Hello and welcome to today’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
I’ll be bringing you the latest developments here while I try to solve a caterpillar mystery here.
Brazil has suffered its highest daily death toll since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the confirmation of 1,972 new fatalities.
The news, which took Brazil’s total death toll to nearly 270,000, comes as the South American lives through the most severe moment in its 13-month outbreak and sparked renewed calls for a nationwide lockdown.
Meanwhile Japan’s government has decided to stage the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators because of fears among the population over the potential spread of Covid-19, the Kyodo news agency has reported, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.
Here are the other key recent developments:
- Italy recorded 100,000 coronavirus deaths, a year after it became the first western country to impose a total lockdown and as it braces for a third wave of the pandemic.
- The World Trade Organization director-general called for urgent action on boosting Covid-19 vaccine production in developing countries, saying manufacturing sites could be prepared in six to seven months or less than half the time previously thought.
- Estonia’s government has banned groups larger than two people, closed non-essential shops and told restaurants to switch to take-aways as part of a drive to contain a surge in Covid-19 infections.
- Denmark’s health minister Magnus Heunicke said there were grounds to ease restrictions further since the epidemic was not worsening in the Nordic country.
- People who are vaccinated against Covid-19, have antibodies or test negative can travel to Greece this summer, tourism minister Harry Theocharis has said, after the country led calls for an EU-wide vaccination certificate.
- Seventeen European countries received doses from a batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine that authorities in Austria have stopped using while investigating a death and an illness, a senior health official said.
- Johnson & Johnson told the EU it was facing supply issues that may complicate plans to deliver 55 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the bloc in the second quarter of the year, an EU official told Reuters.
- The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine have questioned the neutrality of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after an EMA official urged EU members to hold off approving the vaccine.
- The UK’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab has written to the European Council president after he claimed the UK imposed an “outright ban” on coronavirus vaccine exports. Raab said he is seeking to “set the record straight”.
- Palestinian hospitals became overfull and intensive-care units were operating at 100% capacity with coronavirus patients in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said.
- Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, announced some limited relaxations to outdoor mixing in Scotland, in particular for teenagers.
- Bosnia’s foreign minister said she and her compatriots were “justifiably unhappy” after failing to yet to receive any of the promised vaccines from the EU-backed Covax scheme.