(Updates with new developments)
Nov 25 (Reuters) - Singapore, which once had the highest COVID-19 rate in Southeast Asia, said it was nearly virus-free and Australia's most populous state eased restrictions, while Tokyo will urge bars and restaurants to operate shortened hours.
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.
* Germany reported a record 410 COVID-19 deaths over 24 hours just before federal state leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel were due to discuss an extension of pandemic-related restrictions into December and for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
* The outgoing Lithuanian government on Wednesday extended a lockdown in the country until Dec. 17, when the new government is expected to take over, as cases in the country continued to soar.
* Poland reported on Wednesday a new daily record of 674 coronavirus-related deaths, while new daily cases surpassed 15,000.
* France will start easing curbs this weekend so people will be able to spend the holiday with their families, and said a vaccine could start being administered by the year-end if approved by regulators.
* The White House is considering rescinding entry bans for most non-U.S. citizens who recently were in Brazil, Britain, Ireland and 26 other European countries, five U.S. and airline officials told Reuters.
* U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will give a speech on Wednesday highlighting the challenges facing Americans as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and the nation faces a surge in coronavirus infections.
* The Canadian province of Alberta said it would ban indoor social gatherings, halt classes for some students and reduce retail store capacities.
* The Australian Open is likely to be delayed by a week or two as negotiations between organisers, the tennis tours and the Victoria government over health measures continue.
* Japanese trend-setters can now protect against the coronavirus in luxurious style with opulent masks adorned with diamonds and pearls for a cool million yen ($9,600) each.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Iran registered on Wednesday a daily record high of 13,843 new cases, the health ministry said, pushing the national tally to 894,385 in the Middle East's worst-hit country.
* Egypt braced for a second coronavirus wave ahead of winter, as people in its capital city largely continue to disregard rules over face masks and social distancing.
* Countries around the world are scrambling to finalise vaccine deals as the global number of infections approached 60 million on Wednesday, scientists urged caution and U.S. officials pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving.
* Russia's Sputnik V vaccine will cost less than $20 per person on international markets and Moscow aims to produce more than a billion doses at home and abroad next year.
* Eli Lilly and Co signed an agreement with the Canadian government to supply 26,000 doses of its COVID-19 antibody drug.
* Global shares on Wednesday hit record highs and were on course for their best month ever, with investors cheering the prospect of a smooth handover of power after the U.S. presidential election and confident COVID-19 vaccines would soon be ready.
* British finance minister Rishi Sunak will free up more cash on Wednesday against the backdrop of the heaviest public borrowing since World War Two.
* U.S. consumer confidence fell more than expected in November amid a widespread resurgence in new infections and business restrictions, reinforcing expectations for a sharp slowdown in the fourth quarter.
(Compiled by Anna Rzhevkina, Ramakrishan M., Devika Syamnath and Anita Kobylinska; Edited by Sriraj Kalluvila, Shounak Dasgupta and Alexandra Hudson)
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