More than 2,500 die in US in 24 hrs

The United States, the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and in the throes of a surge in cases, registered more than 2,500 deaths in a 24-hour period, the highest total since late April, Johns Hopkins University said.

More than 180,000 new infections were recorded, according to real-time data provided by the Baltimore-based university at 8:30 pm (0130 GMT yesterday).

The last time the daily death toll was higher than Tuesday's total of 2,562 was in late April, at the height of the pandemic's first wave.

The number of hospitalizations in the United states hit 99,000 on Tuesday, a new record, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The situation is particularly dire in several Midwestern states, including Indiana and South Dakota.

Experts fear a new surge in the number of infections now that several days have passed since the Thanksgiving holiday, which saw millions of Americans travel to see loved ones despite recommendations to skip festive gatherings.

For now, the number of new daily infections is still high, but more or less consistent with the figures seen in recent weeks.

The United States regularly saw 2,000 deaths a day in the spring, but has hit the number several times in the past two weeks.

In total, the US now has registered more than 13.7 million coronavirus cases and more than 270,000 deaths.

The virus has killed at least 1,489,816 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP yesterday.

England yesterday exited a month-long lockdown but most of the country remained under restrictions as a new regional system for cutting coronavirus infection rates kicked in.

The four-week lockdown, which began in November, was imposed to stop surging rates of infection, ease pressure on health services, and to allow families to gather for Christmas.

But a tough three-tier system of restrictions will now be in place that has been criticised as doing little to reinstate cherished freedoms and help the virus-battered economy.

Most of England's 55 million people will go straight into level two or three, depending on local infection rates, limiting household mixing and the reopening of the hospitality sector.

Just one percent of the country - the south-west county of Cornwall, and the far-flung Isles of Scilly off its coast, and the Isle of Wight in the south - are at the less restrictive level one.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Covid survivor, succeeded in winning a vote on the measures in Parliament on Tuesday night, despite opposition within his own Conservative ranks.

Germany is inching towards tougher lockdown measures, with one regional premier promising a stricter course now regions that had been spared the worst of the pandemic are seeing case numbers surge.

The number of cases recorded in Poland passed one million yesterday and a second wave of the pandemic is proving more serious than the first.

Russia has suffered its worst daily death toll since the pandemic began, reporting 589 deaths yesterday. That brings its cumulative total to 41,053.

Authorities also reported 25,345 infections in the last 24 hours, including 5,191 in the capital, Moscow, and 3,684 in St Petersburg, bringing the national cumulative tally to 2,347,401.

India's daily cases continued to stay below the 50,000 mark for the 25th straight day, with 36,604 new infections reported, data from the health ministry showed yesterday.

The country now has 9.5 million total infections, but cases have been dipping since a peak in September, in spite of a busy festival season last month.

Australia has exited its first recession in almost 30 years, after official figures yesterday showed the economy grew 3.3 percent in July-September compared with the coronavirus-hit previous quarter.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said yesterday people can invite up to 10 guests in their homes on two separate occasions between Christmas and New Year.

European countries are grappling with what guidance to give their inhabitants on how to celebrate during the coming holidays while trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"We do not wish to start the new year with rising infection numbers and new restrictions in January," Solberg told a news conference.

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