(Reuters) – Governments across Europe announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns and curbs against the backdrop of fears of a fast-spreading variant first detected in Britain, with vaccinations not expected to help much until the spring.
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* Johnson & Johnson could deliver the first doses of its vaccine to Europe in April, an EU official told Reuters.
* Britain is targeting a 24-hour, 7-day a week vaccination programme as soon as possible, PM Boris Johnson said, as he bids to step up the pace of the roll-out, with daily deaths at record levels.
* Spain reported a record number of new infections on Wednesday in the wake of the Christmas holidays.
* Switzerland tightened measures to tackle new variants of the virus, while Denmark extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks.
* Italy will extend the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of April, while a new lockdown to bring record high cases under control will come into force in Portugal from Friday.
* China posted its biggest daily increase in cases in more than five months and stepped up containment measures that have seen four cities put under lockdown.
* Japan expanded a state of emergency in the Tokyo area to seven more prefectures amid a steady rise in cases.
* The second year of the pandemic may be tougher than the first given how the new coronavirus is spreading, the World Health Organization said.
* Ontario has vaccinated only a small proportion of long-term care and retirement home residents, new provincial data showed.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Daily cases in the United Arab Emirates crossed 3,000 for the first time this week as authorities urged people to accept vaccinations.
* Turkey will start countrywide vaccinations on Thursday, beginning with health workers.
* Sudan has lifted a ban on travellers coming from Britain, the Netherlands and South Africa until April 11.
* China’s Sinovac Biotech defended the safety and efficacy of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after disappointing data from Brazil.
* Johnson & Johnson is facing unexpected delays in the manufacturing of its vaccine and may not be able to supply the doses it promised the U.S. government by spring, the New York Times reported.
* A major chunk of the global recovery in companies’ earnings expected in the first quarter is at risk of being pushed back further, investment banks said.
* Britain’s main opposition Labour party called on the government not to cut public spending too soon and curtail economic recovery when the pandemic ebbs.
* Continued delays in Brazil rolling out a vaccine will increase the risks to the expected economic recovery this year, ratings agency Moody’s lead sovereign analyst for the country said.
* Peru’s economy is rebounding faster than expected, central bank and economy ministry officials said, but risks remain.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath and Bartosz Dabrowski; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta)