A new variant of the coronavirus first seen in Britain was detected in several nations, amplifying worries about its rapid spread, while US President Donald Trump signed into law a pandemic aid and spending package.

EUROPE
* Hungary and Slovakia stole a march on their fellow EU nations as they began vaccinations on Saturday, a day ahead of rollouts in several other countries, while a 101-year-old woman became the first German to receive the shot.
* France recorded its first case of the new variant.
* Russia approved its main COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, for use by people over the age of 60.
* The delivery of the first shipment of Sinovac’s vaccine from China to Turkey has been postponed “1-2 days” due to a casein Beijing customs.

AMERICAS
* US President Donald Trump on Sunday 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.
* The US government will require all airline passengers arriving from Britain to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure starting Monday.
* Hamilton MourĂ£o, Brazil’s vice president, has tested positive.
* Argentina will begin vaccinating its citizens on Tuesday using the recently delivered Sputnik V vaccine.

ASIA-PACIFIC
* Beijing tightened COVID-19 curbs over concerns that China’s mass travel during the holiday period could cause cases to spike in the capital.
* South Korea said it will extend social distancing measures for another six days, to Jan. 3, as it continues to report near-record numbers of new cases each day.
* Sydney’s outbreak continued with more than a quarter-million people in lockdown as Australia’s largest city awaited word on whether any public New Year’s Eve celebrations will be allowed.
* Australian golfing great Greg Norman is back in hospital in Florida after testing positive.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa’s total infections crossed 1 million on Sunday, days after a new faster-spreading variant was confirmed to be present in the country.
* Iran reported the lowest daily fatalities in more than three months.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS
* Britain’s Department of Health said medicines regulator MHRA must be given time to carry out its review of the data of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, while the Sunday Telegraph reported that the UK plans to roll out the vaccine from January 4.

ECONOMIC IMPACT
* Global shares ticked up on Monday after Trump signed into law the pandemic aid and spending package he had until now refused to sign.
* Overall retail footfall on Boxing Day in Britain fell 60% compared to the previous year, market researcher Springboardsaid.
* Vietnam’s economic growth slowed this year to its weakest in at least three decades, government data showed.