The rapid spike in the United States has been compounded by a fast-moving new variant first discovered in the UK. Elsewhere, Germany has registered a new record daily death toll. DW has the latest from around the world.

The new variant first discovered in the UK has led to a surge of cases around the world

More than 270,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported across the United States on Thursday. Hospitalizations stood at 132,046 — that’s slightly down from Wednesday’s record tally. The disease killed 4,002 Americans on Thursday, just under the previous day’s toll of 4,008 deaths.

Pennsylvania and Texas on Thursday became the latest two states added to the list, which also includes California, Colorado, Florida and New York. Health officials predicted that the spread of the new variant will likely accelerate across the US in the weeks and months to come.

Parts of California issued fresh lockdown orders and the governor said on Thursday that the state could run out of intensive care unit capacity within weeks.

A Labor Department report due for release later on Friday was expected to show the US created the lowest number of jobs since the outbreak of the pandemic in March.

Here’s a roundup of key developments elsewhere.

Germany’s death toll and confirmed caseload have hit new heights. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control reported 1,188 deaths over a 24-hour period, the highest daily count yet. The number of infections rose by 31,849, also one of the biggest increases so far.

Britian announced plans to extend a ban on travelers arriving to England from South Africa to other southern African nations to prevent the spread of a variant discovered in South Africa. The UK’s airline industry mulled the need to introduce pre-departure testing as a short-term measure.

Hungary announced an extension of existing restrictions — including a 7 p.m. curfew — until February 1 to curb the spread of infections. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary had received 80,000 doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine but warned that was not enough.

France has pre-ordered 200 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccines, more than enough to cover its entire population of 67 million people. Surveys show six in every 10 citizens intend to refuse the vaccine.

Spain became the fourth Western European country to pass 2 million cumulative cases, health ministry data showed. Italy’s medicines regulator said it has approved the use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. The US biotech company receivedapproval for its shot from the European Commission on Wednesday.

French drugmaker Sanofi was considering how it can help produce COVID-19 vaccines devised by other drugmakers.

A Brisbane sign reminds the public about social distancing as the city locks down for three days

Asia Pacific

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received his first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, and urged others to take the jabs. The island nation has largely brought the pandemic under control, reporting only a handful of cases in recent months. Japan is considering whether a state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area needs to be extended to other regions as COVID-19 cases rise. The Japanese capital reported a record of 2,447 new cases on Thursday, a 50% increase from the previous day —which was also a record day for the world’s third-largest economy.

A senior member of the International Olympic Committee has said he “can’t be certain” the postponed Tokyo Olympics will open in just over six months because of the surging pandemic.

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Meanwhile the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in China’s Hebei province surrounding Beijing fell slightly from a day earlier, as authorities restricted movement in the provincial capital.

The number of people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first identified, could be around three times the official figure, according to a study by Chinese researchers based in the city. Australia will require travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before departing to the country, as the nation’s third-largest city, Brisbane, headed into a three-day lockdown following the discovery of a case of a virulent new coronavirus variant. Brisbane residents were barred from leaving their homes for anything but essential business for three days from Friday evening.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he reached a new agreement with Pfizer that will allow Israel to vaccinate all citizens over 16 by the end of March. Israel has already secured millions of doses and launched one of the earliest and fastest vaccination drives in the world.

South Africa’s two biggest pharmacy chains said they plan to offer COVID-19 shots at their stores and provide storage and distribution facilities.

It’s snowing in the Alps and the lower German mountain ranges. Despite all appeals, people are drawn outdoors. In many places, the perfect winter sports conditions are leading to kilometer-long traffic jams, overcrowded parking lots and full slopes, like here in Winterberg. Many municipalities can no longer control the rush and are moving to seal off their ski areas.

New Zealand is setting up a “travel bubble” with neighboring Australia. After months of border closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand will once again allow tourists from Australia to enter the country without quarantine requirements in the New Year. New Zealanders have been able to travel to Australia again since October without having to go into quarantine.

On Saturday (December 5) the first Aida cruise ship is scheduled to leave for a one-week trip to the Canary Islands. The ship, designed for 3300 passengers, will reportedly be 50 percent full. All passengers will need to provide a negative coronavirus test, no more than 72 hours old. On board, strict hygiene and distancing rules apply, and only guided shore excursions will be possible.

Australian airline Qantas wants to introduce compulsory vaccination for intercontinental flights. “We will require international travelers to be vaccinated before we allow them on board,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce stated. The general terms and conditions would be adjusted accordingly. Whether this will also be a requirement for domestic flights has not yet been decided.

Both cities will launch a ‘travel bubble’ on November 22, which will allow people to move quarantine free in each direction, their governments announced on Wednesday (Nov 11), in a rare piece of good news for the pandemic-battered tourism industry. A quota of 200 residents from each city will be able to travel on one daily bubble flight to the other.

Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca city in the Peruvian Andes mountains, has reopened almost eight months after it was closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Peruvian authorities organized an Inca ritual to mark the reopening. To allow for distancing, a maximum of 675 tourists per day are allowed to enter the old Inca city. That is less than a third of the normal number allowed.

Rio de Janeiro’s famous annual Carnival spectacle will not go ahead in February. Organizers said the spread of the coronavirus in Brazil made it impossible to safely hold parades which with some seven million people celebrating are a cultural mainstay, tourism magnet and, for many, a source of livelihood. Brazil has the second highest death rate in the world after the United States and India.

To curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic the German government has announced though new measures to start Monday, November 2. The new restrictions effect the travel business as overnight stays in hotels for tourist purposes will be banned, entertainment facilities such as theaters and cinemas will be closed as will bars and restaurants, which will only be allowed to offer take out services.

The city announced on Monday (Oct.26) that this decision had been made in view of the rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases. The mayor explained that it was to be assumed that in the near future the Covid-19 traffic light in Nuremberg will change to dark red. “Against this background, we think it would be the wrong signal to go ahead with the annual Christkindlesmarkt Christmas market.

The Canary Islands are no longer on the list of corona risk areas, the Robert Koch Institute announced on Thursday (Oct. 22). The abolition of the travel warning for the Canary Islands should above all please tour operators. For them, the islands off the coast of Africa with their year-round summer climate are one of the most important sources of hope for the winter season.

Starting October 15, some of the Caribbean state have been reopened for international flights, with Havana a notable exception. Every visitor is tested for the coronavirus upon arrival, and a team of doctors is available in every hotel. The German vacation airline Condor plans to offer flights to Cuba’s most popular tourist destination, the Varadero peninsula, starting October 31.

Discussions are underway between Australia and low-risk countries across Asia and the Pacific to lift coronavirus travel restrictions, but the government has warned that travel to the US and Europe may not be an option until 2022. From Friday, Australia will open its international borders for the first time since March, allowing visitors from New Zealand to travel to the country quarantine-free.

The cruise industry has decided to make coronavirus testing mandatory for all guests and crew members aboard cruise ships. The Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest such organization, announced on October 8 that passengers can only board ships by providing proof of a negative test result. All member shipping companies worldwide must now comply with this rule.

In the wake of significant increases in coronavirus infection figures in Europe, Berlin has announced further EU countries as risk areas for travelers. In addition to Belgium and Iceland, additional areas of France and Great Britain, including all of Northern Ireland and Wales, were also classified as risk areas on September 30.

Thailand is to receive its first foreign vacationers when a flight from China arrives next week, marking the gradual restart of a vital tourism sector battered by coronavirus travel curbs, a senior official said on Tuesday. The first flight will carry some 120 tourists from Guangzhou, flying directly to the resort island of Phuket.

India’s most famous building was closed for six months, but since Monday ( September 21) it can be visited again, under strict restrictions. Only 5000 online tickets will be issued per day. There are temperature checks at the entrance. Selfies are allowed, group photos are prohibited. The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is normally visited by 8 million people every year.

The Foreign Ministry has reacted to higher numbers of coronavirus infections on September 16 by issuing further travel warnings, including Vienna and Budapest. The province of North Holland with Amsterdam as well as South Holland with the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam are also affected. New risk areas were also identified in the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, France, and Switzerland.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector has suffered a loss of 460 billion dollars (388 billion euros) from January to June, the World Tourism Organization reported in Madrid. The loss of sales was five times higher than during the international financial and economic crisis of 2009, and the total number of tourists worldwide fell by 65 percent in the first half of the year.

Germany’s Foreign Office has warned against unnecessary tourism to Czech capital, Prague, and the Swiss cantons Geneva and Vaud (Vaud). This also applies to the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, the French regions Auvergne-Rhones-Alpes (around Lyon), Nouvelle-Aquitaine (around Bordeaux) and Occitania (around Toulouse) as well as more Croatian Adriatic areas, such as the city of Dubrovnik.

The German government has extended its travel warning for around 160 countries through September 30. The advisory applies to “third countries” — i.e. countries that are not members of the EU or associated with the Schengen area. From October 1st, a “differentiated system” will apply, in which individual travel and safety information will be given for each country.

Australia has extended its travel restrictions for a further three months. The borders will remain closed for visitors from abroad until at least December 17. However, the government announced that domestic travel will soon be allowed for residents of the country. An exception will be the state of Victoria, with its metropolis Melbourne, for which a lockdown has been in place since early July.

The German government has extended the travel warning for around 160 countries outside the European Union by two weeks until September 14. A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry explained the move on Wednesday (Aug 26) with rising coronavirus infection rates. “The situation will not relax sufficiently by mid-September to be able to lift the worldwide travel warning,” she said.

With 2,500 instead of 6,000 passengers, the MSC Grandiosa left the port of Genoa on August 16. Stops on the seven-day voyage include Naples, Palermo and Valletta. Passengers and crew were tested for coronavirus before boarding, and body temperature is to be checked on a daily basis. Rival cruise company Costa will not be offering Mediterranean cruises again until September.

Germany’s health and interior ministries have agreed that all of Spain — apart from the Canary Islands — is now a high-risk area due to a surge in cases. Spain said it was closing night clubs across the country. Restaurants, bars and similar venues would need to close by 1 a. m. and would not be allowed to take in new guests after midnight.

In the first six months of 2020, 59% fewer tourists came to Berlin than in the previous year. The Statistics Office said on August 10 that 2.7 million guests had visited Berlin, the lowest number since 2004. The slump was even worse for foreign tourists: two thirds stayed away. Since June, the figures have been recovering and are at 30 to 40% of the previous year.

Anyone entering Germany from a high-risk area must take a coronavirus test from August 8, after an order by Health Minister Jens Spahn. Currently, many countries are classified as risk areas, including the United States and Brazil. In the European Union, Luxembourg, the Belgian region of Antwerp and the Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre were risk areas as of early August.

Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten has stopped all cruises on August 3 until further notice after an outbreak of the coronavirus on one of its ships. At least 40 passengers and crew members on the Roald Amundsen tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, German cruise line Aida Cruises has also postponed its planned restart due to the lack of necessary permits.

Despite coronavirus uncertainty, Nepal has reopened Mount Everest for the autumn trekking and climbing season. To boost the struggling tourism sector the government will permit international flights to land in the country from August 17. The Himalayan country shut its borders in March just ahead of the busy spring season when hundreds of mountaineers usually flock to the country.

Concerned over a possible second wave of coronavirus, Amsterdam has requested that tourists not visit the Dutch capital on weekends. Potential day-trippers should come between Monday and Thursday, the city said on July 23. The tourist influx has swelled to such a degree that recommended social distancing of 1.5 meters between people is currently not possible in the city center.

In order to manage tourist throngs amid the pandemic, Bavaria’s Economy Minister Hubert Aiwanger is planning a live digital guiding system for visitors. Clogged streets, wild campers and overcrowding on hiking trails in the Alps — this brings popular regions such as Lake Tegernsee (photo) to their limits. The live update system is primarily intended to redirect day-trippers to less full areas.

Holiday flights within Europe are on the move again, with passengers sitting close together. According to an opinion poll by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 62% of those questioned are afraid of being infected by passengers in the next seat. This was identified by IATA as the main reason for the decline in willingness to travel, which is now only 45%.

Author: Andreas Kirchhoff, Susan Bonney-Cox

Brazil has signed a deal with Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute to buy the full output this year of a Chinese vaccine it is producing, as the country’s COVID-19 death toll crossed 200,000 — the world’s second-highest total.

Meanwhile, a coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech showed to be 78% effective in a late-stage Brazilian trial with no severe cases.

Argentina said it would restrict the nighttime movement of people and Colombia’s capital will impose strict quarantine measures until Tuesday.

In the US, millions of pandemic stimulus payments have been deposited in incorrect customer accounts due to an Internal Revenue Service error.

The Canadian state of Ontario has announced it will keep elementary schools in its southern regions closed for in-person learning until January 25.

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kw/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)


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