December 8 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Nada Bashir, Luke McGee, Ed Upright, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 9, 2020
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12:02 a.m. ET, December 8, 2020

Hong Kong to impose dining curfew, close gyms and salons as Covid-19 cases continue to rise

From CNN's Jadyn Sham in Hong Kong

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus wait outside a bakery in Hong Kong on Monday, Nov. 30.
People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus wait outside a bakery in Hong Kong on Monday, Nov. 30. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Hong Kong is imposing tougher anti-epidemic measures as new cases continue to rise as part of the city's so-called fourth wave.

The government will announce a 6 p.m. dining curfew for restaurants and will close gyms, sports centers, and beauty salons, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a regular news briefing Tuesday.

Lam said people are not sticking to social distancing measures and the new restrictions are to "curb the number of people on the streets and reduce the flow of people."

Covid-19 infections have been rising in Hong Kong since the end of November, and the city is now reporting dozens of new cases each day. Many of those are linked to a dance club cluster, which now includes more than 650 cases. In total, Hong Kong has reported more than 6,900 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, including 112 deaths.

Lam said Tuesday that Hong Kong's new cases are at "a record high" and nearing the peak of the last wave in July. One-third of the total number of recent cases are from untraceable sources, Lam said.

The exact restrictions will be announced later, Lam said, as she appealed to members of the public to suspend all social events, parties and meal gatherings. 

"We do need your full cooperation. The Hong Kong SAR government will do our best to fight the epidemic, we all need to work together and do our best. If we haven't done our best today, we will continue to make an extra effort. However, we will not be able to succeed without your cooperation," Lam said.
11:09 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

South Korea announces plans to buy Covid-19 vaccines for 44 million people

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

Health Minister Park Neung-hoo speaks during a meeting of the Central Disease Control Headquarters at the government complex in Seoul on July 20, to discuss measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo speaks during a meeting of the Central Disease Control Headquarters at the government complex in Seoul on July 20, to discuss measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Yonhap/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

South Korea plans to buy coronavirus vaccines for 44 million people, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said in a news briefing on Tuesday. 

The government is allocating 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) for vaccines from COVAX, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen.

The vaccines are expected to be brought in from March, Park added, and will be prioritized for those considered high risk -- the elderly, medical workers, those with chronic illness and essential workers.

New cases: South Korea recorded 594 new Covid-19 cases Monday, 566 of which were locally transmitted, according to a news release by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Tuesday. 

South Korea has now reported a total of 38,755 cases, including 552 deaths, according to KDCA.

10:14 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

China's Chengdu reports first local Covid-19 infections in nine months

From CNN’s Beijing bureau

Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, is on high alert after the city reported its first locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 in nine months, according to local authorities. 

Chengdu’s Health Commission said a total of five people have tested positive.

A large-scale screening program was launched after one person tested positive, with nucleic acid samples collected from 24,598 people.

Of those, four came back positive and were either close contacts of the first patient or living in the same village in the Pidu district of the city. The results of 541 more tests are still pending.

8:44 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid

The United States reported at least 102,148 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Monday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project. 

Here's a look at where things stand:

  1. Dec. 7: 102,148 people hospitalized
  2. Dec. 6: 101,501 people hospitalized
  3. Dec. 5: 101,192 people hospitalized
  4. Dec. 3: 100,755 people hospitalized
  5. Dec. 2: 100,322 people hospitalized
7:47 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Trump to sign executive order to prioritize shipment of Covid-19 vaccine to Americans 

From CNN's Jen Christensen, Jim Acosta, Nikki Carvajal and Maegan Vazquez

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday aimed at prioritizing the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations, according to senior administration officials.

The signing is slated to take place during a vaccine summit at the White House, with the hope that the order will allay fears that there will not be enough doses of the vaccine to go around after distribution begins.

White House officials described the order as a "reaffirmation of the President's commitment to America first." But on a call with reporters Monday evening, in which administration officials asked not to be identified publicly, the White House did not provide specifics on how the order will do that.

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8:55 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Fauci says the full brunt of Thanksgiving on US Covid-19 data isn't here yet

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

The United States hasn't seen the full impact that Thanksgiving gatherings likely will have on rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday.

"The blip from Thanksgiving isn't even here yet," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS' Norah O'Donnell during the Milken Institute Future of Health Summit.
"So we're getting those staggering numbers of new cases and hospitalizations before we even feel the full brunt of the Thanksgiving holiday," Fauci said. Health experts warned before the holiday that Americans should gather virtually rather than risk exposure.

As the US nears an average of 200,000 Covid-19 cases a day, experts say "behavior and cold weather" are behind the current surge gripping American communities.

"People are going indoors, they're not minding the three W's," Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar told Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday. "Our advice is always the same. Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear face coverings."

Health experts have long warned that the holiday season would bring a spike in coronavirus cases as people increasingly gather indoors. As of Sunday, the US averaged 196,233 new cases over the past week, another record high, according to a CNN analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 14.9 million confirmed cases have been reported in the US since the pandemic began, and more than 283,000 people have died.

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