Covid-19 wrap: UK 'may need to wait' before easing lockdown, Indonesia resumes use of AstraZeneca jab

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Coronavirus toll at 10:00 (GMT) Thursday

Paris – The novel coronavirus has killed at least 3 500 321 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 10:00 (GMT) on Thursday.

At least 168 332 420 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later.

The figures are based on daily reports provided by health authorities in each country.

They exclude revisions made by other statistical organisations, which show that the number of deaths is much higher.

The World Health Organisation estimates that the pandemic's overall toll could be two to three times higher than official records, due to the excess mortality that is directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19.

A large number of the less severe or asymptomatic cases also remain undetected, despite intensified testing in many countries.

On Wednesday, 13 028 new deaths and 551 955 new cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were India with 3 847, followed by Brazil with 2 398 and the United States with 1 016.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 591 957 deaths from 33 191 141 cases.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 454 429 deaths from 16 274 695 cases, India with 315 235 deaths from 27 369 093 cases, Mexico with 222 232 deaths from 2 402 722 cases, and the United Kingdom with 127 748 deaths from 4 470 297 cases.

 - AFP

UK PM Johnson says may need to wait before reopening England from lockdown

LONDON – England may need to wait before Covid-19 restrictions are fully lifted as a coronavirus variant first found in India spreads, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, adding it was too soon to say whether restrictions would end on 21 June.

Johnson has laid out a roadmap out of lockdown for England, but has warned that the rapidly spreading B.1.617.2 variant poses a risk to that plan.

Johnson said he was satisfied that the steps to ease lockdown taken thus far were correct, but that cases of the variant were spreading and it would come down to how robust the "vaccine fortifications" against the variant were.

"I don't see anything currently in the data to suggest that we have to deviate from the roadmap, but we may need to wait," Johnson said.

Health minister Matt Hancock told parliament that a formal assessment would be made on 14 June as to whether restrictions could be lifted on 21 June.


UK PM Johnson disagrees that thousands died from Covid-19 due to his inaction

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday he disagreed with his former aide Dominic Cummings' claim that tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily because of the government's inaction on Covid-19.

Asked if he agreed with Cummings' allegation, Johnson said: "No, I don't think so, but of course this has been an incredibly difficult series of decisions, none of which we've taken lightly."

"We've been governed by a determination to protect life to save life, to ensure that our NHS is not overwhelmed."

During a seven-hour testimony to parliament, Cummings made a series of allegations over Johnson's handling of the pandemic and said the prime minister had been unfit to lead the country.

Asked about that, Johnson said: "Some of the commentary I've heard doesn't bear any relation to reality and what people want us to get on with is delivering the road map, and trying cautiously, to take our country forward through what has been one of the most difficult periods that I think anybody can remember post war."


Australia's Victoria state to enter Covid-19 lockdown after 'highly-infectious' outbreak

SYDNEY – Australia's second most populous state of Victoria will enter a one-week Covid-19 lockdown, forcing its near seven million residents to remain home except for essential business as authorities struggle to contain a highly-infectious outbreak.

"We're dealing with a highly infectious strain of the virus, a variant of concern, which is running faster than we have ever recorded," Victoria state Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne.

"Unless something drastic happens, this will become increasingly uncontrollable."

Merlino said contact tracers have identified more than 10 000 primary and secondary contacts who would need to quarantine, test and self-isolate, adding "that number will continue to grow and change".

The fresh cluster of infections in Melbourne detected early this week swelled to 26 on Thursday after 12 new cases overnight, while the number of virus-exposed sites rose above 150.


Indonesia resumes use of temporarily suspended batch of AstraZeneca vaccines

JAKARTA – Indonesia has resumed usage of a temporarily suspended batch of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, the country's food and drug agency (BPOM) said on Thursday.

The agency suspended use of one batch of the vaccine to conduct an investigation after a young man died after being inoculated earlier this month.

"According to test results, it can be concluded that there was no relation between the quality of Covid-19 vaccine batch number CTMAV547 with the post immunisation event reported," said BPOM.


Thai princess allows new vaccine imports as slow rollout prompts anger

BANGKOK – The Thai king's sister has approved coronavirus vaccine imports by an institution she sponsors, bypassing the government as it deals with surging infections and growing public anger over a slow and chaotic rollout.

The secretary-general of the Chulabhorn Royal Academy wrote on Facebook that the "alternative vaccines" would supplement the government campaign until it could meet the country's needs.

The government has long insisted it must handle all vaccine imports and next month starts its mass immunisation drive, which relies heavily on AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured locally by a company owned by the king.

The announcement in the official Royal Gazette took some in the military-backed government by surprise, and comes as Thailand suffers its most severe Covid-19 outbreak yet, and growing unease about the vaccine plan.

So far, less than 1 million of Thailand's more than 66 million people have been fully vaccinated.


Ireland likely to miss June vaccine target as supplies slow

DUBLIN – Ireland is unlikely to receive enough Covid-19 vaccines by the end of June to meet the government's target of administering at least one dose to 82% of adults, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday.

Half of Ireland's 3.8 million adult population will have received at least one dose by the end of this week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told parliament earlier on Thursday.

But he said there was uncertainty around the arrival of AstraZeneca, and in particular Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which Varadkar added was an EU-wide issue.

"The targets have always been subject to supplies arriving on time and if the supplies do not arrive on time, then there is a risk that we will miss those targets and that now does appear to be likely," Varadkar told parliament.

"If we do miss targets, I think we will only miss them by a few weeks."


Germany aims to offer adolescents Covid-19 vaccine by end August - document

BERLIN – Germany plans to make enough Covid-19 vaccine doses available to offer a first shot to all children aged 12 and over by the end of August, a draft health ministry document showed before a vaccination summit on Thursday.

After a sluggish start to its vaccination rollout, Germany has increased the pace of inoculations and imposed nationwide lockdown measures which are now being lifted.

With more than 40% of the population of around 83 million having received at least one dose, attention has turned to the question of extending vaccinations to adolescents.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will later on Thursday discuss the question with the premiers of Germany's 16 federal states.

Opinion is divided and Germany's main expert panel on vaccinations has expressed caution. Some scientists say that, due to a lack of data on long-term effects, it might be better to vaccinate only adolescents with risk factors.

A document made available before the talks made clear the government wants to push ahead and aims to have offered all 12-18 year-olds at least a first shot by the end of August.


Nearly 17 million Russians have had one dose of Covid-19 vaccine - minister

MOSCOW – Russia has administered at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to almost 17 million people, the RIA news agency cited Health Minister Mikhail Murashko as saying on Thursday.

The figure suggests Russia has given the first dose of one of its vaccines to about 3 million people in the past two weeks. Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on 12 May that 14 million Russians had received one vaccine dose.

Some of Russia's regions have complained that the vaccination process is not going fast enough despite the country having begun rolling out its Sputnik V shot back in December.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin lamented last week how few residents had chosen to get vaccinated despite free and easy access to shots since January.


India posts daily rise in Covid-19 cases of 211 298

BENGALURU – India on Thursday posted 211 298 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, while deaths from Covid-19 rose by 3 847.

The South Asian country's overall caseload is now at 27.37 million, while total fatalities are at 315 235, according to health ministry data.


Brazil sees 80 486 new coronavirus cases, 2 398 deaths - Health Ministry

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil recorded 80 486 new cases of coronavirus and 2 398 new Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the country's Health Ministry said on Wednesday.


Russia reports 9 039 new Covid-19 cases, 402 deaths

MOSCOW – Russia on Thursday reported 9 039 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, including 3 105 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 5.035 million.

The government coronavirus task force said 402 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the period, pushing the national death toll to 120 002.

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.


Number of coronavirus-related deaths in Ukraine exceeds 50 000

KYIV – The total number of coronavirus related deaths has exceeded 50 000 in Ukraine, which remains among the most Covid-19 affected European countries, the health ministry data showed on Thursday.

The number of new daily coronavirus infections in Ukraine, which has a population of 41 million, has decreased over the past several weeks to the lowest levels since August 2020, though the deaths rate remains high.

Ukraine registered 3 509 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours with 183 deaths. It reported a total of 2.19 million Covid-19 cases and 50 076 deaths as of 27 May.

Ukraine has received up to 3 million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines so far but only around 1 million people have had their first shot, government data show.


Malaysia reports 7 857 new coronavirus cases, new daily record

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia on Thursday reported 7 857 new coronavirus cases, the third straight day of record infections.

The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic stood at 541 224, the health ministry said.


Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 6 313 - RKI

BERLIN – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 6 313 to 3 662 490, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 269 to 87 995, the tally showed.


Sweden registers 1 366 new Covid-19 cases, 15 deaths on Thursday

STOCKHOLM – Sweden registered 1 366 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, health agency statistics showed, the lowest number of new daily cases for more than seven months.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 15 new deaths, taking the total to 14 451. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden has been an outlier in the fight against the pandemic and has opted against lockdowns, instead relying on mostly voluntary measures. The death toll has been higher than in other Nordic countries but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns.


Thailand reports new daily record of 47 coronavirus deaths

Thailand reported on Thursday 47 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of fatalities to 920 since the pandemic started last year.

The country's Covid-19 task force also reported 3 323 new coronavirus cases, including 1 219 among prisoners, taking the total number of infections to 141 217.


Mainland China reports 19 new Covid-19 cases vs 13 a day earlier

SHANGHAI – Mainland China reported 19 new Covid-19 cases for 26 May, up from 13 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Thursday.

Two of the new cases were local infections in the southern province of Guangdong, the National Health Commission said in a statement. The rest were imported infections originating from overseas.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 22 from 13 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 91 038, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4 636.


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