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Latest COVID global developments: virus deaths nearly 1.68M

PARIS, Dec 20, 2020 (AFP) – Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

– Nearly 1.68 million dead –

At least 1,679,114 people have died since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 314,305 deaths, followed by Brazil with 185,650 fatalities, India with 145,136, Mexico with 117,249 and Italy with 68,447.

The highest numbers of new deaths over the past seven days were in the US with 18,345, Brazil with 5,213, Italy with 4,507, Mexico with 4,230 and Germany with 3,968.

– Dutch ban UK flights to stop virus ‘mutation’ –

The Dutch government bans all passenger flights from Britain after detecting the first case of a new, more infectious coronavirus strain that is circulating in the UK.

– New virus strain wrecks English Christmas –

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a “stay at home” order for London and southeast England — until at least December 30 — to slow a new, significantly more infectious strain of the coronavirus.

Early data suggests the new strain could be “up to 70 percent more transmissible”, according to Johnson.

– Italy tightens virus restrictions –

Italy imposes with heavy restrictions on leaving the house and a ban on travelling between regions between December 21 and January 6. From December 24, bars and restaurants will also be closed.

– Local lockdown in Thailand –

Thailand’s authorities lock down the country’s biggest seafood market and the surrounding area after the largest spike in cases there since the pandemic began.

– Swiss approve Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine –

Swiss regulators give the green light to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with immunisation set to start within days as the country battles rising coronavirus cases and deaths, the first Covid-19 vaccine there.

– US starts roll-out of Moderna vaccine –

The first of millions of doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine are prepared for shipping to locations across the United States, hours after its authorisation for use in the hardest-hit country in the world.

– Israel’s Netanyahu gets jab –

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vaccinated against coronavirus, kicking off a national roll-out over the coming days.

– Turkish virus patients die in hospital fire –

A hospital fire kills at least 10 coronavirus patients in Gazientep, southeast Turkey, after an oxygen tank on an artificial respirator in an intensive care ward explodes.

– Macron stable –

French President Emmanuel Macron who tested positive this week is stable and tests are showing reassuring results, “still presenting the same symptoms of the Covid-19 illness (fatigue, coughing, stiffness)”, says his doctor.

– Canada cases pass 500,000 –

Canada surpassed 500,000 coronavirus cases Saturday, according to official figures, recording a 25 percent increase in just two weeks. Its death toll from the virus stands at 14,128.

– Sydney to Hobart yacht race cancelled –

Australia’s gruelling Sydney to Hobart yacht race is called off for the first time in its 76-year history because of an escalating coronavirus outbreak, organisers say. bur-jj/mtp Agence France-Presse