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May 28, 2021

International update: Global Covid death toll passes 3.5 million – US calls for second Covid investigation

By Paul Dennis

28 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,511,575 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 168 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 593,288 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The United States called on Thursday for the World Health Organization to carry out a second phase of its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, with independent experts given full access to original data and samples in China. The US intelligence community acknowledged its agencies had two theories on where Covid-19 originated, with an element embracing a possible laboratory accident as the source of the pandemic. US President Joe Biden said he is likely to release a report detailing the US intelligence community’s findings on the origins of Covid-19 in full.

India: reported on Friday 186,364 new coronavirus infections during the previous 24 hours, for its lowest daily rise since April 14, while deaths rose by 3,660.

UK: Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has become the latest minister to defend health secretary Matt Hancock, saying “Very few people – if anyone – worked as hard as he did.”

Up to three-quarters of new UK Covid cases are thought to be caused by the variant first detected in India, as the reported number more than doubled to almost 7,000, Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

Argentina: Reported a record one-day number of new Covid-19 cases of 41,080 on Thursday, amid a second wave of infections that has made the country one of the hardest hit in the world, pushing the local health care system to its limit.

Vaccine news

Germany: Plans to make enough Covid 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.

Africa: Needs at least 20m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine within six weeks if those who have had their first shot are to get the second in time, the WHO said on Thursday.

Thailand: Thailand’s food and drug regulator on Friday approved for emergency use the coroanvirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm, Reuters reports, citing a senior official.

Japan: Said on Friday it would consider sharing its Covid vaccines with other countries as a ruling party committee urged it to provide a portion of its AstraZeneca Plc vaccine stock to Taiwan, Reuters reports.

Japan plans to lower the minimum age for Pfizer shots to 12 from 16 if safety and efficacy are confirmed at a ministry panel on Friday, Kyodo News reported, citing Health Minister Norihisa Tamura.

Singapore: Plans to roll out vaccines to students in a “great acceleration” of vaccinations, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in an interview on CNN. Vaccinations in Singapore are currently open to those aged 40 and above, as well as for priority workforces such as first responders, hospital staff and airport workers.

South Africa: Insurer Discovery Ltd. and private-hospital group Mediclinic International Ltd. have scaled back plans to expand coronavirus vaccine sites in South Africa amid supply concerns, Business Day reported, citing company executives.

Philippines: Migrant workers who will be deployed in the next four months are now a top priority for vaccinations, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, as the government tries to speed up inoculations. Private and informal sector employees who work away from home have also been included in the next group to be vaccinated.

Lockdown updates

Sweden: Will go forward with its plan to ease some of its Covid curbs from June 1, prime minister Stefan Lofven said.

Ireland: Will introduce the EU’s Digital Green Certificate program on 19 July, allowing international travel for those who are fully vaccinated, the Irish Independent reported, ahead of a government announcement on reopening measures.

Scotland: Murdo Fraser of the Scottish Conservatives has criticised the continued restrictions in place across Glasgow. PA Media reports that he has said if the latest data shows infections are still high then a “more targeted” approach was needed.

Japan: Is expected to extend emergency coronavirus measures in Tokyo and several other regions by about three weeks, according to officials, as the country struggles to rein in a fourth wave of infections less than two months before the Olympics.

Canada: A Canadian advisory body said the government should relax its stringent border rules for vaccinated travelers and drop a requirement that international air passengers quarantine in a hotel when they arrive.

Economy updates

Nigerian cocoa exporters , which rely on imported jute bags to package their beans, are facing a shortage after production in India and Bangladesh slowed due to a surge in coronavirus cases and factory closures. The West African nation, which has about $34 billion of foreign-exchange reserves, may lose as much as $700 million in cocoa bean export earnings because of the shortage, Mufutau Abolarinwa, president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said in an interview.

Finland’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter, showing the recovery from the pandemic has stalled in the only Nordic member of the euro area. Gross domestic product shrank 0.1% from the prior three months, Statistics Finland said. A flash estimate had indicated 0.4% growth.

Germany: A €2.5bn (£2.15bn) package has been agreed by the German government to help the culture industry get back on its feet as the country slowly emerges from a third wave of the Covid pandemic.

Profits at China’s state-owned enterprises totaled 1.36 trillion yuan ($213 billion) in the first four months of the year, a 240% surge from the same period in 2020 when the coronavirus outbreak was at its worst in the country. Total revenue rose 32% to 22.2 trillion yuan, the Ministry of Finance said.

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