25 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.7 million with a figure of 2,744,827 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections have passed 124.8 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections now exceed 30 million at 30,010,933. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 545,281 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil: Brazil became just the second country to cross the mark of 300,000 deaths from Covid-19 as the virus continues to rage and overrun hospitals. It took just two-and-a-half months for Brazil to go from 200,000 to 300,000 deaths, compared with five months between 100,000 and 200,000 fatalities, showing the velocity at which the virus and its P.1 variant is spreading. The Health Ministry reported 2,009 additional deaths on Wednesday, taking the toll to 300,685. New confirmed cases jumped 89,992 in the past 24 hours, to a total of 12.2 million. Both totals are the highest globally after the US.

Africa: African countries’ loosening coronavirus-related controls and the emergence of more transmissible variants fuelled a second wave of infections more severe than the first, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.

Turkey: Turkey registered its highest daily number of new infections this year on Wednesday, adding 29,762 infections to its tally in the last 24 hours.

Vaccine news

EU: The European commission will extend the bloc’s powers to potentially halt vaccine exports to the UK and other areas with much higher inoculation rates.

AstraZeneca has dismissed as “inaccurate” a report in the Italian press that 29m doses of its Covid-19 vaccine found in factory near Rome were destined for the UK. The manufacturer said no exports were currently planned other than to developing countries via the Covax facility.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen after the EU moved to tighten vaccine export restrictions. According to a readout from Trudeau’s office, “they agreed on the importance of rolling out safe and effective vaccines as quickly as possible, including with respect to continued close Canada-EU cooperation.”

US: AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine was 76% effective in a US study – a slightly downgraded estimate based on the latest data collected from a contentious clinical trial, and a twist that creates another layer of uncertainty for the shots.

Louisiana, Idaho and Utah joined the growing list of US. states allowing anyone age 16 and older to receive coronavirus vaccines in coming weeks.

Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte warned officials against jumping the vaccine queue, saying the nation risks losing donated doses from the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility if health workers aren’t prioritized.

Spain: Spain has restarted its AstraZeneca vaccination drive after a week-long suspension of the jab over fears about potential side-effects.

India: India has temporarily suspended exports of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to meet domestic demand as cases rise, two sources have told Reuters.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong halted online bookings of shots manufactured by BioNTech SE, after authoritied suspended the vaccine’s rollout because of packaging defects on some vials. Bookings for the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine were still available. The bookings’ suspension had been flagged Wednesday, when Hong Kong announced that the shots were halted. Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip said the vaccinations would have to be suspended until further notice.

Portugal: Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido reaffirmed that the country will meet a goal to administer a vaccine dose to at least 80% of people over 80 by the end of March. “Naturally, if we had access to more vaccines we would have the possibility of vaccinating more people,” Temido told reporters.

Lockdown updates

UK: The UK may need tougher border measures “very soon” to prevent the arrival of Covid-19 variants from continental Europe that risk undermining the country’s vaccine drive, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament.

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is holding firm on a phased return to cruise-line operations, dashing the industry’s hopes for a swift restart.

Belgium: Belgium will impose fresh lockdown restrictions, shutting schools, hairdressers and non-essential stores.

Iceland: Iceland has tightened Covid-19 measures following a spike in the number of new cases recorded in the country.

France: Coronavirus lockdowns are to be imposed in three more regions in France, including the city of Lyon, the country’s government has said.

Luxembourg: Luxembourg has announced a partial reopening of its hospitality industry, with cafés and restaurants able to serve customers again in outdoor areas from 7 April.

Cyprus: Cyprus will open its borders starting 1 April to visitors from the US, Russia and Ukraine, the tourism ministry said Wednesday. All travellers who were tested and proven to be Covid-free and who haven’t come into close contact with a confirmed case will be guaranteed a quarantine-free stay.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the German people for forgiveness after making a rare public apology for sparking massive criticism with plans for a five-day Easter shutdown. Merkel dropped the proposal, calling it a “mistake,” after a hastily-arranged video conference with the heads of Germany’s 16 states around 33 hours after announcing the move.