- New Zealand on Thursday temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens.
- Brazil has recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa.
- Two Mexican men in their 30s managed to get the coronavirus vaccine in the capital by disguising themselves as senior citizens before they were caught.
New Zealand suspends entry for travellers from India due to high Covid-19 cases
New Zealand on Thursday temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens, for about two weeks following a high number of positive coronavirus cases arriving from the South Asian country.
"We are temporarily suspending entry into New Zealand for travellers from India," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference in Auckland.
The suspension will start from 16:00 local time on 11 April and will be in place until 28 April. During this time the government will look at risk management measures to resume travel.
The suspension applies to anyone who has been in India during the past 14 days. It is the first time that New Zealand has extended any bar on entry to its own citizens and residents.
Pre-departure testing requirements reduced the number of positive cases coming from other countries but that's not been the case with India, Ardern said.
"We have looked into whether or not we have issues with accuracy of the pre-departure tests. That has not demonstrated that that's where the problem lies. So this suspension gives us the time to look at the problem more generally," she said.
Brazil detects first case of South African variant, grave shortage looms as death toll soars
Brazil has recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa, a fresh danger sign for a country already ravaged by the world's worst daily death toll and scrambling to make space for burials.
The Federal University of Minas Gerais said in a statement that two samples taken in the city included a previously unseen set of 18 mutations, including some in the same genes modified by the South African variant and Brazil's already prevalent variant, known as P.1.
Sao Paulo, the country's biggest city, on Wednesday said it would begin opening some 600 new graves per day, well beyond the record of 426 burials in a day on 30 March. The city is also preparing plans for a "vertical cemetery," a crypt with 26 000 drawer-like graves that can be built in 90 days once approved.
The woman in Sao Paulo state now confirmed as infected by the South African virus variant was first identified by the Butantan biomedical institute as a possible case of a new local variant. Further analysis confirmed it as the first known local case of the variant widely circulating in South Africa and elsewhere.
Scientists fear a showdown between the South African variant and Brazil's P.1 variant, both of which are more contagious and possibly more deadly than the original version of the coronavirus, worsening Covid-19 surges.
Maria Carolina Sabbaga, one of Butantan's coordinators for studying new variants, said:
EU regulator says AZ clot risk 'very rare' as nations battle virus surges
The EU's medicines regulator said on Wednesday that blood clots should be listed as a rare side effect of the AstraZeneca jab but the benefits continue to outweigh risks, as several countries battle fresh virus surges amid vaccine shortfalls.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Wednesday that blood clots should be listed as a "very rare" side effect, encouraging countries to continue its use.
The announcement came after the EMA examined 86 blood clotting cases, 18 of which were fatal, out of around 25 million people in Europe who received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Most of the cases were in women aged under 60.
But EMA chief Emer Cooke said no particular risk factor had been identified and the clots may be linked to an immune response to the vaccine.
She told a news conference:
Mexican tricksters use elderly disguise to get Covid vaccine
Two Mexican men in their 30s managed to get the coronavirus vaccine in the capital by disguising themselves as senior citizens, but were later caught, the authorities said on Wednesday.
With their hair and eyebrows coloured white, the men visited a vaccination centre for over 60s wearing masks and plastic face shields, the city mayor's office said.
Both presented false identity documents and received the vaccine, but their plan fell apart when they had to speak with a worker at the centre afterward.
Mexico City official Cristina Cruz was quoted by the UNOTV news site as saying:
A colleague realised the voice was not that (of an old man), and that was when she called the authorities.
The imposters face charges of identity theft, she said.
The country of 126 million, whose official Covid-19 death toll of 205 000 is the world's third highest, has doled out nearly 10 million vaccine doses to medical workers and the elderly.
Argentina announces curfew as coronavirus cases rise
Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez on Wednesday announced a three-week nighttime curfew after a second consecutive day of record coronavirus infections.
The curfew will enter into force on Friday and apply from midnight to 06:00 every day until April 30, he said in a message recorded at his official residence, where he is self-isolating after being infected with the virus himself.
It will be in force in the country's highest risk areas, mainly the urban centres, the president said.
Bars and restaurants will close at 23:00.
Dance halls and gyms are also closed.
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