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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, Merck eyes emergency approval for COVID pill

Australia's Victoria hits highest caseload; South Korea extends distancing for 2 weeks

An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill called molnupiravir has been developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. (Merck handout via 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 234,286,537, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The worldwide death toll has hit 4,791,862.

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



Saturday, Oct. 2 (Tokyo time)

11:55 a.m. The Australian state of Victoria, home to more than a quarter of the country's population, reports a record 1,488 COVID-19 infections, the highest number for any state since the start of the pandemic last year. There were also two additional deaths. Victoria has been in a hard lockdown since Aug. 5 as authorities try to quell an outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant. Meanwhile, the country's most populous state, New South Wales, reported 813 new locally acquired infections of the Delta variant and 10 deaths, health authorities said.

3:19 a.m. California will become the first U.S. state to mandate statewide COVID-19 vaccinations for schoolchildren as early as January, Gov. Gavin Newsom says.

Friday, Oct. 1

10:46 p.m. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has tested positive for COVID-19 but has no symptoms, according to a court statement. The conservative justice, appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, is fully vaccinated, as are the other eight justices.

10:08 p.m. U.K. nationals visiting India will undergo mandatory quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in retaliation for British curbs on Indian citizens, a senior government source in New Delhi says. The new rules, which take effect Monday, follow the U.K. decision to require Indians vaccinated with AstraZeneca's Covishield to quarantine.

9:32 p.m. Merck's experimental oral drug for COVID-19, molnupiravir, reduces by around 50% the chance of hospitalization or death for patients at risk of severe disease, interim Phase 3 clinical trial results show.

The American drugmaker and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics plan to seek U.S. emergency use authorization for the pill as soon as possible and submit applications to regulatory agencies worldwide. Molnupiravir, designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19.

Seoul is suffering through one of its worst outbreaks as the government urges residents to get vaccinated.   © Reuters

5:10 p.m. Tokyo reports 200 new cases, down from 218 a day earlier, as the state of emergency was lifted in the capital and other prefectures on Friday. The number of patients in serious condition in Tokyo is now 93, falling below the 100 mark for the first time since July 31. The seven-day average of new infections in Tokyo has dropped around 46% from a week ago.

4:30 p.m. South Korea extends social distancing curbs for two weeks, offering more incentive to people to get vaccinated as it battles thousands of new cases each day, particularly in the capital. The virus's rapid resurgence in Greater Seoul prompted authorities to extend restrictions until Oct. 17, including a ban on dining out after 10 p.m. and another on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m. The country reports 2,486 new cases for Thursday, down from 2,564 a day earlier. The daily count was still the fifth-highest so far and higher than a week earlier.

Qantas is a month away from flying passengers from Sydney to Los Angeles and London, and picking them up for return flights.   © Reuters

2:40 p.m. Qantas Airways says it will restart some international flights a month earlier than planned after the Australian government said fully vaccinated Australians next month will be able to enter and leave the country at will. Qantas will operate three weekly runs between Sydney and London and three between Sydney and Los Angeles starting Nov. 14. More flights will be added depending on demand. Passengers will be required to quarantine at home for seven days upon arrival in Australia.

2:01 p.m. India reports 26,727 new cases for the past 24 hours, up from 23,529 the previous day, pushing the country's total to 33.77 million. Deaths rose by 277 to 448,339. The country has so far administered over 890 million vaccine doses. Nearly 70% of its eligible adult population of over 940 million has received at least one dose; 25% has been double-jabbed.

1:20 p.m. Malaysia has given conditional approval for a COVID-19 vaccine made by China's Sinovac to be used on young people between ages 12 and 17, its health ministry says. Malaysia's drug regulator advised priority for Sinovac's product among teenagers without comorbidities or allergy problems, or who are otherwise deemed unsuitable for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

11:58 a.m. Japan's blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average tumbles, falling around 600 points, or 2%, in morning trade to hit its lowest level in a month, following a decline in U.S. equities. A possible government shutdown and rising inflation have continued to worry investors. Uncertainty over China's economic outlook has also weakened investor sentiment. On Friday, other Asian stock markets, including Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, were also down.

11:45 a.m. Indonesia saw 127,300 foreign visitor arrivals in August, down 21.19% from the same month last year, as global travel was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the statistics bureau says. Southeast Asia's biggest country typically had more than a million foreign visitors per month before the pandemic.

A sign encourages social distancing at Marina Bay in Singapore.   © Reuters

8:55 a.m. Business sentiment among Japan's large manufacturers has risen to the highest level since 2018, according to the Bank of Japan's latest Tankan survey. The headline diffusion index of sentiment among large manufacturers came to plus 18 in September, compared with plus 14 in June. Economists had predicted a reading of plus 13, according to a poll conducted by Quick, a Nikkei group company.

6:30 a.m. A judge upheld the University of California's COVID-19 vaccine requirement against a challenge by a professor who alleged he had immunity due to a prior coronavirus infection, in what appears to be the first ruling on the issue. U.S. District Court Judge James Selna in Santa Ana, California, said the university system acted rationally to protect public health by mandating the vaccine and not exempting individuals with some level of immunity from an infection.

12:15 a.m. Singapore reports 2,478 new cases, the most since the beginning of the pandemic. The country also reports two new deaths due to the coronavirus. A recent rise in cases after the relaxation of some COVID-19 measures has prompted Singapore to pause further reopening. More than 80% of its population has been vaccinated against the virus. From this week, Singapore tightened some curbs, such as limiting social gatherings to two people and making work from home the default.

12:01 a.m. Japan lifts the state of emergency covering Tokyo and 18 other prefectures, as well as the quasi-state of emergency in other areas as infections decline. Restaurants in the affected areas will now be allowed to serve alcohol, but restrictions will lifted in phases over one month. In the greater Tokyo area, restaurants certified as taking adequate measures can serve alcohol until 8 p.m. but will be asked to close at 9 p.m. This marks the first time since April 4 that the state of emergency is not in effect in any part of the country.

Thursday, Sept. 30

5:30 p.m. Myanmar's economic difficulties have been caused by two waves of COVID-19 infections and the government is doing its best to resolve the situation as soon as possible, military spokesman Zaw Min Tun says. The central bank has also been unable to meet local demand for dollars, the spokesman said at a news conference, speaking after Myanmar's currency, the kyat, hit new lows this week.

3:45 p.m. Malaysia says it will be mandatory for all federal government employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with exceptions only allowed on health grounds. The announcement comes as the country looks to boost vaccination rates with the aim of inoculating 80% of the population by year-end. Malaysia's jab rollout has been one of the fastest in Southeast Asia, with 61% of its 32 million people already fully vaccinated.

Despite havoc along its supply chain, Suzuki has no plan to revise its production forecast of 2.87 million units for 2022.   © Reuters

2:10 p.m. Suzuki says it will temporarily suspend operations at two Japan plants in October as the spread of COVID-19 slows suppliers' factories in Southeast Asia. The halt is expected to be up to three days at an automobile plant in the Shizuoka Prefecture city of Kosai and one day for a motorbike plant in Hamamatsu of the same prefecture. The company has no plan to revise its production forecast of 2.87 million units for 2022.

10:50 a.m. Japan's industrial output fell for the second straight month in August as COVID-19 outbreaks elsewhere in Asia disrupted supply chains for carmakers already facing headwinds from a prolonged chip shortage. Separate data shows retail sales slipped in August for the first time in six months as households cut spending amid a coronavirus relapse. The data suggests the pandemic continued to gnaw at Japan's economy, posing an immediate challenge to the next prime minister, Fumio Kishida, who won the ruling party's leadership vote on Wednesday.

10:29 a.m. China's factory activity unexpectedly shrank in September as power cuts and high prices for raw materials pressured manufacturers in the world's second-largest economy. The service sector returned to expansion as COVID-19 outbreaks receded.

8:30 a.m. Australia's Victoria state reports 1,438 new infections, a record one-day jump from 950 cases the previous day, even as the state capital of Melbourne remained in an extended lockdown that began in early August and Victoria raced to vaccinate the population. The case count marked the highest number for any state since the start of the pandemic last year.

Attendees walk past an emblem of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, following a ceremony in Beijing on Sept. 17.   © Reuters

4:27 a.m. Tickets for the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics will be sold to spectators from mainland China only, while unvaccinated athletes must spend 21 days in quarantine ahead of the Games, the International Olympic Committee says, Reuters reports.

3:32 a.m. Merck says that its experimental oral COVID-19 antiviral drug, molnupiravir, is likely to be effective against known variants of the coronavirus, including the dominant, highly transmissible delta.

3:06 a.m. Poland sent over 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Egypt, the Polish Foreign Ministry says.

Wednesday, Sept. 29

1:52 p.m. India reports 18,870 new cases in the last 24 hours -- marginally up from 18,795 the previous day but remaining under 20,000 for the second straight day -- pushing the country's total to 33.72 million. Deaths rose from 179 a day ago to 378, bringing the total number of fatalities to 447,751.

12:34 p.m. Australia will wind down emergency funding for people who lost work during COVID shutdowns as vaccination rates increase across the country, putting pressure on state and territory leaders to keep their economies open, Reuters reports. The decision to end federal support when inoculation levels reach 80% means individual states and territories would have to foot the bill if they decide to go into lockdown in response to any fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus. "[This] emergency payment needs to come to an end," Frydenberg told Australia media. "If you look around the world ... people are starting to get about their normal lives, learning to live with the virus in a COVID-safe way."

A mostly empty Apple store in Sydney shows the effects of the weeks-long lockdown on the city as Australia continues to grapple with the pandemic.   © Reuters

12:02 p.m. Buyers of Apple's new iPhone 13 are facing longer-than-expected delivery times due to the COVID wave in Vietnam and the U.S. tech giant's deployment of a new camera feature. The disruption is mainly associated with constrained supplies of camera modules for the four iPhone 13 models because a significant number of its component parts are assembled in Vietnam.

11:56 a.m. A total of 25 people were hospitalized due to COVID during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, instead of the initially reported five, organizers said on Tuesday. "The initial five we reported was the figure for overseas residents who were hospitalized," said Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto at a news conference. The 25 cases now reported include Japanese residents and overseas visitors released from quarantine who were hospitalized. No reason was given for why the hospitalization numbers were not released earlier.

11:13 a.m. Vietnam's gross domestic product drops 6.17% on the year for the July-September period, as stringent lockdowns in key areas including the economic engine of Ho Chi Minh City led to the first decline since 2000 on a quarterly basis. The economy slid into negative territory during the third quarter after 6.61% growth in the previous three months, the country's General Statistics Office said Wednesday. Vietnam's economy grew 2.69% in the third quarter a year ago.

10:57 a.m. Equity markets in Asia tumbled on Wednesday, following a sell-off on Wall Street prompted by rising bond yields and worries over inflation. Japan's benchmark Nikkei Stock Average fell sharply during morning trade, at one point dropping over 800 points, or 2.7%, while the broader Topix index was down over 2%. In South Korea, the Kospi index declined over 1% while Australia's and Taiwan's main equity benchmarks were also down more than 1%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell nearly 2% while mainland China's equity benchmark fell 1%. Meanwhile, the semiconductor sector suffered big drops. Shares in Japan's Advantest sank over 4% and Tokyo Electron fell around 3%. South Korea's SK Hynix was down over 3% while Samsung Electronics declined more than 2%.

10:45 a.m. Singapore reports 2,236 cases for Tuesday -- the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to Reuters. A recent rise in cases after the relaxation of COVID curbs has forced Singapore to pause further reopening. More than 80% of the nation's population has been vaccinated. From this week, Singapore has tightened restrictions, such as limiting social gatherings to two people and making work from home the default.

8:54 a.m. French health care group Sanofi is dropping plans for its mRNA-based vaccine because of the dominance achieved by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna in use of the technology, the company announced on Tuesday. Sanofi will instead focus on efforts with British partner GlaxoSmithKline to bring another vaccine candidate to market based on the more conventional protein-based approach, where mass trials are ongoing.

4:32 a.m. Japanese drugmaker Shionogi will start clinical trials for a COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine in fiscal 2022, paving the way for an inoculation method that would benefit countries lacking medical staff.

2:24 a.m. At least 400,000 Americans have received booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after U.S. health regulators cleared the third round of shots for millions of people, and 1 million more are seeking them, the White House says. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week endorsed an additional shot for people 65 and older, adults at risk for severe COVID-19 and those in high-risk jobs or institutions.

  © Reuters

2:19 a.m. Algeria will start manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine Sinovac in partnership with China on Wednesday, the Algeria Press Service reports, according to the prime minister's office.

The government estimates monthly production capacity of 1 million doses in October, rising to 5 million monthly starting in January. In addition to vaccinating its own people, Algeria plans to export Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine to other African countries, according to local producer Saidal Group.

1:58 a.m. Poverty will rise throughout emerging Asia outside of China for the second straight year in 2021, the World Bank projects, as the protracted coronavirus pandemic squeezes employment and educational opportunities in the region.

The number of poor -- those earning $5.50 or less a day -- across 22 developing countries in East Asia and the Pacific increased to 264 million in 2020 from 259 million the year before, and that figure will reach 266 million in 2021, according to a World Bank report published this week.

Read more here.

A girl studies with her mother at their home in Manila while schools are closed due to the coronavirus. Children in emerging Asia could lose more than $500 in lifetime earnings because of the pandemic.   © Reuters

Tuesday, Sept. 28

6:00 p.m. Oriental Land, which operates Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, plans to increase the number of visitors to its resort from the current 5,000 per day at each park to 10,000 starting from Friday, now that the Japanese government has decided to lift the longstanding COVID-19 state of emergency at the end of September. The theme park needs approval from Chiba Prefecture, where it is located, to do so. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka has also decided to relax the admission limit in stages starting October 1.

Limits on visitor numbers to both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea are set to increase from 5,000 per day to 10,000 from Friday, as Japan's latest state of emergency is set to lift. (Courtesy of Tokyo Disneyland) 

5:38 p.m. Japan officially decides to lift its state of emergency covering Tokyo and 18 other prefectures on Thursday as the country makes progress on its COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who will be resigning from his post on Thursday, said the government has focused on "securing the health care system, implementing thorough infection-prevention measures and accelerating vaccination."

5:30 p.m. Tokyo reports 248 new cases, up from 154 from a day earlier. The seven-day average of new cases in Tokyo is 340, down 48% from a week ago, highlighting the steady downward trend.

4:50 p.m. India's drug regulator allows vaccine maker Serum Institute to enroll 7- to 11-year-olds for its COVID-19 vaccine trial as the country prepares to protect children from the coronavirus. The country of 1.4 billion has already administered more than 870 million doses to adults.

4:30 p.m. Sanofi is dropping its own mRNA-based vaccine because those from Moderna and the BioNTech-Pfizer alliance dominate the market, the French healthcare company says. The company will instead focus on efforts with British partner GlaxoSmithKline to bring a COVID-19 vaccine candidate to market based on the more conventional protein-based approach. Mass trials are ongoing. The decision to drop clinical development of the mRNA shot, acquired as part of its takeover of Translate Bio, came despite positive Phase I/II study interim results announced only hours earlier.

Women wait to be vaccinated at a medical facility in Mumbai on Sept. 27.   © Reuters

1:53 p.m. India's cases drop below 20,000 for the first time in over six months, as the country reported 18,795 infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total caseload to 33.7 million. Fatalities rose by 179 to 447,373. Meanwhile, the country has administered 10.2 million vaccine shots since Monday morning -- the fifth time that the 10 million mark was crossed in a single day since achieving the feat first in late August -- bringing the total number of doses to 870.7 million.

11:40 a.m. Profits of China's industrial companies grew at a weaker pace in August from a year earlier, slowing for a sixth consecutive month. Profits rose 10.1% on year to 680.3 billion yuan ($105 billion) last month compared with a 16.4% gain in July. Industrial production rose in August at its weakest pace since July 2020, weighed by domestic outbreaks, high raw material prices, a campaign by Beijing to cut carbon emissions, and a persistent shortage in semiconductors and other parts.

11:00 a.m. South Korea reports 2,289 cases for Monday, down from 2,383 a day earlier. The daily count was still the fifth-highest so far, and a record for a Monday, as the country tries to quell an outbreak fueled by a three-day holiday last week.

Central Sydney during a lockdown on Sept. 24.   © Reuters

10:30 a.m. Sydney residents who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 risk being barred from various social activities even when they are freed from stay-at-home orders in December, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian warns. Under a road map to exit lockdown, unvaccinated people are already subject to delays in freedoms that will be gradually granted to inoculated citizens between Oct. 11 and Dec. 1. The two-tier system, designed to encourage more people to get vaccinated, has been criticized for both penalizing vulnerable groups who have not had access to inoculations and for falling short of providing a real incentive for the vaccine-hesitant.

7:00 a.m. New York hospitals have started firing or suspending health care workers for defying a state order to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and resulting staff shortages have prompted some hospitals to postpone elective surgeries or curtail services. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference the city's hospitals were not yet seeing a major impact from the mandate. Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo has suspended elective inpatient surgeries and stopped accepting intensive-care patients from other hospitals as it prepares to fire hundreds of unvaccinated employees, a spokesman said.

1:46 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will receive a COVID-19 booster shot on Monday, the White House says days after his administration green-lighted a third shot of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine in certain populations.

Monday, Sept. 27

5:30 p.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches a national digital health mission that leverages technology to improve access to health care. Every citizen will get a unique digital health ID that will contain and protect their health records and will cut down on paperwork for doctors and hospitals. Modi hailed the mission's "potential to bring a revolutionary change." He also lauded the role of the country's Co-Win digital vaccination platform on which Indians register to receive COVID-19 jabs, saying it has so far helped India administer nearly 900 million vaccine doses.

4:00 p.m. Thailand will further ease its coronavirus restrictions later this week, the country's COVID-19 task force says. From Oct. 1, some more businesses, including spas and cinemas, will be allowed to reopen in 29 "dark red" provinces currently under maximum control, including the capital Bangkok.

Students under observation after receiving the Pfizer vaccination in Bangkok, which is aiming to allow more businesses to reopen by the end of this week, including spas and cinemas.   © Reuters

2:00 p.m. Malaysia is targeting annual economic growth of 4.5% to 5.5% between 2021 and 2025 as it recovers from the pandemic, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says. Launching Malaysia's five-year economic plan until 2025, he said the government will spend 400 billion ringgit ($95.5 billion) on existing and new development projects through 2025, compared with 260 billion ringgit under the previous plan.

1:54 p.m. India logs 26,041 cases in the last 24 hours, down from 28,326 the previous day, pushing the country total to 33.7 million. Deaths jumped 276 to 447,194. Meanwhile, the country administered 3.82 million vaccine shots since Sunday morning, bringing the total number of doses given to people nationwide to over 860 million. With this, 67% of its adult population of over 940 million has received at least one dose while 24% has been fully immunized with two doses.

1:30 p.m. Australia announces plans to gradually reopen locked-down Sydney, unveiling a two-tiered system that will give vaccinated citizens more freedoms than the unvaccinated for several weeks. Movement restrictions across New South Wales -- the country's most populous state and home to Sydney -- will be lifted gradually between Oct. 11 and Dec. 1 as vaccination rates increase to 70%, 80% and 90%. However, people who are not fully vaccinated will not be allowed to join in certain activities, like community sports, dining out and shopping, until the final date.

People sit inside social distancing circles at a park in Sydney on Sept. 22.   © Reuters

12:00 p.m. South Korea reports 2,383 new cases for Sunday, down from 2,770 a day earlier. The daily count was still the fourth-highest so far, and a record for a Sunday, as the country tries to contain an outbreak fueled by a three-day holiday last week, during which large numbers of people traveled across the country.

10:45 a.m. China reports 35 cases for Sunday, up from 29 a day earlier. Of the new infections, 13 were locally transmitted, compared with nine local cases the previous day. Of the new local cases, 11 were in Harbin, the capital of northeastern Heilongjiang Province, while two were in the city of Xiamen in southeastern Fujian Province. China also reported 20 asymptomatic cases, which it does not classify as confirmed infections, compared with 14 a day earlier.

10:30 a.m. Australia's state of New South Wales, the epicenter of the country's worst coronavirus outbreak, reports its lowest rise in cases in more than a month as it begins to ease some restrictions amid higher vaccinations. A total of 787 locally acquired cases were reported -- the majority in the state capital Sydney -- down from 961 a day earlier.

A worker at a cemetery in Los Angeles collects remains from a cremation furnace during the COVID-19 outbreak on March 3.   © Reuters

8:30 a.m. The pandemic reduced life expectancy in 2020 by the largest amount since World War II, according to a study by Oxford University, with the life expectancy of American men dropping by more than two years. Life expectancy fell by more than six months compared with 2019 in 22 of the 29 countries analyzed in the study, which spanned Europe, the U.S. and Chile. There were reductions in life expectancy in 27 of the 29 countries overall. The university said most life expectancy reductions across different countries could be linked to official COVID-19 deaths. There have been more than 4.7 million reported deaths caused by the new coronavirus so far.

1:30 a.m. New York Governor Kathy Hochul is considering using the National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill hospital staffing shortages, with tens of thousands of workers possibly losing their jobs for not meeting a Monday deadline for mandated vaccinations. The plan would allow her to declare a state of emergency to increase the supply of health care workers to include licensed professionals from other states and countries as well as retired nurses. The state is also looking at using National Guard officers with medical training to keep facilities staffed. Some 16% of the state's 450,000 hospital staff -- roughly 72,000 workers -- have not been fully vaccinated.

Sunday, Sept. 26

11:18 a.m. Australia's state of New South Wales records 961 locally acquired cases and nine deaths, while Victoria state reports 779 infections and two deaths, according to Reuters. The nation's two most populous states have been struggling to contain a highly infectious variant while ramping up vaccinations to 80% of the population, a threshold that will allow officials to ease strict lockdown measures.

9:30 a.m. Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura suggests the nation's state of emergency will end on Sept. 30. Speaking on TV, Tamura said, "I think we can realize it given the current situation." But he added restrictions on people's lives will be lifted step by step, rather than immediately.

12:08 a.m. Singapore reports 1,443 cases, down from the previous day's total of 1,650 infections. The city-state has tightened curbs to limit social gatherings to two people and made working from home a default, to try to contain a spike in infections and reduce pressure on the health care system.

Saturday, Sept. 25

11:15 p.m. Cuba exports its three-shot Abdala coronavirus vaccine for the first time, sending an initial shipment to Vietnam as part of a contract to supply 5 million doses to the Southeast Asian country.

Scientists in the Communist-run island have developed three home-grown vaccines against COVID-19, all of which are waiting to receive official recognition from the World Health Organization.

10:01 p.m. South Korea sees its daily COVID-19 infections top 3,000 for the first time as an outbreak fueled by this week's three-day holiday spreads, authorities say. Friday's 3,273 coronavirus cases surpassed the previous high a day earlier, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency says, taking the nation's tally to 298,402 infections and 2,441 deaths.

8:45 a.m. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told fellow leaders of the Quad partnership on Friday India will allow the export of 8 million COVID-19 vaccines by end of October in line with a deal reached by the grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States in March, India's foreign secretary says.

A plan reached by the Quad this year to supply a billion COVID-19 shots across Asia by the end of 2022 stalled after India, the world's largest vaccine producer, banned exports in April amid a massive COVID outbreak at home.


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

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