Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit a new record on Tuesday, and new confirmed cases remained high two days after a nine-day work stoppage ended in most of the country’s regions.
The state coronavirus task force reported 1,211 COVID-19 deaths, Russia’s highest daily death toll of the pandemic, as well as 39,160 new cases. The task force has reported about 40,000 cases and more than 1,100 deaths every day since late October.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered many Russians last month to stay off work between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7. He authorized regional governments to extend the number of non-working days if necessary, but only five Russian regions have done so.
Other regions have restricted access to restaurants, theatres and other public places to people who either have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months or tested negative in the previous 72 hours.
Russia’s health minister told a televised government meeting on Tuesday that the increase in the number of patients receiving medical care had slowed last week for the first time since the beginning of August, though he said it remained “quite high.”
“Undoubtedly, the fall is due to the … non-working days, the regional measures. These measures have turned the tide, and it is very right that a number of regions — five regions — have decided to extend the regime of days off,” the minister, Mikhail Murashko, said.
Worries over COVID-19 have been rising in Europe as several countries face increasing case numbers.
Germany’s coronavirus infection rate has risen to its highest level since the start of the pandemic, public health figures showed on Monday, and doctors warned they will need to postpone scheduled operations in coming weeks to cope.
In the Netherlands, a group of hospitals in the southern province of Limburg on Tuesday called for the government to take new measures to stem rising cases, saying they have no space or staff to handle more coronavirus patients. Five hospitals in the province that borders both Belgium and Germany raised the alarm in a statement, which says they are “heading straight for a health-care blockage and the entire system is grinding to a standstill.”
Bulgaria reported a record number of daily coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, as the European Union’s least-vaccinated country grapples with a fourth wave, official data showed.
In Romania, hundreds of people have been dying each day for the past two months. The country has been among the hardest-hit in the current virus onslaught raging through central and eastern European nations, where far fewer people have been vaccinated than in western Europe.
Meanwhile, Denmark’s government on Monday proposed reinstating the use of a digital “corona pass” to be presented when Danes visit indoor bars and restaurants, as the country is entering a third wave of the pandemic.
— From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:30 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of Tuesday evening, more than 250.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the online case tracker maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.
In the Americas, Pfizer asked U.S. regulators on Tuesday to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 or older, submitting early results of a booster study in 10,000 people to make its case.
Older Americans and other vulnerable groups have had access to a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine since September, but the Food and Drug Administration has said it would move quickly to expand boosters to younger ages if warranted.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government will buy another $1 billion US worth of the COVID-19 pill made by Merck & Co and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the companies said on Tuesday. The government in June agreed to buy 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir for $1.2 billion US and is now exercising options to buy 1.4 million more.
In the Middle East, Israeli health officials will decide behind closed doors whether to allow child COVID-19 vaccinations, citing concerns that decision-makers would otherwise not speak freely due to aggressive anti-vaccine rhetoric by members of the public.
Following the green light given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for using the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on children aged five to 11, Israel’s Health Ministry is set on Wednesday to hold a decisive discussion among experts on whether to follow suit. There have been an increasing number of threats against officials at the Health Ministry, police say, and at least one senior health official has been assigned a personal security detail.
In Europe, the British government says all health-care staff who work with the public will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus starting in April, despite concerns the move could drive thousands of people to quit their jobs.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday that 90 per cent of staff in the state-funded National Health Service have already received two doses of a vaccine. But that leaves more than 100,000 health workers unvaccinated.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines’ annual economic growth slowed in the third quarter as renewed COVID-19 restrictions crimped demand, giving the central bank more reason to keep interest rates at a record low.
Meanwhile, a report found unvaccinated people are 16 times more likely to end up in intensive care units or die from COVID-19, Australia’s New South Wales state said, with officials urging people to get inoculated as Australia begins to live with the coronavirus.
In Africa, Egypt is closing in on a Nov. 15 deadline by which public servants must either have a vaccination certificate or show a weekly negative COVID-19 test before entering their workplaces.
— From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:45 p.m. ET
U.S. to revoke terrorist designation for Colombia’s FARC, add breakaway groups
The United States will revoke its designation of the Colombian group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as a foreign terrorist organization on Tuesday while designating two breakaway groups as such, a senior State Department official said on Friday.
A review of the terrorist listing – required every five years under U.S. law – found that the leftist organization known by the Spanish acronym FARC should no longer be listed, The official said.
But the two dissident groups that have formed out of FARC, La Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP, or People’s Army, would be designated as foreign terrorist organizations, the official said.
“It’s a realignment to address these current threats,” the official said. “The FARC that existed five years ago no longer exists.”
Founded in 1964, FARC was responsible for summary executions and kidnappings of thousands of people, including Americans.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the United States was preparing to remove FARC from the list five years after the group signed a peace agreement with Bogota.
The State Department notified the U.S. Congress on Tuesday of its planned delisting of FARC. The Colombian government was formally notified on Wednesday.
The government of Colombia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision will allow U.S. government agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development to work on peace implementation in parts of Colombia where demobilized FARC soldiers are located, the official said.
“This is a priority for the Colombian government in the implementation of the peace agreement,” the official said.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis in Washington; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Mark Porter and Leslie Adler)
Tunisian police say they shot, wounded extremist trying to attack them
Tunisian police on Friday shot and wounded an extremist who sought to attack them with a knife and cleaver in the capital, authorities said.
The 31-year-old man, whose identity was not disclosed, shouted, “God is great. You are infidels,” as he ran toward police officers near the interior ministry, the ministry said in a statement.
Witnesses and local media said police shot the man in the leg and arrested him. The man, who was previously labelled an extremist by the government, was taken to hospital and is being investigated by an anti-terrorism unit, officials said.
Tunisian security forces have thwarted most militant plots in recent years and they have become more efficient at responding to those attacks that do occur, Western diplomats say.
The last major attacks in Tunisia took place in 2015 when militants killed scores of people in two separate assaults at a museum in Tunis and a beach resort in Sousse.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Frances Kerry and Cynthia Osterman)
At least 19 killed in bus crash in central Mexico
At least 19 people were killed and 20 more injured on Friday when a passenger bus traveling on a highway in central Mexico crashed into a house, authorities said.
The brakes on the bus, which was heading to a local religious shrine in the state of Mexico, failed, according to local media reports. State authorities did not disclose the possible causes of the accident.
Assistant state interior secretary Ricardo de la Cruz Musalem said that the injured had been transferred to hospitals, including some by air.
The state Red Cross said 10 ambulances had rushed to the area.
(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; writing by Laura Gottesdiener)
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