Iran will impose tougher restrictions nationwide from Saturday as the Middle East country hardest hit by the coronavirus battles a third wave of infections.
The toughest measures, under which non-essential businesses and services are to close, will be imposed in the capital Tehran and about 160 other high risk “red” cities and towns, state media said.
Cars will not be allowed to leave or enter the “red” cities and other driving restrictions will be imposed in an effort to encourage people to stay home.
Lighter restrictions will apply to lower risk “orange” and “yellow” areas. The restrictions are to last at least two weeks, state media said.
Iran reported a near-record 479 Covid-19 deaths over the past 24 hours to take its total to 43,896, a health ministry spokeswoman told state TV on Friday, while its total cases rose by 13,260 to 828,377.
Meanwhile, Reza Malekzadeh, a deputy health minister in charge of research, turned in his resignation over differences with Health Minister Saeed Namaki.
A flawed management… and your lack of consultation with experts and researchers and heeding their recommendations and warnings has caused many human casualties,” Malekzadeh said in his resignation letter, according to the state broadcaster IRIB.
Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has suggested that criticism of the country’s pandemic polices are political attacks and compared critics to “vultures.”
Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in confirmed COVID-19 deaths, becoming only the fourth country to do so.
His administration has cast doubt on the usefulness of face masks — the president almost never wears one — and defended its low rate of testing.
Obrador said: “Why change?”
Just because the ones who used to steal and loot don’t like what we are doing, or don’t like seeing us in power?”
Drugmaker Pfizer Inc is hoping to rapidly roll out its experimental Covid-19 vaccine around Latin America soon after it gets emergency authorisation in the US, a senior executive said, which could be as early as next month.
Alejandro Cané, the North America chief of scientific and medical affairs for Pfizer’s vaccines division, told Reuters in an interview in Buenos Aires that Latin America and elsewhere in the world should have a “similar timeline” to the US.
“At the beginning the idea is to have the vaccine authorized in the United States,” Cané said. “We are confident that in the next weeks or month we will have the vaccine not only in use in the U.S. and Europe, but also in Latin American countries.”
Pfizer is applying to U.S. health regulators on Friday for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its COVID-19 vaccine, the first such application, which marks a major step toward providing protection against the deadly virus.
In the UK, its vaccine is being assessed by regulators and if approved could be rolled out from next month, the government said.
The US is now averaging over 1,300 Covid-19 deaths per day — the highest rate since May.
The overall death toll has reached about 253,000, by far the highest in the world. Total confirmed infections have eclipsed more than 11.7 million, after the biggest one-day gain on record Thursday — almost 188,000.
And the number of people in the hospital with Covid-19 hit another all-time high at more than 80,000.
With health experts concerned that Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will fuel the spread of the virus, many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions.
California ordered a 10pm to 5am curfew starting Saturday, covering 94% of the state’s 40 million residents.
The Texas border county of El Paso, where more than 300 people have died from Covid-19 since October, is advertising jobs for morgue workers capable of lifting bodies weighing 175 pounds or more.
Officials are offering more than $27 an hour for work described as not only physically arduous but “emotionally taxing as well”.
France has recorded a further 1,138 deaths over the past 24 hours from the virus, taking the total to 48,265.
France has also reported 22,882 cases in the past 24 hours, compared to 21,150 on Thursday.
The World Health Organization has warned that growing antimicrobial resistance is as dangerous as the coronavirus pandemic — and threatens to reverse a century of medical progress.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the issue “one of the greatest health threats of our time”.
Resistance is when bugs become immune to existing drugs — antibiotic, antiviral or antifungal treatments — rendering minor injuries and common infections potentially deadly.
Resistance has grown in recent years due to overuse of such drugs in humans and also in farm animals.
Antimicrobial resistance may not seem as urgent as a pandemic but it is just as dangerous,” Tedros told a virtual press conference.
“It threatens to unwind a century of medical progress and leave us defenceless against infections that today can be treated easily.”
Brazil is expected to pass 6 million confirmed cases of Covd-19 on Friday, as the world’s third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again amid fears that a second wave is underway.
The South American nation will join the United States and India as the only countries to have passed the 6 million mark. With almost 170,000 confirmed fatalities, Brazil has the world’s second highest death toll.
After three months of falling numbers since peaking in late July, infections are increasing again, government data shows.
Many places went into lockdown after the virus first appeared in Brazil in February, but life in the largest cities has largely returned close to pre-pandemic normality in recent weeks, with bars, restaurants and stores full of people, often wearing no masks.
In the last few days, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have registered a surge in hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19. In Rio this week, 90% of the intensive care units in public hospitals were occupied, according to the Rio state health secretary’s office.
Swiss doctors have urged those vulnerable to Covid-19 complications to record their wishes for end-of-life care in advance to help ease pressure on intensive care units, drawing criticism from an advocacy group.
Pro Senectute Schweiz, an organisation for the elderly, said the doctors’ appeal was premature and excessive but medics insist such patient decrees are necessary in the heart-wrenching reality of caring for critical patients during this pandemic.
As health systems grapple with soaring infection rates, medical professionals working with limited resources and finite space in ICUs can at times face agonising dilemnas, and ethical questions around treating Covid-19 patients have spawned a government review in Britain and a court fight in Germany.
Warning that Switzerland was running low on intensive care beds, the Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SGI) called this week on the “especially imperiled”, including people over 60, or with health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, to put their wishes on paper in case the worst should happen.
“This will support your own relatives, but also the teams in the ICUs, as they make decisions so the treatment can be done in the best possible manner according to the individual patient wishes,” SGI said in a statement.
Pro Senectute Schweiz said the call by the SGI, while in normal times sensible advice, created an impression of urgency inappropriate for a decision that demands deep consideration.
“The SGI appeal…takes place in the context of an absolute emergency situation in which Switzerland does not yet find itself in,” the group said.
SGI president Thierry Fumeaux, an ICU doctor in the western Swiss city of Nyon, said the group was not aiming to put anyone under pressure or to free up beds, only to encourage them to think ahead.
“This is not a call for sacrifice. It’s just a call to take responsibility for their autonomy,” Fumeaux said.
G20 nations vowed to continue doing everything possible to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, warning in excerpts of a draft communique that the global economic recovery remains “uneven, highly uncertain, and subject to elevated downside risks.”
A final statement will be released by leaders from the United States, China and other Group of 20 nations after they meet by video conference on Saturday.
In the draft, the leaders noted that the coronavirus crisis had hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest, and said some countries may need debt relief beyond a temporary freeze in official debt payments that ends in June 2021.