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World News

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: A man gets his temperature checked before a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) antigen test in the working class neighbourhood of Vallecas, which has been under partial lockdown, at a cultural centre in Madrid, Spain, September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

FDA widens safety inquiry into AstraZeneca vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has broadened its investigation of a serious illness in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine study and will look at data from earlier trials of similar vaccines developed by the same scientists, three sources familiar with the details told Reuters.

AstraZeneca’s large, late-stage U.S. trial has remained on hold since Sept. 6, after a study participant in Britain fell ill with what was believed to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.

The widened scope of the FDA probe raises the likelihood of additional delays for what has been one of the most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development.

No clear link between school opening and COVID surge

Widespread reopening of schools after lockdowns and vacations is generally not linked to rising COVID-19 rates, a study of 191 countries has found, but lockdown closures will leave a 2020 “pandemic learning debt” of 300 billion missed school days.

The analysis, by the Zurich-based independent educational foundation Insights for Education (IfE), said 84% of those 300 billion days would be lost by children in poorer countries, and warned that 711 million pupils were still out of school.

“It’s been assumed that opening schools will drive infections, and that closing schools will reduce transmission, but the reality is much more complex,” said IfE’s founder and chief executive Randa Grob-Zakhary.

Germany lifts world travel warning

Germany lifted its blanket warning against travelling to all countries outside the European Union, although little is likely to change for most travellers under the new regulation.

The cautious reopening, agreed by the German cabinet three weeks ago, comes as Europe faces an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with many warning the continent is facing a second wave.

Due to high infection rates, the foreign ministry extended an existing warning for parts of Belgium to cover the entire country and warned against travel to Wales, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and Iceland.

New York restaurants reopen for dine-in patrons

New York City restaurants reopened indoor dining at 25% capacity on Wednesday, welcoming patrons hungry for food and company in the pandemic with tight safety measures in candle-lit rooms and behind kitchen doors.

At Il Gattopardo, an upscale Southern-Italian restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, owner Gianfranco Sorrentino said extreme health precautions were essential to pull his eatery through one of his toughest times in the business in 30 years.

“We change the mask every 15, 20 minutes,” Sorrentino said of the waiters. “Everybody has to wash their hands every 15, 20 minutes. We change the filter of the air conditioning. They are special filters so the circulation of the air is done in a different way.”

Scorsese and Eastwood say movie theaters may not survive

Oscar-winning film directors James Cameron, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese joined forces with movie theater owners on Wednesday in an appeal for financial help, saying they feared for the future of the industry.

In a letter to the leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, they said the pandemic had dealt a devastating blow to movie theaters and that without funds “theaters may not survive.”

The letter was signed by more than 70 directors and producers along with the National Association of Theater Owners, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association.

Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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