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06 May 21:12

SA Covid-19 death toll at 54 620 as the number of cases now sit at 1 590 370

South Africa has recorded 63 more Covid-19-related deaths, taking the number of total fatalities to 54 620, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

“Regrettably, we report 63 more Covid-19 related deaths:  6 in the Eastern Cape, 21 Free State, 17 in Gauteng, 5 in KwaZulu-Natal, 3 in Mpumalanga, 5 in the Norther Cape and 6 from the Western Cape,” he said in a statement on Thursday night.

The cumulative number of tests conducted to date is 10 805 804, with 32 577 new tests conducted since the last report. Recoveries now stand at 1 511 905.

06 May 14:13

Russia considers supplying 1 million vaccine shots to Armenia - RIA

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Russia was considering supplying 1 million shots of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to Armenia, the RIA new agency reported.

Russia had already sent 15 000 doses of the vaccine to the former Soviet republic last month, Lavrov was quoted as saying at a meeting with his Armenian counterpart.Armenia's population is fewer than three million people.

- Reuters

06 May 14:00

France widens Covid vaccine rollout to 16-17 year olds at high risk of major illness

France has decided to widen its Covid-19 vaccine rollout to people aged 16-17 who could face a high risk of a major illness from the virus, said the country's health ministry on Thursday, as the country gradually accelerates its vaccine programme.

The health ministry said this category of 16-17 year olds would be allowed to get the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from Thursday onward.

- Reuters

06 May 14:00

France widens Covid vaccine rollout to 16-17 year olds at high risk of major illness

France has decided to widen its Covid-19 vaccine rollout to people aged 16-17 who could face a high risk of a major illness from the virus, said the country's health ministry on Thursday, as the country gradually accelerates its vaccine programme.

The health ministry said this category of 16-17 year olds would be allowed to get the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from Thursday onward.

- Reuters

06 May 13:31

Pfizer/BioNTech to supply vaccines for Olympic athletes

US drugs giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Thursday announced a deal with the International Olympics Committee to provide vaccines to competitors and staff at the Tokyo games.

In a statement, the firms said they would coordinate with national sporting bodies to make sure that coronavirus vaccines are available to anyone who needs one before travelling to Japan.

- AFP

06 May 12:20

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 21 953 - RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 21 953 to 3 473 503, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

The reported death toll rose by 250 to 84 126, the tally showed.

- Reuters

06 May 12:08

Mexico's coronavirus death toll passes 218 000

Mexico's health ministry on Wednesday reported 267 new confirmed coronavirus deaths and 3 021 new cases, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 218 007 and cases to 2 355 985.

Separate government data published in March suggested the real death toll may be at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

- Reuters

06 May 11:43

Ramaphosa welcomes US U-turn on vaccine patents, which may allow SA to ramp up production

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the US decision to support a temporary patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines.

Image: President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on developments in relation to the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic. (GCIS)

<p><strong>Ramaphosa welcomes US U-turn on vaccine patents, which may allow SA to ramp up production</strong></p><p>President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the US decision to support a temporary patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines.</p><p><strong>Image:</strong> President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on developments in relation to the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic. (GCIS)</p>
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06 May 11:11

Covid-19 dangerously threatens India's rural areas

India's Covid-19 crisis has been most acute in the capital, New Delhi, among other cities, but in rural areas - home to nearly 70% of India's 1.3 billion people - limited public healthcare is posing more challenges.

"The situation has become dangerous in villages," said Suresh Kumar, a field coordinator with Manav Sansadhan Evam Mahila Vikas Sansthan, a human rights charity.

In some villages where the charity works in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh - home to about 200 million people - "there are deaths in almost every second house," he said.

"People are scared and huddled in their homes with fever and cough. The symptoms are all of Covid-19, but with no information available many think it is seasonal flu."

The country's top scientific adviser has warned of a possible third wave of infections.

"Phase 3 is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus," the government's principal scientific adviser, K VijayRaghavan told a news briefing on Wednesday.

- Reuters

06 May 10:03

Pharma federation IFPMA says US support for patent waiver 'disappointing'

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations expressed disappointment on Wednesday at the United States' decision to support a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines.

"As we have consistently stated, a waiver is the simple but the wrong answer to what is a complex problem," the lobby group said in a statement, describing the US move as "disappointing".

- AFP

06 May 09:09

Covid-19: Biden aims 'to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible'

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it supports waiving intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines, saying "extraordinary circumstances" call for "extraordinary measures".

Image: Protesters picket outside Johnson & Johnson Offices during the Global Day Of Action For A People's Vaccine on 11 March 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa.

It is reported that the group demanded pharmaceuticals openly share their technological know-how and also for governments to suspend patent rules at the World Trade Organisation on Covid-19 vaccines. (Brenton Geach, Gallo Images via Getty Images)

<p><strong>Covid-19: Biden aims 'to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible'</strong></p><p>The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it supports waiving intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines, saying "extraordinary circumstances" call for "extraordinary measures".</p><p>Image: Protesters picket outside Johnson &amp; Johnson Offices during the Global Day Of Action For A People's Vaccine on 11 March 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. </p><p>It is reported that the group demanded pharmaceuticals openly share their technological know-how and also for governments to suspend patent rules at the World Trade Organisation on Covid-19 vaccines. (Brenton Geach, Gallo Images via Getty Images)</p>
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06 May 09:00

US backs plan to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents

US President Joe Biden's administration on Wednesday announced support for a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, offering hope to poor nations that have struggled to access the life-saving doses.

India, where the death toll hit a new daily record amid fears the peak is still to come, has been leading the fight within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow more drug-makers to manufacture the vaccines - a move pharma giants oppose.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that while intellectual property rights for businesses are important, Washington "supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines" in order to end the pandemic.

- AFP

06 May 08:30

Thai activist lawyer contracts Covid-19 while jailed on charge of insulting king - official

Thai activist lawyer, Arnon Nampa, jailed without bail since February on charges of insulting the country's powerful king, has contracted coronavirus in custody, a corrections department official said on Thursday.

"Arnon tested positive for Covid yesterday and at the moment he has been sent to the prison hospital for treatment," a corrections department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Arnon's Facebook page also reported he had contracted the coronavirus.

- Reuters

06 May 07:50

Novavax vaccine shows 51% efficacy against South African variant, study finds

Novavax Inc's Covid-19 vaccine had efficacy of 51% against infections caused by the South African variant among people who were HIV negative, and 43% in a group that included people who were HIV positive, according to a new analysis published on Wednesday.

The variant, known as B.1.351, carries mutations that threaten the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, several studies have shown.

Most vaccine makers, including Novavax, are testing versions of their vaccines to protect against emerging variants.

The Novavax post-hoc analysis was published in the New England Journal of Medicine along with full data from the company's trial in South Africa, which included nearly 2 700 volunteers who had not been previously infected with the coronavirus.

Results announced in January showed efficacy of 60.1% against symptomatic Covid-19 in the South African trial looking at a mixture of the original virus and the South African variant among those who were HIV-negative.

Efficacy was 49.4% among a mixed group of HIV positive and HIV negative participants.

The study also showed that prior infection with an earlier version of the virus did not reduce the risk of Covid-19 caused by the South African variant among people who got placebo shots.

- Reuters

06 May 07:33

Covid-19: 2073 new cases and 46 more deaths

South Africa recorded 2 073 new Covid-19 infections by Wednesday and 46 more Covid-19-related deaths, taking the death toll to 54 557.

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06 May 07:31

Sydney rushes to trace first local Covid cases in a month

Sydney's first local Covid-19 cases in more than a month left health authorities scrambling to trace their origins on Thursday, but they stopped short of ordering Australia's most populous city into lockdown.

A man in his 50s and his wife have tested positive for the virus, triggering warnings for a string of locations around the city that they visited while believed to be contagious.

They are Sydney's first recorded cases of transmission outside hotel quarantine since the start of April.

New South Wales state premier Gladys Berejiklian said from 17:00 on Thursday, Sydney's five million residents would again have to wear masks on public transport and in indoor venues.

- AFP

06 May 06:59

India sees record Covid-19 deaths, new cases in 24 hours

India saw almost 4 000 Covid-19 deaths and more than 412 000 new cases in the past 24 hours, both new records, official data showed on Thursday.

Health ministry numbers showed 3 980 deaths, taking the national total to 230 168, and 412 262 new cases, bringing India's caseload since the pandemic began to 21.1 million.

The renewed rise follows several days of falling case numbers that had raised government hopes that the catastrophic recent surge may have been easing.

Having hit a high of 402 000 last Friday, the daily number of cases eased in subsequent days to as low as 357 000 before creeping up again on Tuesday.

- AFP

05 May 17:03

Tanzania stops flights to and from India amid coronavirus surge

Tanzania has suspended flights to and from India amid the Covid-19 surge in the Southeast Asian nation, the country's health ministry said, the latest sign of its increasingly active approach to tackling the pandemic under its new president.

It joins a growing list of East African countries that have halted flights to and from India, including Uganda and Kenya.

The suspension is effective immediately and will apply until further notice, the statement from health minister Abel Makubi dated Tuesday said. Exceptions would be made for cargo planes and pre-approved flights on humanitarian, diplomatic, and medical missions.

These are among the latest tough measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus since President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March.

Hassan’s approach has differed markedly from her predecessor John Magufuli, who downplayed the severity of the virus and encouraged natural remedies to combat it.

-REUTERS

05 May 14:58

India's Goa, sun and sand tourist destination, has country's highest Covid rate

India's Goa state, a hugely popular tourist destination on the western coast, has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections in the country, with up to one in every two people testing positive in recent weeks, government officials said on Wednesday.

Leaders of the small state, ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing BJP party, were being blamed by the opposition and medical experts for ignoring pandemic protocols and allowing entry to tens of thousands of tourists this year in a bid to generate revenue.

Two government-appointed medical officials working at the state's Covid-19 data collection centre in the capital Panjim said the positivity rates in tests since April were between 40% to 51%, the highest in the country.

"The rate at which positive cases have increased represents the true picture of how fast the virus has spread," said one state official, adding that a complete lockdown and strict ban on entry of all tourists was the only way to slow down the surge.

- Reuters

05 May 14:32

Two Covid cases have been confirmed among the Indian delegation attending the London G7 meeting

India's foreign minister is self-isolating after two members of the country's delegation to the G7 meeting in London have tested positive for Covid-19.

Image: G7 Foreign Ministers (left to right): European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas, Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Ben Stansall/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

<p><strong>Two Covid cases have been confirmed among the Indian delegation attending the London G7 meeting</strong></p><p>India's foreign minister is self-isolating after two members of the country's delegation to the G7 meeting in London have tested positive for Covid-19.</p><p><strong>Image: </strong>G7 Foreign Ministers (left to right): European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas, Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Ben Stansall/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)</p>
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05 May 14:15

Germany looks to loosening lockdown as Covid-19 cases fall

Parts of Germany are eyeing a loosening of lockdown restrictions as the number of new cases fell nationwide on Wednesday, though infection rates remain high in some of the 16 federal states.

Confirmed new coronavirus cases in Germany rose on Wednesday by 18 034 to 3 451 550, but that 24-hour figure was 4 000 lower than a week ago, and the seven-day incidence per 100 000 people dropped to 132 from 141 on Tuesday, the lowest in three weeks.

Legislation passed last month enabled the federal government to impose night-time curfews in areas where cases exceed 100 per 100 000 residents on three consecutive days, and even stricter curbs where cases go above 165 per 100 000.

Three of Germany's states are now under the key threshold of 100 cases per 100 000 - Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein - while three others are getting close - Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

- Reuters

05 May 13:50

India announces $6.7 billion in cheap loans for vaccine, health firms

India's central bank said Wednesday that $6.7 billion in cheap financing would be released for vaccine makers, hospitals and other health firms to counter the devastating coronavirus surge gripping the country.

Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das said cheap loans would be available until 31 March next year and vowed that "unconventional" measures would be used if the crisis worsens.

- AFP

05 May 13:26

China gave 284.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of 4 May

China has administered 284.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Tuesday, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday.

That compares with 279.91 million doses given as of Monday, up about 4.69 million doses.

- Reuters

05 May 12:58

Japan town builds giant squid with Covid-19 relief funds  

A Japanese costal town in the western part of the country has drawn ire on social media for using some of the coronavirus relief funds it was given by the government to build a statue of a giant squid in the hopes of boosting tourism.  

The town of Noto in Ishikawa Prefecture was awarded ¥800 million ($7.31 million) in grants from the central government as part of an aid programme aimed at boosting local economies amid the pandemic, according to domestic media.  

From that amount, Noto used ¥25 million to cover part of the cost of building the statue, which is 4m high and is 9m long, domestic media reported.

Total construction costs were around ¥30 million, they said.  

Japan is battling a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and the cabinet approved a $708 billion stimulus package in December to help the economy recover from the pandemic-induced slump.  

Squid is a local delicacy in Noto and building the statue was part of a "long-term strategy" to raise awareness about the town's fishing industry and increase tourism, a local government official said, according to domestic media.  

- Reuters

05 May 12:49

India accounted for 1 in 4 coronavirus deaths worldwide last week

India accounted for one in four deaths from the coronavirus in the world last week, the World Health Organisation said.

Image: Covid-19 victims being cremated at Seemapuri crematorium in New Delhi, India.

<p><strong>India accounted for 1 in 4 coronavirus deaths worldwide last week</strong></p><p>India accounted for one in four deaths from the coronavirus in the world last week, the World Health Organisation said.</p><p><strong>Image:</strong> Covid-19 victims being cremated at Seemapuri crematorium in New Delhi, India.</p>
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05 May 12:32

India accounts for 46% of world's new Covid-19 cases, quarter of deaths

India accounted for 46% of the new Covid-19 cases recorded worldwide last week and one in four of deaths, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

The surge of the coronavirus in India, including of a highly infectious new variant first identified there, has seen hospitals runs out of beds and oxygen, and morgues and crematoriums overflowing.

Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen.

Worldwide, 5.7 million new cases were reported last week and more than 93 000 deaths, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report.

India reported nearly 2.6 million new cases, a 20% increase on the previous week, and 23 231 deaths.

- Reuters

05 May 12:02

Indian delegates to attend G7 virtually after Covid scare - Sky News

India's delegation to the Group of Seven summit in London will be attempting to attend their meetings virtually after two of its members tested positive for Covid-19, a Sky News reporter said on Wednesday, without citing sources.

Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar did not test positive for the virus, Sky News reporter Joe Pike said on Twitter.

Jaishankar was pictured meeting British interior minister Priti Patel on Tuesday.

- Reuters

05 May 11:05

Russia reports 7 975 new Covid-19 cases, 360 deaths

Russia reported 7 975 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, including 2 432 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 4 847 489.

The government coronavirus task force said 360 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 111 895.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 250 000 deaths related to Covid-19 from April 2020 to March 2021.

- Reuters

05 May 10:30

Canada's Alberta confirms first death linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

The Canadian province of Alberta reported its first death of a patient from a rare blood clot condition after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, its chief medical officer confirmed late on Tuesday.

The Alberta case marks the second case of blood clots, and the only death after more than 253 000 doses of AstraZeneca were administered in the province, the statement added.

AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for a comment.Last month, the province of Quebec reported Canada's first death of a patient after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The rare complication, which some regulators including Health Canada are calling Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia, involves blood clots accompanied by a low count of platelets, cells in the blood that help it to clot.

- Reuters

05 May 10:07

China reports 7 new mainland Covid-19 cases vs 17 a day earlier

China reported seven new Covid-19 cases on 4 May, down from 17 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Wednesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement all of the new cases were imported infections.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 10 from 20 a day earlier.

Total confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mainland China is now 90 721.

The death toll remains unchanged at 4 636.

- Reuters

05 May 09:41

Japan considering state of emergency for Tokyo, other areas beyond May 11 - media

The Japanese government is considering an extension of the state of emergency for Tokyo and other major urban areas that was scheduled to end on 11 May, the Yomiuri Newspaper said on Wednesday.

Japan had placed Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures under a 17-day state of emergency on 25 April in an effort to reverse the surge in coronavirus infections.

An extension of the emergency restrictions would come with fewer than three months left until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, fanning persistent concerns over whether they can be held as planned.

- Reuters

05 May 09:25

Covid-19: Health ministry in urgent talks on cases at ports of entry amid new variant concerns

The health ministry is urgently seeking advice on the detection of Covid-19 cases at South Africa's ports of entry.

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05 May 08:39

G7 talks vaccines after pleas to help poor

The Group of Seven wealthy democracies will discuss coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday as they face growing pressure to share stockpiles and know-how with poor nations trailing far behind on fighting the pandemic.

Foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are wrapping up three days of talks in central London that will set the agenda for a G7 leaders' summit next month in Cornwall, England.

After a day focused on showing a common front of democracies toward China, the final sessions will also bring in development chiefs and address global challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

- AFP

05 May 08:12

Even if Covid-19 vaccine IP is waived, Africa does not have the capacity to produce at scale - expert

An expert said even if Covid-19 vaccine IPs were lifted, African countries did not have the capacity to produce vaccines on a large scale.

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05 May 08:00

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 18 034 - RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 18 034 to 3 451 550, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday.

The reported death toll rose by 285 to 83 876, the tally showed.

- Reuters

05 May 07:10

Covid-19: Third wave could be weaker than the second - but only 'in the absence of a new variant'

South Africa may see a less severe third wave of Covid-19, depending on whether variants arrive in the country.

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05 May 07:08

Australia's largest state reports first Covid-19 case in more than a month

Australia's most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) on Wednesday reported its first locally acquired Covid-19 case in more than a month, sending authorities rushing to trace the source of the virus.

A man in his 50s who tested positive for the new coronavirus had visited a movie theatre, restaurants, a service station and a meat store in Sydney's eastern suburbs while unknowingly infectious, authorities said.

The infected person has not travelled overseas in recent times and does not work in any high-risk jobs such as in hotel quarantine or hospitals, NSW state Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters in Sydney.

- Reuters

05 May 07:06

India posts record daily rise in coronavirus deaths

India's coronavirus deaths rose by a record 3 780 during the last 24 hours, a day after the country became the world's second, after the United States, to cross the grim milestone of 20 million infections.

Daily infections rose by 382 315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed.

- Reuters

04 May 19:56

PPE procurement scandal: Bandile Masuku will not appeal High Court judgment dismissing SIU review

Former Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku will not appeal a North Gauteng High Court judgment that dismissed his application to challenge the Special Investigating Unit's (SIU) findings.

He announced his decision on Tuesday through his legal representative, Mojalefa Motalane.  Masuku believed the High Court judgment "exonerated" him to some extent.

In April, it dismissed his application with costs, including that of two counsels. 

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04 May 17:53

Ramaphosa warns vaccine hoarding hampers global fight against Covid-19  

Covid-19 cannot be overcome as long as richer countries hoard vaccines, President Cyril Ramaphosa told a forum discussing ways to improve international preparedness for pandemics on Tuesday.

"The pandemic has highlighted the need for partnership but demonstrated the damaging effect of unilateralism and the withholding of access to resources, life-saving resources," Ramaphosa said.

He told the Friends of Multilateralism's roundtable on the work of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response during a Zoom forum that "we cannot overcome this pandemic as long as richer countries have most of the world's supply of vaccines to the exclusion, but also more importantly, to the detriment of poorer countries".

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04 May 14:49

Cambodia bans media coverage from Covid lockdown 'red zones'

Cambodia on Tuesday ordered journalists to stop reporting from blockaded coronavirus "red zones" and from chasing ambulances as the country battles against a record surge in infections.

The country has seen Covid-19 cases surge since February, when an outbreak was first detected among its Chinese expatriate community.

On Tuesday, officials announced a record 938 new infections, bringing the total cases to 16 299 with 107 deaths.

- AFP

04 May 14:30

Pfizer lifts annual sales forecast for Covid-19 vaccine

Pfizer Inc on Tuesday raised its annual sales forecast for the Covid-19 vaccine it co-developed with Germany's BioNTech SE, as a vaccination drive across the globe intensifies.

The US drug-maker now expects sales of $26 billion from the vaccine in 2021, up from its prior forecast of about $15 billion.

The goal assumes that 1.6 billion vaccine doses will be delivered in the year.Cost and gross profit from the vaccine are split 50-50 between Pfizer and BioNTech.

- Reuters

04 May 13:59

Denmark to allow schools and indoor facilities to reopen

Denmark will allow elementary schools to fully reopen and a range of indoor activities to resume this week, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Indoor activities that can resume include theatres, concert venues, cinemas, indoor sports facilities and gyms, some sites with caps on maximum attendees.

Entrance to the reopened facilities is dependent on showing a "corona passport", that shows that holders have either been vaccinated, previously infected or have had a negative test in the past 72 hours.

- Reuters

04 May 13:21

South Africa allocates an extra R4 billion to fight Covid-19

South Africa has allocated an extra R4 billion ($276 million) to buy Covid-19 vaccines and extend a special distress grant to thousands of people hit by the pandemic, in a Special Appropriation Bill tabled by the finance minister on Tuesday.

The bill, expected to be debated with the National Treasury in a parliamentary committee meeting later on Tuesday, allocates an additional R1.25 billion to the department of health to purchase Covid-19 vaccines and another R2.82 billion to social development for funding the distress grant.

- Reuters

04 May 12:49

Trinidad and Tobago tightens lockdown as Covid-19 cases surge

Trinidad and Tobago said on Monday it was tightening lockdown restrictions for three weeks starting at midnight as the number of new Covid-19 cases hits record highs and the Caribbean twin-island nation faces a potential shortage of hospital beds.

Prime Minister Keith Rowley said that under the new restrictions, only businesses deemed essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and financial services would remain open, for reduced hours, in addition to the key energy and manufacturing sectors.

The government shut down shopping malls, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, bars, places of worship, beauty salons and fitness centres last week in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

Other non-essential retail and food businesses such as street-food vendors will close from 00:00.

"Our healthcare system is now in danger of (being) overrun because of the rate of infection we are experiencing,"Rowley said on Monday.

- Reuters

04 May 11:43

Brazil struggles to deliver Covid vaccine second doses

Shortages of Covid-19 vaccines have forced several large Brazilian cities to suspend administering second doses, officials and media reports said on Monday, the latest breakdown in the hard-hit country's troubled immunisation drive.

Seven of Brazil's 26 state capitals have stopped administering the booster shot of Chinese-developed CoronaVac because of a lack of supply, according to news site G1.

And Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second city, announced Saturday it was halting second doses of the vaccine for 10 days, before revising its immunisation calendar to ensure booster shots would be administered by age group - albeit at a slower rate.

The city of 6.7 million people resumed second doses Monday, starting with over-70-year-olds.

- AFP

04 May 11:02

New York to lift many Covid-19 restrictions

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a major easing of coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the imminent resumption of 24-hour operations on the city subway.

The announcement highlights how far the Big Apple, once the epicenter of the United States's outbreak, has come in getting the virus under control.

From 19 May, percentage limits on occupancy will be scrapped for many business and cultural venues in the city - including shops, restaurants, cinemas and museums, Cuomo said.

These limits currently vary between 33% and 75% capacity.

- AFP

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