The United Kingdom is expected to start vaccinations against COVID19 today. Health service staff, care home workers and people over 80 will be the first people offered the vaccination. The vaccine is free and not compulsory. Queen Elizabeth, who is 94, has said that she will announce to the country when she has taken the vaccine. In 1957 The Queen announced to the public when she had taken the new Polio vaccine, in the hope that it would raise public confidence. The United Kingdom has confirmed over 61,000 deaths from COVID19.
Romania’s general election on Sunday had a record low turnout - only 32% of the electorate voted. With 90% of votes counted, The social Democrats gained the most votes - around 30%. The pro-European Liberal party of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban gained only 25% of votes. However, it is likely that Orban may continue as Prime Minister, as his party will find it easier to form a coalition.
The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Iraq next year. Pope Francis will visit Baghdad, Erbil and Mosul in the first ever visit of a Pope to Iraq. There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, however over half have escaped Iraq during years of persecution by Islamist jihadist groups.
In the United States, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has said that if hospitals are overwhelmed, then the State will lock down again. New York was the first area in the United States to start restrictions because of COVID19, in March. However on Friday, New York recorded more new coronavirus cases than ever recorded during the first wave. Cuomo said yesterday that restaurants may be shut from Monday...
“If after 5 days we haven’t seen a stabilization in a region’s hospital rate, we are going to clamp down on indoor dining. 5 days - if the hospitalization rate doesn’t stabilize in New York City we are going to close indoor dining. We are now at 25% in New York City.”
In Venezuela, elections have given disputed President Nicolas Maduro control of the National Assembly. The main opposition parties boycotted the election, saying that it was a farce. The National Electoral Council said that 31% of potential voters voted. The European Union said that the election did not meet internationally accepted conditions.
Iran has said that a remote controlled machine gun was used to kill scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last month. Iran blames Israel for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist. Yesterday Iran said that The United States is trying to block access to a coronavirus vaccine. Abdolnasser Hemmati, the chief of Iran’s Central Bank, said that US sanctions were stopping Iran from buying vaccines from the World Health Organization’s COVAX scheme.
Indonesia has received a shipment of a Chinese COVID19 vaccine. 1.2 millions doses of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine arrived in Jakarta yesterday. The vaccine has not yet been approved by Indonesia’s drug agency, however it has been tested in Indonesia since August. It is believed that over a million Chinese people have already been given some type of COVID19 vaccine, however the Chinese government does not share this information.
In Palestine, coronavirus test kits have run out in the Gaza strip. Both Gaza and the West Bank have asked the World Health Organization for more tests, during a fast rise in confirmed cases across Palestine. Experts have warned that Gaza’s health system could collapse if cases continue to rise.
Ghana voted in a presidential election yesterday. Results are expected later today. The race is thought to be very close between president Nana Akufo-Addo, and former president John Mahama.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said that the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front will not be able to continue fighting against the Ethiopian military. After claims from the TPLF that its forces had retreated to other areas of the Tigray region, Abiy said that this was not true. Abiy declared victory against the TPLF after the Ethiopian military gained control of the Tigray capital Mekelle last week. Over 50,000 refugees have now crossed the border into Sudan.
And In the United States, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has sold all the rights to his songs to Universal Music Group. The price has not been announced, but Dylan’s songs are expected to be worth more than $200 million dollars. Dylan has sold more than 100 million records and he is considered one of the most successful songwriters of all time.
That’s your news in 7 minutes. For the transcript of today’s episode, go to send7.org. I’m Stephen Devincenzi. See you tomorrow.