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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of May 9 to May 15, India reports over 320,000 new daily cases

Taiwan tightens restrictions after surge in cases; Brazil vaccinates Olympics-bound athletes and staff

People wait to receive their second dose of Covishield, a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, outside a vaccination center in Kolkata on May 12.   © 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 161,903,230, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 3,357,979.

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 15 (Tokyo time)

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.

9:34 a.m. China reports 14 new COVID-19 cases on May 14, up from seven a day earlier. The National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin that five of the new cases were local infections, including three in central China's Anhui Province and two in Liaoning in the northeast. The rest originated overseas.

3:35 a.m. Brazil begins mass vaccinations of athletes, coaches, staff and journalists heading to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July.

Doctors in six Brazilian cities kick off an initial round to vaccinate 1,800 people, including Olympians and Paralympians.

12:18 a.m. Turkey will ease cautiously out of a full lockdown next week and lift restrictions more significantly in June, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

Turkish authorities imposed the lockdown two weeks ago after the number of daily COVID-19 cases soared above 60,000. The daily tally has fallen to 11,000, still above the target of 5,000 Erdogan set at the start of the lockdown.

Around 10.7 million people have been fully vaccinated, or 13% of Turkey's population, with another 14 million-plus having received a first dose.

Friday, May 14

10:40 p.m. The World Health Organization urges rich countries to reconsider plans to vaccinate children and instead donate COVID-19 shots to the COVAX scheme for developing nations.

The WHO hopes more countries will follow France and Sweden in donating shots to COVAX after inoculating their priority populations. Canada and the U.S. are among those recently authorizing vaccines for use in adolescents.

People mourn the death of a family member before cremation outside Bengaluru on May 13.   © Reuters

5:06 p.m. India's infections top 24 million amid reports that a highly transmissible variant first detected in the nation was spreading across the globe. The Indian B.1.617 variant has been found in eight nations in the Americas, including Canada and the U.S., said Jairo Mendez, an infectious diseases expert with the World Health Organization. "These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences," Mendez said.

2:10 p.m. Singapore restaurants will not be allowed to have dine-in customers from Sunday to June 13, the government announces, as the country's coronavirus cases rise. Stricter measures during the four weeks also include reducing the maximum size of social gatherings from five people to two, and making work-from-home the default option. The city-state on Thursday reported 24 local cases, its highest count in more than half a year, due to a cluster that emerged at Changi Airport. The situation has thrown a planned travel bubble with Hong Kong, due to open on May 26, into doubt.

1:54 p.m. Postponement of the travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is "highly likely," says Hong Kong commerce minister Edward Yau, citing the COVID-19 situation in Singapore, where cases have surged in recent weeks.

1:10 p.m. Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang says there is no need to raise the island's COVID-19 alert level, as it has more experience in fighting the pandemic compared with last year. While Taiwan has reported just 1,233 cases -- mostly imported from abroad -- a recent uptick in domestic infections has spooked the population and stock market. Su posted on Facebook that the next two weeks would be crucial to controlling new cases. "With the cooperation of the central and local governments, the command center has successively found the transmission chain between the confirmed cases, and there is no need to upgrade [the alert level]."

Shoppers in Taiwan buy boxes of face masks in Taipei on May 12.   © Reuters

12:30 p.m. The first repatriation flight from India for Australians will land on Saturday after a two-week travel ban. All 150 passengers will be quarantined for two weeks at a converted mining camp in Howard Springs in the isolated Northern Territory. Canberra banned all travelers from India, including its own citizens, for two weeks until May 15. The government aims to more than double the capacity at Howard Springs to 2,000 people every two weeks from June. There are about 9,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents in India seeking flights home.

12:02 p.m. Japan will declare a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by the pandemic, in a surprise move that reflects growing concern about the virus. Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima will on Sunday be under a state of emergency until May 31.

10:05 a.m. China reports seven cases for Thursday, including the first local transmissions in more than three weeks. Two of the new cases were local infections in Anhui Province. The cases were the first local transmissions since April 20, when the country recorded two local infections in Yunnan Province, where a city on the Myanmar border reported a cluster in late March. The other five infections originated overseas.

5:00 a.m. Biden appears in front of the cameras to talk about the CDC's new guidelines about masks without wearing a mask. "If you're fully vaccinated and can take your mask off, you've earned the right to do something that Americans are known for all around the world: greeting others with a smile," he said.

Some journalists at the White House also removed their masks.

"I think it's a great milestone, a great day," he said.

3:50 a.m. Fully vaccinated people in the U.S. do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises on Thursday local time. Fully vaccinated Americans also will not need to physically distance in most places.

The new guidance will let life begin to return to normal, the CDC says, and the agency hopes this prods more Americans to get vaccinated. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cites a sharp reduction in cases, expansion of vaccines to younger people and vaccine efficacy against coronavirus variants.

The agency still recommends that vaccinated people wear masks on planes and trains, as well as at airports, transit hubs, mass transit and in hospitals and doctor's offices. Such individuals should continue wearing masks where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws.

People walk without protective masks in Times Square.   © Reuters

12:48 a.m. Thailand's central bank says it will announce new measures Friday to help indebted households and small businesses during the pandemic. The Bank of Thailand is ready to provide further monetary and credit support if needed, Bank of Thailand Gov. Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput says, though he reiterates that quantitative easing is not suitable.

In the past six weeks, Thailand's COVID-19 cases have tripled to 93,794 and deaths have increased fivefold to 518.

Thursday, May 13

9:47 p.m. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine "will hopefully be available in [India's] market next week," V.K. Paul, a top health adviser to the Indian government, tells reporters. India began importing Sputnik V this month after giving emergency use approval for the vaccine.

India will produce the vaccine locally beginning in July, Paul says. "In the period between August and December, up to 156 million doses of Sputnik V are expected to be [made in India]," he says.

This production is part of over 2 billion doses to be manufactured in India for domestic use during those five months by various vaccine makers, he says. His statement comes amid reports of vaccine shortages in parts of the South Asian nation, which launched its inoculation drive Jan. 16.

Minakshamma, 68, receives a dose of of the Indian-made COVISHIELD vaccine in Bengaluru on May 13.   © Reuters

Meanwhile, India continues to receive medical supplies from the global community to help it fight a deadly second wave of the pandemic. New shipments of oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, rapid testing kits and ventilators have arrived from countries such as South Korea, Italy, Japan, Indonesia, Germany and Finland.

6:30 p.m. More than a quarter of European Union adults are unlikely to be vaccinated when shots become available to them, a survey shows. The results suggest a strong link between vaccine hesitancy and social media use, particularly among those whose main source of information is social media, according to Eurofound which carried out the survey.

"Unfortunately, these findings reflect a failure to deliver persuasive and clear communication regarding the efficacy and safety of vaccines," said Daphne Ahrendt, Eurofound senior research manager.

5:30 p.m. China supports talks on a proposal by the World Trade Organization for an intellectual property protection waiver on vaccines. British and European Union officials have been skeptical about the usefulness of a U.S. proposal to waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, while saying they are prepared to discuss it.

3:30 p.m. Taiwan reports 13 domestic infections amid surging cases that have unnerved the government and stock market. The government has been on edge since new outbreaks emerged late last month, with 16 new domestic cases reported on Wednesday, setting a record daily high.

3:20 p.m. The Japanese government asks business leaders to help with vaccinating workers, as Taro Kono, minister in charge of Japan's vaccine rollout, met in person with Tetsuro Tomita, vice chair of the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, Kyodo News reports. Tomita said the corporate sector would do everything possible to meet the request. On Thursday, Tokyo reported 1,010 new cases, up from 969 from a day earlier.

Mascot Miraitowa at an unveiling ceremony for the Olympic symbol on Mount Takao, west of Tokyo, on April 14. Japanese government sources say about 40 "host towns" for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have abandoned accepting overseas athletes in advance training camps and exchange programs due to pandemic concerns.   © Reuters

1:30 p.m. Vietnam's first coronavirus vaccine candidate is headed for a final-stage trial, giving a country that has accepted no Chinese-made shots a chance to gain ground on Southeast Asian peers in inoculating its people. Nanocovax, a recombinant protein vaccine made using animal cells, was developed by a startup called Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in collaboration with Vietnam Military Medical University.

1:13 p.m. India logs 362,727 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 348,421 the previous day, bringing the cumulative total to 23.7 million. Deaths jumped by 4,120 --the second straight day with over 4,000 fatalities -- to 258,317.

12:30 p.m. Asian stock markets drop further, extending a run of losses as investors fret over rising global inflation. Following falls on Wall Street on Wednesday, Asian indexes also moved lower as investors turned away from the tech stocks that have underpinned a market rally for much of the past year.

11:30 a.m. About 40 "host towns" for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have abandoned accepting overseas athletes in advance training camps and exchange programs due to pandemic concerns, according to government sources. Chiba Prefecture announced Wednesday that the U.S. track and field team had canceled the pre-camp scheduled in the prefecture.

11:12 a.m. South Korea reports 715 new cases, up from 635 a day ago. Total infections reach 129,633, with 1,891 deaths. The benchmark Kospi index slipped 0.5% in the morning, extending its loss after falling 1.49% on Wednesday and 1.23% on Tuesday.

11:10 a.m. Thailand reports 2,052 new cases in the community plus another 2,835 among prisoners as authorities grapple with a third wave of infections. The combined total of 4,887 cases is a new daily record and brings total infections to 93,794. Thailand's COVID-19 taskforce also records 32 new deaths, bringing the total to 518.

9:55 a.m. China reports nine new cases for Wednesday, down from 16 a day earlier. All the new cases originated from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 14, from 11 a day earlier.

9:00 a.m. Australia is in "active talks" with COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna to establish a domestic manufacturing facility for mRNA vaccines, Health Minister Greg Hunt says. Moderna on Wednesday announced a supply pact with Australia for 25 million doses of its vaccine. In the deal, 10 million doses protecting against the original strain of the virus are to be delivered toward the end of this year.

4:20 a.m. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech to inoculate younger adolescents, paving the way for the vaccination of children ages 12 to 15.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized the vaccine for this group and the action by the CDC is an important, but not required, final seal of federal regulatory approval.

12:30 a.m. U.S. consumer prices surged in April as the economic recovery picked up, reflecting rising demand as the pandemic eased and higher prices caused by supply bottlenecks.

The consumer price index jumped 4.2% in April from a year earlier, up from 2.6% for the year ended in March, the Labor Department says. That is the highest 12-month level since the summer of 2008.

12:00 a.m. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says that her objective in World Trade Organization talks over a COVID-19 vaccines waiver is to remove intellectual property as an obstacle to increasing vaccine production.

Tai views the talks to be less about preventing other countries from "stealing" U.S. technology and more about finding a way to have a positive impact on people's lives by ending the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, May 12

11:00 p.m. Japan will bar the entry of all travelers who have visited India, Pakistan or Nepal within the previous 14 days, except for Japanese nationals, the government says.

The measure, effective Friday, comes as India continues to suffer a surge of infections due to deadly coronavirus variants, sparking fears that the variants may have spread to neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Nepal.

7:00 p.m. A World Health Organization-appointed panel calls for rich nations to do more to promote equitable vaccine access, as well as steps to ensure greater accountability in future viral outbreaks. In an 86-page report, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response advocates a new global health surveillance system that would give the WHO the authority to issue warnings without the approval of the country where an outbreak occurs.

6:55 p.m. China's Sinovac Biotech vaccines have proved highly effective among Indonesia's health care workers, according to a new study by the country's health ministry. The review, which looked at nearly 130,000 medics, found that two shots of the Sinovac vaccine was 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms, 96% effective against hospitalization, and 98% effective in preventing death, lead researcher and health official Pandji Dhewantara said.

The Olympic Stadium during a test event on Tuesday for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics athletics. The U.S. track and field team has canceled a training camp that it was to hold in July in Tokyo, citing COVID worries.(REUTERS/Issei Kato)   © Reuters

6:00 p.m. The government of Chiba Prefecture, next to Tokyo, announces that the U.S. Olympic track and field team has canceled a training camp that it was to hold in July. The governing body of U.S. track notified the prefecture of the cancellation in April, citing COVID concerns.

4:37 p.m. Taiwan's government warns it is considering imposing its strictest movement restrictions since the onset of the pandemic, triggering the sharpest ever daily fall in the island's stock market. The possible escalation of the warning level came after Taiwan reported seven local cases on Tuesday, with the origin of six cases untraceable. The figure rose to 16 -- the highest daily increase in locally confirmed cases -- on Wednesday.

3:14 p.m. Tokyo reports 969 cases -- up from 925 a day earlier -- pushing its seven-day average of new cases to 874, up 9.4% from a week ago. The capital is now under an extended state of emergency along with Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures, while Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures are under new SOEs.

1:27 p.m. India posts a record 4,205 deaths in the last 24 hours while recording 348,421 new infections, up from 329,942 the previous day. Country totals now stand at 23.34 million infections and 254,197 fatalities.

A man transports the body of his relative, who died of COVID-19, outside a government-run hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India on May 11.   © Reuters

1:17 p.m. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average falls sharply during afternoon trade, led by tech-related stocks. The benchmark at one point declined over 600 points, or 2%, with investors spooked by the prospect of higher inflation. Other stock indexes in the Asia region, including Taiwan and South Korea, also sunk.

11:00 a.m. Tokyo Olympics organizers are in talks with the Japanese government about vaccinating the nation's athletes and support staff by late June, Nikkei has learned. Due to the training time athletes need after vaccinations kick in with no side effects, inoculations should be completed about one month before the start of the Games on July 23, sources say. As a second dose is required three weeks after the first shot, inoculations are planned to start in early June.

10:51 a.m. South Korea says the number of employed in April rose by 652,000 from a year earlier, the fastest pace in nearly seven years and an indication that the economy is recovering from the pandemic slump. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate slid 0.2 percentage points year on year to 4%. The country also reports 635 cases, up from 511 a day ago, bringing the country total to 128,918 with 1,884 deaths.

9:50 a.m. Brazil announces that it has signed a deal for Pfizer to deliver an additional 100 million doses of its vaccine, doubling the number of shots supplied by the company. The additional shots should arrive between September and December, supplementing an earlier deal for 100 million doses, of which Brazil has only received 1.6 million to date.

9:30 a.m. China reports 16 cases for Tuesday, up from 14 a day earlier, with all new cases originating overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, fell to 11 from 25 a day earlier.

Tuesday, May 11

11:55 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to the U.K. for the Group of Seven summit next month amid the surge in coronavirus cases in his country.

Modi had been invited to the G-7 summit by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a special invitee.

"Given the prevailing COVID situation, it has been decided that the Prime Minister will not attend the G-7 Summit in person," India's foreign ministry said in a statement.

India's seven-day average of daily infections hit a record 390,995 on Tuesday, according to the health ministry.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not travel to the U.K. for the upcoming G-7 summit.   © Reuters

11:04 p.m. The U.S. is averaging its fewest daily cases since September, with case counts falling below 40,000, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The 38,800 daily new infections, based on a seven-day average, are down 46% from the most recent high in mid-April.

6:09 p.m. Nissan Motor expects to post a net loss of 60 billion yen ($551 million) in the current fiscal year through next March, marking three consecutive years of deficits as it seeks to return to profitability and shed the expansionist strategies of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

5:10 p.m. Japan's western prefecture of Osaka reports 974 new cases, up from 668 a day earlier, and suffers its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day of 55. Osaka, along with Tokyo and four other prefectures, will be put under the latest state of emergency on Wednesday.

Masked shoppers in Osaka, which will come under another state of emergency on Wednesday.   © Kyodo

4:20 p.m. Moody's upgrades its outlook for the global airline industry to "positive" from "negative," expecting steady vaccine rollouts to drive a rebound in commercial air travel. "While the continuing pandemic means there is a risk of further disruption to air travel in various countries at various times, we expect an increase in vaccinations to lower border restrictions and increase demand for air travel over the next 12 to 18 months," Moody's says.

3:20 p.m. Tokyo reports 925 cases, up from 573 a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases in the capital stands at 824 -- 2.1% lower than a week ago. Patients in serious condition increased by 3 from the previous day to 81.

1:47 p.m. India reports 329,942 new cases in the past 24 hours, down from 366,161 the previous day, bringing the cumulative total to 22.99 million. Fatalities jumped by 3,876 to 249,992.

1:06 p.m. Malaysia's economy contracted less sharply in the first quarter as domestic spending improved along with external demand in spite of a recent spike in coronavirus cases. The economy shrank 0.5% over January-March from a year earlier, down for a fourth straight quarter, central bank data shows.

1:00 p.m. China recorded 12 million births in 2020 for a fertility rate of 1.3, said Ning Jizhe, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics, as an aging population brings both challenges and opportunities. Ning spoke after the release of the results of a once-in-a-decade census that showed the population of mainland China increased at an annual rate of 0.53% to 1.41 billion.

A drive-thru vaccination site in Metro Manila. Two overseas workers appear to have carried the Indian variant into the country.   © Reuters

12:45 p.m. The Philippines detects its first two cases of the B.1.617 variant, first found in India. Two Filipino workers who returned in April from the United Arab Emirates and Oman tested positive for the strain, the Health Ministry says, adding that the workers have been isolated since their return.

12:20 p.m. Australia's Victoria state reports the first local transmission in more than two months, sending authorities searching for the source. A man in his 30s who recently returned from overseas and had completed his hotel quarantine in South Australia state tested positive on Tuesday morning.

11:10 a.m. The Philippine economy contracted by 4.2% on the year in the January-March period, extending its recession to a fifth straight quarter, the country's statistics agency says. The latest gross domestic product shrinkage adds pressure on President Rodrigo Duterte's government to hit its growth target of up to 7.5% this year, following a pandemic-marred 2020.

11:08 a.m. China's annual population growth slowed during the decade through 2020, according to the results of its once-a-decade census. Last year's National Population Census shows that the population reached 1,411,778,724, up from 1,339,724,852 a decade earlier. The average annual population growth rate of 0.53% was slower than the 0.57% measured in the 2010 census, reflecting the failure of policies designed to reverse China's falling birthrate.

Women walk with children following the COVID-19 outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Jan. 15.   © Reuters

10:40 a.m. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average tumbles in morning trade, at one point dropping over 700 points, or 2.4%, following a tech sell-off on Wall Street that was prompted by inflation fears. In Tokyo, shares in SoftBank Group and semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron fell sharply.

9:30 a.m. China reports 14 cases for Monday, up from 11 a day earlier, with all new cases originating overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 25 from 18 a day earlier.

8:50 a.m. Japanese household spending surged 6.2% in March from a year earlier after a 6.6% decline in February, posting its first gain in four months in March. Consumer demand rebounded from the blow it took due to coronavirus curbs last year. But an extension of new emergency measures and slow vaccine rollouts are clouding the country's outlook.

6:15 a.m. U.S. regulators authorize Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine for children as young as 12, widening the country's inoculation program as vaccination rates have slowed. The vaccine has been available under an emergency use authorization to people as young as 16. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was amending the EUA to include millions of children aged 12 to 15.

More children in the U.S. will now be eligible to be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.   © Reuters

Monday, May 10

9:00 p.m. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announces a fresh nationwide lockdown order with immediate effect, aiming to contain a relentless wave of COVID-19 cases. The lockdown, which limits movements of people, is to last until June 7 and is subject to an extension, as with previous movement restrictions implemented off and on in the country since March last year.

6:00 p.m. All Nippon Airways proposes to its labor union that it not pay bonuses for the fiscal year ending in March 2022 due to the pandemic and weakened travel demand. ANA Holdings, ANA's parent company, announced last week a net profit forecast of 3.5 billion yen ($32 million) for the current fiscal year. It posted a consolidated net loss of 404.6 billion yen, its largest ever, for the year that ended this past March.

5:30 p.m. Norway should exclude the vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson from its inoculation program due to a risk of rare but harmful side effects, a government-appointed commission says. Those who volunteer to take either, however, should be allowed to, it adds. Authorities on March 11 suspended the AstraZeneca rollout after a small number of younger inoculated people were hospitalized for a combination of blood clots, bleeding and low platelet counts. Some later died.

3:50 p.m. BioNTech says it plans to set up a regional headquarters and build a new manufacturing site for its mRNA vaccines in Singapore, the latest move to expand its production network. The Singapore production facility will be able to make several hundred million doses of mRNA vaccines a year, depending on the type, once it is operational in 2023.

"The vaccine candidate was generally well tolerated, with no significant safety concerns reported," Japanese drugmaker Takeda says.   © Reuters

3:30 p.m. Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical, which is importing Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine into Japan, says interim results of clinical trials ahead of domestic regulatory approvals have been positive. "The vaccine candidate was generally well tolerated, with no significant safety concerns reported," Takeda said in a statement.

3:25 p.m. Tokyo reports 573 new cases, down from 1,032 a day earlier, bringing the seven-day average of new cases in the Japanese capital to 779, down 10.8% from a week ago.

3:16 p.m. Indonesia's Health Ministry says companies will be charged 500,000 rupiah ($35) for each vaccine jab for their employees, as the country prepares to launch a private inoculation program later this month under which participating companies are expected to cover the costs. The private scheme will utilize vaccines developed by China's Sinopharm and CanSino Biologics.

1:48 p.m. India reports 366,161 cases in the last 24 hours, down from 403,738 the previous day, bringing the country total to 22.66 million. Deaths jumped 3,754 to 246,116. Meanwhile, the capital territory of Delhi, one of the worst-hit regions in the country, has extended the lockdown that has been in place for three weeks to May 17 with stricter measures, including suspension of metro rail service.

IOC President Thomas Bach was originally scheduled to visit Japan in mid-May.   © Reuters

1:17 p.m. A visit to Japan by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, originally planned for mid-May, has been pushed back to June, sources tell Nikkei. Japan's most recent state of emergency was extended to May 31, prompting Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto to tell a news conference last week that Bach's visit would be "very difficult" in May.

12:28 p.m. China is set to announce the results of its 7th National Population Census on Tuesday, according to a government agency. Beijing hinted last month that the population has continued to increase, following a Financial Times' report about the first decline in five decades.

11:00 a.m. The Australian state of New South Wales reports no cases for a fourth straight day, but concerns about new infections remain. Australia's most populous state on Sunday extended social distancing curbs in Sydney by a week after authorities could not find a transmission path between an infected overseas traveler and a resident in his 50s who tested positive last week.

9:54 a.m. South Korea reports 463 cases, down from 564 a day ago, bringing the country total to 127,772 with 1,875 deaths. Health authorities say 3.7 million people -- or 7.2% of the population -- have received their first dose of vaccine, while 506,000 are fully vaccinated.

9:35 a.m. China reports 11 cases for Sunday, down from 12 a day earlier. All new cases originated overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 18 from 10 a day earlier.

4:14 a.m. The U.S. has administered over 259.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Sunday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, up from 257.3 million the previous day. More than 152.1 million people have received at least one dose, while nearly 114.3 million are fully vaccinated as of Sunday.

Workers load the body of a person who died from COVID-19 into an ambulance in New Delhi on May 5.   © Reuters

2:40 a.m. India will recruit former army medics to support its overwhelmed health care system, the Defense Ministry says, as about 400 medical officers are expected to serve on contracts for a maximum of 11 months.

As pressure mounts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown, U.S. coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says he urged Indian authorities to take such action. "You've got to shut down. I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission. And one of the ways to do that is to shut down," Fauci says Sunday on ABC's "This Week" television program.

Sunday, May 9

10:30 p.m. Naomi Osaka, the second-ranked tennis player who represents Japan, is ambivalent about the Tokyo Olympics being held amid the pandemic. When asked about the games at the Italian Open, Osaka said: "Of course I would say I want the Olympics to happen, because I'm an athlete and that's sort of what I've been waiting for my entire life. But ... I think a lot of unexpected things have happened and if it's putting people at risk, and if it's making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion, which I think it is."

9:14 p.m. A subsidiary of China's Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical has agreed to form a joint venture with BioNTech for production and commercialization of the German company's COVID-19 vaccine. Fosun Pharmaceutical Industrial will provide a manufacturing facility capable of producing 1 billion doses of the vaccine annually. BioNTech will license relevant manufacturing technology and know-how to the venture, in which the two firms each will hold a 50% stake, Shanghai Fosun Pharma says in a filing.

3:25 p.m. A record 1,144 Japanese patients have severe COVID-19 symptoms, the health ministry says. The previous daily record for severely ill patients was 1,131 reported on Friday, when the government decided to extend the state of emergency covering Tokyo and the greater Osaka area to May 31 and expand the measure to Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures.

Meanwhile, Tokyo reports 1,032 new cases, after confirming 1,121 the day before -- the highest daily level since Jan. 22, when the second state of emergency was still in place.

1:34 p.m. India's total cases rise by over 400,000 for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday even as several states have imposed strict lockdowns. The health ministry reports 4,092 fatalities over the past 24 hours, taking the cumulative death toll to 242,362, while cases rise by 403,738, increasing the total to 22.3 million.

10:30 a.m. Thailand reports 2,101 new cases and 17 additional deaths, bringing the kingdom's total cases to 83,375 and overall fatalities to 399 since the pandemic started last year.

3:01 a.m. New Zealand lifts its partial suspension of a "travel bubble" with Australia as fears of a COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney ease. The nation had blocked travel to and from New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, on Thursday after a couple in Sydney with no links to high-risk professions or people tested positive for COVID-19.

Saturday, May 8

11:24 p.m. Bangladesh detects its first cases of a highly infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India, the country's health directorate says, weeks after it sealed its borders with its neighbor.

"Two cases are confirmed to be of the Indian variant, and the others are quite close to it," says health official Nasima Sultana. In total six cases were discovered and all of the sick recently had returned from India and were in isolation.

The variant, named B.1.617, has reached at least 17 countries, from Britain and Iran to Switzerland, sparking global concern.

5:33 p.m. Sri Lanka approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in Sri Lanka, as the island nation battles a third wave of the virus and suffers from a restricted vaccine supply from neighboring India. Dr. Sudharshani Fernandopulle, the minister overseeing the fight against the epidemic, says the government will order 5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Sri Lanka is seeking to secure other vaccines as the Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has suspended the delivery of AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine due to spiraling infections in its home country.

5:19 p.m. Thailand expects to offer the Moderna vaccine to most of its population soon as it steps up the rollout of its vaccination campaign, a health official says.

The latest drive comes amid growing public criticism of the slow rollout of free vaccinations offered by the government, which stands at 1.73 million shots so far -- less than 1% of its population. Health authorities have yet to start mass vaccinations even as the tourism-reliant country struggles with a third wave of infections.

The government expects 61 million shots of AstraZeneca to be produced locally from June. But these vaccinations and those from Moderna will not be offered free of charge.

Moderna last month applied for vaccine registration in Thailand, which should be approved soon, says Withoon Danwiboon, head of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization.

"What we expect from Moderna is its commitment on how soon they will bring in their vaccine," he says.

1:28 p.m. India reports 4,187 more deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to just under 240,000. New cases confirmed rose by 401,078, increasing the pandemic's total to 21.9 million, according to India's health ministry. This makes it the third consecutive day for new cases in the country to surpass 400,000.

3:49 a.m. The U.S. calls on the head of the World Health Organization to allow Taiwan to participate as an observer in this month's WHO decision-making meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.

"There is no reasonable justification for Taiwan's continued exclusion from this forum," Blinken says. Taiwan had participated in the World Health Assembly in the past, "prior to objections registered by the government of the People's Republic of China," the top U.S. diplomat says.

The statement echoes a call made by Group of Seven foreign ministers in London this week. Blinken's statement is likely to provoke a reaction from China, which regards the island's status as a nonnegotiable "core interest."

"Global health and global health security challenges do not respect borders nor recognize political disputes," Blinken says. Calling Taiwan a "reliable partner, a vibrant democracy and a force for good in the world," he says the island "offers valuable contributions and lessons learned from its approach" to global health issues.

3:00 a.m. An update on U.K. travel rules from the transport minister.

12:38 a.m. One of China's COVID-19 vaccines gained crucial recognition Friday, nearly one year after its debut, as the World Health Organization approved the shot for emergency use.

The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine by China National Biotec Group (CNBG) -- a unit of state-owned Sinopharm -- joined five Western peers on the WHO's emergency list.


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

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