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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of April 25 to May 1, US to impose ban on travel from India

Thailand reports new daily record of 21 deaths; India's daily cases reach record 401,993

Multiple coronavirus variants are believed to be driving infections in India, claiming over 3,000 lives each day.    © Reuters

Nikkei Asia is tracking the spread of the coronavirus that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Cumulative global cases have reached 150,959,297, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 3,175,429.

For more information about the spread of COVID-19 and the progress of vaccination around the world, please see our interactive charts and maps.

-- Global coronavirus tracker charts

-- Status of vaccinations around the world

-- World map of spreading mutated strains

-- Distribution, duration, safety: challenges emerge in vaccine race



Saturday, May 1 (Tokyo time)

1:30 p.m. India posts a record 401,993 new coronavirus cases, while deaths from COVID-19 reached 3,523, according to health ministry data. India has added about 7.7 million cases since the end of February, when its second wave gained strength, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India nearly six months to reach the previous 7.7 million cases.

11:45 a.m. Thailand reports a new daily record of 21 coronavirus deaths in one day, the health ministry says, as the country prepared to open registration for a long-awaited mass vaccination campaign. The ministry reported 1,891 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 67,044 since the pandemic began last year, with 224 deaths.

10:00 a.m. China reports 16 new cases for Friday, down from 13 cases a day earlier. All of the new cases originated from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 16 from 19 cases a day earlier.

4:00 a.m. The U.S. will impose a travel ban on any non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents coming to the country from India as multiple coronavirus variants drive up infections there, the White House says.

The policy will take effect starting on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki says in a statement.

"The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinary high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India," the statement says.

India had already been under a Level 4 -- Do Not Travel advisory -- from the State Department. The outbreak in India is claiming over 3,000 lives each day.

A patient receives a dose of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Almaty, Kazakhstan.   © Reuters

1:15 a.m. Turkey has approved the emergency use of the Russian-developed Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says Turkey expects to receive its first shipment of the vaccine in May, the Anadolu news agency reports.

12:40 a.m. While India is gripped by a runaway spread of the coronavirus, neighboring Bhutan has administered at least one vaccine dose to more than 90% of adults in just over a month.

As of Thursday, 480,330 people have received the first vaccination in the small Himalayan nation, according to the Bhutanese government, amounting to more than 60% of the overall population of about 770,000 people. Most of them received the jab within two weeks after the rollout started on March 27.

12:25 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar hold a telephone call to "reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-India partnership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

"Expressing his appreciation for Indian assistance in America's time of need, Secretary Blinken reviewed comprehensive ongoing U.S. government efforts in support of the Indian government's COVID-19 response operations," Price says. "He also noted the outpouring of support from U.S. industries, non-governmental institutions, and private citizens for COVID-19 relief efforts in India."

The U.S. will deploy a "strike team" of public health experts as well as such medical resources as vaccine materials to India, a senior Biden administration official told reporters on a call earlier this week.

Friday, April 30

6:00 p.m. A U.S. military transport aircraft carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders and other medical supplies such as pulse oximeters, rapid diagnostic test kits and N-95 face masks arrives in India, the first of several emergency COVID-19 relief shipments from Washington. The U.S. said on April 28 that it would deliver supplies worth more than $100 million in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, one of the Indian cites worst-hit by the pandemic, has urged residents not to queue for vaccinations tomorrow, when all adults will be eligible for COVID-19 jabs. "We have not yet received vaccine supplies ... and are hoping to procure them in a day or two," Kejriwal said. "Please do not crowd vaccination centers." Several other states have also flagged concerns over supplies.

4:20 p.m. China vaccinated about 9.6 million people against COVID-19 on April 29, bringing the total number of shots administered to 253.46 million, according to the National Health Commission.

That marks the highest daily dose number since China began reporting vaccination figures on a daily basis.

China has reported vaccinating about 9.6m people against coronavirus on April 29.   © Reuters

3:55 p.m. Indonesia receives its first batch of Sinopharm vaccine, amounting to 482,400 doses in ready-to-use vials, and 6 million doses of Sinovac vaccine that require further processing locally. In all, the country has received nearly 74 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.

India's COVID crisis escalates again as new infections top 300,000 for the ninth day in a row.   © Reuters

3:31 p.m. ANA Holdings, the parent company of All Nippon Airways, reports a consolidated net loss of 404.6 billion ($3.7 billion) for the year ended March as it suffers from a sharp decline in passengers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

3:23 p.m. Tokyo reports 698 new cases, down from 1,027 from a day earlier. The capital, along with Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures, has been under a renewed state of emergency since Sunday in an effort to rein in new infections before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23.

1:14 p.m. India reports yet another record high in daily cases, 386,452, marking the ninth straight day with over 300,000 infections and pushing the country total to 18.76 million. Deaths jumped by 3,498 to 208,330, according to the health ministry's latest update.

12:30 p.m. Indonesia's drug regulator approves a COVID-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinopharm, which is due to be used in a private vaccination scheme under which companies can buy government-procured vaccines to inoculate their staff. No detailed efficacy data on the Sinopharm vaccine has been publicly released, but its developer, Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group, says the vaccine was 79.34% effective in preventing people from developing the disease, based on interim data.

Japan's first batch of Moderna's vaccine arrived in Osaka aboard a Japan Airlines flight from Belgium.   © Reuters

11:00 a.m. The first delivery of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Japan, transported by a Japan Airlines flight from Belgium to Japan's Kansai International Airport in Osaka. Japan lags other developed countries in vaccinations and has so far only cleared Pfizer's vaccine. It is expected to approve Moderna's in May. The government intends to administer Moderna shots at mass inoculation sites slated to be set up by the Self-Defense Forces in Tokyo and Osaka.

10:01 a.m. South Korea extends social distancing restrictions as well as a ban on private gatherings of five or more people for three weeks. The country reports 661 new cases, down from 680 a day ago. Total infections reach 122,007 with 1,828 deaths.

9:50 a.m. China reports 13 new cases for Thursday, down from 20 a day earlier. All of the new cases originated from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 19 from 14 cases a day earlier.

9:00 a.m. Brazil's Senate approves a bill to suspend patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and medications during the pandemic. The proposal now goes to the lower house of Brazil's Congress for consideration and possible amendments.

8:00 a.m. Brazil becomes the second country to pass 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, after the U.S., and experts warn the daily toll could remain high for several months due to slow vaccinations and loosening social restrictions. Brazil registered 3,001 new COVID-19 deaths, taking its total to 401,186 fatalities, the Health Ministry says.

Gerson James, 34, and Jeferson James, 18, embrace their mother Izenilde Jesus, 55, during the funeral of their father, Frank James Santana, 54. Brazil expects its crisis to worsen.   © Reuters

7:30 a.m. France detects its first cases of contamination with the B.1.617 variant, which has been ripping through India. The case, involving a woman who traveled to India and lives in southwestern France, was confirmed on Thursday, the Health Ministry says.

1:18 a.m. Bangladesh's drug regulator says it had approved the emergency use of a vaccine developed by an affiliate of China's Sinopharm, as it scrambles to find alternative sources for COVID-19 inoculations after supplies from India faltered, reports Reuters.

1:00 a.m. Pakistan has purchased 13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese companies Sinopharm, CanSinoBio and Sinovac, reports Reuters, citing the nation's health minister.

Thursday, April 29

11:10 p.m. Suzuki, Honda and Toyota will temporarily idle production in India as the government there urges manufacturers to redirect industrial-use oxygen for medical use.

9:32 p.m. Thailand takes further action to combat its biggest coronavirus outbreak yet, including a nationwide requirement to wear masks in public and a ban on dining at restaurants in and around the country's capital.

Authorities have reclassified Bangkok and five provinces as zones with the highest controls, while 46 other provinces have broad restrictions after a third COVID-19 wave that has produced more than half of the country's overall infections this month alone. Parks, gyms, cinemas, bars, restaurants, day care centers and schools have been closed in Bangkok, the outbreak epicenter, and nonessential travel from the capital is discouraged.

8:11 p.m. China's three biggest airlines on Thursday report wider losses for the first quarter when COVID-19 cases rose, but the country's quick containment measures have helped the industry which expects better numbers for the full year.

China Eastern Airlines recorded a net loss of 3.8 billion yuan ($587.5 million) in the first quarter, widening from a 2.7 billion yuan loss in the previous quarter. Southern Airlines saw losses deepen to 4 billion yuan from 3.4 billion over the same comparison period. Air China recorded a loss of 6.2 billion yuan in the first quarter, worse than the 4.3 billion it reported in the fourth quarter, likely weighed by its investment in Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways.

6:00 p.m. South Korea's drug safety ministry says on Thursday that Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and a shot developed by Novavax have been submitted for preliminary regulatory approval.

6:00 p.m. Russia reported 9,284 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 3,215 in Moscow, pushing the infection tally to 4,796,557.

5:30 p.m. India has prioritized imports of oxygen, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday, adding that 40 countries had pledged their support. "We are talking about close to 550 oxygen generating plants that are going to come in from different sources from all over the world," Shringla told a news conference.

Tokyo is under another state of emergency as COVID-19 cases climb above 1,000 for the first time since the end of January.      © Kyodo

4:00 p.m. Tokyo reports on Thursday 1,027 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily level since Jan. 28. The capital and three western prefectures have been under the country's third state of emergency since the beginning of this week. The resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the capital and other parts of Japan comes less than three months before the start of Tokyo Olympics.

1:45 p.m. India reports a record rise of 379,257 new cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the total to 18.38 million. Fatalities rose by a record 3,645 to 204,832.

12:54 p.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is "committed" to the resumption of cruise industry passenger operations in the country by midsummer, announcing new steps to speed approvals. The assurance comes after the state of Alaska last week joined Florida's April 8 lawsuit to overturn a CDC decision to bar the industry from immediately resuming operations halted for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

12:27 p.m. Indonesia plans to reduce its budget deficit next year to between 4.51% and 4.85% of gross domestic product, from an estimated 5.7% this year, as part of its fiscal consolidation measures, a Finance Ministry official said on Thursday. Indonesia relaxed its fiscal rules for three years from 2020 to allow for bigger government spending amid the coronavirus pandemic, but has vowed to bring fiscal deficits back to under the legal limit of 3% of GDP in 2023.

11:58 a.m. Cambodia reports a daily record of 698 new coronavirus cases. The Southeast Asian nation has recorded one of the world's lowest caseloads, but the outbreak first detected in late February has seen infections climb to 11,761, with 88 COVID-19 deaths.

8:58 a.m. The U.S. is sending supplies worth more than $100 million to India to help it fight a surge of COVID-19 cases. The supplies, which will begin arriving Thursday and continue into next week, include 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests. Washington has also redirected its own order for AstraZeneca materials to India, which will allow it to make over 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the White House.

A patient  is wheeled inside a COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India: The U.S. is sending supplies worth more than $100 million to India to help it fight a surge of COVID-19 cases.   © Reuters

5:05 a.m. Japanese automaker Suzuki will halt auto production in India to make industrial-use oxygen available for medical use amid surging COVID-19 patients in the country.

Maruti Suzuki will shut down two auto plants in Manesar and Gurugram from Saturday through May 9. The plants will advance their regular maintenance closures, which usually take place in June.

"In the current situation, we believe that all available oxygen should be used to save lives," Maruti Suzuki says in a statement.

Likewise, Suzuki Motor Gujarat, which produces four-wheel vehicles on a contract basis, will also idle its plant.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor has also announced that its two plants at Bidadi in Karnataka have begun annual maintenance, which started Monday and will last to May 14.

India is facing an acute oxygen shortage as the country grapples with the devastating second wave of coronavirus infections.

1:50 a.m. The Philippines is extending restrictions on people's movement and gatherings in the Manila region and four nearby provinces for another two weeks.

"I am sorry I have to impose a longer modified enhanced community quarantine. It is necessary," President Rodrigo Duterte tells a late-night televised address.

Hospitals and medical workers in the capital are overwhelmed in light of a sharp rise in COVID cases, while authorities face delays in the delivery of vaccines.

1:30 a.m. Turkey has signed a deal for 50 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, and the shots will start arriving next month, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says.

"We are at the last stage for Sputnik V vaccine emergency-use authorization and made a deal for its procurement. Turkey signed a deal to receive 50 million doses within six months," Koca said in a televised speech.

Wednesday, April 28

10:37 p.m. Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics say that they will be deciding limits for domestic spectators in June, not April as originally planned. "Currently, it is difficult to accurately predict the infection situation in July," Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters.

6:16 p.m. The U.S. will ease restrictions on Chinese and other students travelling to the country this fall, potentially helping colleges whose enrollments declined during the coronavirus pandemic, reports Reuters. The U.S. State Department said it was expanding its national interest exemptions to cover students and academics from around the world from Aug. 1. It made the change for European students in March.

Around 372,000 Chinese accounted for 35% of international students in the United States in the 2019-20 school year, according to the International Education Exchange, nearly twice as many as the second-highest, students from India.

1:59 p.m. As Bangkok closes more businesses, including cinemas and gyms, the majority of the country's provinces are threatening fines of up to 20,000 baht ($635) to anyone who goes outside without a mask. In the Philippines, cumulative cases this week reached 1 million as the coronavirus creates shortages of hospital beds and prompts Southeast Asia to tighten restrictions.

1:43 p.m. South Korea will offer exemptions to mandatory quarantines for people who have been fully inoculated, an effort to encourage more vaccinations. Beginning May 5, residents who have had both shots will not have to isolate for two weeks if they come in contact with a confirmed patient or have returned from overseas, says Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official. The country has so far vaccinated 4% of its 52 million-strong population, with goals of giving shots to 70% of its people by September and reaching herd immunity by November.

South Korea has vaccinated 4% of its 52 million-strong population but has a way to go to reach its goal of inoculating 70% by September.   © Reuters

12:12 a.m. Australians in the Indian Premier League are "anxious" about how they will get home amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India, the head of the cricket players' union said on Wednesday. Three Australian players have pulled out of the IPL but two remain stranded in the country following Australia's decision to suspend flights from India until May 15. Nearly 40 Australians remain involved in the IPL as players, coaches, officials and commentators, but Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they would not be given priority whenever repatriation flights resume.

11:00 a.m. China reports 12 cases for April 27, up from 11 a day earlier. All new cases were imported infections from overseas.

10:30 a.m. Bangladesh's drug regulator approves the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use, signaling that China's Sinopharm shot will soon be cleared as a supply line from India falters. Amid a second wave of infections, India has halted exports of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University shot due to its own surge in cases. Mahbubur Rahman, head of the Directorate General of Drug Administration, hopes to receive 4 million Russian doses by May.

8:01 a.m. British enthusiasm for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has faded in the past month, reflecting rising unease about its possible links to rare adverse side effects, though overall U.K. confidence in vaccines is high, an updated survey finds. The survey of almost 5,000 people shows a significant increase in the proportion saying they want to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. It also shows almost a quarter of those asked now believe the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots, up from 13% last month.

5:13 a.m. U.S. health regulators update coronavirus precautions, relaxing guidelines on mask use as the country's vaccination drive makes progress.

"We've made stunning progress because of all of you," President Joe Biden says, adding that COVID cases are "down dramatically."

The revised guidelines indicate that fully vaccinated people can safely engage in outdoor activities like walking and hiking without wearing masks.

More than half of all adults in the U.S. have now received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York City on April 27. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines that indicate fully vaccinated people can safely engage in outdoor activities without wearing masks.   © Reuters

Tuesday, April 27

11:57 p.m. JPMorgan Chase plans to bring its U.S. staff back to the office in July, Reuters reports. The bank will maintain a 50% occupancy cap under current guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with all staff returning on a rotational basis.

10:31 p.m. China offers help in accessing COVID-19 vaccines in a videoconference with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. India was also invited, the Chinese foreign ministry said, but China's neighbor and regional rival did not attend.

6:40 p.m. Thailand reports 15 new deaths, setting a daily record for the third time in four days in its worst outbreak so far, as an expert warned of big problems ahead due to insufficient testing. "If we are not screening people who can quietly spread the virus, there will be subsequent outbreaks and mutations, rendering immunization ineffective," Thiravat Hemachudha, head of the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Centre, wrote on Facebook. The country has reported more than half of its 59,687 cases this month alone, and 69 of its total 163 fatalities.

Health experts in Thailand are concerned about the spread of coronavirus amid insufficient testing, with the country reporting more than half of its 59,687 cases this month alone, and 69 of its total 163 fatalities.   © Reuters

6:10 p.m. Maruti Suzuki India reports a 9.7% drop in fourth-quarter profit, as weak demand for vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic and higher commodity costs hurt India's largest carmaker. After a steep fall in car sales last year when the pandemic first hit, Maruti's sales picked up in India over the past two quarters. Still, as rising costs of steel and copper threatened the carmaker's margins, it has passed on some of those costs to customers.

5:30 p.m. Osaka reports 1,231 new cases, up from 924 a day earlier. New infections in the western Japan prefecture have been higher than in Tokyo recently, despite a new state of emergency having been declared, putting additional stress on area hospitals.

3:15 p.m. Tokyo reports 828 new cases, up from 425 from a day earlier. The capital's seven-day average is now up 18.7% from a week ago, to 747, as Tokyo moves to battle the latest surge with a new state of emergency.

2:00 p.m. Australia suspends direct flights from India to prevent more virulent coronavirus variants entering the country following a surge in positive COVID-19 cases in the world's second-most populous nation. The suspension will remain until May 15.

1:30 p.m. India's new coronavirus cases stay above 300,000 for a sixth consecutive day, while its armed forces pledged urgent medical aid to help battle the staggering spike in infections. Over the past 24 hours, India recorded 323,144 new cases, below Monday's worldwide peak of 352,991, but hospitals remain overrun and continue to turn away patients due to a shortage of beds and oxygen supplies. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 2,771 to reach a total of 197,894.

12:07 p.m. The Bank of Japan revises down its inflation projections for the current fiscal year to March 2022, as prices remain subdued after more than eight years of aggressive monetary easing under Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda.

Medical workers receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Tokyo on March 5.   © Reuters

12:00 p.m. Japan will open a mass vaccination center in central Tokyo next month as part of the country's bid to speed up inoculations as the Olympic Games draw near. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the Self-Defense Forces will set up the center by May 24 with plans to operate it for three months. Military medical staff are expected to administer shots.

11:30 a.m. Thailand reports 15 deaths, a new daily high amid a fast-rising third wave that has prompted new shutdowns in Bangkok and other areas. The health ministry also reported 2,179 more cases. Thailand for months had suppressed the virus but a new outbreak emerged several weeks ago.

11:00 a.m. The move toward waiving some intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines is taken up as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai meets virtually with top executives of drugmakers Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The talks came ahead of a World Trade Organization discussion on the matter set for Friday. The U.S. and a few other big countries have so far blocked such a move, but democratic lawmakers, civil society groups, 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners have urged President Joe Biden to back the waiver.

10:47 a.m. South Korea reports 512 new cases, up from 499 a day ago. Total infections reach 119,898 with 1,820 deaths. Health authorities say so far 2.4 million people, or 4.7% of the population, have received their first vaccine shot, while 127,000 have completed their two-jab course. President Moon Jae-in will meet Novavax CEO Stanley Erck in the Blue House at 3 p.m. to discuss expanding domestic contract production of the company's COVID-19 vaccine.

10:04 a.m. China reports 11 new cases for Monday, matching the tally from a day earlier. All of the new cases originated overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 14 from 18 a day earlier.

8:47 a.m. South Korea's gross domestic product grew 1.6% in the first quarter as corporate investment rose sharply. The faster-than-expected expansion from the previous quarter was largely due to corporate investment in facilities, private consumption and government spending, according to the Bank of Korea. The median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists was for 1.2% growth.

8:40 a.m. Gilead Sciences says it will give India at least 450,000 vials of its COVID-19 drug remdesivir and donate active pharmaceutical ingredients to boost production, as infections surge in the country. India has an official tally of 17.31 million infections and 195,123 deaths, health ministry data shows, although health experts say the figures likely run higher.

The U.S. said it will share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine with other countries.    © Reuters

6:30 a.m. The White House announces that it is looking to share American-made AstraZeneca vaccine doses with other countries during the next few months. "Given the strong portfolio of vaccines that the United States has already authorized and available in large quantity ... and given AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against COVID over the next few months," press secretary Jen Psaki said. "Before any AstraZeneca doses are shipped from the United States, the FDA will confirm any such doses meet its expectations for product quality," she added.

4:32 a.m. Cooperation between the U.S. and Indo-Pacific partners India, Japan and Australia to supply up to a billion coronavirus vaccine doses across Asia by the end of 2022 was 'still on track', say senior U.S. officials, despite a surge of the virus in India. "It's moving forward expeditiously," a senior administration official told reporters. In March, a Quad fact sheet said the U.S., through its International Development Finance Corp., would work to finance Indian drugmaker Biological E to produce vaccine doses.

4:20 a.m. France will supply India with "substantial medical aid" to help the country tackle a huge wave of new coronavirus infections that are overwhelming its hospitals, the Elysee presidential palace says. The shipments that will start next weekend will include oxygen generators, respirators and cryogenic containers.

4:13 a.m. Turkey announces a nationwide lockdown beginning Thursday and lasting until May 17 to combat the rapidly rising number of coronavirus infections. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says residents must mostly stay at home except for essential shopping and urgent medical care. All intercity travel will require official approval, and all classrooms will move online. Turkey reports 353 deaths over the past 24 hours, making it one of the worst affected countries by the pandemic.

Delhi health workers move the victims of COVID-19.   © Reuters

2:03 a.m. In a call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, U.S. President Joe Biden committed to working closely together with New Delhi in its fight against the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, pledging "America's steadfast support" for the people of India, per a White House readout. "The two leaders resolved that the United States and India will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the effort to protect our citizens and the health of our communities," the readout says.

1:54 a.m. The World Health Organization expects to decide whether to give emergency approval for China's two main COVID-19 vaccines in the next two weeks, Assistant Director-General Mariangela Batista Galvao Simao tells a briefing. Simao said the WHO could decide on a vaccine made by Sinopharm by the end of this week, and one made by Sinovac Biotech by the end of next week. China has already deployed millions of doses of both vaccines at home and has exported them to many countries, particularly in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Monday, April 26

11:10 p.m. Switzerland adds India to its list of high-risk countries from which travellers must enter quarantine following the surge of cases in the subcontinent and the discovery in Switzerland of a first case of new variant of COVID-19 first identified in India, reports Reuters.

5:45 p.m. Japan's death toll from COVID-19 has topped 10,000 amid government efforts to contain the new wave of infections. Tokyo reports 425 cases on Monday, down from 635 a day earlier. The capital, along with Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo, was put under a state of emergency again on Sunday. Osaka reports 924 new infections, down from 1,050 a day earlier, while its neighboring prefecture Hyogo posts 310 new cases, down from 473 a day ago.

More than 1 million people in the Philippines have been hit by COVID-19.   © Reuters

5:06 p.m. The Philippines' COVID cases have hit the 1 million mark. The country's health department reports 8,929 new infections, bringing the total to 1,006,428. There were another 70 fatalities, putting the death toll at 16,853.

5:00 p.m. Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President Seiko Hashimoto says that the group will decide on rules around spectator numbers in April. Hashimoto hopes to reach consensus among the parties involved, including the IOC and the Japanese government, so that the committee can take flexible measures depending on changes in the COVID situation then.

3:39 p.m. Indonesia has detected 10 cases of an Indian coronavirus strain, six of which were imported and four local, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin says. The country will tighten its borders and quarantine measures for tens of thousands of Indonesian migrant workers expected to return to the country in the coming weeks ahead of the Islamic holiday of Idul Fitri. Meanwhile, Indonesia expects to receive a second batch of AstraZeneca vaccine tonight amounting to 3.8 million doses, following a shipment of 1.1 million doses in March.

2:50 p.m. Thailand suspends issuing travel documents from India over concerns of imported cases, as more venues close in Bangkok to contain a third wave of infections. India on Monday set a global record for coronavirus cases for a fifth straight day with 352,991 infections. Hospitals in the country have been short of oxygen, beds and anti-viral drugs. The Thai embassy in Delhi said in a statement that certificates of entry for non-Thai nationals traveling from India will be suspended until further notice.

Thailand is no longer issuing travel documents to travelers from India over concerns of imported cases, as more venues in Bangkok close to contain a third wave of infections.   © Reuters

1:30 p.m. A long-delayed travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore -- the two Asian financial hubs -- will begin on May 26, as they moved to re-establish overseas travel links and lift the hurdle of quarantine for visiting foreigners. The bubble had been slated to begin last November but was suspended after an outbreak of Covid-19 in Hong Kong. The scheme will start with one flight a day into each city, with up to 200 travelers on each flight, Hong Kong's Commerce Secretary Edward Yau and Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said at simultaneous press events.

1:10 p.m. India's infections set a global single-day high for the fifth straight day, while deaths also jumped to a record high over the last 24 hours. With 352,991 new cases, India's total caseload has topped 17 million, with deaths rising by 2,812 to 195,123.

11:30 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says all elderly people in Japan will be able to complete vaccinations with a second shot by the end of July. He called the COVID-19 response a "top priority." The comments came a day after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost all three Diet seats up for grabs in the first elections since Suga took office in September last year.

10:22 a.m. South Korea reports 500 new cases, down from 644 a day ago. Total infections reach 119,387 with 1,817 deaths. Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki says the country has signed a deal to buy an additional 40 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine, raising the total number of vaccine doses to 192 million for 99 million people.

10:10 a.m. China reports 11 new cases for Sunday, down from 13 a day earlier, all originating overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 18 from 14 cases a day earlier.

3:00 a.m. The Indian government orders Twitter to take down dozens of tweets, including some by local lawmakers, that are critical of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, as daily infections hit one world worst after another. Twitter began withholding some of the tweets after the demand, a company spokeswoman tells Reuters. The government made an emergency order to censor the tweets, Twitter disclosed on Lumen database, a Harvard University project.

2:00 a.m. The U.S. has administered 228,661,408 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Sunday morning, and nearly 94.8 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Top U.S. health regulators have said the country can immediately resume use of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, ending a 10-day pause to investigate its link to extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots.

1:24 a.m. The U.S. immediately will provide raw materials for coronavirus vaccines as well as medical equipment and protective gear to help India respond to a massive surge in COVID-19 infections, a White House spokeswoman says. The materials will help India manufacture the Covishield vaccine, while the U.S. also will send therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits and ventilators. Washington faced pressure to help India, the world's largest democracy, after Britain, France and Germany pledged aid over the weekend.

Sunday, April 25

11:03 p.m. The European Commission is working to send oxygen and medicine to virus-hit India after receiving a request from New Delhi. India's recent massive surge in COVID-19 cases has forced hospitals in the capital and nationwide to turn away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds.

3:40 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urges all citizens to receive COVID-19 vaccines and exercise caution, saying a "storm" of infections has shaken the country. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says the region will remain under a lockdown until May 3, as coronavirus cases rise steeply.

1:26 p.m. India confirms 349,691 new coronavirus infections Sunday, a daily record, lifting the country's overall tally to 16.96 million infections. The health ministry reports 2,767 deaths, taking total coronavirus fatalities to 192,311.

11:58 a.m. Germany confirms 18,773 new coronavirus cases, raising the national total to 3,287,418, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases shows. The death toll rises by 120 to 81,564.

5:58 a.m. Brazil records 71,137 new coronavirus cases and 3,076 additional COVID-19 deaths, the Health Ministry says Saturday.

12:15 a.m. A total of 33.51 million British residents have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and over 12 million have been given both doses, official figures released Saturday show.

Saturday, April 24

4:52 p.m. Cambodia closes all markets in the capital, Phnom Penh, to contain a spike in coronavirus infections as thousands of families plead for food during a two-week lockdown. The Southeast Asian country has one of the world's smallest coronavirus caseloads, but an outbreak that started in late February has seen overall cases spike to 8,848 and 61 deaths.

4:06 p.m. Thailand curbs shop operating hours after the country records another record daily rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths amid a third wave of the pandemic. Malls in 18 high-risk provinces, including in the capital Bangkok, will be restricted to operating between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. for a week from Sunday, the Thai Retailers Association says.

Restaurants in the malls will be allowed to stay open an hour later, while convenience stores will be permitted to operate from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Schools, bars and massage parlors were shut a week ago and will remain closed until next month, while alcohol sales have been banned in restaurants in an effort to increase social distancing.


To catch up on earlier developments, see the last edition of latest updates.

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