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Coronavirus live news: Italy overtakes UK for European highest death toll; Germany to close shops as part of tougher restrictions

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10.19pm GMT22:19
Australian state of Victoria records one new Covid case in hotel quarantine

8.43pm GMT20:43
Germany to close shops before Christmas as part of tougher res…

British soldiers in PPE help to administer rapid Covid-19 tests during a pilot for community testing in Liverpool Key events Show

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Jedidajah Otte

That's all from me, I'm now handing over to my colleagues in Australia.

Updatedat 12.10am GMT

Volunteers line up as they wait to enter at a concert venue in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, on 12 December, 2020. Eager for a live music show after months of social distancing, more than 1,000 Barcelona residents gathered Saturday to participate in a medical study to evaluate the effectiveness of same-day coronavirus screening to safely hold cultural events.
pAfter passing an antigen screening, 500 of the volunteers were randomly selected to enjoy a free concert inside Barcelona's Apolo Theater.

Updatedat 11.33pm GMT

Australian state of Victoria records one new Covid case in hotel quarantine

From Australian Associated Press Victoria has recorded one new case of Covid-19 in its revamped hotel quarantine system but no new cases in the community. The case in quarantine, which was acquired overseas, is a boy under the age of five whose parents have also been diagnosed with coronavirus.

Victoria has now reached hit 44 days without local Covid-19 transmission. The hotel quarantine case is the sixth recorded Covid-19 case since the Victorian government resumed its hotel quarantine programme earlier this week. Five of those Covid-19 cases were reported on Saturday, from a total of 6,233 tests.

There were 735 international arrivals in quarantine hotels by 11pm on Friday, according to the state government, including 55 with symptoms or complex health needs at the Novotel "hot hotel" in Melbourne's South Wharf. Those who test positive are obliged to remain in hotel quarantine until they have tested negative and been cleared by officials. The deputy chief health officer, Ben Cowie, told reporters on Saturday that symptomatic and non-symptomatic arrivals are separated almost immediately at the airport, with major precautions in place for those who are symptomatic.

Hotel quarentine workers are seen in full PPE gear as they ask recently arrived international travellers to get off the bus and enter hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, the Victorian government on Saturday pledged that new £200 regional travel vouchers would be made available to residents after the first 40,000 vouchers offered through the scheme ran out.

An extra 30,000 vouchers for the Regional Travel Voucher Scheme will be made available from midday on Monday to 22 January. Business Victoria's website on Friday morning crashed within minutes under the weight of applicants for the voucher programme.

Updatedat 11.58pm GMT

Brazil reported 43,900 additional confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 686 fatalities from Covid-19, its Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The South American country has now registered 6,781,799 cases since the pandemic began, while its official death toll has risen to 179,765, according to ministry data.

Charley Pride, the pioneering black country singer known for hits such "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" and "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," has died at the age of 86 from complications related to Covid-19, his publicist said on Saturday.

Singer Charley Pride performs on stage in the 1970's.

The Rolling Stone magazine writes:

Born in Sledge, Mississippi, in 1934, Pride picked cotton, played baseball in the Negro league, worked in a smelting plant in Montana, and served in the U.S. Army before becoming country music's first black superstar.

He scored 52 Top 10 country hits, including 29 Number Ones, and was the first African-American performer to appear on the Grand Ole Opry stage since Deford Bailey made his debut in the 1920s. Pride became an Opry member in 1993. In 2000, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Updatedat 9.34pm GMT

Markus Soeder, the premier of Bavaria, told Germany's Bild newspaper that the country's new measures would be wide-ranging, including schools, kindergartens, contacts and shops.
"We definitely have to take the necessary measures before mid-week," he said.
Germany was more successful than many European countries in keeping the pandemic under control in the first wave in March and April.

But it has been struggling to turn the tide in the second wave with what has been dubbed a "lockdown lite".
Daily new infections have climbed to 28,438, while the daily death toll was 496, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Saturday.
"We must take steps in the coming days that are very far-reaching and very hard-hitting," the German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, told members of his Social Democratic party at an online event, Reuters reports.

Opponents of lockdown measures have regularly protested in German cities over curbs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a press conference after a video conference with German State Premiers about coronavirus measures, in Berlin, Germany, on 2 December 2020.

On Saturday, police in Frankfurt and Dresden were dressed in riot gear and armed with water cannon to enforce a ban on such demonstrations.
The economy minister, Peter Altmaier, told the RND newspaper group on Saturday that hospital intensive care units were beginning to be stretched to their limits and that Germany could not wait until after Christmas to react.
Merkel has favoured stricter pan-German measures but was unable to get agreement from the nation's 16 states.

But some states have since clamped down on their own. Starting on Saturday, a night curfew will be in force in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, except for people going out to work and for essential reasons.

Updatedat 9.11pm GMT

Germany to close shops before Christmas as part of tougher restrictions

Germany will close shops from the middle of next week in a tightening of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
The decision came ahead of a meeting planned for Sunday between German chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders.

The federal and state governments have largely agreed on a lockdown to contain the corona pandemic, which is expected to be implemented on 16 December at the latest, Business Insider reports. A final decision should be made on Sunday morning. According to the report, the question of whether schools and nurseries will be kept open is controversial.

Germany has been in partial lockdown for six weeks, with bars and restaurants closed, while stores and schools have remained open. Some regions have already imposed tougher measures.

People walk with shopping bags at the Berlin's major shopping street Tauentzienstrasse, in Berlin, Germany, on 12 December 2020.

Updatedat 8.47pm GMT

Italy overtakes UK as European country with highest death toll

Italy on Saturday became the European country with the highest official number of Covid fatalities, as its new total of 64,036 deaths overtook Britain, according to an Agence France-Presse tally. The Italian health ministry said that 649 people had died from the virus in the previous 24 hours and that 19,903 new cases had been diagnosed.

Worldwide, the US has reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths, with 295,539 as of Saturday morning, followed by Brazil, India and Mexico. According to the AFP tally for Europe, Italy overtook Britain, which has reported 64,026 deaths and is followed by France with 57,567 and Spain with 47,624. Italy was the first European country to suffer a wave of infections earlier this year.

The UK's toll overtook that of Italy on 6 May, with close to 30,000 fatalities, and for a while over the summer the southern European nation appeared to have weathered the storm. But despite the introduction of mass testing, cases began rising again in early autumn, as they did in many other nations - and deaths inevitably followed.

Young doctors demonstrate during the Covid-19 pandemic emergency at Castello square in Turin, Italy, on 11 December 2020.

Italy's national medical association said Friday that a total of 251 doctors have now died from the virus. "In this second wave, it is mainly general practitioners who are paying the highest toll," warned Filippo Anelli, head of the FNOMCeO association.

He blamed "greater circulation" of asymptomatic patients, but added that all doctors did not have the necessary protective equipment. "We must put an end to this massacre," he said.

The share of Brazilians unwilling to take any Covid-19 vaccine grew to 22% this week, from 9% in August, and most said they would not accept one made in China, a new poll showed on Saturday, as president Jair Bolsonaro's comments stoked wider scepticism.

The survey by pollster Datafolha found 73% of respondents plan to take a shot and 5% do not know if they will, compared with 89% and 3%, respectively, in August.
Late last month, Bolsonaro said he would not take any coronavirus vaccine that becomes available.
One of the world's most prominent coronavirus sceptics, Bolsonaro said refusal was his "right" and expressed concerns specifically about the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac and produced in conjunction with Sao Paulo state government's Butantan Institute, Reuters reports.

According to Datafolha, only 47% of participants would take a vaccine made in China, while 50% said they would not take it and 3% said they were undecided.
The figures showed a correlation between vaccine rejection and trust in Bolsonaro.
A total of 33% of people who said they always trust Bolsonaro are unwilling to take a shot, against 16% of those who say they would never trust the president.

Demonstrators protest against Sao Paulo's governor Joao Doria and the vaccination with Chinese immunizer against Covid-19 coronavirus, CoronaVac in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 8 December, 2020.
pThe Brazilian state of Sao Paulo will start vaccinating against COVID-19 with Chinese immunizer CoronaVac on 25 January, which is in its last phase of study.

Updatedat 7.41pm GMT

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