Ontario officials announced new coronavirus lockdown measures for Toronto and Peel Region on Friday, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged all residents to stay home, saying COVID-19 "cases across the country are spiking massively."
Why it matters: Canadian officials predict that by end of the month, the death toll from COVID-19 could be between 11,870 and 12,120, with the country's total cases between 366,500 and 378,600, Reuters reports. Canada has recorded 315,751 cases and 11,265 deaths since the pandemic began.
South Korea is urging people to stay home and avoid crowds following a recent uptick in coronavirus infections, AP reports.
Why it matters: The country has seen its number of cases increase steadily since it relaxed several coronavirus-related restrictions October. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Friday (local time) asked the public to limit end-of-the-year parties, and employers to allow workers work from home.
The Trump administration is working quickly to shift U.S. policies and, where possible, bind the incoming Biden administration to them.
Why it matters: All of these steps are being taken without any coordination with Biden's team, which still lacks access to the intelligence and resources typically made available during a transition. In many cases, the Trump administration is trying to proactively thwart Biden's agenda.
Europe is now recording more coronavirus deaths than during its April peak.
The good news: The rate of new cases across the continent has leveled off, and it's even fallen sharply in several hard-hit countries. After weeks of growing fear, there is cause for optimism.
The World Health Organization praised New Zealand on Thursday for its "unique," targeted modeling technology and rapid COVID-19 genome sequencing that's seen the country avoid a lockdown last week despite having four current community cases.
Why it matters: Coronavirus restrictions are growing across the U.S. and Europe, while NZ neighbor South Australia is under a strict lockdown. Geneticist Mike Bunce told Axios that genomic sequencing was "key" to the NZ government's decision not to reimpose restrictions beyond a mask mandate for some travel, effective Thursday.
After visiting a winery in the Jewish settlement of Psagot in the West Bank, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new policy on Thursday of allowing products from the settlements to be labeled as “made in Israel."
Why it matters: The policy announced by Pompeo is more radical than the Israeli government's policy regarding the settlements. It signals U.S. recognition of de facto Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank and seems to be a violation of the spirit of the “Abraham Accords” and the recent UAE-Israel peace treaty, under which Israel agreed to suspend its annexation plans.
Why it matters: Coronavirus cases are soaring in the U.S. and across the world. The findings from the study of 560 healthy adults, including 240 people aged over 70, follow Pfizer's announcement Wednesday that its vaccine is 95% effective and Moderna's data released Monday showing its version has a 94.5% vaccination success rate.
Allegations that elite Australian Defense Force troops unlawfully killed 39 civilians or prisoners in Afghanistan are "credible," said ADF chief Gen. Angus Campbell, announcing findings of a long-awaited report Thursday.
Driving the news: The findings came after a four-year inquiry into alleged war crimes and misconduct by Australia's elite special forces. The report finds most of the people killed in 23 incidents were prisoners and that those who died were "non-combatants or no longer combatants."