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Sunday, 20 December 2020

Wear your [redacted] mask

No big new year’s party for you as covid bites. Hotels, restaurants, and other large venues are under strict instructions from the Tourism Ministry not to allow large gatherings around the new year, El Watan reports. Restaurants and hotels that don’t play ball could face unspecified fines and penalties. The government has repeatedly urged citizens to observe social distancing precautions and warned that we could re-enter a partial lockdown if we don’t start taking covid seriously as this second wave gains force.

Egypt’s churches will not open Christmas Mass to the public, deciding instead to have limited prayer services with top members of the clergy, and will extend an invitation to Ittihadiya to attend, head of the Evangelical Church Association Andre Zaki told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi. The Evangelical Church has also decided to suspend all prayer services, funerals, and other activities in its churches until mid-January (watch, runtime: 4:38).

The new restrictions on celebrations come as daily covid-19 cases have been steadily rising since the end of October, leading cabinet to warn last week that it could tighten measures around end-of-year celebrations to curb the spread of the virus.

The Health Ministry reported 611 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 579 the day before — the highest level since late July. The ministry also reported 28 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,069. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 124,891 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Among those to test positive: The governor of Alexandria, who is reportedly feeling okay and working from home.

In the UK, covid has canceled Christmas: The UK scrapped plans to allow mixing between households over the holiday period in London and parts of Southeast England after a rapid surge in covid-19 cases and the discovery of a new, more infectious strain of the virus dubbed VUI2020/12/01. London cases doubled over the past week, with the new virus strain responsible for 60% of infections.

VACCINE WATCH- We’re getting additional shipments of China’s Sinopharm vaccine this week, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a statement following a visit to the UAE over the weekend. Clinical trials in the UAE showed that state-owned Sinopharm’s vaccine is 86% effective against covid-19 and Egypt has plans to begin the rollout of our 500k doses of the jab in January, starting with medical professionals and high-risk citizens.

China is planning to vaccinate 50 mn people with vaccines produced by Sinopharm and Sinovac before the Lunar New Year holiday season on 11-17 February, and will offer the two jabs to the general public in April, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Despite some concerns over transparency and peer review results of China’s vaccines, developing countries are pushing ahead with purchases of its jabs along with Russian-developed Sputnik V, the Washington Post says. This push comes as supplies of other vaccines remain insufficient, meaning the Chinese and Russian vaccines are the “immediate options,” but medical experts maintain that they should not be dismissed as ineffectual.

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