Monday 21st December 2020
In France, President Emmanuel Macron is in stable condition after testing positive for the coronavirus. Macron, who is working in self-isolation is still showing symptoms of the COVID-19 illness. The President announced on Friday that he would provide daily updates on his condition through videos.
“I wanted to reassure you I am doing fine. I have the same symptoms as yesterday, notably fatigue, headaches, a dry cough like hundreds of thousands of you who have had to experience this virus or those who live it today. I wanted to also send a message to you: continue to be careful. Yesterday I tested positive, showing that the virus can affect anyone. I was very protected, I was being very careful, I respected the safety measures, distancing, I had a mask, I was using hand sanitiser regularly. And despite everything, I caught this virus.”
A number of European countries have banned, or are planning to ban, travel from the UK. This is to prevent the spread of a more infectious coronavirus strand. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday introduced a new tier four level of restrictions.
“It seems that the spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus which we spoke about earlier this week. There’s no evidence that it causes more severe illness or higher mortality but it does appear to be passed on significantly more easily. As prime minister it’s my duty to take difficult decisions to do what is right to protect the people of this country. Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus the potential risk it poses, it is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned. Yes Christmas this year will be very different but we must be realistic we're sacrificing the chance to see our loved ones this Christmas so we have a better chance of protecting their lives so that we can see them at future Christmases."
In Afghanistan, an explosion killed 15 children and injured another 20 people yesterday. The reason for the explosion is unclear with officials saying a bomb went off in the back of a vehicle. The blast set surrounding vehicles on fire, as well as damaging nearby buildings and shops. Afghanistan has seen a rise in violence, particularly bombings, in recent weeks. This is while the Afghan government and Taliban hold talks to find an end to the country’s almost 20-year-long war.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited a Sikh temple in New Delhi yesterday. Modi kneeled in respect and took pictures with visitors at a time where the Sikh community is leading massive protests against his farm reforms. At least 25 people have died during the protests against the three laws approved by Parliament in September.
Ethiopia is offering a $260,000 reward to anyone with information on the location of fugitive leaders of the rebellious force in the northern region of Tigray. The reward to help capture leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was announced on TV and later tweeted by the government’s task force. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and nearly a million left their homes during attacks in Tigray last month.
In Nigeria, police say they have rescued at least 84 schoolchildren who were abducted on Saturday. They say the children were taken by gunmen as they returned home to Mahuta village after taking part in a religious ceremony. It is the second mass kidnapping in Nigeria's Katsina state in eight days. On Friday, 344 schoolboys who had been kidnapped from their boarding school in Kankara town a week beforehand were released.
In the United States, President-elect Joe Biden introduced his climate and energy team yesterday. He said the team will follow an "ambitious plan" to combat climate change. Mr Biden has vowed to make the issue a top priority in an agenda that reverses many Trump administration policies. He said there was "no time to waste”.
In Chile, President Sebastián Piñera has been fined $3,500 for breaching coronavirus rules. The president posed for a selfie with no facemask on. Mr Piñera apologised after the photo of him with a woman - also without a mask - went viral earlier this month. The president admitted he should have worn a mask when the woman requested a photo on a beach near his home. Chile has strict rules about wearing masks in public.
And finally, smoke from wildfires could be a new way that infections spread, according to research by the US Centres for Disease Control. Scientists believe it's likely that organisms from the soil, known to cause infection, could be transferred through the large smoke. They argue that more control on wildfire smoke by health authorities is urgently needed.