UK tightens lockdown over fast-spreading new Covid strain | Coronavirus update

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reversed plans to ease coronavirus restrictions over the Christmas period. The turnaround, he says, is due to a new strain of the virus, which has seen a surge in cases. He's imposed an effective lockdown on London and southeast England, where the new variant is spreading more quickly. In an interview with British television, the Health Minister Matt Hancock said the mutated virus could only be controlled through social distancing -- and suggested the tighter measures could be in place for some time to come.
Israel has begun its COVID-19 vaccination campaign - with healthcare workers and people over the age of 60 at the front of the line. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already got his shot. A successful vaccination program could give him a much-needed political boost. The pandemic came when his government was hit by a corruption scandal. Now it says it's secured enough doses to inoculate most of the population. But it's unclear whether the roll-out includes plans to vaccinate Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
Lawmakers in the US have struck a late-night agreement on a multi-billion dollar coronavirus relief package --- clearing the way for the bill to be voted on by both chambers before a Sunday deadline. The stimulus plan worth nearly a Trillion dollars has been fought over for months. If passed, it would extend benefits for struggling businesses and millions of unemployed, which are due to expire at the end of the year.
The coronavirus pandemic has battered tourism in seaside resorts around the world - and the principality of Monaco on the French Riviera is no exception. But lately, the tiny city-state has seen a little boost - with a steady stream of day trippers seeking a reprieve from tighter restrictions across the border in France.
The riverbanks of the Yangtze River in the Chinese city of Wuhan attract visitors all year-round. But in 2020, a lockdown and fears that waterways could carry the coronavirus kept people away. With outbreaks now on the wane, crowds are flocking back to the river, and even taking a dip.
The Netherlands has responded to Britain's detection of a new COVID strain by banning all flights arriving from the UK.
Sydney has banned dancing, singing and chanting indoors as it races to contain a growing outbreak. Bars and restaurants in Australia's biggest city also have to limit patron numbers.


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