Covid-19 has killed more than 3M people and infected over 145M others globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for April 23:

A police personnel packs the bottles of hand sanitisers for comrades as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus in Chennai on April 23, 2021.
A police personnel packs the bottles of hand sanitisers for comrades as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus in Chennai on April 23, 2021. (AFP)

Friday, April 23:

Record infections overwhelm India's hospitals

Delhi hospitals have issued desperate appeals for oxygen and 13 Covid-19 patients died in a fire, as India's healthcare system buckles under a new wave of infections.

The surge, blamed on a new virus variant and recent "super spreader" public events, brought 330,000 new infections – a world record – and 2,000 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

The latest in a string of fires at hospitals broke out on the outskirts of Mumbai early Friday morning and killed 13 Covid-19 patients, a local official told AFP.

At least six hospitals ran out of oxygen supplies in the Indian capital late Thursday night before deliveries arrived in the early hours.

Medical oxygen tanker trucks have been doing supply runs around the clock in a number of states and air force transport planes have started airlifting big oxygen tanks around the country.

The first "Oxygen Express" train left the southern industrial hub of Vizag on Thursday, headed for Maharashtra with trucks carrying supplies on board.

The defence ministry said it would fly in 23 mobile oxygen generation plants from Germany within a week.

Turkey reports 49,438 new virus cases

Turkey has logged 49,438 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed, down from a record of more than 63,000 cases reported last week.

The data also showed 343 people died due to Covid-19 in the same period, down from a record-high 362 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 37,672.

A curfew between 7 pm and 5 am is in place on weekdays, as well as full weekend lockdowns and other measures. A three-day lockdown that started at 1400 GMT on Thursday was also imposed due to Friday being a national holiday.

US administers 222.3 millon doses of vaccines

The United States had administered 222,322,230 doses of vaccines in the country and distributed 286,095,185 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Those figures are up from the 218,947,643 vaccine doses the CDC said had been administered by April 22 out of 282,183,915 doses delivered.

The agency said 137,234,889 people had received at least one dose while 91,175,995 people had been fully vaccinated as of Friday.

The CDC tally includes two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech , as well as Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine as of 6:00 am ET.

France reports 5,962 patients in intensive care units

French health authorities have reported that 5,962 people were in intensive care units, 19 fewer than a day earlier, but the figure remains at a very high level as the country prepares to exit its third lockdown.

The total number of people in hospital fell for a fourth consecutive day, by 196 to 30,438.

France also reported 32,340 new confirmed cases, with the increase of 4.15 percent compared to last Friday the lowest week-on-week rise since mid-March.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that the peak of the third wave now seemed to be "behind us".

He said the country will lift domestic travel restrictions from May 3 but a 7 pm curfew will remain in place until the epidemic is under control. 

Egypt sends medical backup to Covid-struck province

Egypt's health ministry has said that it had sent reinforcements and equipment to a province south of Cairo over the past week, after medical staff complained of a shortage of resources to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The reported rise of infections in Sohag province, nearly 400 km (250 miles) from the capital, has raised concern about a third wave of Covid-19 infections in Egypt, where most restrictions on movement and other precautions were lifted after a first wave last summer.

Deployments to Sohag include teams to conduct home visits and supplies of oxygen and ventilators, while hospitals have expanded admission capacities, a ministry statement said.

White House: US will help India with surging virus cases

Officials say the US is trying to help India deal with its coronavirus surge, which is straining that country’s health care system amid a record number of infections.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with its counterpart agency in India to provide technical support and assistance.

Belgium warns intensive care units buckling

Belgium's health ministry warned intensive care units are struggling to cope with a third wave of coronavirus infections – but authorities still stuck to plans to ease restrictions.

Health official Marcel Van der Auwera said intensive care staff were "exhausted, pushed well beyond their limits" as the country battles to curb the virus.

He said caregivers had been working at "130 percent" capacity for a month and that the situation would likely continue for "two or even three weeks". 

New Zealand pauses travel bubble after Australian Covid outbreak

New Zealand paused its newly opened travel bubble with Australia, the government in Wellington said, after a Covid-19 outbreak in its larger neighbour.

"As set out in our Trans-Tasman bubble protocols, travel between New Zealand and Western Australia has been paused, pending further advice from the state government," a statement on the New Zealand government website said.

UK's Johnson says he is looking at Covid help for India

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he was looking at what he could do to help India, where the coronavirus pandemic is entering a deadly new phase with which its health services are struggling to cope.

"We're looking at what we can do to help and support the people of India," Johnson told British media, describing India as a great partner and explaining that the help could include providing ventilators or therapeutics. 

Italy reports 342 deaths, 14,761 new cases

Italy has reported 342 coronavirus-related deaths against 360 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 14,761 from 16,232.

Italy has registered 118,699 deaths linked to the virus 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 3.94 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 21,440, down from 22,094 a day earlier.

There were 153 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 174 on Thursday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 2,979 from a previous 3,021.

Some 315,700 tests for the virus were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 364,804, the health ministry said. 

Leaders seek $19 billion to arm the world with Covid weapons

World leaders have united to demand $19 billion of investment in weapons to beat the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the "miracle" of vaccines did not mean the end was in sight.

One year on from the launch of the Access to Covid Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a multi-billion-dollar internationally-coordinated attempt to find vaccines, tests and treatments, the billionth vaccine dose is on the verge of being administered.

But leaders warned that despite the progress so far, another push was needed to see off the pandemic, as variants of the virus stalk the planet and the disease takes off in India.

Kyrgyzstan pushes poisonous root as virus cure

Kyrgyzstan is using a poisonous root as a treatment against the coronavirus despite health warnings as the country battles a new wave of infections.

The health ministry unveiled the remedy at a news conference, claiming the impoverished country's leader used the herb to cure "thousands" of sick inmates when he served jail time last year. 

Health Minister Alimkadyr Beishenaliyev took sips of the solution that contains extracts of aconite root as he talked up its healing properties.

Canada PM says third wave at 'critical' juncture, Pfizer booster shots coming

A surge in Covid-19 cases meant Canada was at a critical juncture, but increased vaccine deliveries offered hope, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, announcing a deal with Pfizer Inc for millions of booster shots.

The number of daily cases has doubled this month to 8,600, and health officials earlier said they could jump again to more than 15,000 by the end of April unless stricter measures were taken as new coronavirus variants spread.

"There are more contagious and more dangerous variants out there. The situation is critical," said Trudeau, who together with his wife Sophie is due to receive a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Cyprus to impose partial lockdown to stem virus surge

Cyprus has announced a two-week partial lockdown as hospitals struggle to cope with surging coronavirus cases, with restrictions covering the key Orthodox Easter holidays.

"The growing number of infections, combined with intense pressure on the health system, cannot leave us indifferent and requires difficult decisions, drastic measures," Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told reporters.

The new restrictions, running from April 26 to May 9, mean that people are encouraged to work from home and must seek authorisation for only one non-work-related trip daily.

Spain sends 5 tons of medical supplies to Brazil

Spain’s foreign minister says that the country has sent 5 tons of medical supplies to Brazil responding to a request for foreign aid by authorities in the Latin American country.

Arancha González-Laya says the shipment included material for intubating Covid-19 patients in extreme need of respiratory aid.

“We are doing this because we understand that the fight against Covid has to take a priority,” the minister says.

France donates AstraZeneca doses to West Africa

 French President Emmanuel Macron says the country has donated AstraZeneca doses to West Africa through the UN-backed program.

The UN-backed COVAX program sends vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. The French leader didn’t specify how many doses were deployed or where they would go through the UN-backed COVAX program.

Cambodia reports 655 cases, 2 deaths

Cambodia’s Health Ministry has announced a record daily 655 coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s total confirmed total to 8,848.

Two new deaths from the disease were also reported, raising the total to 61.

The authorities have linked 8,301, or almost 94%, of the total number of cases to one community outbreak in February, when a foreigner sneaked out of quarantine from a hotel in Phnom Penh to go to a nightclub.

Italian restaurants ready outdoor tables ahead of easing of curbs

Restrictions on many businesses, including restaurants, bars and cinemas, are expected to be relaxed in many Italian regions from Monday, as the government slowly rolls back coronavirus curbs in low-infection areas.

At least half of Italy's 20 regions, including Lazio, centred on Rome, and Lombardy centred on Milan, look set to become moderate-risk yellow zones from April 26, after weeks of being designated as higher risk orange and red zones.

This means that restaurants and bars in these areas will be able to resume table service in outdoor areas, having previously been only allowed to offer takeaways, and some began setting up tables and preparing food in anticipation of the change.

The full list of yellow zones is expected to be released by the health ministry late on Friday.

Madagascar says vaccines to arrive in two weeks as virus flares

Madagascar has said that it would receive a first lot of vaccines soon to fight a second wave that has overwhelmed health facilities. 

The Indian Ocean island nation is struggling with burgeoning infections with nearly 9,900 cases recorded over the past month, of which at least 194 have been fatal.

The country of around 27 million people has so far reported 34,775 coronavirus cases, including 588 deaths.

AstraZeneca vaccine benefits increase with age – EMA 

The EU's drug watchdog has said that a review of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine found its benefits increase with age and still outweigh the risks for adults despite links to blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was presenting its findings after the European Commission asked it to look into concerns that prompted several countries to restrict its use to older people.

Putin announces non-working period in May to prevent virus surge

President Vladimir Putin backed a proposal by the head of Russia's health watchdog to introduce a non-working period in early May to prevent a surge in coronavirus infections.

"If you think that it's necessary, let's do it. Today I'll sign the relevant decree," Putin said in a televised meeting in response to a proposal from the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova.

She said that the non-working stint over May 1-11 was part of an effort to limit the time Russians spend on public transport and their exposure to the virus.

EU backs AstraZeneca's vaccine as reviews into blood clots continue

Europe's drug regulator has reiterated that benefits of AstraZeneca's vaccine outweigh any risks, as part of a detailed guidance from ongoing reviews into rare blood clots to help individual nations determine the shot's use.

The renewed backing comes after several countries in the European Union and worldwide have limited the use of the vaccine, known as Vaxzevria, while Denmark has stopped its use altogether, after possible links to clotting issues were confirmed.

The interim analysis by a committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) determined that serious side effects of rare blood clots are likely to occur in 1 out of 100,000 vaccinated people, the regulator said in a statement.

Germany lists India as coronavirus "high incidence area"

Germany has classified India, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia and Cape Verde as new coronavirus "high incidence areas" due to the number of infections there, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said.

People returning to Germany from high incidence areas must register with the German authorities before travelling and then quarantine on their return.

Germany has downgraded Albania and Moldova to risk areas, from high risk areas, the RKI said.

Pakistan bring troops to help with virus curbs

Pakistan’s prime minister has summoned troops to help police implement social-distancing rules as a part of new measures aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that daily confirmed cases and deaths were steadily increasing in the country.

Khan made his televised comments at a meeting convened to consider strict anti-infection measures.

The prime minister said he was not imposing a lockdown for now but that he would close down cities if Pakistan started facing a situation line in neighbouring India.

Thailand reports 2,070 new virus cases

Thailand’s health authorities have announced they have confirmed 2,070 new virus cases, a new daily record that brings the country’s total to 50,183.

The rising numbers are severely straining the supply of hospital beds and ICU capacity.

The record number of new infections came a day after a new daily high of seven deaths was announced. Four more deaths were announced, bringing Thailand’s total to 121.

EU to strike world's largest vaccine deal with Pfizer

The European Commission said it expects to seal the world's biggest vaccine supply deal within days, buying up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for the next few years as a debate rages over unfair access to shots for the world's poorest people.

The vaccines from the US drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech would be delivered over 2021-2023, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Pfizer's vaccine plant in Puurs, Belgium.

The agreement would be enough to inoculate the 450 million EU population for two years and comes as the bloc seeks to shore up long-term supplies.

Austria plans to let restaurants, hotels and theatres reopen on May 19

Austria plans to loosen its coronavirus restrictions on May 19, letting restaurants, hotels and theatres reopen their doors for the first time in more than five months, the government said on Friday despite concerns about stubbornly high infections.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference. A government statement published at the same time said a nighttime curfew would be scrapped, though meetings between 10 pm and 5 am would generally be limited to four adults. 

Three months before Olympics, Japan declares 'short' emergency in Tokyo

Japan has declared "short and powerful" states of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures as the country struggles to contain a resurgent coronavirus pandemic three months before the Olympics.

The government will require restaurants, bars and karaoke parlours serving alcohol to close, and big sporting events to be held without spectators from April 25 to May 11, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

Breaching the restrictions will in some cases carry penalties, he said.

Norway offers mRNA Covid-19 vaccines to those who first got AstraZeneca's

Norway will offer those who have received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the virus injections from mRNA vaccines as their second dose, the health ministry said.

Norway on March 11 suspended the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a small number of younger people were hospitalised for a combination of blood clots, bleeding and a low count of platelets, some of whom later died. 

EU Commission sees potential in protein-based vaccines

The EU Commission may eventually expand its portfolio of jabs to protein-based vaccines, the EU executive's President Ursula von der Leyen suggested.

The vaccines currently being developed by Novavax and Sanofi/Glaxo-Smith-Kline are examples of protein-based vaccines. 

Bulgaria to ease entry rules to lure back tourists

Bulgaria, eager to encourage holiday-makers to its Black Sea resorts, will ease rules for entry to the Balkan country from May 1, its outgoing health minister Kostadin Angelov said.

"From May 1, when the tourist season starts, we will allow entry in the country in three ways: with a vaccination certificate, with a negative test result from a PCR or an antigen test," Kostadin Angelov told reporters.

"The third option is a document proving that the person has recovered from the coronavirus infection in the past six months," he said.

Foreign tourists provide the biggest chunk of revenues for Bulgaria' tourism sector, which has been hard hit by the travel restrictions triggered by the pandemic.

No decision yet on EU legal action against AstraZeneca - EU exec head

The European Union has not yet taken a decision whether to launch legal action against AstraZeneca over the company's failure to deliver the contracted doses to the 27-nation bloc, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said.

"Where AstraZeneca is concerned no decision have been taken so far so we have to wait for that," she told a news conference. 

Brazil's vaccination program at risk due to 2nd dose no-shows

Brazil’s vaccination program is being put at risk by people failing to show up for their second shot, with 1.5 million people missing appointments for the follow-up dose needed to maximise protection, according to the Health Ministry.

Specialists say that is particularly concerning after a recent real-world study from Chile found that the Sinovac Biotech vaccine, which has accounted for some 80 percent of Brazil's program, is just 16 percent effective after one shot.

“Without the two doses, we get neither full protection nor a long duration of protection,” Juarez Cunha, head of the Brazilian Society of Immunisations, told Reuters. “We need people to do the full cycle.”

Greek police step up checks at toll stations to curb Easter travel 

Greek police have stepped up controls on motorways leading out of Athens, triggering long queues at toll stations, as they checked on drivers to curb travel ahead of the start of the Eastern Orthodox Easter week.

Greece has allowed church services during Holy Week starting on Monday with masks and distancing. But Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said people should not travel between regions to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases ahead of the planned opening of its key tourism season on May 15, with few exceptions.

Many Greeks celebrate Easter with family gatherings in their home regions or in holiday homes in the countryside and months of lockdowns have raised concern that people will defy restrictions on travel. Authorities have imposed a 300 euro fine for travelling without justification.

More risks to pregnant women, their newborns from Covid-19 than known before - study

Pregnant women infected with Covid-19 and their newborn children face higher risks of complications than was previously known, a study by British scientists showed.

An infection of the new coronavirus in such newborns is associated with a three-fold risk of severe medical complications, according to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Oxford. 

While pregnant women are at higher risk of complications such as premature birth, high blood pressure with organ failure risk, need for intensive care and possible death.

Swedish Health Agency recommends continued pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Sweden's Public Health Agency has said that it was extending its recommendation against starting vaccinations using a vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.

The agency said on April 14 it would not start using the Covid-19 vaccine following reports of rare blood clots, similar to those reported for the AstraZeneca shot. 

Prevalence of Covid-19 infections in England falls sharply again

The prevalence of Covid-19 infections in England has dropped sharply for a second week, Britain's Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The ONS said that an estimated 1 in 610 people in England had Covid-19 in the week ending April 16, compared to 1 in 480 a week earlier. 

Germany sets no limits on use of J&J shot

Germany has decided not to impose limits on the use of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, the head of the country's vaccine regulator said, adding the expert panel that decides on its use will meet next week to evaluate new data.

Europe's drug regulator backed J&J's vaccine this week after examining cases of a rare blood clotting issue in US adults who received a dose. But it left it up to the European Union's member states to decide how to use it.

Germany's vaccine committee, known as STIKO, has limited the use of AstraZeneca's shot to those aged 60 and above due to the risk of rare blood clots.

India again records world's highest daily Covid case tally

India has recorded the world's highest daily tally of cases for a second day in a row, while daily deaths also jumped by a record.

With 332,730 new cases, India's total caseload has now passed 16 million.

Deaths rose by 2,263 to reach a total of 186,920, according to health ministry data.

The latest surge already has driven its fragile health systems to the breaking point with understaffed hospitals overflowing with patients and critically short of supplies.

Meanwhile, a fire broke out in a hospital in western India early on Friday, killing 13 virus patients.

The fire at a hospital in the Virar area on the outskirts of Mumbai occurred two days after 24 virus patients on ventilators died due to an oxygen leak in a hospital in Nashik, another city in Maharashtra state.

Australia's Perth to enter snap lockdown after one case

Western Australia's capital of Perth and the neighbouring Peel region will enter a snap three-day lockdown from midnight after a man tested positive for the virus after emerging from hotel quarantine.

Health officials have said that he is likely to have contracted the virus during a two-week quarantine stay in a Perth hotel, raising concerns about community transmission as more virulent virus strains emerge.

China says 3 citizens in UAE falsified tests

China says three of its citizens working in the United Arab Emirates have tampered with the results of their virus tests required to return home.

A statement from the Chinese Embassy said the three, working in the main business centre of Dubai, altered information provided by local clinics to show they had not been infected.

It said they were referred to UAE authorities for “seriously interfering with the prevention of epidemics and posing a significant risk to the health and safety of other passengers on the same flight.”

Japan rolls out vaccine slowly, despite looming Olympics

Three months before it hosts the Olympics – the biggest international event since the pandemic began – Japan has fully vaccinated less than one percent of its population in a cautious, slow-moving programme.

Olympic organisers and local officials stress vaccines are not a prerequisite for the Games. Participants will not have to be inoculated before arrival and there are no plans to prioritise vaccination of Japanese athletes or volunteers.

But the slow rollout in the world's third-largest economy, which experts say is driven by a mixture of caution and entrenched bureaucratic hurdles, is starting to weigh on public opinion.

Number of cases in Ukraine exceeds 2 million

The total number of coronavirus cases in Ukraine exceeds 2 million, health minister Maksym Stepanov said.

He said on Facebook the death toll had reached 41,700 so far in the pandemic.

Indonesia to restrict foreign travellers coming from India 

Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different virus strains, its chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto said.

Indonesians arriving from India will be allowed to enter, however, but must follow stricter health protocols and quarantine, the minister said. The measures are effective Sunday. India reported the world's highest daily toll of new cases, surpassing 330,000. 

Russia reports 8,840 new cases

Russia reported 8,840 new cases, including 2,502 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,744,961 since the pandemic began.

The government coronavirus taskfore said that 398 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking its death toll to 107,501. The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February.

Hungary to widen services sector activity next week 

Hungary will reach a 40 percent inoculation rate by the middle of next week, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio, a milestone that would allow resumption of a wide range of activities in the services sector en route to normalcy.

In recent weeks, the central European nation of 10 million has suffered from the world's deadliest coronavirus outbreak, pushing its death rate to the world's highest by Thursday, a Covid-19 database on the website Worldometers.info shows.

Orban, who faces a tight election race in 2022, has struggled to balance pandemic-fighting efforts with growing calls to reopen the economy and avoid a second straight year of deep recession.

North Cyprus imposes new virus measures during Ramadan

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has decided to ban mass gatherings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for iftar or fast-breaking meals and mass prayers to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A curfew will continue between 9 pm (1800 GMT) and 5 am (0200 GMT) from Monday to Saturday except for basic needs, according to a statement Thursday from the Health Ministry.
Markets will be open between 7 am (0400 GMT) to 5 pm (1400 GMT) from Monday to Saturday.

Singapore quarantines migrant workers

Singapore has quarantined about 1,200 migrant workers from a dormitory after coronavirus cases were discovered among men thought to have already recovered from infections, officials have said.

Vast dormitories housing mostly South Asian workers were at the centre of Singapore's initial outbreak last year, with the majority of the city-state's cases in the self-contained complexes.

The country's outbreak has largely been brought under control with just a handful of infections detected daily, but the discovery of new cases among foreign workers has prompted fears the dorms could be hit again.

Earlier this week, a virus case was discovered in the Westlite Woodlands Dormitory in a worker who had already received both vaccine doses.

Authorities conducted further tests at the site and another 17 workers, thought to have already recovered from earlier infections, have tested positive, health officials said.

Germany's cases rise by 27,543

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 27,543 to 3,245,253, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 265 to 81,158 , the tally showed.

UK vaccination studies find significant drop in infections

A research in the UK has shown that Covid-19 infections in adults of all ages fell by 65% after a first dose of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, which scientists said showed the real-world impact of the nation's immunisation campaign against the pandemic.

Crucially, the research was conducted at a time when a new and more infectious variant of the coronavirus, called B1.1.7, was dominant in Britain, but still found vaccination was just as effective in elderly people and those with underlying health conditions as it was in the young and healthy.

The data come from two studies that are part of the Covid-19 Infection Survey - a collaboration between Oxford University, the government's health department, and the Office of National Statistics. Both studies were published online as preprints on Friday and have not yet been peer-reviewed.

The researche rs analysed more than 1.6 million test results from nose and throat swabs taken from 373,402 study participants between Dec. 1, 2020 and April 3, 2021.

Australia man contracts virus after finishing two-week quarantine

A man in Australia tested positive after finishing his hotel quarantine, authorities have said, raising concerns about community transmission as more virulent virus strains emerge.

The person is likely to have contracted the virus during his two-week quarantine in a Perth hotel, health officials said, adding genomic sequencing was underway to trace the source.

All passengers on a flight from Perth to Melbourne have been asked to self-isolate as the infected person on Wednesday travelled to his home in Melbourne after finishing his mandatory isolation, Victoria state Health Minister Martin Foley said.

Western Australia and New South Wales states are currently investigating into cases of travelers in quarantine contracting the virus from infected guests staying in nearby rooms.

Having closed its borders more than a year ago, Australia lets mostly citizens and permanent-residents return from abroad. Returned travelers, except from New Zealand, have to undergo two weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense.

The hotel quarantine system has helped Australia to keep its virus numbers relatively low compared with other developed countries, with just over 29,5 00 cases and 910 deaths.

Oregon: CDC investigating woman's death after J&J vaccine

Oregon health officials said on Thursday that federal officials are investigating the death of a woman in her 50s who developed a rare blood clot and low platelets within two weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against Covid-19.

The Oregon Health Authority learned of the probe on Tuesday, two days after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began the investigation, the agency said. The woman, whose name was not released, received the dose before the CDC ordered a pause on the vaccine amid concerns it could cause dangerous clots.

The woman developed a “rare but serious blood clot in combination with very low platelets,” OHA said in a statement.

Dr Shimi Sharief, senior health advisor for the state's health authority, said the woman's symptoms were consistent with other cases – severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath.

China reports 19 new cases vs 6 a day earlier

China reported 19 new Covid-19 cases on April 22, up from six cases a day earlier, the national health authority said on Friday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement all of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 24 from 16 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,566, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636. 

Venezuela opposition approves $100M in frozen funds for Covid-19 vaccines

Venezuela's opposition on Thursday agreed to use $100 million in funds frozen in the United States to pay for coronavirus vaccines via the COVAX program, as the South American nation remains one of the slowest in inoculating against the disease.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido and allies have for months been negotiating with the government of President Nicolas Maduro to pay for vaccines using the funds.

The Trump administration froze $342 million in Venezuelan central bank deposits as part of a 2019 program and put them at the disposal of Guaido, who the United States recognises as the country's legitimate president.

"We are making a new effort to meet what is most needed today by approving an additional $100 million for vaccines against Covid-19," Guaido wrote in a tweet.

That adds to $30 million previously approved for COVAX payments from the same pool of funds, Guaido's allies said in a statement.

UK vaccination studies find significant drop in infections

Covid-19 infections in adults of all ages fell by 65 percent after a first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine in UK research, which scientists said showed the real-world impact of the nation's immunisation campaign against the pandemic.

Crucially, the research was conducted at a time when a new and more infectious variant of the coronavirus, called B1.1.7, was dominant in Britain, but still found vaccination was just as effective in elderly people and those with underlying health conditions as it was in the young and healthy.

"These real-world findings are extremely promising," Health Minister James Bethell said in a statement as the data were published. He said they showed Britain's Covid-19 vaccination programme – one of the world's fastest – was having a "significant impact."

The data come from two studies that are part of the Covid-19 Infection Survey – a collaboration between Oxford University, the government's health department, and the Office of National Statistics. Both studies were published online as preprints on Friday and have not yet been peer-reviewed.

WHO jab experts want more AZ clot data from outside Europe

The World Health Organization's vaccine advisors called on Thursday for more data on the incidence of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine outside Europe.

The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunisation updated their guidance on the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus jab, rewriting the section on precautions in light of data from Europe on clotting.

"WHO continues to support the conclusion that the benefits of these vaccines outweigh the risks," the UN agency stressed in a statement.

South African virus variant fuels record Cuban Covid-19 cases

Cuba reported a record 1,207 new coronavirus cases on Thursday as the arrival of more contagious new virus variants like the one first discovered in South Africa fuels its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

While the government in the Caribbean's largest island did a good job initially at containing infections, the opening of borders in November without requiring negative Covid-19 tests and subsequent year-end socialising sparked a surge in cases that a lockdown and curfew have failed to curb.

Health authorities, who complain of a low risk perception among Cubans, have said many of the institutions dedicated to Covid-19 patients are full and they are seeking to open new centres to take in suspected cases and patients.

However, Cuba's vaunted medical system is not near the breaking point, they say.

Mexico reports 3,708 new cases, 498 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry on Thursday reported 3,708 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 498 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,319,519 infections and 214,095 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

Brazil sees 2,027 new deaths

Brazil recorded 45,178 new cases of coronavirus and 2,027 new Covid-19 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

More than 380,000 Brazilians have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic, the official data show, the second highest total in the world after the United States.

Canada to suspend passenger flights from India, Pakistan over Covid-19 fears

Canada's government said it would temporarily bar passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days starting on Thursday as part of stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The centre-left Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acted after prominent right-leaning politicians complained Ottawa had not done enough to combat a third wave of infections ripping through Canada.

The ban, which takes effect at 11.30 pm (0330 GMT Friday), does not affect cargo flights.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies