December 28 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, December 29, 2020
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6:47 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

London Ambulance Service is receiving as many emergency calls as it did in pandemic's first wave

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Ambulances are seen parked outside the Royal London Hospital in London, England, on December 27.
Ambulances are seen parked outside the Royal London Hospital in London, England, on December 27. Hollie Adams/Getty Images

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) says it has received as many emergency calls in recent weeks as it did during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

It says it has had to rely on the support of extra staff members and volunteers to ease pressure on the service.

An LAS spokesman said demand for the service has risen "sharply" in recent weeks, with up to 8,000 calls a day to the 999 emergency number, compared to 5,500 on a typical busy day.

UK variant: The United Kingdom has identified a new, more contagious coronavirus variant, linked to a recent surge in cases in England. Dozens of countries have banned travel from the UK in an attempt to contain it.

More than 2.29 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the United Kingdom since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and more than 70,000 people have died.

"Our colleagues in emergency departments are also under pressure receiving our patients as quickly as they can. We are working urgently with NHS partners to reduce any delays," the LAS spokesman added.

According to data from the service, the LAS took 7,918 calls on December 26 this year, in comparison to 5,217 the year before.

"One of our busiest ever days -- 16 March 2020 -- as the first wave of the pandemic peaked, was only marginally busier," an LAS spokesperson told CNN Monday.

4:37 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Police shut down illegal bar and gathering of more than 200 people at warehouse party

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian in Atlanta

Authorities shut down an illegal bar and broke up a warehouse party in Newark, New Jersey where more than 200 people were gathered in the middle of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Newark Department of Public Safety maintain that patrons of the event were eating, drinking alcohol and participating in illegal gambling at a warehouse located at 6 Libella Court early Sunday morning.

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose announced the arrest of two women working behind the illegal bar for being unable to produce the appropriate paperwork proving they held a license to sell alcohol, according to a statement released on Sunday.

Denisse Tinizaray, 26, and Katherine Tinizaray, 28, both of Newark, were arrested on Sunday and each face charges of maintaining an illegal alcohol establishment, illegal possession of alcohol and illegal sale of alcohol.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced new restrictions earlier this month limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than 25 individuals, down from the previous 150-person limit. In August, Murphy announced a reduction to indoor gatherings limiting establishments to 25% capacity with a maximum number of 25 people, due to the “upward climb” in the Covid-19 transmission rate.

4:06 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Germany tops 30,000 coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen

An employee wearing PPE takes a swab to test for Covid-19 on a patient at a coronavirus test center, in Berlin, on December 23.
An employee wearing PPE takes a swab to test for Covid-19 on a patient at a coronavirus test center, in Berlin, on December 23. Stefanie Loos/AFP/Getty Images

More than 30,000 people in Germany have died from symptoms related to the novel coronavirus, according to official data released Monday.

The daily tally from Germany‘s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute, showed an additional 348 deaths in a span of 24 hours, bringing the total to 30,126. 

The country also recorded 10,976 new infections in the same timeframe.

Germany currently has hard lockdown measures in place in an effort to reign in a surge of new coronavirus infections. Like other European Union nations, the country began administering the recently approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Sunday.

3:49 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Oman to lift travel ban imposed because of new Covid-19 variant

From CNN's Sharif Paget

Oman will reopen its borders on Tuesday after closing them for a week amid concerns over the new, more contagious variant of coronavirus first detected by the United Kingdom, state media reported Sunday.

The Supreme Committee, which oversees the highest decision making in Oman, released a statement on Sunday announcing that borders will reopen at midnight and travelers entering the country will be required to quarantine for seven days.

Every traveler must have a negative PCR test before boarding for travel and expect to be tested again on arrival, the statement said. 

Passengers entering the sultanate are also required to register on Oman's Covid-19 tracking app and wear a tracking bracelet during the duration of their quarantine.  

Vaccine drive: The decision to lift the travel ban comes on the same day Oman launched its vaccination campaign. 

Health Minister Dr. Ahmed Mohammed al-Saidi was the first person to be inoculated against Covid-19, state media reported. 

The first batch of vaccines delivered on Thursday contained 15,600 doses and 28,000 are expected to arrive in early January, the health minister said, according to state media. 

3:20 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

South Korea detects Covid-19 variant from UK travelers

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korea announced that it has detected the new, more contagious Covid-19 variant -- first identified in England -- in three visitors traveling from London, the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Monday.

The three visitors were from the same family who arrived from London on December 22, the agency said. They tested positive for Covid-19 when entering South Korea and have since been placed under quarantine.

South Korea on Monday extended a ban on flights from the UK until January 7.

New cases: On Sunday, South Korea reported 808 new Covid-19 cases, of which 787 were locally transmitted, the agency added. 

This brings the total number of infections across the country to 57,680, while the death toll currently stands at 819. 

2:55 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Chinese city finishes mass testing of 6.4 million people amid Covid-19 cluster

From CNN's Beijing bureau

A resident of Ganjingzi District is tested for Covid-19 in Dalian, China on December 23.
A resident of Ganjingzi District is tested for Covid-19 in Dalian, China on December 23. Sipa USA

China's Dalian city announced it has finished a mass testing of 6.38 million residents amid a cluster of Covid-19 cases, local health authorities said on Sunday.

Since December 15, Dalian has reported 33 symptomatic cases, while another 27 asymptomatic patients have been placed under medical observation, the Dalian Municipal Health Commission said. 

The mass testing commenced on December 22, according to state-run People's Daily newspaper.

Beijing testing: Meanwhile, as of 3 p.m. Sunday, Beijing had collected 838,270 samples in another round of mass testing in the city's northeastern Shunyi district, Beijing's Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The mass testing began on Friday after the city reported two locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, it added.

Close to 390,000 test results have returned, and five people who are identified as close contacts of the initial two cases have returned positive results for the virus. 

2:33 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

US reports more than 150,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian in Atlanta

The United States reported 150,092 new coronavirus infections and 1,209 virus-related deaths on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The nationwide totals now stand at 19,134,976 cases and 333,125 fatalities.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases. 

At least 9,547,925 vaccine doses have been distributed and at least 1,944,585 doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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2:15 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks will go ahead but waterfront viewing is banned

From CNN's Eric Cheung

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House during the fireworks show on January 1.
New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House during the fireworks show on January 1. Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Sydney’s iconic New Year’s Eve firework display is set to go ahead as planned Friday night, but people will not be allowed to gather along the harbor unless they are in hospitality venues, according to a news release issued by the NSW government on Monday.

The leader of the Australian state of New South Wales apologized for the restrictions during a news conference on Monday but said they were necessary to prevent a super spreading event. 

“On New Year’s Eve, we don’t want any crowds on the foreshores around Sydney whatsoever,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. 

New South Wales has been fighting the spread of a cluster of cases centered around a district in northern Sydney. 

NSW reported five new local cases in the 24 hours leading up to 8 p.m. on Sunday, of which four were linked to the outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area.

1:40 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Japan reports nearly 3,000 new Covid-19 cases

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

A nurse collects a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 testing center at Fujimino Emergency Hospital in Miyoshi-machi, Japan, on December 18.
A nurse collects a nasal swab sample at a Covid-19 testing center at Fujimino Emergency Hospital in Miyoshi-machi, Japan, on December 18. Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan recorded 2,950 new Covid-19 cases and 39 virus-related deaths on Sunday, the Ministry of Health said in a statement released Monday.

This is a drop from Friday, when Japan reported the highest single-day infection number at 3,823.

The total number of confirmed cases nationwide now stands at 220,948, while the death toll has reached 3,265, according to the ministry.

A total of 659 patients, or five more compared with Saturday, are currently in serious condition, the ministry added.

UK variant: Starting Monday, Japan has banned foreign nationals from entering the country through the end of January after several cases of the Covid-19 variant were recorded in the country, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

The United Kingdom announced last week that it had detected a new, more contagious coronavirus variant, which has since been detected in more than a dozen countries.