(Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
England's COVID prevalence rises to highest since January
The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England increased to around 1 in 60 people in the week ending Oct 9, Britain's Office for National Statistics said on Friday, reaching its highest level since January.
The ONS said that prevalence of infections had risen for its third straight week, having been at 1 in 70 people in the previous week.
A COVID-19 testing laboratory in central England has been suspended over concern that it has been incorrectly giving negative PCR test results to people who are infected, the UK Health Security Agency said on Friday.
Sydney to welcome overseas arrivals without quarantine
The Australian city of Sydney will allow the entry of fully vaccinated travellers from overseas from Nov. 1 without the need for quarantine, authorities said on Friday, although the easing of strict entry controls will initially benefit only citizens.
The decision comes as New South Wales state, of which Sydney is capital, is expected to reach an 80% first-vaccination dose rate on Saturday, well ahead of the rest of Australia, which will enable it to bring forward the entry of overseas arrivals by several weeks.
"We need to rejoin the world. We can't live here in a hermit kingdom," New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said.
South Korea eases gathering curbs
South Korea said on Friday it would lift stringent anti-coronavirus curbs on social gatherings next week, as the country prepares to switch to a 'living with COVID-19' strategy amid rising vaccination levels.
From Monday, the government will allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people, and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues like restaurants, cafes and cinemas, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a COVID-19 response meeting.
EU sends COVID-19 drugs, equipment to Romania
European Union countries have sent COVID-19 drugs and equipment to treat patients in Romania, which is facing a surge in infections largely among the unvaccinated majority of the adult population.
In the first 10 days of October, one person has died from COVID-19 every six minutes in the country, but vaccine scepticism remains high.
The European Commission said on Friday it had coordinated the shipment to Romania of 250 oxygen concentrators, crucial devices to boost the supply of medical oxygen.
Italy imposes mandatory health pass for work
Italy made health passes mandatory for all workers from Friday in a test case for Europe, with the measure being applied mostly peacefully across the country despite scattered protests.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi's cabinet approved the rule - one of the world's strictest anti-COVID measures - in September, making it obligatory from Oct. 15 for all workers either to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from infection.
Under the rule, effective until year-end, workers without the so-called Green Pass will be suspended without pay and face a fine of up to 1,500 euros ($1,730) if they try to work on regardless.
Zimbabwe bars unvaccinated civil servants from work
Zimbabwe will bar unvaccinated government workers from reporting for duty from Monday, an official circular showed.
The southern African country has, as of Oct. 14, recorded 4,655 COVID-19-related deaths from 132,251 infections since March 2020.
Although the country was one of the first on the continent to vaccinate against COVID-19, less than 2.5 million people out of its 15 million population have been fully vaccinated.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes, Editing by William Maclean)