European Union officials are discussing a joint response to a new infectious COVID-19 variant found in the United Kingdom.
The new variant has been confirmed to be up to 70% more transmissible, but no evidence of being more deadly.
This new variant has caused more than 40 countries to block flights from the UK.
Canada and India also joined European states in blocking flights from the UK, while European train services via the channel tunnel have been stopped.
Sweden banned foreign travelers from Denmark after cases of the variant were discovered there.
W.H.O. Emergencies chief, Mike Ryan says the new strain is not out of control.
France shut its border with the UK for 48 hours, stopping trucks and ferries from leaving the port of dover.
Countries that have banned UK arrivals include Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia, and Switzerland. The U.S. is still holding out.
Dog Spent Days Outside Turkish Hospital Waiting For Sick Owner
A devoted dog has spent days waiting outside a hospital in northern Turkey where her sick owner was receiving treatment.
The pet, Boncuk (Bon-DJUK), which means bead, followed the ambulance that transported her owner, Cemal Senturk, to hospital in the Black Sea city of Trabzon on Jan. 14. She then made daily visits to the facility, private news agency DHA reported on Wednesday.
Senturk’s daughter, Aynur Egeli, said she would take Boncuk home but the dog would repeatedly run off and return to the hospital.
Hospital security guard Muhammet Akdeniz told DHA: “She comes every day around 9 a.m. and waits until nightfall. She doesn’t go in.”
“When the door opens she pokes her head inside,” he said.
On Wednesday, Boncuk was finally reunited with Senturk when he was pushed outside in a wheelchair for a brief meeting with his dog.
“She’s very used to me. And I miss her, too, constantly,” he told DHA.
Senturk was discharged from the hospital later on Wednesday and returned home with Boncuk. (AP)
Hungary approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine
Hungary has become the first country in the European Union to give preliminary approval to the Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff confirmed both the Russian jab and the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine have been approved.
Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto has been scheduled to travel to Moscow for further talks, where he is expected to discuss a shipment and distribution plans.
Hungarian health officials are also in Beijing for discussions on the approval and immediate delivery of one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, already being used in Serbia.
Sinopharm is a Chinese company that announced last month phase three trials of its jab showed 79% effectiveness.
At least 140,000 Hungarians have already been vaccinated with it.
UK Stands Firm In Row Over EU Envoy’s Diplomatic Status
The United Kingdom and the European Union are at logger-heads over the status of the bloc’s ambassador in London.
The UK is refusing to give Joao Vale De Almeida full diplomatic status granted to other ambassadors.
The foreign office is insisting he and his officials should not have the privileges and immunities afforded to diplomats under the Vienna convention.
This means the ambassador would not have the chance to present his credentials to the queen like other diplomatic heads of mission.
The issue is expected to be discussed by EU foreign ministers next Monday when they meet for the first time since the post-Brexit transition period ended last December.
The foreign, commonwealth and development office wants to treat the EU delegation only as representatives of an international organization.
This means EU diplomats would not have the full protection of the Vienna convention, giving them immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation.
The EU argues it is not a typical international organization because it has its own currency, judicial system and the power to make law.
Former conservative minister for Europe, David Lidington, warned that “non-recognition could set a bad precedent for regimes that hate EU ambassadors speaking up for human rights defenders.”