Russia has begun its COVID-19 vaccination program. Seventy clinics in Moscow began inoculating people Saturday with the Sputnik-V COVID-19 shot, the city’s coronavirus task force said.The vaccine is being made available to health care workers, social workers and people who work in schools because they run the highest risk of exposure to the coronavirus. People over 60 are excluded from receiving the shot, media reports say.Russia’s vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second injection scheduled for three weeks after the first.Thousands of people have registered to receive the vaccine. It was not immediately clear, however, how much of the vaccine has been produced.Some scientists have questioned the efficacy of the Russian-manufactured vaccine because of its speedy appearance on the market. Russia has 2.4 million COVID infections and more than 42,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. The California city of San Francisco and several Bay Area counties said Friday that they will begin imposing stay-at-home orders this weekend as part of their battle against the coronavirus.California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the state was on the verge of imposing stay-at-home orders on a regional basis once intensive care units in the state’s five regions reached more than 85% capacity.San Francisco and the Bay Area counties, however, are not waiting for the hospital capacity threshold and are instead voluntarily opting into the state’s regional stay-at-home order.”We are in our worst surge yet of COVID-19. It is stressing health care systems across the state of California and taxing our health care workers,” Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health, said Friday. “We need urgent intervention now if we want to be able to care for the sick in mid-to-late December. We do not want your parent, your spouse, your child, your grandparent or any loved one to be in need of help and our hospitals too overwhelmed to properly care for them.”FILE – California Street, usually filled with cable cars, is seen empty in San Francisco, Calif., on March 18, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Starting Sunday night, the order will close all outdoor dining, public outdoor playgrounds, outdoor museums, zoos and aquariums, drive-in theaters, and open-air tour buses and boats. Pet grooming and electronics or shoe repair, considered low-contact retail, will be allowed to operate on a curbside-dropoff basis. All other retail, including grocery stores, will be allowed to operate only at 20% capacity.“We must do whatever is necessary in order to get the virus under control,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “This is about protecting people’s lives.”The head of the World Health Organization said Friday that with a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, nations must start investing and preparing for the next pandemic.“Despite years of warnings, many countries were simply not ready for COVID-19,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a special session of the U.N. General Assembly on the coronavirus. “Many mistakenly assumed their strong health systems would protect them.”He said countries that have dealt with recent coronaviruses, including SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, and MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome, as well as other infectious diseases, have done better in containing COVID-19.“Now all countries must develop that same muscle memory and invest in the measures that will prevent, control and mitigate the next crisis,” Tedros said. “It is also clear the global system for preparedness needs attention.”FILE – A pedestrian walks past a sign advising mask-wearing during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, Nov. 21, 2020.The WHO has come in for criticism from some countries for its handling of the pandemic after China reported the first cases early this year. U.S. President Donald Trump has been one of the most vocal critics, and on May 29 announced the United States would withdraw from the global health organization. President-elect Joe Biden has said he will reverse that decision when he takes office in January.The WHO chief stressed the need for rich and poor countries alike to have equal access to a COVID-19 vaccine, saying sharing science is not charity, but in the best interest of every nation. He also urged nations to radically rethink how they prioritize and view health if they want to avoid another crisis on this scale.“The pandemic has proven that a health crisis is not just a health crisis, it’s a social, economic, political and humanitarian crisis,” he said. “The risks of under investment in health have wide-ranging impacts, and so do the benefits of investing in health.”On Friday, Bahrain became the second country to approve emergency use of the Pfilzer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Britain was the first nation to greenlight the vaccine.The challenge would be keeping the vaccine cold enough. It must be stored at temperatures around minus 70 degrees Celsius. Bahrain routinely registers summer temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius.Bahrain has already inoculated 6,000 people with a Chinese vaccine that uses a dead version of the virus. The Mideast nation has had nearly 88,000 cases of the coronavirus and almost 350 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.Global COVID-19 confirmed cases have surpassed 65 million with more than 1.5 million deaths. The U.S. continues to have the highest number of confirmed cases – more than 14 million so far — and nearly 279,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Спікер Верховної Ради Дмитро Разумков підписав три внесені президентом Володимиром Зеленським та підтримані парламентом законопроєкти про підтримку суб’єктів господарювання на період обмежувальних заходів, пов’язаних із пандемією COVID-19.
Про це 5 грудня повідомили у Верховній Раді.
Тепер законодавчі акти передадуть на підпис президенту.
Президент України Володимир Зеленський 26 листопада вніс до Верховної Ради законопроєкти про підтримку суб’єктів господарювання на період обмежувальних заходів, пов’язаних із пандемією COVID-19.
Ухвалені Радо законопроєкти стосуються змін до Податкового кодексу, соціальної підтримки застрахованих осіб та суб’єктів господарювання.
Зокрема один з них пропонує відстрочити до 29 грудня 2021 року погашення податкового боргу платників податків – фізичних осіб, у тому числі самозайнятих осіб, що у загальній сумі не перевищує 6800 гривень; списати пені та штрафні санкції у разі самостійної сплати платниками податків податкового боргу за основним платежем протягом 6 місяців; збільшити поріг обсягу податкового боргу тощо.
Іншим документом, серед іншого, пропонується забезпечити «безперервність дії договорів оренди державного та комунального майна у зазначений період (карантину – ред.), розширення кола суб’єктів підприємництва для отримання державної підтримки».
Законопроєкт 4431, серед іншого, пропонує внести зміни до держбюджету-2020 задля виплати одноразової матеріальної допомоги застрахованим особам, які можуть втратити доходи у разі повної заборони сфери їхньої діяльності через посилення карантину.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union’s top official are set to discuss the state of play of post-Brexit trade discussions later Saturday after negotiators paused talks in light of their inability to bridge an array of differences.With the discussions stuck over the same issues for months, Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU’s executive European Commission, will see if there is a route to a deal.With the U.K.’s post-Brexit transition period due to conclude at the end of the year, the discussions are clearly facing a crunch point, not least because of the necessary approvals required from both sides. Without an agreement in place, tariffs will end up being imposed on traded goods at the start of 2021.Months of negotiations have produced agreement on a swath of issues, but serious differences remain over the “level playing field” — the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the bloc — and how future disputes are resolved. That’s key for the EU, which fears Britain will slash social and environmental standards and pump state money into U.K. industries, becoming a low-regulation economic rival on the bloc’s doorstep.EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Frost, agreed Friday to “pause” negotiations while they brief political leaders.”We will keep calm as always and if there is a way, still a way, we will see,” Barnier said Saturday morning outside a hotel in London before heading off to Brussels.Though the U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31, it remains within the bloc’s tariff-free single market and customs union until the end of this year. A trade deal by then would ensure there are no tariffs and quotas on trade in goods between the two sides, but there would still be technical costs, partly associated with customs checks and non-tariff barriers on services.Though both sides would suffer economically from a failure to secure a trade deal, most economists think the British economy would take a greater hit, at least in the near-term, as it is relatively more reliant on trade with the EU than vice versa.
З початку року до кінця жовтня Агентство з управління й менеджменту активів перерахувало до бюджету 13 мільйонів від своєї діяльності. Про це розповів в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода тимчасовий виконувач обов’язків голови Агентства Віталій Сигидин.
Це, уточнив він, прибутки від управління активами.
«Є власне діяльність з управління активами, ці кошти в будь-якому разі одразу потрапляють в державний бюджет. В цей період, за 10 місяців, 13 мільйонів гривень вже в бюджет потрапило. Це ще не кінець року. І це вже більше, ніж, наприклад, за минулий рік саме від управління активами (за 2019 рік АРМА безповоротно перерахувала до бюджету 10,94 мільйона гривень – ред.)», – зазначив Сигидин.
Він додав, що АРМА також має 600 мільйонів гривень на депозитних рахунках у державних банках, але ці кошти наразі не є власністю держави.
«У нас на депозитах розміщено 600 мільйонів гривень, на які нараховуються відсотки. Тільки відсотків нараховано більше ніж 50 мільйонів. Це і є потенційним прибутком для держави. Якщо буде вирок суду і буде конфісковано ці кошти, вони перейдуть одразу до державного бюджету», – уточнив очільник АРМА.
Водночас бюджет АРМА на 2020 рік склав 190,45 мільйона гривень. Сигидин пояснює, що частина функцій АРМА не може бути конвертована в доходи – наприклад, роботи з розшуку активів, в тому числі за кордоном, чи поточна управлінська діяльність.your ad here
Germany’s foreign minister said Friday he is glad the U.S. Congress appears to believe U.S. troops should stay in his country at current levels. At a news briefing Friday in Berlin, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented on the final version of the U.S. Defense Authorization Act released Thursday by Congress. That bill says U.S. troops stationed in Germany may not be withdrawn below current levels until 120 days after the secretary of defense submits a detailed analysis of the move to Congress. About 36,000 U.S. troops are in the country. FILE – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the media during a statement at the foreign ministry in Berlin, Germany, June 3, 2020.In July, U.S. President Donald Trump called for a reduction of about 12,000 troops stationed in Germany. Trump told reporters at the time that Germany had not contributed its share to the NATO defense alliance. The move shocked some U.S. military officials, who see the troops as a safeguard to U.S. interests in Europe. Maas told reporters that despite comments by the president and the Defense Department in July, Germany has “never been given any information about the troop reductions that were announced in July,” so he could not say for sure what the plans are or if they even exist. But, referring to the measure agreed upon in Congress this week, he said Germany is glad there appears to be bipartisan support among U.S. lawmakers for revisiting the decision. He said his government plans to discuss the situation with the incoming administration and make it clear that Germany stands by its promises and its American allies. He said, “American soldiers are welcome here. They contribute not just to Germany’s but also to Europe’s security.”
Національний банк України встановив на 7 грудня курс 28 гривень 29 копійок за долар, це на одну копійку менше за офіційний курс на 4 грудня. В цілому долар втратив від максимального цього тижня значення 27 копійок.
Торги на українському міжбанківському валютному ринку 4 грудня завершуються на рівні 28 гривень 24,5–26,5 копійки за долар, свідчать дані Finance.ua. Це мало відрізняється від рівня відкриття торгів (28 гривень 25,5–28 копійок за долар).
«З огляду на активні розпродажі валюти «Укргазбанком» припущення учасників ринку про те, що це валюта «Нафтогазу» для перерахування потім гривневих коштів до бюджету, є правдивими. Серед основних покупців – «Сітібанк» (знову ж таки нерезиденти і «дочки» іноземних компаній) та «Альфа банк» (як іноземні, так і місцеві великі клієнти)», – пояснюють посилення гривні експерти сайту «Мінфін».
«Основна інтрига – наскільки довго буде розпродуватися «Нафтогаз». За нашими даними, це вже закінчиться в найближчі два-три робочих дні, що знову потім кардинально змінить співвідношення попиту і пропозиції на міжбанку і сформує тренд в бік поступового зростання котирувань долара», – прогнозують фахівці.
У цілому впродовж листопада-грудня котирування в парі гривня-долар коливаються в широкому діапазоні 28 гривень 10–60 копійок за долар.your ad here
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet condemned gross violations of human rights in Belarus on Friday, calling on the government to put an end to the abusive treatment of its people.Bachelet told the U.N. Human Rights Council that conditions in Belarus have deteriorated since the council held an urgent debate on the human rights situation in September, following Belarus’ widely criticized presidential elections August 9.FILE – United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet adjusts her mask during the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European U.N. headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 14, 2020.More than 27,000 people have been arrested, including senior citizens participating in peaceful marches, she said, adding that penalties imposed on protesters appear to be growing more severe, with over 900 people reportedly having been treated as suspects in criminal cases. Security forces have used tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and stun guns to disperse crowds, Bachelet said, and at least four people have been killed. “We also have multiple and credible reports of people beaten by members of the security forces during and after their transport to police stations or detention centers,” she said. “If confirmed, such incidents should constitute ill-treatment and, in some cases, may amount to torture. Moreover, masked men, without insignia or identification, have frequently taken part in the dispersal of protests, alongside riot police.” Up to 2,000 complaints of torture of people while in custody were lodged by the end of October. Such actions heighten a climate of fear and an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity, she said. “Many people who have been detained have reported being held in overcrowded cells, without adequate ventilation — despite the risks linked to the COVID-19 pandemic — denied food, water, access to the toilet and medical treatment,” Bachelet said. “They have further reported violent and random beatings as well as acts of humiliation, insults and threats.” FILE – Belarusian law enforcement officers block opposition supporters during their rally to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Nov. 1, 2020.The high commissioner is calling on the government to immediately release all those unlawfully detained, to respect the right of peaceful assembly, and to ensure independent and impartial investigations into cases of alleged torture and other human rights violations. Belarus Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Yuri Ambrazevich accused the U.N. of distorting the situation. He said full-fledged wars have received less attention than is being directed at his country. The pressure being exerted on Belarus violates the U.N. Charter on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, he said, blasting the European Union for imposing sanctions on Belarus, which he said clearly violated international law.
За січень-жовтень 2020 року обсяг приватних переказів офіційними та неформальними каналами в Україну з-за кордону склав 9,56 мільярда доларів, повідомили в Національному банку на запит Радіо Свобода.
«За попередніми даними у І-у півріччі 2020 року найбільші обсяги переказів надійшли з таких країн: Польща (24,4 % до загального обсягу), США (10,1%), Сполучене Королівство (8,4%), Чеська Республіка (8,0%), Росія (7,4%), Італія (4,5%), Німеччина (4,4%)», – зазначили в НБУ на запит Радіо Свобода.
За аналогічний період 2019 року до України надійшло на 2,3% більше переказів – на 9,78 мільярда доларів, додали в НБУ.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has complained about an international conspiracy forming against Turkey, and he says it’s attempting to frustrate his projection of Turkish power and influence abroad.Domestic and foreign critics counter that there isn’t yet a conspiracy, but if one does emerge, it largely will be due to his picking fights with his country’s neighbors, including the European Union and Turkey’s NATO allies. They are exasperated by his threats, whenever he is crossed, to throw open the doors for migrants to once again flock into Europe.Erdogan has in recent months frequently blamed invisible, malevolent foreign enemies for Turkey’s sharply deteriorating economy. For most of this year, foreign investors have shunned the country, and an already weak Turkish lira plunged last month to record lows in value against the dollar and euro. Western critics say Turkish economic woes are the result of his own mishandling of the economy.FILE PHOTO: A merchant counts Turkish lira banknotes at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, March 29, 2019.Additionally, the Turkish leader and his aides have accused European nations of ganging up to sabotage his geopolitical ambitions, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara is locked in an escalating maritime quarrel with Greece and Cyprus that risks getting out of hand over lucrative gas and oil drilling rights.The huge energy potential of the eastern Mediterranean has drawn other powers in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East into the destabilizing standoff. Western Europeans and Turkey’s other regional neighbors say maritime law is on the side of Athens and Cyprus, accusing Ankara of brinkmanship in a deadlock that’s seen opposing warships come close to clashing.“We see ourselves as an inseparable part of Europe,” Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] in a speech last month. “However, this does not mean that we will bow down to overt attacks to our country and nation, veiled injustices and double standards,” he added.Civilians flee from Idlib toward the north to find safety inside Syria near the border with Turkey, Feb. 15, 2020.In October, as European criticism mounted about Turkish adventurism, including a military intervention into northern Syria aimed at dislodging Syrian Kurds, Erdogan, retorted, “Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: If you try to frame our operation as an invasion, our task is simple — we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you.”Conspiracy theories have long been a feature of cultural and political life in Turkey, certainly since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. And during his 17-year-long rule, political critics have accused Erdogan of stoking the long-held Turkish fear of being surrounded by foreign powers and beset by shadowy outside forces eager to weaken the country and to prevent it from restoring Ottoman greatness.“In fueling the current disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean, the [Turkish] leadership is using a narrative revolving around themes such as conquest—referring to the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, today’s Istanbul—battles and wars, a huge [and undefined] foreign conspiracy, and a return to glory,” Marc Pierini, an analyst at the research group Carnegie Europe, noted in a posted commentary.Erdogan’s frequent complaint about an anti-Turkish foreign conspiracy risks turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy, warn some analysts and Western diplomats.French President Emmanuel Macron greets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Jan. 5, 2018.From a diplomatic row with NATO ally France over the enforcement of an international arms embargo on Libya, to the deployment of special forces and Ankara-paid mercenaries to the strife-torn North Africa country, from military adventurism in northern Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, to Turkey’s illegal drilling in Cypriot waters, the Turkish leader is amassing an impressive list of opponents.Ankara seems ever more willing to challenge allies and enemies alike in pursuit of a larger role on the world stage. If Western nations, and Turkey’s near neighbors, start coordinating containment strategies, it will be as a consequence of Erdogan’s aggressive aim to expand, through assertive diplomacy and military means, Turkish influence in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea, say Western diplomats and analysts.There are increasing signs that Turkey’s NATO partners are tiring with Erdogan’s assertive geopolitical ambitions and irredentist claims against his neighbors. “The totality of Turkey’s policies and actions have now reached a point of dangerous escalation,” according to analysts Heather Conley and Rachel Ellehuus of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a research group in Washington.They noted in a commentary for CSIS that Erdogan’s actions “substantially challenge the coherence of NATO’s collective defense posture in the Mediterranean and weaken its political cohesion.”“To avoid this,” they say, Western allies “should approach the growing instability in the Mediterranean through an integrative policy that seeks to de-escalate tensions and define, with Ankara, common interests by identifying some agreed principles to guide regional behavior.” They add: “If Turkey is unwilling to join such an initiative, greater transatlantic tensions lie ahead.”NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speak to the media after their talks in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 5, 2020.Turkey’s wrangling with allies and neighbors have increased since 2015, when Erdogan adopted as policy the so-called Blue Homeland Doctrine, originally drawn up by Turkish Admiral Cem Gurdeniz in 2006. The doctrine outlined an ambitious goal to expand Turkish influence with an aim to improve access to important energy and other economic resources. Its implementation has seen Erdogan resorting to ad hoc arrangements, reversing bilateral understandings, and backsliding on multilateral agreements and Turkish obligations to NATO—creating even greater regional instability, say critics.Despite his complaints about an anti-Turkey international conspiracy, some analysts say Erdogan has been helped by the absence of coordination between Western allies and by their circumspection.They say Western officials have held off imposing further sanctions on Turkey or enforcing sanctions that have already been announced. In July, EU foreign ministers asked the bloc’s diplomatic corps to draw up possible enforcement options for sanctions imposed on Turkey for its gas and oil drilling activities in Cypriot territorial waters and what they see as Ankara’s “gunboat diplomacy” in the eastern Mediterranean.A man reads walks past Cypriot newspaper with a front page carrying a photo montage about Turkey’s actions over Cyprus and international companies exploration for gas in the eastern Mediterranean in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Feb. 13, 2018.Likewise, the U.S. has held back. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Turkey’s illegal drilling in Cypriot waters is “unacceptable,” but the Trump administration hasn’t followed up with concrete action and has not yet imposed sanctions for Turkey’s recent purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, an acquisition seen as breaching Ankara’s NATO commitments.Western diplomats and analysts say there are increasing signs, though, that Turkey’s NATO partners are wary of Erdogan’s adventurism and go-it-alone strategy. Impatience is likely to build quickly next year when U.S. President-elect Joe Biden enters the White House.Erdogan clashed often with Donald Trump, but Washington backed off confronting Ankara and opted for backroom deal-making. The two leaders were at least united in antipathy toward the EU. But that won’t be the case next year, and Erdogan is likely to find himself dealing with a less forgiving U.S. leader, according to Western diplomats.FILE – Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak speaks during a conference to ease investor concerns about Turkey’s economic policy, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 8, 2020.Since the U.S. election, Erdogan has shown signs he knows he will need to adjust. Hours after the U.S. election, Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, resigned as Turkey’s economy minister. Albayrak had a close friendship with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.The Turkish president has also since the election vowed to launch a period of economic and legal reforms, saying he will prioritize legislation to strengthen democracy and improve human rights, an announcement widely seen as anticipating the changed circumstances in Washington. Biden has promised to host next year a global Summit for Democracy.
A leading European human rights organization called out the Polish government Thursday with a memorandum condemning the Eastern European country’s treatment and stigmatization of its LGBTI citizens.In a report, Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe’s commissioner of human rights, criticized Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party for eroding conditions and treatment of LGBTI people. Mijatovic explicitly addressed President Andrzej Duda for what the report called his endorsement of hate, after Duda called the LGBTI movement an “ideology worse than communism.”FILE – Surrounded by migrants, Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, addresses reporters at the Vucjak refugee camp outside Bihac, northwestern Bosnia, Dec. 3, 2019.”Stigmatization and hate speech carry a real risk of legitimizing violence,” Mijatovic said in the report. “LGBTI are people, not an ideology.”The commissioner cited instances wherein propaganda, hateful rhetoric and social exclusion has been encouraged by Polish authorities, citing the declaration of “LGBTI-free zones” by local authorities in six Polish cities as promoting hate and perpetuating the stigmatization of the community.Reuters reported Thursday that the Polish government released a statement rejecting Mijatovic’s criticisms, saying the institution of marriage as a union between men and women is manifest in the Polish constitution. Previously, Law and Justice party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski called LGBTI people a “threat to the traditional family.”Mijatovic called for the rejection of Polish laws pending before parliament that she said target LGBTI people.“Public authorities, politicians and opinion leaders in Poland [should] not to engage in hate speech or any discourse denigrating LGBTI people, and … firmly denounce such actions and statements, including when they come from private parties,” she said.The Council of Europe is an international organization founded after World War II to uphold human rights.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced Thursday that high schools would switch to distance learning beginning Monday through early January to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections in the country. Lofven made the announcement at a Stockholm news conference alongside Swedish Education Minister Anna Ekstrom. He said he hoped the move would have a “breaking effect” on the rate of COVID-19 infections. He added it was not intended to extend the Christmas break for students and he said he was putting his trust in them that they would continue to study from home. The distance learning will be in effect until January 6.People walk past shops under Christmas decorations during the novel coronavirus pandemic in Stockholm, Dec. 3, 2020.After a lull during summer, Sweden has seen COVID-19 cases surge over the past couple of months, with daily records repeatedly set. Deaths and hospitalizations have also risen sharply. Meanwhile, earlier Thursday, Swedish State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told reporters he did not think masks were necessary, just two days after the World Health Organization (WHO) expanded its advice to use masks as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19. Tegnell said that in some situations, masks might be necessary, but that the current situation in Sweden did not require it. He said the evidence for wearing a mask was weak and he believed social distancing was much more important. In its expanded guidelines, the WHO said that where the virus was circulating, people — including children and students age 12 or older — should always wear masks in shops, workplaces and schools that lack adequate ventilation, and when receiving visitors at home in poorly ventilated rooms. On Thursday, Sweden reported 6,485 new COVID-19 cases and 35 new virus-related deaths, bringing the nation’s total COVID-19 fatalities to 7,007.