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A display is seen as bipartisan members of the Senate and House gather to announce a framework for fresh coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief legislation at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2020 - Sputnik International

COVID-19 Live Updates: Trump Says He Wants Changes Made to COVID-19 Relief Bill Passed by Congress

On Saturday, UK health officials announced that the country had identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more transmissible than other Sars-Cov-2 virus strains.

Countries in the European Union and beyond began halting flight to and from the United Kingdom on Sunday due to risks associated with the discovery of a new coronavirus strain there. Although the new coronavirus variant is said to infect more easily, it does not appear to be more deadly or pose any concerns for vaccines, with developers of Sputnik V already saying that the Russian vaccine is effective against the new mutation.

The UK government has put parts of the country on lockdown, including London, after admitting that more than half of all new COVID-19 cases had been caused by the new strain.

On Sunday, France decided to shut its borders to British lorry traffic for 48 hours in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, thus disrupting supply chains, including through the port of Dover on which the UK is particularly reliant. Following the chaos around Dover and concerns of food shortages in the run-up to the Christmas holiday season, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to come up with a solution "as fast as possible" in order to unblock the passage.

Meanwhile, the global death toll from the coronavirus infection has topped 1.70 million and over 77.3 million cases of the infection have been detected, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Among the most affected nations are the US (18 million infected, 319,000 deaths), India (10 million cases, 145,000 fatalities), and Brazil (7.2 million cases, and a death toll of over 187,000).

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Table of contents
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01:59 GMT 23.12.2020

BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - The number of cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Peru has topped 1 million, the country's Health Ministry said in a statement.

The case tally currently stands at 1,000,153 - a rise by 963 in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.

Peru's coronavirus death toll amounts to 37,218.

A total of 936,182 patients have recovered from the disease, the ministry said.

01:35 GMT 23.12.2020

KIEV (Sputnik) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for his willingness to help Kiev get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible.

"Grateful to @EmmanuelMacron for agreeing to help speed up the vaccination against #COVID19," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.

"This is a gesture of true friendship. I appreciate #France's support for #Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and our peace initiatives," he said.

00:22 GMT 23.12.2020
23:13 GMT 22.12.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States stopped enrolling hospitalized patients with severe cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in clinical trials of blood thinners after observing no benefit from the potential treatment, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said in a press release.

"Among critically ill COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care unit (ICU) support, therapeutic anti-coagulation drugs did not reduce the need for organ support," the release said on Tuesday.

The NIH pointed out that enrollment and trials will continue for moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients because researchers have yet to determine an optimal dose to prevent blood clots - a common complication.

21:36 GMT 22.12.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The Trump administration is close to finalizing a deal with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to purchase more coronavirus vaccines, the New York Times reported citing people familiar with the negotiations.

The report said on Tuesday that the deal includes Pfizer providing 70 million doses from April through June in the United States in exchange for broader access to manufacturing supplies through the Defense Production Act.

Pfizer has already been contracted to provide the United States with 100 million doses by the end of March.

The report said, according to obtained documents, Pfizer has asked the Trump administration since September to grant it more access to supplies and raw materials needed to make the vaccine so that it could meet the demand.

The agreement could be announced as early as Wednesday, the report added.

21:18 GMT 22.12.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Ireland will begin immunization against the coronavirus disease on December 30, the public broadcaster RTE reported Tuesday, citing Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

According to the minister, almost 10,000 vaccine doses will arrive in the country on Saturday. Healthcare workers who work with COVID-19 patients, as well as nursing homes' residents, will be inoculated first. Donnelly expressed hope that 30,000 would be vaccinated by February.

19:58 GMT 22.12.2020

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President-Elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he will put forward another relief plan in early 2022 to address the COVID-19 crisis.

"Congress did its job this week and I can and I must ask them to do it again next year," Biden told a live-streamed briefing, referring to the near $900 billion stimulus package passed this week for the pandemic. "I can and I must ask them to do it again next year. Even with the changes in approach I'm gonna put in place in late January, people are still going to be getting sick and dying from the COVID."

19:52 GMT 22.12.2020

PARIS (Sputnik) - The French government on Tuesday announced the resumption of travel from the UK for certain categories of citizens, including for the French and citizens of the European Union, provided they tested negative for the coronavirus.

Starting on Sunday night, France closed borders with the UK after a new strain of the coronavirus was detected in the island nation. The measure was taken to allow the European states to develop and introduce a bloc-wide health protocol to resume travel flows with London.

"In this context, from [Monday] midnight, only the following categories of people will be eligible to travel to or transit from the United Kingdom to France: French nationals and citizens of the European area; UK or third-country nationals who either reside permanently in France, the European Union or the European area, or must make urgently needed trips," the government said in a statement, adding that these citizens must provide negative test results for the coronavirus.

The regime will remain in force until January 6, provided that it is not revised by the two countries or at the European level.

18:46 GMT 22.12.2020

Babies born to women who test positive for the novel coronavirus during the final trimester of pregnancy will most likely be disease-free when they enter the world, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported on Tuesday based on a recent study.

“The study followed 127 pregnant women who were admitted to Boston hospitals during the spring of 2020. Among the 64 pregnant women who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, no newborns tested positive for the virus,” an NIH press release said.

The study was limited to women in the third trimester because data on women infected during the first and second trimesters are still being collected, the release added.

Researchers found that pregnant women who were positive to the coronavirus had detectable levels of virus in respiratory fluids like saliva, nasal and throat secretions, but no virus in the placenta, according to the release.

18:45 GMT 22.12.2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and reaffirmed their intention to develop contacts between the two countries on the production of vaccines, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

"A number of topical topics of bilateral cooperation with an emphasis on combating the coronavirus pandemic were also touched upon. The intention was confirmed to develop contacts between the specialized organizations of the two countries on the production of vaccines and mass vaccination of the population," the statement says.

18:35 GMT 22.12.2020

The governor of the US state of South Carolina has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and has voluntarily entered isolation, along with his wife, his office announced in a statement on Tuesday.

"Governor Henry McMaster Tests Positive for COVID-19," the press office of the Governor of South Carolina's office announced in a Twitter message.

"Governor McMaster is experiencing mild symptoms, isolating with the First Lady at home."

The governor and his wife are both 73 years old, making them both higher-risk patients in contracting the virus.

"The governor has declared a state of emergency throughout the state, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said, also on Tuesday.

18:34 GMT 22.12.2020

Iraq is suspending travel to and from a number of countries over the spread of a novel strain of the coronavirus, the office of Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi said on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the country's cabinet held a meeting, during which the issue of measures against COVID-19 was discussed.

"[The cabinet] introduces a ban on visiting the following countries: the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iran, Japan as well as any other that will subsequently be added to the list by the health ministry. The entry of passengers coming from these countries is banned, except for Iraqis," the office said in a statement after the meeting.

Iraqi citizens returning from the aforementioned countries will have to spend 14 days in quarantine.

The cabinet also decided to "close down all land border checkpoints except for emergencies."

Last week, the UK identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more transmissible than other SARS-CoV-2 virus strains. After media reports, many countries across the world shut their borders and halted travel to the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the new strain is said to have been detected in other countries, including those from Iraq's list.

18:21 GMT 22.12.2020
18:11 GMT 22.12.2020
17:45 GMT 22.12.2020
16:56 GMT 22.12.2020

"We left behind the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of hospitalisations decreased by 40 percent, the number of patients in intensive care [decreased] by 25 percent. If we adhere to restrictive measures and isolation rules, we will always have good news about the pace of the epidemic", the governor of the Istanbul province, Ali Yerlikaya, said on Tuesday in a statement.

16:51 GMT 22.12.2020

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The strain of COVID-19 that was recently detected in the United Kingdom was confirmed in Bulgaria back in April, Bulgarian pulmonologist Alexander Simidchev said Tuesday.

"This [mutated] virus was detected at the national laboratory on AIDS that conducts sequencing of various viral strains, back in April by Bulgarian specialists. Currently this virus is spreading through England", Simidchev told the Bulgarian National Radio.

16:44 GMT 22.12.2020
16:40 GMT 22.12.2020

ROME (Sputnik) - The Italian National Institute for Infectious Diseases "Lazzaro Spallanzani" said that its five employees will be the first to get vaccinated from COVID-19 in the national vaccination campaign on Sunday.

According to the Rome-based institute, a nurse, a social worker, a research worker and two doctors will receive the vaccines.

Italy plans to start a vaccination campaign simultaneously with other European countries. According to La Repubblica newspaper, the institute expects the first vaccine doses, developed by Pfizer, to arrive from Belgium on Saturday. Notably, the health institute is developing its own vaccine and hopes that it will become available in mid-2021.

In early January, nearly two million vaccine doses will be delivered to Italy, and the country plans to distribute them among the regions. During the vaccination campaign, health workers, patients and employees of nursing homes, and elderly citizens will be prioritised.

16:12 GMT 22.12.2020
16:07 GMT 22.12.2020
15:55 GMT 22.12.2020

Authorities in the Maharashtra state in India's centre-west imposed a nighttime curfew for the Christmas period as a preventive measure against the spread of the new coronavirus strain from the United Kingdom, Indian media reported on Tuesday.

According to the Hindustan Times newspaper, citing the Maharashtra government, the curfew will be on from 11 p.m. - 6 a.m. (17:30 - 00:30 GMT) from 22 December - 5 January.

The rationale behind the curfew was reportedly twofold. First, a continuous violation of social distancing in Mumbai, according to Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. Second, the emergence of a mutated coronavirus strain in the United Kingdom and the risks associated with its potential import, according to the report.

During the seven-hour curfew, people will be prohibited to gather outdoors in groups over five. At the same time, businesses with nighttime operations and the public transport will continue functioning as normal.

Additionally, the Maharashtra government introduced a mandatory quarantine in monitored facilities for all arrivals from Europe and the Middle East, as well as self-isolation at home for arrivals from other countries.

India is among the countries which have suspended the air traffic with the UK after a new, more infectious coronavirus strain was detected there. According to the World Health Organisation, India itself is the second-worst affected country, with over 10 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Tuesday.

15:24 GMT 22.12.2020

BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - The Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 will arrive in Argentina on 24 December, a day later than initially planned, the representative of the Aerolineas Argentinas flag carrier told Sputnik.

The Argentinian plane was previously scheduled to head out to get the vaccine on 22 December and return on 23 December.

"The time has changed, the departure will be at 7:30 p.m. [22:30 GMT], the arrival in Argentina is planned at 10:00 a.m. [13:00 GMT] on 24 December", the representative said.

The company explained that the cargo flight delay is a regular situation, as it is necessary to take into account logistics and customs formalities. As this flight from Argentina is special, it was decided to postpone it for proper checks.

Last week, media reported that the Argentinian aviation authorities had modified an Airbus A330 to equip the plane with a refrigeration system to be able to transfer the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Argentina intends to receive 600,000 doses.

14:59 GMT 22.12.2020
14:04 GMT 22.12.2020

Fifty-two thousand people have been inoculated against the coronavirus in Russia so far, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said Tuesday.

"At the moment, the portal, which contains information about the people who were vaccinated says there have been 52,000 vaccinated", Murashko said.

In Moscow, 40,000 people have signed up for vaccination, 25,000 have already been inoculated, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said.

Moscow opened vaccination stations on 5 December, other regions soon followed. The vaccination was first made available medical professionals, social workers, and other at-risk groups.

13:54 GMT 22.12.2020

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare found that 78,153 people faced or were about to face unemployment between the end of January and 21 December due to the coronavirus pandemic, national media reported on Tuesday.

According to the NHK news agency, the group of non-regular workers and part-time workers showed the highest number of unemployed people (37,460), while the most affected industry was the manufacturing sector, with 15,672 jobs lost. The Japanese capital of Tokyo had the largest number of people laid off, at 19,005.

Ministry officials believe that these results are underestimated because they covered only cases registered by the regional labor bureaus and public job placement offices, the agency added.

The Japanese government helps unemployed people find new jobs and encourages businesses to use state support measures.

13:38 GMT 22.12.2020

The WHO Regional Office for Europe will hold a meeting on a new strain of COVID-19 detected in the United Kingdom, Regional Director Hans Kluge said Tuesday.

"In response [The WHO Regional Office for Europe] to convene member states to discuss strategies for testing, reducing transmission & communicating risks," Kluge tweeted, praising limiting travel as "prudent," until there is more information about the strain.

13:04 GMT 22.12.2020

 Severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the US' Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech pharmaceutical companies are a rare occurrence, a representative of the Robert Koch Institute said on Tuesday.

"We have a vaccine that, according to all information we know, is reliable and extremely effective ... Severe side effects are not common," the representative told reporters.

The specialist added that due to both the limited supply and the lack of time necessary to vaccinate a large number of people, German citizens would have to continue to comply with hygiene rules and social restrictions in the coming months.

The country expects to launch a vaccination campaign after Christmas, with priority given to residents and staff of care homes and front-line medical personnel, the representative said.

12:43 GMT 22.12.2020

Milorad Dodik, a member of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), tested positive for the coronavirus, a hospital in the Republika Srpska said Tuesday.

Dodik was hospitalized on Monday. He had been self-isolating since December 19 after a contact with a Covid-positive person.

"He was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia, his third coronavirus test came back positive," the medical center said as quoted by the national broadcaster.

According to the clinic, Dodik is feeling well and receiving the necessary treatment.

11:30 GMT 22.12.2020

There have been no confirmed reports of the new coronavirus strain circulating in Germany but its presence is highly likely, the president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said Tuesday.

"At the moment I have no information that this variant is present [in Germany] but we know that it was first discovered in the UK back in September and we know that it was found in the Netherlands and Denmark. That is why I assess the possibility of it circulating undetected in Germany as very, very high," Lothar Wieler told reporters.

He said the RKI was in close contact with UK health agencies to determine what impact the new strain could have on the pandemic.

"There are still many questions. But one thing is clear: the genetic makeup of viruses changes all the time and can affect their characteristics, such as the ability to jump from human to human. It is not clear whether that is the case with the variant in England," Wieler said.

Germany was among the first countries to ban flights from the United Kingdom after the potentially fast-spreading strain was detected. The new coronavirus mutation has promoted concern that it may affect the vaccine rollout in the European Union.

10:49 GMT 22.12.2020

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving from the United Kingdom, South Africa and other nations where the new strain of the coronavirus has been discovered.

“Today I signed a proclamation requiring a 14 day quarantine for travelers from countries with circulation of a new, potentially more contagious COVID-19 variation,” Inslee tweeted on Monday.

The proclamation on the governor’s official website clarified that the measures applied “for anyone returning to Washington state after visiting the United Kingdom, South Africa and other countries where a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 501Y.V, has been circulating.”

It extends to people who have been to those countries within the past 14 days, the proclamation reads.

10:49 GMT 22.12.2020

Turkish authorities have quarantined 4,603 passengers from the United Kingdom, where a new mutation of the coronavirus has been detected, Turkish Heath Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Tuesday.

According to Koca, Turkish authorities have decided on Sunday to temporarily suspend flights with the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa due to the fast-spreading new strain of the COVID-19. Citizens of Turkey and these countries are returning home by special flights.

"Information about 4,603 passengers arriving from the UK since December 14 was entered into the system. They are isolated in their homes and hotels, and are being tested," Koca said on Twitter.

10:13 GMT 22.12.2020

The new type of coronavirus strain will not affect the pandemic, WHO Representative to Russia Melita Vujnovic said on Tuesday.

"At this moment, we do not see a situation where the virus has changed so much that it changes its behavior, and will even change the pandemic," Vujnovic told the Rossiya 24 broadcaster.

The WHO representative said that changes in the virus were normal, adding that it was very important to understand that not every change in the genome of a virus means a change in its behavior.

Vujnovic noted that many variants of the virus have been detected so far, but there were no significant change in its lethality.

According to the WHO representative, the vaccine has a carrier, a basic technology and an additional antigen, among its characteristic features. Vujnovic added that it is not difficult to change the antigen if an effective vaccine is developed.

On Saturday, UK health officials announced that the country had identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more transmissible than other SARS-CoV-2 virus strains. Although, the new strain of the coronavirus is said to infect more easily, it does not appear to be more deadly or pose any threats to vaccines.

Many countries have suspended passenger travel to and from the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the import of the new virus strain.

09:42 GMT 22.12.2020
09:41 GMT 22.12.2020

Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are temporarily suspending air connection with the United Kingdom, while Paraguay has imposed entry restrictions on people who have recently been to the UK, the countries' authorities said.

"The Government of Jamaica will ban all the flights coming into the island from the UK for a period of two weeks, ending January 4, 2021," according to a message from the Jamaican government posted on Twitter. It added that the three flights from the UK expected to arrive within the next 24 hours will go into a 48-hour quarantine and have to take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

Paraguay will ban entry to the people who have been in the UK for the last 14 days, the restrictions effective at least until January 4.

"The entry in the country of passengers who have visited the United Kingdom for the last two weeks is prohibited," the Paraguayan government said on Twitter, explaining that those who have an exceptionally authorized entry must undergo 10-day quarantine.

The Dominican Republic's civil aviation announced on Twitter that the country is also suspending flights with the UK at least until January 10 with its possible extension.

On Saturday, the UK health authorities announced that the country had identified a new coronavirus strain that was 70 percent more transmissible than known COVID-19. However, there is no evidence that the new strain is more pathogenic.

08:53 GMT 22.12.2020
08:19 GMT 22.12.2020

Mumbai police raided the Dragonfly club near the city airport and arrested 34 people, including former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina, Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan's celebrity ex-wife Sussanne Khan, and singer Guru Randhawa for breaching Covid-19 rules. They were later granted bail today.

08:00 GMT 22.12.2020

Russia has registered 28,776 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from record 29,350 the day before, bringing the total to 2,906,503, the federal response centre said on Tuesday.

"Over the past 24 hours, 28,776 coronavirus cases were confirmed in 85 regions, including 5,678 cases (19.7 percent) without clinical symptoms," the centre said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 2,906,503, with the rate of increase at 1 percent.

Moscow has confirmed 7,237 new coronavirus cases over the given period, down from 7,797 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 3,760 cases, up from 3,752 the day before, and the Moscow region with 1,498 new cases, down from 1,523 the day before.

The response center reported 561 coronavirus fatalities, up from 493 the day before, raising the country's death toll to 51,912.

Total recoveries count 2,319,520 after 24,158 people were discharged from hospitals over the past day, up from 19,705 the day before.

07:52 GMT 22.12.2020
07:52 GMT 22.12.2020
07:14 GMT 22.12.2020
05:56 GMT 22.12.2020
05:45 GMT 22.12.2020

 Two senior officials of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force have tested positive for the coronavirus, national media said.

According to the Kyodo news agency, PCR tests of Chief of Staff Adm. Hiroshi Yamamura and his deputy Naruto Nishi came back positive after a routine check. The two officials work remotely and have so far developed no symptoms of COVID-19.

There is no immediate information on recent contacts of the two senior servicemen.

05:42 GMT 22.12.2020

India has recorded 19,556 new cases of the coronavirus, according to health ministry data.

05:35 GMT 22.12.2020

Bharat Biotech has announced successful recruitment of 13,000 volunteers, and continued progress towards achieving the goal of 26,000 participants for Phase-3 clinical trial of COVAXIN™ at multiple sites in India.

The Phase III human clinical trials of COVAXIN began mid-November; 26,000 volunteers will participate across India. This is India’s first and only Phase III efficacy study for a COVID-19 vaccine, and the largest phase III efficacy trial ever conducted for any vaccine in India. COVAXIN has been evaluated in approximately 1,000 subjects in Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, with promising safety and immunogenicity results, gaining it acceptance in international peer reviewed scientific journals.

05:09 GMT 22.12.2020
04:57 GMT 22.12.2020

Guatemala is temporarily suspending the entry of passengers from the United Kingdom and South Africa following the emergence of the new coronavirus strain, Health Minister Amelia Flores has announced.

The temporary ban will be in force for two months and will be subject to review, Flores said on Monday, as broadcast on Twitter.

According to Guatemala's health minister, the ban applies to all people who have visited the UK or South Africa in the past 14 days.

Earlier on Monday, Panama announced that it was temporarily prohibiting people who have recently been to the United Kingdom or South Africa from entering the country.

Panama citizens and residents arriving home must test for COVID-19 and are required to remain in quarantine until it is verified that they are not infected with the coronavirus, according to the country’s health ministry.

04:40 GMT 22.12.2020

Toyota Motor Corp. is halting the work of its production facilities in the United Kingdom, as well as France, following the emergence of the new coronavirus strain, The Japan Times reports.

Production will be suspended beginning Tuesday due to transport delays that have started to occur as countries restricted air traffic to prevent the new virus variant from spreading, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile Kyodo reported on Tuesday that Toyota factories were scheduled to close starting from Thursday, for the winter holidays period, but the shutdown was brought forward, with Toyota's engine factory and vehicle production bases in the UK now closing from Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, while its assembly plant in France shutting down on Tuesday afternoon.

On Saturday, UK health officials announced that the country had identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more transmissible than other Sars-Cov-2 virus strains. Although the new coronavirus variant is said to infect more easily, it does not appear to be more deadly or pose any concerns for vaccines.

The UK government practically locked down parts of the country, including London, after admitting that more than half of all new COVID-19 cases had been caused by the new strain. Many countries, including France, have suspended passenger travel to and from the United Kingdom in a bid to prevent the import of the new virus strain.

04:35 GMT 22.12.2020

The UK government’s chief scientific adviser has warned that more areas of England are likely to enter the highest level of tier 4 restrictions. He said that it was “important to get ahead” of the new strain, labelled B.1.1.7, and confirmed that it spread “substantially” more quickly than the already-identified version of the virus.

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