What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
South Korea reports record daily cases
South Korea has set a record for daily COVID-19 cases at 2,434, breaking the previous record set last month, as it grapples with a wave of infections that began in early July, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Friday.
The mortality rate and severe cases remain relatively low and steady at 0.82% and 309, respectively, helped largely by vaccinations that prioritised older people at high risk of severe COVID-19, KDCA said when reporting figures for Thursday.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum stressed the need for virus-prevention rules to be stricter as adherence could have been lax during this week's three-day holiday.
Singapore tightens curbs
Singapore said on Friday it will tighten COVID-19 curbs to limit social gatherings to two people and make working from home a default, in a bid to contain a spike in infections and reduce pressure on the healthcare system.
Despite a rapid vaccination drive, the city-state has been seeing more than 1,000 daily cases this week, including 1,504 on Thursday, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.
In a statement on Friday, the health ministry said: "Many COVID positive individuals with mild symptoms are seeking medical attention at our hospitals when it might not be necessary."
Sinovac's shot highly effective against serious illness
Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against serious illness, although rival shots from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca showed better protection rates, a large real-world study from Malaysia showed.
The latest data is a boost to the Chinese firm, whose vaccine has been under growing scrutiny over its effectiveness following reports of infections among healthcare workers fully immunized with the Sinovac shot in Indonesia and Thailand.
The study, conducted by the Malaysian government, found that 0.011% of about 7.2 million recipients of the Sinovac shot required treatment in intensive care units for COVID-19 infections, health officials told reporters on Thursday.
Japan approaching end of emergency in most areas
Japan's COVID-19 infection situation is improving such that emergency conditions could soon be lifted in most parts of the country, the health minister said on Friday.
Hospitalisation rates and patient bed availability will factor into whether the state of emergency prevailing over Tokyo and much of the country can be lifted at the end of this month, Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters.
"After hearing the opinions of experts, the Cabinet will make a final decision," he said.
Australia hits vaccine milestone
More than half of Australia's adult population were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday, authorities said, as they step up inoculations in hopes of easing restrictions while cases linger near daily record levels in Victoria.
Australia is grappling with a third wave of infections from the highly infectious Delta variant that has led to lockdowns in its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and the capital, Canberra, affecting nearly half the country's 25 million people.
Norway to end restrictions
Norway will reopen society on Saturday, the government said, ending its coronavirus restrictions, which have limited social interaction and hobbled many businesses.
The Nordic nation joins a small but growing number of countries, including Denmark and Britain, which have removed all domestic restrictions limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Giles Elgood)
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