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UK Visa Application Centre in Azerbaijan to be closed in observance of Christmas holidays

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The UK Visa Application Centre in Azerbaijan will be closed on December 25-26 in observance of the Christmas holidays, the UK Embassy in Azerbaijan said in a Twitter post on Friday.

“This is a particularly busy time of year, and so if you are planning to travel to the United Kingdom on or before Tuesday 24th December, we hope that you have already submitted your application for a visa. If not, we strongly advise you to submit your: standard visit visa application on or before Monday 9 December 2019; priority visit visa application on or before Friday 13 December; super priority visit visa application on or before Friday 20 December,” the embassy wrote.

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Britain unveils 50 pence coin minted to mark Brexit

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Britain unveiled on Sunday a new 50 pence coin minted to mark the country’s departure from the European Union, which bears the inscription “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” and the Brexit date of 31 January 2020, Reuters reported.

About three million of the coins will be distributed from banks, post offices and shops from Friday, the government said, with another seven million entering circulation later in the year.

Finance Minister Sajid Javid, who is also Master of the Mint, was presented with the first batch of coins.

“Leaving the European Union is a turning point in our history and this coin marks the beginning of this new chapter,” he said.

The finance ministry had planned to mint a coin inscribed 29 March 2019, the original date of Brexit before Britain asked to extend its EU membership.

Javid later ordered production to commemorate a new deadline of Oct. 31, but another delay put paid to that launch and about one million coins had to be melted down.

The bill implementing Britain’s exit from the European bloc officially became law on Thursday.

After more than three years of bitter wrangling over how, when and if Brexit should take place, Britain will leave the EU at 2300 GMT on Friday.

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Coronavirus Death toll rises to 80 as China extends holiday

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The number of people killed in China by the coronavirus has risen to 80, with almost 3,000 confirmed ill, BBC News reported.

The national new year holiday has been extended by three days to Sunday, in an attempt to contain the spread.

On Monday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and centre of the outbreak.

The number of deaths in Hubei province has climbed from 56 to 76, with four deaths elsewhere.

Wuhan is in lockdown and several other cities have imposed travel bans.

The overall number of confirmed cases in China is 2,744.

Some 461 are critically ill, while 51 people have been "discharged from hospital and cured", the National Health Commission said.

The BBC's Robin Brant in Shanghai says extending the main holiday of the year is a highly unusual move.

But after the pre-new year travel surge, the prospect of half a billion people getting back on trains, planes and buses and criss-crossing the country again is the last thing the government wants, he adds.

At least 42 cases have been confirmed abroad, including in Thailand, the United States, and Australia.

There have been no deaths outside China.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine.

Most of the deaths have been of elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems.

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Armenia continues violating ceasefire with Azerbaijan

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Over the past 24 hours, Armenian armed forces have violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops 24 times, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on Jan. 27.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

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