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A view of the downtown skyline from Griffith Observatory during a partial lockdown amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 7, 2020. - Sputnik International

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The number of infected worldwide has surpassed 85.5 million, while over 1.85 million have died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The US is still the most affected nation amid the pandemic, with over 20.8 million infected, and a death toll in excess of 353,000 (which is over 1 percent of the American population). It is followed by India (10.3 million cases, 149,000 deaths), and Brazil (7.7 million cases, over 196,000 fatalities).

In Europe, the UK (2.7 million infected, over 75,500 deaths) is facing a difficult situation due to a new mutated strain of coronavirus, which led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to declare a third national lockdown.

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01:38 GMT 06.01.2021
00:59 GMT 06.01.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The 'UK' coronavirus variant had been detected in 41 countries/territories, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

"As of 5 January 2021, the VOC-202012/01 variant initially detected in the United Kingdom has been detected in a small number of cases in 40 other countries/territories/areas in five of the six WHO regions, and the 501Y.V2 variant initially detected in South African in six other countries/territories/areas," the WHO said.

00:22 GMT 06.01.2021

TORONTO (Sputnik) – A hospital in the Canadian province of Ontario has announced that it will transfer overflow COVID-19 patients to hospitals over an hour away as the number of available hospital beds dwindles across the province and country.

As many as 20 patients from the Windsor Regional Hospital in the eponymously named city will be moved to Sarnia and Chatham-Kent, both of which are over an hour away, the hospital said in a statement.

“We anticipate as many as 20 patients may require transfer this week to our partners at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) and Bluewater Health in Sarnia,” the Windsor Regional Hospital said on Tuesday.

20:38 GMT 05.01.2021

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developer has yet to request the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) scientific advice as the first step toward a possible application for marketing authorization, the bloc’s regulator told Sputnik.

"We would clarify that we are still in an early phase of interaction with the developer. However, the developer has not submitted a request for scientific advice at this point," the watchdog said.

EMA noted that once it provides guidance to the developer, it will announce it on its website.

"For a COVID-19 vaccine to be authorised in the EU, a company would be expected to engage in preliminary discussions and submit a marketing authorisation application to EMA. The Committee for Human Medicinal Products (CHMP) will then assess the scientific data to determine whether the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks," the agency added.

20:09 GMT 05.01.2021

BELGRADE (Sputnik) - The Serbian interior minister and the parliamentary speaker will be vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus, the Serbian government said on Tuesday.

"Serbian parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic and Minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin will receive the Russian vaccine against the coronavirus Sputnik V… on 6 January," a statement read.

The Balkan nation has confirmed a further 2,653 infections in the past day, raising the total to 349,238. The virus-related fatalities rose by 41 to 3,405.

The Serbian government has been leading the national vaccination by example. Prime Minister Ana Brnabic was the first to receive a shot of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine on December 24.

20:03 GMT 05.01.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The second dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer should be administered 21 to 28 days after the first one, but this interval can be increased in exceptional circumstances, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) top immunization expert said on Tuesday as more and more countries mull delaying booster shots to stretch scarce supplies.

Alejandro Cravioto, the chair of the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), commented on the issue at a briefing.

"We deliberated and came out with the following recommendations. SAGE recommends the administration of two doses of this vaccine within 21 to 28 days, while we acknowledge the absence of data on safety and efficacy after one dose [is administered] beyond three, four weeks studied in the clinical trials. SAGE made a provision for countries in exceptional circumstances of vaccine supply constraints and epidemiological settings to delay the administration of the second dose for a few weeks in order to maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose," Cravioto said.

19:54 GMT 05.01.2021
19:35 GMT 05.01.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Vietnamese prime minister announced on Tuesday a ban on flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa after they reported having mutated coronavirus strains, media said.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the ban would be extended to other countries that had confirmed cases of infection with the new, faster-spreading strains, according to the VN Express newspaper.

The ministries of foreign affairs, health and transport were told to draw up a list of countries to which the new restrictions will be applied.

Vietnam confirmed its first case of the UK-linked variant in a 44-year-old woman who arrived from the United Kingdom on December 22. She was quarantined in the southern Mekong Delta province upon arrival.

19:11 GMT 05.01.2021

TORONTO (Sputnik) - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that he is frustrated like other Canadians by the slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in Canada.

The latest data shows the Canadian authorities are increasingly falling behind the vaccination regimes of other nations with only 0.32 percent of the population having been immunized against the coronavirus to date.

"I think all Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms," Trudeau said during a press briefing.

Government data shows that 35 percent of vaccines procured to date have been administered, with provinces like Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador utilizing less than 30 percent of available vaccine doses.

Trudeau noted that Canada is on track to receive its millionth dose of the coronavirus vaccine later this month.

18:13 GMT 05.01.2021
18:11 GMT 05.01.2021
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17:52 GMT 05.01.2021
17:45 GMT 05.01.2021
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13:14 GMT 05.01.2021
12:47 GMT 05.01.2021

PRAGUE (Sputnik) - Police have closed Slovakia’s western city of Nitra for non-residents on Tuesday to rein in surging COVID-19 cases that have put local hospitals on the brink, Mayor Marek Hattas told reporters.

"The situation in city hospitals is critical due to the growing number of new coronavirus patients. We are forced to send new patients to hospitals in neighboring cities and towns — in Bratislava, Komarno, Topolcany, Martin and Banska Bystrica. A freezer has been built near the crematorium for temporary storage of bodies of those dead. We have also asked the central crisis center to consider introducing a full lockdown in our city," Hattas said.

He added that the lockdown would also entail temporary closure of all production facilities, including the Jaguar Land Rover plant. At the moment, industrial enterprises continue operations, and the movement of people in the 80,000-strong city remains very large, thus increasing virus transmission, according to the mayor.

"For now, we have introduced police control at the entrances to the city, non-residents will be allowed only with special permits," the mayor added.

The Central European country has recorded 2,989 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. In total, Slovakia has registered over 191,100 infections, including nearly 133,000 recoveries and 2,603 deaths. On Monday evening, the country confirmed first coronavirus cases associated with the faster-spreading strain from the United Kingdom.

12:14 GMT 05.01.2021
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11:48 GMT 05.01.2021
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10:51 GMT 05.01.2021
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09:53 GMT 05.01.2021
09:47 GMT 05.01.2021
09:24 GMT 05.01.2021
08:58 GMT 05.01.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia's coronavirus tally has increased by 24,246 cases recorded over the past 24 hours, up from just above 23,000 the day before, the government's coronavirus response centre said in an update on Tuesday.

"Over the past day, 24,246 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 84 Russian regions, including 2,864 cases (11.8 percent) without clinical symptoms", the centre said.

08:55 GMT 05.01.2021
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05:37 GMT 05.01.2021
05:06 GMT 05.01.2021

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US pharmaceutical company Moderna said its vaccine against COVID-19 had been approved for use in Israel.

"Moderna, Inc. (Nasdaq: MRNA), a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today announced that Israel's Ministry of Health (MOH) has given authorisation to import the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna in Israel", the company said in a statement.

"Today's authorisation is a landmark moment in our company’s history and in the global fight against COVID-19. This is the third regulatory authorization for the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna, and its first outside of North America", Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said.

Bancel thanked Israel's Ministry of Health for its efforts.

"We hope to continue to see authorizations in additional markets in the coming days, weeks and months", he said.

04:56 GMT 05.01.2021
04:45 GMT 05.01.2021

"Moderna, Inc. (Nasdaq: MRNA), a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today provided a supply update for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, increasing its base-case global production estimate from 500 to 600 million doses for 2021", the company said in a statement on its website.

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