Coronavirus live: Merkel backs national lockdown in Germany while Bolsonaro rules one out in Brazil | World news
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Tunisia will extend its night curfew hours and will prevent all gatherings and weekly markets to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic, as intensive care units near maximum capacity in most hospitals, Reuters reports.
The curfew will start 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. morning starting Friday.
Tunisia also will impose quarantine for all visitors who need to show Covid-19 tests upon arrival, the government spokeswoman Hasna Ben Slimane said.
Beds in intensive care units in Tunisian public hospitals are about 80% full as Covid-19 cases surge, health minister Faouzi Mehdi said.
Tunisia has recorded 263,000 coronavirus cases and 9,039 deaths.
Germany is about to start bilateral negotiations with Russia to obtain its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, a source told Reuters, adding that any final agreement depended on Russia providing key data to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The European Commission told health ministers of EU member states that Brussels was not planning to start talks with Russia on a preliminary contract for Sputnik V as it did with other vaccine providers, the source said.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced during the virtual meeting that Germany would start preliminary negotiations with Russia on a bilateral agreement to secure the vaccine, the source added.
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, said it would begin opening some 600 new graves per day, well beyond the record of 426 burials in a day on March 30, Reuters reports.
The city is also preparing plans for a “vertical cemetery,” a crypt with 26,000 drawer-like graves that can be build in 90 days once approved.
Italy will reserve AstraZeneca’s vaccine for the over 60s following concerns of a link to blood clots in younger people, the government’s top adviser on the coronavirus crisis announced.
The decision has been taken to “recommend the preferential use on individuals aged above 60”, Franco Locatelli told reporters.
His announcement came hours after the EU’s medicines regulator said that blood clots should be listed as a rare side effect of the jab but insisted the benefits continue to outweigh the risks.
Moderna Inc’s chief medical officer Tal Zaks said the company should be able to provide a booster shot for protection against variants of the coronavirus by the end of this year, Reuters reports.
Zaks, speaking to the Economic Club of New York, said he expects the booster shots the company is testing to show a higher level of protection against variants of the coronavirus.
The Canadian province of Ontario will begin a four week-long stay-at-home order and close in-store shopping for non-essential retailers from Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said.
The move follows last week’s shuttering of all indoor and outdoor dining across Canada’s most populous province, Reuters reports.
Hospitals in the province are becoming increasingly stretched, with the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units at the highest point since the pandemic began, according to provincial data.
Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has insisted there would be “no national lockdown,” ignoring growing calls from health experts a day after the nation saw its highest number of coronavirus deaths in 24 hours since the pandemic began.
The country’s health ministry registered 4,195 deaths on Tuesday, Reuters reports, becoming the third country to go above that threshold as Bolsonaro’s political opponents demanded stricter measures to slow down the spread of the virus.
“We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down,” Bolsonaro said, resisting the pressure in a speech in the city of Chapeco in Santa Catarina state.
“There will be no national lockdown.”
Mexico’s private healthcare workers are protesting being left out of the government’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout as the country braces for a potential third wave of infections.
Angered by what they see as discrimination by a government prioritizing the public sector, hundreds of health workers that had gathered outside a medical school last week hoping to get inoculated ended up chanting “we want the vaccine.”
About 500 of the protesters eventually got their wish that day.
At least 3,679 medical staff have died in the pandemic that has so far killed more than 200,000 people in Mexico, according to the latest official data. The toll is the highest worldwide for health workers, according to Amnesty International.
A mayor in central Venezuela has begun placing red warning symbols on the homes of people with Covid-19 and also threatened to cut welfare handouts for those breaking quarantine.
We are protecting our people,” said Luis Duque, the mayor of Sucre municipality in Yaracuy state, pointing to a white paper sign on a home with a red circle and line drawn through.
“This indicates that there is a Covid case or a suspected Covid case, so the people are alert,” he added.
Duque said benefits including food handouts and cooking gas could be cut if people did not comply with quarantine orders.
The move by Duque, a member of President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party, brought accusations of discrimination.
“We must denounce him, and furthermore wish him good health so that he does not have to mark himself,” tweeted Tamara Suju, a human rights lawyer.
The South American country is experiencing a resurgence of the virus after a first peak last August, with 1,526 new cases and 15 deaths reported on Tuesday.
The EU drug regulator will begin an investigation next week on whether clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine followed global clinical and scientific guidelines, the Financial Times reported.
The FT report unidentified people familiar with the European Medical Agency’s approval process as having expressed concern that the Sputnik V trials may not have met ethics standards.
But the official twitter handle for Sputnik V called the FT report “fake” and “incorrect” in a tweet.
“Sputnik V team is going through a regular rolling review of EMA, in which good clinical practice (GCP) is a part of the standard procedure for all vaccines,” the tweet added.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, told the newspaper, “There was no pressure (on participants) and Sputnik V complied with all clinical practices”.
Turkey recorded 54,740 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily level since the start of the pandemic, Reuters reports.
Last week President Tayyip Erdogan announced a tightening of coronavirus restrictions, including the return of full nationwide weekend lockdowns during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on April 13.
The latest daily death toll was 276, bringing the total to 32,943.
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel is in favour of tightening virus restrictions for a short period to stem rising case numbers, her spokeswoman said.
Merkel backs calls for a “short national lockdown”, Ulrike Demmer said, noting that the country’s health system was under growing pressure.
Germany has been in some form of shutdown since November but has struggled to bring case numbers under control in recent weeks with a surge in the British variant of the virus.
At their last meeting in March, Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed national rules including strict shutdowns and possible curfews in areas with more than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days.
The patchwork of rules “is not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment,” Demmer told reporters.
“The health system is under intense pressure,” she said, noting a five percent increase in occupied intensive care beds in just 24 hours.
G20 finance ministers and central bankers have agreed to extend a moratorium on debt interest payments for the poorest countries, which could lag behind the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
In an online meeting, the Group of 20 most powerful nations also backed the International Monetary Fund’s plan to boost its reserve offerings to help impoverished nations, and pledged to reach a deal on global tax reform by the middle of the year.
“We will further step up our support to vulnerable countries as they address the challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the G20 ministers said.
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