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Health 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: AstraZeneca's logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle in this illustration taken November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

AstraZeneca vaccine can be 90% effective

Britain’s AstraZeneca said on Monday its vaccine for the novel coronavirus could be around 90% effective without any serious side effects.

The vaccine developed by Oxford University was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 when it was administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart, according to data from the late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil.

No serious safety events related to the vaccine have been confirmed and it was well tolerated across both dosing regimens, it said.

Indonesia hits half a million cases

Indonesia hit a grim milestone on Monday in surpassing more than half a million cases of the coronavirus, as hospitals across the country’s most populated province edged closer towards capacity.

Indonesia now has 502,110 infections and 16,002 deaths from COVID-19, the highest numbers in Southeast Asia, having struggled to contain the spread since its first case in March.

Public health experts say shortfalls in testing and contact tracing and a consistently high positivity rate indicate the real numbers are likely to be significantly higher.

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India plans to put off parliamentary session

India plans to put off the winter session of parliament due to the rising number of infections, a government official said on Monday, with New Delhi facing a shortage of hospital beds and doctors.

While the daily rise in new cases nationally has slowed, there has been a surge of infections in the capital, which officials said was because of the sprawling city of 20 million had remained fully open, with crowds gathering for religious festivals during recent weeks.

On Sunday, Delhi recorded more than 6,700 new cases, the highest daily rise among major cities. India’s overall caseload stood at 9.14 million after the addition of 44,059 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.

German states favour extending lockdown

Many of Germany’s 16 federal states favour extending a partial shutdown meant to slow the spread of the pandemic and make family gatherings over Christmas possible, two state premiers said on Monday.

Germany imposed a month-long “lockdown-lite” from Nov. 2. Infection numbers have plateaued since but not declined.

“The November shutdown has brought something, the (infection) numbers are subdued but they remain high,” Manuela Schwesig, premier of the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, told Deutschlandfunk radio. “For this reason, many states believe that the November shutdown must continue, especially in the risk areas.”

New Zealand PM offers help to Biden

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she offered President-elect Joe Biden assistance with tackling the rampant outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.

During the first talks between the two since Biden was elected as the next U.S. president, Ardern said she offered access to New Zealand’s most senior health officials.

“I offered to him and his team access to New Zealand health officials in order to share their experience on things we’ve learnt on our Covid-19 journey,” Ardern told reporters in Wellington.

New Zealand is widely heralded as one of most successful countries in suppressing COVID-19.

Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Alex Richardson

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