• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: US facing 'rough' winter; WHO warning on short-term infection surges; restrictions extended in Germany.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 64.5 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 1.49 million.

New confirmed COVID-19 cases have stayed below 40,000 for a fourth straight day in India, despite concerns that a busy festival season would see a spike.

Australia's pharmaceutical regulator has said it's on course to review Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine by January next year. The country plans to begin vaccinations in March. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia's international borders will stay shut for 'some time', despite vaccine progress.

Around half a million South Korean students have begun a competitive university entrance exam. Students with coronavirus are taking the exams in hospital, while others are separated by barriers.

Students wait for the start of the annual college entrance examinations amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at an exam hall in Seoul, South Korea, December 3, 2020.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool - RC2CFK9AI212
Students were also required to wear masks.
Image: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool

Germany has announced an extension to COVID-19 restrictions until 10 January. Restaurants and hotels will remain shut and gatherings are limited to five people from two households.

Spain will cap gatherings between Christmas and New Year at 10 people per household, Health Minister Salvador Illa has said. It means a slight relaxation of the current rule that allows for gatherings of up to six people.

In Italy, people have been banned from moving between regions and attending midnight mass over the Christmas period.

2. US facing 'rough' winter

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a stark warning about the months ahead.

“The reality is that December, January and February are going to be rough times,” Dr Robert Redfield told a livestream presentation hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”

He urged stricter following of measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and good hand hygiene to slow the spread.

Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the United States
The US has more confirmed cases than any other country.
Image: Our World in Data

It comes as the USC Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in net losses of between $3.2 and $4.8 trillion in US real GDP over the course of two years. The economic hit will depend on factors including the extent and duration of business closures, infection rates and consumer demand.

3. Vaccines won't prevent short-term surge

There aren't enough COVID-19 vaccines in place in the short term to prevent a surge in cases, Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, told a social media event.

“We are not going to have sufficient vaccinations in place to prevent a surge in cases for three to six months,” he said.

Like Dr Redfield, he urged people to respect and follow measures in place to limit the spread of the virus.