South Korea: South Korea is accelerating efforts to launch a coronavirus vaccination programme it announced the detection of its first cases of the virus variant initially identified in the UK.
South Africa, meanwhile, reached the grim milestone of one million coronavirus cases on Monday.
On Sunday, US President Donald Trump signed into law a $2.3-trillion pandemic aid and spending package, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and averting a federal government shutdown.
Globally, more than 80.4 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, and 1.7 million have died.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has asked his ministers to remain ready to implement measures to prevent the further spread of coronavirus infections after daily case numbers hit a string of record highs in recent days.
“The virus recognises no year-end or New Year holidays. I ask each minister to raise the level of their sense of urgency and thoroughly carry out countermeasures,” Suga told a meeting of the government’s taskforce on coronavirus responses.
British administrative approval of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca could accelerate the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said.
Gove said that the independent regulator had to assess the vaccine, but if it were approved there would be a “significant increase” in vaccine available. Britain is already rolling out a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
International visitors will be barred from entering Indonesia for a two-week period.
The new regulation, effective January 1, comes days after Indonesia banned travellers from Britain and tightened rules for those arriving from Europe and Australia to limit the spread of the new strain.
Earlier this year Indonesia halted all tourists, but some exemptions have been made for business travellers. The new regulation applies to all foreign guests except for high-level government officials, she said.