The US vice president has received a coronavirus vaccine as infections hit record highs in Denmark and Germany while South Korean authorities warn the pandemic is overloading the health system in the capital.
More than 73.68 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,655,425 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
US Vice President Mike Pence received his COVID-19 vaccine live on television on Friday, seeking to shore up public support for vaccinations after coronavirus-linked fatalities in the country exceeded 3000 for a third straight day.
Pence’s wife Karen and Surgeon General Jerome Adams also received the Pfizer-BioNTech shots during the White House event.
Denmark’s State Serum Institute on Friday said the country has recorded more than 1000 coronavirus-related fatalities since the start of the outbreak.
The number of virus-related deaths stood at 1007, the institute said.
The SSI also reported a new daily record for coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, saying it registered 4508 new cases.
The country of 5.8 million people has so far recorded about 128,300 coronavirus cases.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s government announced the temporary closure of all shopping malls from Thursday until early next year in its latest move to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
The closures would be widened in a week when all shops – with the exception of pharmacies, grocery stores and supermarkets – were to be closed from December 25 to January 3.
Germany has also reached grim new heights in the coronavirus pandemic as the country eases into a weeks-long lockdown designed to bring down persistently high infection numbers.
The Robert Koch Institute for disease control on Friday recorded 33,777 new cases confirmed over the past 24 hours.
This was officially the first time that Germany has had a daily surge in excess of 30,000.
The number of deaths reported on Friday was 813, the second-highest toll since the pandemic began.
The RKI has so far counted more than 1.4 million cases of coronavirus infection in Germany, including almost 25,000 deaths.
Germany enacted sweeping closures and restrictions across the country from Wednesday, tightening a partial lockdown initiated in early November that failed to reverse the country’s rising trend in infections.
The tougher lockdown is to stay in place until January 10 at the earliest, following an agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the country’s 16 states.
South Korea reported 1062 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday – its third straight day of more than 1000 – as authorities in Seoul warned that hospital beds are in short supply.
Seoul City said a COVID-19 patient in his 60s died at his home on Tuesday after officials failed to find him a hospital bed for days.
The city said an “explosive growth” in patients this month has resulted in an “overload in administrative and medical systems”.
The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Friday brought the country’s caseload to 47,515.
The death toll rose to 645 after 11 more patients died overnight.
Among 12,888 active patients, at least 246 were in serious or critical condition, the largest number since the emergence of the pandemic.
Son Young-rae, a senior Health Ministry official, said there were only 49 intensive care beds left for COVID-19 patients across the country, with just four of them in the capital area.
He said health authorities are planning to secure about 170 more ICU beds by early January by designating more hospitals for COVID-19 treatment.