This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Sunday, December 27th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Citing rising hospitalization rates, Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended indoor dining in NYC starting Monday, December 14th. After beingshut down for several weeks, NYC public schools partially reopened on December 7th for 3K-5th grade students, with students with special needs returning on December 10th. Certain parts of Staten Island remain under a zoned shutdown.

Get answers to questions you may have with our "Ask An Epidemiologist" series, or learn more about NYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:


12:24 p.m.: Canada is now among the growing list of countries to have detected the new, highly transmissible variant of COVID-19.

Two cases of the coronavirus variant that were first found in the United Kingdom have now been discovered in Ontario, health officials from the province announced Saturday.

The variant had infected a couple who had no known travel history, exposure, or high-risk contacts, according to Ontario health officials.

"With inbound international travel, it is not unexpected to have identified the new variant in Ontario," a statement from the province of Ontario reads. Ontario entered a shutdown on Saturday to slow virus transmission, and Canada banned all passenger flights from the UK until January 6th.

The UK variant has been found in Denmark, Belgium, Australia, and the Netherlands as well as France, Lebanon, Spain, and Japan.

In Japan, all foreign nationals will no longer be permitted to enter the country, starting Monday until the end of January due to cases of the variant found in the country.

The United States has not barred flights from entering the country from the UK, but instead will require travelers to test negative through a PCR or antigen test no more than 72 hours before departure. That mandate begins Monday.

Experts say the requirement of a negative test three days before flying merely reduces the risk of spread from 14% to 9%, CNN reported. Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the news channel the CDC testing mandate "is like putting up a chain link fence to keep out a mosquito."

Early research of the virus variant in the UK found it to be 70% more transmissible. There's currently no evidence the variant is more deadly or leads to more severe symptoms. And experts say the variant is unlikely to impact the effectiveness of the two currently authorized vaccines from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna.