Coronavirus pandemic has killed over 3.7 million people and infected over 173 million globally. Here are updates for June 4:

A patient receives medical treatment in a ward at the Krylatskoye Ice Palace, which was converted into a temporary hospital for people suffering from Covid-19, in Moscow, Russia, on January 20, 2021.
A patient receives medical treatment in a ward at the Krylatskoye Ice Palace, which was converted into a temporary hospital for people suffering from Covid-19, in Moscow, Russia, on January 20, 2021. (Reuters)

Friday, June 4

Russian data shows nearly 425,000 excess Covid-19 deaths

Russia has recorded nearly 425,000 excess deaths from April 2020 to April 2021 when it was in the grip of the pandemic, Reuters calculations based on data released by Russia's state statistics service showed.

The number of excess deaths, which some epidemiologists say is the best way to measure the real death toll, exceeds the official death toll of 123,037 which is calculated by Russia's task force.

Rosstat, the Russian state statistics service, keeps its own records and said on Friday that around 270,000 people had died in Russia and related causes since the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020 to April 2021.

Britain reports highest daily cases since March

Britain has reported 6,238 new Covid-19 cases, the highest number since late March and up from 5,274 on Thursday, government data showed.

There were 11 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, down from 18 on Thursday.

Italy reports over 2,500 new cases

Italy has reported 73 deaths against 59 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 2,557 from 1,968.

Italy has registered 126,415 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eight-highest in the world. 

The country has reported 4.227 million cases to date.

Myanmar sees case jump after outbreak near Indian border

Myanmar has reported its highest number of cases since health services and testing collapsed in the wake of the February 1 coup, adding to concerns over a growing outbreak near the border with India.

The 212 cases reported from across the country are low compared to many neighbours, but are the highest in over four months.

Many of the cases are from Chin State, bordering India, raising concerns that the more transmissible variant first found there is now spreading in Myanmar.

Swiss approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 12-15 year olds

Medical regulator Swissmedic has extended the temporary ordinary authorisation of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to include young people aged between 12 and 15, the agency said.

Nepal worries future wave will hit children hard

Nepal has asked its hospitals to reserve beds for children for fear another surge in infections will hit them hard, something officials in neighbouring India are also preparing for.

The move came as the government approved for emergency use the vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech of China.

Turkey reports over 6,000 new cases

Turkey has confirmed 6,169 new cases, including 552 symptomatic patients, across the country in the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.

Turkey's overall case tally is now over 5.27 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 47,976 with 94 new fatalities.

WHO urges wealthy nations to donate their surplus vaccines

Wealthy countries need to give more vaccines and follow the US in making doses available immediately to cover a 200 million dose gap caused by Indian supply disruptions and manufacturing delays, a WHO senior adviser said.

WHO is urging wealthy countries to donate their surplus doses to poorer countries instead of giving them to less vulnerable groups, such as children, and they have so far donated 150 million doses via the COVAX sharing scheme.

However, Bruce Aylward said that only a small portion of those doses will be available in the short-term in June, July and August when they can make a difference in slowing the pace of infections in the global pandemic.

UK regulator approves Pfizer-BioNTech for 12 to 15-year-olds

Britain's medicines regulator has said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe for adolescents aged 12 to 15 after a "rigorous review", following similar assessments in the EU and US.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the two-shot jab following clinical trials among younger age groups, saying the vaccine had met the "expected standards" of safety, quality and effectiveness.

A government committee on vaccination will now decide if and when to begin administering doses to the age bracket. So far it has promptly followed all MHRA rulings on vaccines offered by Pfizer and other companies.

Russia reports 8,947 new cases

Russia has reported 8,947 new cases , including 2,817 in Moscow, taking the official national tally to 5,108,129 since the pandemic began.

The government virus task force said 377 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 123,037.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 250,000 deaths related to virus from April 2020 to March 2021. 

Meanwhile, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said  they expect the World Health Organization to approve the Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus within two months,

He said the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which is also reviewing Sputnik V "was provided with all basic existing information, there is no critical remarks for now at all".

Spain to vaccinate 12-to 17-year-olds before September

Spain has said it wants to offer vaccines to everyone aged between 12 and 17 before the start of the new school year in September.

Health Minister Carolina Darias told public television TVE the government will propose the measure to the public health commission which then must approve the move.

The plan is to immunise 12-to 17-year-olds "about two weeks before" the start of the new school year in September, she said.

No Tokyo Olympics if no athletes come to Japan

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cannot happen if no athletes can make it to Japan for the event, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President Seiko Hashimoto said at a news briefing held. 

She said that the decision on whether to host the Games depended on rapidly changing factors such as the situation, and that the committee would comply if other organisers were to decide to cancel the Games.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were postponed last year due to the pandemic, and is scheduled to start on July 23.

Saudi holds first concert in Riyadh

Hundreds have gathered for the first concert in the Saudi capital since the start of the pandemic to watch performances by Syrian diva Assala Nasri and Kuwaiti crooner Nabeel Shuail.

Before stiff rules were brought in a year ago to stem the spread of the virus, the ultra-conservative kingdom had started to ease decades-long restrictions on entertainment, as part of efforts to improve its image and attract tourists.

Saudi Arabia has officially recorded more than 454,000 coronavirus infections, including 7,408 deaths.

Tiananmen event in HK's Victoria Park banned again

Hong Kong's Victoria Park was mostly empty on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, except for the police who stood warning people not participate in unauthorised assembly.

Before last year, tens of thousands gathered annually in the park lighting candles and singing songs to remember the victims.

But authorities, citing the pandemic, banned the vigil for the second straight year and, on the morning of Friday's anniversary, arrested an organizer of it.

Fauci urges China to release medical records of bat cave patients

Top US scientist Anthony Fauci has urged China to release the medical records of nine people who fell sick with a coronavirus-like illness prior to the outbreak, saying they could provide insights into whether the pandemic came from a lab.

The "lab leak" theory has gained increasing traction, fueled by reports that six miners fell ill in 2012 and three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick in 2019 after visiting a bat cave in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.

In an interview with The Financial Times , US President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor said the records could answer critical questions over the contested origins of the in Wuhan, where a pandemic that has killed over 3.6 million people worldwide began.

Australia finds highly infectious variant in Melbourne 

Australia’s Victoria state authorities have said they detected the highly infectious Delta virus variant for the first time in the latest outbreak in Melbourne, stoking concerns of a major spike in cases.

The Delta variant, which has been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as among the four virus variants of concern due to evidence that they spread more easily, likely caused the latest devastating outbreak in India.

Sutton said the new variant had not been linked to any sequenced infections across Australia from hotel quarantine or elsewhere.

The Delta variant was detected in two members in a family who travelled to neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) two weeks ago while likely infectious and visited several popular tourist locations in the state's south.

Most vaccinated California workers must keep masks on

Conflicted California workplace regulators have approved controversial rules  that allow workers to go maskless only if every employee in a room is fully vaccinated against the virus.

But the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board made clear that the regulations are only a stopgap while they consider further easing pandemic rules in coming weeks or months. The new rules are expected to take effect June 15, the same day the state more broadly loosens masking and other precautions in social settings.

The board initially voted 4-to-3 to reject any changes to current rules.

Virus outbreak builds in Myanmar near Indian border

A new outbreak of the virus is growing near Myanmar's northwestern border with India, bringing the sharpest increase in cases since the military coup in February led to a collapse in health services and the testing programme.

Official figures released showed 122 cases across the country for the second time in three days - a low number compared with many Asian neighbours, but the highest in nearly four months.

Many of the cases are from Chin State, bordering India, raising concerns that the more transmissible variant first found there is now spreading in Myanmar.

India reports 132,364 new cases

India has reported 132,364 new infections over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose by 2,713.

The tally of infections stood at 28.6 million and the death toll at 340,702, the health ministry said.

Malaysia grants conditional approval for AstraZeneca vaccine

Malaysian health authorities have been granted conditional approval AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Siam Bioscience Co in Thailand.

Health Ministry director-general, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said in a statement the vaccine supply received from Thailand is expected to speed up implementation of Malaysia's national vaccination programme.

China to cap load factors at Air France's Tianjin flight over cases

China's aviation regulator will limit Air France's Paris-to-Tianjin flight to a load factor of 40% for four weeks from June 7, it said  after infections were found among passengers.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China had already placed identical curbs on the airline's other China flight, from Paris to Shanghai.

Vietnam approves China's Sinopharm vaccine

Vietnam has approved China's Sinopharm vaccine for use against the virus. 

The decision to approve the vaccine was signed by Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong, online newspaper VnExpress reported. The coronavirus vaccine is the third Vietnam has approved, after AstraZeneca and Sputnik V. 

Germany's virus cases rise by 3,165

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 3,165 to 3,695,633.

 The reported death toll rose by 86 to 89,026, the data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

Johnson & Johnson talking to Taiwan about providing vaccine

Johnson & Johnson has said that it has been in talks with Taiwan about providing its vaccine to the island since last year.

"Johnson & Johnson has been in confidential discussions with the Taiwan Government regarding supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine since last year," it said in an emailed statement to Reuters, without giving details.

US to swiftly boost global vaccine sharing

President Joe Biden has announced that the US will swiftly donate a first tranche of 25 million doses of surplus vaccine overseas through the UN-backed COVAX program, promising infusions for South and Central America, Asia, Africa and others at a time of glaring shortages abroad and more than ample supplies at home.

The doses mark a substantial — and immediate — boost to the lagging COVAX effort, which to date has shared just 76 million doses with needy countries.

The announcement came just hours after World Health Organization officials in Africa made a new plea for vaccine sharing because of an alarming situation on the continent, where shipments have ground to “a near halt” while virus cases have spiked over the past two weeks.

Overall, the White House has announced plans to share 80 million doses globally by the end of June, most through COVAX. Officials say a quarter of the nation’s excess will be kept in reserve for emergencies and for the US to share directly with allies and partners.

Of the first 19 million donated through COVAX, approximately 6 million doses will go to South and Central America, 7 million to Asia and 5 million to Africa.

Brazil registers 1,682 Covid-19 deaths

Brazil has registered 1,682 Covid-19 deaths and 83,391 new cases, according to data released by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered 469,388 total coronavirus deaths and 16,803,472 total confirmed cases.

Daily deaths have decreased significantly from the peak of Brazil's second wave in April, but remain high by historical standards.

China reports 24 new cases 

China has reported 24 new coronavirus cases on the mainland for June 3, the same number as a day earlier, the country's health authority said in a statement.

Of the new infections, 15 were imported, the National Health Commission said, and the nine local cases were all in southern Guangdong province. There were no new deaths.

China also reported 21 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 18 a day earlier.

As of June 3, China had a total of 91,194 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Its death toll remained unchanged at 4,636

Colombia to restart large events as deaths climb past 90,000

Colombia has approved the reopening of most large events it had banned to contain the pandemic, even with intensive care units likely to be full until the end of June and more than 90,000 dead from Covid-19.

The South American country has gradually loosened many restrictions imposed in March last year to control the spread of coronavirus and rolled back others for certain locations on Thursday, though medical staff expect cases to remain high.

The decision came the same day the health ministry reported a total of 90,353 Covid-19 deaths.

Thursday also saw a new daily death record of 545 and a new high of 28,624 daily reported infections.

Colombia has so far administered more than 10.6 million vaccine doses, including 3.3 million second doses, as part of its plan to vaccinate more than 35 million people this year.

More than five weeks of anti-government protests have drawn large crowds that health authorities warn could spur infections.

Australia's Victoria posts slight rise in cases

Australia's second-most populous state Victoria has reported a slight rise in new locally acquired Covid-19 cases as state capital Melbourne began an extended snap lockdown imposed to contain its latest virus outbreak.

Victorian authorities on Wednesday extended the lockdown in Melbourne for another week until June 10 but eased some curbs elsewhere in the state.

Four new locally acquired cases were reported on Friday, versus three a day earlier, taking the total infections to 65 in the latest outbreak.

Mexico adds nearly 3,000 new cases

Mexico has reported 2,894 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 216 more fatalities, bringing the total to 2,426,822 infections and 228,362 deaths, according to Health Ministry data.

Separate government data recently published suggests the actual death toll is at least 60 percent above the confirmed figure.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies