- More than 1,500 lorries are stranded in Kent waiting for the UK-French border to open
- Talks to reopen the crossing are ongoing, after France shut the border amid fears of a new Covid variant in the UK
- Measures agreed by PM Boris Johnson and President Emmanuel Macron will be announced later and come into effect from Wednesday
- Retailers warn unless the border is opened soon there may be disruption to supplies of fresh produce by the end of the week
- EU member states are meeting in Brussels to discuss a joint response, including pooling expertise about the risks posed by the new variant
- Growing international alarm over the new Covid variant has seen more than 40 countries ban UK arrivals so far
- Government borrowing hit £31.6bn last month, the highest November figure on record, as spending to mitigate the pandemic continues
- US Congress has passed a long-awaited $900bn (£660bn) package of coronavirus pandemic aid after months of political wrangling
- Sydney has recorded its fewest number of new cases in several days, raising hopes the Australian city may contain a recent outbreak
- A Chinese scientist at the centre of claims coronavirus leaked from her lab in Wuhan says she is open to "any kind of visit" to rule it out
Welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and around the world.
Here's a quick round-up of the main UK and world headlines this Tuesday morning:
- Lorry drivers in Kent have spent a second night sleeping in their vehicles waiting for the border with France to reopen - as politicians thrash out a plan to restart trade and travel. Measures agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron will be announced later and come into effect from Wednesday
- There is growing international alarm over a new variant of the coronavirus in the UK, more than 40 countries so far blocking flights or travel links with the UK, as the EU continues talks on forming a common policy
- Government borrowing soared in November as the UK continued to support the economy during the pandemic. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said borrowing hit £31.6bn last month, the highest November figure on record . It was also the third-highest borrowing in any month since monthly records began in 1993
- A Chinese scientist at the centre of unsubstantiated claims that the coronavirus leaked from her laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan has told the BBC she is open to "any kind of visit" to rule it out. The surprise statement from Prof Shi Zhengli comes as a World Health Organization (WHO) team prepares to travel to Wuhan next month to begin its investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
- US President-elect Joe Biden has received his first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on live TV, saying he was getting the jab to show Americans it is "safe to take"
- The US Congress has passed a long-awaited $900bn (£660bn) package of coronavirus pandemic aid after months of political wrangling. Senators approved the bill late on Monday, hours after it was passed by the House of Representatives
More than 1500 lorries waiting in Kent for French border to reopenIt appears there are many more vehicles stranded in Kent than the government estimated yesterday.
The home secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there were more than1500 lorries waiting for the French border to reopen, after drivers spent a second night sleeping in their vehicles. She said there were "currently 650 lorries on the M20 and 873 lorries" at Manston Airport.
'Deadline of tomorrow' - retail chiefToday Programme - BBC Radio 4
Food retailers have given a deadline of tomorrow for the borders to reopen if we are going to avoid disruption.
"The problem actually is empty lorries," said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium.
"Empty lorries which are now stuck in Kent need to get back to places like Spain to pick up the next consignment of raspberries and strawberries and they need to get back within the next day or so, otherwise we will see disruption."
Mr Opie said as long as the jams were cleared on Tuesday then there would be minimal impact for consumers, due to shops closing on Christmas Day.
Here are the key global developments from the last few hours:The Guardian
- UK freight plans to be released later today. Freight measures agreed by Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron will be announced later on Tuesday, the BBC reports, and will come into effect from Wednesday, according to French Europe Minister Clément Beaune. EU member states will also be meeting again to discuss a co-ordinated response.
- After months of Washington gridlock, Congress has passed a $900bn pandemic relief package , finally delivering long-sought cash to businesses and individuals as well as resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths. President Donald Trump is soon expected to sign the package into law.
- Antarctica, once the only continent not to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, has reportedly recorded its first confirmed cases. The 36 new infections are among people stationed at a Chilean research base and include 26 members of the Chilean army and 10 maintenance workers.
- Taiwan’s government on Tuesday reported its first locally transmitted case of Covid-19 since 12 April . The individual who tested positive for Covid-19 was a friend of a person who had already been confirmed to have been infected with the virus, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told a news conference.
- The US government is considering requiring that all passengers traveling from the United Kingdom receive a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure as a condition of entry, airline and US officials briefed on the matter said Monday.
- Virgin Atlantic to require negative Covid test. Starting on 24 December, the airline Virgin Atlantic will require proof of a negative coronavirus test for all passengers travelling from London to the US, the company announced.
- The Vatican has urged Catholics to get vaccinated against coronavirus and said it it “morally acceptable” to take vaccines that use cell lines from aborted foetuses. Cells derived from foetuses aborted decades ago have been used by some researchers working on vaccines against Covid-19.
- Ontario on Monday announced a province-wide shutdown because of a second wave of Covid-19 in Canada’s most populous province. The lockdown will be put in place for southern Ontario from 26 December until 23 January, but will lift for northern Ontario on 9 January. Ontario has had seven straight days of more than 2,000 cases a day.
- Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated on Tuesday that there was no need for the country to enter a national state of emergency, even as health groups declared their own state of emergency for the medical system as coronavirus infection rates continue to rise.
- South Korea on Tuesday moved to shut down all ski resorts and winter tourist spots in a bid to stop the novel coronavirus spreading as a third wave of the pandemic proves much tougher to contain in the densely populated region of the capital city.
- Australian state of New South Wales reports 8 new cases. In the Australian state of New South Wales, where residents are on edge as they await health restrictions – or the easing thereof – amid a new outbreak happening just before Christmas, eight new cases today, down from 15 yesterday.
- Denmark on Monday agreed on a temporary ban on mink breeding. The move by lawmakers retroactively creates the legal basis for its order to cull all mink in the country in November.
Covid cases recorded in Antarctica for first time – reportsOnce the only continent not to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic , Antarctica has reportedly recorded its first cases. The 36 new infections are among people stationed at a Chilean research base and include 26 members of the Chilean army and 10 maintenance workers.
Spanish-language media reported the outbreak at the General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme research base on Monday.
In a statement, the Chilean army said: “Thanks to the timely preventive action … it was possible to relieve said personnel, who, after being subjected to a medical control and the administration of a PCR test … turned out to be positive for Covid-19,” according to Newsweek . It reported that three crew members on a ship providing support to the base have also tested positive since returning from their mission to Antarctica.
The 36 individuals who tested positive have since been evacuated to the city of Punta Arenas in Chile, where they are reported to be under isolation and in good condition.