U.S. requires negative tests from UK travelers, UK variant found in Lebanon: COVID-19 daily bulletin
• Turkey to start using China's COVID-19 vaccine after its reported strong results. The country is set to receive the Sinovac vaccine with days after domestic tests showed 91 percent effectiveness.
• The U.S. will now require negative coronavirus tests from all UK travelers, the latest in a global series of restrictions on UK visitors since a new variant was discovered.
• TheUK army has been asked to take over COVID-19 testing for hauliers stuck in Dover. After France closed its borders on Sunday due to the new variant, thousands of truck drivers have backed up, waiting to cross the Channel.
• Lebanon'spublic health minister reports that the new UK variant was recorded in the country after a flight from London on December 21.
Why are coronavirus mutations like flatpack furniture? Watch the video above to find out.
The virus variants now circulating in the UK continue to have more and more impact. All airline passengers flying from Britain to the U.S. have to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure, before they'll be allowed to enter the country.
From December 28, travelers will need to provide their airlines with written documentation of their test result, as dozens of countries have shut their borders to UK flights because of highly infectious COVID-19 variants. The rapid spread of one strain has led to stricter rules in the UK too, and more regions face local lockdowns starting from tomorrow. Health officials say there is no evidence the new variant is more deadly, or reacts differently to vaccines, but it is up to 70 percent more transmissible.
Meanwhile it's hardly a merry Christmas for thousands of truck drivers who are spending the day in their cabs, stuck near English ports. More than 800 military personnel are helping to clear the backlog of about 5,000 lorries, which are waiting to board ferries to travel from Dover to France and mainland Europe.
Benji Hyer in Brussels
Merry Christmas from Belgium on what is normally a day of festive cheer – but this year, like in many other European countries, plans have been scuppered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Household mixing is severely limited, although every member of a household is allowed a so-called "cuddle buddy" today. This is essentially somebody from outside the household who can enter the home without the need for social distancing.
Belgium's Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has apologised for any confusion caused by the announcement that children also count as cuddle contacts when gathering indoors. Outdoors, people from different households can meet in groups of four, with social distancing and masks. There's also a 10 p.m. curfew here in the capital.