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Morocco ends curfew, Europe cases rise

Europe is the only region in the world where both coronavirus infections and deaths are steadily increasing, the World Health Organisation says, as fatalities hit new daily highs in Russia and Morocco ends its night curfew.

Russian authorities reported a record 1239 deaths from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, two days after most of its regions emerged from a week-long workplace shutdown designed to curb the spread of the virus.

“For now we cannot say with confidence that the situation has stabilised and the infection rate is declining,” Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told a government meeting.

Her assessment was markedly more downbeat than that of Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, who had said on Tuesday that the “non-working days” from October 30 to November 7 had turned the tide in Russia’s fight against the pandemic.

Murashko told parliament on Wednesday that oxygen reserves at hospitals in 12 of Russia’s regions would last for two days or less unless they were replenished.

At the same time, he said, some regions were already reporting a decline in infections and the vaccination campaign was bearing fruit as only 3-4 per cent of inoculated Russians have been infected.

More than 62 million Russians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Murashko said.

Moroccan officials were set to end a night curfew aimed at combating COVID-19 that they introduced in March 2020 starting from Wednesday.

The announcement follows a decline in infections from the peak during the northern hemisphere summer.

Morocco has administered more coronavirus vaccine doses than any other African country, inoculating 24 million people out of a population of 36 million, and has imposed a vaccine pass for travel and access to public places.

The WHO said on Wednesday that coronavirus deaths rose by 10 per cent in Europe in the past week.

It was the sixth consecutive week that the virus has risen across the continent.

In its weekly report on the pandemic, the UN health agency said there were about 3.1 million new cases globally, about a 1 per cent increase from the previous week.

Nearly two-thirds of the coronavirus infections – 1.9 million – were in Europe, where cases rose by 7 per cent.

The countries with the highest numbers of new cases worldwide were the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Germany.

The number of weekly COVID-19 deaths fell by about 4 per cent worldwide and declined in every region except Europe.

Out of the 61 countries the WHO includes in its European region, which includes Russia and stretches to Central Asia, 42 per cent reported a jump in cases of at least 10 per cent in the last week.

In the Americas, the WHO said that new weekly cases fell by 5 per cent and deaths declined by 14 per cent, with the highest numbers reported from the United States.

In Southeast Asia and Africa, COVID-19 deaths declined by about a third, despite the lack of vaccines in those regions.

with Reuters

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