Covid-19 has killed more than 3.1M people and infected over 148M others globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for April 27:

The change comes as more than half of US adults have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.
The change comes as more than half of US adults have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated. (Reuters)

Tuesday, April 27:

Americans can now go outside without a mask – CDC

US health officials say fully vaccinated Americans don't need to wear masks outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers, and those who are unvaccinated can go without a face covering outside in some cases, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the updated guidance in yet another carefully calibrated step on the road back to normal from the coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 570,000 people in the US.

For most of the past year, the CDC had been advising Americans to wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of each other.

The change comes as more than half of US adults have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.

"It's the return of freedom," said Dr. Mike Saag, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who welcomed the change. 

More people need to be vaccinated, and concerns persist about variants and other possible shifts in the epidemic. But Saag said the new guidance is a sensible reward following the development and distribution of effective vaccines and about 140 million Americans stepping forward to get their shots.

Italy reports 373 coronavirus deaths, 10,404 new cases

Italy has reported 373 coronavirus-related deaths against 301 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 10,404 from 8,444.

Italy has registered 119,912 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. The country has reported 3.98 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 20,312 on Tuesday, down from 20,635 a day earlier.

There were 177 new admissions to intensive care units, up from 132 on Monday. The total number of intensive care patients decreased to 2,748 from a previous 2,849.

UK records 2,685 new cases, 17 deaths

Britain has recorded 2,685 new cases of Covid-19 and 17 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official government data.

That compares to 2,064 new cases and six deaths reported a day earlier.

Ukraine seeks $90M loan from World Bank to buy vaccines

Ukraine has agreed with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development on a $90-million loan to procure vaccines against Covid-19, the Finance Ministry said.

"The project will provide funds for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines for the population of Ukraine in addition to the number of vaccines that were guaranteed under the COVAX and GAVI partnership," the ministry said in a statement.

It did not disclose how many doses the country of 41 million people will be able to buy.

"This will allow Ukraine to achieve its primary goal - full vaccination coverage of at least 20% of the country's population," the ministry said.

Fury as Delhi luxury hotel booked as Covid hospital for court staff

Authorities in Delhi ordered a luxury hotel to be converted into a Covid-19 health facility for the exclusive use of high court judges and their families, drawing outrage in a city that has no hospital beds or life-saving oxygen for hundreds of people.

The local government said in a public notice on Monday night that it had received a request from the Delhi High Court because of the rapid rise in coronavirus infections and had reserved 100 rooms at the Ashoka Hotel for the higher judiciary.

The Delhi High court denied it had sought such treatment, and said it would quash the order unless the government modifies it.

"When did we ask for a 100-bed facility at a five-star hotel? We had only said if a judicial officer or a judge or their family is infected, they should get hospital admission," the high court said.

Venezuelans seek home care for Covid-19 amid crumbling health system

Venezuelan Covid-19 patients are paying doctors to come to their homes due to the high cost of private clinics and hospitals overflowing with patients and often lacking oxygen and medicine, doctors interviewed by Reuters news agency said in recent weeks.

Family members tend to chip in or launch crowdfunding campaigns for infected relatives, said Laura Martinez, a 55-year-old resident of the lower-middle-class Las Acacias neighborhood in western Caracas, whose husband and elderly parents were treated at home.

Patients who receive home treatment for the coronavirus generally purchase respirators, oxygen tanks, and anti-viral drugs.

President Nicolas Maduro's government has said that the country, whose economy is mired in a brutal recession marked by hyperinflation, is experiencing a second wave of the virus. 

Official data have recorded around 1,000 new cases per day in recent weeks, though many health professionals warn the true toll is likely higher. 

'No sign' of infection after Barcelona Covid concert trial: organisers

There has been "no sign" of coronavirus infection among 5,000 unvaccinated people who took part in an indoor trial concert last month in Barcelona seeking pandemic-safe ways to celebrate mass events, organisers said.

The participants underwent PCR tests two weeks after the March 27 event and "there is no sign that suggests transmission took place during the event," Josep Maria Llibre, a specialist in infectious diseases from the Germans Triasi Pujol hospital told a news conference.

Finland to end state of emergency cases drop

Finland should end its Covid-19 state of emergency as infection rates decline, Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said, adding that the issue would go before parliament.

"We see that the conditions no longer call for the emergency powers legislation," Marin said.

On April 9, Marin had presented a plan to relax restrictions in the run-up to the summer. The state of emergency was declared on March 1 because of the third spike in infections that began in late January.

The daily number of coronavirus infections has been decreasing since mid-March and Finland remains among the countries least affected by the pandemic. The nation of 5.5 million people has recorded 86,161 cases, 908 deaths, and has 132 people hospitalised.

China says India welcome at anti-virus video meeting

China will hold a video conference with South Asian governments to discuss fighting the coronavirus and India is welcome to join, Beijing's Foreign Ministry said, amid ongoing tensions with New Delhi over border clashes.

China organised Tuesday's meeting with the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, according to a ministry statement. In response to questions from reporters, a ministry spokesman said India was welcome to join.

India is being engulfed by a devastating surge of infections, spurred by insidious variants of coronavirus that have pushed the country's health care system to the breaking point.

Rush to hospitals, big gatherings worsen India crisis - WHO

People in India are rushing unnecessarily to hospital, exacerbating a crisis over surging infections caused by mass gatherings, more contagious variants, and low vaccination rates, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

India's death toll is now pushing towards 200,000, and hospitals that do not have enough oxygen supplies and beds are turning away coronavirus patients.

The WHO is providing critical equipment and supplies to India, including 4,000 oxygen concentrators, which only require an energy source, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.

Less than 15 percent of people infected actually need hospital care and even fewer will need oxygen, he said.

Hong Kong to reopen bars, nightclubs from April 29 for vaccinated customers

Hong Kong will reopen bars and nightclubs from April 29 for people who have been vaccinated and who use a government mobile phone application, the Asian financial hub's health secretary said.

Sophia Chan told a press briefing the measures extended to bathhouses and karaoke lounges and would enable the venues to stay open until 2.00 am. All staff and customers must have received at least one vaccine dose for the venue to be operational and they must operate at half capacity, she said.

"We all hope life can return to normal but we need to allow some time for everyone to adapt to these new measures," Chan said.

The former British colony has recorded over 11,700 total coronavirus cases, far lower than other developed cities.

Russia reports 8,053 new cases, 392 deaths

Russia reported 8,053 new cases, including 2,098 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 4,779,425.

The government coronavirus task force said 392 people had died of the virus in the past 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 108,980.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a much higher death toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February.

Russia has vaccinated more than 8 million citizens so far, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said in mid-April, out of a total population of some 144 million.

Iran sees 1st cases of variant from South Africa

Iran says three cases of the variant first identified in South Africa have been confirmed in the country’s south, state television reported.

A state TV broadcast quoted Health Minister Saeed Namaki as saying, “We have received a report that said in one of our southern provinces we have found three cases of South African coronavirus variant for the first time.”

Namaki said the Health Ministry is monitoring the cases and conducting more tests to make sure the variant was identified correctly.

He also said that cases involving a virus variant identified in India have turned up very close to Iran's border and the government is testing all Indian citizens in Iran.

Australian Olympians to be given vaccine priority

Australian athletes and support staff preparing for the Tokyo Olympics will be given priority for vaccines.

The Australian government said members of the Olympic team would be vaccinated under a priority group which includes healthcare workers, Indigenous people aged over 55, and people older than 70.

The vaccination program for athletes and support staff will include about 2,000 people, including an estimated 450- 480 Olympic athletes.

Richard Colbeck, the government minister for senior Australians and aged care, said the decision would not come at the cost of at-risk Australians.

India posts 323,144 new cases

India's daily rise in coronavirus cases has retreated from record levels but stayed above the 300,000 marks for a sixth straight day.

With 323,144 new cases, India's overall caseload now stands at 17.64 million. Deaths rose by 2,771 to reach a total of 197,894, according to health ministry data. 

'Impossible now' - Japan's Olympic host towns pull out over pandemic

Hundreds of Japanese towns and cities have been forced to rethink plans to host Olympic teams because the coronavirus will prevent public appearances and require costly safety measures.

The western town of Okuizumo spent more than $5 million preparing to welcome India's hockey team for a pre-Games training camp, only to scrap the visit because of Covid-19.

After sinking money into upgrading sports facilities, Okuizomo balked when it became clear it would have to provide bubble-like biosecurity measures with regular virus tests and medical care.

"We wanted to have one of the world's top tier teams visit our town and show their skills to local children," town official Katsumi Nagase told AFP.

"But that seems impossible now."

Egypt approves China's Sinovac vaccine for emergency use

Egypt's drug authority has said it had granted approval to China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Egypt has so far approved and received shipments of the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines and has said it is preparing to produce up to 80 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine locally.

It has also granted approval to Russia's Sputnik vaccine.

India to receive first batch of Russia's vaccine on May 1

India will receive a first batch of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine on May 1, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, told Reuters.

He did not say how many vaccines would be in the first batch or where they would be made.

India, in the grip of a second wave of the pandemic, is struggling to tackle surging coronavirus infections that are overwhelming hospitals, and countries like Britain, Germany and the United States have pledged to send urgent medical aid.

Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund, which is marketing Sputnik V globally, has already signed agreements with five leading Indian manufacturers for over 850 million doses of the vaccine a year.

The RDIF has said it expects production of the vaccine in India to reach 50 million doses a month by the summer and to rise further.

Brazil registers 28,636 new cases and 1,139 new deaths

Brazil has registered 1,139 new deaths and 28,636 additional cases, according to data published by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered 391,936 total coronavirus deaths and 14.37 million confirmed cases.

Thailand reports another daily record of 15 deaths

Thailand has reported 15 new deaths, setting a new daily record for the third time in four days during a growing third wave of infections that has prompted new shutdowns in Bangkok and other areas.

The Health Ministry also reported 2,179 new coronavirus cases, bringing total confirmed infections to 59,687 and fatalities to 163.

Thailand for months had suppressed the virus, but a new outbreak emerged several weeks ago.

In response, the government has ordered parks, gyms, cinemas, and day-care centres in the capital Bangkok, the epicentre of the latest wave of infections, to shut from April 26 until May 9.

Australia to halt direct passenger flights from India

Australia has suspended direct flights from India to prevent more virulent coronavirus variants from entering the country following a surge in positive cases in the world's second-most populous nation.

The suspension of direct passenger flights between the two countries will remain until May 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a televised news conference.

"It is a humanitarian crisis and one gripping the world," Morrison said.

"We don't think the answer is to forsake those Australians in India and just shut them off," he added, reiterating the suspension was temporary to ensure Australia could manage arrivals from virus hotspots.

Lagardere reports 29.8 percent drop in Q1 sales as pandemic hits travel retail

French media and publishing firm Lagardere has reported a 29.8 percent drop in first-quarter revenue on a like-for-like basis as coronavirus-related restrictions on travel in Europe weighed.

The company said sales in its travel retail business were down by 56.1 percent in the first quarter.

"Pending the beneficial effects of the vaccination campaigns, first-quarter 2021 revenue closely mirrored trends in air passenger traffic", Lagardere said in a statement.

Lagardere confirmed on Monday it was reviewing a project to transform itself into a joint-stock company, unraveling an arcane structure that had caused strife with shareholders.

US to share its hoarded stash of 60M AstraZeneca vaccines

The US will finally be sharing with the world its hoarded stash of 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines, officials announced.

Critics have accused Washington of hoarding the British-developed vaccine, which is not authorised in the country and will likely not be required to vaccinate Americans.

The issue has risen to the fore in recent days as India faces a catastrophic new surge that has overwhelmed its health care system and driven crematoriums to full capacity.

"US to release 60 million AstraZeneca doses to other countries as they become available," tweeted Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the White House on virus response.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a briefing that the recipient countries have not yet been decided and that the administration was still formulating its distribution plan.

Washington, DC, to loosen virus restrictions this weekend

With virus numbers dropping, officials in the US capital are relaxing a number of restrictions after more than a year of lockdown.

The changes represent a step toward normality for Washington, DC, residents and long-term hope for the city's vital tourism and convention industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that starting on May 1, gyms and fitness centers can operate at 50 percent capacity, and live music will be permitted in gardens and outdoor spaces.

Restaurants will be permitted to seat 10 people per table outdoors, up from the previous limit of six per table.

However, the 25 percent capacity limit for indoor dining will remain unchanged for now.

Retail businesses can increase admittance from 25 percent to 50 percent capacity. Houses of worship can increase to 40 percent capacity, though Bowser said the government was still encouraging residents to attend virtual or outdoor services for now.

Earlier in April, Bowser had announced some other changes that will also take effect in May. These include allowing entertainment venues like concert halls and movie theaters to increase to 25 percent capacity and allowing public pools to open this summer at 50 percent capacity.

Mexico City offices reopen as cases fall

Mexican authorities allowed private offices to reopen in the capital for the first time in more than a year following a drop in the number of infections.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the move meant that up to half a million people would be able to return to the office in the sprawling metropolis.

Companies must follow health and safety measures including limited occupancy of 20 percent, the use of face masks, social distancing and weekly coronavirus tests, she said.

Public sector employees will continue to work remotely.

The Mexico City authorities ordered offices to close in March last year and halted other non-essential activities in an attempt to tame the pandemic.

The country's official death toll of around 215,000 is the world's third highest after those of the United States and Brazil.

US, India, Japan and Australia committed to vaccine pact

A cooperation between the United States and three of its closest Indo-Pacific partners to supply up to a billion vaccine doses across Asia by the end of 2022 was 'still on track', senior administration officials said, despite a surge of the virus in India, one of the countries involved.

"It's moving forward expeditiously," a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing call. In March, a Quad fact sheet said the US, through its International Development Finance Corp, would work to finance Indian drugmaker Biological E Ltd to produce at least 1 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2022.

Bogota cancels football matches as third wave hits

Colombia's capital Bogota barred two continental club football matches from taking place due to the city's health system teetering on the verge of collapse from the pandemic.

Santa Fe were due to host Brazilians Fluminense in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday while La Equidad were meant to take on Venezuelans Aragua in the secondary Copa Sudamericana a day later.

But Bogota's health system has been ravaged by a third wave sweeping not just Colombia but South America as a whole.

The city's mayor's office has declared a code red that bans "sports activities, such as professional football tournaments," a spokesperson told AFP.

Cricket stars leave IPL as India virus toll grows

Two Australian cricketers became the latest stars to pull out of the Indian Premier League as top bowler Pat Cummins said he was told the competition was being kept going to provide "a few hours of joy and respite" during India's growing virus crisis.

His fellow Australians Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson are returning home for "personal reasons", their Royal Challengers Bangalore team said, joining Rajasthan Royals bowler Andrew Tye who flew back on Sunday.

India star Ravichandran Ashwin also withdrew to support his family on Sunday as the country staggers und er 350,000 new infections and almost 3,000 deaths each day.

England batsman Liam Livingstone left the Royals last week just before Britain imposed a travel clampdown on India as its hospitals became overwhelmed and shortages of oxygen and hospital beds grew.

A handful of players, including India star Axar Patel, tested positive before the tournament.

The world's richest cricket league has faced criticism for continuing in empty stadiums during the crisis, with a leading newspaper group accusing it of "commercialism gone crass" as it suspended coverage on Sunday.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies