Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
(Reuters) - Britain raised its COVID-19 alert level and U.S. cases crossed 50 million, while the World Health Organization and the World Bank said over half a billion people globally entered extreme poverty last year from pandemic-led health costs.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Britain faces a "tidal wave" of the Omicron variant and two vaccine doses will not be enough to contain it, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned, as he accelerated the booster rollout programme.
* The number of registered cases in Russia now exceeds 10 million, but the latest wave of the pandemic has lost its momentum and the number of deaths is declining.
* The European Central Bank's vice-president Luis de Guindos has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating, the ECB said.
* The United States reached 800,000 deaths, as the nation braces for a potential surge in infections due to more time spent indoors with colder weather and the Omicron variant.
* Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine is the "optimal care" but two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or one of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains the U.S. government's official definition of fully vaccinated, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said.
* Australia will shorten the wait time for people to receive a COVID-19 booster following a rise in Omicron cases.
* More than a dozen Chinese-listed companies have suspended production in coronavirus-hit parts of China's eastern Zhejiang province.
* Coronavirus-free Queensland state opened its domestic borders to all vaccinated people for the first time in nearly five months, as Australians gear up for quarantine-free travel across most of the country during the busy Christmas period.
* South Korea will test artificial intelligence-powered facial recognition to track COVID-19 cases.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Israel said it was adding Britain and Denmark to its "red" list of countries that Israelis are forbidden to visit.
* Nigeria plans to ban flights from Argentina, Britain, Canada and Saudi Arabia from this week in retaliation for being added to those countries' red lists over the detection of the Omicron variant last month.
* South Africa's 69-year-old President Cyril Ramaphosa tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, though is showing only mild symptoms, the presidency said.
* China's Brii Biosciences said lab studies showed that its COVID-19 antibody cocktail retained activity against the Omicron variant, although one of the antibodies showed a substantial drop in activity when tested alone.
* Asian stocks pushed ahead on Monday with investors seemingly confident markets can weather whatever comes from a host of central bank meetings this week, including the likely early end to U.S. policy stimulus.[MKTS/GLOB]
* Japan's service-sector mood improved to a two-year high but the recovery among manufacturers stalled, a closely watched central bank survey showed, a sign rising raw material costs was weighing on the economy's recovery from the pandemic.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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