(Reuters) – The White House coronavirus task force warned that much of the country is in the grips of an “unrelenting” surge in COVID-19 cases and urged tough countermeasures, as the number of U.S. infections reported on Thursday hit a new daily record of more than 91,000.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* Europe began counting the cost of sweeping restrictions on social life imposed to contain a surge in coronavirus infections while Britain continued to hold out against following Germany and France in ordering a second lockdown.
* The European Union will finance the transfer of patients across borders within the bloc to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations spike in the continent.
* EU’s healthcare system is at risk of being overwhelmed by the number of infections unless authorities act quickly, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.
* Greece will impose regional lockdowns on its second-largest city of Thessaloniki and two other regions from Friday.
* The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday called on member companies and local community leaders to step up efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus with mask mandates and other measures to avoid another lockdown.
* Experts advising the Canadian province of Ontario said their modelling shows new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions slowing.
* Australian officials said on Friday there just under 200 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, the lowest number in more than four months and well down from a peak of just over 8,000 in mid-August.
* India saw a daily spurt of 48,648 coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 8.09 million, health ministry data showed on Friday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Cases are accelerating in some parts of Africa and governments should step up preparations for a second wave, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.
* Saudi Arabia will open the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims from other countries from Nov. 1, Saudi media reported.
* If all goes well, the first doses of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will likely become available to some high-risk Americans in late December or early January, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert.
* Brazil expects to have a vaccine against COVID-19 approved and ready for use in a national inoculation program by June.
* European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to fairly distribute among EU countries a vaccine against the coronavirus, once such a vaccine becomes available.
* A gauge of Asian shares fell for a third straight session on Friday as jitters over next week’s U.S. presidential election and a shaky global economic outlook enveloped markets. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Japan’s industrial output rose for the fourth straight month in September as the world’s third-largest economy continued to shake off the drag from the COVID-19 crisis largely thanks to improving external demand.
* Oil and gas companies worldwide are taking an axe to their employment rolls, shedding workers to survive what is expected to be a prolonged stretch of weak demand.
(Compiled by Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)