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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·3 min read
FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in Manila, Philippines

LONDON (Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Ignoring WHO call, Germany, France to give vaccine boosters

Germany and France will go ahead with COVID-19 vaccine boosters from September, disregarding an appeal by the World Health Organisation to hold off until more people are vaccinated across the globe.

The decision to press ahead with booster shots despite the strongest statement yet from the WHO highlights the challenge of dealing with a global pandemic while countries try to protect their own citizens from the more infectious Delta variant.

French President Emmanuel Macron said France was working on rolling out third COVID-19 vaccine doses to the elderly and vulnerable from September.

Germany intends to give boosters to immunocompromised patients, the very elderly and nursing home residents from September, the health ministry said.

WHO says COVID-19 deaths in Africa reach weekly record

Coronavirus related deaths in Africa reached record peak in the week that ended on Aug. 1, the WHO said on Thursday.

More than 6,400 deaths were recorded, a 2% rise compared with the previous week, with South Africa and Tunisia accounting for over 55% of deaths, the WHO said in a statement, adding that death trends were on the rise in 15 countries.

England scraps France quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers

Britain will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England and Scotland from France, rowing back on a rule that had infuriated French politicians and thrown millions of holidays into confusion.

Britain has double vaccinated a higher proportion of its population against COVID-19 than most other countries, but a maze of rules has prevented travel to many countries, devastating the travel industry.

U.S. developing plan to require foreign visitors to be vaccinated

The Biden administration is developing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of eventually lifting travel restrictions that bar much of the world from entering, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The White House has held discussions with airlines and others about how it would implement a policy of requiring vaccines for foreign visitors. The administration must also answer other questions including what proof it would accept of vaccination and if the United States would accept vaccines that some countries are using but which have not been authorized by U.S. regulators.

New COVID-19 cases surge in Sydney

Sydney reported a record daily number of new coronavirus cases on Thursday and the state of Victoria announced a one-week lockdown as Australia tried to contain the highly infectious Delta variant.

With around 35,200 COVID-19 cases and 932 deaths, Australia has avoided the high caseloads of other developed countries but its vaccination figures are among the lowest, with only 20% of people aged over 16 fully vaccinated.

The government is also under pressure as Australia's A$2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) economy is threatened by a second recession in two years.

Japan expands emergency curbs as cases surge

Japan decided on Thursday to expand its COVID-19 emergency curbs to cover more than 70% of the population, as a record surge in cases strained hospitals in the Olympics host city Tokyo and other parts of the country.

Japan had avoided the explosive outbreaks seen elsewhere. But infections are rising fast as new cases hit record highs in Tokyo, overshadowing the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics and fuelling doubts over Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's pandemic response.

South Korea plans to become major vaccine producer

South Korea plans to invest 2.2 trillion won ($1.9 billion) to become one of the world's five largest COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing bases by 2025, President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday.

Moon said he would designate COVID-19 vaccines as one of three national strategic technologies, along with semiconductors and batteries, aiming to ramp up investment, give tax breaks and offer other incentives to help firms localise materials, parts and equipment.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh and Nick Macfie)

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