- The United States records more than 3,000 deaths in the latest 24-hour period - the highest total in a single day anywhere in the world
- The UK's economic recovery slowed in October - rising 0.4% on the month against a backdrop of rising Covid cases
- Canada joins the UK in approving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
- South Africa, the worst hit country in Africa, enters a second wave of the pandemic as it registers 7,000 new cases on Wednesday
- Ministers in Northern Ireland are due to meet later before the end of a two-week lockdown on Friday
- The origins of many of the second wave of Covid infections in Scotland were ignited by summer holidays, a study suggests
- There have been 68.9m cases and 1.56m deaths worldwide, figures from Johns Hopkins University show
Hello and welcome to our daily coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Our teams from London and around the world will be bringing you the latest updates.
To start with, here is an overview of the stories that have been making headlines in recent hours:
- The United States has recorded more than 3,000 deaths in the past 24 hours - the highest daily total anywhere since the pandemic began
- The UK economy grew by 0.4% month-on-month in October but still remains 7.9% below pre-pandemic levels, amid a rise in Covid cases
- Canada became the second country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, the day after the UK started its rollout
- South Africa says it has entered a second wave of the pandemic, with nearly 7,000 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours
- A study suggests the origins of many of the second wave of Covid infections in Scotland were ignited by summer holidays
- Ministers in Northern Ireland are due to meet later before the end of the two-week lockdown in Northern Ireland on Friday
US records highest daily Covid death tollThe United States has recorded 3,054 Covid-related deaths in a single day - the highest total anywhere since the pandemic began.
The previous single-day record was 2,769 on 7 May.
More than 106,000 people are in hospital with Covid-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Hospitals in some states are almost full and medical experts are warning that things will get worse in the weeks ahead if people continue to ignore warnings to avoid unnecessary travel and large gatherings.
Many experts have attributed the huge spike to people relaxing their precautions at Thanksgiving.
President Donald Trump has been heavily criticised for his handling of the crisis and President-elect Joe Biden has promised to get a grip on the situation.
The US remains the worst affected country in the world with more than 15 million recorded cases and over 289,000 deaths.
Latest around Europe
- A day after Angela Merkel made an impassioned plea for Germans to accept tougher lockdown measures, a record 23,679 cases have been recorded. Bavaria's state premier, Markus Söder, says there should be a complete lockdown from Christmas to 10 January.
- French Prime Minister Jean Castex is set to announce a relaxation of lockdown measures today, but not as fast as planned. The government did hope daily infection levels would be down to 5,000, rather than the 14,500 announced yesterday, so cinemas and theatres are likely to stay shut after 15 December.
- The Czech parliament has voted to extend the state of emergency again, but only until 23 December. The government had sought an extension until 11 January. Another 5,848 Covid cases were recorded on Tuesday - the highest figure for two weeks.
- Slovakia has ordered schools and most shops to be closed for at least three weeks from 21 December. Almost the entire population took part in mass testing recently in an attempt to avoid further lockdowns.
- A Dutch think tank has called on the government and employers to help vulnerable people who have not had help so far. It has also highlighted that between 9% and 20% of young people are at risk of becoming a “lost generation”.
- Belarus is banning departures via its land borders to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Foreigners arriving in Belarus will have to show they have a negative test.
South Africa hit by second waveSouth Africa has entered a second wave of the pandemic as it registered 7,000 new cases on Wednesday.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said "we should expect faster rising numbers with a higher peak than in the first wave".
At its peak in July, the worst-hit country in Africa was registering an average of 12,000 cases daily. By September the numbers had dropped to below 1,000 a day.
The majority of new cases have been found in the 15-19 year age group, while the south of the country has been hit hardest recently, the minister said.
More than 22,000 people have lost their lives to coronavirus in South Africa.
Teenagers drive South Africa's second waveAndrew Harding - BBC News, Johannesburg
As a second wave is officially declared to have hit South Africa, the nation’s teenagers are being blamed for its spread.
The health minister said most of the new surge of infections were affecting those aged between 15 and 19.
It began in one crowded nightclub in Cape Town. The next super-spreader event was at a university in Nelson Mandela Bay.
And now comes a series of crowded parties to celebrate the end of school exams, and the school year.
The result, it’s now clear, is that South Africa’s teenagers are driving a second wave of infections. The health minister, Zweli Mkhize, said 15 to 19 year olds were the worst hit, and he blamed drunken parties, where people ignored social distancing rules and the need to wear masks.
The infection rate in some areas is now rising more steeply than during the country’s first wave, back in July.
Other African nations, including Zimbabwe and Kenya, are also reporting new surges of infections.
This continent, with its young population, and some tough lockdown measures, has been spared the worst of the pandemic so far. But there are concerns about a second wave, and about whether Africa will be at the back of the queue for vaccines.
Ministers meeting before Northern Ireland lockdown easesStormont ministers are due to meet later before the end of the two-week lockdown in Northern Ireland.
Tighter restrictions put in place on 27 November to curb the spread of Covid-19 will end at 23:59 GMT on Thursday.
That means non-essential retail, close-contact services such as hairdressers, and some parts of the hospitality sector can resume trading from Friday.
But the health minister has said Northern Ireland was entering a "potentially dangerous phase" of the pandemic.
With the easing of the restrictions, many hospitality businesses, including restaurants, cafes and hotels, can reopen their doors on Friday but must be closed at 23:00 each day.
Read more here.
'99%' of ICU beds taken in StockholmIntensive care unit beds in Stockholm hospitals have reportedly hit 99% capacity for the first time since coronavirus hit.
There were between five and seven beds available out of 160 in the Swedish capital on Wednesday, the local Aftonbladet newspaper reported.
“We need help,” Bjorn Eriksson, the director of healthcare for the Stockholm region, told a news conference.
There were 814 patients being treated for the virus in Stockholm on Wednesday, up from 748 last Friday, according to government data.
Sweden has never imposed a nationwide lockdown.
More than 7,200 people have lost their lives to Covid-19 in the country, a death toll far higher than its Nordic neighbours.
Virus deaths likely to rise in Germany as situation deterioratesVirus infections and deaths in Germany are likely to rise further in the coming weeks, a senior health official has said.
Lothar Wieler, chief of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) said: "The situation is still very serious and has deteriorated over the past week. Currently we are seeing a rise in infections."
Rises in Thuringia, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt were concerning, said Ute Rexroth, the head of RKI's surveillance unit.
While Germany has fared better than some European countries in its battle with the virus, it reported 440 new deaths on Thursday.
A total of 20,372 people have now lost their lives to the virus in the country.