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CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Key points

  • Covid-19 emerges in China's Wuhan in Dec '19, declared a pandemic on March 11
  • Over 65.2 million infected globally; more than 1.5 million dead, over 41.9 million recovered
  • 410,072 cases reported in Pakistan; 8,260 dead, 350,305 recovered
  • Click here for Dawn's coronavirus coverage
Dec 04, 2020
10:50 PM

US death toll may rise to 329,000 by December 26, says CDC

9:58 PM

From concerts to Covid at Vienna mass testing venue

9:00 PM

VIDEO: Target to vaccinate 20m Americans by year end 'realistic', says FDA commissioner

8:30 PM

Swiss step up corona measures but keep ski resorts open

8:01 PM

US hiring slows sharply to 245,000 jobs as virus intensifies

7:30 PM

Philippines police threaten social distancing violators with caning

6:40 PM

US reports record Covid-19 deaths on second consecutive day

6:00 PM

Sindh reports 1,664 new cases, 8 more deaths

5:30 PM

Seoul to shut down most establishments at 9pm to contain coronavirus: official

4:45 PM

Russian state employees describe pressure to join vaccine trials

4:10 PM

German firm's super-coolers to send vaccines around the world

3:36 PM

French minister says will get Covid-19 vaccine when possible

3:05 PM

Kazakhstan to launch production of Russian vaccine

2:05 PM

Coronavirus cases worldwide top 65 million

1:35 PM

WATCH: Wuhan artists keep virus memories alive

12:20 PM

Islamabad, AJK and GB collectively record 567 cases, 5 deaths

12:20 PM

Punjab reports 670 Covid cases, 24 deaths

12:15 PM

KP, Balochistan collectively report 410 cases, 11 deaths

12:13 PM

Pakistan reports more than 3,000 Covid-19 recoveries

11:00 AM

Uber asks US CDC to consider ride-hail drivers essential for Covid vaccine distribution

10:00 AM

South Korea reports highest daily tally in 9 months

9:00 AM

Moderna plans 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in early 2021

8:00 AM

Biden says he has asked Fauci to stay on and join Covid-19 team

Dec 03, 2020
11:00 PM

Facebook bans false claims about Covid-19 vaccines

10:25 PM

WHO looks at possible 'e-vaccination certificates' for travel

9:51 PM

Covid-19 vaccines will be free for all in Portugal, says health minister

9:20 PM

IBM warns hackers targeting Covid vaccine 'cold chain' supply process

8:41 PM

White House coronavirus adviser Fauci to meet with Biden transition team: CNN

7:42 PM

Parliament House to remain closed for a week as Covid-19 cases rise

7:10 PM

Sindh reports 1,615 new cases, 15 casualties; death toll nears 3,000

6:05 PM

Promise of Covid vaccines is 'phenomenal', says WHO

4:53 PM

Swiss health minister says virus situation 'very worrying'

4:22 PM

Nation to observe Youm-i-Dua tomorrow for protection against pandemic: President Alvi

3:52 PM

Iran surpasses one million Covid-19 cases

3:21 PM

Turkey announces inoculation plan for Chinese vaccine

3:10 PM

China and Russia's end-stage vaccines

2:38 PM

Former French President Giscard d'Estaing dies of Covid-19 complications at 94

1:40 PM

Balochistan allows Covid-19 risk allowance for health personnel

1:25 PM

Peshawar hospitals running out of beds for Covid patients, KP Assembly told

12:55 PM

VIDEO: Miss training but will abide by Covid-19 restrictions, says Babar Azam

12:52 PM

South Korea students sit college exam behind plastic barriers and in hospitals due to Covid-19

11:50 AM

Islamabad, AJK and GB collectively report 518 Covid cases

11:45 AM

Punjab reports 727 Covid-19 cases, 25 deaths

11:40 AM

KP, Balochistan collectively report 271 coronavirus cases, 3 deaths

11:35 AM

Pakistan reports 1,500 Covid recoveries

11:00 AM

Los Angeles city issues remain-at-home order to all residents

10:09 AM

Law Minister Farogh Naseem tests positive for Covid-19

10:00 AM

China orders inspections to prevent Covid spread via cold chain

8:55 AM

US Covid daily death toll surpasses 2,700, highest since April

8:00 AM

Britain's Prince Harry suggests Covid is rebuke from nature

Dec 04, 2020 09:58pm

From concerts to Covid at Vienna mass testing venue

In happier times, Vienna's Stadthalle was one of the city's main concert and event venues but on Friday morning, it attracted crowds waiting for a quick coronavirus test.

According to an AFP report, the venue is one of three in the Austrian capital where the government's mass coronavirus testing programme, inspired by a similar one in neighbouring Slovakia, is getting underway in earnest.

Teething problems may be inevitable, but two thousand army recruits mobilised to staff the centres in Vienna alone were ready to step in.

While the army has long planned for a pandemic, “it's the first time we've dealt with not just a planning exercise — it's working in practice,” the site commander said.

Ten million tests have been ordered — for a population of 8.8 million — and the government hopes the testing programme will help the country safely emerge from its second coronavirus lockdown on Monday.

Dec 04, 2020 08:30pm

Swiss step up corona measures but keep ski resorts open

Switzerland has allowed ski resorts to stay open for domestic tourism as the government announced some stricter measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, Reuters reported.

Ski areas will need local authority approval to operate after December 22, while enclosed transport including ski lifts, trains and gondolas will be limited to two-thirds capacity from December 9, it said.

“Ski resorts should be able to remain open for domestic tourism,” the government said in a statement, while stressing permits could be revoked if resorts do not adhere to strict safety measures.

Dec 04, 2020 08:01pm

US hiring slows sharply to 245,000 jobs as virus intensifies

America’s employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month as the viral pandemic accelerated across the country, adding 245,000 jobs, the fewest since April and the fifth straight monthly slowdown, AP has reported.

Friday’s report of another hiring slowdown provided the latest evidence that the job market and the economy are faltering in the face of a virus that has been shattering daily records for confirmed infections.

Economic activity is likely to slow further with health officials warning against all but essential travel and states and cities limiting gatherings, restricting restaurant dining and reducing the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses. Most experts say the economy and job market won’t be able to fully recover until the virus is controlled with an effective and widely used vaccine.

Dec 04, 2020 07:30pm

Philippines police threaten social distancing violators with caning

Philippine police on Friday threatened to cane people who violate social distancing protocols as the Southeast Asian nation fights the spread of the coronavirus during the festive season, according to Reuters.

The Philippines celebrates one of the world’s longest Christmas seasons, starting as early as September, and crowds have started to flock to sprawling malls and shopping centres despite the pandemic.

Police general Cesar Binag, commander of the coronavirus task force, told a news conference that police and soldiers would patrol in public areas in the capital Manila, the hotspot of Covid-19 cases, carrying 1 metre rattan sticks to measure distancing.

Dec 04, 2020 06:00pm

Sindh reports 1,664 new cases, 8 more deaths

Sindh has reported 1,664 new cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the provincial tally to 180,904.

Moreover, the daily situation report issued by the Chief Minister's Office confirmed the deaths of 8 more persons. The death toll now stands at 2,991.

The report added that 15,500 tests were conducted in the province in the last 24 hours, returning a positivity rate of 10.74 per cent.

Dec 04, 2020 05:30pm

Seoul to shut down most establishments at 9pm to contain coronavirus: official

South Korea’s capital Seoul will require most establishments to close at 9pm each day, Reuters quoted acting Seoul mayor Seo Jeong-hyup telling a briefing on Friday, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The measure takes effect Saturday and comes after Seoul alone reported 295 new coronavirus infections as of midnight Thursday.

Dec 04, 2020 04:45pm

Russian state employees describe pressure to join vaccine trials

In late September, Moscow municipal official Sergei Martyanov sent a series of text messages to his subordinates: “Colleagues!!!... What is this sabotage???”

Martyanov was expressing dismay at his staff’s apparent reluctance to volunteer for the human trials of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, named after the Soviet-era satellite that triggered the space race, according to Reuters. The official in the Moscow department of city property said many quota spots for his staff to join the trial remained unfilled.

He said he had heard some workers were signing up to receive flu vaccines, making them ineligible for the coronavirus trial.

“Who are you trying to trick???” Martyanov said in the texts. “The coronavirus vaccine is the absolute priority!!!”

Anyone who had received the flu jab, he said, must still sign up for the Covid trial, allowing a month’s delay. He urged his colleagues to recruit friends and family into the trials. “At least two people per employee!”

Dec 04, 2020 04:10pm

German firm's super-coolers to send vaccines around the world

At first sight, they look like regular containers. But the rectangular boxes made by German company Va-Q-Tec will in fact play a key role in keeping life-saving Covid-19 vaccines ultra-cool as they are shipped across the world, reports AFP.

There will be an enormous logistical challenge to transport billions of vaccine doses at the right temperature across the globe, maintaining the so-called “cold chain” from a vaccine manufacturer into a patient's arm. Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine for instance, must be stored at a frigid minus 70 degrees Celsius.

The Va-Q-Tec containers will serve this purpose of keeping the vaccines cool enough, the company's founder and chief executive Joachim Kuhn told AFP, describing them as “big thermos flasks”.

Dec 04, 2020 03:36pm

French minister says will get Covid-19 vaccine when possible

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he would get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as he could, despite a vocal anti-vaccination movement in France.

“As soon as it will be possible, I will get vaccinated. I think all members of cabinet will do so, but let me remind you we are not a priority target group”, Le Maire, who caught the virus earlier in the year, told BFM TV.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that France would ensure free Covid-19 vaccinations for all in its social security system and has earmarked some $1.8 billion of next year's social security budget to cover the cost.

Dec 04, 2020 03:05pm

Kazakhstan to launch production of Russian vaccine

Ex-Soviet Kazakhstan said it will begin producing Russia's coronavirus vaccine later this month, becoming the latest country to do so as a global inoculation race heats up.

Russia last month said its Sputnik V drug was 95 per cent effective and would be cheaper and easier to store than some alternatives, according to AFP.

In a statement, Kazakhstan's presidency said the country would begin producing Sputnik V from December 22, with plans to begin inoculating vulnerable groups in early 2021.

Dec 04, 2020 02:05pm

Coronavirus cases worldwide top 65 million

Over 1.5 million coronavirus deaths have been recorded worldwide from nearly 65 million cases, according to an AFP tally based on official statistics.

There have been 1,500,038 fatalities from 64,774,705 cases since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China in December.

The worst affected region is Latin America and the Caribbean with 452,263 deaths, followed by Europe (430,060) and the United States and Canada (286,946).

Since late November, there have been more than 10,000 virus deaths globally per day on average, the highest toll rate since the pandemic began.

Dec 04, 2020 12:20pm

Islamabad, AJK and GB collectively record 567 cases, 5 deaths

Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have collectively recorded 567 coronavirus cases and five deaths.

Breakdown of the cases and deaths reported:

  • Islamabad: 474 cases, 3 deaths
  • GB: 9 cases, 1 death
  • AJK: 84 cases, 1 death
Dec 04, 2020 12:20pm

Punjab reports 670 Covid cases, 24 deaths

Punjab has reported 670 coronavirus cases and 24 deaths.

The provincial total has risen to 121,753 while the death toll is 3,115.

Dec 04, 2020 12:15pm

KP, Balochistan collectively report 410 cases, 11 deaths

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported 345 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths. The provincial total has risen to 48,264 while the death toll is 1,389.

Meanwhile, Balochistan has recorded 65 new cases, taking the tally to 17,333. The death toll remains 169.

Dec 04, 2020 12:13pm

Pakistan reports more than 3,000 Covid-19 recoveries

Pakistan has reported 3,354 coronavirus recoveries during the last 24 hours, according to the government's portal for tracking the spread of the virus in the country.

The total has risen to 350,305 while the recovery rate is 85.4 per cent.

Dec 04, 2020 10:00am

South Korea reports highest daily tally in 9 months

South Korea has recorded 629 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, the highest daily tally in about nine months.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said that 600 of the newly confirmed cases were domestically transmitted — nearly 80 per cent of them in the densely populous Seoul area, which has been at the center of a viral resurgence.

The cases took the country's total to 36,332 with 536 deaths, AP reported.

After successfully suppressing two previous outbreaks this year, South Korea has been grappling with a fresh spike in infections since it relaxed stringent social distancing rules in October. Last week, it toughened those restrictions in the greater Seoul area and other places.

Dec 04, 2020 09:00am

Moderna plans 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in early 2021

Moderna plans to have 100 to 125 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine available in the first quarter of 2021, the vast majority of which will go to the United States, the biotechnology company announced.

Between 85 and 100 million of the doses will be distributed in the United States, with the rest of the world receiving the remaining 15 to 25 million, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said in a statement.

Moderna also confirmed that it expects to have 20 million vaccine doses available in the US by the end of 2020, according to AFP.

The company has been working on its American supply and production chain for months, in preparation for the vaccine's expected emergency approval by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For all countries outside the United States, production will take place in Switzerland.

3rd Dec, 11:00 PM

Facebook bans false claims about Covid-19 vaccines

Facebook Inc on Thursday said it would remove false claims about Covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, following a similar announcement by Alphabet Inc’s YouTube in October, Reuters reports.

The move expands Facebook’s current rules against falsehoods and conspiracy theories about the pandemic. The social media company says it takes down coronavirus misinformation that poses a risk of “imminent” harm, while labelling and reducing distribution of other false claims that fail to reach that threshold.

Facebook said in a blog post that the global policy change came in response to news that Covid-19 vaccines will soon be rolling out around the world.

3rd Dec, 9:51 PM

Covid-19 vaccines will be free for all in Portugal, says health minister

Portugal's Health Minister Marta Temido has said the country's public health service will be responsible for the distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus, which will be free for all.

During an event to present the vaccination strategy, Temido said the country would buy 22 million doses of Covid-19 shots for 200 million euros ($243.14 million).

The head of the drugs regulator Infarmed, Rui Santos Ivo, said Portugal had signed agreements to buy the shots with potential manufacturers CureVac, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, Sanofi and GSK.

3rd Dec, 9:20 PM

IBM warns hackers targeting Covid vaccine 'cold chain' supply process

IBM is sounding the alarm over hackers targeting companies critical to the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, a sign that digital spies are turning their attention to the complex logistical work involved in inoculating the world’s population against the novel coronavirus, Reuters reports.

The information technology company said in a blog post published on Thursday that it had uncovered “a global phishing campaign” focused on organisations associated with the Covid-19 vaccine “cold chain” — the process needed to keep vaccine doses at extremely cold temperatures as they travel from manufacturers to people’s arms.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reposted the report, warning members of Operation Warp Speed — the US government’s national vaccine mission — to be on the lookout.

Understanding how to build a secure cold chain is fundamental to distributing vaccines developed by the likes of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE because the shots need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius or below to avoid spoiling.

3rd Dec, 8:41 PM

White House coronavirus adviser Fauci to meet with Biden transition team: CNN

White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci will meet with members of President-elect Joe Biden's team today after President Donald Trump's administration delayed the transition process for weeks amid a coronavirus surge.

Fauci has already met with incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, he told CBS News in an interview.

Fauci has become the most high-profile member of the White House task force in the months since the pandemic began, often clashing with Trump on how to protect Americans. CNN also confirmed the meeting.

3rd Dec, 7:42 PM

Parliament House to remain closed for a week as Covid-19 cases rise

The Parliament House building will remain closed from December 4-11 in light of growing coronavirus cases, a communique said.

All offices of the Senate and National Assembly will be shut down and employees have been told to work from home. During the week, all offices will be disinfected.

3rd Dec, 7:10 PM

Sindh reports 1,615 new cases, 15 casualties; death toll nears 3,000

Sindh has reported 1,615 new Covid-19 cases and 15 deaths in the past 24 hours, a statement by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said.

The number of cases in the province has risen to 179,240 while the death toll is 2,983, the statement said.

Additionally, 1,831 patients were reported as recovered.

3rd Dec, 6:05 PM

Promise of Covid vaccines is 'phenomenal', says WHO

The promise of Covid-19 vaccines is “phenomenal” and “potentially game-changing”, Reuters reported, quoting Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation's regional director for Europe.

Speaking from Copenhagen, Kluge said supplies were expected to be very limited in the early stages and countries must decide who gets priority, though the WHO said there is “growing consensus” that first recipients should be older people, medical workers and people with co-morbidities.

3rd Dec, 4:53 PM

Swiss health minister says virus situation 'very worrying'

Switzerland cannot allow a third wave of the coronavirus, Health Minister Alain Berset has said, calling the situation “very worrying” as infection levels stabilise at a high level and saying the country may need to act to tighten restrictions.

The government is due to discuss on Friday its approach to fighting the pandemic. Coronavirus infections rose by 4,455 in a day, data from Swiss health authorities showed.

3rd Dec, 4:22 PM

Nation to observe Youm-i-Dua tomorrow for protection against pandemic: President Alvi

President Dr Arif Alvi has announced that the nation will observe Youm-i-Dua on Friday to seek God's protection against the coronavirus pandemic, Radio Pakistan reported.

Speaking after an interaction with ulema in Islamabad, he said a strategy involving a combination of prayers, precautionary measures, and taking care of the weak segments of society will be pursued in the second wave of Covid-19.

He said religious scholars have an important role in spreading awareness about precautionary measures and that ulema had reaffirmed the standard operating procedures issued for mosques on April 17.

3rd Dec, 3:52 PM

Iran surpasses one million Covid-19 cases

Iran has surpassed one million confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, the health ministry said in the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic.

The Islamic republic has recorded 1,003,494 coronavirus infections since announcing its first cases in February, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television.

3rd Dec, 3:21 PM

Turkey announces inoculation plan for Chinese vaccine

Turkey’s health minister has announced a vaccination plan starting with an experimental “inactivated vaccine” later this month to combat the Covid-19 pandemic amid a surge in infections and deaths, the Associated Press reported.

The minister said early use authorisation would be granted after Turkish labs confirm vaccine safety and initial results from Phase 3 trials are assessed.

Vaccination efforts would be rolled out in four stages, the minister said. The first group includes health care workers, citizens above age 65, and people living in homes for the elderly, disabled or other protective care homes.

Next would be essential workers and people above 50 with at least one chronic disease. Third, people younger than 50 with at least one chronic illness, young adults and other workers would be vaccinated. The fourth and final phase would be for the rest of the population.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday the vaccine would be administered free of charge. Other Covid-19 vaccines would be sold at pharmacies, according to the health minister.

3rd Dec, 3:10 PM

China and Russia's end-stage vaccines

As Britain becomes the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use, here is a look at what leading non-Western nations are doing in the race to get a vaccine approved.

China has four coronavirus vaccines in phase 3 trials — typically the last step before regulatory approval — but has not released much of its data.

Although regulators have yet to approve China's vaccines for mass distribution, the country has approved some advanced candidates for emergency use, giving jabs to people ranging from state employees to international students since July.

Nearly a million people have already taken an experimental vaccine by Sinopharm, the company said in November. Another firm, Sinovac Biotech, earlier said almost all its employees and their families had voluntarily taken its vaccine.

Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine was registered in August and is currently completing the third and final phase of clinical trials, with some 40,000 volunteers taking part.

The vaccine uses two different human adenovirus vectors and is administered in two doses with a 21-day gap. Developers said interim test results showed the vaccine to be 95 per cent effective.

There is not a clear timeline for the vaccination process but authorities expect mass vaccination to start in 2021.

3rd Dec, 2:38 PM

Former French President Giscard d'Estaing dies of Covid-19 complications at 94

Former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who championed European integration and helped modernise French society in the 1970s, has died at the age of 94 after contracting Covid-19.

Giscard’s foundation said he passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region of central France. He had been admitted to hospital in September with respiratory complications, and was hospitalised again in mid-November.

His funeral will be an intimate family affair, the Valery Giscard d’Estaing Foundation said on Twitter.

Giscard was elected president in 1974 at the age of 48 to become France’s youngest postwar leader.

3rd Dec, 1:25 PM

Peshawar hospitals running out of beds for Covid patients, KP Assembly told

Major government and private hospitals in Peshawar have run out of beds for coronavirus patients due to a surge in cases, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has been told.

Two government-run tertiary healthcare facilities in Peshawar, including Hayatabad Medical Complex and Khyber Teaching Hospital, and a private hospital had exhausted their capacity to accommodate Covid-19 patients, Culture and Labour Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said, and currently, only the Lady Reading Hospital was receiving virus patients.

Read the full story here.

3rd Dec, 12:52 PM

South Korea students sit college exam behind plastic barriers and in hospitals due to Covid-19

Nearly half a million South Korean students have nervously begun a hyper-competitive university entrance exam, with Covid-19 students taking the exam in hospital and others separated by transparent barriers, Reuters reported.

Police and school officials guarded some 31,000 test venues across the country, which in normal years are usually filled with praying parents and cheering squads distributing hot drinks and snacks.

Some 35 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 sat for the test at designated hospitals, while special venues were provided to help another 404 who are in self isolation.

3rd Dec, 11:50 AM

Islamabad, AJK and GB collectively report 518 Covid cases

Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan have collectively recorded 518 coronavirus cases. The capital also reported five deaths during the last 24 hours.

Breakdown of cases and deaths reported:

  • Islamabad: 417 cases, 5 deaths
  • GB: 16 cases
  • AJK: 85 cases
3rd Dec, 11:45 AM

Punjab reports 727 Covid-19 cases, 25 deaths

Punjab has reported 727 coronavirus cases and 25 deaths during the last 24 hours.

The provincial total has risen to 121,083 while the death toll is 3,091.

3rd Dec, 11:40 AM

KP, Balochistan collectively report 271 coronavirus cases, 3 deaths

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have collectively recorded 271 coronavirus cases and three deaths.

Of these, KP reported 218 cases, taking the provincial total to 47,919. All three deaths were also reported in the province taking the toll to 1,378.

Meanwhile, Balochistan recorded 53 cases, taking the total to 17,268. The death toll remains 169.

3rd Dec, 11:35 AM

Pakistan reports 1,500 Covid recoveries

Pakistan has reported 1,586 coronavirus recoveries during the last 24 hours, according to the government's portal for tracking the spread of the disease in the country.

The total number has risen to 346,951 while the recovery rate is 85.3 per cent.

3rd Dec, 11:00 AM

Los Angeles city issues remain-at-home order to all residents

The mayor of the city of Los Angeles announced an emergency directing all residents within the city to remain in their homes effective immediately.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, temporarily withdrew the earlier “safer-at-home” order, and issued the new order “necessary for the protection of life and property” in the city.

3rd Dec, 10:09 AM

Law Minister Farogh Naseem tests positive for Covid-19

Farogh Naseem addressing a press conference. – DawnNewsTV/File
Farogh Naseem addressing a press conference. – DawnNewsTV/File

Law Minister Barrister Mohammad Farogh Naseem has tested positive for Covid-19.

“I am experiencing mild symptoms and will continue to work from home at Karachi. Prayers required,” he said in a tweet.

3rd Dec, 10:00 AM

China orders inspections to prevent Covid spread via cold chain

China is carrying out sweeping inspections on food importers, supermarkets, e-commerce platforms and restaurants to prevent the spread of coronavirus through imported cold chain products, the country's market regulator said.

“The current epidemic prevention and control situation is still complex and austere, and the risk of the disease entering through imported cold chain links is continuously rising as the exchange of international personnel and goods increases,” State Administration for Market Regulation said in a statement on its website.

While China has already stepped up testing and disinfection of imported frozen products at ports and in local markets, driving up costs and curbing demand, the latest comments from Beijing showed inspections on cold chain imports would only strengthen, according to Reuters.

3rd Dec, 8:55 AM

US Covid daily death toll surpasses 2,700, highest since April

The US death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 2,700 in one day, the highest since April, Johns Hopkins University said.

The new tally of 2,731 fatalities raises the overall known death toll in America to 273,181 since the pandemic started late last year. The number of new infections over the past 24 hours was 195,121, the university said.

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the Covid-19 pandemic, still raging with unprecedented fury nationwide, will pose the country's grimmest health crisis yet over the next few months, before vaccines become widely available.

CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield urged stricter adherence to safety precautions such as wearing face coverings, social distancing and good hand hygiene to slow the spread of a highly contagious respiratory virus now claiming well over 2,000 US lives a day.