A World Health Organization-led team investigating the origins of the coronavirus is to begin virtual meetings with their Chinese hosts from a hotel in the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic first emerged.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
- Hungary’s medical regulator will hopefully give a “clear answer” in a few days on whether the country can start using a vaccine developed by China for mass inoculations, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio.
- The Italian government has approved a new stimulus package worth 32 billion euros ($38.8 billion) to prop up the battered economy.
- Chancellor Angela Merkel wants “very fast action” to counter the spread of COVID-19 mutations after Germany recorded a record number of deaths from the coronavirus.
- Russia plans to apply to the European Union next month for approval of its Sputnik V vaccine.
- France will strengthen border controls and bring forward its night curfew by two hours to 6 p.m. for at least a fortnight.
- China reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months due to a severe outbreak in the northeast that has put more than 28 million people under lockdown.
- Australia is on course to record its second straight day of zero local COVID-19 cases, helped by tougher restrictions on public movement and internal borders.
- Japan will temporarily suspend exemptions allowing foreign athletes to train in the country ahead of the Summer Olympics, Kyodo News reported.
- The Philippines extended by two weeks a ban on travellers from more than 30 territories and countries where a more transmissible COVID-19 variant has been detected.
- U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is due to outline his plan to ramp up vaccinations against COVID-19 as he prepares to take office amid soaring infection rates.
- Quebec may space out doses of COVID-19 vaccines by as long as 90 days, beyond the recommended 42-day interval as high caseloads threaten to overwhelm its hospitals.
- Hospitals in Brazil’s northern state of Amazonas ran short of oxygen and made an urgent call for help from the United States on Thursday.
- Caribbean tourism officials are rushing to increase COVID-19 testing capacity after the United States became the latest country to require nearly all arriving passengers to present a negative test within 72 hours of departure.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
- South Africa delayed the start to its new school year by two weeks to Feb. 15, in order to prevent schools becoming transmission centres for COVID-19, as the country’s main mining industry body said it has agreed to support the government in the rollout of vaccines, including providing financial support.
- The Gambia has recorded its first two cases of the highly infectious coronavirus variant first found in Britain.
- A vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group, a Sinopharm subsidiary, is safe in those aged between three and 17, based on clinical data obtained by the company, state media reported.
- Britain’s transport minister said scientists think that vaccines will work on a new variant of the coronavirus found in Brazil.
- Asian shares stumbled lower and oil prices fell on Friday, as rising COVID-19 cases in China reinforced investor concerns over the prospects for a global economic recovery.
- Britain’s economy shrank in November for the first time since the initial COVID-19 lockdown last spring, hit by a tightening of social-distancing rules.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)