Here are the key developments from the last few hours:
- International virus sleuths expected to go to China soon: WHO. The World Health Organization said Monday it had received reassurances from Beijing that international experts would soon be able to travel to China to help investigate the animal origins of Covid-19. “We fully expect and have reassurances from our Chinese government colleagues that the trip to the field… will be facilitated, and as soon as possible,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual press briefing.
- The WHO also said Monday that avoiding family gatherings would be “the safest bet” over Christmas, insisting there is no zero-risk option for traditional holiday merry-making during the coronavirus pandemic.
- England to cut quarantine period for arrivals from abroad. Travellers arriving in England from abroad face a shorter spell in quarantine from mid-December if they test negative for coronavirus five days after their arrival, the UK government announced Tuesday. It hopes the new rules will revive the ailing travel industry, particularly aviation, which has suffered a steep drop in ridership because of restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic.
- Japan’s government is preparing to pause its domestic travel campaign in two cities following sharp rises in Covid-19 cases, the minister handling the government’s coronavirus response said on Tuesday.
- Border restrictions ease in Australia. The border between NSW and Victoria (the worst affected state in the country) opened earlier this week, and this morning, Queensland has announced its barrier to NSW will come down on December 1. NSW and Queensland have been isolated for most of this year, the first time the country’s internal borders have been closed since the Spanish Flu.
- Daily Covid-19 cases in France at near two-month low. France reported 4,452 new Covid-19 infections on Monday, the lowest daily tally since 28 September, suggesting a second national lockdown is having an impact.
- UK aims to inoculate those most at risk from Covid by Easter. The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he hoped almost all Britons at high risk from Covid-19 would be vaccinated against the disease by Easter. He also said people will not be forced to have vaccinations against Covid-19.
- Spain’s king self-isolating after virus contact. Spain’s King Felipe VI has started 10 days of quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid-19, the palace said.
- Pope says anti-maskers stuck in ‘their own little world of interests’. Pope Francis has12taken aim at protests against coronavirus restrictions, contrasting them with the “healthy indignation” seen in demonstrations against racism after the death of George Floyd.
- New infections in Gaza spiralling out of control. The mounting number of coronavirus infections in densely populated Gaza is spinning out of control, Palestinian health officials warned. Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, said the health ministry “expects the worst if the epidemiological situation remains the same” citing “a health system at the end of its…