The approval of vaccines against Covid-19 and the beginning of their distribution bring some consolation this Christmas, but the increase in coronavirus cases worldwide is accompanied by the imposition of stricter restrictions on travel and family gatherings at this most festive time of year.
More than 73.68 million people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 1,655,424 people have died worldwide, according to a new report from Reuters. Slovenia leads the world in the number of cases and deaths per capita, at a staggering 119.26 per million of their population.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is second, at 92.7 per million, Italy with 68 per million, and the Czech Republic with 56 million. The United States, which has reported the highest number of deaths overall due to the virus, has a death rate of 43.65. Other large nations, such as China and Russia, are not considered to be reputable reporters of how many deaths they have experienced from the virus.
The outbreak of the epidemic in the US is putting suffocating pressure on hospitals, as the country continues to pay the price of Thanksgiving, with hospital admissions hitting a record for the 19th consecutive day.
Australian travel plans are in a vacuum as many parts of the country are now imposing border restrictions between their states following the emergence of 28 new Covid-19 cases in Sydney.
Large regions of England have been classified as high-alert areas as of last weekend and tens of millions of people are subject to new strict restrictions, while the specter of another lockdown still looms after the relaxation of measures for five days to allow Christmas to be celebrated.
South Korea had been praised for managing the epidemic in its early stages — when, perhaps, the virus was not even present in the country. But today it announced 1,062 new cases of Covid-19, the second highest daily report since the outbreak began, as the government moves to take tougher action.
Austrians living abroad are returning home for Christmas just as new restrictive measures take effect this weekend. According to media reports, the country is moving toward its third lockdown, which will be imposed after Christmas and will last until January 18.
“There is no safe place”
Swiss Health Minister Alain Bershe will ask his colleagues today to close restaurants in his country for one month.
The Spanish capital of Madrid, the site of the largest outbreak in Europe during the first wave, had gradually halted the spread of the virus without closing clubs or shops.
However, with a rate of 244 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for the last two weeks, the area has returned to infection levels that were seen before the start of the second wave.
Police in Lithuania plan to set up roadblocks to monitor lockdown compliance.
“There is no safe place in Lithuania,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonite warned reporters.
However, hope still beckons on the horizon, as the countries of the European Union will begin vaccinating their populations on December 27, after the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom began their inoculation campaigns in the past two weeks.
The European Medicines Agency will announce its decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on December 21, with inoculations to begin soon afterward. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to announce the emergency-use approval of the Moderna vaccine on Friday, introducing a second desperately-needed vaccine into the US supply chain.