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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5, US stimulus talks revive

China preps vaccine for rollout; Global death toll tops 1.5m

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 4.   © 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 65,627,738, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 1,514,034.

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



Saturday, Dec. 5 (Tokyo time)

6:00 a.m. Following a year of seemingly apocalyptic events from deadly fires to global social unrest to the COVID-19 pandemic, canceling next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games would inflict further misery on the world, writes David Ashton in a Nikkei Asia op-ed saying we need the inspirational moments the athletes provide.

5:00 a.m. There is a renewed impetus in Congress behind more economic aid for Americans hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The talks between Democrats and Republicans come after new data showing that job growth has slowed.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working on a relief bill, with U.S. Representative Tom Reed quoted as saying "Monday is kind of the goal" for drafting the package. "There is momentum. There is momentum," U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells a news conference.

Stocks are rising on hopes for more economic stimulus, with the S&P 500 index up nearly 0.7% in late trading.

President-elect Joe Biden's transition team has weighed in on the need for more stimulus.

4:12 a.m. As coronavirus vaccines start to come on the market, countries are rushing to tackle the unique logistical challenges presented by worldwide distribution at the ultralow temperatures needed to keep them stable, with developing Asian countries facing some of the most difficult issues.

2:47 a.m. More than half of Spaniards are not willing to get COVID-19 vaccine shots as soon as they are available, Reuters reports on survey results, as the government announced a target of 15-20 million vaccinations by mid-2021.

1:05 a.m. Vietjet, Vietnam's largest low-cost airline, and rival Bamboo Airways ask the government for financial assistance as they grapple with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, Dec. 4

11:11 p.m. Moderna says it has extended its contract with the Israeli health ministry to supply an additional 4 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Israel has now secured access to 6 million doses of Moderna's mRNA-1273, currently under review in the country.

10:47 p.m. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expects to move quickly after a Dec. 10 review of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and 20 million Americans could be vaccinated this year, its commissioner tells Reuters.

9:50 p.m. China is set to approve 600 million doses of an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, according to a member of a national vaccine research and development group.

9:06 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reveals his plan to create a 2 trillion yen ($19.2 billion) fund to promote investment in environmentally friendly projects as part of stimulus measures. He also added in a news conference that his government prioritizes "safety and efficacy" for the supply of a COVID-19 vaccine.

4:10 p.m. Japanese tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba says the government plans to extend its domestic travel subsidies through the end of June as it focuses on supporting pandemic-hit economies while Tokyo and some major cities scramble to hold off the third wave of infections. The Go To Travel campaign was launched in July and originally set to end late next month.

3:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 449 new infections, down from 533 a day earlier, with the number of patients in serious condition falling by one to 53.

2:37 p.m. The Reserve Bank of India now projects the country's economy to shrink 7.5% in the current fiscal year through March, an upward revision from the forecast of a 9.5% contraction that the central bank made in October. The second half of the ongoing fiscal year "is expected to show positive growth," 0.1% in the October-December quarter and 0.7% in January-March period, RBI Gov. Shaktikanta Das says.

2:30 p.m. Seoul will require most establishments to close by 9 p.m., acting mayor Seo Jeong-hyup says. The measure takes effect on Saturday and comes after the capital reported 295 cases as of midnight Thursday.

1:26 p.m. India reports 36,595 cases in the last 24 hours, up from 35,551 the previous day, bringing the country total to 9.57 million. Deaths jumped by 540 to 139,188. Of the total confirmed cases, 416,082 are active while over nine million patients have recovered. The country's COVID-19 mortality rate stands at 1.45%, according to the latest update from the health ministry.

Health workers and a relative carry the body of a man who died from COVID-19 to a crematorium in New Delhi, India, the third-worst hit nation.   © Reuters

12:00 p.m. Japanese shares retreat from a near 29-1/2-year high as risk sentiment sours following a report that U.S. drugmaker Pfizer slashed the target for how many doses of its vaccine will be available upon rollout. The benchmark Nikkei average lost 0.44%, to 26,690.47, by the midday break.

11:00 a.m. Global COVID-19 deaths top 1.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, amid a resurgence of infections that has forced the U.S. and other nations to reimpose lockdowns. The U.S. remains the worst-hit nation, with more than 276,000 deaths, followed by Brazil with more than 175,000 fatalities and India with more than 138,000.

10:10 a.m. South Korea's new daily cases jump to 629 from 540 a day ago, topping 600 for the first time in nine months. Total infections reach 36,332, with 536 deaths.

9:40 a.m. China reports 17 new COVID-19 cases for Thursday, up from 16 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 15 were imported infections originating from overseas. There were also two locally transmitted infections in the Inner Mongolia region.

8:15 a.m. Problems in Pfizer's supply chain for the raw materials used in its COVID-19 vaccine played a role in its decision to slash its 2020 production target, The Wall Street Journal reports. Pfizer has said in recent weeks that it anticipates producing 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year. That is down from an earlier target of 100 million doses. A company spokeswoman said, "Scaling up the raw material supply chain took longer than expected."

Pfizer anticipates producing 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year, down from an earlier target of 100 million doses.   © Reuters

7:40 a.m. Moderna, which expects to have between 100 million and 125 million doses of its experimental vaccine available globally in the first quarter of 2021, says 85 million to 100 million doses will be made available to the U.S., with 15 million to 25 million doses going to the rest of the world.

5:50 a.m. California's governor unveils stay-at-home orders to be rolled out on a regional basis, with new restrictions on social and economic activities to be triggered when a given region's intensive care units fill close to capacity. The measures will take effect 48 hours after any of the designated five geographic regions' ICUs reach 85% of combined capacity.

3:44 a.m. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticizes countries that rejected the facts about the pandemic and ignored guidance from the World Health Organization. "When countries go in their own direction, the virus goes in every direction," he says in addressing a special session of the General Assembly on the coronavirus.

3:15 a.m. Canada may approve Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine within the next week, a top medical official tells broadcaster CBC. "We're expecting within the next week to 10 days to be making a final decision," says Supriya Sharma, medical adviser to the federal health ministry.

12:30 a.m. Qantas Airways will require that international travelers receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they board flights, apart from those granted medical exemptions, according to the Australian airline.

"We have a duty of care to our people and to our passengers, and once a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available, it will be a requirement," CEO Alan Joyce tells an earnings conference.

Thursday, Dec. 3

10:30 p.m. Services activity in China continued expanding last month as both domestic and overseas demand grew, a Caixin-sponsored survey shows, adding to evidence that the economic recovery was gathering momentum.

Overseas demand returned to growth in November after shrinking for four months, with a gauge of new export business reaching the highest point since April 2019. "Uncertainties caused by the pandemic did not slow growth in demand for services exports," says Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group.

9:10 p.m. India's government says domestic air carriers can step up operations to 80% of pre-COVID capacity, from the 70% hitherto allowed.

Domestic flights, which were suspended in March along with international routes, resumed back on May 25 with only 30,000 passengers. The figure has since risen and "touched a high" of 252,000 on Nov. 30, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted on Thursday, noting the government's capacity change.

Scheduled international commercial services to and from India remain suspended until Dec. 31, though special flights have been operating under an Indian government repatriation mission and bilateral arrangements with various countries.

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

8:45 p.m. The mayor of Moscow says vaccination centers in the Russian capital will open on Saturday, Reuters reports. Applicants will be able to register from Friday, with the first doses of the homegrown Sputnik V vaccine earmarked for teachers, doctors and social workers, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin says in a statement.

6:43 p.m. Indonesia's daily coronavirus cases cross the 8,000 mark for the first time to 8,369 new infections in the past 24 hours, up from 5,533 the day before. The country also reports 156 additional deaths. The totals have now reached 557,877 infections with 17,355 deaths.

5:35 p.m. Finland's government says it has agreed a national strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations, planning to give them to everyone and to begin with vaccinating selected health care staff from January.

"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.

3:05 p.m. Tokyo reports 533 new infections, up from 500 a day earlier. The number of patients in serious condition in the capital declined by five to 54.

1:38 p.m. India reports 35,551 new cases in the last 24 hours -- down from 36,604 the previous day and marking the 26th straight day of less than 50,000 infections -- bringing the country's total to 9.53 million. Fatalities jumped by 526 to 138,648.

Chinese authorities say that "the risk of the disease entering through imported [frozen and refrigerated foods] is continuously rising as the exchange of international personnel and goods increases."   © Reuters

1:30 p.m. China is carrying out sweeping inspections of food importers, supermarkets, e-commerce platforms and restaurants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through imported products that must be kept constantly cold, the country's market regulator says. The State Administration for Market Regulation said in a statement that "the risk of the disease entering through imported cold chain links is continuously rising as the exchange of international personnel and goods increases."

12:00 p.m. Australia's pharmaceutical regulator says it is on course to review Pfizer's vaccine by January, with the country sticking to a March timetable to start giving shots. Britain approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, jumping ahead of the rest of the world in the race to begin the most crucial mass inoculation program in history.

10:26 a.m. The Philippines' jobless rate eased to 8.7% in October -- equivalent to 3.8 million people -- from 10% in July as the government reopened more sectors after months of an intense lockdown that sent the unemployment rate to a record 17.6% in April. On an annual basis, the unemployment rate for October 2019 was 4.6%.

South Korean students, separated by plastic barriers, wait to start the annual college entrance exam in Seoul on Dec. 3.   © Reuters

10:10 a.m. South Korea confirms 540 new cases, up from 511 a day ago, as high school seniors take national college entrance exams. Total infections reach 35,703, with 529 deaths. Seoul leads the third wave, hitting a record daily high of 260 cases as dance institutions, schools and saunas in apartment complexes emerge as new epicenters.

10:00 a.m. Qantas Airways says its outlook has improved significantly since Australia reopened its state borders. Domestic capacity, which had been running at about 40% of pre-pandemic levels, will reach 68% of normal this month, rising to nearly 80% in the March quarter.

9:40 a.m. China reports 16 new cases for Wednesday, up from nine a day earlier. All of the new infections were imported. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to six from three a day earlier.

9:30 a.m. Australia's borders will likely stay closed for "some time," Prime Minister Scott Morrison says, despite progress in rolling out COVID-19 vaccines. Britain on Wednesday approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine. Still, Morrison said Australia will keep its borders closed to non-Australians and non-permanent residents.

7:00 a.m. Eli Lilly says the U.S. government has purchased 650,000 additional doses of its COVID-19 antibody drug for $812.5 million. The doses will be delivered through Jan. 31, with at least 350,000 delivered in December. The experimental drug has been authorized for emergency use for helping newly diagnosed, high-risk patients avoid hospitalization; the government bought 300,000 doses in October.

4:00 a.m. The World Health Organization's top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, on the early impact of a COVID-19 vaccine: "We are not going to have sufficient vaccinations in place to prevent a surge in cases for three to six months." Speaking at a social media event, Ryan urges people to maintain social distancing and other precautions, Reuters reports.

3:15 a.m. U.S. venture capital investments this year have overtaken 2019 levels with a month to go as the pandemic has provided an unexpected tailwind for remote work and an e-commerce, Reuters reports, citing data from PitchBook.

2:00 a.m. If COVID-19 vaccines prove to be effective and without contraindications, this pandemic could be behind us by the end of next summer at the latest, restoring tremendous optimism and a renewed desire to invest, consume and live for all of humanity, writes Jacques Attali, president of Positive Planet and former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in a comment for Nikkei Asia. Read more.

A sign at a COVID-19 test checkpoint at Pennsylvania Station in New York on Nov. 25.   © Reuters

1:35 a.m. The U.S. 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 spokesperson says. The agency currently recommends a 14-day quarantine.

Wednesday, Dec. 2

11:00 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly told authorities to begin mass vaccinations against COVID-19 next week

"Let's get to work already," Reuters quotes Putin as saying to Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.

9:50 p.m. Suspected North Korean hackers recently tried to infiltrate the computer systems of at least nine health organizations, including Johnson & Johnson and vaccine developer Novavax, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

9:35 p.m. Japan's Osaka Prefecture, whose capital is the nation's third-largest city, reports 427 new COVID-19 cases. This marks the third-highest number to date.

Severe cases rise by six to 131 people, or more than 60% of available hospital beds for such patients.

7:46 p.m. Thailand says six more Thai nationals infected with coronavirus had illegally entered the kingdom, skipped quarantine and travelled to different provinces, escalating fears of an new outbreak in a country with relatively few cases. Four other infected individuals also entered Thailand from neighboring Myanmar last week by avoiding immigration checks and skipping the mandatory two-week quarantine.

7:43 p.m. People living in areas where COVID-19 is spreading should wear masks in shops, workplaces and schools that lack adequate ventilation, the World Health Organization says.

6:37 p.m. The Asian Development Bank has approved a $100 million grant to help the government of Afghanistan respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will help the government extend its targeted social safety nets, including the provision of bread daily to at least 310,000 poor households; and water and electricity bill coverage for at least 350,000 households in Kabul, according to an ADB statement.

6:13 p.m. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issues an executive order granting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to clear COVID-19 drugs and vaccines for emergency use. The Philippines wants to start immunizing 25 million people next year against the coronavirus, hoping to restore some normalcy after nearly nine months of at times harsh restrictions, and prevent the economy from sinking deeper into recession.

The U.K. may roll out for public use a coronavirus vaccine developed in part by Pfizer as early as Dec. 7.   © Reuters

4:03 p.m. The U.K. approves the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and may begin administering it from Dec. 7. "The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to approve [the] vaccine for use," the government said.

3:10 p.m. Tokyo reports 500 cases -- up from 372 a day earlier -- while the number of patients in serious condition fell by three to 59. In an effort to stem a third wave of infections, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga agreed on Tuesday to ask people aged 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to refrain from making trips to or from the capital using the domestic travel subsidy campaign.

3:06 p.m. Australia's state of New South Wales says that from Dec. 7 it would remove limits on the number of people at weddings, bars and religious services and end a ban on public-venue dancing. The move comes after a run of virus-free days prompted a broad downgrade of social distancing rules. The changes coincide with the summer holidays and Christmas, and mark the biggest easing since nationwide lockdowns began in March.

2:32 p.m. Japan's parliament enacts a law to cover the costs of vaccinations, as hopes grow for a vaccine following a resurgence of infections.

1:23 p.m. India reports 36,604 cases in the last 24 hours -- up from 31,118 the previous day -- bringing the country total to nearly 9.5 million. Deaths jumped by 501 to 138,122.

12:41 p.m. Vietnam says it will cancel 33 evacuation flights of overseas Vietnamese due to new infections in the country. The flights were planned from December to mid-January. Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City reported two more local infections on Tuesday following other cases on Monday, ending 89 days without local transmission of the virus. Thousands of students in the city have to stay at home or study online for a few days while affected areas are disinfected. The city is considering a limited lockdown.

12:33 p.m. China's Group said on Wednesday it had made a quarterly profit for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, underlining how the travel market is bouncing back in Asia's largest economy. But the online travel company said its international business -- which accounted for nearly 50% of revenue before the pandemic -- will take more than a year to recover. It warned investors of the continued uncertainty from cross-border travel restrictions.

11:59 a.m. Australia's economy expanded by 3.3% in the three months to September, beating the consensus forecast, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows. The economy is rebounding from a coronavirus-induced contraction, helped by massive stimulus, while growth is expected to be even stronger this quarter with almost no new COVID cases. Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast a 2.6% rise, after a 7% contraction in the second quarter.

11:21 a.m. The Bank of Thailand wanted to preserve maneuverability when it kept the benchmark rate at a record low last month, meeting minutes show. On Nov. 18, the central bank voted unanimously to leave the one-day repurchase rate at 0.50% for a fourth straight meeting after three cuts earlier this year to support the coronavirus-hit economy.

10:25 a.m. The U.S. 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 seven days with a negative test, a federal spokesperson said on Tuesday. The CDC currently recommends 14-day quarantines to curb the transmission of the virus.

10:04 a.m. South Korea's daily for COVID-19 cases jumps to 511 from 451 a day earlier. Total infections have reached 35,163, with 526 deaths. Health authorities have banned yearend parties and events at hotels, and strongly recommended that people cancel dining meetings of 10 or more people.

9:30 a.m. Mainland China reported nine new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 1, down from 12 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Wednesday. 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.

Antibody testing in Tokyo: A study by Yokohama City University suggests COVID-19 antibodies may reduce the risk of reinfection for at least six months. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

9:18 a.m. A research team from Japan's Yokohama City University announced Wednesday that most people infected with the novel coronavirus have sufficient antibodies to prevent reinfection, even after six months. The study of 376 people found neutralizing antibodies in 97% of those with mild or asymptomatic infections, and in all of those with moderate or severe infections.

9:17 a.m. Reserve Bank of Australia Gov. Philip Lower is optimistic about the domestic economy, saying economic growth is expected to be "solidly positive" in both the September and December quarters. But he warned that a recovery from the pandemic would be bumpy and uneven, signaling the need for long-term policy support.

8:20 a.m. American Airlines and United Airlines are pausing plans to operate non-stop flights to Shanghai from the U.S., CNBC reported on Tuesday. The delay comes after reports of lengthy waits facing airline crews upon arrival, limited local accommodations and restrictions on movement in China, the report said.

8:09 a.m. The Japanese government is gearing up for an influx of foreign travelers for the postponed Summer Olympics. The measures include an app linked to visas, test results, tickets and other unique personal identifiers so as not to hinder the movement of visitors.

4:00 a.m. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduces a stimulus proposal worth about $908 billion, aiming to break a monthslong impasse over providing emergency relief to the U.S. economy.

Several centrist senators are pushing their proposal as a template for legislation that could pass Congress as the economy faces increasing strain from a surge in coronavirus cases ahead of the start of winter.

2:30 a.m. Fewer holiday shoppers bought gifts during the five-day period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday and those who did spent less, according to the National Retail Federation.

The trade group says about 186.4 million shoppers bought holiday gifts, food or decorations from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. That's less than the 189.6 million shoppers who bought items during that period last year.

Over the weekend, average spending on gifts, decorations and food was $311.75, down about $50 from last year, according to the federation.

Pfizer partner BioNTech and U.S. competitor Moderna have each applied for approval of their coronavirus vaccines in the European Union.   © Reuters

Tuesday, Dec. 1

8:09 p.m. Pfizer and BioNTech say their vaccine could be rolled out in Europe this month after earlier applying for EU emergency approval for the shot. The application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes days after the companies applied for emergency use of their vaccine in the U.S.

7:38 p.m. As of Tuesday morning, Cambodia health authorities have identified 17 infections linked to a cluster in Phnom Penh and tested more than 4,000 people across the country. The government has banned gatherings of more than 20 people for two weeks and ordered schools, museums, and cinemas to temporarily close.

7:07 p.m. The Japanese government will ask people aged 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to refrain from making trips to or from Tokyo using its domestic travel subsidy campaign known as "Go To Travel," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says. Suga told reporters of the decision after talks with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.

7:00 p.m. The OECD says the outlook for the global economy is improving despite a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks in many countries as vaccines emerge and a Chinese-led recovery takes hold. The global economy will grow 4.2% next year and ease to 3.7% in 2022, after shrinking 4.2% this year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says in its latest Economic Outlook.

6:38 p.m. Vietnam reports two more cases linked to a new domestic infection in Ho Chi Minh City. The nation is back on high alert after authorities on Monday confirmed the country's first community infection in 89 days and shut down several places in the densely-populated city.

6:33 p.m. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam urges residents to stay at home and avoid unnecessary family gatherings as cases rise in the city.

5:00 p.m. Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the upcoming Sakhir Grand Prix, the sport's governing body FIA says. Hamilton -- who has won a record-tying seventh world title along with Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix -- displayed mild symptoms but was otherwise well, according to his team.

4:45 p.m. Hong Kong and Singapore will defer the launch of a quarantine-free "air travel bubble" until next year. The program was originally planned to start on Nov. 22 but had been delayed two weeks due to rising coronavirus cases in Hong Kong. The new deferral comes as the city's COVID situation remains severe. The new start date will be reviewed later this month.

3:30 p.m. Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index closed near a 29 1/2-year high, buoyed by optimism that drugmakers will roll out coronavirus vaccines before year's end. The Nikkei 225 index ended up 1.34% at 26,787.54. The broader Topix index rose 0.77% to close at 1,768.38.

3:13 p.m. Tokyo reports 372 new coronavirus infections, up from 311 a day earlier. The number of patients in serious condition in the capital fell by eight to 62 the previous day. Tokyo has asked bars and restaurants serving alcohol to close by 10 p.m. until Dec.17 to hold off a "third wave" of infections.

A giant floating Olympic rings installation has been reinstalled in Tokyo Bay after being temporarily removed from the capital's Daiba waterfront area in August.   © Reuters

3:00 p.m. Gambling revenue in Macao plunged 70.5% in November, year-on-year, to 6.75 billion patacas ($845.34 million), but the decline was not as severe as in recent months as the world's biggest casino hub saw a pickup in visitors from its key market, mainland China.

1:15 p.m. India reports 31,118 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, down from 38,772 the previous day, bringing the country total to 9.46 million. The death toll jumped by 482 to 137,621.

1:11 p.m. Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan says he has tested positive for coronavirus. That follows an announcement on Sunday by his deputy, Ahmad Riza Patria, that he is infected. Both said they're in good condition and are self-isolating.

11:00 a.m. Giant floating Olympic rings have been reinstalled in Tokyo Bay after being temporarily removed from the capital's Daiba waterfront area in August. The 69-ton object went through safety inspections and maintenance after the Games were postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

10:12 a.m. South Korea confirms 451 new cases, up from 438 a day ago. Total infections reach 34,652 with 526 deaths. The government warns that the daily number can jump to 1,000 in a few weeks if this trend continues.

9:30 a.m. Japanese companies cut spending on plant and equipment in July-September for a second straight quarter as the pandemic hit private sector demand. Ministry of Finance data shows Japanese companies' capital expenditure fell 10.6% in July-September from the year-earlier period, following an 11.3% decline in the previous quarter.

A scene in Hanoi. Vietnam has been one of Asia's big success stories when it comes to arresting the spread of the coronavirus, having gone 89 days without a local infection.   © Reuters

9:00 a.m. Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh city quarantines more than 230 people after confirming the country's first locally transmitted cases in 89 days. The infections were reportedly linked to a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant who tested positive after returning from Japan on Nov. 14. The government closes Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City quarantine locations that Vietnam Airlines' staff used after international flights.

8:41 a.m. Japan's unemployment rate for October rose to 3.1% from 3% in September, the highest since May 2017, the statistics bureau says. Meanwhile, job availability improved from a seven-year low as the economy rebounds from the coronavirus-induced recession.

5:35 a.m. Novavax postpones U.S. late-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for the second time. They originally were scheduled for November, but the American company says the trials will begin in the "coming weeks."

Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, which both used messenger RNA technology to develop their vaccine candidates, Novavax has employed a protein-based candidate engineered from the genetic sequence of coronavirus spike proteins.

The pharmaceutical company says its U.S. trials are delayed by insufficient manufacturing scale. Novavax has a late-stage study underway in the U.K.

3:00 a.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announces weekday lockdowns from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and a full weekend lockdown from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday as new daily COVID-19 cases hit 31,000.

Erdogan also announces other measures to limit movement. All of the measures will take effect at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Turkey began reporting all COVID-19 cases again on Nov. 25 after having reported only symptomatic cases since July.

Erdogan also says Turkey has signed an initial agreement to procure 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which will be distributed to citizens free of charge. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had previously announced a contract with China's Sinovac for 50 million doses.

Turkey is participating in Phase 3 clinical trials of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, with around 13,000 volunteers.

1:30 a.m. American Airlines says it is preparing to play a part in transporting a COVID-19 vaccine once one is approved.

Trial flights begun this month "simulate the conditions required for the COVID-19 vaccine to stress test the thermal packaging and operational handling process that will ultimately ensure it remains stable as it moves across the globe," the carrier says in a statement.

12:00 a.m. The Japanese city of Nagoya says it will cancel late-night subway service on New Year's Eve this year as a precaution against coronavirus infection.

Monday, Nov. 30

Moderna says its experimental vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial.   © Reuters

10:00 p.m. American biotech company Moderna says it will apply for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. It will also seek conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency.

The company says a data analysis from the Phase 3 study on the candidate "indicates a vaccine efficacy of 94.1%."

"Safety data continue to accrue and the study continues to be monitored" by an independent board, Moderna says in a statement.

9:11 p.m. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has banned wedding parties and gatherings of more than 20 people Monday, as authorities moved quickly to quell a coronavirus outbreak after announcing rare cases of community transmission.

Fifteen people have so far tested positive since Sunday, the Health Ministry said, all linked to a 56-year-old woman who had traveled to the country's two biggest cities since Nov. 20. Cambodia has had just 323 cases so far and no deaths reported.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a ban on wedding parties and gatherings of more than 20 people on Nov. 30.   © Reuters

8:15 p.m. Constantinos Herodotou, the governor of Cyprus' central bank and a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, has tested positive for COVID-19. Writing on his Twitter account, Herodotou said he had self-isolated and is working from home.

7:13 p.m. Hong Kong's civil servants will again work from home, as the city has seen a surge of coronavirus infections with 76 new cases recorded on Monday. Private companies are urged to encourage their staff to do the same.

Meanwhile, restrictions on social gatherings will be tightened from four to two people.

6:10 p.m. Thailand is racing to track down about 200 people in its northern provinces on Monday to stop a potential coronavirus outbreak, after three Thai women entered the country illegally from Myanmar last Tuesday and Friday and tested positive for COVID-19 days later.

Chiang Rai Provincial Governor Prachon Pratsakul said at a news conference that there were 356 people in two local provinces potentially exposed.

4:47 p.m. Taiwan reports 24 cases, the most in a number of months. All involved people from Indonesia, the U.K., U.S. and Philippines. In light of the recent surge of patients from Indonesia, Taiwan will bar Indonesian workers from entering Taiwan from Dec. 4 to Dec. 17.

About 677 Indonesian workers have arrived in Taiwan every week since the beginning of November. The government says it may cap weekly arrivals of these workers at 339 starting Dec. 18.

Universal Studios Japan's new attraction "The Super Nintendo World" in Osaka is shown to media ahead of its belated opening, now slated for February. (Photo by Koji Zenke)

3:30 p.m. Universal Studios Japan will open its new Nintendo zone on Feb. 4, the Osaka-based theme park says, after pushing back the opening from the summer due to the pandemic. The "Super Nintendo World" area will feature Mario Kart races and other attractions based on Nintendo games. The new area had originally been scheduled to open in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which have also been delayed due to the pandemic.

3:09 p.m. Tokyo reports 311 new coronavirus infections, down from 418 a day earlier. However, the number of patients in serious condition in the capital rose by three to 70, the highest number since the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency in May. On Saturday, Tokyo asked bars and restaurants serving alcohol to close by 10 p.m. for a period of three weeks.

2:00 p.m. India's coronavirus cases rose by 38,772, marking the 23rd straight day that daily infections have stayed below 50,000. The country now has 9.43 million cases -- the second-highest in the world after the U.S. -- but daily cases have been dipping since hitting a peak in September. Deaths rose by 443 in the last 24 hours to hit 137,139.

11:37 a.m. The Tokyo Olympic Games' organizing committee has estimated the cost of virus countermeasures at around 90 billion yen ($866 million), sources tell Nikkei. The national government is likely to cover the expense. Meanwhile, postponing the Olympics and Paralympics for one year will drive up the price tag of the games by some 200 billion yen, with the Tokyo metropolitan government and organizing committee likely to shoulder most of the cost.

The cost of the Tokyo Olympics has skyrocketed due to its postponement and anti-coronavirus measures that are being implemented for next year.   © Reuters

10:33 a.m. South Korea confirms 438 cases, down from 449 a day ago, bringing the country total to 34,201 with 526 deaths.

10:10 a.m. China's November factory activity expanded at the fastest pace since September 2017, keeping the country's economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis on track. The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index, or PMI, rose to 52.1 in November from 51.4 in October, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

9:40 a.m. China reports 18 new COVID-19 cases for Sunday, up from 11 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 15 were imported. It also confirms three local infections in the Inner Mongolia region. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 17 from 10 a day earlier.

9:05 a.m. Japan's industrial output jumped 3.8% in October from the previous month, marking the fifth straight month of growth, government data shows. The rise was powered by general machinery production and motor vehicle manufacturing, suggesting the economy is recovering further from the pandemic-induced slowdown.

Activity at factories in China is heating up as the country continues to shake off the economic ills of the coronavirus.   © Reuters

8:30 a.m. The one-year delay of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games to summer 2021 is expected to cost 200 billion yen ($1.92 billion), estimates by the organizing committee show.

8:10 a.m. Canada's government says it will extend its restrictions for all travelers entering the country, except from the United States, until Jan. 21. Restrictions for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals arriving from south of the border will continue until Dec. 21 and may be extended at that time.

4:09 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a cumulative 13,142,997 American coronavirus cases, an increase of 143,333 from its previous count, and says the number of deaths has risen by 1,210 to 265,166.

2:10 a.m. Turkey's daily COVID-19 death toll hit a record high for a seventh consecutive day, with 185 fatalities on Sunday, Health Ministry data shows. The number of new infections, including asymptomatic ones, fell slightly to 29,281. For four months, Turkey reported only symptomatic cases, but since Wednesday it has reported all cases.

The Canadian government says it will extend restrictions for all travelers entering the country, except from the United States, until Jan. 21.   © Reuters

2:05 a.m. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says $30 billion in federal funds will be needed to distribute COVID-19 vaccines nationally, even as congressional talks over an economic relief bill remain stalled. His state alone will require "hundreds of millions" for distribution and related educational work, the New York Democrat said Sunday.

"This should be a moment of clarity for everyone," Schumer told reporters. "This is a huge crisis, and we need big relief."

1:39 a.m. New York City's public schools will begin to reopen for in-person learning on Dec. 7, starting with elementary schools for students whose parents agree to a weekly testing regimen for the novel coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio announces.

Sunday, Nov. 29

7:30 p.m. The number of people in Japan with serious coronavirus symptoms hit a record 462 on Saturday, rising by 22, the health ministry says. The country reported 2,403 new coronavirus infections.

5:20 p.m. Indonesia reports another record daily rise in coronavirus infections with 6,267, bringing the total to 534,266, data from the country's COVID-19 task force shows. This is the third record high in the past week for the Southeast Asian country. The 169 new confirmed coronavirus deaths raise total fatalities to 16,815.

2:03 p.m. Britain secures rights to an additional 2 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the government says. The latest deal gives Britain access to enough doses of Moderna's product for around 3.5 million people. Overall, the U.K. has access to 357 million doses of candidates from seven developers, the government says.

2:01 p.m. A Chinese factory owned by South Korean semiconductor giant SK Hynix halts operations after a worker is found to have an asymptomatic coronavirus infection, official news agency Xinhua reports.

10:52 a.m. South Korea records 450 new infections Sunday after confirming more than 500 new coronavirus cases for three days in a row, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reports.

South Korean authorities consider tighter social distancing restrictions to clamp down on economic activities following the fastest spread of infections since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yonhap News says.

10:24 a.m. China reports 11 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Saturday, up from six on Friday, health authorities say. All of the new infections are imported cases. No new deaths are reported.

5:23 a.m. Positive cases in the U.S. top 200,000 in a day for the first time Friday, based on Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The daily tally reached 205,500, surpassing the previous high of 196,000 a week earlier.

1:00 a.m. Britain's medical regulator is set to approve the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in the next week, with immunizations potentially starting Dec. 7, the Financial Times reports.

Saturday, Nov. 28

11:35 p.m. Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, is discussing pricing and distribution of potential COVID-19 vaccines with the Indian government, the company's CEO says. The institute plans to apply for emergency use authorization for AstraZeneca's candidate in the next few weeks, according to Adar Poonawalla.

11:05 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tours three of the nation's leading vaccine development and manufacturing sites as coronavirus case counts continue to soar. He visits the Zydus Cadila facility in the western city of Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech's facilities in the southern hub of Hyderabad and the Serum Institute of India's sprawling campus in the western city of Pune. India reports 41,322 new daily cases and 485 deaths.

10:23 p.m. Japan records 2,670 positive cases, the highest daily tally since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of seriously ill patients reaches 440, according to the Health Ministry, also an all-time high.

6:42 p.m. Malaysia will hold a general election when the novel coronavirus pandemic is over, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says, shortly after he averted a showdown by winning parliamentary support for his administration's budget. "God willing, when COVID-19 is over, we will hold a general election," Muhyiddin tells a virtual annual general meeting of his Bersatu party.

9:21 a.m. All public and private social gatherings of individuals from different households will be banned in Los Angeles County for at least three weeks starting Monday under new restrictions local health officials unveiled on Friday, citing a continued surge in COVID-19 infections.

The latest public health order, affecting 20 million people living in and around the second-largest American city, specifically exempts religious services and protests as constitutionally protected rights.

4:50 a.m. Japan looks to begin distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by the March end of the fiscal year as clinical trials on a number of candidates move forward.

Tokyo aims to secure enough vaccine for the country's entire population by the first half of 2021. It is set to source doses for 145 million people from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

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

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