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New Year Celebrations In Toronto Dampened Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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The annual new year celebrations in Toronto, Canada, were heavily dampened by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic as the entire province of Ontario went into lockdown on boxing day to curb the fast spread of the virus.

Under the lockdown, only essential businesses are allowed to remain open, with no indoor public events or social gatherings allowed, except with members of the same household. These restrictions meant the cancellation of the traditional fireworks display on new year’s eve at the Nathan Phillip square in the heart of the city.

Canada is still struggling to contain the spread of the virus with the country reporting its highest daily increase of eighty-four hundred cases, exceeding eight thousand for the first time on new year’s eve.  It has now registered nearly six hundred thousand infections, including at least six cases of new coronavirus variant.

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America Prepares For Presidential Inauguration Amid Fears Of Insider Attacks

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The United States is preparing for an unprecedented presidential inauguration on Wednesday.  Prompted by the Capitol insurrection twelve days ago, more than twenty-five thousand national guards troops have been brought into Washington, DC to provide security for the event.

US defense officials have also expressed fear of an insider attack or other threats from security troops assigned to provide protection during the inauguration.

Small protests also took place at heavily fortified state houses around the country.  There were widespread fears of violence against state capitols across the country like the siege on the U.S. Capitol. There has been no report of violence.

Some have described the scenes of national guard troops taking over the streets around the US Capitol, as looking like the war zones of Afghanistan or the Middle East.

Amid this background, Joe Biden will deliver his inaugural address of national unity when he is sworn in on Wednesday.  He plans to immediately jump into action after swearing-in.  He plans immediate moves to combat the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than four hundred thousand American lives.  He also promised to issue many executive orders to undo some of Donald Trump’s most controversial policies.

He says his first order of business would be an executive order signing America back into the Paris Climate Accord.  He will also revoke Trump’s immigration ban on some majority-Muslim countries.

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Health News

23 Norwegians Dead After Taking COVID-19 Vaccine

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The New York Post has quoted Norwegian health officials as saying twenty-three persons have died within days of receiving the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.  Thirteen of the deaths are said to be related to side effects of the shots.  All thirteen were nursing home patients who were at least eighty years old.

The newspaper quoted the chief physician at the Norwegian medicines agency, Sigurd Hortemo, as saying in a statement on Friday, common reactions to the vaccine, including fever and nausea, may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients.

This has forced officials to adjust their guidance on who should receive the vaccine, but they are not expressing serious concern.

The country has inoculated more than thirty-thousand citizens with the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine since last month.

Norwegian medicines agency medical director, Steinar Madsen, says the agency is not alarmed. He says the vaccines have very little risk.

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Germany Reports Highest Single Day COVID Deaths

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Germany has a huge spike in its COVID-19 death toll.  The country last week reported more than twelve hundred coronavirus deaths in one day.

The Robert Koch Institute reports twelve hundred forty-four deaths on Wednesday, the largest one-day death toll from the virus.  The country has now seen nearly forty-four thousand covid-19 related deaths.  The country’s covid-19 case have now surpassed one million.

Head of the Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler says number of deaths in the country is “very worrying” because hospital “intensive care units have never been as exhausted as they have been in the last few days.

Wieler says fifty-two hundred persons are in German I.C.U.’s, and ninety percent of them are on ventilators.

Germany has seen a dramatic uptick in cases since early December, and officials are contemplating further restrictions to curb the spread.

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