Covid hotspots the European Union will be labelled “dark red” zones, and travellers from those areas will be required to take a test before departure and undergo quarantine, the chief of the bloc’s executive said on Thursday. “A dark red zone would show that in this zone, the virus is circulating at a very high level,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders. “Persons travelling from dark red areas could be required to do a test before departure, as well as to undergo quarantine after arrival.” This system would apply to travel within the EU, she said. Von der Leyen said that with infections rising and contagious variants of the virus spreading fast, non-essential travel should be “strongly discouraged” within the EU but essential workers and goods must be able to cross borders smoothly.

French President Emmanuel Macron told his European Union counterparts France would make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers into France from Sunday, including from fellow EU countries, his office said on Thursday. Cross-border workers and land transportation will be exempt from that obligation, the French presidency added. The test will have to be carried out no later than 72 hours before departure, it said after a video summit of EU leaders.

South Africa will buy doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine at a price 2.5 times higher than most European countries, the health ministry said Thursday.

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.


Biden warns Covid will ‘get worse before it gets better’ as he unveils strategy. Joe Biden began his first full day as president confronting a host of major crises facing his fledgling administration, starting with a flurry of actions to address his most pressing challenge: the raging Covid-19 pandemic. At a White House event on Thursday afternoon, Biden unveiled a new “wartime” strategy to combat the coronavirus, vowing “help is on the way.”

Biden warns Covid will ‘get worse before it gets better’ as he unveils strategy.

PM Johnson raises fears of lockdown in England continuing into summertime.

France to recommend wearing of surgical masks in public.

No way to hold Rio carnival in July, the city’s mayor says.

Hungary breaks ranks with EU to license Russian vaccine.

Portugal bans all UK flights to tackle rapid spread of new Covid-19 variant.

Austrian mayors who got leftover Covid vaccines accused of ‘queue-jumping’.

Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries to some EU countries in half.

Spanish tennis player Paula Badosa tests positive to Covid-19 at Australian Open.


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