23 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.7 million with a figure of 2,723,353 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections have passed 123.6 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections are nearing 30 million at 29,869,518. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 542,949 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Americans must recommit to wearing masks and taking other Covid-19 mitigation measures to avoid a new surge of the virus in the US, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Rochelle Walensky said cases have begun to rise slightly again, while hospital admissions remain stable and deaths continue to decline. Variants, which are in some cases more contagious or more dangerous, continue to spread. Walensky repeated a warning that states are lifting restrictions too early, and called on Americans to continue to wear masks, avoid crowds and wait to travel, even if they’ve been vaccinated.

France: France reported 15,792 new coronavirus cases on Monday, more than double the 6,471 reported the previous Monday, Reuters reports. The number of people in intensive care with the virus rose by 142 to a new 2021 high of 4,548, health ministry data showed.

Turkey: Turkey recorded 22,216 new coronavirus cases in a period of 24 hours, the highest daily number since mid-December, Reuters reports. Health ministry data showed the cumulative number of cases stood at 3,035,338, data also showed, while the death toll rose by 117 to 30,178.

Jordan: Jordan reported 109 new deaths from Covid-19 on Monday, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic surfaced in the country, the health ministry said.

UK: The UK is marking one year since the start of its first coronavirus lockdown, as the government reflects on the best and worst of its response to the pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will privately hold a minute’s silence Tuesday for more than 126,000 people who have died from Covid-19 in the UK, the fifth-biggest death toll in the world according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 tracker. It comes as the country’s health service presses on with a vaccination program that has seen more than half of all adults receive their first dose of the vaccine, by far the fastest of all European countries.

Vaccine news

EU: AstraZeneca expects the EU drug regulator to give approval for a factory in the Netherlands that is helping make its Covid-19 vaccine later this month or in early April, a senior executive said.

The Irish prime minister, Micheál Martin, has warned that any European Union restrictions on vaccine exports would be a “retrograde step” that could undermine the supply of raw materials for vaccine production.

European Union leaders are aiming to break their deadlock with the UK over deliveries of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by sharing a Dutch plant’s output, according to diplomats familiar with the matter. The appeal stems from the EU’s view that the drugmaker had double booked its production and that both Brussels and London have valid claims. Earlier, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “reassured” that the EU is not seeking a vaccine blockade, as government and opposition politicians showed a rare united front on the issue. Both sides were critical of the bloc over reports that it plans to restrict exports of vaccines to its former member.

US: New York will lower its vaccination age to 50 from 60 on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a tweet. Meanwhile, Arizona joined a growing list of states that are expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone over age 16. The change, which affects Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, will take place Wednesday at 8 a.m., Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement.

Russia: The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said he would receive a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, the Russian industry minister, Denis Manturov, said it was set to produce over 80m doses of home-grown vaccines in the first half of this year.

Philippines: The Philippines may sign a supply deal this week with Johnson & Johnson, from which the nation plans to buy 5 million doses, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said Monday night. Talks with Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology will also start this week for the supply of as many as 15 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine.

China: Sinovac Biotech Ltd. will be able to produce 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses annually soon, Chief Executive Officer Yin Weidong told a forum on Monday. The company has supplied 160 million shots globally so far, he said. Sinovac’s vaccine produces higher levels of Covid-19 antibodies in children and adolescents compared to adults, Zeng Gang, the company’s medical director, said at the forum.

Lockdown updates

Indonesia: Indonesia has added Batam and Bintan to a travel corridor arrangement with Singapore that would see foreign visitors back in the resort islands for the first time since the pandemic began last year, according to Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno. Tourism sites in Nongsa in Batam and Lagoi in Bintan will be reopened on 21  April, under very strict health protocols, Uno said in a statement on the ministry’s website.

Germany: Germany is extending its partial lockdown until 18 April, scrapping plans to loosen restrictions that have been in place since 16 December in the face of rising infection rates. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the heads of 16 federal states agreed to pull the emergency break on a lockdown exit agreed only three weeks earlier, the country’s media reported.Greece: Greece has ended its ban on flights from Turkey, Albania and North Macedonia, the civil aviation authority announced on Sunday in a statement reported by Reuters.

Austria: Austria has postponed the reopening of cafe, restaurant and bar terraces planned for 27 March 27 owing to rising coronavirus cases, Reuters reports. The government is preparing for regions to adapt restrictions locally.

Denmark: Denmark will ease more restrictions next month and will end its lockdown entirely once all Danes over the age of 50 have been vaccinated by June, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. Denmark will allow some businesses, including shopping malls and hairdressers, to open in stages next month, according to an agreement reached late Monday between the government and most parties in the country’s parliament. More children will also return to schools and restaurants will be allowed to serve outdoors.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would look into reducing the city’s three-week mandatory quarantine for arrivals, one of the strictest in the world, adding that she was “aware” of the pressure it had put on residents. Hong Kong will also consider allowing anyone 16 or older to receive vaccinations when more doses arrive in the city, she said. Adults above the age of 30 are currently eligible.