Indonesia reports its lowest rise in daily cases since late August. The country confirms 2,618 new cases on Monday, bringing the total number to 415,402.

Indonesian children wash their hands during Global Handwashing Day 2020 in West Java on Oct. 15.   © Reuters

5:10 p.m. Indonesia's gross domestic product is expected to contract by more than 3% on an annual basis in the third quarter, President Joko Widodo says. Household consumption has shrunk by around 4%, according to government estimates, while investment may have fallen by more than 5%. The outlook was bleaker than the finance minister's previous prediction for a GDP contraction within a 1% to 2.9% range in July to September.

5:05 p.m. The Philippines reports 2,298 new infections and 32 more deaths. The country's total confirmed cases have increased to 385,400, while deaths have reached 7,269.

3:07 p.m. Tokyo reports 87 new infections, down from 116 a day earlier and bringing the capital's total to 31,293 cases.

1:28 p.m. India reports 45,231 new cases for the past 24 hours, down from 46,963 the previous day, bringing the country tally to 8.23 million. The death toll jumped by 496 to 122,607.

11:00 a.m. Public viewing of tuna auctions at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market resumes after an eight-month hiatus. Eighteen visitors selected by lottery in advance gathered at the market in the early morning and watched from a deck as dealers wearing masks took part in the bidding. The market, which opened in 2018 to replace the aging Tsukiji market, had suspended public viewings on Feb. 29.

10:28 a.m. South Korea confirms 97 new cases, down from 124 a day ago. Total infections reach 26,732 with 468 deaths. Health authorities say that on Saturday different parts of the country will be under one of five levels of social distancing measures, up from three, so as to better tailor antivirus rules to potential hot spots.

9:25 a.m. China reports 24 cases for Sunday, the same as a day earlier, with 21 being imported and three in the Xinjiang region. The country also reported 30 asymptomatic cases, compared with none a day earlier.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will be working from home after coming into contact with a COVID-positive person.   © Reuters

7:43 a.m. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweets that he has been identified as a contact of a COVID-positive individual. "I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home," he wrote.

4:00 a.m. Stockholm has paused home testing for four days after surging demand left 16,000 people waiting for tests in Sweden's biggest city, overwhelming the system, authorities say. The system -- whereby residents apply online for delivery and pickup of tests that they self-administer -- has been in place since the country ramped up testing in the summer.

3:15 a.m. France reports 46,290 cases and 231 deaths in the past 24 hours, while the number of people needing intensive care also crept up. Totals for the country stand at over 1.4 million infected and 37,019 dead.

Sunday, November 1

7:05 p.m. Malaysia reports 957 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 32,505. The Health Ministry also reports no new fatalities, keeping the death toll at 249.

6:58 p.m. South Korea will expand its mask mandate to spas, wedding halls and elsewhere as part of new social distancing rules aimed at preparing for a prolonged COVID-19 outbreak. Though South Korea has contained the spread of COVID-19 better than many Western nations, which face a surge in infections, daily new cases in the country have risen above 100 in recent days.

5:37 p.m. Indonesia reports 2,696 new coronavirus infections, taking its total cases to 412,784, data from the Health Ministry website shows. The data also indicates 74 additional deaths, bringing the number of fatalities to 13,943.

4:40 p.m. Russia's daily tally of coronavirus cases hits a record 18,665, including 5,261 in Moscow. The country's official count has risen to 1,636,781. Authorities also report 245 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official toll to 28,235.

2:40 p.m. Australia records no new daily coronavirus community infections for the first time in nearly five months, health officials said, paving the way for further easing of social distancing restrictions. The state of Victoria, a coronavirus hot spot that accounts for more than 90% of Australia's 907 coronavirus-related deaths, saw zero new daily infections and no deaths for the second consecutive day.

6:00 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders England back into a lockdown after the country passes the milestone of 1 million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatens to overwhelm the health service.

Saturday, October 31

10:00 p.m. The U.S., after battling the coronavirus for eight months, reports over 99,000 new cases, a global record. Two dozen states say last week was their worst for new cases.

7:05 p.m. Malaysia reports 659 new cases, taking total infections to 31,548.

5:41 p.m. Indonesia confirms 3,143 new infections, raising its total to 410,088, the Health Ministry reports. There are also 87 new deaths, bringing those killed by the virus to 13,869.

5:00 p.m. The Philippine health ministry records 1,803 new infections and 36 more deaths. In a bulletin, the ministry says total confirmed cases have reached 380,729 while deaths have hit 7,221.

11:30 a.m. China's factory activity expanded at a slightly slower pace in October but was slightly above analysts' expectations, suggesting a continuing economic recovery as the country rebounds from the coronavirus shock. The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) fell to 51.4 in October from 51.5 in September, data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

10:36 a.m. Mainland China reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 25 a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Saturday.

7:12 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering imposing new national lockdown measures starting next week, amid concerns that hospitals across the country are being overwhelmed by a resurgence in coronavirus cases, The Times newspaper reported on Friday.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week's latest updates.

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