(Reuters) – The World Bank’s executive board approved $12 billion in new funding for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, while hopes of a new U.S. pandemic relief package faded.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* Britain’s opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer called for a two-to-three-week “circuit breaker” lockdown, piling pressure on PM Boris Johnson who is struggling to sell his own plan to tackle COVID-19.
* The Netherlands will return to a “partial lockdown” on Wednesday, while Ukraine’s government voted to extend its lockdown until the end of the year and Italy imposed new curbs on gatherings, restaurants, sports and school activities.
* New COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths all spiked further in France as the nation braced for potential additional restrictions.
* Northern Ireland’s devolved government is set to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after a rapid spread of cases led to the cancellation of elective surgeries across Belfast on Tuesday.
* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Republican-led U.S. Senate would vote on a scaled-down coronavirus economic relief bill of the type Democrats have rejected as they hold out for trillions in aid.
* Mexico plans to vaccinate more than 116 million people, or roughly 90% of its population, by the end of 2021.
* Several coronavirus clusters have emerged in Australia’s two most populous states, officials said, prompting the biggest, New South Wales, to delay easing some restrictions.
* India’s tally of coronavirus infections rose by 63,509 in the last 24 hours to stand at 7.24 million on Wednesday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Iran’s death toll rose by 254 to 29,070 on Tuesday as the number of confirmed cases spiked to 508,389 in the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country.
* Johnson & Johnson said it would take at least a few days for an independent safety panel to evaluate an unexplained illness of a study participant that led to a pause in the company’s COVID-19 vaccine trial.
* U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co said the government-sponsored clinical trial of its COVID-19 antibody treatment similar to one taken by U.S. President Donald Trump has been paused because of a safety concern.
* The G20 group of major economies is poised to extend a multi-billion-dollar debt freeze for the world’s poorest countries to help them weather the crisis.
* Global finance leaders said the world economy had escaped a coronavirus-triggered collapse so far, but warned that failure to conquer the pandemic, maintain stimulus and tackle mounting debt among poor nations could crush a fragile recovery.
* Singapore’s central bank left its monetary policy unchanged and said its accommodative stance will remain appropriate for some time as the city-state’s economy emerges from its coronavirus slump.
(Compiled by Aditya Soni, Devika Syamnath and Anita Kobylinska; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur)