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EUROPE

* Britain will become the first country to roll out the low cost and easily transportable AstraZeneca and Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine, even as its Prime Minister hinted at tougher restrictions to come.

* Scotland will on Monday enter another effective national lockdown, likely to last until spring, The Times newspaper reported.

* Norway will impose fresh restrictions, including a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars and not inviting guests home.

* Greece has detected four cases of the new coronavirus variant in people who recently travelled from Britain, according to a Health Ministry official.

AMERICAS

* The US government is considering giving some people half the dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to speed up vaccinations.

* Medical companies and shippers in Canada are racing to transport time-sensitive radiochemical materials used to treat cancer, as a pandemic-induced drop in passenger flights has narrowed transportation options and created cargo delays.

* Colombia’s capital Bogota will implement strict two-week quarantines in three neighbourhoods beginning Tuesday to try and control a second wave of coronavirus.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* South Korea expanded a ban on private gatherings larger than four people to the whole country, and extended unprecedented social distancing rules in greater Seoul.

* India on Sunday granted emergency approval to Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN but faced questions from industry experts and opposition lawmakers after taking the step without publishing efficacy data for the homegrown coronavirus vaccine.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* South Africa aims to get COVID-19 vaccines by next month but is still in talks with pharmaceutical companies and no deals have been signed yet.

* Jordan has struck a deal with Pfizer and partner BioNTech to buy 1 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine and another 2 million doses from the World Health Organisation’s s COVAX program.

* Saudi Arabia said that entry to the kingdom by sea, land and air will be resumed after a ban that lasted two weeks amid fears of a new coronavirus variant, the state news agency reported on Sunday.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Mexican authorities said they are studying the case of a 32-year-old female doctor who was hospitalised after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

* Britain will allow people to be given shots of different COVID-19 vaccines on rare occasions, despite a lack of evidence about the extent of immunity offered by mixing doses.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Asian factory activity expanded moderately in December thanks to robust demand in regional giant China, business surveys showed on Monday.

* Japan’s factory activity ended a record 19-month run of declines in December as output stabilised for the first time in two years.

* Singapore marked its worst-ever recession in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although contraction moderated in the fourth quarter as the city-state lifted more curbs.

* Asian share markets resumed their ascent on Monday as investors pinned their hope on vaccines to eventually deliver a global economic upturn.