One in 85 in England have COVID-19, China and Brazil stop UK flights: COVID-19 daily bulletin
Sunniya Ahmad Pirzada
- One in 85 people in England have COVID-19 while London has the highest positive test rate, according to the Office of National Statistics.
- China and Brazil have suspended all flights to and from Britain after it reported a new, more infectious strain of the coronavirus. New York City has also ordered a mandatory two-week COVID-19 quarantine for all arrivals from the UK.
- France has sent a team of 26 firefighters to Dover with 10,000 coronavirus tests to help the stranded drivers cross the France-UK border which was reopened yesterday, subject to drivers and passengers providing a negative test.
- UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed two cases of a new, potentially more "transmissible" variant of COVID-19 have been detected in Britain, both linked to South Africa. Scientists in South Africa believe the new variant may affect young people harder and may be a bit more resistant to vaccines.
- Russia has registered a record daily total of 29,935 new infections, taking the country's total to 2,963,688, which is the fourth highest in the world. The country also recorded 635 deaths, increasing total fatalities to 53,096 since the beginning of the pandemic.
- French President Emmanuel Macron is now free of COVID-19 symptoms, a week after he tested positive for the virus, according to his office. The president, who was in self-isolation at an official residence near Paris from where he ran meetings remotely, no longer needs to remain in quarantine.
- Regions in the east, southeast and southwest of England will be placed in the stricter Tier 4 from 00:01 on Boxing Day, as the UK recorded 744 deaths, the highest since late April, and 39,237 cases.
In Germany, millions of families are preparing to enjoy Christmas Eve together, albeit on a reduced scale because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed with state leaders to slightly relax restrictions on private gatherings for the duration of the holiday, with a household allowed to meet with up to four family members from outside their home over the Christmas period.
But despite having scaled back festivities, the coronavirus cases continue to stretch the country's health system. There have been 32,195 new infections recorded in the past day, the second highest since the start of the pandemic and 802 deaths, the fourth highest daily total so far.
Iolo ap Dafydd in London
After registering two sets of record number of people testing positive for the virus in recent days, there is concern the numbers could rise again with two new variants of the virus found in England.
Medical experts are concerned about the second new variant of COVID-19, labelled 501.V2 which is believed to have originated in South Africa.
Visitors travelling to the UK who have been in or transited through South Africa in the last 10 days will not be allowed into the country after 09:00GMT on December 24.
All those required to quarantine will need to do so for 10 days, along with members of their household. British and Irish nationals are exempt from quarantine restrictions but they will have to self isolate. The UK's Department for Transport says this reflects the "increased risk" during this stage of the pandemic.
The first new variant of the virus was identified in Kent, where currently thousands of trucks and drivers are blocked from travelling across the Channel to mainland Europe.
It was spotted through UK's surveillance system, as the Covid-19 Genomics Consortium (Cog-UK) has tracked the genetic history of more than 150,000 samples of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, which amounts to roughly half the world's genetic sequencing of coronavirus.