More than 56.54 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,354,227 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
These are the latest developments on the worldwide spread of the disease:
* Fresh lockdowns in Europe are avoidable, including through near-universal mask-wearing, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe office said.
* The pandemic has laid bare shortage of medics in southern Europe from where thousands of doctors and nurses have left in the past decade, exasperated by austerity cuts in the health system and seeking better pay and prospects abroad.
* Greece will shut one border crossing with Albania and conduct rapid COVID-19 tests on all visitors at its land borders.
* Lithuania’s defense minister has tested positive for COVID-19 after meeting with senior U.S. defense officials at the Pentagon last week.
* California’s governor ordered a curfew on all indoor social gatherings and non-essential activities outside the home across most of the state.
* A new wave of contact-tracing mobile apps is coming to U.S. states ahead of the holidays as public health officials bet that recently introduced features from Apple and Google will significantly boost adoption and impact.
* The coronavirus has spread rapidly through Brazil’s largest indigenous reservation and more than a third of its 27,000 people could have been exposed.
* South Australia’s drastic six-day coronavirus lockdown was triggered by a “lie” to contact tracers from a man who tested positive and restrictions across the state are set to be lifted much sooner than first planned.
* South Korea’s prime minister pleaded with the public to avoid social gatherings and warned that tougher measures may be needed if infections are not quickly contained.
* Hond Kong, the world’s leading tourist city destination last year, is facing a tourism bust as the government has ruled out an extension of a wide-ranging subsidy programme.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Turkey will sign a contract within days to buy at least 20 million doses of a COVID-19 candidate vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech.
* Jordan is racing to increase hospital bed capacity as its healthcare system struggles to cope with a surge in new coronavirus cases.
* South Africa’s preparation for a cricket series against England suffered a jolt with three players placed in isolation after one of them tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of Eli Lilly’s arthritis drug, baricitinib, in combination with Gilead’s remdesivir, to treat COVID-19 patients.
* AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s potential COVID-19 vaccine produced a strong immune response in older adults, data published on Thursday showed.
* Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna could be ready for U.S. authorization and distribution within weeks, setting the stage for inoculation to begin this year.
* World financial markets were hit by a wave of uncertainty on Friday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called for an end to coronavirus pandemic relief for struggling businesses.
* Japan’s core consumer prices fell in October at their fastest annual pace in nearly a decade as the boost from last year’s sales tax hike petered out.
* Australian retail sales rebounded by 1.6% in October from the month before, preliminary data showed on Friday, as the second-most populous state of Victoria crept out of a long lockdown.