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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of May 16 to May 22, US and South Korea agree on vaccine partnership

Thailand detects 1st Indian variant transmissions; Malaysia reports 6,493 new cases

Presidents Moon Jae-in and Joe Biden reveal a global comprehensive partnership for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines.    © 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 165,879,428, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 3,438,383.

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

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UPDATES CLOSED

Saturday, May 22 (Tokyo time)

9:05 a.m. The U.S. and South Korea announce a vaccine partnership in which South Korea will produce U.S.-developed vaccines to boost global supplies. The U.S. will also help vaccinate 500,000 South Korean service members. Presidents Joe Biden and Mon Jae-in also revealed a global comprehensive partnership for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, combining advanced U.S. technology with South Korea's production capacity.

Friday, May 21

7:15 p.m. The European Union intends to donate at least 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to poorer nations by the end of this year, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen says. Europe "aims at donating at least 100 million doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end 2021", von der Leyen said kicking off a global health summit in Rome meant to coordinate the world's fight against the pandemic.

4:10 p.m. Malaysia reports 6,493 new cases, bringing its total to 498,795 infections. The number of new cases was not far below the record high of 6,806 reported the previous day, when Malaysia also saw its highest daily death toll, 59.

3:30 p.m. Thailand has detected its first 15 domestically transmitted cases of the highly infectious COVID-19 variant first found in India, the country's coronavirus taskforce says. The 15 cases were discovered among construction workers in Bangkok. They were among 3,481 new cases and 32 deaths announced on Friday, bringing the totals to 123,066 infections and 735 fatalities.

A police officer outside the Central Vaccination Center in Bangkok. Fifteen transmissions of the highly infectious Indian variant have been discovered among construction workers in Thailand's capital.   © Reuters

3:15 p.m. Tokyo reports 649 new cases, down from 843 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases for the capital falls 27.2% to 674.

3:10 p.m. Taiwan reports 312 new domestic cases, up slightly from the 286 infections reported the previous day.

1:56 p.m. India's total caseload crosses 26 million as it adds 259,551 more infections and 4,209 deaths over the last 24 hours. The daily infection count came in below the 300,000-mark for the fifth consecutive day.

1:41 p.m. Moderna is considering manufacturing its coronavirus vaccine in Japan, with chief executive Stephane Bancel telling Nikkei in a phone interview, "We're having discussions in several countries in Asia, including Japan." He said Moderna is very interested in expanding its business and production in Asia.

Japan's vaccination program is lagging far behind those of other countries, with only 4% of the population having received a shot.    © Reuters

1:15 p.m. Japan's government formally approves the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines for two-dose use for people 18 and older. The Moderna vaccine is expected to be administered at mass vaccination centers run by the Self-Defense Forces in Tokyo, Osaka and other areas. However, the government will not administer the AstraZeneca vaccine for the time being, as it intends to continue monitoring the situation surrounding blood clot cases that have been reported overseas. The Pfizer vaccine had been the only one approved until today.

1:05 p.m. South Korea approves Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, as the country attempts to speed up its inoculation efforts, says Kim Gang-lip, the country's drug safety minister. Final approval comes after two out of three expert panels recommended granting approval of the two-dose vaccine based on safety and efficacy results in late-stage trials in the U.S.

11:00 a.m. South Korea reports 561 cases, down from 646 a day ago, bringing the country total to134,678 with 1,922 deaths.

9:30 a.m. China reports 24 new cases for Thursday, up from 12 a day earlier and all originating from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 25 from 16 a day earlier.

5:00 a.m. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is expected to be 70% to 75% effective against a fast-spreading Indian variant of the coronavirus, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin tells Turkish television. The vaccine is undergoing tests against the B.1.617.2 variant, which has swamped India and appeared in other countries.

3:00 a.m. Two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine might be around 85% to 90% effective against symptomatic infections, Public Health England says. PHE says the preliminary findings are the first of their kind on the effectiveness of two AstraZeneca doses in a real-world setting but cautions it has "low confidence" in the findings and that the results are inconclusive until more evidence is gathered.

Visitors receive coronavirus vaccines at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on May 14.   © Reuters

2:40 a.m. The U.S. can avoid a COVID-19 resurgence later this year if the country reaches President Joe Biden's goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one coronavirus vaccine dose by July 4, top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci says in an interview with The Washington Post. "If we get to the president's goal, which I believe we will attain ... there will be enough protection in the community that I really don't foresee there being the risk of a surge," Fauci said.

Thursday, May 20

10:30 p.m. Japan is considering an expansion of its COVID-19 state of emergency to include Okinawa, as the southern island prefecture sees coronavirus infections surge and medical resources strained.

This is the third time the government will expand the state of emergency since it was declared for Tokyo and the Osaka region last month.

10:00 p.m. As the U.S. reopens to foreign tourists, some visitors will return to their home countries with a valuable experience: receiving a coronavirus vaccine.

Visiting New York City this month, 30-year-old Stephanie Deluque told Nikkei she would have waited months for a shot in her native Colombia. The woman said she was grateful for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine she received in Central Park.

New York City began providing vaccines to tourists this month. Shots are available at walk-in vaccination centers in popular destinations such as Times Square.

On the other side of the U.S., Alaska has made vaccines available at major airports. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has described this as "another good reason to come to the state of Alaska in the summer."

8:38 p.m. A Japanese health ministry panel approves the manufacture and sale of Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. The ministry will soon officially approve the vaccines.

Japan is currently vaccinating people with Pfizer shots. Moderna doses will be used at large vaccination centers due to open in Tokyo and Osaka on Monday.

6:00 p.m. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will visit Japan from July 12, ahead of the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, according to a letter released by IOC senior official John Coates. Plans for Bach to visit Japan in May were postponed because of a government-issued state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus infections. Coates will also visit Japan from June 15 to finalize Olympic preparations on site.

5:50 p.m. The Philippines will stop announcing the maker of the COVID vaccines being administered at inoculation centers, after people crowded venues offering Pfizer shots. The new policy is meant to "overcome vaccine brand preference" as the Philippines, already challenged by prevailing vaccine hesitancy, races to inoculate over half of its population this year and revive a reeling economy.

4:40 p.m. Taiwan reports 286 new cases, up slightly from 267 a day earlier. Having been held up as an example of how to stop the virus in its tracks, Taiwan has over the past two weeks reported a spiraling number of infections in the community, with 1,572 cases.

4:00 p.m. Indonesia's exports racked up their strongest rise in 11 years in April, boosted by a surge in prices of key commodities such as palm oil and copper, government data shows. The resource-rich nation's shipments rose 51.94% on a yearly basis to $18.48 billion, marking the sharpest increase since 2010.

3:15 p.m. Tokyo reports 843 new infections, up from 732 a day earlier.

2:00 p.m. India reports 276,110 cases over the last 24 hours and 3,874 deaths, bringing the cumulative total to 25.77 million infections and 287,122 fatalities.

1:17 p.m. HSBC has earmarked 40 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5.15 billion) to support small and medium-size enterprises in Hong Kong as the city's economic recovery gathers pace. This measure will add to HK$250 billion in liquidity relief extended to commercial customers in the city since February 2020. HSBC is offering interest rebate on new term loans and fee waivers to help small businesses that were severely impacted due to the pandemic.

12:00 p.m. The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee plans to limit the number of overseas officials attending the games to roughly 79,000, less than half the initial figure, as part of its COVID-19 measures, sources tell Nikkei. The number of Olympic and Paralympic athletes remains unchanged at about 15,000.

11:30 a.m. Australia's jobless rate fell for a sixth consecutive month in April to the lowest in a year despite a drop in employment as fewer people went looking for work. Unemployment eased to 5.5%, the lowest since April 2020, marking a remarkable recovery from the high of 7.4% hit last July when coronavirus lockdowns tipped the economy into recession.

Vietnam plans to spend $1.1 billion to buy 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for its people.   © Reuters

10:30 a.m. Vietnam plans to set up a fund of 25.2 trillion dong ($1.1 billion) to acquire 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for its population, the Ministry of Finance says. The ministry has submitted the plan to the government for approval, it says, adding that the fund will use money mainly from the state budget.

9:40 a.m. China reports 12 new cases for Wednesday, down from 14 a day earlier. One of the new cases was a local infection in Liaoning Province. The other cases originated from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 16 from 13 a day earlier.

9:30 a.m. Japan's exports for April grew the most since 2010, rising 38% over a year earlier, when they plunged at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. Capital spending also rose in an encouraging sign of a trade-led recovery.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, testifies at a coronavirus crisis House subcommittee meeting in Washington in April.   © Reuters

5:20 a.m. Children in the U.S. will likely be able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2022, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was cleared by the U.S. earlier this month for use in adolescents age 12 and above.

2:14 a.m. Britain will work with the EU on reopening travel, says Health Minister Matt Hancock, who stressed the need for a cautious approach.

"We are, I think, wise to take a cautious approach to international travel," Hancock said at a news conference.

Wednesday, May 19

9:21 p.m. European Union countries agree to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-EU visitors ahead of the summer tourist season.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries approved a European Commission proposal to loosen the criteria to determine "safe" countries and to let in fully vaccinated tourists from elsewhere, Reuters reports.

7:30 p.m. Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda warns that downward pressure on economic activity might increase as uncertainty creeps in regarding the pace of Japan's inoculation drive. The comment came after it was announced Japan's economy shrank more than expected in the first three months of 2021. "In the bank's outlook," Kuroda said, "it is assumed that the impact of COVID-19 will almost subside ... through fiscal 2023. However, the pace of the vaccine rollout and the effectiveness of the vaccines entail uncertainties, and thus there is a risk that downward pressure on economic activity will increase."

6:21 p.m. After shutting down four industrial parks in northern Vietnam on Tuesday, authorities are scrambling to smother outbreaks of COVID-19 at other parks to protect the country's position as a regional manufacturing hub. Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City, the country's southern commercial center, say they are taking new measures to accelerate mass testing to detect infections among workers.

4:18 p.m. Malaysia reports 6,075 new coronavirus cases, a new daily record, as the country grapples with a surge in infections. The figure breaks the previous high recorded on Jan. 30 when the country's health ministry reported 5,728 daily cases.

A medical worker collects a swab sample to be tested for COVID-19 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where cases are surging.   © Reuters

3:51 p.m. Taiwan raises its COVID-19 alert level for the whole island on Wednesday as domestic cases continue to rise. Announcing another 267 local infections, up from 240 on Tuesday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said that there was no need for a full lockdown for now as he sought to reassure people. "At present medical capacity is sufficient, so please don't worry," Chen added.

2:21 p.m. India reports a record 4,529 deaths in the last 24 hours while logging 267,334 new infections, bringing the country total caseload to 25.5 million with 283,248 deaths.

1:13 p.m. Taiwan's cabinet says that 400,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive on the island Wednesday. Taiwan has reported almost 1,000 new infections during the past week or so, leading to new curbs in the capital, Taipei. Taiwan's stock of vaccines is rapidly falling. It has only received a little more than 300,000 to date, all from AstraZeneca.

A soldier disinfects a person leaving a COVID-19 testing site on May 19, following a surge of infections in Taipei.   © Reuters

12:43 p.m. Thailand's financial system has become more vulnerable due to shocks from the latest coronavirus outbreak and significant risks to the economy remain, according to minutes published by the central bank. The Southeast Asian country's latest COVID-19 outbreak, its biggest so far, has seen infections more than triple and deaths increase sixfold since it started in April, following a year of success in containing earlier outbreaks.

10:20 a.m. India's Biological E. will produce the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, alongside its own candidate, its managing director tells Reuters, which could boost the country's overall supplies amid a shortage.

Meanwhile, the GAVI Vaccine Alliance hopes deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines from India can be resumed in the third quarter of this year after the pandemic-battered country halted exports to focus on its own surge in infections. "We remain in regular and close contact with both the government and SII (Serum Institute of India), and remain hopeful that deliveries could resume, in reduced quantity, in the third quarter," a representative said.

Tuesday, May 18

10:40 p.m. Singapore expects to administer at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to its entire adult population by early August, following a decision to widen the gap between doses to inoculate more people faster.

"Lengthening the interval to between six to eight weeks will enable us to cover more people with the first dose of the vaccine more quickly, who will then have some protection," the health ministry said. Singapore's current gap is three to four weeks.

9:23 p.m. Vietnam's northern province of Bac Giang orders the temporary shutdown of four industrial parks, including three that house production facilities of Taiwan's Foxconn, due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

"We hope the measure will be in place for just two weeks, but it depends on the situation of the outbreak," said Le Anh Duong, chairman of Bac Giang People's Committee.

8:15 p.m. Malaysia on Tuesday reports 47 coronavirus deaths, setting a fatalities record for a second successive day.

7:48 p.m. Singapore authorizes the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those aged 12 to 15 years.

"The data showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated high efficacy consistent with that observed in the adult population," the health ministry said in a statement.

7:00 p.m. Thailand reports 35 new coronavirus deaths, a record daily number that includes the country's youngest victim to date -- a two-month-old baby. The country's latest outbreak has seen infections more than triple and deaths increase sixfold since April, after a year of relative success in containing earlier outbreaks. The two-month-old baby who died had a heart condition, the COVID-19 task force said.

5:00 p.m. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it is still not safe to allow fully vaccinated residents to travel overseas, even as industries hit hard by the pandemic press for a faster reopening of international borders. "I understand that everyone is keen to get back to a time that we once knew. But the reality is we are living this year in a pandemic that is worse than last year," he said.

3:30 p.m. Taiwan's government says all schools will close until May 28 amid a rise in domestic COVID-19 cases. The Education Ministry says that starting Wednesday, classes will have to take place online.

3:14 p.m. Tokyo reports 732 new cases, up from 419 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases in the capital fell 8.2% from a week ago to 756.

3:05 p.m. Taiwan reports 240 new domestic COVID-19 cases, down from 333 a day earlier. Taiwan has reported almost 1,000 new domestic infections during the past week, leading to new curbs in Taipei.

1:32 p.m. India reports 4,329 fatalities in the past 24 hours, marking its deadliest day yet and bringing the country's death total to 278,719. Total infections topped 25 million as the nation recorded 263,533 new cases, but it was the second straight day with fewer than 300,000 cases.

A patient suffering from coronavirus receives treatment inside the emergency ward at a hospital in Delhi.   © Reuters

11:30 a.m. Taro Kono, Japan's minister in charge of vaccinations, says the government is considering allowing pharmacists to administer COVID shots as it faces a shortage of doctors and nurses to give injections. Japan has already allowed dentists to administer inoculations as it tries to speed up the country's lagging vaccine rollout. As of Sunday, only 2.5% of Japan's elderly had received at least one shot.

9:30 a.m. China reports 22 new cases for Monday, down from 25 a day earlier. Four of the new cases were local infections reported in northeastern Liaoning province. The other cases originated from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 20 from 17 a day earlier.

Residents of Taipei sign up for COVID-19 tests: Taiwan is in talks with the U.S. for a share of the vaccine doses President Joe Biden plans to send abroad, says Taiwan's top official in Washington.   © Reuters

9:20 a.m. Taiwan is in talks with the United States for a share of the vaccine doses President Joe Biden plans to send abroad, Taipei's top official in Washington says, as the island deals with a spike in domestic cases. Biden said the U.S. would send at least 20 million more vaccine doses abroad by the end of June, marking the first time the United States has shared vaccines authorized for domestic use.

8:52 a.m. Japan's economy declined 1.3% in January-March from the preceding three-month period as resurgent COVID outbreaks snapped a two-quarter run of growth, the Cabinet Office says. The annualized pace of decline was 5.1%. The result compares with an average forecast of a 1.2% contraction, or an annualized decline of 4.6%, in a survey of 37 economists by the Japan Center for Economic Research.

7:00 a.m. Prolonged COVID emergencies present Japan's restaurant industry -- one of the world's most diverse dining scenes -- with an existential threat. The latest declaration, which took effect on April 25, is Japan's third in a little more than a year. It was to end on May 11 but has since been extended until the end of the month as the virus rages on.

5:00 a.m. Chinese-made supplies for 25 million coronavirus vaccine shots will arrive in Brazil in the coming days, Reuters reports, citing officials.

Local biomedical laboratories Fiocruz and Butantan produce Chinese-developed vaccines but need ingredients from China to do so.

Only 17% of Brazil's residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and only 8% have been fully vaccinated, Reuters reports.

This vaccine clinic in Rio de Janeiro gives AstraZeneca shots, but Brazil also relies on Chinese-developed coronavirus vaccines.   © Reuters

3:45 a.m. Older adults in Tokyo and Osaka rushed to set dates for their coronavirus shots at central-government-run mass vaccination sites Monday after appointments opened up, but the launch was marred by flaws in the system.

Of the 50,000 slots available in Tokyo's central 23 wards, 41,000 had been filled by 8 p.m., while the 25,000 appointments in Osaka were fully booked, according to the Ministry of Defense. Shots in this round will be administered between May 24 and May 30. The mass vaccination sites are exclusively for people 65 and older.

Monday, May 17

11:55 p.m. The World Economic Forum has canceled the special annual meeting set for Singapore in August, scrapping the planned in-person gathering due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which was scheduled for Aug. 17 to 20 in the city-state, would have been the first WEF annual meeting in Asia.

10:20 p.m. Hong Kong Disneyland Resort reports a record loss of 2.66 billion Hong Kong dollars ($342 million) for fiscal 2020, its sixth consecutive year in the red.

Michael Moriarty, who took the post of managing director in December, tells reporters that the theme park has no plans to lay off staff or seek additional funding from the government, which owns 53% of Hong Kong Disneyland through a joint venture with Walt Disney Co. The partners plan to press on with a HK$10.9 billion expansion to add new attractions, he said.

Singapore Airlines planes on the tarmac at Changi Airport: Hopes for a Hong Kong travel bubble have been dashed again.   © Reuters

5:30 p.m. Singapore and Hong Kong have officially deferred plans to launch a long-awaited bilateral travel bubble between the financial hubs -- a decision that was already telegraphed ahead of the planned May 26 start date.

No new date has been given. Singapore has been wrestling with an increase in coronavirus infections that, while tiny by international standards, has prompted tougher restrictions on outings and other measures.

Singapore's Transport Ministry says that with the recent rise in unlinked community cases of COVID-19 in the city-state, it is unable to meet the criteria to open the bubble. Both cities intend to monitor the public health situation and review the plan toward mid-June. The bubble was already postponed late last year when infections rose in Hong Kong.

3:20 p.m. Taiwan reports 333 domestic cases amid a rise in community transmissions. Tough new restrictions have been imposed in the capital Taipei for the first time as authorities fear a surge in cases. More than 700 domestic infections have been reported over the past week.

3:15 p.m. Online vaccine bookings begin for elderly people at vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka, as Japan tries to speed up its vaccine rollout. Residents of the capital's 23 wards aged 65 or older can now make appointments via the Defense Ministry's website and the Line messaging app. The ministry says 21,000 bookings were made in just 45 minutes in Tokyo, while all 25,000 slots were booked within 25 minutes in Osaka. On Monday, Tokyo reported 419 new cases, down from 542 a day earlier.

1:28 p.m. India reports 281,386 new cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest daily count in nearly a month, bringing the cumulative total to 24.97 million. Daily fatalities remain a worry, with 4,106 deaths reported since Sunday morning, bringing the total to 274,390.

1:05 p.m. Taiwan's Premier Su Tseng-chang calls on people not to panic or spread rumors in an attempt to steady the island's economy as stocks have fallen sharply amid the sudden surge in infections. "Domestic economic fundamentals are good, export order demand continues to be strong, and production is operating normally," he said on his Facebook page.

11:50 a.m. Thailand's economy shrank in the first quarter from a year earlier as COVID-19 outbreaks hurt consumption and tourism, but the fall was less than expected. Southeast Asia's second-largest economy contracted 2.6% in the March quarter from a year earlier, versus a forecast 3.3% drop in a Reuters poll.

People throng Nanjing Pedestrian Road, a main shopping area in Shanghai, on May 10.   © Reuters

11:40 a.m. China's Industrial production grew 9.8% in April from a year ago, slower than the 14.1% surge in March but matching a forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, retail sales rose 17.7% year on year in April, much weaker than a 24.9% uptick expected by analysts and down from 34.2% in March.

11:18 a.m. South Korea reports 619 cases, up from 610 a day ago, bringing the country total to 132,290 with 1,903 deaths. Shares of SK Bioscience jumped more than 8% on the Kospi in morning trade as the drugmaker announced that it obtained good manufacturing practices certification (GMP) from the European Medicines Agency. SK is producing AstraZeneca vaccines in a contract manufacturing deal.

10:30 a.m. Thailand reports a daily record of 9,635 cases -- including 6,853 among prisoners -- as the country struggles with a third wave of infections. This brings the country total of infections to 111,082. Thailand also records 25 deaths, bringing total fatalities to 614.

9:40 a.m. China reports 25 cases for Sunday, up from 18 a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase in more than six weeks. Five of the new cases were local infections: three in Liaoning Province and two in Anhui Province. The rest were imported infections originating overseas.

9:05 a.m. The head of UNICEF asks G-7 countries to donate doses to the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme to address the disruption to Indian vaccine exports. UNICEF is in charge of supplying vaccines through COVAX. It estimates a supply shortfall of 140 million doses by the end of May and about 190 million by the end of June. "Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emestopgaptop-gap measure, and it is needed right now," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, according to Reuters.

UNICEF estimates a vaccine supply shortfall of 140 million doses by the end of May and about 190 million by the end of June.   © Reuters

Sunday, May 16

10:30 p.m. Singapore will shut most schools from Wednesday after it reported 38 locally transmitted cases, the highest daily number since mid-September, authorities say. All primary, secondary and junior colleges will shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday until the end of the school term on May 28.

5:58 p.m. India reports a smaller rise in daily coronavirus infections for a third straight day, as the government says it is working to boost vaccine supplies to avert deaths beyond the pandemic toll of more than 270,000. The number of deaths in the past 24 hours surpassed 4,000 for the fourth time in a week, with Sunday's 311,170 new infections representing the lowest single-day rise in more than three weeks.

3:08 p.m. Taiwan reports 206 new domestic COVID-19 infections as it grapples with an increase in community infections.

3:04 p.m. Indonesia has suspended the distribution of a batch of AstraZeneca's novel coronavirus vaccine to run tests for sterility and toxicity following the death of a 22-year-old man a day after immunization, the health ministry says.

1:28 p.m. India's tally of coronavirus infections reaches nearly 24.7 million, with 311,170 new cases over the last 24 hours while deaths rose by 4,077. The South Asian nation's tally stands at 24.68 million, health ministry data showed, and the death toll is at 270,284.

12:46 p.m. Australia is holding firm to plans to start reopening to the rest of the world only from the middle of next year, officials say, resisting mounting pressure to end its closure. In March 2020, Australia closed its borders to non-nationals and nonresidents and has since been allowing only limited international arrivals, mainly citizens returning from abroad.

Saturday, May 15

9:06 p.m. Italian researchers publish a study that shows COVID-19 infections in adults fell by 80% five weeks after a first dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine.

The study was carried out by Italy's National Institute of Health (ISS) and the Ministry of Health on 13.7 million people vaccinated nationwide. Scientists started studying data from the day Italy's vaccination campaign began, on Dec. 27, until May 3.

"As of 35 days after the first dose, there is an 80% reduction in infections, 90% reduction in hospitalizations, and 95% reduction in deaths," the ISS says, adding that the same pattern was seen in both men and women regardless of age.

7:30 p.m. Malaysian health authorities report 44 new COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily fatality rate so far, while new infections remained above 4,000 for the fourth straight day. The health ministry says 4,140 new cases were reported on Saturday, pushing the total past 466,000 with 1,866 deaths -- the third highest infection rate in the region behind Indonesia and the Philippines.

5:31 p.m. China cancels the 2021 spring climbing season from the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, because of coronavirus concerns, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reports.

The Himalayan nation of Nepal, which is so short of oxygen canisters it has asked mountaineers to bring back their empties, has issued a record 408 permits to climb Everest in the April-May season after last year's closure. In contrast, a total of 21 Chinese climbers had secured approval for climbs in spring, Xinhua adds.

1:33 p.m. Taiwan imposes tighter movement restrictions around the capital after a surge in COVID-19 cases on the island, which has been seen globally as a model for its handling of the pandemic. Local cases soared to 180 from 29 on Friday, prompting the government to raise its warning level to 3 on its 1 to 4 scale in Taipei and New Taipei City, the economic hub of the island.

1:17 p.m. India reports 326,098 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, taking its tally to 24.37 million, while deaths fell slightly, to 3,890. Over the past week, the south Asian nation has added about 1.7 million new cases and more than 20,000 deaths. Its death toll stands at 266,207, health ministry data shows.

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

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