Covid-19 Wrap: UK cases top 3 million, China tightens restrictions and Pope supports vaccination

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Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis around the world:

At least 1.9 million people dead worldwide

The pandemic has killed at least 1.9 million people worldwide, according to a tally compiled by AFP using official sources and information from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The United States is the country most affected (more than 368,000 deaths) followed by Brazil (over 201,000 dead), India (over 150,000), Mexico (over 132,000) and the United Kingdom (over 80,000).

Vaccine scepticism 'suicidal denial', says pope

Pope Francis urges people to get the vaccination, calling opposition to the jab "suicidal denial" and saying he will get inoculated against the virus next week.

"There is a suicidal denial which I cannot explain, but today we have to get vaccinated," the pontiff says in segments from an interview with Canale 5 to be broadcast in full on Sunday.

Queen Elizabeth II vaccinated

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip receive Covid-19 vaccinations.

The queen, 94 and Philip, 99, have spent much of the pandemic in self-isolation at Windsor Castle. It is understood the monarch decided the information should be made public to prevent inaccuracies and speculation.

UK cases top three million

Britain passes the grim milestone of three million cases during the pandemic, after the government announces another 59,937 new cases.

It also records another 1,035 fatalities from the virus, taking the total death toll to 80,868, one of the highest in Europe alongside Italy.

China tightens restrictions

Two Chinese cities south of Beijing further tighten virus restrictions, issuing week-long stay-at-home orders to residents as authorities race to stamp out a resurgence in infections ahead of the Lunar New Year next month.

Australia's third city enters lockdown

Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane starts its first day of a snap lockdown, with officials elsewhere on high alert over the emergence of more contagious strains of Covid-19.

Burundi to close borders

Burundi is to close its land and lakeside borders from Monday and impose a seven-day quarantine on travellers arriving by plane, after a rise in cases.

France against matches with UK teams, plans to extend curfew restrictions

The French government recommends clubs postpone European Cup matches with British teams due to the new Covid-19 variant, raising questions over this year's Six Nations rugby tournament.

France extended its longer overnight curfew restrictions to eight more departments, including second city Marseille, after a family cluster of the mutation identified in the UK is found.

UK variant found in eight US states

Some 63 cases of the UK mutation are found in at least eight US states including California and Florida following a new record for coronavirus cases Friday when 290,000 cases were recorded in a span of 24 hours, according to a real-time tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Israel records four SA Covid-19 variant cases

Israel's health ministry said Saturday four people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus strain first detected in South Africa, with the new British variant already recorded.

The cases were discovered after testing of travellers arriving from South Africa.

Nine arrested as Danish virus-curb protests turn violent

Nine people were arrested in Denmark on Saturday after demonstrations against the country's coronavirus restrictions turned violent in two cities including capital Copenhagen, police and local media said.

Between 200 and 250 people had gathered in Copenhagen and dozens in the city of Aalborg in Denmark's north, according to media reports citing police accounts. Organised by a group calling itself "Men in Black", the demonstrations targeted restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Mexico hits daily Covid-19 record with 16,105 new cases

Mexico on Saturday reported a record 16,105 new confirmed coronavirus cases, along with 1,135 additional fatalities, according to health ministry data, bringing its total tally to 1,524,036 infections and 133,204 deaths.

The new daily death toll marks the fifth consecutive day that officials have reported more than 1,000 fatalities due to the highly contagious disease caused by the virus.

Cuba tightens Covid-19 measures as visitors fuel record contagion

Cuba's top epidemiologist said on Saturday irresponsible partying over year-end, often with relatives from abroad, fueled a surge in coronavirus infections and he warned of a crackdown to prevent the spread of the disease.

Cubans from the large diaspora who have returned to visit, particularly from the hard-hit United States, or those returning from shopping trips abroad, have spread the virus to family members and beyond by breaking quarantine, the government has said.

- additional reporting by Reuters

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