What you need to know about the coronavirus right now


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

German COVID-19 cases surge as heads of state discuss response

A key measure of coronavirus infections in Germany has risen sharply over the past week, figures showed Friday, raising fears of tighter restrictions as winter approaches.

The seven-day case incidence rate – which was used to decide the brakes on COVID-19 – jumped more than 26 points in one week, the Robert Koch Institute responsible for disease control said.

The increase comes as leaders of Germany’s 16 states discuss pandemic plans. A nationwide state of emergency is set to expire on November 25, meaning the restrictions will automatically expire unless they are extended by a parliamentary vote.

COVID deaths in Russia hit record for fourth day in a row

Russia reported even more daily records of COVID-19 infections and deaths on Friday, with 37,141 new cases and 1,064 people dying in the past 24 hours.

It was the second consecutive daily record of cases and the fourth consecutive day of record deaths this week, an increase that has prompted authorities to reintroduce restrictions and renew calls for people to be vaccinated.

Parts of China toughen COVID restrictions to tackle new outbreak

A new COVID-19 outbreak has prompted parts of China to increase movement restrictions, with the capital Beijing sealing off some areas and regions in the northwest imposing a series of transportation restrictions and closing public places.

China, where the coronavirus was first identified in late 2019, reported 28 new locally transmitted cases for Thursday, more than double the 13 cases a day earlier, data from health authorities showed on Friday.

The numbers are tiny compared to elsewhere in the world, but Chinese cities are quick to contain outbreaks under strict national zero-tolerance guidelines.

Melbourne, most locked city in the world, loosens sidewalks

Melbourne residents flocked to the city’s pubs, restaurants and barber shops in the early hours of Friday after the world’s most closed city emerged from its latest round of restrictions designed to fight the spread of COVID -19.

Australia’s second-largest city has so far suffered 262 days, or nearly nine months, of restrictions in six separate closures since March 2020, the longest cumulative shutdown for any city in the world.

Hong Kong halts cruise to nowhere as crew member suspects COVID-19

Hong Kong authorities have prevented the “Spectrum of the Seas”, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, from leaving its terminal on a “cruise to nowhere” because a crew member was suspected of having COVID-19 after routine testing, the government and the cruise line mentioned.

About 1,000 passengers out of a total of 1,200 had already boarded the ship before the four-night trip was canceled. All are required to undergo mandatory tests but were allowed to leave the ship as they had no direct contact with the crew member.

New Zealand sets 90% vaccine target to end lockdown

New Zealand will only end its strict lockdown measures and restore freedoms when 90% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. Some 68% of eligible New Zealanders are fully immunized and 86% have received a dose.

When the vaccine target is reached, the country will switch to a new traffic light system to manage epidemics in the regions.

Regret and challenge in the timid East of Europe

As Latvia is stranded and hospitals in Bulgaria and Romania suffer a wave of COVID-19 as Poland sells excess vaccine doses, many central and eastern Europeans are torn between defiance and regret of not have been vaccinated.

The region has the lowest vaccination rates in the European Union, an unwelcome distinction in which political and economic factors play a role, and more deadly variants of the virus are spreading rapidly.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Nick Macfie)