• News Update 11/26/2021

▶ COVID-19 CASES CONTINUE TO SURGE AMID EASED RULES

Surging coronavirus infections and critical cases in South Korea are showing little signs of letting up amid eased social distancing rules.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported Friday 3,901 new COVID-19 cases, most from the densely populated greater Seoul area.

The number of critically ill coronavirus patients rose to 617 in the last 24 hours, hitting another high, while 39 more lives were taken by the virus, pushing the death toll to 3,440.

▶ 'LIVING WITH COVID' PUSHES ICUs TO THEIR LIMITS

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said the country is facing its biggest challenge in the fight against COVID-19, just four weeks after beginning its transition to living with the virus.

Kwon noted that the fast spread of infections among senior citizens and sharp increases in critical cases and deaths are pushing intensive care units to the limit.

He stressed the need for people to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots as soon as possible.

More than 82 percent of the population has so far received one shot of a vaccine and over 79 percent has been fully inoculated.

The government will announce tougher antivirus measures to contain the spread of the virus Monday.

▶ HEALTH MINISTRY URGES BLOOD DONATIONS

The health ministry has raised the alarm over low blood reserves, which are dwindling due to the prolonged pandemic.

Authorities said only four days' worth of reserves are left.

Text messages have been sent out calling on people to donate blood.

The ministry reiterated that it's safe to give blood, adding there has yet to be any reports of coronavirus infection during donations.

Interested individuals should visit the Korean Red Cross' official website.

▶ SOUTH AFRICA ON ALERT OVER NEW COVID VARIANT

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say may not be susceptible to current vaccines.

The country's health minister, Joe Phaahla, announced Thursday that they have seen a dramatic rise in new infections, with the variant rapidly spreading among young people.

Currently identified as B.1.1.529, the new variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travelers from South Africa, he said.

Dr. John Nkengasong is the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[Clip: Nkengasong]
"We know that this variant has a lot more mutations. It has all the concerning mutations that we observed during the Delta, Beta and Alpha variants. In addition to that it has a whole series of other mutations, and some of those can be predicted, and the key word here is predicted, to be associated with increased cell binding and increased transmissibility."

The WHO's technical working group will meet Friday to assess the new variant and may decide whether or not to give it a name from the Greek alphabet.

Britain has already banned all travel from South Africa and five other southern African nations as concerns grow about the new variant.

▶ THOUSANDS OF PROTESTERS DEMAND END TO FEMICIDE

Thousands of protesters hit the streets of Europe and Latin America to demand an end to femicide.

The rallies took place to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Tensions flared in Mexico City when a small number of hammer-wielding protesters tried to grab shields from police officers, who repelled them with smoke bombs.

In Turkey, riot police fired tear gas to break up a demonstration by hundreds of campaigners who were urging the government to rejoin the landmark Istanbul Convention, an international accord to reduce gender-based violence.

Nearly one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by someone they know, according to the U.N. organization for gender equality.








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