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Churches in the Philippine capital Manila have been told not to hold any Christmas carol activities this season as part of measures to limit the transmission of Covid-19.
The Philippines, a catholic majority country, has one of the longest Christmas periods in the world, with celebrations beginning at the start of September and, for some, lasting as late as Valentine’s Day.
It’s the country’s most important holiday, but this year’s festivities will be different: as well as a ban on carols in church, there are also limits on church attendance, a curfew and a ban on mass gatherings. Celebrations have also been dampened by the economic crisis, which has left millions without work.
Church officials said carols had been banned because experts believe the virus is more likely to be transmitted if people are signing, according to reports by the Philippine News Agency.
In Thailand, mask-wearing and hand-washing routines introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have also led to far fewer cases of other respiratory diseases in Thailand this year, according to medical experts.
A report by KhaosodEnglish found that cases of influenza so far this year are 70% lower than across the whole of 2019. Reported cases are their lowest in five years.
“Even during this cold season – viruses love it – we are finding fewer patients than last year,” Rungrueng Kitphati, spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health, told the news outlet.
According to the Department of Disease Control, between 1 January and 10 November, there were 116,052 reported cases of influenza, including three deaths nationwide. This compares with 390,773 cases of influenza, and 27 deaths, recorded between 1 Jan 2019 and 7 Jan 2020.
Hand foot and mouth disease cases have also fallen.
Despite reporting the first known coronavirus case outside China, Thailand has managed to avoid a major outbreak, thanks to a strict lockdown, border closures and mask wearing. The country has recorded 3,888 cases and 60 deaths.
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Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert, has promised that “the cavalry is on the way” in the form of a coronavirus vaccine but urged one last great national effort to stop the spread.
Fauci was speaking at the White House coronavirus taskforce’s first press briefing since July. He was joined by Vice-president Mike Pence and response coordinator Deborah Birx, but there was no sign of Donald Trump or his controversial adviser Scott Atlas.
The taskforce broke its long silence as the virus surges to new highs, infecting more than 158,000 Americans – and killing in excess of 1,100 – every day. The total death toll now stands at a quarter of a million. Trump, little seen in public and refusing to accept election defeat, has been accused of all but giving up on the fight: