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Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

After a long and toilsome week of Fortnite and family flicks, beleaguered parents of young children might well see a trip to the playground as a needed reprieve.

Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual and physical violence.

Narcisa Claveria will turn 89 this year, two days before Christmas. Stepping onto the veranda of the family apartment, she takes a moment to check on her 92-year-old husband, who eyes visitors with a weary look. The couple lives in the hill town of Antipolo, an hour outside Manila, in the Philippines. Outwardly, she is grandmotherly, sweet and tranquil.

But when memories from 75 years ago are tapped, her mood changes.

The U.K. will administer its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, government and health officials say, raising hopes that the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech could help them tame the coronavirus.

"We're looking forward to the race starting on Tuesday," Chris Hopson, CEO of the U.K.'s NHS Providers, said Friday in an interview with the BBC. His organization represents hospitals and medical service groups.

South Korea's capital recorded its highest-ever number of new coronavirus cases, 291, on Thursday, while nationwide there were 629 cases — the largest total in nine months. Amid criticism of the government's recent handling of the pandemic, it is considering tightening public health restrictions.

That criticism — that the government has been too timid in tacking the current third-wave of infections — follows international praise for South Korea's aggressive response to the initial outbreak in February.

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Health care workers first, along with residents and staff of nursing homes. Those people should receive the COVID-19 vaccine before anyone else, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

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Facebook is banning claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, as governments prepare to roll out the first vaccinations against the virus.

That includes posts that make false claims about how safe and effective the vaccines are, and about their ingredients and side effects.

Abu Alaa leaves his home in Damascus at dawn to buy bread from his local bakery. There he stands in line for up to six hours to get the two packets of the round flat pita bread that government rations allow for a three-child family like his.

After this he goes to the gas station, where he usually waits a further six hours to buy the fuel he needs for his work as a minivan driver.

"Half of my day is spent waiting for bread — God, it's laughable," he says. "And the other half is spent waiting in line for diesel!"

Among the promises that President elect-Biden is expected to fulfill immediately upon taking office: lifting a ban that President Trump imposed on U.S. foreign aid dollars related to abortion.

Climate change is making people sick and leading to premature death, according to a pair of influential reports on the connections between global warming and health.

Scientists from the World Meteorological Organization released a preliminary report on the global climate which shows that the last decade was the warmest on record and that millions of people were affected by wildfires, floods and extreme heat this year on top of the global pandemic.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The EU's drug agency said Tuesday it may approve the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine this month. The vaccine could be distributed before 2021.

The leader of the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip has tested positive for the coronavirus as infections reach record levels in the Palestinian territories.

Hamas leader Yehiya Sinwar is in stable condition, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. He is one of several senior Hamas officials who have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent months.

"The situation in Gaza is really concerning. The recent spike of cases has put the health system in a critical situation," said Ignacio Casares of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza.

The coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought, and before cases in China were publicly identified, according to a new government study published Monday.

The virus and the illness that it causes, COVID-19, were first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, but it wasn't until about Jan. 20 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case, from a traveler returning from China, was found in the U.S.

Ahead of an expected surge in U.S. demand for prescription drugs, the Canadian government has blocked the distribution of certain medications outside Canada in order to avoid a shortage within the country.

North Korea is taking increasingly harsh measures to stop the coronavirus from entering the country, including executing an official in August who violated anti-virus rules, South Korean intelligence officials told lawmakers on Friday.

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The actual number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. reached nearly 53 million at the end of September and could be approaching 100 million now, according to a model developed by government researchers.

The model, created by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calculated that the true number of infections is about eight times the reported number, which includes only the cases confirmed by a laboratory test.

This Thanksgiving is unlike any other for almost everyone. There will be fewer place settings, smaller sides and more video calls as people take caution during the coronavirus crisis.

Germany is extending its current coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced this week.

The country will remain under measures introduced in early November that include limits on private gatherings and it will keep bars, restaurants, and museums closed.

Residents will be given some leeway around the Christmas holiday. Members of one household can meet up with 10 people between Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. Children under 14 are exempt.

The last time Naji Aldabaan remembers feeling like a kid — mainly concerned with whether his mom would make him do homework or let him outside to play soccer — he was 10 years old.

The year was 2011, and Syria was collapsing into civil war as nationwide protests against the government were followed by crackdowns and arrests. One day, soldiers knocked on his door. They had taken away Naji's uncles. Now they'd come for his father. No one knew why. Such was the random nature of the terror.

Federal health officials are likely to shorten their recommendation for how long people should quarantine to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus from the current 14 days to as few as seven.

In Ethiopia, health clinics for teenagers once supported by U.S. foreign aid closed down. In Kenya, a decades-long effort to integrate HIV testing and family planning unraveled. And in Nepal, intrepid government workers who once traversed the Himalayas to spread information about reproductive health were halted.

As coronavirus cases continue to surge both in the U.S. and around the world, there's promising news on the vaccine front.

A lot will be missing about Thanksgiving this year. It's a holiday that's celebrated on a bedrock of bringing family and friends, near and far, together for a big meal and lots of catching up, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges: "As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with people you live with."

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

After beating back two waves of coronavirus infections — and garnering international praise for its competent handling of the pandemic — South Korea now finds itself fighting a trickier, stealthier uptick in cases, which has forced it to ramp up social distancing quickly.

It has become the battle cry of public health officials around the world: "Wear a mask to slow the spread." Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new evidence supporting this advice.

Researchers analyzed coronavirus infection rates in Kansas following a statewide mask mandate. They found that counties that chose to enforce the mandate saw their cases decrease. Counties that chose to opt out saw their cases continue to rise.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is raising concerns with the leaders of the world's wealthiest countries that when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, poorer countries could miss out.

Speaking on Sunday during a two-day virtual G20 global summit, Merkel said progress toward developing a system for distribution to less wealthy countries has been slow and that she would raise the issue with the global vaccine alliance, GAVI.

U.K.-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has developed a vaccine that initial results show to be "highly effective in preventing" COVID-19, the company announced Monday.

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