Covid-19 Wrap: South Korea bans year-end parties, as Austrians face further 'massive restrictions'

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The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,453,074 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December. More than 62,150,290 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 39,582,700 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

South Korea bans year-end parties, some music lessons, as virus spikes again

South Korean authorities announced a ban on year-end parties and some music lessons on Sunday and said public saunas and some cafes must also close after coronavirus infections surged at their fastest pace since the early days of the pandemic.

South Korea has been one of the world's coronavirus mitigation success stories but spikes in infections have reappeared relentlessly, triggering alarm in Asia's fourth-largest economy. What authorities are calling a third wave of infections is spreading at the fastest rate in nearly nine months, driven by outbreaks at military facilities, a sauna, a high school and churches.

Saunas and steam-bath rooms with a high risk of mass infection would also be banned as would the teaching of wind musical instruments and singing, he said.

For the rest of the country, social distancing rules would also be tightened from Tuesday, he said.

Czech government to allow shops, restaurants to reopen

 The Czech government will allow restaurants and non-essential shops to reopen on Thursday, December 3, as a wave of coronavirus infections eases, Health Mister Jan Blatny said on Sunday.

The country will move down one notch to level 3 on its 5-level coronavirus risk scale, which means all shops and restaurants can open but must limit customer numbers to allow for social distancing. A night-time curfew will be lifted but pubs must close by 22:00. Museums and galleries can open with limited capacity and individual indoor sports activities can resume.

Groups of up to 50 people may gather outside and 10 inside, from a maximum of 6 anywhere at the moment.

Deaths in the country of 10.7 million people reached 8,054 as of Saturday, and total cases 518,649. The daily number of new cases dropped below 5,000 in six out of the past seven days.

Austrians to face further 'massive restrictions' after lockdown

Austria should expect further heavy restrictions when its current lockdown measures expire in just over a week, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told Austrian paper Kleine Zeitung.

Austria's nationwide lockdown is due to be lifted on December 7, but it is not yet clear what that will mean for the ski industry - cornerstone of a tourism sector which accounts for some 15% of economic output - or overall life in Austria.

Speaking to Kleine Zeitung, Kurz said Austrians would need to contend with further restrictions for weeks and month. The government aims to begin reopening with trade and schools, he said, while establishing cautious steps towards easing.

France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak season, if and when the infection rate slows.

France must review crowd limits on church attendance

France's State Council, the country's highest court, said in a statement that a government measure to limit the number of people in churches during religious services to 30 is not proportionate with coronavirus infection risks and ordered the government to review the law within three days.

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