(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
COVID-19’s epicentre again: Europe faces fresh reckoning
Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic again, prompting some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.
Europe accounts for more than half of the average 7-day infections globally and about half of latest deaths, according to a Reuters tally, the highest levels since April last year when the virus first swept into Italy.
Chinese port city battles growing cluster
A growing COVID-19 cluster in China’s Dalian has spurred the port city to limit outbound travel, cut offline school classes and close a few cultural venues after being told by authorities to contain the outbreak more quickly. On Friday, Dalian called on residents not to leave their home unless necessary.
Dalian, a main port for seafood shipments as well as fruit and some meats, has also ordered all businesses handling imported chilled and frozen foods to suspend operations, according to the state-backed Global Times newspaper.
China finds cases among foreign athletes at Olympics tests
China reported the first COVID-19 cases among foreign athletes at preparatory events for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Games, as stringent measures being put in place to control any outbreaks are put to the test.
Two lugers of the same nationality tested positive, Huang Chun, an official of the Games organising committee, said.
The Feb. 4-20 Games will be held without overseas spectators and organisers have yet to announce arrangements for domestic ones as China sticks with a zero-COVID policy.
Japan prepares beds, booster shots before winter
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida outlined on Friday an urgent plan to increase hospital beds and medical resources in preparation for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 this winter. The government plans to boost hospital bed capacity by about 30%, bolster in-home care, and collect data to predict which hospitals will come under pressure.
AstraZeneca starts to make modest profit from COVID vaccine
AstraZeneca said it would begin to earn a modest profit from its coronavirus vaccine as the world learns to live with the virus and the drugmaker is in talks with several countries about new orders for delivery next year.
AstraZeneca made a commitment to sell the shot developed with Oxford University at cost during the pandemic and in a press conference on Friday said low-income nations would continue to receive the vaccine on a no-profit basis, while a post-pandemic commercial approach would apply to other new orders even as infections in Europe rise again.
Sweden again charts novel COVID path with no-test stance
Sweden has seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 testing this month, just as much of Europe contends with surging infection rates, after its health agency said vaccinated Swedes no longer need get tested even if they have symptoms of the disease.
Compiled by Karishma Singh and Andrew Heavens; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama