(Reuters) – Russia will shut workplaces for a week, Latvia has gone back into lockdown for a month and Romanian funeral homes are running out of coffins as vaccine-sceptic countries across ex-communist Eastern Europe face record-setting disease and deaths.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Poland has seen an explosion of the pandemic over the past two days and if the current trend continues drastic steps will be needed, the health minister said, after the country reported over 5,000 daily cases for the first time since May.
* Serbia will make a COVID-19 “health pass” mandatory for access to restaurants, cafes and bars in the evenings, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, as the country struggles with persistently high numbers of infections.
* Slovakia reported on Oct. 19 its highest daily tally since March 9, while the Czech Republic said new cases spiked above the 3,000 level for the first time since late April.
* The Biden administration outlined its plan to vaccinate millions of U.S. children ages 5 to 11 as soon as the COVID-19 shot is authorized for them.
* Forty-one percent of people across Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said.
* Canada’s House of Commons will require all lawmakers to be fully vaccinated when they return to work next month, potentially locking out some members of parliament from the official opposition Conservatives.
* Singapore will extend its social restrictions for around a month in order to ease the pressure on the healthcare system, the government said.
* China reported a fourth day of new, locally transmitted cases in a handful of cities across the country, spurring local governments to double down on efforts to track potential carriers amid the zero-tolerance policy.
* The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is aiming to ease restrictions on bars and restaurants next week as infections continue to decline, the Jiji news service said.
* Travel restrictions between Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s largest cities, eased as Victoria opened its borders to fully vaccinated residents from New South Wales amid a rapid rise in immunisation levels.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Kuwait has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions for vaccinated people, the Gulf country’s prime minister told a news conference.
* Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
* Senegal recorded zero new cases on Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic began, the health ministry said.
* The U.S. FDA is expected to soon recommend that persons 40 and older receive a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 booster shot, CNN reported.
* The Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine was 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations among those aged 12 to 18, according to an analysis released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
* Stock indexes rose globally on Wednesday as more companies reported earnings that beat analysts’ expectations, while the U.S. dollar dipped. [MKTS/GLOB]
* U.S. online holiday spending is expected to grow at its slowest pace in at least eight years, as product shortages, higher prices and lingering pandemic-related uncertainties threaten to put a strain on the shopping season.
* The number of people in Ireland claiming temporary coronavirus-related jobless benefits has fallen to 93,399, down 3,731 on last week, government data showed.
(Compiled by Anita Kobylinska; Editing by Mark Heinrich)