Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

5 minute read

A member of the medical personnel works at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing site which is temporarily set up at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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Dec 7 (Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Indonesia bans foreign visitors for two weeks over new coronavirus variant

International visitors will be barred from Indonesia for two weeks to try to keep out a new, potentially more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus, its foreign minister Retno Marsudi said on Monday.

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The new regulation, effective Jan. 1, comes days after Indonesia banned travellers from Britain and tightened rules for those arriving from Europe and Australia to limit the spread of the new variant.

Indonesia earlier this year banned all foreign tourists from entry but some exemptions have been made for business travellers. High-level government officials are exempt from the new rule.

The world's fourth most populous country has struggled to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus since recording its first case in March. It has recorded nearly 720,000 confirmed infections and 21,500 deaths, among the highest in Asia.

Pfizer to complete supply of COVID-19 vaccines to EU by September

The distribution of an initial 200 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech (22UAy.DE) across the European Union will be completed by September, a spokesman for the EU Commission said on Monday.

The protracted timetable, previously unknown, confirms that the 450-million bloc will need vaccines from other suppliers to speed up inoculations against the new coronavirus.

Most EU countries began inoculating healthcare workers and vulnerable people on Sunday with the Pfizer vaccine, the only one so far authorised in the 27-nation bloc. It requires a two-dose regimen. read more

The spokesperson said talks were underway to agree the delivery of a further 100 million doses which are optional under the contract sealed with the two companies, confirming an earlier report from Reuters. read more

Singapore confirms first case of new coronavirus variant

Singapore confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus variant that was found in the United Kingdom, while 11 other people who were already in quarantine returned preliminarily positive results for the new strain.

The island conducted viral genomic sequencing for recently arrived confirmed COVID-19 cases from Europe. The patient with the new variant came to Singapore from Britain on Dec. 6, was quarantined on arrival and tested positive on Dec. 8.

All her close contacts were quarantined and tested negative at the end of their quarantine period. The health ministry said it had ringfenced the case so there was no further transmission. read more

Swedish government to get wider shutdown powers under proposed pandemic law

The Swedish government will have the power to close shopping centres and public transport from Jan. 10 and fine people who break the rules, under a new law proposed on Monday to help halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Until now, Sweden has relied mainly on voluntary social distancing measures, setting it apart from most other countries in Europe that have enforced lockdowns to curb the virus' spread.

While the government has stressed its faith in Swedes' individual sense of responsibility, it has also lacked the legal tools to take a tougher stance. The law will only stay in force until September unless renewed.

The government had originally planned to introduce the law in March, but has accelerated the timetable as a second wave of infections has put the health service under severe strain. read more

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Compiled by Linda Noakes, editing by Ed Osmond

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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