More than 76.39 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,688,420 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
This is what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Australia’s New South Wales state says cases at 3-day low
Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), on Monday reported its lowest one-day rise in new COVID-19 cases in three days, stoking cautious optimism that authorities have contained an outbreak in Sydney’s northern beachside suburbs.
The government would provide an update by Wednesday on “what Christmas and the next few days look like” in terms of further containment measures beyond those already imposed on the affected suburbs, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian added.
NSW imposed a lockdown on Friday in Sydney’s northern beaches area, home to more than 250,000 people, after the cluster of cases emerged, centred on two dining and entertainment venues in the seaside suburb of Avalon. Authorities have urged anyone who attended the venues to immediately get tested and self-isolate, while dozens of domestic flights due to leave Sydney were cancelled on Monday.
U.S. Congress reaches deal on COVID-19 aid package
U.S. congressional leaders reached agreement on Sunday on a $900 billion package to provide the first new aid in months to an economy and individuals battered by the surging coronavirus pandemic, with votes likely on Monday.
The package would be the second-largest economic stimulus in U.S. history, following a $2.3 trillion aid bill passed in March. It comes as the pandemic accelerates, infecting more than 214,000 people in the country each day. More than 317,000 Americans have already died.
The package would give $600 direct payments to individuals and boost unemployment payments by $300 a week. It also includes billions for small businesses, food assistance, vaccine distribution, transit and healthcare. It extends a moratorium on foreclosures and provides $25 billion in rental aid.
Highest daily death toll in South Korea
South Korea recorded its highest daily death toll from the coronavirus with 24 additional deaths as of midnight Sunday, health authorities said on Monday, as a surge in infections strains the health system and prompted police raids on venues suspected of violating social distancing rules.
Seoul city is considering going further than the national rules to ban gatherings of more than five people, starting the day before the Christmas holiday, Yonhap news agency reported.
On Friday, Seoul police and health investigators staged late-night crackdowns on 60 businesses including bars and karaoke clubs suspected of flouting current rules, the city said in a statement on Monday. Thirty-five people, including business owners and customers, were criminally charged, the statement said.