Police Say 84 Hostages Rescued From Gunmen in Northern Nigeria

Israelis Returning From U.K. to Be Sent to Quarantine Hotels

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Israelis returning from the U.K., Denmark, and South Africa will be sent to isolation in government-run quarantine sites to help prevent a mutant strain of coronavirus from entering the country.

Emerging scientific evidence suggests the new variant can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation and is behind a huge surge in infections in the U.K. in recent days. Israelis traveling back from the three countries were until now permitted to isolate at home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said earlier that his government was considering barring non-residents from entering Israel from those countries. Foreigners who purchased tickets on a flight from London were not permitted on board the plane, Ynet websitereported.

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France Considers Banning Flights, Trains to U.K., Official Says

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France is considering banning flights and trains to the U.K., an official familiar with the deliberations said. No decision has been made and France will coordinate with the EU.

The Netherlands today barred passengers from the U.K. until Jan. 1, while Germany is considering similar measures, Bild reported.

Stricter rules came into effect in London and parts of southeastern England today after the government said a new strain of the coronavirus is spreading quickly. Travel is severely restricted, with limited exemptions for work.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned on Sunday the new strain is “out of control.”

Dubai’s Meraas Makes Offer to Delist Troubled Park Operator DXBE

Dubai government-controlled Meraas Holding LLC is offering shareholders a 50% discount to take theme park operator DXBE Entertainments private, just six years after raising money from equity investors to build the amusement hub.

Meraas offered eight fils in cash for eachDXB Entertainments share, below the 12 fils closing price on Sunday. As part of the offer, Meraas plans to acquire debt worth 4.26 billion dirhams ($1.16 billion) and convert it into new DXBE shares.

DXB Entertainments, which hasn’t posted a profit since listing in 2014, said it was evaluating the offer. The stock has lost more than 90% of their value since a peak in 2016.

Meraas holds a 52% stake in DXB Entertainments, which also counts Qatar’s sovereign fund and Kuwait Investment Authority as other shareholders.

FireEye says about 50 companies, organisations 'genuinely impacted' by hack

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – A widespread hack of US government networks has “genuinely impacted” about 50 companies or organisations, the head of one of the largest US cybersecurity companies said on Sunday (Dec 20).

“It is probably only around 50 organisations or companies, somewhere in that zone, that is genuinely impacted,” FireEye chief executive Kevin Mandia said in a CBS interview.

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Airlines on track to get $15 billion in federal aid, must call back more than 30,000 furloughed workers

U.S. airlines are on track to get $15 billion in federal aid to pay workers if Congress approves the next coronavirus stimulus bill, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The carriers would have to call back more than 30,000 workers who were furloughed this fall.

The CARES Act in March had allotted $25 billion for airlines on the condition that they maintained minimum service levels and kept workers on payroll through Sept. 30.

The new round of aid for the struggling sector, reported earlier by Reuters, would keep workers on payroll until the end of March.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Denmark to Dig Up Millions of Dead Mink After Botched Cull

Denmark’s parliament has agreed to dig up about 4 million dead mink, after the animals were culled and buried in haste earlier this year in an effort to stamp out a mutation of the coronavirus.

The mink will be exhumed after six months, a time period deemed long enough to ensure there’s no longer a contamination risk, the Ministry of Food and Veterinary Affairssaid on Sunday. The animals will then be incinerated, it said.

“Once the [dead] mink are no longer contaminated with Covid-19, they will be transported to an incineration facility, where they’ll be burned as corporate waste,” the ministry said. “That way we can avoid having to handle the mink as dangerous waste.”

The agreement comes after the animals had started to resurface from their mass graves, prompting fears of contamination.

— With assistance by Tasneem Hanfi Brogger

Police Say 84 Hostages Rescued From Gunmen in Northern Nigeria

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Nigerian police said 84 people held hostage by gunmen were freed in the northern state of Katsina.

Police responding to a distress call engaged the assailants in a gunfight and they fled, Katsina Police spokesman Gambo Isah said in an emailed statement.

It comes days after more than 300 schoolboys seized from a boarding school in the same state werefreed by gunmen who held them for six days. Boko Haram Islamist insurgents claimed responsibility for that attack.

Jihadist groups have been infiltrating the country’s northwest in recent times, even getting involved in conflicts between herders and crop farmers over grazing rights.