(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Europe rethinks booster shot policy as cases hit records
Coronavirus infections broke records on Wednesday in parts of Europe, which is again the epicentre of the pandemic, prompting curbs on movement and making health experts think again about booster vaccination shots.
The Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia reported new highs in daily infections as winter grips the continent and people gather indoors in the run-up to Christmas, providing a perfect breeding ground for COVID-19.
Sweden will begin gradually rolling out booster shots to all adults following the surge in cases elsewhere in Europe, government and health officials said on Wednesday.
A leader of Germany’s Greens, set to be part of a new government, expressed support on Wednesday for mandatory vaccinations as the number of infections jumped again.
Biden administration seeks to reinstate workplace vaccine rule
The Biden administration asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday to lift a court-ordered stay on a sweeping workplace COVID-19 vaccine rule to avoid serious harm to public health, or alternatively to allow a masking-and-testing requirement.
Top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday the vast majority of Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should receive a booster shot, and that an additional dose could eventually become the country’s standard for determining who is fully vaccinated.
South Africa delays vaccine deliveries
South Africa has asked Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to delay delivery of COVID-19 vaccines because it has too much stock, health ministry officials said, as vaccine hesitancy slows an inoculation campaign.
About 35% of adult South Africans are fully vaccinated, higher than in most other African nations, but half the government’s year-end target. It has averaged 106,000 doses a day in the past 15 days in a nation of 60 million people.
Fall in testing worries Indian authorities
An alarming fall in testing for COVID-19 threatens to undermine India’s efforts to contain the pandemic, the federal health ministry said on Wednesday in a letter to state governments, as worries grew over fresh waves of infection abroad.
India reported on Wednesday 9,283 new cases, a day after recording 7,579 infections – the lowest in 543 days. But testing has hovered around 1 million per day for the past few weeks, less than half the capacity.
Little-known cult is centre of South Korea’s latest outbreak
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 4,116 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.
New Zealand sets date for reopening to tourists
New Zealand will keep its borders closed to most international travellers for a further five months, the government said on Wednesday, outlining a cautious easing of border curbs that have been in place for nearly two years.
Along with its geographic isolation, the South Pacific country’s enforcement of some of the tightest pandemic restrictions among OECD nations limited the spread of COVID-19 and helped its economy bounce back faster than many of its peers.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Barbara Lewis)