What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·3 min read
Staff members check proof of negative test results for travellers at the Harbin West Railway Station following new COVID-19 cases in Harbin

(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

German COVID-19 cases jump as state leaders discuss response

A key measure of coronavirus infections in Germany rose sharply over the past week, figures showed on Friday, raising the prospect of tougher restrictions as winter approaches.

The seven-day incidence rate of cases - which has been used to decide COVID-19 curbs - jumped more than 26 points in a week, the Robert Koch Institute responsible for disease control said.

The rise comes as the leaders of Germany's 16 states are discussing pandemic plans. A nationwide state of emergency is set to lapse on Nov. 25, meaning restrictions will automatically expire then unless extended by parliamentary vote.

COVID deaths in Russia hit record for fourth straight day

Russia on Friday reported yet more daily records of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with 37,141 new cases and 1,064 people dying in the past 24 hours.

It was the second successive daily case record and the fourth straight day of record deaths this week, a surge that has prompted authorities to reintroduce restrictions and renew calls for people to get vaccinated.

Parts of China toughen COVID curbs to fight new outbreak

A new COVID-19 outbreak has spurred parts of China to increase restrictions on movement, with the capital Beijing sealing off some areas and northwestern regions imposing a range of transport curbs and closing public venues.

China, where the coronavirus was first identified in late 2019, reported 28 new domestically transmitted cases for Thursday, more than double the 13 cases a day earlier, health authority data showed on Friday.

The numbers are tiny compared to elsewhere in the world, but Chinese cities are quick to contain outbreaks under tough national guidelines of zero tolerance.

Melbourne, world's most locked-down city, eases curbs

Melbourne residents flocked to the city's pubs, restaurants and hair salons in the early hours of Friday after the world's most locked-down city emerged from its latest spate of restrictions designed to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Australia's second-largest city has so far endured 262 days, or nearly nine months, of restrictions during six separate lockdowns since March 2020, representing the longest cumulative lockdown for any city in the world.

Hong Kong halts cruise to nowhere as COVID-19 suspected in crew member

Hong Kong authorities stopped "Spectrum of the Seas", a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, from leaving its terminal on a "cruise to nowhere", as a crew member was suspected to have COVID-19 after routine testing, the government and the cruise operator said.

About 1,000 passengers out of a total of 1,200 had already boarded the ship before the four-night trip was cancelled. All have to undergo compulsory testing but were allowed to leave the ship as they did not have direct contact with the crew member.

New Zealand sets 90% vaccine target for ending lockdown

New Zealand will end its strict lockdown measures and restore more freedoms only when 90% of its eligible population are fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. Some 68% of eligible New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and 86% have had one dose.

When the vaccine target is reached, the country will move into a new traffic-light system to manage outbreaks in regions.

Regret and defiance in Europe's vaccine-shy east

As Latvia goes into lockdown and hospitals in Bulgaria and Romania buckle under a COVID-19 surge while Poland sells surplus vaccine doses, many central and eastern Europeans are torn between defiance and regret over not getting inoculated.

The region has the European Union's lowest vaccination rates, an unwelcome distinction in which both political and economic factors play a role, and deadlier variants of the virus are spreading fast.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Nick Macfie)

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