2.51am GMT

A passenger on board a “cruise-to-nowhere” from Singapore has tested positive for Covid-19, the operator Royal Caribbean said on Wednesday.

Singapore has been trialling the trips which are open only to the city-state’s residents, make no stops and sail in waters close by. At 2.45 am on Wednesday morning, the captain of the Quantum of the Seas informed the 2,000 passengers that the ship was to return to dock a day early and that they should stay in their rooms, the Straits Times reports.

At 8.10 the captain confirmed that a passenger had tested positive. Breakfast would be served to passengers in their rooms, he said.

“It’s important that you know that you are safe on board and we have a good plan in place to maintain your health, safety and comfort.”

2.44am GMT

Asian shares rose to a record high and US stock futures gained on Wednesday as investors tracked positive news on Covid-19 vaccines and ongoing efforts to launch more fiscal stimulus, Reuters reports.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.51%. At one point the index reached 646.10, an all-time peak.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe also hit a record high.

Australian shares gained 0.69%. Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.01% to approach a 29 1/2-year high. Sentiment got an added boost after Japanese data pointed to a rebound in capital expenditure.

Shares in China rose 0.15%. South Korean stocks also jumped by 1.26% to trade near a record high.

The US S&P 500 e-mini stock futures rose 0.11% in Asian trade after shares on Wall Street notched new record highs on Tuesday, boosted by positive vaccine news and seeming progress on U.S. stimulus talks.

2.11am GMT

South Korea reports second-highest cases of pandemic so far

South Korea reported 686 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday as it battles a third wave of infection that is threatening to overwhelm its medical system, Reuters reports.

The daily tally was the second-highest since the start of the pandemic, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. New cases have been consistently around 600 over the past week.

Tougher social distancing rules took effect on Tuesday, including unprecedented curfews on restaurants and most other businesses.

The government has also introduced a new testing method to cater to surging demand, and eased rules to release some recovered patients faster to free up hospital beds.
The government has signed deals with four global drugmakers to procure Covid-19 vaccines for 44 million people.

South Korea’s total infections stand at 39,432, with 556 deaths.

1.53am GMT

Destitution levels in Great Britain are expected to double in the wake of the pandemic with an estimated 2 million families, including a million children, likely to struggle to afford to feed themselves, stay warm, or keep clean as the recession deepens, according to a study.

The estimates, carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), described “increasing, intensifying” levels of extreme poverty experienced by some of the country’s poorest households in recent years, and highlight a social security system increasingly failing to protect society’s most vulnerable:

1.22am GMT

Four lions at Barcelona’s zoo have tested positive for coronavirus, Australia’s Channel 9 reports.

The zookeepers noticed that three females, Zala, Nima and Run Run, and a male, Kiumbe, had cold-like symptoms. They later tested positive.

9News Australia

Four lions at Barcelona Zoo have tested positive for COVID-19 after showing unusual symptoms similar to a cold.

Authorities are now trying to establish if they caught the virus from an infected zookeeper.

Full details: https://t.co/6YvgQm2LuX #9News pic.twitter.com/W3YLV0Wfm6

December 9, 2020

In April, tigers and lions at the Bronx zoo contracted coronavirus.

at 1.27am GMT

1.08am GMT

The British government has been urged to launch a one-off wealth tax on millionaire households to raise up to £260bn in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the crisis damages Britain’s public finances and exacerbates inequality.

The Wealth Tax Commission – a group of leading tax experts and economists brought together by the London School of Economics and Warwick University to examine the case for a levy on assets – said targeting the richest in society would be the fairest and most efficient way to raise taxes in response to the pandemic.

In a highly anticipated report, the group, which has drawn attention from the Commons Treasury committee and the former head of the civil service, Sir Gus O’Donnell, said its proposals would be preferable to a broad-based tax raid on workers’ incomes and consumer spending:

12.45am GMT

UK science chief warns Britons may still need masks next winter

People in the United Kingdom may still be wearing face masks in a year’s time despite the country’s national vaccination programme getting under way, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, told the Telegraph.

“It may be that next winter even with vaccination we need measures such as masks in place,” he said.

Restrictions may remain in place long after a full rollout of a vaccine, Vallance suggested, according to the report.

12.34am GMT

Rudy Giuliani expected to leave hospital on Wednesday

The US president Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday said he is feeling better after contracting Covid-19 and expects to leave the hospital on Wednesday.

The 76-year-old former New York City mayor, who is spearheading Trump’s flagging effort to overturn the president’s election loss to Joe Biden, said he began to feel unusually tired on Friday.

By Sunday, when his diagnosis was announced, Giuliani said he was showing other “mild symptoms” but that currently he has no fever and only a small cough.

“I think they are going to let me out tomorrow morning,” Giuliani said in an interview with WABC Radio in New York. He was at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, two sources familiar with the situation said on Sunday.

Giuliani plans to attend a virtual hearing this week with Georgia lawmakers, another source familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Tuesday.

12.11am GMT


Hello and welcome to today’s live global coronavirus coverage.

My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours.

You can find me on Twitter @helenrsullivan.

The UK’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance has warned that Britons may still be wearing masks next winter, telling the Telegraph: “It may be that next winter even with vaccination we need measures such as masks in place”. Restrictions may remain in place long after a full rollout of a vaccine, Vallance suggested, according to the report.

Meanwhile Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has said he is feeling better after contracting Covid-19 and expects to leave the hospital on Wednesday.

Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:

Deaths from Covid-19 in the US have soared to more than 2,200 a day on average, matching the frightening peak reached last April.Cases per day have eclipsed 200,000 on average for the first time on record.
Germany moving towards stricter measures. Germany inched towards stricter measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as an eastern region said it would close schools and most businesses and the health minister warned a partial lockdown had not stopped the disease.
Dutch coronavirus cases rise for first week since October. The number of new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has resumed rising after falling for weeks, the country’s health authority has said. There were 43,103 new cases registered in the week ended 8 December, the National Institute for Health said in its weekly update, up from 33,949 in the week ended 1 December.
Hong Kong to impose fresh virus restrictions. Hong Kong is set to impose new virus restrictions to battle a fourth wave of coronavirus – evening dining at restaurants will be banned, fitness centres closed and people urged to work at home as the government tries to reduce the number of people on the streets.
A 90-year-old Briton became the first person in world to receive Pfizer Covid-19 jab. UK grandmother Margaret Keenan, 90, has become the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 jab following its clinical approval as the NHS launched its biggest ever vaccine campaign.

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