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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Eastern Europe reports COVID daily infection records

Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania all hit their highest infection rates of the pandemic on Wednesday, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and yet were reluctant to impose sweeping curbs to limit the spread.

The region has some of Europe’s lowest vaccination rates, particularly in Romania and Bulgaria, and saw some of the highest COVID-related death rates towards the end of 2021.

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German parliament debates compulsory vaccination

Germany reported a new daily record of 164,000 infections on Wednesday as the lower house of parliament prepared to debate proposals to either require or robustly encourage residents to be vaccinated.

Around 75% of the population have received at least one dose of a vaccine – less than in western European peers such as France, Italy or Spain, where the equivalent figures are 80%, 83% and 86% – and the vaccination campaign is stuttering .

Austria ends lockdown on unvaccinated

Austria’s lockdown for people not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will end on Monday because the pressure on hospitals has eased, the government said on Wednesday.

New daily infections are rising, driven by the Omicron variant. They hit a new record above 30,000 on Wednesday, Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein told a news conference, adding that they would peak in the next two weeks at around 35,000 to 40,000.

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Sweden extends pandemic curbs by two weeks

Sweden will extend its current pandemic measures by another two weeks, the minister for health said on Wednesday, as the Omicron variant is spreading at record speed.

The curbs mean bars and restaurants have to close at 2300 and there is a cap of 500 people inside larger indoor venues.

Denmark aims to scrap all domestic curbs by February

Denmark aims to scrap all remaining domestic COVID-19 restrictions next week.

The country has already loosened restrictions two weeks ago after a month-long lockdown, allowing cinemas and music venues to reopen, but some rules remain, including limited opening hours for restaurants and mandatory face masks.

Beijing’s local COVID cases rise before Olympics

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Beijing reported 14 local confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily count in its current outbreak, less than two weeks before the Winter Olympics are set to start in the Chinese capital and the neighboring province of Hebei.

Although the numbers for Beijing’s outbreak since Jan. 15 are lower than elsewhere in the world, the city has ordered targeted lockdowns for tens of thousands of people and tested a few million residents to block infection.

South Korea’s daily COVID cases surge

South Korea’s daily new coronavirus cases exceeded 13,000 for the first time on Wednesday, driven by the spread of the Omicron variant, as the government launched a new pilot testing scheme to meet rocketing demand.

The record 13,012 cases for the previous 24-hour period came just a day after the tally first topped 8,000 despite the extension of tough social distancing rules.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes)

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