• 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: Britain starts AstraZeneca vaccine rollout; Australia tackles local clusters; Singapore records worst-ever recession.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 85.1 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 1.84 million.

Asian factory output expanded slightly in December – largely thanks to robust demand in China, according to business surveys.

AstraZeneca has filed an application for approval in South Korea of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with Oxford University.

Jordan says it has secured 3 million vaccine doses – 1 million from Pfizer/BioNTech and a further 2 million from the World Health Organization's COVAX programme.

Norway is set to impose new restrictions to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases. Measures will include a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars and not inviting guests home.

Japan is considering declaring a state of emergency for the Greater Tokyo area, as cases continue to climb.

Singapore recorded its worst-ever recession last year as a result of the pandemic, with the city-state's economy shrinking 5.8% according to preliminary data.

COVID-19

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2. Britain considers tighter restrictions

Tougher COVID-19 restrictions are likely on the way in Britain, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Much of England is already living under the upper level of a four-tier local system of restrictions, but Johnson said even tighter rules might be needed.

“There are obviously a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider... I’m not going to speculate now about what they would be,” he said in a BBC interview.

Cases in the UK are at a record level, with Scotland's cabinet also set to meet today to discuss possible further restrictions.

Policy in England is set by Johnson, but devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own policy.

It comes as the UK begins roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old, became the first person to receive a dose of the vaccine outside of a trial.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Cases have surged in the UK.
Image: Our World in Data

3. Australia grapples with outbreaks

Australia continues to tackle outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne, with authorities urging people to get tested.

"If we’re going to succeed in staying ahead of the COVID pandemic, testing is crucial in large numbers so we can be confident of the data when we’re making decisions,” New South Wales Acting Premier John Barilaro told reporters.

Authorities in the state have imposed mandatory mask wearing in indoor spaces and on public transport.

Australia has avoided the high case numbers and deaths seen in many developed economies, but the clusters in Sydney have prompted fears of a wider outbreak.