China reported 50 additional local Covid infections, as authorities said strict curbs would remain in place to disrupt the spread of transmission.

Twenty-one cases were recorded in Hebei province, which is in close proximity to Beijing, the National Health Commission said. The infections come as Chinese authorities continued ring-fencing the capital ahead of February’s Winter Olympics.

The outbreak is fueled by the Delta variant and has now reached 20 out of 31 mainland provinces, the broadest virus spread in China since the pathogen first emerged in Wuhan.

Meanwhile, Europe has again become an epicenter for the coronavirus, calling into question the region’s efforts to recover from the pandemic.

Despite an abundance of Covid-19 shots, countries from Germany to Greece have reported record infections in recent days, while Romania and Bulgaria are experiencing horrific levels of fatalities and overwhelmed hospitals.

That’s putting fresh urgency into efforts to vaccinate the masses, whether that means getting first doses into the arms of tens of millions of vaccine holdouts or preparing to offer booster shots to hundreds of millions of others.

Key developments:

Ukraine reaches record deaths

Ukraine deaths rose to a daily record of 793, the Associated Press reported. With neighboring Russia battling its worst outbreak of the pandemic, Ukraine hit record new infections on Thursday.

Less than 18% of the population in Ukraine has been fully vaccinated, one of the lowest levels in Europe. Teachers and other government employees are required to be vaccinated by Nov. 8.

More anti-vaccination protests in Australia

Hundreds of people protested mandatory vaccinations in western Sydney and other areas of Australia’s New South Wales state on Sunday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, as a further easing of virus-related restrictions is set to ease Monday for the fully inoculated.

The demonstration was proceeding peacefully, police said, according to the newspaper, which added that people held anti-vaccine placards with slogans like “Your Body Your Choice.”

Thousands of people protested the government’s vaccine and climate policies in Melbourne on Saturday, reports said.

US passes vaccine milestone as pace picks up

The US crossed the milestone of 70% of people 18 and older fully vaccinated, according data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Almost 11 months after the first shots were given in the US, the pace of vaccination has been rising after a steep drop starting in April. Booster doses, now approved for all three vaccines given in the US, accounted for about 904,000 of the 1.5 million doses recorded on Saturday, according to a tweet from Cyrus Shahpar, the White House’s Covid-19 data director.

Vaccine mandates are also taking effect, particularly among health-care and public workers. Shots for children 5- to 11-years-old were also given approval. Shahpar said data on the pace of children’s vaccines will be available starting on Monday.

Biden mandate halted by court

A federal appeals court in New Orleans temporarily halted nationwide implementation of the Biden administration’s mandate that all employees at companies with more than 100 workers must get Covid-19 vaccinations by Jan. 4.

The request to stall the mandate came late Friday from more than two-dozen private companies suing the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Labor Department, as part of a court challenge led by Texas, Louisiana, Utah and South Carolina.

The New Orleans court temporarily halted the vaccine mandate while the court further considers the matter. A three-judge panel, including two Trump appointees, gave the Biden administration until 5 p.m. Central time Monday to respond.

U.K. cases at one-month low

The UK reported another 30,693 cases on Saturday, the lowest since Oct. 3. Confirmed infections are down more than 10% in the past week, the government said on its website. Weekly fatalities are up 8% to 1,186 people dying within 28 days of a positive test.

US decline in cases levels off

The steep decline in new US cases since September appears to be leveling off, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New cases fell 1.4% in the week that ended Nov. 3, to 493,019.

New infections rapidly decreased as the Delta variant wave eased in most of the US, from 1.1 million in the week that ended Sept. 17 to about 516,000 in the week ending Oct. 22, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

France imposes masks mandate on ski lifts

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said masks will be mandatory to use ski lifts this winter and that the sanitary pass may become so as well, Agence France-Presse reported on Saturday, citing comments made during a visit to the Alps. President Macron is due to make a public address on Tuesday as the number of cases is on the rise in the country.





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