What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People walk beneath a government information board amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

European vaccine hopes

Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out in Europe this month, the companies said on Tuesday after applying for EU emergency approval.

The application to the European Medicines Agency comes days after the companies applied for emergency use of their vaccine in the United States.

In their pursuit of a European launch, the partners are neck-and-neck with rival Moderna, which said on Monday it would ask the EU regulator to recommend conditional approval.

‘No-swab’ test highly sensitive

A type of COVID-19 test that can be taken without the need for a nose or throat swab has been found to be highly effective, including for people not showing symptoms, the British government said on Tuesday.

The RT-LAMP tests, made by privately held British company OptiGene, have been studied in a pilot programme.

“We’ve shown through carefully conducted studies that the OptiGene LAMP test is fast, reliable and easy to use, and dependent on testing format can work directly with saliva samples as well as with swabs,” said Sue Hill, chief scientific officer for England in the National Health Service’s Test and Trace programme.

California governor considers new stay-home order

California’s governor, the first to impose a statewide lockdown at the outset of the pandemic, said on Monday he may renew a stay-at-home order in coming days to counter surging infections that threaten to overwhelm hospital intensive care units.

Governor Gavin Newsom cited medical data showing ICU admissions were on track to exceed statewide capacity by mid-December unless public health policies and social behaviour patterns change.

“The red flags are flying,” Newsom told reporters in an online briefing. “If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic, action.”

U.S. coronavirus adviser resigns

Dr. Scott Atlas has resigned as special adviser on the coronavirus to President Donald Trump, a White House official said on Monday, after a controversial four months during which he clashed repeatedly with other members of the coronavirus task force.

Public health experts, including Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease expert, have sharply criticized Atlas, a neuro-radiologist, for providing Trump with misleading or incorrect information on the pandemic.

COVID-19 surges anew in Hong Kong

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday urged residents of the densely populated city to stay at home and avoid unnecessary family gatherings as the global financial hub scrambles to contain a new rise in cases.

Lam was speaking at her weekly press conference a day after the government announced tighter measures to curb the spread of the disease which will see group gatherings restricted to two people and most civil servants working from home.

Schools across the territory will close for the rest of the year from Wednesday.

Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Nick Macfie