Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 22,609 to 855,916: RKI
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 22,609 to 855,916, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 251 to 13,370, the tally showed.
Panama greenlights funds to buy AstraZeneca’s planned coronavirus vaccine
Panama’s government has authorized spending of $4.3 million to purchase 1.09 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Britain’s AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University, the president’s office said on Wednesday. The Central American nation has been working on multiple Covid-19 vaccine options for its population of 4.2 million, with President Laurentino Cortizo saying he wants to guarantee that each resident will have access to two doses.
India nears nine million coronavirus cases
India recorded 45,576 new cases of the coronavirus, taking total infections to 8.96 million, data from the health ministry said on Thursday. The South Asian nation has the world’s second-highest number of COVID-19 infections, after the United States, but cases have been falling since hitting a peak in September.
Can COVID-19 testing allow us to gather safely for the holidays?
With families hoping to gather for the holidays, Reuters assembled more than 30 healthcare experts to discuss COVID-19 testing during an #AskReuters Twitter chat. Below are edited highlights.
South Korea kicks off special anti-coronavirus period ahead of college entrance exam
South Korea kicked off a special two-week coronavirus prevention period on Thursday as the country’s daily infections tallies continued to mount ahead of highly competitive annual college entrance exams. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 343 new coronavirus cases by Wednesday midnight, bringing the country’s total infections to 29,654, with 498 deaths.
‘The cow can’t tell my secrets’ – UK care farms a lifeline during pandemic
Care farms nestled in the British countryside are providing a lifeline for people struggling with mental health during the pandemic, allowing them to swap therapy sessions on Zoom for the joys of fresh air, mucking out cow sheds and cuddling donkeys. With vital public services for vulnerable people shut down or reduced to video calls because of social distancing measures, care farms have been able to stay open as activities take place in wide open spaces.
Minnesota governor orders restaurants, bars to halt in-person dining for four weeks
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Wednesday ordered all restaurants and bars to halt in-person dining, fitness and entertainment centers to close and youth sports to be canceled for four weeks. The order, which begins on Saturday, comes as the state saw 67 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the most since the pandemic began, according to the state’s health department.
U.S. COVID deaths top 250,000 as New York City schools halt in-person classes
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed a grim new milestone of 250,000 lives lost on Wednesday, as New York City’s public school system, the nation’s largest, called a halt to in-classroom instruction, citing a jump in coronavirus infection rates. The decision to shutter schools and revert exclusively to at-home learning, starting on Thursday, came as state and local officials nationwide imposed restrictions on social and economic life to tamp down a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations heading into winter.
Japan to monitor virus cases, hospitals before any emergency declaration decision
Japan will not immediately declare a health emergency following a record rise in coronavirus cases, and will continue to monitor infection rates and the capacity of hospitals to cope, the government’s chief spokesman said on Thursday. “We will respond appropriately based on conditions,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a regular press briefing.
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveries could start ‘before Christmas’
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech could secure emergency U.S. and European authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed it had a 95% success rate and no serious side effects, the drugmakers said on Wednesday. The vaccine’s efficacy was found to be consistent across different ages and ethnicities – a promising sign given the disease has disproportionately hurt the elderly and certain groups including Black people.