Coronavirus live news: Iran reports new daily infection record; Swiss advised against watching oom-pah bands

The world’s oldest surviving provincial zoo is being relocated from the prime location in Bristol, south west England, that has been its home for almost two centuries as a result of the financial shock of the coronavirus crisis.

Bristol Zoo Gardens, a 12-acre plot in the Clifton area of the city, is to be sold off and animals and staff moved to its satellite Wild Place Project site over the border in South Gloucestershire.

Visitors to the zoo gardens have been declining in number for some time and the charity that runs the sites, Bristol Zoological Society, said it had made an operating loss in four of the last six years. But the stresses of Covid appear to have been the last straw.

Italy will east coronavirus restrictions in five regions, including Lombardy, the country’s richest and most populous region, from Sunday, Reuters reports, citing the country’s health ministry.

Lombardy, Piedmont and Calabria will be downgraded from red to orange zones, while Sicily and Liguria will be designated as yellow rather than orange zones.

Friday’s decision follows a gradual decline in hospitalisations from coronavirus in much of Italy over the past week, with the number of new cases also retreating from highs seen earlier this month.

Even if countries see a fall in coronavirus cases, they need to stay vigilant, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for Covid-19, said on Friday.

She told a virtual briefing in Geneva:

Nearly 61 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1.4 million have died, according to a Reuters tally. During the same briefing, Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said almost half of all cases and deaths were in just four countries, and almost 70% of cases and deaths were in the top 10 countries.

He called for an expansion of testing regimes to more accurately track the spread of Covid-19 in the worst affected countries.

Regarding potential vaccines, Kate O’Brien, WHO’s director of immunisation vaccines and biologicals, said the WHO needs to evaluate coronavirus vaccines and their immune responses based on more than just a press release.

The hunt for a coronavirus vaccine is showing promise but it is premature to say the end of the pandemic is nigh. Several rich countries have signed a ‘frenzy of deals’ that could prevent many poor nations from getting access to immunisation until at least 2024. Also, many drug firms are potentially refusing to waive patents and other intellectual property rights in order to secure exclusive rights to any cure.

Michael Safi, the Guardian’s international correspondent, explains why ‘vaccine nationalisation’ could scupper global efforts to kill the virus and examines what is being done to tackle the issue.

Another 827 Covid 19-related deaths were reported by Italy on Friday, the highest number so far of its second wave coronavirus outbreak, and 28,352 new infections, the health ministry said.

The first western country to be hit by the virus, Italy has recorded 53,677 Covid-19 deaths since February, the second highest death toll in Europe after the UK. It has recorded 1.5 million cases.

While Italy’s daily death tolls have been among the highest in Europe over recent days, the rise in hospital admissions and intensive care occupancy has slowed, suggesting the latest wave of infections was receding, according to Reuters.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 stood at 33,684 on Friday, down 354 on the day before. The number in intensive care decreased by 64, following a fall of two on Thursday, and now stands at 3,782.

When Italy’s second wave of the epidemic was accelerating fast in the first half of November, hospital admissions were rising by around 1,000 per day, while intensive care occupancy was increasing by about 100 per day.

The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy’s financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area on Friday, reporting 5,389 new cases from a previous 5,697.

Justin Trudeau’s government is facing sharp criticism for its coronavirus vaccine rollout amid accusations that Canada is falling behind its peers, writes Leyland Cecco in Toronto.

In recent months, Trudeau has trumpeted a series of deals with major pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — which gave Canada the highest per capita supply of vaccines in the world.

But this week, the prime minister acknowledged that previously upbeat predictions about access to a vaccine might have been premature. He said that Canada was at a “disadvantage” because the country “no longer has any domestic production capability” – a deficiency that could take years to fix. Instead, Canada will likely be forced to rely on other nations to produce the vaccine.

Trudeau said that countries where the drug makers were headquartered—the US, UK and Germany— would “obviously” prioritise vaccinating their citizens before shipping doses internationally. Delays to when the vaccine was ordered has also played a role: Canada didn’t place its orders with the major manufacturers until late summer.

Confusion over access and rollout timeline has prompted outrage from opposition leaders.

“Why did this prime minister sign deals that placed Canadians months behind Americans for getting a Covid-19 vaccine?” asked the Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, with Bloc Quebecois leader, Yves-Francois Blanchet, calling the delays “unacceptable”.

Dr Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said under an “optimistic” scenario as many as 3 million Canadians could be vaccinated in the first three months of 2021 with the Pfizer vaccine.

In the US, as many as 20 million people could be vaccinated in December.

In Cyprus authorities in the war-divided island’s south have followed Greece and announced new curbs on movement including a nationwide nighttime curfew, Helena Smith reports from Nicosia.

Against a backdrop of rising infection rates, the Greek Cypriot health minister, Constantinos Ioannou, said while the government had decided to end local lockdowns across the island’s entire south-west, it would introduce a nationwide nighttime curfew as of 30 November.

The 9pm to 5am curfew is among a host of measures that will apply until 13 December in the hope of easing curbs in the run up to Christmas.

Noting that half of the 48 deaths from Covid-19 recorded since the start of the pandemic had occurred in November, Ioannou told reporters: “This year’s holidays will be unprecedented, but we must protect our public health system and the ones we love.”

Other measures include bars, restaurants, pubs and cafes being ordered to close at 7pm, gyms also shutting and shops, malls hair salons, cinemas theatres and museums also tightening social distancing rules.

Previously restaurants outside the coastal cities of Limassol and Paphos, under strict lockdown since 11 November, had been able to operate until 10.30pm.

Government officials in the internationally recognised Greek administered south have complained increasingly of coronavirus fatigue – weariness blamed for the younger generation in particular flouting mask-wearing and other health protocols.

One in three coronavirus cases have been registered over a two-week period between 11-24 November, the Cyprus Mail reported late on Friday. Confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 220 on Thursday, bringing the total number of diagnosed infections to 9,673.

The new measures were met with fury by the hospitality sector and association of Opap Cyprus betting shops, which immediately urged the government to expedite financial support aid to cover rents and loan instalments.

“It is totally unacceptable to allow retail trade and prohibit the operation of Opap outlets,” the association was quoted as saying by the Cyprus Mail.

The spread of the coronavirus virus around the world has slowed slightly this week, but is still rising fast in South America, according to data on the pandemic processed by AFP, the French state-backed news agency.

While Europe remains the centre of the pandemic, with an average of 236,900 new case daily – far ahead of the US and Canada’s 174,000 a day – the rise in infections has slowed for the second week in a row, falling back 10% with many countries in lockdown.

But Europe is the only continent where new cases are clearly dropping, according to AFP.

While infections are stable in the US and Canada, Africa and the Middle East, they are up a 10th in Latin America and the Caribbean and 13% in Asia.

While there were only 24 new cases a day in Oceania, that was a rise of 64% on last week.

The biggest increase in the spread was in Mexico, where infections were up 113% over the week to an average of 8,400 new cases a day.

Turkey saw the world’s second biggest rise, up 76%, followed by Azerbaidjan (60% up) and Serbia (45%). Pakistan, Japan and South Africa all saw a 27% increase.

The biggest falls were all in Europe, with France down nearly a half, Belgium down 37%, Switzerland down one third and Spain and the UK down around a quarter.

All five countries have imposed lockdowns or very strict restrictions.

Public health authorities in Switzerland have advised the public against oom-pah brass bands this Christmas.

“Singing together and playing wind instruments can increase the risk of infection,” the federal office of public health said of the bands, usually a common sight at Christmas events and parties across the Alpine nation. “Listen to Christmas music on your stereo instead.”

“It is better to greet others from a distance and to forgo hugs and kisses,” the office added, in advice to a population not generally known for being over-emotional.

Current Swiss guidelines already limit gathering of friends and family to 10 people, but parties should not get too cosy.

In its in “Tips for the Holidays” posted online and seen by Reuters, the agency suggested opening the windows every hour or two for 5-10 minutes, adding: “It is simplest if one person is in charge of ventilation.”