Latest news on the global spread of the coronavirus | Canberra weather

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EUROPE * COVID-19 infections reach record highs in many European countries as winter sets in, prompting a call to action from the World Health Organization which has described the new wave as a “serious concern”. * The daily death toll in Russia has reached a record high, while the total number of cases in Ukraine has exceeded three million, and Poland’s daily infections have surpassed 15,000 for the first time since April. * Hospitalizations in Belgium have returned to levels that forced a lockdown in October 2020, with the United States advising against visiting the host of EU and NATO headquarters. * Austria’s daily new infections have hit the record set a year ago, making a lockdown for the unvaccinated even more likely as the government struggles to convince holdouts to get vaccinated. AMERICAS * US President Joe Biden will impose a mandate that workers in companies with 100 or more employees must be vaccinated or tested every week starting Jan.4, sparking legal challenges from Republican governors who say Biden oversteps his authority. ASIA PACIFIC * Increased funding for hospitals and vaccines for young children will be the center of attention when state and federal leaders meet to prepare for Australia’s reopening. * China is on high alert at its international ports of entry to reduce the risk of entry of cases from overseas, and it has stepped up restrictions in the country amid a growing epidemic of less than 100 days before the Beijing Winter Olympics. * South Korea has opened quarantine centers to potentially house thousands of teens with COVID-19 ahead of the country’s grueling eight-hour university entrance exam in two weeks. MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA * West and Central Africa could see an increase in HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in a few years due to disruptions in health services due to the pandemic, said the executive director of the United Nations AIDS agency. MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS * Britain became the first country in the world to approve a potentially revolutionary antiviral pill jointly developed by the US company Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. * The European Union medicines regulator is in discussions with AstraZeneca regarding a possible authorization of booster doses of the drug manufacturer’s vaccine. ECONOMIC IMPACT * Shares hit new world records after the US Federal Reserve decided to start cutting its bond buying program this month and the Bank of England’s plan to hold rates pending interest, dashing investor expectations for a rise. * Asia’s gradual easing of restrictions on international travel is proving a welcome relief for the region’s hard-hit tour operators who are slowly opening up to visitors from around the world, with one exception: China. GLOBAL DEATHS 5,043,529 CASES 249,247,609 RECOVERED 225,749,309 Australian Associated Press

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