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COVID-19: Thousands protest Berlin lockdown, global cases near 25M

COVID-19: Thousands protest Berlin lockdown, global cases near 25M
Demonstrators march Saturday during a protest against COVID-19 pandemic regulations in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo by CLemens Bilan/EPA-EFE

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Thousands protested in Germany on Saturday against COVID-19 restrictions as cases worldwide neared 25 million.

The country has been praised for minimizing the pandemic's health toll, but many protesters have lost jobs and are angry and afraid they would not survive a second lockdown, The New York Times reported.

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The protesters said government measures such as requiring masks to restrict the spread of the coronavirus violated their constitutional rights.

Germany has had 242,201 cases of COVID-19 and 9,297 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University global tracker.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that she believed colder weather would drive people back indoors, making the pandemic worse.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected over 24.7 million people and killed over 800,000. The United States has the most cases at over 5.9 million and the most deaths at over 181,000. Brazil has the second-highest number of cases at over 3.8 million and second-highest number of deaths at over 119,000.

The World Health Organization and individual nations have previously praised South Korea for largely managing to bring the virus under control with extensive testing and contact tracing during a monthlong streak of daily cases below 100. But now the government has strengthened regulations to curb spiking cases.

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Among the measures, South Korea officials said on Friday they will began to restrict restaurant, bakery and coffee chain operations. The plan will take effect Sunday through Sept. 6, and includes limiting hours they can operate until 9 p.m. and allowing only takeaway and delivery between 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

"The government has decided to implement stronger quarantine measures starting Sunday for eight days," Health Minister Park Neunghoo said.

The new restrictions cracked down on risk-prone facilities.

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Regardless of operating hours, coffee chains will be allowed to offer only takeout and delivery due to a cluster of infections tied to coffee shops. Customers are also required to make entry logs, wear masks and keep a safe distance when they visit due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Virus infections at indoor sports centers had led to suspension of their operation.

South Korea's government also expanded restrictions on in-person assemblies at large academies to all test prep schools in the wider Seoul area, allowing only online lectures.

Health authorities added that all day-care centers and nurseries in Seoul and surrounding regions will be closed starting Sunday. Authorities will also make one-third of all employees at government agencies and public institutions work from home and recommended private companies do the same.

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New virus cases in South Korea have spiked to triple digits since Aug. 14. Over the past 15 days, more than 3,800 new cases have been identified across the nation.

Since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has infected 19,400 people in South Korea and killed 321 people in the country.

In Ukraine, a record number of new cases, 2,481, were reported in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said during a morning briefing.

The largest number of new cases was reported in the city of Kyiv, which had 265 new cases.

On Sept. 1, the government will ban discos, nightclubs and restaurants where people gather to dance or organize large events as part of a tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in regions where the virus has spread more slowly.

Ukraine has also closed its borders to foreign travelers until Sept. 28 though those with permanent residency permits and refugees are exempt from the ban, along with diplomats.

Ukraine has reported 119,751 cases and 2,540 deaths, according to the global tracker of COVID-19 cases.

In India, H. Vasanthakumar, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee working president, and Congress MP from Kanyakumari, died Friday at a city hospital after being admitted earlier this month for COVID-19.

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India has reported over 3.4 million cases and 62,550 deaths from COVID-19, according to the global tracker.

Scenes from a pandemic: World copes with COVID-19

A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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