Coronavirus: Latest global developments

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PARIS, Dec 21, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

– Britain cut off –

India and Russia are among the latest of more than two dozen countries to ban flights and travellers from Britain as London says a more infectious new virus strain is spreading “out of control”.

– Crisis meeting –

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, with the flow of freight in and out of the UK in jeopardy.

– European markets plunge –

European stocks, oil prices and the British pound dive as the new virus strain in Britain sends traders running for cover.

– US relief package deal –

US lawmakers agree on a nearly $900-billion (740-billion-euros) Covid-19 relief package for millions of Americans, in a deal that follows months of wrangling and comes as the nation battles the world’s largest outbreak.

– South Korea tightens curbs –

South Korea bans gatherings of more than four people in the capital and surrounding areas as the country records its highest daily death toll.

– Japan shelves rituals –

Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine, among the most significant Shinto sanctuaries in Japan, will close its doors over New Year for the first time since the end of World War II, as religious sites in the country adapt year-end events amid record cases.

– Thai PM blames migrants –

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha blames an outbreak linked to the kingdom’s largest seafood market on low-paid migrant workers in the lucrative shrimp industry.

The majority of the new cases — numbering more than 800 so far — are workers from Myanmar, who toil on boats and in processing factories.

– Vaccine crime –

Interpol chief Juergen Stock predicts a sharp rise in crimes with robbers seeking to get their hands on precious vaccines aimed at stopping the pandemic.

“With vaccines rolling out, crime will increase dramatically,” he says. “We will see thefts and warehouse break-ins and attacks on vaccine shipments.”

– Nearly 1.7 million dead –

At least 1,693,576 people have died since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The US is the worst-hit country with 317,684 deaths, followed by Brazil with 186,764 fatalities, India with 145,810, Mexico with 118,202 and Italy with 68,799.