Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
(Reuters) - Japan's COVID-19 infections are falling in contrast with rebounds in other parts of Asia, baffling experts, while cases have been spreading in pubs and clubs in Australia's biggest city.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher COVID-19 restrictions in England, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
* The UK Health Security Agency said the Omicron variant was likely to outcompete Delta and replace it to become dominant, and that it could account for at least half of new cases in the next 2-4 weeks.
* The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate approved a Republican measure that would overturn President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses, with two Democrats joining Republicans to back the initiative.
* Canada's ban on travelers from southern African countries and its refusal to recognize these countries' PCR tests, aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant, is an obstacle for Canadians heading home and increasing international pressure to reverse the measures.
* A New York judge has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday to consider whether to block New York City from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public-sector workers.
* Cuba has detected its first Omicron case in a person who had traveled from Mozambique, Cuban state media agency ACN reported late.
* Australia Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington, DC while on an official visit.
* Indian COVID-19 vaccine makers are lobbying the government to authorise boosters as supplies have outstripped demand.
* The Philippines will ban travellers coming from France.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA* South Africa reported nearly 20,000 new cases on Wednesday, a record since Omicron was detected, and 36 new COVID-related deaths.
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail to prevent COVID-19 infections in individuals with weak immune systems or a history of severe side effects from coronavirus vaccines.
* BioNTech and Pfizer said a three-shot course of their vaccine was able to neutralise the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test.
* A mix-and-match approach to COVID-19 vaccines is safe and effective, and some combinations even improve upon immune responses, UK researchers found.
* Stocks rose in choppy trade on Thursday as worries about the economic impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant ebbed but increasing caution ahead of U.S. inflation data capped other risk assets such as oil and the Australian dollar. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The total amount of money circulating in Japan rose at the slowest annual pace in 19 months in November, as firms and households saw less need to hoard cash with the economy emerging from the initial shock caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath and Shailesh Kuber; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)
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