Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Thursday, November 25

Here's everything you need to know.

Asia-Pacific

South Korea

A little known sect led by a pastor who pokes eyes to heal is at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea, as the country reported a new daily record of 4116 cases and battles a spike in serious cases straining hospitals.

In a tiny rural church in a town of 427 residents in Cheonan city, south of Seoul, at least 241 people linked to the religious community had tested positive for coronavirus, a city official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Singapore

Singapore reported 2079 new cases and six deaths.

Americas

New COVID-19 cases have jumped 23 percent in the Americas in the last week, mostly in North America where both the United States and Canada are reporting increasing infection rates.

Canada

Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday Canada gave full approval to its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 years and older, making it the first full approval for the vaccine globally.

Europe

Europe is once again the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

WHO officials warned that the SARS-CoV-2 virus would keep spreading intensely as societies return to the social mixing and mobility of a pre-pandemic period in the run-up to the year-end holidays.

"In many countries and communities, we are concerned about a false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic, and that people who are vaccinated do not need to take any other precautions," he said.

While the vaccines reduce the risks - particularly of death - they're not perfect, and many Europeans have refused to get them. 

Russia

Russian authorities said on Wednesday they were scouring social networks and media websites to find people spreading false claims about the dangers of COVID-19 vaccination, the latest in a series of measures to invigorate sluggish inoculation rates.

Germany

German Social Democrat Olaf Scholz called on Wednesday for vaccinations to be made compulsory for targeted groups, saying that fighting the coronavirus pandemic will be his top priority as he prepares to take over as chancellor from Angela Merkel.

Germany reported 66,884 new coronavirus infections and 335 more deaths. 

Netherlands

The Dutch government will announce new measures on Friday to tackle a surge in coronavirus infections that is putting pressure on hospitals, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said.

"The infection rate is higher than ever before," De Jonge said in a letter to Parliament. "Hospital admissions keep exceeding expectations and we have not seen the worst yet."

Spread has been largely amongst the unvaccinated - including children. Hospitalisation rates are 17 times higher for the unvaccinated than vaccinated, Dutch News reported

UK

Britain on Wednesday reported 43,676 further cases of COVID-19 and 149 more deaths.

Denmark

Denmark's government on Wednesday proposed reintroducing mandatory face mask usage on public transport, in shops and in the healthcare sector to curb rising coronavirus infections.

Italy

Italy on Wednesday tightened the screws on people still unwilling to take an anti-COVID jab, sharply restricting access to an array of services and making vaccines mandatory for a wider group of public sector workers.

A government decree said all those still unvaccinated will not be able to access cinemas, discos, restaurants, theatres and sports events.

Italy reported 85 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday.

Tedros Adhanom
Tedros Adhanom. Photo credit: Getty Images

Poland

Poland will have to tighten COVID-19 restrictions if it does not see daily cases decreasing in the near future, the health minister said on Wednesday, after infections surged to their highest level of the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Poland reported 28,380 daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the health ministry said, a record for the fourth wave of the pandemic. The ministry also reported 460 deaths.

Only about 54 percent of Poles are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sweden

Sweden will begin gradually rolling out boosters to all adults, government and health officials said. Booster shots of mRNA vaccine have been offered to people aged 65 or above, with an eye to eventually extending the shots to other groups.

Czechia

The Czech Republic reported its highest daily rise in infections, with cases surpassing 25,000 for the first time and putting further strain on hospitals. The government is looking to institute mandatory vaccines for people over 60 and some professions, like healthcare workers.

Slovakia

Slovakia's government followed the example of neighbouring Austria on Wednesday and ordered a two-week lockdown to quell the world's fastest rise in COVID-19 cases as the number of people sick in hospital reached a critical level and vaccination levels remain low.

Middle East and Africa

South Africa

South Africa has asked Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to delay delivery of COVID-19 vaccines because it now has too much stock, health ministry officials said, as vaccine hesitancy slows an inoculation campaign.

About 35 percent of South Africans are fully vaccinated, higher than in most other African nations, but half the Government's year-end target.

Vaccines and treatments

As children and adolescents are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 disease, countries should prioritise adults and sharing vaccine doses with the COVAX programme to bring supplies to poorer countries, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

"As children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults, unless they are in a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions and health workers," the WHO said.

Children can experience "long COVID-19" with prolonged symptoms but this was still under investigation, it said.

Bharat Biotech's vaccine was only 50 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a high-risk population during a devastating second wave of infections in India this year, data gleaned from hospital workers showed.

A vaccine aimed at creating long-lasting immunity via T-cells is safe and effective, new trials show.

Russia announced progress in its Sputnik suite of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, with a new version aimed at children and a nasal spray that President Vladimir Putin said he had taken as a booster.

Reuters / Newshub.