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The World This Morning: December 23, 2020

20 PASSENGERS FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AT AIRPORTS IN DELHI, CHENNAI AND KOLKATA, THE STATE GOVERNMENTS HAVE INITIATED VIGOROUS CONTRACT TRACKING OF PASSENGERS.

The health department on priority is tracking the health of 1,088 passengers who came from England in the last seven days who are likely to be tested in the next stage. The swab samples of the Covid-19 positive passengers have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for genomic testing to ascertain if it's the new strain of the virus. The test reports would come in a few days.

IN AN EMBARRASSING SLIP IN MADHYA PRADESH, INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS ELECTED A BJP LEADER AS A YOUTH WING GENERAL SECRETARY THOUGH HE HAD LEFT THE PARTY LONG BACK

The Youth Congress's organisational elections had ended on friday. Harshit Singhai, a BJP leader was elected by 12 votes. He was stunned when he started receiving congratulatory messages for his new post in Jabalpur as he had quit the Congress in March 2020. The leader's election has now been cancelled but the blunder is widely being used to criticise the Congress party for staying disconnected with ground realities.

EUROPEAN UNION AMBASSADORS ARE MEETING TO TRY TO FIND A COMMON POLICY ON LINKS TO THE UK, AFTER DOZENS OF COUNTRIES SUSPENDED TRAVEL AMID ALARM OVER A NEW CORONAVIRUS VARIANT.

They will consider a recommendation from the European Commission to lift restrictions. But EU member states are free to set their own rules on border controls and may continue with their own policies. France and the UK are trying to reach a deal to end disruption in the Channel. The new variant appears to be more transmissible, but there is no sign it is more deadly.

BORIS JOHNSON HAS RULED OUT EXTENDING THE DEADLINE FOR REACHING A POST-BREXIT TRADE DEAL INTO 2021, AMID A DEADLOCK IN TALKS AND A GROWING COVID CRISIS.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and London mayor Sadiq Khan want the UK to follow EU trading rules beyond 31st December to allow more time for an agreement. But the prime minister said his stance was "unchanged" and the UK would "cope with any difficulties" encountered. UK-EU talks continue, with nine days left to reach and ratify any agreement.

US CONGRESS HAS PASSED THE LONG-AWAITED DEAL FOR COVID-19 AID

After months of political wrangling, the United States Congress has passed a long-awaited $900bn package of coronavirus pandemic aid. The aid incorporates direct payment for many Americans and support for unemployment programmes and businesses. On Monday, Senators approved the bills, hours after it was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill was passed by a vote of 359 to 53 in the House and by 92-6 in the Senate. Since the law comprises 5,600 pages approximately, it is described as "the longest bill in memory and probably ever" by the critics. Former President Donald Trump is expected to sign the package into law. The recently elected President Joe Biden welcomed the relief package and ordered Congress to get to work and support the Covid-19 relief plan.

KARIMA BALOCH: PAKISTANI RIGHTS ACTIVIST WAS FOUND DEAD IN TORONTO

She was reported missing in the city's waterfront area by the local police on Sunday. On the very next day, her dead body was found in the city of Toronto, Canada. Baloch was a former chairperson of the Baloch Students Organization-Azad. She was the second prominent Baloch campaigner to be found dead in a foreign country this year. Baloch's sudden disappearance and death have raised serious concern. Reports reveal that her husband and brother were the two gentlemen who recognised her body. Officials said investigations are on-going.

MAYOR OF RIO DE JANEIRO MARCELO CRIVELLI HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN A BRIBERY SCANDAL.

The Brazilian Attorney General's Office initiated the investigations. Along with Crivella, three other arrests were also made. These include businessman Rafael Alves, former treasurer Mauro Macedo, and former councillor Fernando Moraes. Crivella denies the allegations and has claimed his administration has taken a tougher stance on corruption than any other in the history of the iconic Brazilian city.

PFIZER'S COVID-19 VACCINE IS ALL SET TO ARRIVE IN MEXICO TODAY

According to Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, their first shipment of Pfizer's long-awaited coronavirus vaccine will reach and the vaccine roll out will begin immediately. Mexico will receive 14,17,659 doses of the vaccine, between now and the end of January, bringing a ray of hope to a nation struggling to keep its head above water in the pandemic. Mexico currently has an active COVID-19 caseload of 2,24,000.

INDONESIA'S PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO REPLACES SIX MINISTERS IN A CABINET RESHUFFLE

The swearing-in of the new ministers will be held today. There are a total of 34 Cabinet ministers, excluding Mr Joko and Vice-President Ma'ruf Amin. On Tuesday, President Joko said the reshuffle is aimed at recovery from the recession of Indonesia from the covid-`19 pandemic. Jokowi wrote on his Facebook handle "What's past is past, to live as memories and lessons. We look to tomorrow with determination, enthusiasm, and new hope. Hopefully, these six new ministers will bring new enthusiasm and new hope, for us, for the people, and for the nation."

MALAYSIA WILL START ITS COVID-19 VACCINATIONS IN FEBRUARY, 2021. THE COUNTRY EXPECTS TO BUY ENOUGH SUPPLIES TO COVER MORE THAN 80 PER CENT OF ITS POPULATION

Reports reveal that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be the first to receive the shot before front-liners. On Tuesday the prime minister said, "To convince the people that the vaccine obtained is safe and effective, I will be among the first individuals to receive the Covid-19 vaccination". The government has signed an agreement with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Covax is an alliance of countries pooling their resources to ensure the equitable global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.


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