President Trump has signed the Covid-19 relief and spending bill after days of delays, preventing a mid-pandemic government shutdown. Trump blindsided members of both parties and upended months of negotiations when he demanded last week that the package – already passed by the House and Senate by large margins and believed to have Trump’s support – be revised to include larger relief checks and scaled-back spending.
Europe launched a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday with pensioners and medics lining up to get the first shots to see off a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide. The region of 450 million people is trying to catch up with the United States and Britain, which have already started vaccinations using the Pfizer shot.
Police investigating a camper van blast that injured three people in Nashville on Christmas Day have named a suspect after DNA was collected at the scene. Officials in the US state of Tennessee said the DNA matched that of Anthony Quinn Warner, 63. Investigators believe that the blast was likely a suicide bombing. The blast outside a telecoms office disrupted communications systems in Tennessee and four other states.
South Africa’s COVID-19 spike has taken the country to more than 1 million confirmed cases on Sunday and President Cyril Ramaphosa called an emergency meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council. The country’s new variant of the coronavirus, 501.V2, is more contagious and has quickly become dominant in many areas of the resurgence, according to experts.
A Chinese citizen journalist who reported on the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan has been jailed for four years. A Chinese court handed the term to Zhang Zhan, 37, on grounds of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, her lawyer said. China has been accused of covering up the initial outbreak and delaying the release of crucial information, allowing the virus to spread.