(Reuters) - The novel coronavirus continued to spread in various countries, with the total caseloads in the United States surpassing 25 million, while nations looked to close borders or ban flights to contain infections from the new variant.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS * Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals here for a case tracker and summary of news.
* British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country was still a long way from relaxing a national lockdown, while the Daily Mail reported the UK is preparing to force travellers from nations with high COVID-19 risks to go into a 10-day quarantine.
* Norway will widen the capital region’s lockdown from Monday, increasing the number of affected municipalities to 25, while Sweden said on Sunday it would temporarily stop all foreigners coming in from Norway from midnight.
* Bulgaria will ease some restrictions from February 4, although restaurants will remain closed for now due to concerns about the new variant.
* France saw the biggest jump in hospital admissions for COVID-19 since mid-November, while the French Academy of Medecene said people on public transport must avoid talking to one another or on the phone to contain the virus’ spread.
* Taiwan will more than double the number of people who have to quarantine at home to more than 5,000 as it seeks to contain a rare domestic cluster of COVID-19 connected to a hospital.
* Australia’s therapeutic goods regulator has conditionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use after determining that it met strict standards for safety, quality and efficacy.
* New Zealand on Monday confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in the community in months.
* Total COVID-19 cases in the United States crossed 25 million on Sunday, a Reuters tally showed, with one of President Joe Biden’s top economic aides saying they will press Democratic and Republican senators for a fresh $1.9 trillion in relief.
* Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he has tested positive for COVID-19.
* Walmart Inc said it is preparing to offer COVID-19 vaccinations in seven more states, as well as in Chicago and Puerto Rico, this week and next.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday evening for a week.
* Oman will extend the close of its land borders for another week until Feb. 1.
* President Hassan Rouhani said COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in the coming weeks in Iran, the Middle East’s worst hit country.
* Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, which has been authorized for use in India, proved safe and produced an immune response in a small group of adults aged 18 to 55, a study showed.
* BioNTech is to supply 50 million specialty needles at no profit to countries struggling to extract a sixth dose from vials of its vaccine.
* Asian shares rose on Monday as concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and delays in vaccine supplies were eclipsed by expectations of a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plan to help revive the U.S. economy.
* European Central Bank policymakers are set to delve deeper at their next meeting into how they measure borrowing costs in the virus-hit euro zone economy after failing to reach an agreement this week, four sources told Reuters.
Compiled by Uttaresh.V, Devika Syamnath and Charles Regnier; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Sriraj Kalluvila
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