Covid-19 has killed more than 3M people and infected over 151 million others globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for April 30:

A health worker gets a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Seoul, South Korea on March 10, 2021.
A health worker gets a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Seoul, South Korea on March 10, 2021. (Reuters)

Friday, April 30:

Study: Risk from virus variants remains after first Pfizer jab

A single dose of Pfizer's vaccine may not generate a sufficient immune response to protect against dominant new variants, except in people who have already been infected, a UK study has found.

The Imperial College-led study, which looked at immune responses in British healthcare workers after their first dose of the Pfizer shot, found that people who had previously had mild or asymptomatic infection had enhanced protection against more infectious mutated variants that emerged in Britain and South Africa.

But the immune response after a first dose of the shot was weaker in people who had not previously been infected, potentially leaving them at risk from such variants, researchers leading the work said on Friday. 

Turkey’s death toll tops 40,000

Turkey's death toll has surpassed 40,000, authorities said.

A total of 31,891 cases, including 2,673 symptomatic patients, confirmed across Turkey in the past 24 hours, according to the latest Health Ministry data.

Turkey’s overall caseload is now over 4.82 million, while the nationwide death toll rose by 394 over the past day to reach 40,131.

UK reports over 2,300 new cases

Britain has reported 2,381 new cases reported, down from 2,445 a day earlier, according to government data

Britain also recorded 15 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, down from 22 on Thursday, while the number who had received the first dose of a vaccine rose to 34.2 million.

Number of French patients in intensive care falls

The number of patients in intensive care (ICU) in France has fallen for the fourth consecutive day, decreasing by 129 to 5,675, Health Ministry data showed. 

Italy logs over 13,400 new cases

Italy has reported 263 coronavirus against 288 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 13,446 from 14,320.

Italy has registered 120,807 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 4.02 million cases to date.

Mexico expects 5M more AstraZeneca doses from US

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he expects the United States to send Mexico around 5 million more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to help with its efforts to inoculate the population.

Speaking at a regular news conference, Lopez Obrador told reporters that it was "probable" that the United States would make his country a loan of the 5 million doses while Mexico got its own production of AstraZeneca vaccine up and running.

Some EU nations still want Valneva vaccine deal 

Some EU countries still want Brussels to strike a deal to buy Valneva's vaccine candidate despite a recent setback in talks, as the bloc aim to shore up and diversify supplies, sources familiar with the talks have told Reuters.

A spokesman for the European Commission said last week the French vaccine maker had not met conditions required to reach an agreement, two days after the company said it would now give priority to a country by country approach.

Sri Lanka declares worst economic downturn in 73 years

Sri Lanka has announced that its economy shrank 3.6 percent last year due to the pandemic, making it the worst downturn since independence from Britain in 1948.

The unprecedented recession compared with a 2.3 percent GDP growth in 2019, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka said in its annual report for 2020.

Brazil calls on countries to share spare vaccines

Countries should share spare vaccine doses with hard-hit Brazil to help the global fight against the virus, including the spread of new variants, Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga told a World Health Organization briefing on Friday.

Queiroga said Brazil had given out 41 million vaccine doses but needed more supplies to meet a target of 2.4 million doses per day. 

Countries should contribute spare doses as soon as possible "so we can broaden our vaccination campaign and contain the pandemic at this critical time and avoid the proliferation of new variants."

Singapore hospital hit by rare outbreak

A Singapore hospital has locked down four wards after detecting cases, authorities said, a rare outbreak in a country that has largely brought the virus under control.

After a partial lockdown and rigorous regime of testing and contact tracing, the virus had almost disappeared in Singapore, with authorities in recent months reporting hardly any local transmission.

But there were 16 infections on Thursday — the highest daily count since July last year — and another nine on Friday.

Turkey grants emergency authorisation for Sputnik V use 

Turkey's official Medicines and Medical Devices Agency has said that Turkey has granted emergency use authorisation to Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said earlier this week Turkey has signed a deal for 50 million doses of Sputnik V.

Italy meets 500,000 daily vaccinations target

Italy has for the first time inoculated more than 500,000 people in a day, meeting a key coronavirus vaccinations target, the government said.

Authorities initially hoped to reach the milestone by mid-April, but pushed back the objective as supply shortages stymied immunisation efforts across Europe.

"Yesterday more than 500,000 doses of the vaccine were administered in Italy," Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote on Facebook, hailing the institutional "team work" that led to the result.

France to offer jabs to all adults from June 15

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that vaccinations will be open to all adults from June 15, as he aims to quickly reopen the country as it battles a third wave.

People over 50 can meanwhile sign up for a jab from May 15, he added on Twitter, compared to an age limit of 55 currently.

Pfizer, BioNTech seek EU's OK to use vaccine on kids

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech have submitted a request to the European drug regulator for the approval of their vaccine to be extended to include children 12 to 15 years old, in a move that could offer younger and less at-risk populations in Europe access to the shot for the first time.

In a statement, the two pharmaceuticals said their submission to the European Medicines Agency is based on an advanced study in more than 2,000 adolescents that showed their vaccine to be safe and effective. 

The children will continue to be monitored for longer-term protection and safety for another two years.

Spain studies mixed use of vaccines

Spanish health authorities have said they started giving Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses to participants in a government-led study involving young people who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Researchers from Spain’s Carlos III Institute want to study the effects of mixing vaccines from different manufacturers as they look for a second dose alternative following very rare brain blood clots linked to the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca.

A total of 400 people were given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for their second dose until Thursday, Spain’s Health Ministry said, while 200 other people have been recruited as part of the study's control group.

Five major hospitals across Spain are involved, and results are expected in mid-May.

AstraZeneca delivers 68M Covid-19 shots in first quarter

AstraZeneca says it has delivered about 68 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine during the first three months of 2021 after the shot became one of the first approved for widespread use.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker reported $275 million in revenue from sales of the vaccine, or the equivalent of $4.04 per dose. 

AstraZeneca has pledged that it will deliver the vaccine on a non-profit basis as long as the pandemic lasts.

The company said 30 million doses of the vaccine went to the European Union, 26 million to the UK, 7 million to Gavi, an alliance that secures vaccines for low-income countries, and 5 million to other nations.

One positive Covid-19 test on Japan luxury cruise ship

Japan's Nippon Yusen has said that one passenger on its luxury cruise ship "Asuka II "had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that other passengers would be disembarking.

The passenger's health is stable and the person is recuperating in a cabin that has been isolated, it said in a statement. People who stayed in the same room as the passenger were the only ones who had been in close contact.

The ship departed Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture on Thursday and was scheduled to stop at Aomori and Hokkaidoprefectures.

Singapore to block visitors from most South Asian countries

Singapore will block entry to visitors with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka from May 2 due to sustained increases in Covid-19 cases in the region, its health ministry has said.

The entry ban applies to long-term visa holders and short-term visitors. Singapore has already blocked visitors from India, which is battling a surge of infections.

Russia reports 8,731 new cases, 397 deaths

Russia has reported 8,731 new Covid-19 cases, including 2,662 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 4,805,288.

The government coronavirus task force said 397 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 110,128.

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 ease virus curbs as vaccine rollout progresses

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that parts of the service economy will reopen as scheduled on Saturday as the country's Covid-19 vaccination rate surpasses 40 percent, adding he would slowly refocus on kick-starting economic growth.

Hungary has the highest cumulative per capita coronavirus death toll in the world, according to worldometers.info, but the third wave of its epidemic is slowly receding.

The range of services reopening will include hotels, indoor restaurants, theatres, cinemas, gyms, sports venues, swimming pools, museums, libraries and zoos, Orban said, confirming earlier plans.

The premier, who faces his first tight election race in 2022 since assuming power a decade ago, has leveraged the rapid vaccine rollout to try to shore up his support base.

In March, more than 16,000 died in the nation of 10 million, a 40 percent annual increase and the highest figure for that month since a deadly flu outbreak in 1983, central statistics office KSH said on Friday. 

Uganda detects Indian variant

Uganda has detected the Indian variant of the novel coronavirus, igniting fears the East African nation could suffer a resurgence of cases just when its outbreak has waned, a senior health official said.

"Yes, we have got one individual who has that variant," Pontiano Kaleebu, head of the government-run Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) told Reuters on Friday.

The variant, he said, had been detected in recent days on a Ugandan who had returned from a visit to India. He did not immediately have further information.

Health Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Ainebyoona told Reuters the country's coronavirus task-force would discuss the situation on Friday.

So far, Uganda, like many African countries, has experienced a relatively mild Covid-19 outbreak.

As of Tuesday, Uganda had reported 41,797 infections and 342 deaths, health ministry data showed.

Russia produces first batch of vaccine for animals

Russia has produced the world's first batch - 17,000 doses - of Covid-19 vaccines for animals, its agricultural regulator has said.

Russia registered Carnivac-Cov in March after tests showed it generated antibodies against Covid-19 in dogs, cats, foxes and mink.

The first batch will be supplied to several regions of Russia, the regulator Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement.

It said companies from Germany, Greece, Poland, Austria, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Argentina had expressed interest in purchasing the vaccine.

The World Health Organization has voiced concern over the risk of transmission of the virus between humans and animals. 

The Russian regulator has said the vaccine would be able to protect vulnerable species and thwart viral mutations.

Hong Kong detects untraceable coronavirus variant

Hong Kong has detected an untraceable variant of coronavirus, forcing evacuation of a residential plot and immediate quarantine of the close contacts of the infected person, a health authority said.

According to a statement released by the Hong Kong Department of Health on Thursday, a positive case with the N501Y mutant strain of coronavirus was reported late evening.

“As N501Y mutant strain is with high transmissibility, the Centre for Health Protection decided to carry out prudent measures on infection control and prevention to arrange compulsory quarantine for asymptomatic residents of all units on all floors of the building concerned, so as to stop the potential risk of spread of N501Y mutant strain,” read the statement.

The source remains unknown, it said.

The case involves a 39-year-old woman from the Philippines who is a domestic helper and caretaker of a 10-month-old baby girl who also tested positive for Covid-19.

Health authorities issued the evacuation order for quarantine in Tung Chung area of the city.

Vaccination centres close in Mumbai as India posts another record rise in cases

All vaccination centres in India's financial capital of Mumbai have been shut for three days due to a shortage of vaccines, authorities said, as the country posted another record daily rise in coronavirus cases.

India reported 386,452 news cases, while deaths from Covid-19 jumped by 3,498 over the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data.

However, medical experts believe actual Covid-19 numbers in the world's second-most populous nation may be five to 10 times greater than the official tally.

India has added about 7.7 million cases since the end of February, when its second wave picked up steam, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India nearly six months to add the previous 7.7 million cases.

The country is in deep crisis, with hospitals and morgues overwhelmed, medicines and oxygen in short supply and strict curbs on movement in its biggest cities.

US aid arrives in India as cases explode

The first US emergency aid to India has arrived as the country battles a devastating surge in Covid-19 cases which has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.

A US Super Galaxy military transporter carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders, other hospital equipment and nearly one million rapid coronavirus tests landed at New Delhi's international airport early Friday.

The delivery, which flew in from the Travis military base in California, followed talks this week between US President Joe Biden and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

US officials said other special flights, which will also bring equipment donated by companies and individuals, are set to continue into next week.

More than 40 countries have committed to sending vital medical aid, particularly oxygen supplies, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters earlier on  Thursday.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 24,329 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 24,329 to 3,381,597, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 306 to 82,850, the tally showed.

Edinburgh Castle reopens as Scottish Covid rules ease

Heritage sites reopen across Scotland for the first time this year and after the longest closure since World War II, as coronavirus restrictions are gradually eased.

Edinburgh Castle is one of more than 20 ticketed venues and over 200 free attractions run by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to welcome back visitors.

HES chief executive Alex Paterson said daily visitor numbers to the ancient stronghold and former royal residence will be well below pre-pandemic highs of 10,000.

But he hopes up to 1,200 people will come every day.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, 7,659 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Scotland – a fraction of the more than 127,000 people who have lost their lives in the UK overall.

Singapore finds Covid-19 cluster in hospital as local cases climb

Singapore has detected a Covid-19 cluster in one its largest hospitals, among 16 new locally transmitted infections that were reported on Thursday, its highest number of domestic cases in seven months.

Eight of the cases announced late Thursday were linked to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the health ministry said. 

The hospital's cases include a doctor and a nurse who were vaccinated for the coronavirus. 

Both had symptoms.

The city-state has reported more than 61,000 cases since the pandemic hit last year, the vast majority of those in dormitories housing low-wage foreign workers. 

It has recorded 30 deaths in total.

 Brazil passes milestone of 400,000 coronavirus deaths

Brazil has registered 3,001 new Covid-19 deaths, taking its death toll since the start of the pandemic past 400,000, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil also recorded 69,389 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, data showed, bringing total infections to more than 14.5 million.

With 212 million people, the South American giant also has one of the highest mortality rates in the pandemic, at 189 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the worst in the Americas and one of the top 15 worldwide.

Brazil has been devastated by a surge in cases since the start of the year that pushed hospitals to the brink of collapse in many areas.

Russia-Brazil spat erupts over Sputnik vaccine snub

Brazil's health regulator said its decision to reject the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine was based on the developer's own data, after the latter threatened to sue for defamation.

Brazilian regulators' decision Monday to deny emergency use authorisation for the vaccine has blown up into an all-out international row, with Sputnik V's makers accusing them of "knowingly spreading false and inaccurate information" without testing the vaccine themselves.

South Africa sees 1,086 new cases and 46 deaths

South Africa added 1,086 more coronavirus infections to its case tally in the past 24 hours for a total of more than 1.57 million, the country’s health minister said.

“As of today, the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases identified in South Africa is 1,579,536,” Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update to the nation.

Mkhize also announced that 46 more people had succumbed t o Covid-19 related illnesses, bringing the total number of deaths to 54,331.

Thailand says Covid-19 has peaked, but adds restrictions

Health authorities said Thailand's recent Covid-19 wave has peaked after setting record daily highs of new cases and deaths, but they are still implementing new restrictions starting Saturday to curb the spread of the virus.

The country reported 1,871 new cases for 63,570 total, and 10 virus-related deaths for a total of 188. It was the first time the number of new cases has dropped below 2,000 since April 23.

One major change approved Thursday by the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration is that people arriving from abroad must spend 14 days in quarantine regardless of where they are coming from or whether they have been vaccinated for Covid-19.

China reports 13 new  cases 

China reported 13 new mainland Covid-19 cases, down from 20 cases a day earlier, the country's national health authority said.

All of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas, the National Health Commission said in a statement. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, rose to 19 from 14 cases a day earlier.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 90,655, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,636.

Costa Rica to close non-essential businesses next week

Costa Rica will for the next week close non-essential businesses, including restaurants and bars, across the center of the country due to a sharp increase in new cases of Covid-19 and hospitalisations, the government said.

From May 3-9, restaurants, bars, department stores, beauty salons, gyms, and churches must close in 45 municipalities in central Costa Rica, where almost half the population lives and over two-thirds of new cases have been registered.

Costa Rica has so far reported almost 249,000 cases of Covid-19 and some 3,200 fatalities.

First Moderna Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Japan

The first delivery of Moderna Inc's Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Japan, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing airline officials.

Japan has so far only cleared Pfizer Inc's coronavirus vaccine and is expected to approve Moderna's in May. 

Pfizer begins exporting US made  shots abroad, starting with Mexico – source

Pfizer Inc's shipment of Covid-19 vaccine to Mexico this week includes doses made in its US plant, the first of what are expected to be ongoing exports of its shots from the United States, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The vaccine shipment, produced at Pfizer's Kalamazoo, Michigan plant, marks the first time the drugmaker has delivered abroad from US facilities after a Trump-era restriction on dose exports expired at the end of March, the source said.

Canada's largest provinces to soon offer Covid vaccines to all adults

The two Canadian provinces hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Ontario and Quebec, will make Covid vaccines available to all adults starting in May, officials said.

The health ministers for the provinces, which account for almost two-thirds of the country's population, said age eligibility for jabs would be lowered incrementally.

In Quebec that means eligibility for those 18 years and older by mid-May, with Ontario following a week later.

A ramp up of shipments to the provinces would allow authorities to "accelerate our vaccine rollout and get more shots into arms," Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies