Daily records continue to tumble for COVID-19 cases and deaths in many parts of the world, forcing governments to impose restrictions or consider lockdowns to halt the spread of the coronavirus.    In Europe, Germany is heading for a second lockdown starting on Wednesday amid rising coronavirus infections. The government in urging citizens to avoid Christmas shopping in the two days before most stores close and social distancing rules tighten. A person wearing protective mask lights a candle on a vigil organised by activist-group #wirgebendenToteneinGesicht (We give a face to the dead) to commemorate the people who died due to COVID-19 in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 13, 2020.According to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center (JHU), as of Monday morning, Germany had recorded over 1,350,800 confirmed cases and more than 22,080 deaths.   Italy has overtaken Britain as the European country with the most COVID-19 deaths, according to data collected by JHU. Monday morning Italy had 64,520 deaths, while Britain 64,267. A nurse tends to a patient inside a COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Tor Vergata Polyclinic Hospital in Rome, Italy, Dec. 13, 2020.Prime Minister Micheal Martin of Ireland said on Monday that some COVID-19 restrictions may be reimposed in January, after top health officials said infection cases may rise again after many sectors of the economy reopened in recent two weeks.   In Asia, South Korean health authorities said 150 virus testing centers will be opened in phases in the capital area, adding to more than 210 existing sites.    The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the country registered 718 new cases Monday, but the additional cases marked a drop from over 1,000 reported on Sunday. South Korea has seen relatively low total infections and deaths at 43,480 and 587 respectively as of Monday.  In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday that use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has been approved with the first shots to be deliveres by the end of this month. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that her country has agreed to allow quarantine-free travel from Australia in the first quarter of next year. Australia is already allowing New Zealanders to skip a two-week quarantine required of travelers from other countries.       In the U.S. last week, California recorded more than 25,000 new infections in one day.  “Lives will be lost unless we do more than we’ve ever done,” Governor Gavin Newsom said.     People wait in line to be tested at an outdoor COVID-19 testing site in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California, Dec. 5, 2020.Overall, more than 16 million people in the U.S. have contracted the disease, while nearly 300,000 have died.       FILE – A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, Britain, Dec. 8, 2020. (Frank Augstein/Pool via Reuters)Across the United States, the first doses of coronavirus vaccine are arriving at regional hubs Monday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine made by U.S. drug maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech for emergency use.   
Mexico also approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine late Friday, bringing to six the number of countries that are using or plan to use it.      Britain, Bahrain, Canada and Saudi Arabia have also approved the vaccine.      Brazil is steadily approaching 7 million COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 181,000 deaths.       Last week, Brazil’s health minister vowed to vaccinate the entire country during the course of next year.    

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