(Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for coronavirus, his office said on Thursday, sparking a track and trace effort targeting EU leaders and senior officials who met him in recent days.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread of COVID-19, open https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/ in an external browser. * Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.
* European Union countries will begin inoculating people against the new coronavirus from Dec. 27 as Europe tries to catch up with Britain and the United States after what some have criticised as a slow EU approval process for the shots.
* European Council President Charles Michel was going into self-isolation as a precaution after seeing French President Emmanuel Macron - who has tested positive for COVID-19 - in person on Monday, a spokesman for the bloc said on Thursday.
* Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa has cancelled official trips and is in self-isolation, his office said on Thursday.
* President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was yet to be inoculated with the Russian-made vaccine against COVID-19 but that he would do so when possible.
* Uruguay will temporarily close its borders next week to non-commercial traffic, and urged citizens to limit holiday gatherings due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
* The United States widened its network for administering COVID-19 vaccines to doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic.
* President-elect Joe Biden will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week, transition officials said.
* The Japanese capital Tokyo, faced with acute strains on its medical system from the COVID-19 pandemic, raised its alert level to the highest of four stages on Thursday as the number of new cases spiked to a record daily high of 822.
* South Korea reported a record number of coronavirus deaths on Thursday as the country's biggest wave of infections since the start of the pandemic strained hospital resources and sparked panic buying in anticipation of a harsh new lockdown.
* Beijing will welcome an international team of COVID-19 investigators due to travel to China in January, said the World Health Organization, which is leading the mission.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* A South African court on Thursday dismissed insurer Guardrisk's appeal against a previous ruling that found it was liable pay a Cape Town cafe's rejected coronavirus claim.
* Saudi Arabia received its first shipment of vaccines and will begin distributing the shots in the next three days.
* Nigeria expects to receive its first doses of a vaccine in January.
* A panel of outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to endorse emergency use of Moderna Inc's vaccine during a meeting on Thursday, as the nation prepares to roll out a second vaccine.
* An Indian government-backed vaccine showed it was safe and triggered immune responses during an ongoing early-stage trial, the company involved in the study said.
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said extra doses from vials of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine can be used after reports of vaccine doses being thrown away by pharmacists due to labeling confusion.
* World stocks scaled new peaks and oil marched higher on Thursday as investors lapped up risky assets on hopes of a U.S. fiscal stimulus and the Federal Reserve's pledge to keep pumping cash into markets. [MKTS/GLOB]
* South Korea cut its 2021 growth forecast and vowed to continue to support workers and exporters as a resurgence of the coronavirus has delayed its recovery and forced the government to keep its fiscal taps wide open.
(Compiled by Devika Syamnath, Anita Kobylinska and Uttaresh.V; Editing by William Maclean, Anil D'Silva, Arun Koyyur, Alexandra Hudson)