Latest on worldwide spread of coronavirus | The Canberra Times

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DEATHS AND INFECTIONS EUROPE * German police have unleashed water cannon and pepper spray in an effort to scatter thousands of protesters angry about new coronavirus restrictions. * British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s handling of the procurement of protective equipment, after a spending watchdog said suppliers with political links were fast-tracked. * Ukraine faces a “very severe” period of cases but says it will not tighten lockdown restrictions because measures taken last week should stabilise the situation. * Portugal has set up a vaccination task force and hopes to start distributing shots as early as January. AMERICAS * The US death toll approaches 250,000, with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing the country’s largest school district will halt in-person learning. * Pressure for a fresh relief bill is mounting on Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress, as a top Wall Street figure lambasts lawmakers as “childish” for not moving forward with assistance. * Vaccinating 20 per cent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean will cost more than $US2 billion ($A2.7 billion) but low-income countries will receive assistance, the World Health Organisation says. * Canada, which has reserved enough doses to vaccinate residents several times over, is reportedly in talks about a plan to donate shots to lower-income countries. ASIA-PACIFIC * Daily cases in Tokyo and South Korea have hit fresh highs, as pollution-cloaked New Delhi struggles with rising cases and Australia reports a highly contagious strain which forced a state-wide lockdown. * Taiwan will from next month require almost all visitors to have negative tests before arriving. MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA * Total cases in Africa have surpassed the 2 million mark despite the slow addition of reported infections. * Iran has registered 13,421 new infections in 24 hours, a new daily record. * Turkey’s government is urging “tight discipline” as the country prepares for new weekend curfews, online schooling and limits on restaurants and cafes. MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS * Sinovac Biotech’s experimental vaccine has triggered a quick immune response but the level of antibodies produced is lower than in people who recover from the disease. * Governments and officials are voicing hopes vaccines could bring “herd immunity” but some experts say such expectations are misplaced. ECONOMIC IMPACT * Global shares have hit a record for a third straight day while the dollar moved off earlier lows as further positive vaccine news helped temper concerns about rising infections. * Global debt is expected to soar to a record $277 trillion by the end of the year as governments and companies continue to spend in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australian Associated Press

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