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World News

Latest on worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) - The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States has jumped nearly 50% in the last two weeks, forcing states to impose new restrictions as Americans face a potentially grim winter and holiday season.

FILE PHOTO: Signage hangs on entry doors to a hospital wing housing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at UW Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel Acker/File Photo

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of COVID-19, open here in an external browser.

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals here for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* The number of new COVID-19 infections in Germany remains far too high but there are signs the country’s “lockdown lite” is working and could reduce numbers soon, health officials said.

* Chief Brexit negotiators suspended direct talks after a member of the EU team tested positive for COVID-19.

* Hungary’s plans to import and possibly use Russia’s touted Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine raise safety concerns and could damage trust in potential shots, the European Commission said.

* Sweden should rethink its decision not to recommend the use of face masks amid a second wave of infections, the Royal Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel prizes, said.

* Russia’s health minister urged regional leaders to take further steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as the country’s COVID-19 case tally passed 2 million.

* Greece will shut one border crossing with Albania and conduct rapid COVID-19 tests on all visitors at its land borders.

* Portugal’s president asked parliament to back an extension of a state of emergency imposed to fight the coronavirus for an additional 15 days from next week.

AMERICAS

* Tens of thousands of Hondurans are cramming into overcrowded storm shelters, aid workers and officials say, raising concerns that the chaotic set-up will trigger a new spike in coronavirus infections.

* U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico are expected to remain closed to non-essential travel until Dec. 21 at the earliest amid a rising number of U.S. cases.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Tokyo raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level as its daily tally of new infections rose to a record 534 and its governor called for maximum caution.

* India’s total COVID-19 infections neared 9 million after the country reported 45,576 new cases.

* One of Australia’s strictest lockdowns kicked off in the country’s south with outdoor gatherings, weddings, funerals and takeaway food all coming to a standstill.

* Azerbaijan has extended lockdown restrictions until Dec. 28.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Turkey will sign a contract within days to buy at least 20 million doses of a COVID-19 candidate vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech.

* Jordan is racing to increase hospital bed capacity as its healthcare system struggles to cope with a surge in new coronavirus cases.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s potential COVID-19 vaccine produced a strong immune response in older adults, data showed, with researchers expecting to release late-stage trial results by Christmas.

* Vaccines from Pfizer PFE.N and Moderna MRNA.O could be ready for U.S. authorization and distribution within weeks.

* Russia has resumed the vaccination of new volunteers in its trial for its flagship COVID-19 Sputnik V vaccine after a short pause.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Stocks and oil rallied on reports that U.S. congressional leaders may be willing to restart negotiations on stimulus for beleaguered businesses.

* Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to resume COVID-19 relief talks as cases surge across the country, CNBC reported.

* The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits rose last week, likely as new business restrictions to control spiralling COVID-19 infections unleashed a fresh wave of layoffs.

Compiled by Aditya Soni, Anita Kobylinska and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Giles Elgood and Arun Koyyur

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