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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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UK shuts world's busiest international air route

Britain is banning direct passenger flights from the United Arab Emirates, shutting down the world's busiest international airline route from Dubai to London.

Britain said it was adding the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda to its travel ban list because of worries over the spread of a more contagious and potentially vaccine-resistant Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa.

"This means people who have been in or transited through these countries will be denied entry, except British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights who must self-isolate for 10 days at home," UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said.

Mexico's death toll surpasses India's

Mexico on Thursday surpassed India in confirmed Covid-19 deaths, giving the Latin American country the third-highest toll worldwide, according to a Reuters tally of official data.

Mexico's health ministry reported 18,670 new confirmed cases and 1,506 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of cases to 1,825,519 and deaths to 155,145.

The latest total death toll in India, a country with a population more than 10 times that of Mexico's 126 million inhabitants, stood at 153,847.

EU holds out for more from AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca offered 8 million more doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the European Union to try to defuse a row over supplies, but the bloc said that was too far short of what was originally promised, an EU official told Reuters.

The Anglo-Swedish firm unexpectedly announced cuts in supplies to the EU last week, citing production problems at a Belgian factory, triggering a furious response from the bloc.

EU officials said that meant a 60% cut to 31 million doses in the period to the end of March, a major blow for its 27 member states which are already lagging vaccination campaigns in Israel, Britain and the United States.

New York state 'undercounted' nursing home deaths

New York state’s health department may have undercounted the Covid-19 death toll among state nursing home residents by as much as 50%, according to a report released by the state attorney general's office on Thursday.

The report, issued while the state prosecutor's office continues to investigate nursing homes' response to the pandemic, indicated that some facilities underreported deaths to the state health department.

It also noted that the health department has not counted the deaths of nursing home residents who were transferred to and died in hospitals, contributing to a drastic underrepresentation of the nursing home death toll.

Signs of another wave in South Korea

South Korea has delayed until Sunday any easing of social distancing measures because outbreaks involving mission schools are threatening to undermine efforts to keep new infections under control ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

The number of cases linked to Christian schools nationwide grew further on Friday, reaching 344 infections in total in seven facilities.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun cited experts who view the recent surge in cases as a sign of another massive wave of infections.

(Reuters)

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