- Travellers from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde are barred from entering UK, amid fears over a new virus variant
- Scientists say its mutations seem to be associated with a rapid increase in cases
- Minister Grant Shapps says he does not think the Brazilian variant is in the UK "as far as we are aware"
- The health system in the Brazilian city of Manaus is said to be collapsing amid soaring infections linked to the new variant
- The UK economy shrank by 2.6% in November as lockdown restrictions reduced economic activity, official figures show
- US President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package to tackle the pandemic and revive the economy
- Around the world, more the 93 million Covid cases have been confirmed and nearly 2 million deaths
What's happening around the world?Thanks for joining us today. Here is an update of the latest developments from around the world.
- President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) stimulus plan for the United States as the pandemic saps the economy
- If passed by Congress, it would include $1tn for households, with direct payments of $1,400 to all Americans. The relief proposal includes $415bn to fight the virus and $440bn for small businesses
- Hospitals in the city of Manaus, in Brazil, have reached breaking point while treating Covid-19 patients, amid reports of severe oxygen shortages and desperate staff. Health professionals warned "many people" could die due to lack of supplies and assistance
- Experts warn a new variant of coronavirus, first detected in Manaus, could be driving a rapid rise in infections there
- France has announced a new national curfew starting at 18:00 (17:00 GMT) on Saturday
- Portugal has announced new lockdown measures. Remote working will be compulsory and non-essential shops and services must close, but schools will remain open
- A man has been executed in the United States after the Supreme Court rejected a ruling that he should be allowed to fully recover from Covid-19. Corey Johnson, who was executed by lethal injection in Indiana, tested positive for the virus last month
- Israel has now inoculated 2 million people against coronavirus
- People from the Cook Islands can start quarantine-free travel to New Zealand next week. The Cook Islands is one of the few countries to remain free of coronavirus
What’s happening in the UK?Good morning and welcome to our live page. Here are the main coronavirus headlines from the UK this morning:
- A UK ban on travellers from South America and Portugal has come into force , amid fears over a new coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil
- The UK economy fell by 2.6% in November after England’s second shutdown forced businesses to close
- Fake news is likely to be causing people from ethnic minorities to reject the Covid vaccine , a doctor leading a NHS anti-disinformation campaign has warned
- Footballer Marcus Rashford and a group of celebrity chefs and campaigners have called on Boris Johnson to review the government's free school meals policy
- Small businesses are waiting to hear a Supreme Court ruling on insurance payouts for those forced to close during the first national lockdown
- An A-level student has started a campaign to scrap any external exam assessments in Wales this year, calling for grades to be decided by teachers
- A large London plumbing firm plans to rewrite all of its workers' contracts to require them to be vaccinated against coronavirus
Latest around Europe
- More than two million Covid cases have now been officially reported in Germany since the start of the pandemic and 1,113 deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours. Chancellor Angela Merkel wants a tougher lockdown, because of the spread of the more infectious UK variant, and has brought forward a Covid summit with Germany’s 16 state leaders to next week. From Monday, Bavaria will require people to wear more effective facemasks with particle filters in shops and buses - and that could be considered nationwide.
- Elswhere, Portugal has gone into lockdown overnight, at least until 30 January. People are being told to stay at home but schools will remain open as well as outlets providing “essential” goods and services. Vets and bakeries, florists and hotels are among businesses being allowed to stay open.
- Hungarian PM Viktor Orban is keen to start using China’s Covid vaccine and hopes to get a quick decision from the national medicine authority approving it in a few days. No other EU country has yet accepted the Chinese vaccine.
- The Austrian ski resort at Kitzbühel is offering Covid tests for the entire district after an outbreak involving a group of 17 ski trainers, many of them British. The cases have prompted two weekends of World Cup skiing to be cancelled and moved to another area.
- Spain has seen a steep rise in infections since Christmas with almost 19,000 people currently in hospital. But vaccinations are speeding up too in the third week of a national campaign. More than 94,000 people were inoculated yesterday, which is almost as many as in the first week alone.
UK's ban on South America travellers comes into forceTravellers from South America are no longer allowed to come into the UK, amid fears over a new coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil.
Like the variants that were first spotted in the UK and South Africa, it is thought the Brazil variant could be more contagious.
The UK's new travel ban applies to people who have travelled from, or through, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in the last 10 days.
It also applies to Portugal - because of its strong links to Brazil - and the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde off the coast of west Africa, as well as Panama in central America.
However, British and Irish citizens and foreign nationals with residence rights are still allowed to return - but must isolate for 10 days.
Read more here
How worrying are the new variants?Michelle Roberts - Health editor, BBC News online
Travellers from South America are no longer allowed to come into the UK, amid fears over a new coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil.
It is just the latest variant to emerge that is more infectious than the original one that started the pandemic.
But how worried should we be?
Experts' concerns currently focus on a small number of new variants of coronavirus:
- A UK variant that has become dominant in much of Britain and has spread to more than 50 other countries
- A South Africa variant that has also been found in at least 20 other countries, including the UK
- A new variant from Brazil
It's not unexpected that new variants have developed - all viruses mutate as they make new copies of themselves to spread and thrive.
All three have undergone changes to their spike protein - this is the part of the virus which attaches to human cells.
As a result, these variants seem to be better at infecting cells and spreading.
The South Africa variant has more potentially important changes in the spike protein than the UK variant.
It has one of the same mutations as the UK one, plus two more that scientists think may interfere more with vaccine effectiveness. One of these may help the virus evade parts of the immune system called antibodies.
The Brazil variant emerged in July and was recently detected in four travellers arriving in Japan from Brazil. It has three key mutations in the spike protein that make it similar to the South Africa one.
Read more here.