British authorities warned against large gatherings ahead of the Euro 2020 football final, fearful of the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant that has fuelled outbreaks across the world.

Many nations have been forced to reimpose curbs as they battle outbreaks accelerated by the variant - which was first detected in India - while also trying to ramp up vaccinations to allow their economies to reopen.

London is hosting 65,000 fans at Wembley Stadium for the final of the virus-delayed Euro 2020 championship, the biggest crowd at a British football stadium since the start of the pandemic, as the home side take on Italy.

Authorities are particularly concerned about the risk of large gatherings at fan zones and pubs across England to watch the country's first appearance in a major football final in more than half a century.

"London still remains in a public health crisis," Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said yesterday, urging people to remain socially distanced.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signalled he intends to ease all remaining restrictions in England on 19 July, but infection rates are once again surging across Britain - driven by the Delta variant.

His government has argued that, with more than 85% of adults having received at least one shot, the link between infections, hospitalisations and deaths has been severed.

But many scientists are deeply uneasy with relaxing all remaining rules, including social distancing and the legal requirement to wear masks on public transport and in indoor spaces.

Health experts have expressed concerns about Euro 2020 events becoming super-spreaders throughout the tournament, especially in Britain and Russia because of the Delta variant.

Authorities in Denmark, Finland and Scotland have already reported infections among fans after they attended Euro matches.

Elsewhere in Europe, after an "exponential" rise in cases, officials in the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia said they had no choice but to reimpose restrictions.

The known Covid-19 global death toll has topped four million, with the fight complicated by the emergence of variants that have accelerated outbreaks even in countries that had successfully weathered the early phases of the pandemic.

Australia, where restrictions have been reimposed in a number of cities recently, announced its first virus-related death in the Sydney outbreak.

It came as authorities warned that the situation in Sydney was expected to worsen, with Australia's biggest city in its third week of lockdown and its population overwhelmingly unvaccinated.

"Tomorrow and the few days afterwards will be worse, much worse than we've seen today," said Gladys Berejiklian, premier of New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital.

South Korea, once held up as a model for Covid-19 response, was set to tighten restrictions from Monday in and around the capital Seoul after new daily infections hit their highest level since the start of the pandemic.

The Asia-Pacific region has seen a dramatic rise in cases in a number of countries, with Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam imposing fresh restrictions as a result.

The rapid spread of the Delta variant across Asia, Africa and Latin America is exposing crucial vaccine supply shortages for some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations.

Those two factors are also threatening the global economic recovery from the pandemic, G20 finance ministers warned Saturday.

The less privileged parts of the world are expected to suffer that economic blow the most.

That impact was in focus in the indigenous town of San Martin Jilotepeque in Guatemala, where shops were closed and streets deserted as some 90,000 residents were confined from Thursday to Sunday to curb the spread of the virus.

For the people of the town, the brief restrictions did not come without a cost.

"We have payments to make, rent and children to support," said resident Bartolome Chocoj.

"If we are not going to die of Covid, we are going to die of hunger."

US 'very concerned' variants could risk global recovery

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday she was "very concerned" about the risk that new variants of coronavirus could pose to the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

"We are very concerned about the Delta variant and other variants that could emerge and threaten recovery," she told reporters following a G20 meeting in Venice, Italy.

"We are a connected global economy, what happens in any part of the world affects all other countries."

In their final statement issued late Saturday, G20 finance ministers warned that the spread of new variants was a "downside risk" to the economic recovery, while also warning of the dangers of differing paces of vaccination campaigns.

"We recognise the importance of working together to speed the process of vaccination and have the goal of wanting to vaccinate 70 percent of the world's population next year," Ms Yellen said.

She said "a lot has been done" to finance the purchase of vaccines by developing countries, but said the world needed to "do something more and to be more effective" with respect to responding to outbreaks around the world, such as sending therapeutics and protective equipment.

The G20 on Friday heard from a specially commissioned panel of experts who warned the world must invest much more - at least €63bn over the next five years - to prepare for and try to avert the next pandemic.
"While we're focused on the medium- and long-term ... we certainly realise we also need to do more in the near term," Yellen said.

The World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Health Organization "have formed a taskforce to work on this and we've asked that we have regular monthly reports on how that work is going and that we address this issue more fully in October" at the G20 ministers' next meeting.

"But certainly variants represent a threat to the entire globe," Ms Yellen said.