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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Nov. 7 to Nov. 13, U.S. appeals court affirms hold on Biden vaccine mandate

Northeastern Chinese city Dalian battles cluster; Philippines to mandate worker vaccinations

People gather during a protest against mandated COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine passports in New York City on Sept. 27, 2021.   © 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 252,437,183, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 5,087,235.

For more information about the spread of COVID-19 and vaccination progress 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, Nov. 13 (Tokyo time)

11:30 a.m. China reports 75 new cases for Friday, compared with 98 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 57 were locally transmitted, compared with 79 a day earlier. The northeastern port city of Dalian in Liaoning province accounted for 40 of the new local cases. China also reports 34 new asymptomatic patients, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, one less from a day earlier.

9:30 a.m. A U.S. appeals court upholds its decision to put on hold an order by President Joe Biden for companies with 100 workers or more to require COVID-19 vaccines, rejecting a challenge by his administration. A three-member panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed its ruling despite the Biden administration's position that halting implementation of the vaccine mandate could lead to dozens or even hundreds of deaths. "The mandate is staggeringly overbroad," the opinion said.

6:34 a.m. Russia publishes a draft proposal to require QR codes as proof of immunity to COVID-19 from air and railway travelers up to June 1, reports Reuters. The government will decide later on the date when the rule would be implemented, transport minister Vitaly Savelyev says at a briefing broadcasted on Friday.

4:24 a.m. The Netherlands government orders restaurants and shops to close early and prohibits spectators at major sporting events from Saturday in an effort to contain a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte says restrictions that the Dutch people had thought had ended for good were being re-imposed for three weeks.

Friday, Nov. 12

6:10 p.m. Bars and restaurants will close early, and sporting events will be held without audiences during a three-week, partial lockdown that the Netherlands is expected to announce on Friday evening. Dutch broadcaster NOS says the first such measures in Western Europe since the summer will go into effect on Saturday evening. COVID-19 cases hit a record on Thursday. People will be urged to work from home as much as possible.

5:00 p.m. A growing cluster in China's Dalian has spurred the northeastern port city to limit outbound travel, cut offline school classes and close a few cultural venues after being told by national authorities to expedite the containment of the outbreak. Dalian reported 52 local transmissions with confirmed symptoms on Thursday. The count was higher than in any other Chinese city amid a nationwide outbreak that began in mid-October. It is also more than double the 21 cases reported a day earlier, official data shows.

1:56 p.m. India posts 12,516 new cases in the last 24 hours, slightly down from 13,091 the previous day, pushing the country's total to 34.41 million. Deaths rose from 340 a day ago to 501, bringing the total number of fatalities to 462,690.

1:08 p.m. Malaysia's economy contracted 4.5% on the year in the third quarter of 2021, the central bank says, due to enhanced lockdown measures imposed to stop a deadly third wave of COVID-19. The result was well below a median estimate of a 1.3% contraction, made by 20 economists polled by Reuters.

12:52 p.m. The Philippines announces vaccine mandates in "areas where there are sufficient supplies [of COVID-19 jabs]," starting December, in a bid to increase the vaccination rate. In these areas, which a statement from presidential spokesperson Harry Roque did not identify, employees attending on-site work must be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID tests at their own expense. "Public and private establishments may validly refuse entry and/or deny service to individuals who remain ... unvaccinated, or are merely partially vaccinated, despite being eligible for vaccination," Roque said.

Passengers wearing protective masks check in at an airport in Vietnam. The country is considering raising the ceiling on its public debt to bolster an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.   © Reuters

11:50 a.m. Vietnam's investment minister says the country is considering raising the ceiling on its public debt from the current 60% of gross domestic product to shore up the economy in the face of the coronavirus. "If we don't raise the ceiling, there won't be sufficient resources for growth," Nguyen Chi Dung told the National Assembly. Vietnam's GDP contracted 6.17% in the third quarter of 2021 from a year earlier as pandemic restrictions hit, the sharpest quarterly decline on record.

11:30 a.m. South Korea reports 2,368 new cases for Thursday, down from 2,520 a day earlier. However, the number of patients in serious condition rose by 2 to 475, marking a record high for the third day in a row, according to the Yonhap news agency. Deaths increased by 18, bringing the cumulative total to 3,051.

10:00 a.m. Japan's government says it will secure 37,000 hospital beds by the end of November to prepare for a possible "sixth wave" of COVID-19 infections. This summer's fifth wave led by the highly infectious delta variant required up to 28,000 hospitalizations at one point, forcing many patients to stay home. Assuming a further 30% increase in the sixth wave, the government plans to have enough beds for 37,000 people. Daily infections eased to just 216 cases nationwide on Thursday.

Europe's drug regulator has approved a COVID-19 antibody therapy from South Korea's Celltrion.   © Reuters

6:00 a.m. Europe's drug regulator recommends two COVID-19 antibody therapies -- one from American-Swiss partners Regeneron-Roche and another from South Korea's Celltrion. Regeneron-Roche's antibody cocktail, Ronapreve, was backed by the European Medicines Agency's human medicines committee for treating adults and children over 12 who do not require oxygen support and are at high risk of severe disease. Celltrion's Regkirona was recommended only for adults with similar conditions. Approval by the European Commission would mark the first for any coronavirus treatment on the continent since Gilead's remdesivir last year.

1:00 a.m. Singapore reports 2,396 new cases, down from 3,481 a day earlier, with eight new deaths.

Thursday, Nov. 11

6:30 p.m. Denmark will require travelers from Singapore to self-isolate, its embassy in the city-state says, following a surge in COVID-19 infections. Singapore this week was removed from a European Union list of non-EU countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted. It detected 3,481 new cases on Wednesday.

As Singapore battles another surge in infections, Denmark says travelers from the city must self-isolate upon arrival.   © Reuters

5:30 p.m. Malaysia intends to reopen its borders to international visitors by Jan. 1 at the latest, although the details of the plans remain up in the air, Reuters reports. A government advisory council headed by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin revealed the time frame, saying the tourism sector is recovering too slowly. But Muhyiddin said entries would still be based on the COVID-19 situation at the point of departure, and he did not state when a firm reopening date would be announced.

3:30 p.m. Shanghai tin prices surge to their highest in more than two weeks, supported by supply disruptions caused by China closing a port with Myanmar to prevent spread of the coronavirus. China, the world's top producer of refined tin, relied on neighboring Myanmar for 94% of its imports of tin concentrate in 2019. That slipped to 91.7% in 2020 and was below 82% in the period from January to September due to repeated pandemic-related disruptions.

2:14 p.m. India reports 13,091 new cases in the last 24 hours, up from 11,466 the previous day, pushing the country's total to 34.4 million. Fatalities jumped by 340 to 462,189. Meanwhile, the country administered 5.75 million vaccine doses since Wednesday morning, bringing the cumulative vaccination coverage to over 1.1 billion doses.

South Koreans line up at a COVID-19 testing site in Seoul on Nov. 10.   © Reuters

12:00 p.m. South Korea reports 2,520 new cases for Wednesday, up from 2,425 a day earlier, as the country moves toward living with COVID. The number of patients in serious condition rose by 13 to a record high of 473, according to the Yonhap news agency. Deaths increased by 21, bringing the cumulative total to 3,033.

11:30 a.m. A U.S. federal judge orders a halt to the enforcement of Texas' ban on mask mandates in the state's schools. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled in Austin that the ban, ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, violated a federal law protecting disabled students' access to public education. The nonprofit advocacy group Disabled Rights Texas argued that Abbott's ban prohibited accommodations for disabled children who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

11:00 a.m. Japan's wholesale inflation hit a four-decade high in October as supply bottlenecks and rising commodity costs threatened corporate profits. The corporate goods price index, which measures the prices that companies charge each other for their goods and services, surged 8.0% in October from a year earlier, exceeding market expectations for a 7.0% gain, Bank of Japan data shows. The rising cost pressures, coupled with a weak yen, which inflates the price of imported goods, add to pain as the country emerges from the consumer slump caused by the pandemic.

10:30 a.m. China reports 62 new cases for Wednesday, compared with 54 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 47 were locally transmitted, compared with 39 a day earlier. The city of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning Province accounted for 21 of the new local cases, while a total of 13 new infections were found in the cities of Zhengzhou and Zhoukou in central Henan Province. China also reports 35 new asymptomatic patients, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, compared with 39 a day earlier.

7:00 a.m. China's CanSino Biologics has sought emergency use authorization in Brazil for its COVID-19 vaccine, according to the country's health regulator, Anvisa.

The single-dose Convidecia shot has been approved in nine countries, mainly in Asia and Latin America, reports state broadcaster Agencia Brasil.

Wednesday, Nov. 10

Japan has secured the COVID-19 treatment molnupiravir through a deal with developers Merck and  Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.   © Reuters

11:51 p.m. Japan agrees to purchase 1.6 million doses of molnupiravir, the antiviral pill that has been called a game-changer in the fight against the coronavirus, Merck, the maker of the pill says. Under the agreement, if the pill is approved by Japan's Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, the government will buy the pills for $1.2 billion.

"We believe that these government purchase agreements reflect confidence in molnupiravir's clinical profile and the hope that molnupiravir may have a meaningful impact on efforts to address the pandemic," says Frank Clyburn, Merck's president of human health.

The pill developed by Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics has already been approved in the U.K. for treatment of mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in adults.

5:53 p.m. Russia reports a record 1,239 deaths from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, just days after most of its regions emerged from a week-long workplace shutdown designed to curb the spread of the virus, according to Reuters. The government coronavirus task force also reports 38,058 new cases, including 3,927 in Moscow in the past 24 hours. Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told parliament on Wednesday that oxygen reserves at hospitals in 12 of Russia's regions would last for two days or less, unless they were replenished.

India's Covaxin is the ninth vaccine to be endorsed in Vietnam.   © Reuters

4:50 p.m. Vietnam has approved India's Covaxin vaccine for emergency use, the ninth to be endorsed in the country, Reuters reports, citing the country's health ministry. The government said in July it was seeking to secure 15 million doses of Covaxin made by Indian vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech.

1:55 p.m. Hong Kong no longer considers any overseas country "low risk" after it recategorized New Zealand as a medium-risk nation. The move follows climbing coronavirus cases in New Zealand after it decided to "live with the virus." Residents flying into Hong Kong will now have to undergo a minimum of 14 days quarantine as the territory pushes ahead with its "zero-COVID" strategy in a bid to open borders with the mainland.

12:40 p.m. Pfizer has asked Japan's health ministry for approval to use its vaccine on children ages 5 to 11, the company said in a statement. Pfizer's vaccine -- developed with BioNTech -- was the first jab approved for the general public in February. The vaccine is currently for persons age 12 and above. If approved, Pfizer's jab will be the first one in Japan available for children under 11.

11:00 a.m. China's producer price index hit a record high of 13.5% year-on-year in October, fueling headwinds to the country's economy as manufacturers continue to grapple with high commodity prices. The rise in factory gate inflation, which was widely expected by economists, passed the September record of 10.7%, the fastest pace since China started providing such data in October 1996.

10:54 a.m. Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum pledged to expand vaccine supplies and step up resumption of travel while warning against hoarding jabs. Ministers from the 21-member group, including the U.S. and China, held a two-day online meeting that ended on Tuesday, kicking off a key week of meetings. On Friday, national leaders will participate in an online summit.

Domestic and foreign participants run during the annual Shanghai Marathon in 2019. This year's event has been postponed due to rising COVID-19 infections.   © AP

10:51 a.m. The Shanghai Marathon has been postponed indefinitely, said organizers on Tuesday, amid rising infections in China. "Today, we've chosen to be cautious, chosen to put the health of runners and city's citizens first," said a notice on the marathon's website. Runners who registered for the Nov. 28 race can either give up their place or hold it until 2022.

10:06 a.m. China reports 54 cases for Nov. 9, down from 62 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 39 were locally transmitted cases compared with 43 the previous day.

Tuesday, Nov. 9

6:50 p.m. Singapore will stop paying the COVID-19 medical bills of patients who are "unvaccinated by choice," The Guardian reports, citing the city government, which currently covers all COVID medical costs for all Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term visa holders, unless they test positive soon after returning home from overseas.

6:20 p.m. Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals says it will start selling a generic version of Merck's antiviral pill for COVID-19 following local regulatory approval. The announcement marks the launch of the world's first generic version of Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics' tablet, molnupiravir, which has been touted as a potential game-changer in the fight against the coronavirus. Molnupiravir received its first regulatory approval globally, in the U.K. last week. It is still under review in the U.S. and Europe.

Thailand is planning to reopen its borders to workers from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to ease a labor shortage that is hurting its export- and tourism-dependent economy.   © Reuters

6:00 p.m. Thailand plans to reopen its borders to workers from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, a government official says, to ease a labor shortage that is hurting its export- and tourism-dependent economy. Thailand's big exporting industries, such as food and rubber production, rely heavily on migrant labor. But strict border controls and quarantine rules have virtually halted all labor migration.

5:13 p.m. Nissan Motor has raised its full-year net profit forecast through March 2022 to 180 billion yen ($1.5 billion), as sales rebounded from a pandemic slump. The upward revision is the company's second this fiscal year. Nissan had said in July that it was likely to avoid a third consecutive year of net losses and reversed its full-year earnings forecast from a net loss of 60 billion yen to a net profit of 60 billion yen.

4:40 p.m. Japan's service sector sentiment index in October rose to its highest level in nearly eight years after state-of-emergency curbs were eased amid falling new infections. The economy watchers' index advanced 13.4 points to 55.5 in October, the highest level since January 2014, the government data show.

It was the second straight month of increase and marked the biggest gain since June 2020. The index is based on a survey of workers such as taxi drivers, hotel and restaurant staff who are called "economy watchers" for their proximity to consumer and retail trends.

India's daily COVID-19 cases have dipped to the lowest in nearly nine months.   © AP

1:03 p.m. India's daily cases dip to the lowest in nearly nine months as it reports 10,126 new infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total caseload to about 34.38 million. Deaths jump to 332 from 266 a day ago, bringing the total number of fatalities to 461,389.

11:30 a.m. China reports 62 new cases for Monday, down from 89 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 43 were locally transmitted cases, compared with 65 the day before. Among the local infections, the city of Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan reported seven new cases. The city of 20 million people on Monday required visitors at a mega entertainment center to undergo COVID tests, days after more than 30,000 visitors to Shanghai Disneyland were tested.

11:03 a.m. The Philippines' economic recovery slowed in the third quarter amid tighter restrictions on movement to combat COVID-19, government data shows. Gross domestic product expanded 7.1% on an annual basis in the July-September period. That compares to an 11.6% contraction at the same time in 2020, and 12% growth in the quarter that ended in June, when the country emerged from a five-quarter recession.

10:30 a.m. Australian businesses reported a sharp rebound in sales and profits in October as most coronavirus restrictions were lifted, while newly liberated consumers looked to spend big on travel and entertainment in coming weeks. National Australia Bank's long-running survey found sales, profits and employment picked up in October, led by recreation, construction, manufacturing and mining. The survey's main measure of business conditions rose 6 points to an above-average +11 in October. According to a separate Commonwealth Bank of Australia report, spending intentions for travel alone surged 53% in October from September, while entertainment jumped 15% and retail 9%.

10:00 a.m. Unvaccinated people are 16 times more likely to end up in intensive care units or die from COVID-19, Australia's New South Wales state says in a report, with officials urging people to get inoculated as Australia begins to live with the coronavirus. The state government data shows only 11% of people out of 412 who died from the delta outbreak over four months through early October were fully vaccinated. The average age of those deaths was 82.

2:48 a.m. Britain says it would recognize COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization's Emergency Use Listing later this month, adding those by China's Sinovac and Sinopharm as well as India's Covaxin to its approved list of vaccines for inbound travelers, reports Reuters.

Monday, Nov. 8

11:32 p.m. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals says a single dose of its antibody cocktail reduced the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 81.6% in a late-stage trial, in the two to eight months period following the drug's administration.

Arriving passengers pick up their baggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Nov. 8, as the U.S. reopens air and land borders to vaccinated travelers for the first time since the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed.   © Reuters

11:09 p.m. Excited travelers head for the U.S. as the country lifts entry restrictions slapped on much of the world -- including China, India, Canada, Mexico and much of Europe -- since the pandemic began. Months of pent-up demand have triggered a major spike in bookings, with travelers required to show only official proof of vaccination and a recent, negative viral test.

Some inoculated Mexicans will be unable to enter the U.S. immediately if they received vaccines in Mexico that lack approval by the World Health Organization, such as China's CanSino and Russia's Sputnik V. In Canada, long lines formed overnight at U.S. border points for an early rush of visitors, but a Canadian requirement that all returning travelers, including those arriving by land, have a negative PCR test is expected to dampen travel.

9:13 p.m. India has ordered 10 million doses of Zydus Cadila's DNA-based inoculation at 265 rupees ($3.57) per dose, the domestic vaccine manufacturer says Monday.

The three-dose vaccine known as ZyCoV-D, administered with a needle-free applicator, was approved in August by the country's drug regulator for emergency use in those 12 and older. Its needle-free applicator is being offered at 93 rupees per dose, the company says, adding that the pricing has been decided in consultation with the government.

6:20 p.m. Singapore and Malaysia will allow quarantine-free travel between both countries for individuals vaccinated against COVID-19, the Southeast Asian countries say in a joint statement. The two neighbors will launch a so-called vaccinated travel lane between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Nov. 29.

Foreign visitors to Japan wait to show a vaccination certificate at Narita airport near Tokyo on Nov. 8.

3:30 p.m. Japan starts accepting applications for reduced quarantine periods for vaccinated business travelers, international students and technical interns, ending in principle a ban on overseas-based foreign businesspeople imposed in January. The quarantine can be as short as three days compared with the previous 10. Travelers must have been fully inoculated with one of the government-approved vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca. Tourists are not covered under the relaxed rules.

3:15 p.m. New Zealand will ease coronavirus restrictions in Auckland -- its biggest city -- from Wednesday as vaccinations rates rise, with lockdowns likely being phased out by the end of the month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. The city has been in lockdown for nearly three months as the delta variant spread, infecting more than 4,500 people since August in New Zealand's worst phase of the pandemic.

2:12 p.m. Japan will give free COVID and antigen tests for symptom-free people, Nikkei has learned, as the new administration readies stronger responses ahead of a potential sixth wave of the coronavirus. Until now, PCR tests had been free only for those experiencing fever-like symptoms or people who had been in close contact with COVID patients.

1:51 p.m. India records 11,451 cases in the last 24 hours -- up from 10,853 the previous day -- pushing the country total to 34.37 million. Deaths rose 266 to 461,057. Meanwhile, the country has administered 2.38 million vaccine doses since Sunday morning, bringing total vaccination coverage to over 1.08 billion doses.

11:30 a.m. China reports 89 new cases for Sunday, up from 74 a day earlier, even as the country sticks to its zero-COVID policy. Of the new infections, 65 were locally transmitted, compared with 50 the previous day. Over half the new local cases were found in the provinces of Liaoning and Henan. China also reports 46 new asymptomatic patients, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, compared with 35 a day earlier.

9:00 a.m. Australia will begin booster shots of Pfizer's vaccine from Monday as millions in Sydney woke up to more freedom amid an accelerating immunization drive. Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities and worst hit by the delta wave, have speeded up inoculations before gradually relaxing restrictions. Life will return close to normal on Monday in the state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, as it nears its 90% double-dose vaccinations for people above the age of 16.

1:00 a.m. Singapore reports 2,553 cases, down from 3,035 a day earlier, with 17 deaths.

12:57 a.m. Japan reported no COVID-19 deaths for Sunday, marking the country's first time at zero since August 2020. Daily new cases came to 162, but severely ill patients did not budge from Saturday's tally of 100.

Japan reported no COVID-19 deaths for Nov. 7, marking the first day the country had no fatalities from the disease since August 2020.   © Reuters

Sunday, Nov. 7

7:30 p.m. Britain plans to introduce potentially game-changing oral treatments from U.S.-based drug companies Merck and Pfizer in the coming weeks.

"The first drug has just been licensed, molnupiravir, by MHRA [the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] last week," said Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the U.K. Health Security Agency, on "The Andrew Marr Show" on BBC television. "And that is great news, and it will start to be rolled out through a drug trial" at the end of this month or the beginning of December, she added.

"The new Pfizer drug is probably not going to be licensed until the new year sometime," Hopkins said. "It's very good news that they've closed their trial early because of such large effects. But it's still likely to be a couple of months away."

2:16 p.m. Social distancing and other restrictions will ease further Monday, sooner than the previously planned Dec. 1, in Sydney and the rest of the Australian state of New South Wales to bring life closer to the pre-pandemic normal. Limits on outdoor gatherings and visitors to homes will be abolished, for example -- but only for the fully vaccinated. Around 90% of people age 16 and older in New South Wales have received both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, according to the government.

11:39 a.m. Germany reports 4,767,033 confirmed coronavirus cases (+23,543), 96,525 coronavirus deaths (+37).

5:21 a.m. A U.S. federal appeals court issues a stay freezing the Biden administration's efforts to require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated or be tested weekly, citing "grave statutory and constitutional" issues with the rule. The ruling comes after numerous Republican-led states filed legal challenges against the new rule, which is set to take effect on Jan 4.

12:47 a.m. Singapore's Health Ministry reports 3,035 new cases, up from the previous day's total of 1,767, and 12 new deaths. Of the new cases detected Saturday, 2,928 are in the community, 102 in the migrant worker dormitories and five are imported cases. The weekly infection growth rate is 0.83, the ministry says.

Saturday, Nov. 6

11:38 p.m. Eleven patients die after a fire broke out in a hospital's COVID-19 ward in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, police say. There were 17 patients in the ward in the city of Ahmednagar where the fire started. The remaining six patients are in stable condition.

10:15 p.m. New Zealand records 206 new daily community infections, carrying it past the double-hundred mark for the first time during the pandemic, as the nation scrambles to vaccinate its population of 5 million. The most populous city of Auckland, which reported 200 of the new cases, has lived under COVID-19 curbs for nearly three months as it battles an outbreak of the infectious Delta variant, although restrictions are expected to ease on Monday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she wants Auckland residents to be able to travel for the southern hemisphere summer and Christmas. "We will not keep Aucklanders isolated to Auckland through that period -- we simply cannot do that," Ardern tells a news conference.

9:55 p.m. Australia reaches a full inoculation rate of 80% of those age 16 and older, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls a "magnificent milestone" on the path to becoming one of the world's most vaccinated countries. Once a champion of a COVID-zero strategy to manage the pandemic, the country of 25 million has moved towards living with the virus through extensive vaccinations, as the delta variant has proven too infectious to suppress.

9:41 p.m. South Korea agrees to buy 70,000 courses of Pfizer's experimental antiviral COVID-19 pill, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency says.

On Friday, Pfizer said trial results showed that its Paxlovid pill reduced by 89% the risk of hospitalization or death in patients at high risk of severe illness within three days of the onset of symptoms. According to Reuters, Pfizer is in talks with 90 countries over supply contracts for Paxlovid.

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To catch up on earlier developments, see last week's latest updates.

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