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The US Congress approved an $892 billion coronavirus aid package to shore up the pandemic-battered economy

Reuters , Tuesday 22 Dec 2020
California
Long-term care patient Carlos Alegre receives a Band-Aid after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from licensed vocational nurse Virgie Vivar at Birch Patrick Skilled Nursing Facility at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center on December 21, 2020 in Chula Vista, California. (Photo: AFP)
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The US Congress approved an $892 billion coronavirus aid package to shore up the pandemic-battered economy, while vaccinations continued in different parts of the country with President-elect Joe Biden receiving his first injected dose.

EUROPE

* Bulgaria will allow medics, diplomats and seasonal workers coming from the UK to enter Bulgaria after closing its borders to travellers from the country, officials said.

* The European Union geared up to start mass vaccinations against COVID-19 just after Christmas as the shot developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech cleared regulatory hurdles.

* Ireland is in the grip of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and a rapid acceleration in the growth of cases is of very grave concern, senior health officials said.

* Sweden will stop allowing in foreign travellers from Britain for one month.

* The Netherlands joined a range of nations banning flights from South Africa to stop the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.

AMERICAS

* US President-elect Joe Biden received his first injected dose of the COVID-19 vaccine live on television on Monday, in an effort to boost confidence in its safety ahead of its wide distribution next year.

* There are no intensive care beds available in Southern California or the state's agricultural San Joaquin Valley, together home to nearly 30 million people.

* British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic said they will allow only passengers who test negative for the coronavirus to fly to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

* Ontario, Canada's most populous province, announced a partial shutdown of some businesses starting Dec. 26 and banned most indoor gatherings as it struggles to control a second wave of COVID-19.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated there was no need for the country to enter a national state of emergency, even as health groups declared their own state of emergency for the medical system.

* Taiwan's government on Tuesday reported its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 since April 12.

* South Korea moved to shut down all ski resorts and winter tourist spots to curb the third wave of COVID-19 infections in the densely populated region of the capital city.

* Malaysia signed a deal to procure 6.4 million doses of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine and is in final talks with Chinese and Russian manufacturers to secure more.

* India recorded 19,556 new cases of the coronavirus, according to health ministry data on Tuesday, its lowest daily increase since July 3.

* Australia's most populous state reported its lowest one-day rise in new COVID-19 cases in nearly a week, fuelling optimism that contact tracing and social distancing were working to bring a new outbreak in Sydney under control.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Sudan will ban travellers from Britain, the Netherlands and South Africa from Dec. 23.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said he was confident a COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by his company would be effective against a variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in Britain.

* The World Health Organization cautioned against major alarm over a new, highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in Britain, saying this was a normal part of a pandemic's evolution.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Asian shares widened losses on Tuesday, extending a pullback from multi-year highs hit last week on fears a highly infectious new strain of COVID-19 that hit Britain could lead to a slower global economic recovery.

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