26 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.75 million with a figure of 2,755,540 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections have passed 125.5 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 30 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 546,822. Covid cases in the US are rising again, reversing course after months of decline and threatening another setback in the return to normality. The seven-day average of new cases jumped to 57,695 Wednesday, 9.5% above the prior week, marking the biggest increase since 12 January, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New US Labour Secretary Marty Walsh said that he’s inserting himself into the agency’s stalled rule-making to protect workers from Covid-19. The planned emergency regulation would require businesses to take steps to safeguard their workers against virus spread. “The priority of the Department of Labour, and the priority of the president, is making sure that the workers’ health and safety is a top priority,” Walsh told reporters on Thursday.

Brazil: Brazil reported more than 100,000 new infections in the last 24 hours, again setting a record as the outbreak there continues to worsen. Total cases neared 12.3 million, the most after the US. Latin America’s top economy also reported 2,777 fatalities, totalling 303,462, the Health Ministry reported, as leaders remained at loggerheads. President Jair Bolsonaro criticized lockdown measures again while Vice President Hamilton Mourao said virus deaths have risen above any acceptable level.

Mexico’s Covid-19 death toll topped 200,000 on Thursday, making it the third country in the world to reach the devastating milestone as the country struggles with its vaccination rollout.

Romania: Romania battles a surge of Covid-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm its hospitals, as the government announces that Easter celebrations are planned to go ahead.

Vaccine news

Global: An epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told a briefing that while newly vaccinated people had a right to celebrate, they should act as if they are unvaccinated until two weeks after their second dose.

Growing vaccine nationalism in major producers India and the EU are hitting the most disadvantaged nations the hardest, leaving them waiting for doses promised through a World Health Organization-backed inoculation initiative.

EU: EU leaders appear to have given a luke-warm response to plans by the European Commission to potentially block vaccine exports to highly vaccinated countries. In a statement issued after the EU virtual summit, the leaders failed to offer their support for the commission approach, instead saying they blacked “global value chains” and reaffirmed that “companies must ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines.”

EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen advocated support for the plan to block vaccine exports if necessary: “While remaining open, the EU needs to ensure Europeans get a fair share of vaccines,” she tweeted.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said while the EU had to “provide [for] our own population” the bloc would not damage the supply chains necessary for the production and distribution of vaccines.

US: President, Joe Biden, has doubled his vaccine goal in his first 100 days in office, saying he wants 200m jabs to be administered in that time.

Turkey: Turkey has begun initial talks to acquire the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, the health minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday. The minister added that the capital, Ankara would receive a total of 100m doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of May.

Lockdown updates

Argentina: Argentina’s government will suspend flights arriving from Brazil, Mexico and Chile amid a spike in virus cases in parts of Latin America. The curbs will start on 27 March, according to a government official, who asked not be identified because the decision hasn’t been officially published.

Japan: Japan’s government isn’t planning to resume its Go-To Travel tourism campaign until at least June and instead will offer travel vouchers that can be used locally from 1 April, the SANKEI newspaper reported late Thursday, without attribution.

France: President Emmanuel Macron said new measures to contain the epidemic might be needed in the coming weeks. More than a third of France, including Paris, is already locked down, in addition to a national curfew. “The next few weeks will be tough,” he said after a European Council summit Thursday.

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the support of Parliament for his plan to bring England slowly out of lockdown, even as some members of his own Conservative Party protested continued curbs to civil liberties and frustration at the ongoing damage to the economy. Members of Parliament voted 484 to 76 to extend the government’s coronavirus emergency powers, with Johnson’s “road map” for easing lockdown also entering law. Key dates include the outdoor mixing of households on 29 March and the potential for all social-distancing rules to be lifted on 21 June.