Mexico, France, and Russia confirmed the presence of the new coronavirus variant, first detected in Britain, while infections in China rose to an over five-month high.

* Britain will open seven large-scale vaccination centres on Monday.
* Northern Ireland’s health minister said COVID-19 was placing the healthcare system under pressure “like never before.”
* Several thousand protesters in the Czech Republic gathered in Prague’s Old Town Square on Sunday to call on the government to lift coronavirus restrictions.
* The Spanish government will send convoys carrying theCOVID-19 vaccine and food supplies to areas which saw the heaviest snowfall in decades.
* Pope Francis plans to be vaccinated as early as next week and urged everyone to get a shot, but said he was not sure if his trip to Iraq in March can take place because of the pandemic.

* China will continue to suspend flights to and from Britain and Vietnam will limit flights bringing citizens home from now until the end of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.
* Japanese health officials have detected a new coronavirus variant, which differs from those found in Britain and South Africa, in four travellers from Brazil’s Amazonas state.
* Malaysia signed a deal to buy an additional 12.2 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, while the Philippine government will secure 30 million doses from Serum Institute of India.

* U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may speed up distribution of vaccines to U.S. states, and said he would deliver a plan costing “trillions” of dollars this week.
* Texas will allocate about half of its latest vaccine supplies to just 28 healthcare sites, officials said on Sunday, aiming to speed distribution.
* Cuba has suspended interprovincial transport, cultural activities, and the use of public spaces during night hours.

* Algeria has become the first African country to register Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for use.
* The Palestinian Authority said it expects to receive its first vaccine doses in March under a deal with drugmaker AstraZeneca.
* Israel’s coronavirus vaccination campaign, the world’s fastest per capita, shifted to booster shots on Sunday.
* Foreign companies will not be allowed to test vaccines on the Iranian people, President Hassan Rouhani has said.

* The U.S. drugs regulator said genetic variants of COVID-19 could lead to false-negative results from some molecular tests, but the risk of the mutations affecting overall testing accuracy is low.
* Europe’s medicines regulator expects drugmaker AstraZeneca to apply for approval of its vaccine next week.

* Asian shares paused near historic highs on Monday, while Treasury yields were at a 10-month top as “trillions” in new U.S. fiscal stimulus plans were set to be unveiled this week.
* China’s factory gate prices fell last month at their slowest pace since February, official data showed on Monday.
* Oil prices fell on Monday on renewed concerns about global fuel demand amid strict lockdowns in Europe and new movement restrictions in China.