Australia’s second-largest state, Victoria, has recorded no new coronavirus infections or deaths in the past 28 days, health officials said Friday.The state did not have any active cases after the last COVID-19 patient was discharged from the hospital Monday.While Victoria has achieved the 28-day benchmark, widely accepted by health experts as eliminating the virus from the community, cases of the coronavirus infections have been detected in other parts of the country.Meanwhile, Britain has asked its medicines regulator on Friday to assess Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate for temporary supply, before providing it widely by the end of the year, when the pharmaceutical company expects to distribute 4 million doses.In Latin America, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday he would refuse a coronavirus vaccine, the most recent of his vaccine-skeptic statements.  “I’m telling you, I’m not going to take it. It’s my right,” he said in remarks aired over several social media platforms.Brazil, with more than 6 million cases of COVID-19, is behind only the United States and India, and at more than 170,000 deaths, it is behind only the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.Just as Bolsonaro played down the seriousness of the pandemic, he has also expressed skepticism of mask wearing. In addition, on Thursday he said it was not likely that Congress would make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory.The United States added more than 181,000 cases Thursday and registered nearly 2,300 deaths from the coronavirus. Nearly 90,500 people were hospitalized Thursday, amid worries that Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends will lead to even more infections and hospitalizations.Officials in many states have put restrictions in place to slow the spread of the virus. However, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary order blocking New York state from enforcing attendance limits at houses of worship in areas that have infection spikes.In a 5-4 vote, the court sided with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish congregations that challenged the system put in place by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.The majority opinion pointed to limits of 10 or 25 people in houses of worship, while under the same designation grocery stores and other essential businesses can operate without capacity restrictions.Chief Justice John Roberts, the only conservative justice who did not join the majority, said in his dissent that “it is a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials concerning what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic.”Russia on Thursday reported its record one-day increase of 25,487 COVID-19 infections, pushing its total to nearly 2.2 million. Its 524 deaths during a 24-hour span were also a record for the country.In Germany, nearly 400 new deaths pushed that country’s toll to more than 15,000 since the pandemic began.The German government decided in early November to close restaurants, bars and sports facilities to combat a record rise in infections. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s states agreed late Wednesday to extend the restrictions through Dec. 20.There have been more than 60.8 million reported cases worldwide, with 1.4 million deaths.The United States has been hit the hardest, with more than 263,000 deaths, followed by Brazil with 170,000 dead, India with 135,000 dead, and Mexico at 103,000 dead, according to Johns Hopkins.

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