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A collection of Fitbit Ionic smartwatches. (Photo: Fitbit)

Fitbit said Tuesday it is buying Twine Health, a small Boston-based startup that helps people manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Why it matters: Fitbit has been increasingly focused on the health space as an avenue of growth, working to show its devices can monitor and improve health, not just count steps and track sleep.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter; financial terms weren't disclosed. Twine CEO John Moore will become Fitbit's medical director.

Fitbit has been pitching its devices to insurance providers and is looking to the Twine deal to make that case more compelling.

Our thought bubble: While fitness trackers and smartwatches have found a niche audience, true health applications could transform them from nice-to-have gadgets to a necessity. Fitbit, along with Apple and Samsung, have been working with the FDA to make it easier for health technologies to gain regulatory approval.

Go deeper

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As America emerges from the pandemic, here's a special Axios AM Deep Dive on the Biden administration's health care agenda.

47 mins ago - World

Palestinian Authority announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge

A nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced fresh coronavirus restrictions, including a partial lockdown, for the occupied West Bank as COVID-19 cases surge.

The big picture: The new measures come as Israel, which leads the world in vaccinations, faces increased pressure to ensure Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have equal access to vaccines.

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."