Coronavirus latest: US breaks record for new cases as vaccinations fall short

Defaults by US oil and gas producers are set to outstrip all other sectors again in 2021 as an industry battered by this year’s price crash faces yet more pain, according to a forecast from the Fitch rating agency. The US oil industry was thrown into turmoil in 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic crippled global demand.

Regional governments in China are evading borrowing limits by transferring assets on to the books of local investment companies to lower debt-to-asset ratios. The practice allows local government finance vehicles to raise more money for infrastructure and other projects to boost the economy in the wake of the pandemic.

New Zealand officials on Sunday confirmed that six positive Covid-19 cases have been found to match the recently identified B.1.1.7 variant. Five travelled from the UK and one from South Africa, arriving in New Zealand from December 13-25. All were detected through routine testing and transferred to quarantine.

Iran and Russia are seeking to cooperate on producing the Sputnik V vaccine, Russian media reported at the weekend. Iran’s ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, told Sunday’s Izvestia newspaper that Russian president Vladimir Putin had discussed collaboration with his Tehran counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

US electric carmaker Tesla said at the weekend that it had delivered 180,570 vehicles during the fourth quarter of 2020, ahead of the 174,000 analysts had expected, and suggesting it was firing on all cylinders at the end of a year in which the global automobile industry suffered a sharp contraction in sales due to the pandemic.

Singapore Airlines announced that from Monday it would refuse to board people with a travel history that included South Africa within the previous 14 days, with the exception of Singapore citizens and permanent residents. They would not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore because of concerns over the B.1.1.7 variant.

A Ukraine-based drugmaker has sought to license Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, state media reported at the weekend. The Biolek pharmaceutical company, based in Kharkiv, would manufacture the Covid-19 vaccine, Tass reported. Ukraine has so far recorded 1,069,517 coronavirus cases and 18,731 deaths, according to official data.

European airlines are stepping up pressure on airports to slash landing charges, leading to warnings of a race to the bottom in an industry decimated by the pandemic. Ryanair, Wizz Air and easyJet are among carriers pushing for discounted fees as they decide where to fly when passengers return in significant numbers.

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