May 14 (Reuters) – Critics of Japan’s plan to hold the Tokyo Olympics despite a fourth wave of coronavirus infections submitted a petition signed by 350,000 people over nine days calling for the Games to be cancelled.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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Britain’s sports minister is confident sports events can welcome back capacity crowds from June 21, though he said some “high-risk” venues would require safety measures.
Ireland’s health service operator shut down all its IT systems to protect it from a “significant” ransomware attack, crippling diagnostic services and forcing hospitals to cancel many appointments.
England will push ahead with its plan to lift restrictions gradually, the vaccines minister said.
Germany’s seven-day rate of cases fell below the threshold of 100 per 100,000 people for the first time since March, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed.
The United States stands with Honduras and condemns the “cynical use” of vaccines for political purposes, the State Department said.
Pfizer repeatedly offered to sell its vaccine to Brazil’s Health Ministry between August and November last year, but got no answer from the government, the group’s chief executive for Latin America said on Thursday.
India’s tally of infections climbed past 24 million, amid reports that the highly transmissible variant first detected in the South Asian nation was spreading across the globe.
Nearly half the 150 passengers booked on Australia’s first repatriation flight from India were barred from boarding, after they or their close contacts tested positive for the virus, an Australian government source said.
A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore set to open on May 26 has a “high chance” of being postponed, a Hong Kong official said.
Japan said it would declare a state of emergency in three more prefectures, in a surprise move reflecting growing concerns about the virus’s spread.
Singapore announced the strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since easing a lockdown last year, amid a rise in locally acquired infections and with new clusters forming in recent weeks.
Vietnam is looking to secure 31 million doses of the vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in 2021, its health ministry said.
Taiwan reported a record rise in domestic cases, as community transmissions in part of central Taipei spread and the government called for people to be tested.
Mainland China reported seven new cases, including its first local transmissions in more than three weeks, the country’s national health authority said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
Egypt has received a batch of more than 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative and a separate shipment of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses from China, the health ministry said on Thursday.
The origin of the novel coronavirus remains unclear and the theory that it was caused by a laboratory leak needs to be taken seriously until there is a rigorous data-led investigation that proves it wrong, a group of leading scientists said.
Pfizer’s vaccine generates antibody responses three-and-a-half times larger in older people when a second dose is delayed to 12 weeks after the first, a British study said.
Global stocks rose and the dollar dipped after U.S. Federal Reserve officials said there would be no imminent move to tighten monetary policy in the world’s biggest economy.
Japan’s economy is set to grow much slower than previously hoped this quarter, hobbled by extended emergency measures put in place to halt a rise in infections, a Reuters poll showed.
(Compiled by Juliette Portala and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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