Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday

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The latest:

The head of Germany’s disease control agency has warned that the country faces a “really terrible Christmas” unless steps are taken to counter the sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

German lawmakers are debating measures Thursday that would replace the nationwide epidemic rules, which will expire at the end of the month.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control agency, said Thursday that 65,371 newly confirmed cases had been reported in a single day, continuing the upward trend that experts have been warning about for weeks.

“We are currently heading toward a serious emergency,” the agency’s director, Lothar Wieler, said. “We are going to have a really terrible Christmas if we don’t take countermeasures now.”

Wieler said Germany needs to increase its vaccination rates to significantly above 75 per cent, from 67.7 per cent at present. Some regions in Germany have vaccination rates as low as 57.6 per cent.

He also called for the closure of clubs and bars, an end to large-scale events and access to many parts of public life to be limited to those with vaccine or recovery certificates.

Wieler warned that hospitals across Germany are struggling to find beds for COVID-19 patients and those with other illnesses.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 6:35 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Ottawa to drop molecular test requirement for short foreign trips, sources say: 

Ottawa to drop PCR test requirement for short foreign trips: sources

Sources have told CBC News that the federal government will announce that fully vaccinated Canadians won’t need to produce a negative PCR test on their return if they’ve been out of the country for 72 hours or less. 1:55

Also Read:  Elections commissioner dismisses Tory complaint over edited Liberal tweet - National

What’s happening around the world

Medics wearing special protective suits treat a patient with the novel coronavirus at an intensive care unit of a hospital in Kalach-on-Don, Russia, over the weekend. (Alexander Kulikov/The Associated Press)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 255.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.1 million.

In Europe, coronavirus deaths in Russia have hit record highs for the second straight day. Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported Thursday that 1,251 people died of COVID-19 since the day before. The previous record of 1,247 deaths was recorded Wednesday.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan’s new stimulus package will include record spending of about $488 billion US due to huge payouts to cushion COVID-19’s economic blow, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

South Korea reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic as hundreds of thousands of masked students flocked to schools on Thursday for the country’s highly competitive college entrance exam amid growing concerns about the delta-driven spread.

About 509,000 students were taking the one-day exam at 1,395 sites across the nation, including hospitals and shelters.

The annual exam is crucial in the education-obsessed country, where careers, social standings and even marriage prospects greatly depend on which university a person attends.

South Korean students wait for the start of the College Scholastic Ability Test at a high school in Seoul on Thursday. About 510,000 high school seniors and graduates across the country are expected to take the annual highly competitive university entrance exam. (Chung Sung-Jun/The Associated Press)

Students were required to have their temperatures taken before entering classrooms, and those with fevers were sent to separate testing areas. The Education Ministry said that 68 infected students and 105 others in self-quarantine took the hours-long test in isolation.

In the Americas, Brazil registered 11,977 new coronavirus cases and 373 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

In Africa, Nigeria’s economy grew just over four per cent in the third quarter, the statistics office said, lifted by higher oil prices, as the country targets mass vaccination from this month.

In the Middle East, Iran on Wednesday reported 6,251 new cases of COVID-19 and 125 additional deaths.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:40 a.m. ET

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