* The Chinese mainland on Wednesday reported 17 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, including six locally transmitted cases in northeast China's Liaoning Province, the National Health Commission said Thursday. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 86,899 by Wednesday, including 315 patients still receiving treatment, six of whom were in severe conditions.
* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged the public to avoid travel and stay at home during Christmas holiday, to curb the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. The United States has recorded over 18.2 million cases with over 322,500 related deaths as of Tuesday night, according to the real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
* India's COVID-19 tally rose to 10,123,778 on Thursday as 24,712 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry. According to the data, the death toll mounted to 146,756 with 312 more deaths. There are still 283,849 active cases in the country, while 9,693,173 people have been discharged from hospitals after medical treatment.
* Japan on Wednesday confirmed a daily record 3,271 COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 206,988, not including those related to a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier in the year. The nation's death toll also marked a single-day high at 56, with the total number of deaths since the outbreak of the virus now reaching 3,082 people.
* Britain's transport minister said he had ordered flights and arrivals from South Africa to be halted after a potentially more infectious variant of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 had spread to Britain.
* Republic of Korea has signed deals with Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen to secure coronavirus vaccines for 10 million people and 6 million, respectively.
* Spain will receive 350,000 doses per week of the Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccine starting on Saturday, Health Minister Salvador Illa said.
* Irish health chiefs believe a new variant of COVID-19 found in neighbouring Britain is present in Ireland, but not solely responsible for a rapid spread of the disease.
* Merck & Co said it would supply about 60,000-100,000 doses of its experimental COVID-19 treatment to the US government for up to about US$356 million.
* Canada approved Moderna Inc's coronavirus vaccine, the second country to do so, paving the way for health authorities to step up an inoculation campaign against a worsening second wave.
* Mexico plans to begin inoculating health workers against COVID-19 on Thursday with the arrival of the first vaccines.
* Argentina has granted emergency approval for use of Russia's Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine, the health ministry said .
* The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer will reach Costa Rica on Wednesday night, with inoculations set to begin on Thursday, President Carlos Alvarado told a news conference.
* Aurobindo Pharma Ltd said it would make and sell US-based COVAXX's COVID-19 vaccine candidate for supply in India and to the United Nations Children's Fund under a licensing deal.
* Israel has detected four cases of the new, highly infectious variant that has emerged in Britain.
* Moderna Inc expects that the immunity induced by its COVID-19 vaccine would be protective against the coronavirus variants reported in the UK.