Covid-19 has infected more than 258M people and killed over 5M worldwide. Here are the virus-related developments for November 23:
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
WHO fears 700,000 more Covid deaths in Europe
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it feared Covid deaths in Europe would rise from the current 1.5 million to 2.2 million by March 2022 if the current trend continues.
It said it expected "high or extreme stress in intensive care units (ICUs) in 49 out of 53 countries between now and March 1, 2022," adding that "cumulative reported deaths are projected to reach over 2.2 million by spring next year."
Czechs mull mandatory shots for over-60s, healthcare workers
The Czech Republic may make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for people over the age of 60 as well as for some professions including health and social care workers, under plans now being drawn up, Prime Minister Andrej Babis has said.
Like many other countries in central and eastern Europe, the Czech Republic has seen a relatively slow vaccination campaign.
It has fully vaccinated about 58 percent of its population, well below an average for the European Union of 69 percent, data shows, though more than 80 percent of Czech over-60s have received a shot.
Faced with a record surge in new infections that is straining hospitals, the government council for health risks backs the mandatory vaccination proposals, Babis said, adding that the health ministry would assess them next Tuesday.
"This age group (of over-60s) is the most at threat," Babis said.
South Korea adds record cases
South Korea has seen another record coronavirus daily count with 3,573 cases.
The count already exceeds the country's current record for daily cases of 3,292 recorded last week.
The country reported 2,699 cases for Monday.
Dutch infections hit weekly record
Dutch coronavirus infection numbers have risen a new weekly record, climbing 39 percent while hospital and intensive care unit admissions also rose sharply, the country's public health institute reported.
The latest report on a surge in Covid-19 cases came a day after the Dutch government introduced legislation to parliament that would clear the way to restrict access for unvaccinated people to venues such as bars, restaurants and museums if infections keep rising.
The legislation would limit the country's Covid-19 pass system to people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from a coronavirus infection.
Ukraine to buy 25M Pfizer vaccine doses
Ukraine has extended its contract with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer Pfizer for 2022-23 and will receive 25 million doses annually, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko has said.
Having lagged behind other European nations with its vaccine rollout, Ukraine is trying to catch up in the face of a surge in infections, he said.
"Ukraine is approaching the World Health Organization's vaccination goal to have 40 percent of the adult population vaccinated by the end of 2021," Lyashko said at a televised briefing.
He said, that 10 mill ion people had received two doses of vaccine in the country of 41 million people.
Ukraine has registered 3.4 million Covid-19 cases with 82,318 deaths since the pandemic started last year.
France adds over 30,000 infections
France has reported over 30,000 new Covid-19 cases and 84 additional fatalities in the last 24 hours.
Israel vaccinates children as young as 5 to combat 'children's wave'
Israel has began rolling out Pfizer vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds, hoping to beat down a recent rise in coronavirus infections.
As infections start to creep up again, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said the country is experiencing a "children's wave" with about half of the recently confirmed cases among children below the age of 11, he wrote on Facebook.
Officials hope the new inoculation campaign will help bring down the numbers and perhaps stave off a new wave.
Israeli media reported low demand for the shots on the first day they were available to this age group.
Swissmedic approves Pfizer booster shots from the age of 16
Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic has said it approved the extension of a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine to everyone aged 16 years and over.
"This clears the way for wider use of the booster vaccination. High-risk individuals can still obtain a booster dose from age 12," Swissmedic said in a statement.
Germany considers more virus curbs
Germany's health minister has called for further restrictions to contain a "dramatic" surge in cases as the country's infection rate hit a record high.
The seven-day incidence rate hit 399.8, up from 386.5 on Monday, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.
Health Minister Jens Spahn called for more public spaces to be restricted to those who we re vaccinated or recently recovered and also had a negative test, in a bid to contain Germany's fourth wave.
Fresh arrests in fourth night of Dutch unrest
Dutch police have said they arrested at least 21 people during a fourth night of unrest over Covid-19 measures, although the situation had calmed down.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte has slammed the days-long spree of "pure violence" by "idiots", and warned that more restrictions are on the cards.
India logs slimmest rise in cases in 543 days despite festivals
India has reported 7,579 new infections, the smallest rise in one-and-a-half-years despite huge festival gatherings in recent weeks, thanks to rising vaccinations and antibodies from prior infections.
The country of 1.35 billion celebrated Durga Puja in October and Diwali this month, during which millions of people shopped, travelled and met family, mostly without masks.
Mask-wearing is nearly non-existent outside the big cities.
US warns citizens against travel to Germany, Denmark
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State Department on Monday advised against travel to Germany and Denmark because of a rising number of Covid-19 cases in those countries.
The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High" for the two European countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there, while the State Department issued parallel "Do Not Travel" advisories for both countries.
The CDC currently lists about 75 destinations worldwide at Level Four, with many European countries on the list including Austria, Britain, Belgium, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Romania, Ireland and the Czech Republic.
US says 90% of federal employees received at least one Covid-19 dose
The White House has confirmed that more than 90 percent of the 3.5 million federal employees covered by a presidential vaccine mandate had received at least one dose ahead of a Monday deadline.
In total, the administration has deemed that 95% of federal workers have complied with its requirements in that they have either been vaccinated, are completing vaccinations, or have a pending religious or medical exemption request, the White House said.
Officials declined to disclose the total number of fully vaccinated federal employees but said the "vast majority" of the 90 percent had received both doses.
Algeria's economy gradually recovering from Covid-19 – IMF
The International Monetary Fund has said the Algeria economy is gradually recovering from Covid-19 and oil shocks in 2020 after its executive board concluded the 2021 Article IV consultations with the North African country.
"The economy is projected to recover in 2021 and 2022, but the outlook remains uncertain and challenging," it said in a statement.
After a contraction of 4.9 percent in 2020, Algeria's real GDP grew by 2.3 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2021 "driven by a rebound um hydrocarbon prices and production and the relaxation of containment measures", the IMF said.
Also, the external current account balance improved "significantly" in the first six months of the year following "a marked deterioration" last year, it added.
Belgian PM, ministers quarantine after French PM gets Covid
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and four of his ministers have gone into quarantine after French Prime Minister Jean Castex tested positive for Covid-19, a government statement said.
"They will also take PCR tests and will remain in quarantine until the test results come back negative," the statement said, hours after they attended a meeting with Castex and other senior French officials.