Covid-19 has killed more than 3.2M people and infected over 154M others globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for May 4:

View of vials of the Sinovac vaccine against Covid-19 inside a freezer in the Guambia indigenous reservation, rural area of Silvia, department of Cauca, Colombia, on April 15, 2021.
View of vials of the Sinovac vaccine against Covid-19 inside a freezer in the Guambia indigenous reservation, rural area of Silvia, department of Cauca, Colombia, on April 15, 2021. (AFP)

Tuesday, May 4:

EMA opens review of China's Sinovac jab

Europe's medicines watchdog has started reviewing China's Sinovac jab, a process that could lead to eventual approval for the European market.

Made by Sinovac's Beijing-based Life Sciences unit, the vaccine by the Chinese biotech firm is the second shot developed outside the West after Russia's Sputnik V to be considered for European use by the European Medicines Agency.

The EMA's human medicines committee's "decision to start the rolling review is based on preliminary results from laboratory studies (non-clinical data) and clinical studies," the Amsterdam-based agency said.

Turkey reports nearly 29,000 new cases

Turkey has reported nearly 29,000 new cases, according to Health Ministry data.

A total of 28,997 cases, including 2,483 symptomatic patients, were confirmed across the country, official figures showed.

The daily case toll was up from 24,733 infections reported on Monday, which included 2,501 symptomatic patients.

Turkey’s overall case tally is now over 4.92 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 41,527, with 336 more fatalities registered over the past day —11 fewer than Monday’s toll.

Israel sends shipment of medical aid to India

Israel has began shipping medical aid to Delhi in a bid to help India in its fight with the raging pandemic.

Israel's foreign ministry said hundreds of oxygen generators, respirators, and other items of medical equipment would be flown to India throughout the week.

Iraq health minister resigns over deadly hospital fire

Iraq's health minister has resigned, ten days after a fire in a Baghdad Covid-19 hospital killed more than 80 people.

Hassan al Tamimi stepped down of his own accord, a government statement said.

The fire, which killed 82 and injured 110, triggered outrage on social media, with a widespread hashtag demanding the health minister be sacked.

Italy reports over 9,000 new cases

Italy has reported 305 deaths against 256 the day before, the Health Ministry said, and the daily tally of new infections climbed to 9,116 from 5,948.

Italy has registered 121,738 deaths 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 4,059,821 million cases to date.

Eight lions in Indian zoo test positive 

Eight Asiatic lions at an Indian zoo have contracted the virus, the government said, adding that there was no evidence that animals could transmit the disease to humans.

Zoo authorities in the southern state of Hyderabad shared samples with a government research laboratory on March 24 after the lions showed signs of respiratory distress.

The test results come amid a huge surge in coronavirus infections among humans in India.

UK reports over 1,900 new cases

Britain has reported a further 1,946 cases and an additional four deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.

The total number of people to have received a first vaccine dose now stands at 34,667,904.

Quarter of Europeans have had a jab

A quarter of the European Union's population have received at least one vaccine jab, prompting EU chief Ursula von der Leyen to say the bloc is on track to have 70 percent of adults immunised by late July.

The milestone showed that Europe was now surging ahead in vaccinations following a lacklustre first-quarter rollout that was starved of doses because of a shortfall in deliveries by AstraZeneca.

Bosnia receives first vaccines shipment from EU

Bosnia has received its first shipment of Pfizer vaccines from the European Union.

EU enlargement commissioner Oliver Varhelyi was in Bosnia to mark the arrival of the vaccines.

He arrived in Bosnia with a shipment of over 10,500 shots of the Pfizer shots.

Two dead in fire in South Africa ward

Two patients have died after a fire broke out in the virus ward of a hospital in northern South Africa, the local health department said.

The incident occurred at a hospital in Modimolle, 170 kilometres (106 miles) north of Johannesburg in rural Limpopo province.

Germany to ease virus curbs for vaccinated people

People who have been fully vaccinated against the virus will no longer have to abide by curfews and contact restrictions in Germany under a draft law agreed by the cabinet.

The law, which would also apply to people who have recovered, must still be signed off by parliament but could come into force as early as this week, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said.

Spain to let regions decide restrictions from May 9

Spain's government will pass responsibility for restrictions on to the country's 17 regions after a state of emergency expires next week, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo has said.

The six-month emergency decree, which provides a legal framework for the most restrictive measures, expires on Sunday.

Regional authorities will then be able to set up curfews and lock down areas but must secure the support of local courts, Calvo said.

Ivory Coast busts gang forging virus test certificates

Ivory Coast has arrested around a dozen people, including three nurses, on suspicion of selling fake negative test certificates to air travellers, police sources told AFP.

The detainees used a computer application enabling them to modify names on genuine certificates issued by the local Pasteur Institute and to copy the signature of its director, Professor Mireille Dosso.

Ivory Coast has so far been largely spared the worst of the pandemic.

Singapore tightens curbs as overseas virus variants emerge

Singapore has announced tighter curbs on social gatherings and stricter border measures after recording locally acquired cases of variants, including a more contagious strain first detected in India.

After reporting very few local infections for months, numbers have increased in the Asian trade and financial hub over the last week, mainly linked to an outbreak at a hospital. On Tuesday, it confirmed five new locally acquired cases.

The stricter measures, which will be effective from May 8, include extending checks on where incoming travellers have been to three weeks earlier, instead of two weeks currently.

Poland tightens quarantine rules after cases of Indian variant

People travelling to Poland from Brazil, India and South Africa will have to quarantine, the Polish health minister said, as he announced cases of a variant first detected in India in the Warsaw and Katowice areas.

The outbreaks poses a fresh risk to Poland just as it starts to emerge from a highly damaging third wave of the pandemic.

Sweden reports 14,950 new cases

Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 14,950 new cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed.

The figure compared with 14,911 cases during the corresponding period last week.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 43 new deaths, taking the total to 14,091. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks

Tanzania unveils restrictions, citing fear of variants

Tanzania has announced new measures to control the spread of the virus in a departure from the approach taken by its late leader John Magufuli, who had downplayed the pandemic.

Travellers entering Tanzania must show proof of a negative test taken in the prior 72 hours to arrival, the Health Ministry said, citing concern about new variants of the disease.

Those arriving from countries with a high number of infections will also need to pay for an additional rapid test, though it was not specified how this criteria would be determined.

UK-India trade deal includes vaccine investment

Britain has announced $1.4 billion in new trade and investment with India, including a deal with the Serum Institute of India to aid in the development of vaccines against Covid-19 and other diseases.

The announcement came ahead of a meeting on Tuesday between Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi, who are expected to agree on deeper cooperation that could pave the way for a free-trade agreement between their countries.

The package includes a $333 million investment in the UK by the Serum Institute, the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, that will support clinical trials, research and possibly vaccine production, the British government said in a statement. The Serum Institute, in collaboration with Codagenix, has started early-stage trials of a one-dose nasal vaccine against Covid-19.

“Like every aspect of the UK-India relationship, the economic links between our countries make our people stronger and safer,’’ Johnson said in a statement.

Trade between the UK and India totals about 23 billion pounds annually, less than 5 percent of Britain’s trade with the EU.

China gave 279.91M vaccine doses as of May 3

China has administered 279.91 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Monday, the National Health Commission said.

That compares with 275.34 million doses given as of Sunday, up 4.57 million doses.

Nepal appeals for vaccines as cases rise 

Nepal urgently needs at least 1.6 million AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine doses to administer second shots as the Himalayan country is recording a surge in new coronavirus cases.

"People who have already got the first dose will be in difficulty if they don't receive their second dose within the stipulated time," said Samir Adhikari, a senior official of the Ministry of Health and Population in capital Kathmandu.

On Monday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli urged foreign donors to supply vaccines and critical care medicines to prevent a collapse of the small country's creaky health infrastructure.

Nepal, wedged between China and India, has already vaccinated more than two million people with the AstraZeneca vaccine provided by India and China's Sinopharm.

Nepal has recorded a total of 343,418 cases and 3,362 deaths, according to official data.

Russia reports 7,770 new cases, 337 deaths

Russia has reported 7,770 new coronavirus infections, including 2,050 in Moscow, bringing the total national tally of infections to 4,839,514.

The Russian coronavirus crisis centre said 337 more deaths of coronavirus patients had been confirmed in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 111,535. 

India's cases soar past 20 million

India's total Covid caseload has soared past 20 million, official data showed as the pandemic continued to wreak havoc in the country's hospitals.

In the past 24 hours, India added 357,229 cases, taking the total to 20.3 million, according to the health ministry. Deaths rose 3,449 to 222,408. Many experts suspect the true number is much higher.

Staggering as those numbers are, the true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health care system.

The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals and funeral pyres lighting up the night sky. 

Infections have surged in India since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants of the virus as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies before state elections.

Infections in India are rising faster than anywhere else in the world, a solemn reminder the pandemic is far from ending. 

Germany's cases rise by 7,534

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 7,534 to 3,433,516, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 315 to 83,591, the tally showed. 

Mexico hopes to finish vaccinating its population in early 2022

Mexico hopes to finish vaccinating its entire population against Covid-19 by the end of next year's first quarter, Mexico's deputy health minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, has said.

The projection takes into consideration global delays in vaccination production and vaccine delivery to Mexico, said Lopez-Gatell, who has spearheaded the country's response to the coronavirus.

"We hope to have vaccinated the entire population, those that hope to get vaccinated, by the end of the first quarter 2022," he said at a regular news conference.

So far Mexico has administered one vaccine dose to some 10% of its 126 million inhabitants. Lopez-Gatell said that by mid-July, 20 percent of the population will have received at least one dose.

The Health Ministry earlier in the day reported 1,027 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 112 more deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 2,349,900 and fatalities to 217,345.

Separate government data published in March suggested the real death toll may be at least 60 percent above the confirmed figure.

Greece records 134 deaths in last 48 hours

Greece has seen 134 Covid-19 fatalities in the last 48 hours, health authorities said.

With the new numbers – after no figures were released Sunday – the country's overall death toll has now reached 10,587 since the start of the pandemic, while 95.4 percent of those that died either had some underlying disease or were over 70, health authorities said.

A total of 797 patients remained in vent ilators with an average age at 68.

The nationwide case tally stands at 348,568 after 2,146 new Covid-19 infections were recorded in the last 48 hours.

The Attica region still has the highest number of cases with 1,022 new infections, while Thessaloniki counted 302 cases.

The country on Monday reopened its food sector after a months-long lockdown while its nightly curfew was also extended to 11 pm.

FDA to approve Pfizer-BioNTech shots for adolescents

The US Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorise Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine for adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years by early next week, the New York Times reported, citing federal officials familiar with the agency's plans.

The companies earlier this month applied to the FDA for potential approval of the vaccine, which has already been cleared in the United States for people aged 16 and above. 

The approval is highly anticipated after the drugmakers said in March that the vaccine was found to be safe, effective and produced robust antibody responses in 12 to 15-year-olds in a clinical trial.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

If it is granted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine advisory panel will likely meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and make recommendations for the vaccine's use in adolescents, the report added.

Canada approves J&J shot for those over 30

A Canadian government advisory panel recommended the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people aged 30 years and over, despite blood clotting fears.

Health Canada in March authorised the jab's use for all adults, but doses have yet to be administered, and authorities are still holding back the first shipment of 300,000 doses over possible quality issues.

According to an AFP tally, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being used in 17 countries, including France, South Africa, the United States, Spain, Germany and Poland.

Canada has ordered 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and taken options for an additional 28 million.

Brazil to sign new contract with Pfizer-BioNTech

Brazil is close to signing a second contract with Pfizer-BioNTech for another 100 million doses of its vaccine, of which 35 million shots are due to be delivered in October, Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Monday.

That raises to 200 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for Brazil this year, he said, aimed at relieving the shortage of vaccines contributing to the world's second-deadliest outbreak outside the United States.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second-largest city, announced over the weekend that it was delaying second doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine made by China's Sinovac Biotech, because it was running out of shots.

All restrictions lifted in Florida

Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Monday lifted all restrictions in the US state, citing the effectiveness and availability of vaccines, in a move that attracted criticism from Democratic mayors.

DeSantis signed a law invalidating local emergency orders, which impose restrictions, effective from July 1, and then signed an executive order that bridges the gap between now and then.

Nearly nine million people, out of a total of 23 million residents, have had at least one dose of the vaccine in Florida, according to the US health department.

The vaccine was made available last Friday for everyone over the age of 16 without the need for proof of state residency, a document that had been required since January to cope with the initial high demand.

This enabled vaccinations for undocumented migrants, who had difficulty proving their residency, as well as, tacitly, so-called vaccine tourism.

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available, in many cases without appointment, at federal, state and county centers; in addition to numerous pharmacies and supermarkets.

New York lifts most restrictions

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a major easing of restrictions, including the imminent resumption of 24-hour operations on the city subway.

From May 19, percentage limits on occupancy will be scrapped for many business and cultural venues in the city, including shops, restaurants, cinemas and museums, Cuomo said.

These limits currently vary between 33 and 75 percent capacity.

Businesses will be allowed to welcome as many people as they want provided six feet of social distancing is maintained, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Outdoor gathering limits will double from 250 to 500 people, while 250 people will be able to get together indoors, up from 100.

Larger gatherings will be allowed if everyone in attendance is either vaccinated or recently tested negative.

Large-scale indoor event venues will be able to operate at 30 percent capacity, up from 10 percent currently, while outdoor sports stadia will operate at 33 percent.

De Blasio has said he hopes New York City can "fully reopen" by July 1.

Many private employers have yet to set a return date though, and the business districts in Midtown and Wall Street remain deserted with many staff still working from home.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies