More than 77.57 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 1,709,633 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
These are the latest developments on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus:
At least four drug makers expect their COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new fast-spreading virus variant that is raging in Britain.
At the same time, Americans were warned again not to travel for Christmas as the latest surge in cases overwhelmed hospitals
* France will reopen its borders to passengers from England, ending a blockade intended to stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant, but which has held up thousands of lorries before Christmas.
* Sweden’s government is rushing to put forward a temporary pandemic bill that would give it powers to shut shops, private museums and by law limit the number of people in gatherings, news agency TT reported.
* Ireland will shut restaurants, pubs and some shops on Christmas Eve and they may not open again until early March amid “enormous concern” for older people from a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases, the government said.
* U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to not sign an $892 billion coronavirus relief bill that includes desperately needed money for individual Americans, saying it should be amended to increase the amount in the stimulus checks.
* Weekly COVID-19 cases rose by the highest amount since the pandemic began, the World Health Organization said, with the Americas accounting for half of them.
* Brazil’s Health Ministry expects to have at least 150 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 available in the first half of 2021, with a third or more coming from a Chinese company despite the president’s early scepticism.
* Peru surpassed 1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, as concerns about a potential second wave of infections began to grow in the hard-hit Andean nation.
* The U.S. government does not intend to impose COVID-19 screenings for passengers travelling from Britain after the emergence of the new virus variant there, people briefed on the decision said.
* Canada is introducing extra measures to screen people who have spent time in Britain to check for the mutated COVID-19 variant.
* As Singapore prepares to roll out COVID-19 vaccinations its striking success in controlling the virus is making some question whether they should take the jabs.
* Australia’s most populous state relaxed coronavirus restrictions for Christmas following a second straight day of low case numbers, although parts of Sydney’s northern seaside suburbs remain under lockdown.
* South Korea reported its second-highest daily tally of coronavirus cases as a survey underscored growing public dissatisfaction with President Moon Jae-in’s handling of the latest wave of infections hitting the country.
* Japan will ban the entry of non-Japanese people from the United Kingdom following the emergence of the new virus strain.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Dubai will start inoculating people with the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech for free from Wednesday.
* Kenya’s parliament voted to end tax cuts put in place in April to cushion the economy from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
* British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc told Reuters its COVID-19 vaccine should be effective against the new coronavirus variant, adding that studies were under way to fully probe the impact of the mutation.
* U.S. stock futures fell, commodities slipped, and Treasuries edged higher after Trump threw a last-minute spanner in to pandemic relief plans by threatening not to sign a long-awaited stimulus bill in to law.