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Coronavirus digest: US government contractors 'must be vaccinated by December 8'

The Biden administration will add clauses to future government contracts mandating jabs for federal contractors. Elsewhere, South Korea reported record high infections fueled by a three-day holiday. DW has the latest.

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on a vaccination update from the State Dining Room at The White House

Biden made vaccination mandatory for federal contractors with an executive order signed on September 9

Millions of US government contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8, the White House announced Friday.

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on September 9 requiring all federal contractors to mandate vaccination, but many companies have been awaiting formal guidance from the White House.

The "guidance issued today advances one of the main goals of this science-based plan: getting more people vaccinated," said Jason Miller, deputy White House Office of Management and Budget director.

He added that the vaccination policy "will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors performing work for the Federal Government."

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Here's the latest coronavirus news from around the world:

Americas

El Salvador will start giving a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to various groups including the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions.

"Considering the success of the third dose in Israel, we have decided to start with the third dose in El Salvador," President Nayib Bukele said Friday.

The third shot will be given to people over 60, front-line health staff, teachers, the armed forces, police, and firefighters, as well as Salvadorans with preexisting health problems.

Cuba has begun easing restrictions in some provinces where the infections rates have dropped, even as it battles some of the highest per capita rates of infection worldwide. Bars and restaurants, closed since January, will reopen gradually from Friday in eight of Cuba's 15 provinces.

"In recent days we have determined the conditions are there to gradually reopen many of these in-person services," said Interior Commerce Minister Betsy Diaz.

The Caribbean island nation has been racing to vaccinate more than 90% of the population by mid-November with its homegrown COVID-19 vaccines.

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The son of President Jair Bolsonaro has become the third member of the Brazil delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York to test positive.

Eduardo Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter that he was feeling well and had "started to treat myself," without specifying what the treatment was.

He also argued against vaccine passports introduced in some Brazilian cities.

"We know that the vaccines were developed faster than is usually the case. I received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and I got COVID. Does this mean the vaccine is useless? No. But I believe it is another argument against the health passport," he argued.

Asia

South Korea has reported a record high in daily cases, topping more than 3,000 infections for the first time. The country reported 3,273 cases as an outbreak fueled by a three-day holiday this week continued to grow.

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Europe

Germany has recorded 7,211 new COVID-19 infections, taking the country's total tally to 4,188,604, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. With 62 deaths reported, the fatalities have risen to 93,365.

The city of Hamburg will allow people to go without masks at clubs, bars, restaurants, cultural and sports facilities as long as they are vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.

The relaxation in rules comes after the city-state introduced a 2G model at the end of August, becoming the first German state to do so. Under this model, only fully vaccinated people or those who have recovered from the virus and gotten one shot are allowed to enter certain public areas without masks.

The coronavirus pandemic and how to manage the ongoing crisis is likely to weigh heavily on the minds of voters as Germany heads to the polls on Sunday to choose a replacement for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Norway will lift most of the national coronavirus restrictions in the country, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced. Among the measures being eased is a rule on social distancing and attendance caps at events and social gatherings.

"Now the time has come. Now we will return to a normal everyday life," Solberg said.

Eateries, bars, and nightclubs will be allowed to remain open after midnight, schools and kindergartens can return to normal, and "handshakes will again be allowed," said Health Minister Bent Hoeie.

Africa

On Sunday, Tunisia will end a nighttime curfew in place since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, President Kais Saied has announced. He added that vaccine certificates would be mandatory for public events.

A certificate proving the holder is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be necessary to "attend or take part in demonstrations, public and private activities or gatherings in open and closed spaces", according to a statement by Saied's office.

adi/rs (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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