5.25am GMT

North Korea steps up rules of entry on seawaters

North Korea is further toughening restrictions on entering seawaters as part of elevated steps to fight the coronavirus pandemic, state media said Sunday, two days after South Korea said the North had banned sea fishing.

The Korean Central News Agency said the country is mobilizing more anti-virus units and establishing strong steps to “completely remove uncivilized and unhygienic elements that could help make room for the spread of an epidemic” at winter, according to a report by Associated Press. Some experts say the coronavirus can spread more broadly during cold weather when people typically spend more time indoors.

KCNA said officials were building firm anti-epidemic measures along border areas to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country. In front-line coastal areas, authorities were working out more stringent rules for venturing out at sea and collecting filthy materials in the waters, according to KCNA.

North Korea has maintained no single virus case has been found on its territory, a claim widely questioned by outside experts. Despite its claim, North Korea has swiftly sealed its borders, flown out diplomats and isolated residents with symptoms. A major outbreak in North Korea could have devastating consequences because of its broken health care system and a chronic lack of medicines.

North Korea has previously mentioned a restriction on entering the sea. Sunday’s report came after South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers Friday that the North’s anti-virus steps included a ban on fishing and salt production, as well as and the lockdown of the capital, Pyongyang, northern Jagang province and other areas.

5.19am GMT

A Chinese factory owned by South Korean semiconductor giant SK Hynix Inc halted operations on Sunday after a plant worker was found to have an asymptomatic infection of the novel coronavirus.

The Korean worker based at the plant in Chongqing city since February had departed on Thursday for South Korea, according to Reuters, which cited the official Xinhua news agency. He was tested at Incheon airport in Seoul and confirmed positive for the novel coronavirus on Saturday, it reported.

All factory staff as well as staff and recent guests at the hotel where the worker lived have been isolated and given nucleic acid tests, the news agency said.

“We’re cooperating with the local government on their containment efforts, and at the same time trying to resume production as soon as possible,” said a spokesman at SK Hynix.

He declined to comment on the impact the suspension would have.

SK Hynix, the world’s No.2 memory chip maker, employs about 2,700 workers in the Chongqing facility, including some Koreans.

The city has carried out nucleic acid tests on 3,283 people, with 2,674 found negative, Xinhua said. Almost 500 environmental samples had also been collected, and all found negative.

As of Saturday, mainland China had a total of 86,512 confirmed coronavirus cases, it said. China’s death toll from the coronavirus remained unchanged at 4,634.

at 5.20am GMT

4.59am GMT

Here is the Guardian’s full report on the situation in South Australia, where health authorities are urging anyone who visited Flinders University and three other “high-risk” locations to get tested for coronavirus immediately.

4.57am GMT

Some of the world’s leading long-distance runners participated in a half-marathon in New Delhi on Sunday, even as India’s capital grapples with a surge in Covid-19 cases, Reuters news agency reported.

More than 60 professional runners participated in the race, while several hundred enthusiasts ran in other cities on routes of their choice, using a mobile app to post race timings, said the event organisers.

Although air quality was poor on Sunday, the runners got a bit of a reprieve, as pollution levels in the capital were dramatically better than those of recent weeks.

The race was scaled back as the city experiences a third wave of the pandemic.
“Organisers are not inviting general runners at the stadium like every year to avoid a big gathering,” an event official said, adding that hundreds of amateur runners were running in other cities after registering through an app.

Defending champions from Ethiopia, Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu, were among the elite athletes running the 21-kilometre (13.1 mile) race.

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2020 “is a very significant moment for Indian sports since the pandemic began,” said Abhinav Bindra, brand ambassador of the event and India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist.

4.50am GMT

One new case of Covid-19 has been detected in hotel quarantine in Western Australia, according to state’s department of health.

The state’s total number of cases now stands at 818, including 24 active cases.

Yesterday 690 people presented to WA Covid clinics – 687 were assessed and swabbed. In total, there have been 546,698 Covid-19 tests performed in the state.

4.47am GMT

Some more detail from Reuters news agency on the additional two million doses of the Moderna vaccine candidate that have been secured by the UK government.

Moderna’s experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial.

Deliveries to Britain could begin as early as the spring, if the vaccine meets the standards of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Britain has also ordered 40 million doses of a vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc of the United States, which has been found to be 95% effective in preventing the spread of the new coronavirus.

The UK regulator is set to approve the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine this week, and deliveries will begin within hours of the authorisation, the Financial Times said on Saturday.

Britain has also secured 100 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University and has targeted a rollout to begin before Christmas.

4.44am GMT

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 14,611 to 1,042,700, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by 158 to 16,123, the tally showed.

4.41am GMT

The Australian state of Victoria, which has recorded 30 days with no confirmed coronavirus cases, has announced some changes to its virus restrictions.

From 11.59pm tonight, businesses currently operating with staff at home – such as offices in the central business district – will be allowed to open their workplaces to 25% of employees. Standard workplace requirements, including density limits, continue to apply. Businesses with fewer than 40 staff can have 10 staff on-site subject to density quotients.

The Victorian public service will continue to operate on the basis that if staff can work from home, they must do so.

Under these new arrangements, face coverings are mandatory indoors, unless an exemption applies. This includes settings such as public transport, including when waiting at stations, ride shares, hospitals, care facilities and shopping.

Face masks are not required outdoors except where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as outdoor markets.

A permit is required to enter Victoria from South Australia unless an exemption applies.

A total of 3,569,240 test results have been received in Victoria, which is an increase of 5905 since yesterday, according to Victoria’s chief health officer professor Brett Sutton.

4.23am GMT

Colorado governor Jared Polis and his partner have tested positive for Covid-19 and will remain isolated at home, his office said in a statement.

Governor Jared Polis

This evening I learned that First Gentleman Marlon Reis and I have tested positive for COVID-19. We are both asymptomatic, feeling well, and will continue to isolate at home. pic.twitter.com/Ttzxi72ThC

November 29, 2020

Earlier this month, Polis extended mandatory mask wearing in the state. He is the latest of several politicians to test positive, including two congressman in Colorado, who were confirmed to have the virus last week.

4.05am GMT

In the Philippines, people living under general community quarantine have been told that all Christmas gatherings will be limited to 10 people.

Seven areas remain under the restrictions, including the national capital region Metro Manila. Tomorrow, president Rodrigo Duterte will announce which areas will maintain such measures for the month of December.

The country has so far recorded 427,797 cases and 8,333 deaths, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.

3.39am GMT

UK secures additional two million doses of Moderna vaccine

Britain will have access to a further two million doses of Moderna Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Reuters news agency has reported.

Following the latest deal, Britain has access to enough doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate for around 3.5 million people. Overall, it has access to 357 million doses of vaccines from 7 different developers, according to a government statement.

“With a wide range of vaccine candidates in our portfolio, we stand ready to deploy a vaccine should they receive approval from our medicines regulator, starting with those who will benefit most,” Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, said in the statement.

3.14am GMT

Cambodian president Hun Sen has advised the public to avoid large gatherings after the wife of a government official tested positive for Covid-19. He has described the case as the first instance of community transmission, according to local media.

The government is tracing anyone who had contact with the woman, including in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Mondulkiri provinces. Cambodia has so far managed to avoid a major outbreak, with the government reporting 309 cases.

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