The Informer:

Not so stark raven mad, after all

"Oi, bird brain!" might not be the insult you thought it was.

A German study has found ravens are as intelligent as great apes, one of the closest relatives to humans.

Scientists at the Osnabrueck University and Max Planck Institute for Ornithology found common ravens had developed full-blown cognitive skills by the time they were four months old. The birds' skills were similar to those of adult apes.

Not stark raven mad at all.

On the pandemic front, Mexico has become the fourth country to approve the Pfizer vaccine, which has already gone into distribution in the United Kingdom.

Health secretary Brendan Murphy said it looked like the vaccine would have worked, it was producing antibodies, but the government couldn't risk the public's confidence in vaccines.

There have now been more than 70 million coronavirus cases detected around the world, with the true number of cases thought to be significantly higher.

Almost 1.6 million people have died from COVID-19 complications.

In the United States, emergency room doctors and contact tracers are being told by new coronavirus patients they socialised over Thanksgiving and ignored public-health warnings to stay home and distance from others.

In New York City, indoor dining has again been banned as the city struggles along with the rest of the United States to control the pandemic.

It just goes to show the difference strict lockdowns, wearing masks and social distancing can have on limiting the spread of the deadly virus.

Just look to New Zealand and the Cook Islands, where the two nations have agreed to quarantine-free travel. Australians will have to wait a while longer, with New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, ruling out a travel bubble until February at the earliest.

And finally to Victoria, where although the state's coronavirus-free run has ended with cases being detected in the state's revamped hotel quarantine system, some things are getting back to normal.

Melbourne's Flemington racetrack welcomed back punters for the first time since March on Saturday, with 1000 guests attending the first race meeting since the Melbourne Cup on November 3. The Melbourne Cup was run without crowds.

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