CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-FTSE 100 falls on COVID-19 risks; Signature Aviation surges

(Corrects to add dropped word “former” in paragraph 10)

* Signature Aviation surges 7% on takeover deal

* Next few weeks of the pandemic will be the worst - Witty

* easyJet raises $1.87 bln through new 5-year loan facility

* FTSE 100 down 0.5%, FTSE 250 rises 0.1%

Jan 11 (Reuters) - The FTSE 100 dropped on Monday as rising coronavirus cases across Europe stoked worries about its near-term economic impact, while Signature Aviation jumped on reaching an agreement for a takeover deal with Global Infrastructure Partners.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index fell 0.5%, after gaining for five consecutive sessions, with auto and healthcare stocks leading the declines.

Britain’s chief medical adviser Chris Witty warned that the next few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the worst as the new, highly-infectious variants of the virus rampage across the country.

“COVID-19 risks have taken centerstage again after last week’s rally and the only reason why the FTSE 100 has not fallen further today is because the pound has taken most of the heat,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx.

The British pound dropped 0.5% against the U.S. dollar to its lowest level since Dec. 29 due to concerns about the spread of the virus in the country.

Global cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 90 million, as nations continue to scramble to procure vaccines and extend or reinstate lockdowns to fight new virus variants.

However, the export-heavy FTSE 100 has gained 38% from its March 2020 lows and hovers at levels seen in late-February last year when the coronavirus crisis began to ravage risk assets globally, helped by record government spending and optimism around vaccine rollouts.

The mid-cap index was up 0.1% on Monday.

British airline easyJet reversed early gains and fell 0.9% after it boosted its liquidity through a new five-year loan facility of $1.87 billion, backed by a partial guarantee from Britain.

Signature Aviation jumped 7.7% after Global Infrastructure Partners, the former owner of London’s Gatwick Airport, reached an agreement to buy the company for about $4.63 billion, trumping an approach from Blackstone Group. (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)