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COVID-19 Live Updates: Moderna Submits COVID-19 Vaccine Data to Obtain Emergency Use Authorization

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 1.45 million, over 62.6 million cases have been registered, and more than 40 million people have already recovered.

A number of countries have reported a record daily high number of new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. India has confirmed 38,772 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, with the total number of those infected having reached 9,431,692. The South Asian country comes second in terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, following the United States, and ranks third after the US and Brazil in terms of coronavirus-related deaths; over 137,139 there have succumbed to the virus, as of Monday morning.

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01:18 GMT 01.12.2020

TORONTO (Sputnik) - Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland defended her government’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement strategy amid fears and criticism that inoculation in Canada will begin months after close allies roll out their immunization programs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touched off a firestorm last week after admitting that Canada lacks domestic vaccine production capability and that countries which have a viable vaccine candidate available will prioritize their citizens ahead of exports abroad.

"Canada has the most expansive portfolio of vaccines of any country in the world," Freeland told the House of Commons on Monday after presenting the Fall Economic Statement.

01:16 GMT 01.12.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The state of California is looking at an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks and its hospital system currently will not be able to sustain the projected strain, Governor Gavin Newsom and his top pandemic adviser said in a press conference.

"This is the tipping point," Newsom said on Monday. "California has worked hard to prepare for a surge - but we can’t sustain the record high cases we’re seeing. Current projections show California will run out of current ICU [intensive care unit] beds before Christmas Eve."

California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told the press conference that the rate of positive testing for COVID-19 had now soared to 34 cases per 100,000 in the state.

22:57 GMT 30.11.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The pharmaceutical company Moderna said that it has submitted the results of its corona vaccine trials to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to obtain emergency use authorization for the vaccine.

“Moderna’s data for the emergency use authorization request for mRNA-1273 has been submitted to the US FDA,” Moderna said via Twitter on Monday.

Moderna said that vaccine efficacy was 94.1 percent and reached 100 percent in severe COVID-19 cases.  Moderna also said the vaccine is generally well tolerated and devoid of serious safety concerns.

21:19 GMT 30.11.2020

MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - Colombia Migration, the country's border control agency, said on Monday that land and river borders would remain closed until January 16, as the country tries to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the maritime borders will open on December 1.

Colombia has shut its borders back in March with the outbreak of the pandemic. On September 21, it resumed international air traffic.

"In accordance with the provisions of Decree 1550 of November 28, 2020, the closure of all land and river crossings in the country will be extended until January 16, 2021, and the maritime borders will open today at midnight," the agency said in a press release.

The ban on movement does not concern humanitarian emergencies, transportation of goods, natural disasters and force majeure circumstances, as well as the departure of foreign citizens from Colombia, the press release added.

21:17 GMT 30.11.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Plans by criminal networks to exploit the introduction of coronavirus vaccines and treatments with counterfeits prompted US authorities to expand enforcement efforts to keep supplies safe, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said in a press release.

"Based on current trends and through actionable intelligence, special agents anticipate that criminal organizations will continue to adapt and capitalize on public demand for access to vaccines and treatments as they are developed and approved. With that, the agency expects a surge in illicit attempts to introduce counterfeit versions of approved vaccines into U.S. and global marketplaces," the release said on Monday.

19:31 GMT 30.11.2020

NEW YORK (Sputnik) - New York has started disallowing elective surgeries to free up hospital beds as coronavirus infections start ramping up again in the former hotspot, after a surge of gatherings in homes for the recent US Thanksgiving and more of such activity expected for the holidays, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

"If it gets serious, we might stop elective surgeries. We’ve already stopped in Erie County in New York," Cuomo told reporters, referring to an area in the state with particularly highly infections. "We now have a holiday surge on top of the fall surge. Sixty-five percent of all cases now are from small gatherings. This is a dramatic shift. It's what happens during the holidays. It’s not going to be a one- or two-day affair. It's going to be the entire holiday season, which is 37 days."

The governor said the daily hospitalization rate in New York had risen to 3,500 from around 900 at the end of June.

"The top concern period it's about hospital beds. It's about ICU and it's about not having enough staff and enough equipment and all that. That is the effect and that's what we're going to have to deal with," he added.

18:36 GMT 30.11.2020

United Airlines has airlifted the first mass shipment of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines to Chicago as the drug manufacturer awaits emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CNBC reported on Monday.

"First ‘mass air shipment’ of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrives as airlines prepare for more," the report said. "United’s first flight carrying Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Chicago on Friday."

Earlier on Monday, Health Secretary Alex Azar said Americans could get their first shots of the coronavirus vaccine before Christmas. Azar noted that Moderna had became the second pharmaceutical company to apply for emergency authorization for the vaccine with the FDA. Pfizer filed for similar approval earlier this month.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said earlier this month that the vaccine was 95 percent effective in a trial, while the company Moderna reported its vaccine is more than 90 percent effective.

The US authorities have reported that more than 13 million Americans have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since January and more than 266,000 have died of virus-related complications, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.

18:19 GMT 30.11.2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he hoped that two promising coronavirus vaccine candidates would be approved shortly.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is yet to greenlight the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca co-labs.

"We're obviously hoping that both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will get approved in the course of the next few days and weeks," he told reporters during a trip to a medical facility.

Asked whether that meant before vaccines would get a go-ahead before Christmas, the prime minister replied "That's the hope."

Johnson stressed that his government could not let the optimist "run away with us." But he added there was every reason to believe that a working vaccine could turn the tide in the struggle against the virus.

17:19 GMT 30.11.2020

The head of the World Health Organization promised on Monday to separate science from politics as the UN health agency works to identify the source of the coronavirus.

"We will not stop from knowing the truth on the origin of the virus, but based on science, without politicizing it or trying to create tension in the process," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual news briefing.

He said WHO was committed to do everything it could to learn the origin of COVID-19 and urged all stakeholders to cooperate on the research.

"And from our side, we will be as transparent as possible," the top health official added.

China was the first to report the virus at a seafood market in Wuhan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian told reporters earlier in the day that openly available data suggested COVID-19 broke out at multiple locations around the world.

16:59 GMT 30.11.2020

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the development of a coronavirus vaccine with three of the country's major pharmaceutical companies, the government's press office said on Monday.

"The Prime Minister on Monday had virtual meetings with 3 teams working on developing & manufacturing vaccine for COVID-19. These teams were from Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd Pune, Biological E Ltd Hyderabad and Dr. Reddys Laboratories Ltd Hyderabad. The PM appreciated the efforts being taken by the scientists in these companies to come out with a vaccine solution to tackle COVID-19. The potential of various platforms for vaccine development was also discussed," the press service of the government said in a published statement.

During the meeting, Modi suggested that the companies should make extra efforts to inform the general public in simple language about the vaccine.

India continues conducting trials of five coronavirus vaccines. Two of the candidates - Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, and Covishield which is developed by Oxford University - are in their final, third phase of trials. Other vaccine candidates, ZycovD developed by the Zydus Cadila company, and the vaccine developed by the Indian Biological E. Ltd together with the US Dynavax Technologies Corp and the Baylor College of Medicine are undergoing clinical trials. Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is set to conduct clinical trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine this week.

16:58 GMT 30.11.2020

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that despite a slight drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases since September, some parts of the world are still seeing a surge in infections.

"Last week saw the first decline in newly-reported cases globally since September, due to a decrease in cases in Europe thanks to the effectiveness of difficult but necessary measures put in place in recent weeks. This is welcome news, but it must be interpreted with extreme caution. Gains can easily be lost, and there was still an increase in cases in most other regions of the world, and an increase in deaths," Tedros told reporters.

Many European nations, including Austria, Germany, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom have introduced lockdown measures earlier this month to fight the pandemic. Some of them have already reported fewer cases.

Since the start of the pandemic, the WHO has registered more than 62.3 million cases of the coronavirus disease worldwide.

According to data published by the UN health agency, the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and France have registered the most number of COVID-19 cases — 13 million, 9.4 million, 6.2 million, 2.2 million and 2.1 million, respectively.

16:57 GMT 30.11.2020

The Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari in an interview with Sputnik called on higher income countries to limit their purchase of vaccines to 20% of their requirements during the initial stage of vaccine availability.

"We call on [high-income] countries to limit their purchase of vaccines to not exceed 20% of their requirements during the initial stage in order for us to provide the opportunity for other countries to benefit from the vaccine," Al-Mandhari started.

According to Al-Mandhari, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines should be made available in limited numbers, and should be dedicated to the exposed and high-risk segments of the population, specifically health care workers, the elderly, the chronically-ill and pregnant women, while other segments of the population should be inoculated once larger quantities of the vaccine become available in mid-2021.

"We stress that the fair distribution of vaccines guarantees the preservation of the health security of rich countries, because to put it simply, poor countries will be unable to obtain their share of the vaccine, which would imply that the world will still be exposed to the spread of the COVID-19 infection," Al-Mandhari remarked.

The WHO has been dedicated to granting lower income countries access to COVID-19 vaccines through the Advance-Market Commitment of the WHO co-led COVAX initiative, which intends to secure the funding needed to procure safe vaccines for the 92 eligible lower income countries participating in the initiative.

16:56 GMT 30.11.2020

Germany has donated 20 portable ventilators to the Ukrainian armed forces, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the press service of the German embassy in Kiev said on Monday.

"The Bundeswehr [Gemany's armed forces] has donated medical supplies and equipment to the Ukrainian Armed Forces worth about 130,000 euros [$156,000] ... Especially important are 20 portable ventilators, which can save lives in critical cases, and rescuers can use them flexibly if necessary. Among donated items, there are FFP 2 respirators, goggles, disinfectants and protective gloves for the daily needs of the hospital," the embassy said on Facebook.

The embassy noted that the German Armed Forces regularly provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

To date, Ukraine has confirmed 722,679 COVID-19 cases, with a death toll of 12,213, according to the World Health Organization.

16:55 GMT 30.11.2020

Vaccination against the coronavirus will begin in the Czech Republic in January 2021, with older people with chronic diseases and health workers prioritized to get the vaccine first, Czech Health Minister Jan Blatny said on Monday.

The Czech Republic is expected to receive the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of 2020. The vaccination will be voluntary and paid for by health insurance. The country has reached agreements with several vaccine producers — AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Sanofi — under which, it will be able to procure vaccines' doses for up to 16 million people, which is more than the Czech population.

"In the near future, we will receive only tens or, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccines. First of all, older people, especially those with chronic diseases, will be vaccinated. Then, they [vaccines] will be received by doctors who directly work with COVID-19 patients. After that, it will be the turn of the rest of the doctors, practitioners and teachers," Blatny told reporters.

According to the minister, two vaccines will be used initially for the vaccination. Since one of the vaccines needs to be stored at extremely low temperatures, it will be used only in hospitals. Physicians will be vaccinated with another vaccine that does not require special storage conditions.

The Czech Republic saw its daily infection rate drop over the past several weeks. Over the past 24 hours, 1,074 new cases were registered in the country, which is the lowest daily increment since September 20. Given the improvement, the government allowed all shops, restaurants, cafes and consumer services to resume operations starting December 3.

14:18 GMT 30.11.2020

Germany will create a national reserve of medicines and protective and medical equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday following a government meeting.

"The German health care system needs to be even more resilient to such crises, so the government today decided to create a national reserve in the health care sector," Spahn told reporters, adding that it will mainly include protective suits and masks, ventilators and medicines.

As part of the decision, Germany will set up 19 storage facilities, which will be filled with existing equipment and medicines in 2021. This reserve is set to ensure the health care system's operation in a pandemic situation within six months, the minister said, adding that it is planned to allocate 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for this purpose next year.

Spahn also said that the first phase, which provides for the creation of the necessary infrastructure, was set to be implemented in 2021.

14:15 GMT 30.11.2020

More than 100 people had been arrested and nearly 280,000 inspections had been conducted in a Europe-wide operation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through illegal sanitary waste disposal, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) said on Monday.

"Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Europol identified the potential growth in unlawful sanitary waste treatment and disposal, as a result Europol launched operation Retrovirus,"  Europol said in a press release, adding that around 280,000 inspections and 102 arrests had been made so far.

Apart from that, $800,000 ($958,000) in assets were seized. Almost half of all arrests were made in Spain and Portugal, while the operation Retorviurs involved 30 countries in total.

The EU agency specified that the goal of inspections and checks on sanitary waste plants was to counter illegal dumping, storage and shipment amid the health crisis.

14:14 GMT 30.11.2020

The Greek government expects to receive the first coronavirus vaccine batches by the end of the year if it is approved by competent European organizations, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Mitsotakis said that following the introduction of a lockdown on November 7, the epidemiological situation in the country had improved.

"The situation has improved. In addition to the declining number of cases, there are initial signs that pressure on the national health care system in Northern Greece is gradually easing," Mitsotakis said.

The prime minister added that the health ministry had already prepared a very detailed plan for the process of mass vaccinating the Greek population.

"We estimate that the first batches of the vaccine will be delivered to Greece by the end of the year, if as we expect, it is approved by competent European organizations," Mitsotakis said, adding that the vaccination will be free and on the voluntary basis.

The prime minister did not name a specific vaccine that will be delivered to Greece.

Mitsotakis also said that Greek scientists had developed their own highly effective rapid antigen test, adding that its production may begin soon.

In late October, Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrey Maslov informed the commission of experts of the Greek Health Ministry about Russia's Sputnik V vaccine from COVID-19.

Greece has so far confirmed over 104,000 cases of COVID-19 and 2,321 fatalities.

13:43 GMT 30.11.2020

The Cypriot authorities introduced Monday nationwide emergency measures until 13 December to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, as indicated by the government gazette.

Cyprus has been seeing a surge in COVID-19 infections over the past several months, recording 150-250 cases daily with a population of about 875,000 people. So far, the country has confirmed 10,400 cases and 60 related fatalities.

The new measures may be lifted from 14 December to 7 January if the situation improves. For now, the curfew time has been extended by two hours and will be in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. (19:00 to 03:00 GMT). During the stay-home hours, commutes to work, the hospital, pharmacy or a veterinary clinic in case of emergency are allowed.

"An exception will be made on 25 December, 2020 and 1 January, 2021, the travel ban will be in force from 2.00 a.m. to 6 a.m.," Cypriot Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told reporters.

From 23 December to 1 January, up to 15 — instead of the previously allowed 10 — people will be allowed to stay indoors.

Catering services will work until 10:30 p.m. On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, restaurants will be open until half past midnight.

Ioannou added that if the epidemiological situation became worse, the government would have no choice but to impose tougher measures.

13:34 GMT 30.11.2020

France’s National Authority for Health (HAS) on Monday suggested that the state vaccination strategy against COVID-19 disease should be implemented first on elderly people and those most vulnerable, media reported on Monday.

The government is due to unveil the details of the nationwide vaccination strategy this week. The campaign is due to be launched in late December or early January. According to French President Emmanuel Macron, the vaccination would not be mandatory.

According to the CNEWS media outlet, the institution said that French senior citizens residing and working in Ehpads — residential care establishments for the elderly — must be prioritized for vaccination "when the very first [vaccine] doses arrived … given the limited number of doses that will be available at the start of the vaccination campaign."

It also said that the vaccination would be implemented in five steps, under a guideline of "protect as a priority the most vulnerable and those who care for them," HAS President Dominique Le Guludec said at a press briefing.

The second nationwide lockdown was introduced in the country on October 30 amid the second coronavirus outbreak, causing closures of public places, non-alimentary stores and businesses.

13:30 GMT 30.11.2020

Palestine is discussing with Russia potentially using Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus, Palestinian Ambassador to Moscow Abdel Hafiz Nofal said Monday.

"We are now looking into how many [doses] Russia can give us, and what the price could be. We have spoken about it to the ambassador of Jordan, too, because Palestine and Jordan may have a joint production at the third stage," the ambassador said.

At an online conference organized by international information agency Rossiya Segodnya, the diplomat said the talks on cooperation in terms of vaccine had been ongoing for a long time.

13:13 GMT 30.11.2020
13:11 GMT 30.11.2020

US citizens could get their first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine before the 25 December Christmas holiday, with Moderna Inc becoming the second drug company after Pfizer Inc to apply for emergency authorization to administer doses, Health Secretary Alex Azar told CBS in an interview on Monday.

“If everything is on track, if everything proves what it appears to be, we could get approval within days after that,” Azar said. "We’ll ship within 24 hours of FDA authorization. We could see both of these vaccines out and into people’s arms before Christmas.”

 Moderna earlier on Monday said it would request an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and a conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency, after finding that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.1 percent effective.  

12:56 GMT 30.11.2020
12:54 GMT 30.11.2020

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Monday that coronavirus-related restrictions would be tightened due to a surge in the number of infections per day, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The announcement came as the special administrative region registered 76 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. According to the authorities, the region is going through a fourth wave of the pandemic and the peak is not over yet.

According to the newspaper, under the new measures, most of Hong Kong's civil servants, except for those providing emergency and essential on-site services, will switch to working remotely.

Game centers, theme parks, karaoke and swimming pools will be closed, while gyms and beauty salons can operate if they comply with additional restrictions — people using sports facilities can gather in groups of no more than two people. Similarly, only two people will be able to sit at the same table in restaurants, which are currently only allowed to work until 10 p.m. local time (14:00 GMT).

The new restrictions will enter into force on Wednesday and last for at least two weeks.

12:46 GMT 30.11.2020

The Moderna coronavirus vaccine is 94.1 percent effective, according to primary efficacy analysis of the phase 3 study, the biotechnology company announced on Monday.

"Moderna ... today announced that the primary efficacy analysis of the Phase 3 study of mRNA-1273 conducted on 196 cases confirms the high efficacy observed at the first interim analysis. The data analysis indicates a vaccine efficacy of 94.1%," the company said in a press release.

Moderna added it would request an emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and a conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency.

12:16 GMT 30.11.2020
12:00 GMT 30.11.2020

Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Chicu said on Monday that hospitals in the republic were almost full, and there was a lack of medical personnel, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

"At this stage, we feel pressured by the situation in the medical sphere, as there is almost no beds left in hospitals. We are going to provide several dozen more beds in hospitals but the number is limited because otherwise, there will not be enough personnel. We can find rooms, beds and equipment, but there will be no more doctors," Chicu said at a briefing.

Chicu called on citizens to be responsible in regard to following the protective measures that were introduced in the country last week due to the increase of coronavirus cases.

Moldova has introduced a state of emergency in the health care sector starting on Monday that will last until January 15. Theaters, concert halls, cinemas, and nightclubs are closed in the country, while the catering establishments cannot work from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Residents of the country must wear masks indoors in public places, as well as in public transport. Chisinau residents have to wear masks even on the streets.

On Sunday, Moldova recorded a single-day increase of 1,165 coronavirus cases.

To date, Moldova has confirmed 107,017 COVID-19 cases, with a death toll of 2,290.

11:59 GMT 30.11.2020

The rate of COVID-19 infections fell by 30 percent in England during the first three weeks of the second national lockdown imposed on November 5, according to a study by the Imperial College London released on Monday.

"Three weeks into the second national lockdown in England there has been a ~30% proportionate reduction in prevalence overall, with greater reductions in the North," the study said.

Despite the improvements, which also saw the virus’ reproduction rate — the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average — fell below one, researchers said the epidemic should be kept under continued monitoring until prevalence is reliably reduced to much lower levels and a vaccine is found.

The findings by Imperial College London come as England is preparing to move out of the lockdown on Thursday and return to the tiered local system of restrictions — medium, high and very high — that was in place before November 5.

According to the government, most parts of England's territory will be in the higher two tiers, meaning that bars and restaurants will have to operate under tight restrictions or remain closed, and that people from different households will not be allowed to mix indoors.

Parliament has yet to vote on the proposal on Tuesday, but a large number of lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party have demanded to publish the evidence justifying its decision, while the opposition Labour Party has not yet confirmed its support.

As of Sunday, the UK had recorded 1,617,327 COVID-19 coronavirus cases and 58,245 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

11:10 GMT 30.11.2020
10:58 GMT 30.11.2020
09:45 GMT 30.11.2020

At least two incidents of patients contracting COVID-19 within a month of fully recovering has raised alarm bells among doctors at New Delhi-based Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, one of the hospitals designated by the government to treat coronavirus.

According to a statement from the hospital, both the patients were discovered to have far fewer antibodies than other patients within a month of recovery.

09:16 GMT 30.11.2020

The first participants of the post-registration trials of Russia's EpiVacCorona vaccine against COVID-19 who are aged 18 and more will be vaccinated later on Monday, the national consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, told Sputnik.

On 13 October, EpiVacCorona became Russia's second registered vaccine against COVID-19.

"The first volunteers will be vaccinated on 30 November," Rospotrebnadzor said.

09:14 GMT 30.11.2020
08:58 GMT 30.11.2020
08:05 GMT 30.11.2020

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) - At least eight inmates were killed and 50 others were injured after prison officers used force while dispersing a violent riot at the Mahara prison in a suburb of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, media reported on Monday, citing deputy police chief Ajith Rohana.

According to News 1st, two prison officers were also injured in the riot.

The riot sparked on Sunday after prisoners demanded early release amid the spread of COVID-19 in the facility. The prisoners had managed to pull-down the protective fence and made an attempt to escape prompting the security officers to use force, the media outlet said.

According to Senaka Perera, a lawyer from the committee for the protection of prisoners' rights, one of the reasons for the riot could have been the local authorities' disregard toward prisoners' requests for coronavirus testing and separating those infected from healthy prisoners.

Sri Lanka's prisons have been heavily overloaded, with over 26,000 inmates placed in detention facilities with a capacity of 10,000 people. In recent weeks, inmates in several prisons have staged protests amid a soaring number of coronavirus cases. More than 1,000 inmates in five prisons have tested positive for coronavirus, and at least two of them have died. About 50 prisonguards also tested positive.

Sri Lanka has so far confirmed 22,988 cases of the infection and 109 fatalities.

07:41 GMT 30.11.2020
07:40 GMT 30.11.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Tokyo Games organizing committee has estimated that coronavirus measures at the 2021 Olympics will cost around 100 billion yen ($962 million), the Kyodo news agency reported on Monday, citing informed sources.

The coronavirus-related expenses include health care infrastructure, including a testing system and procurement of equipment.

In total, the one-year postponement will push the total price tag of the games up by some 200 billion yen, according to the sources. The organizing committee, the Tokyo authorities and the Japanese government have yet to discuss how to share the additional burden. A part of the sum is hoped to be raised from sponsor contributions and insurance damage claims.

The additional operating expenses include security of games venues, equipment rental and labor expenses. Initially, the Olympics was expected to cost 1.35 trillion yen.

The Tokyo Games were postponed in March from 2020-2021 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The rescheduled games are expected to take place from July 23-August 8.

07:39 GMT 30.11.2020
07:36 GMT 30.11.2020

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice has revealed that some 100 lawmakers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party are dissatisfied with his COVID-19 tiered lockdown system.

"The chief whip will be talking to those MPs who have concerns. I've seen suggestions there could be up to a 100 or so people that have got concerns, but the prime minister and other ministers will be working very hard to reassure them about the steps we are taking", he said, adding that the government may have to count on the Labour Party to get the new measures through parliament.

06:44 GMT 30.11.2020

The Canadian government has extended restrictions on non-essential visits of foreign travelers until January 21 due to the growing coronavirus incidence, the Public Safety department said.

"Restrictions on travel to Canada from countries other than the U.S will be extended until January 21, 2021," the governmental department wrote on Twitter late on Sunday.

Public Safety Canada also confirmed that restrictions on travel between Canada and the US remain in force until December 21.

The restrictions on non-essential travel were introduced on March 16. They do not apply to US citizens, permanent residents of Canada, diplomats, close relatives of Canadian citizens, and some categories of seasonal employees and foreign students.

Canada has confirmed 373,662 COVID-19 cases and 12,046 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The country was reporting record caseloads over the past week.

04:37 GMT 30.11.2020
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