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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People pray on Ballyloughane beach promenade while participating in a nationwide Coastal Rosary praying for the protection of life amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Galway, Ireland, October 11, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

New alert levels in Britain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out new measures to try to contain a growing coronavirus crisis on Monday, outlining three alert levels aimed at helping tailor restrictions for different parts of England, and to better coordinate the government’s under-fire response.

Northern England has been particularly hard hit by a new surge in coronavirus cases that has forced local lockdowns as students returned to schools and universities across Britain.

The mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotherham, said on Sunday the government wanted to put his city and surrounding area in the category subject to the toughest restrictions, adding that the measures that would apply there had not been agreed. Downing Street was keen to emphasise the new system had been widely discussed with regional leaders.

Moves back to international travel in Asia-Pacific region

Asia-Pacific countries including Singapore, Australia and Japan are gradually easing some international travel restrictions as coronavirus cases slow, in the hope of helping to revive their economies.

A Singapore-Indonesia deal announced on Monday for essential business and official travel will require an application and COVID-19 swab tests both before and after travel.

New Zealanders will be able to travel to some parts of Australia from Friday without quarantining, including to New South Wales, Canberra and the Northern Territory.

Australia is also in talks with Japan, South Korea, Singapore and South Pacific nations on reopening travel as coronavirus infections ease, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Australian study into survival of the coronavirus

The virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on smooth surfaces such as banknotes, glass and stainless steel for up to 28 days, much longer than the flu virus, Australian researchers said, highlighting the need for cleaning and washing hands.

Experiments done at 20 Celsius, 30C and 40C showed the virus survived longer at cooler temperatures, longer on smooth surfaces than on complex surfaces such as cotton, and longer on paper banknotes than on plastic ones.

Researchers said given that proteins and fats in body fluids can also sharply increase virus survival times, their study may help explain the apparent persistence and spread of the virus in cool environments like meat-packing facilities.

New restrictions in Italy and possibly Germany

Italy is preparing new nationwide restrictions in response to a spike in new coronavirus cases, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Sunday, including a proposed ban on private parties, involving both children and adults, while Rome would also target hours for bars and restaurants to reduce people’s contagion risks.

The package of restrictions will be discussed with regions on Monday and will be included in a decree that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could sign as early as the evening, Speranza said.

Meanwhile, an aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that Germany should continue capping the number of people allowed at gatherings and clamp down on unnecessary travel as it battles rising coronavirus infections. “We must be a bit stricter in places where infection chains spread mostly, which is parties and, unfortunately, also travel,” the chancellor’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told public broadcaster ARD.

Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Robert Birsel

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