Pandemic total tops 30 million as new restrictions target outbreaks

The global COVID-19 total topped 30 million cases, only 4 days after passing the 29 million mark, fueled by a strengthening surge of cases in India and a mosaic of stubbornly high case levels, steady rises, and smaller flare-ups in other parts of the world.

The pandemic total is currently at 30,316,394 cases, and 948,147 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

Country trends prompt new restrictions

India today reported 97,894 cases, and after having recently passed 5 million cases, appears to be on track to reach the United States' total.

Elsewhere in the world, several countries in the Middle East have reported new case rises, and all of Iran is at the red alert level, a senior health official said today on state TV, according to Reuters. The country reported 3,049 new cases and 144 more deaths.

Israel today began its second nationwide lockdown, which comes as the country observes Rosh Hashanah.

Several countries in Europe reported further rises, with more ordering measures targeted to hot spots and some considering broader measures. For example, the United Kingdom is eyeing a second lockdown, amid reports that cases are doubling, rising to about 6,000 per day. The country's main hot spots are northern England and London. Health officials say the virus is spreading across all age groups, and yesterday London officials cancelled the city's New Year's eve fireworks to prevent crowds from gathering.

Greece, praised for its handling of the virus this spring, signaled that it would tighten restrictions in Athens in the wake of a steady rise in cases. And in Denmark, which has also won high marks for its COVID-19 response, health officials lowered the public gathering limit from 100 to 50 amid rising cases in recent weeks.

In North America, rising cases in parts of Canada prompted new targeted measures. Ontario lowered its indoor social gathering limit from 50 to 10 and its outdoor gathering limit from 100 to 25. City officials are reporting nearly 800 new cases a day, more than double the level seen in June. And in Quebec, a surge of new cases prompted an announcement that police will visit bars, restaurants, and other establishments to enforce COVID-19 rules put in place to fend off a second wave.

In a piece of good news, the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday commended South Africa for bending its COVID-19 curve. The country has been the continent's hot spot, and cases have been declining for the past 6 weeks, dropping from about 12,000 to 2,000 cases per day.

More nations join COVAX; China notes imported cases

In vaccine developments, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, said on Twitter today that at least three more countries have joined the COVAX Facility, a program that pools the risk of supporting vaccine development with securing doses for countries at reasonable prices. They include Norway, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

China reported 32 new cases yesterday, its highest daily total since August 10. All were imported cases, and Shanghai officials said 9 of its 12 imported cases arrived on a flight from Manila, Reuters reported.

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