• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Increased restrictions and testing in South Korea; Pandemic still has a 'long way to run': WHO; Britain prepares roll out of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 67 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 1.53 million.

Melbourne, Australia, has welcomed its first international passenger flight for 5 months in a test of Victoria's hotel quarantine system.

Britain is preparing to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week - the first country in the world to do so.

Italy's official COVID-19 death toll has risen above 60,000, the second European country to pass the milestone.

The German state of Bavaria has announced stricter restrictions from Wednesday through to 5 January. People will only be able to leave their homes with good reason.

Moscow wants to vaccinate up to 7 million people, its Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said yesterday. It comes as Russia announced a record daily increase in new COVID-19 cases.

California faces strict new restrictions, as Governor Gavin Newsom ordered region-by-region rules. They could see bars, hair and nail salons and tattoo shops close again.

Emergency use authorization is being sought in India for the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

What is the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is a coalition of 85 global leaders, hosted by the World Economic Forum. Its mission: Join hands in support of social entrepreneurs everywhere as vital first responders to the pandemic and as pioneers of a green, inclusive economic reality.

Its COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda, outlines 25 concrete recommendations for key stakeholder groups, including funders and philanthropists, investors, government institutions, support organizations, and corporations. In January of 2021, its members launched its 2021 Roadmap through which its members will roll out an ambitious set of 21 action projects in 10 areas of work. Including corporate access and policy change in support of a social economy.

For more information see the Alliance website or its “impact story” here.

2. Increased restrictions, testing in South Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for more testing and thorough tracing, as the country battles a new wave of infections.

Measures include drafting in the military and public service workers to expand testing, with more drive-through testing facilities set-up.

Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Korea
Cases remain much lower than in many other countries.
Image: Our World in Data

It comes as new restrictions were announced in Seoul, with curfews, public transport cuts in the evenings and restrictions on gatherings. “We are in a very dangerous situation,” health ministry official Park Neung-hoo told a briefing.

Other areas of the country will also see higher restriction - although not as strict as in Seoul.

3. Pandemic still has a 'long way to run': WHO

World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that while progress on vaccines is a boost, there's still a long way to go.

"The WHO is concrned that there is a growing perception that the pandemic is over," he told a media briefing.

As stricter measures are lifted, it's important people continue local and national restrictions, he said.

"My personal ask to people is simple, please be careful, think of health workers and act for the greater good, because it will save lives and livelihoods," he added.

"The pandemic still has a long way to run and decisions made by leaders and citizens in the coming days will determine both the course of the virus in the short term and when this pandemic will ultimately end."