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Covid 19

Irans daily coronavirus death toll hits 337, a record – TV – Reuters India

An Iranian woman wearing a face mask crosses a street after Iranian authorities made it mandatory for all to wear face masks in public following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID19), in Tehran Iran October 10, 2020. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran on Monday reported 337 deaths from the novel coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily tally since February, pushing the death toll in the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country to 30,712.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 4,251 new cases were identified in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total number of identified cases to 534,631.

To fight rising infections, the government has extended restrictions and closures in the capital Tehran, where schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions have been closed since Oct. 3.

Iranian health officials have warned that daily deaths could hit 600 if Iranians failed to adhere to health protocols in public. Mask-wearing has became mandatory in public in Tehran, where the infection rate has been highest and violators would be fined.

Officials plan to impose the same restrictions in other large cities with high infection rates.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean

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Covid 19

WHO says no time for COVID complacency despite vaccine news – Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured on the headquarters of the World Health Orgnaization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that there is no time for complacency in confronting the coronavirus despite positive news about possible vaccines.

“Right now we are extremely concerned by the surge in #COVID19 cases we’re seeing in some countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a Tweet on Monday.

“Particularly in Europe and the Americas, #healthworkers and health systems are being pushed to the breaking point.”

More than 54.44 million people have been reported infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,318,042 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge in Geneva and Michael Shields in Zurich; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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Covid 19

EU at risk of being overwhelmed by coronavirus – EU Commission head – Reuters UK

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will finance the transfer of patients across borders within the bloc to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations spike in the continent.

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen gives a news briefing at the end of a virtual conference with EU leaders about EU government’s measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID19) crisis, in Brussels, Belgium, October 29, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

After a video conference of EU leaders to discuss the health crisis on Thursday, the head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the EU executive had made available 220 million euros ($260 million) to move COVID-19 patients across borders.

“The spread of the virus will overwhelm our healthcare systems if we do not act urgently,” she said.

At the meeting leaders agreed to better coordinate efforts to battle the virus as infections in Europe exceeded 10 million, making the continent again the epicenter of the pandemic.

EU countries want to avoid divisions which dogged the 27-nation bloc at the beginning of the pandemic, when nations vied with each other to buy scarce medical equipment.

To better trace infections, von der Leyen said the EU would work for the quick validation at EU level of rapid antigen tests, which allow quicker results than the standard PCR (polymerase chain reaction) molecular kits.

The Commission is also intensifying its efforts to get potential vaccines against the new coronavirus.

The EU was in talks with four companies, and had already sealed supply deals with another three, she said.

The EU has secured potential vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson.

It has also said it is in talks with Moderna, CureVac and a partnership of Pfizer and BionTech. Reuters reported in September that the EU was also in preliminary talks with Novavax.

The chair of the meeting, Charles Michel, said EU leaders committed to a fair distribution of vaccines once available. That would be done in proportion to population, von der Leyen said.

Michel said vaccination plans at a national level were crucial to make sure the first limited doses of vaccines could be distributed quickly to those most in need.

Many countries however have not yet defined their inoculation plans, and have different targets.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio, Robin Emmott, Jan Strupczewski; editing by Richard Pullin

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Covid 19

EU eyes body to train imams against ideology of hatred – Reuters Africa

FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel gives a news briefing at the end of a virtual conference with EU leaders about EU government’s measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID19) crisis, in Brussels, Belgium, October 29, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union should quickly set up a new body to oversee the training of imams and make sure their messages to Muslim followers do not contribute to spreading an “ideology of hatred”, a top European Union official said on Monday.

Charles Michel’s remarks come a day before he will attend a video conference on the “European response to terrorism” organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Europe has suffered two Islamist militants attacks over the past 10 days, carried out by assailants in the Austrian capital Vienna and the French Riviera city of Nice.

“To fight the ideology of hatred, we need to set up as soon as possible a European institute to train imams in Europe,” Michel, who heads the European Council comprising the EU’s 27 heads of government, said in a Twitter message.

“Online messages glorifying terrorism must be quickly removed. There must be no impunity for terrorists and those praising them on internet,” he added.

On Friday, EU interior ministers will hold a regular meeting in which they are expected to discuss the recent attacks and new measures to prevent them.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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Covid 19

It is time for a new transatlantic agenda: EU chief executive – Reuters.com

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The United States and European Union need to forge a new transatlantic alliance in areas such as climate change and the digital economy under president-elect Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

Europe, she said, should take the initiative, with an offer to work with the next U.S. administration, stressing it would not mean a return to the agenda of five years ago.

“Our alliance is based on shared values and history. On a common belief in working together to build a stronger, more peaceful and more prosperous world,” von der Leyen said in a speech to EU ambassadors around the world.

“These goals will always endure. But in a changing global landscape, I believe it is time for a new transatlantic agenda fit for today’s world.”

She congratulated Biden and U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory but did not mention outgoing President Donald Trump, who has not conceded to his opponent.

An EU official said the bloc’s 27 national leaders would soon discuss “re-energizing the trans-Atlantic relations” and “reinforcing political dialogue” with Biden, especially on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, soothing trade tensions, defending multi-party institutions often assaulted by Trump, as well as working hand in hand on international security.

EU leaders’ chairman Charles Michel will invite Biden to a call and then a summit in the bloc’s political hub Brussels, which is also home to the headquarters of NATO.

Many European leaders watched with shock as Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement, slapped tariffs on EU goods and undermined multilateral bodies that America has backed for decades.

Von der Leyen said the EU was looking forward to the United States rejoining the Paris agreement, which Biden has said he will do.

The European Commission president said Europe would push for ambitious commitments at next year’s international meetings on climate change and biodiversity, adding that the United States was “well placed to support us”.

It is also time to reverse the trend of weakening multilateral organisations, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization, with reform where appropriate, she said.

Von der Leyen urged the United States to work with Europe to set global rules for the digital economy, covering illegal hate speech and propaganda, fair competition and data protection.

One thorny area could be taxation of digital services companies. Von der Leyen said she hoped for a global consensus.

G20 finance ministers last month extended until mid-2021 negotiations to update cross-border tax rules after talks ground to a halt amid the COVID-19 pandemic and U.S. reluctance.

Mid-2021 had to be an absolute deadline, von der Leyen said, adding that Europe would act if there was no agreement by then.

Reporting by John Chalmers and Philip Blenkinsop, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska and Mark Heinrich

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Covid 19

Iran health minister urges people to heed curbs as new COVID cases soar – Reuters UK

FILE PHOTO: Iranians wearing face masks walk on a street after Iranian authorities made it mandatory for all to wear face masks in public following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID19), in Tehran Iran October 10, 2020. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s health minister appealed on Tuesday for more public and government support to enforce restrictions aimed at stemming a third major outbreak of coronavirus infections as new cases set a daily record of 5,039.

“Everyone should know that I, as health minister, cannot bring this epidemic situation under control alone, and a lot more (help) is required,” Saeed Namaki said in remarks quoted by the semi-official news agency ISNA.

“It was announced that anyone without a mask would be fined, but I saw…that 40% of the people on the bus did not wear masks. Can an infection be controlled in this way?” Namaki said.

Mask-wearing became mandatory in public in Tehran, capital of the country hardest hit by COVID-19 in the Middle East, on Oct. 10 and officials said violators would be fined.

“At the (coronavirus) taskforce, we demanded that anyone who did not wear a mask be fined, but…how many have been fined? We said close roads, but how many have they closed?” Namaki said, accusing government bodies of a lack of cooperation.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 322 people had died from the disease in the previous 24 hours, after a record death toll of 337 set on Monday.

The latest figures brought the official death toll to 31,034, and pushed the national total of cases to 539,670 since the start of the global pandemic in February.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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Covid 19

EUs von der Leyen to call UKs Johnson on Saturday – spokesman – Reuters India

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel give a news briefing at the end of a virtual conference with EU leaders about EU government’s measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID19) crisis, in Brussels, Belgium, October 29, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will call British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday afternoon to discuss negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal, her spokesman said.

Britain left the EU in January and talks on protecting trade from possible quotas and tariffs are now in their final stretch before London’s transition out of the bloc is completed on Dec. 31.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by William Schomberg

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Covid 19

Iran reports record 5,039 new daily COVID-19 cases – Reuters

FILE PHOTO: Iranians wearing face masks walk on a street after Iranian authorities made it mandatory for all to wear face masks in public following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID19), in Tehran Iran October 10, 2020. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s health minister appealed on Tuesday for more public and government support to enforce restrictions aimed at stemming a third major outbreak of coronavirus infections as new cases set a daily record of 5,039.

“Everyone should know that I, as health minister, cannot bring this epidemic situation under control alone, and a lot more (help) is required,” Saeed Namaki said in remarks quoted by the semi-official news agency ISNA.

“It was announced that anyone without a mask would be fined, but I saw…that 40% of the people on the bus did not wear masks. Can an infection be controlled in this way?” Namaki said.

Mask-wearing became mandatory in public in Tehran, capital of the country hardest hit by COVID-19 in the Middle East, on Oct. 10 and officials said violators would be fined.

“At the (coronavirus) taskforce, we demanded that anyone who did not wear a mask be fined, but…how many have been fined? We said close roads, but how many have they closed?” Namaki said, accusing government bodies of a lack of cooperation.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 322 people had died from the disease in the previous 24 hours, after a record death toll of 337 set on Monday.

The latest figures brought the official death toll to 31,034, and pushed the national total of cases to 539,670 since the start of the global pandemic in February.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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Covid 19

EU welcomes Moderna vaccine result, says more supply deals to come – Reuters UK

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Monday that positive results announced by U.S. biotech firm Moderna for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate were encouraging and said the bloc was working to sign more supply deals with vaccine makers.

Moderna said its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on interim data from a late-stage clinical trial, becoming the second developer to report results that far exceeded expectations, after Pfizer and BioNTech said last week their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective.

“More encouraging news from #COVID19 vaccine trials w/@moderna,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter.

The EU has been in talks with Moderna for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine at least since July, an internal EU document seen by Reuters showed.

On Aug. 24 the EU Commission, which conducts talks with vaccine makers on behalf of EU states, said exploratory talks with Moderna had been concluded with the aim of signing a contract for the supply of 80 million doses of its vaccine, with the option of buying another 80 million.

“Signing contract w/ @pfizer & @BioNTech_Group later this week, more to come soon,” Kyriakides said on Monday.

Last week the Commission reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech on the supply of their potential COVID-19 vaccine hours after the companies announced their positive results, EU officials said, adding that the timing was a coincidence.

The formal signing of that contract is expected later this week.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Louise Heavens and Alex Richardson

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Covid 19

EUs von der Leyen to call UKs Johnson on Saturday – spokesman – Reuters UK

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel give a news briefing at the end of a virtual conference with EU leaders about EU government’s measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID19) crisis, in Brussels, Belgium, October 29, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will call British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday afternoon to discuss negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal, her spokesman said.

Britain left the EU in January and talks on protecting trade from possible quotas and tariffs are now in their final stretch before London’s transition out of the bloc is completed on Dec. 31.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by William Schomberg