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Coronavirus digest: Germany issues Europe travel warnings

Germany has issued partial or full travel warnings for more than 10 European countries. Berlin also lifted a general travel warning for 160 countries outside the EU and will take further action on a case by case basis.

Germany has categorized individual regions in some 11 European countries as high-risk areas. Belgium and Iceland were on the list, while areas of the UK such as Wales and Northern Ireland were also included.

The French regions Pays de la Loire and Burgundy are now considered high-risk, along with various regions in Lithuania, Estonia, Ireland, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania.

Germany classifies an area as high-risk and issues a travel warning if the number of new coronavirus infections exceeds the mark of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.

The warning is not a travel ban, but is intended to deter tourist travel and enables vacationers to cancel their bookings free of charge.

Germany also announced the lifting of its general travel warning for a total of 160 countries outside the EU. Going forward, each country will now be assessed individually.

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Here's a wrap of the main developments elsewhere.

Europe

The French capital of Paris is set to go on maximum coronavirus alert as soon as Monday, Health Minister Olivier Veran announced. Restaurants and bars will be forced to shut and further restrictions will be placed on public life.

The greater Paris region has surpassed all three of the government's criteria for an area to be put on the highest level alert. The case rate per 100,000 people exceeded 250 over the past 24 hours.

France reported nearly 14,000 new infections on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Madrid is set to become the first European capital to go back into lockdown amid a surge in cases. The region's leader agreed Thursday to obey an order from the central government of Spain to ban nonessential visits in and out of the city. Travel will only be allowed for work, school, doctor's visits or shopping. A curfew for restaurants and bars will also be moved forward from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Italy has reported 2,548 new coronavirus infections. It is the first time the country has logged more than 2,000 cases since the end of April.

Germany has registered an increase in coronavirus infections of 2,503, bringing the country's total to 291,722, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said.

The reported death toll rose by 12 to 9,500, the tally showed.

The data comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged citizens to take care of each other and decried slipping standards on hygiene measures such as social-distancing and mask-wearing.

Read more: German Chancellor Merkel warns of tough months ahead in pandemic fight

Africa

International flights have resumed in South Africa for the first time in six months. An Emirates flight from Dubai was greeted with jets of water after it touched down in Cape Town. South Africa sealed its borders when it entered a coronavirus lockdown in March. Restrictions began to ease in May, but the country's borders remained closed until October 1.

Middle East

Iran has reported a single-day record for new infections with 3,825 cases. The figure surpasses the previous record of 3,712 set on September 22. Authorities have blamed a "decline in compliance with health protocols" among the populace.

Americas

US airline giants American Airlines and United Airlines announced major layoffs as hopes for a bailout over the pandemic have faded.

Since the coronavirus took hold globally in March, US airlines have been grounding planes and delaying jet deliveries. Air travel remains at about only one-third of its level a year ago.

American and United airlines said they would begin furloughing 19,000 and 13,000 workers respectively. US carriers have said they do not expect a full recovery until a vaccine is widely available, which company executives have said may not be until late 2021.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's administration has proposed a $20 billion (€17 billion) extension in aid for the battered airline industry in a new stimulus proposal to House Democrats worth over $1.5 trillion, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, some 34 million workers lost their jobs before and during the coronavirus pandemic, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.

The pandemic has caused a recession of "unprecedented magnitude and duration" in the region, which is the most affected in terms of hours worked and labor income, according to the report.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated a contraction of 9.4% in regional GDP in 2020, the ILO pointed out.

Read more:Uruguay wages successful fight against COVID-19 

Cuba lifted a curfew and restrictions on movement within Havana while leaving in place curbs on entering and leaving the capital zone.

Havana governor Reinaldo Zapata said in a speech on national television that the weakness of the economy led officials to ease up on the measures that were put in place in September.

Beaches and swimming pools are being reopened at 30% capacity. Havana Airport will remain closed for now. Bars and nightclubs will also remain closed for the moment.

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Asia-Pacific

In India, a new study has found that almost two-thirds of coronavirus infections in the country were caused by super-spreader events. The study, published by the journal Science, showed that around 70% of infected people in India did not pass the virus on to anyone else. However, just 8% of infected people were responsible for 60% of new infections.

India's case tally increased by 86,821 in the last 24 hours to 6.31 million by Thursday morning, data from the Health Ministry showed, as the country eased more restrictions to combat the economic hit from the pandemic. Deaths from coronavirus infections rose by 1,181 to 98,678, the ministry said.

The South Asian nation on Wednesday permitted states to open schools and movie theaters. The country's richest state Maharashtra, home to financial hub Mumbai, said it would also allow bars and restaurants to operate fully.

Singapore will allow entry to travelers from Vietnam and Australia beginning next week. But the Asian nation will make an exception for Australia's Victoria state, which is considered a coronavirus hotspot.

The city-state began allowing entries last month, as it welcomed visitors from Brunei and New Zealand, and is cautiously reopening its borders after a virus closure to help revive its airport, a key regional aviation hub.

Travelers must undergo a virus swab test upon arrival, travel on direct flights without transit and download a mobile app for contact tracing.

Singapore has managed to control its outbreak after it saw an upsurge due to infections among foreign workers living in packed dormitories. It has confirmed more than 57,000 COVID-19 infections with 27 deaths.

 Pandemic to create millions of 'new poor' in East Asia: World Bank

Australia has urged residents to help fill farm labor shortages ahead of the summer fruit picking season, as the coronavirus travel restrictions left the country without backpackers and seasonal workers, who usually do the job.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been promoting a number of incentives ahead of next week's federal budget for young Australians and visa holders to head to regional areas.

Australia's agriculture industry is facing a shortfall of roughly 26,000 workers over the next six months due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, according to an industry-commissioned report by consultancy firm Ernst and Young.

jcg, sri/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)