This is VOA news. Via remote, I'm Liz Parker. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to increase COVID-19 relief checks for most Americans. The vote Monday now sends the bill to the Senate where the outcome is uncertain. President Donald Trump reluctantly signed a more than $2 trillion government funding in pandemic relief package on Sunday but now before demanding lawmakers increase $600 payments to Americans to $2,000. Democrats who favor the boost had settled for the smaller $600 payments in a compromise with Republicans over the big year-end relief bill. The vote divides Republicans who mostly resist more spending but many House Republicans did join (in) in support.
The World Health Organization head is calling for an increase in genomic sequencing of the coronavirus after new variants have been detected in Britain and South Africa. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at an online news conference from Geneva, quote, "only if countries are looking and testing effectively, will you be able to pick up variants and adjust strategies to cope." He said the WHO is working closely with scientists across the world to "better understand any and all changes to the virus" and their impacts.
British officials have said the new coronavirus variant first identified in the country is more contagious. It has led to increased lockdowns and a wave of global travel restrictions on Britain. On Monday, more countries, including Finland and South Korea, detected their first cases of (a) new coronavirus variant. U.S. authorities said passengers arriving from Britain must test negative for COVID-19 three days before departure. That new (orderv) order effective Monday. This is VOA news.