WHO warns countries with falling cases

Countries with falling coronavirus cases must stay alert, the World Health Organisation says.
Countries with falling coronavirus cases must stay alert, the World Health Organisation says.

Even if countries record a fall in coronavirus cases, they need to stay vigilant, the World Health Organisation's technical lead for COVID-19 Maria Van Kerkhove says.

"What we don't want to see is situations where you are moving from lockdown to bringing (the virus) under control to another lockdown," she told a virtual briefing in Geneva.

Nearly 61 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1.4 million have died, according to a Reuters tally.

"It is in our power to keep transmission low," she said.

"We have seen dozens of countries show us that it can be brought under control and kept under control."

It comes as UK health officials said the country's coronavirus outbreak may have stopped growing for the first time in three months.

The government's scientific advisory committee said the R rate - the number of people each infected person transmits the disease to - is between 0.9 and 1.0.

That means that on average every 10 people with COVID-19 will infect between nine and 10 others.

If the figure is below 1.0, the number of new infections will shrink.

There are regional variations, with infections likely flat or growing in London and southeast England but falling in the northwest and northeast, which previously had the highest infection rates.

Germany on Friday reported a total of more than 1 million confirmed cases in the country since the outbreak started.

The country's disease control centre said that Germany's 16 states reported 22,806 cases overnight for a total of 1,006,394 since the start of the pandemic.

However, Germany has reported fewer coronavirus-related deaths than many other European countries: 15,586 compared with more than 50,000 in the UK, Italy and France.

Meanwhile, Russia registered a sharp daily spike in coronavirus cases.

Officials reported 27,543 new confirmed infections on Friday, an increase of more than 2000 compared to the previous day.

The surge brought Russia's total in the pandemic to more than 2.2 million, the fifth-highest number in the world.

Russia's coronavirus task force has also reported 38,558 virus-related deaths.

South Korea's daily virus tally has topped 500 for a second straight day as the country's prime minister urged the public to stay at home this weekend.

In the US, the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals reached 90,000 on Friday after nearly doubling in the last month.

Health experts fear that infections are likely to increase as people who mingled with relatives and friends during the country's Thanksgiving holiday gradually get sick.

Australian Associated Press