Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 2.8M people and infected more than 132M globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for April 6:

People wearing protective masks stroll at Eminonu district, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Istanbul, on April 5, 2021.
People wearing protective masks stroll at Eminonu district, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Istanbul, on April 5, 2021. (Reuters)

Tuesday, April 6

Turkey's daily cases hit all-time high of nearly 50,000

Turkey has recorded 49,584 new cases in the last 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

Last week President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a tightening of restrictions, including the return of full nationwide weekend lockdowns during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on April 13.

The latest daily death toll was 211, the highest since early January, bringing the cumulative toll to 32,667

France's hospitalisations at a near five-month high

France's hospital system has been under heavy pressure from the pandemic, with the number of people treated in intensive care at the highest in almost a year, even though the country has just entered its third lockdown.

The Health Ministry reported that the number of people in ICUs had increased by 193 over 24 hours to 5,626, a peak since April 20 2020, when France was in its first March-May 2020 lockdown.

And that figure is also rising further above the 4,919 high reached during country's second lockdown from October 30 to December 15.

WHO: AstraZeneca jab risk-benefit 'still largely positive'

The risk-benefit balance for the AstraZeneca vaccine has been "still largely positive," the World Health Organization said after fresh claims about links to blood clots.

The WHO said there was no evidence that the risk-benefit analysis had shifted on the jab, which is one of only three different vaccines so far to have received the green light from the UN health agency.

Italy reports over 7,700 new cases

Italy has reported 421 deaths against 296 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 7,767 from 10,680 the day before.

Some 112,962 tests were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 102,795, the Health Ministry said.

Italy has registered 111,747 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 report ed 3.69 million cases to date.

WHO: 'Travesty' some nations are unable to start vaccinations

It is a travesty that some countries still have not had enough access to vaccines to begin inoculating health workers and the most vulnerable people, the head of the World Health Organization has said.

"Scaling up production and equitable distribution remains the major barrier to ending the acute stage of the Covid-19 pandemic," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.

"It's a travesty that in some countries health workers and those at-risk groups remain completely unvaccinated."

EMA official links AstraZeneca vaccine and thrombosis

A top official in the European Medicines Agency has said in an interview that there is a link between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and blood clots.

EMA head of vaccines Marco Cavaleri told Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper that "in my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine", although it was not clear what caused such a reaction. He implied the link would be confirmed by the agency in the coming hours.

South Africa signs deal for 20 mln Pfizer doses

South Africa has signed an agreement with Pfizer Inc for 20 million dual shot vaccine doses, a government official told Reuters, boosting plans to start mass vaccinations from April.

The deal is another fillip for the country worst hit by infections in Africa as it adds to the 31 million single-shot doses from Johnson & Johnson which the government approved on Thursday.

The first batch from Pfizer is expected to arrive later in April, Anban Pillay, Deputy Director-general at the Department of Health, told Reuters, but he did not comment on the price.

The government is buying the J&J vaccine for $10 per dose.

Cambodia PM orders home treatment for patients as hospitals strain

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered health officials to prepare to treat coronavirus patients at home, as the country's biggest outbreak so far tests the capacity of its fragile healthcare system.

Cambodia had one of the world's smallest coronavirus caseloads until six weeks ago, but an outbreak in late February has led to its first 22 deaths and a five-fold jump in cases to 2,824.

A total of 1,794 patients are currently being treated in hospitals that are near capacity, Hun Sen said in an audio message shared widely on Tuesday and reported by local media.

"We can't accept all patients in case that cases increase further," Hun Sen said.

"We have fewer people recovered and many people being admitted for treatment and even if we set up a few more hospitals, it is not enough," he said.

"Keep those with mild cases of at home for treatment," he added.

The health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the home treatment plan.

The government has restricted travels between provinces and cities, banned large gatherings and imposed a nighttime curfew in the capital Phnom Penh for two weeks from April 1.

Philippines reports record 382 deaths

The Philippines has recorded 382 deaths, the largest single-day increase in casualties, after previously unreported fatalities were validated then added to its tally.

The health ministry said total confirmed cases have increased to 812,760, after 9,373 infections were reported on Tuesday. Deaths have reached 13,817. "There were 341 deaths prior to April 2021 that went unreported," the ministry said. 

Russia reports 8,328 new cases, 389 deaths

Russia has reported 8,328 new cases, including 1,747 in Moscow, taking the official national tally to 4,597,868.

The government coronavirus task force said 389 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing its death toll to 101,106. The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a much higher toll of more than 225,000 from April 2020 to February. 

South Korea not ruling out curbing vaccine exports

Health officials in South Korea are considering measures to prevent a shortage in coronavirus vaccines and haven't specifically ruled out curbing exports of AstraZeneca shots produced in the country.

Concern has been growing about delayed shipments of vaccines as the United States, European countries and India take steps to strengthen control over vaccine exports to deal with shortages at home.

When asked about the possibility of South Korea restricting vaccine exports, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency official Jeong Yoo-jin said Tuesday she wa sn’t yet able to comment on specific steps but added that officials were reviewing “as much possible measures” they could.

South Korea has wrestled with a slower rollout of vaccines than many other developed economies after officials insisted on a wait-and-see approach because its outbreak wasn’t as dire as in America and Europe.

Italian police make virus checks on public transport

Police in Italy are carrying out checks on the public transport system, swabbing hundreds of surfaces on trains, underground and buses across the country for traces of the virus.

In a statement, police said agents dedicated to health safety tested 693 vehicles and of those 65 were found to be lacking in safety measures such as sanitisation, hand sanitizer dispensers, and signs explaining rules.

Health inspectors used 756 swabs to test surfaces on transportation and in stations such as handrails and stop request buttons, of which 32 in Rome and the larger Lazio region resulted positive to genetic material traceable to the virus.

Although this genetic material on surfaces does not indicate virulence, it shows that people who were positive for the virus used those means of transport and left a viral trace.

New Zealand-Australia travel bubble to start on April 19

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will start on April 19.

Ardern said the conditions for starting to open up quarantine-free travel with Australia have been met.

"Our team's success in managing and keeping it out over the past 12 months now opens up the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and resume Trans-Tasman travel," Ardern said in a news conference. 

India reports 96,982 new cases

India has reported 96,982 new infections overnight, taking the overall tally of cases to 12.7 million, data from health ministry showed on.

The country reported 446 deaths, taking the total to 165,547, data showed.

India's caseload is the third-highest globally behind the United States and Brazil. 

South Korea says considering all options including vaccine export curbs

South Korean health authorities are considering all options to secure enough coronavirus vaccine supplies, a top vaccine official said in response to questions about possible export curbs on locally made vaccines.

Australia short of 3 mln AstraZeneca vaccine doses 

Australia has said it had not yet received more than 3 million doses of previously promised AstraZeneca vaccine doses amid export curbs by the European Union, leaving a major hole in its early nationwide inoculation drive.

Authorities had pledged to administer at least 4 million first doses of the vaccine by end-March, but could only vaccinate 670,000 after the European Union blocked AstraZeneca vaccine exports to Australia in the wake of the drugmaker's failure to meet its shipment pledge to the bloc.

"We were scheduled to have received over 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from overseas by now, which have not arrived in Australia because of the problems with shipments that we've seen happening here and in other parts of the world," Acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told Sky News.

Australia began vaccinations much later than some other countries due to low case numbers, recording just under 29,400 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. But the AstraZeneca dose delay leaves it struggling to step up the pace of its vaccination drive.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 6,885 

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 6,885 to 2,900,768, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 90 to 77,103, the tally showed. 

UN COVAX programme ramps up but inequity persists

The United Nations has said that the UN-backed programme to provide Covid-19 vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people has delivered more than 36 million doses to 86 poor and developing countries to date.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday that COVAX expects to allocate 201 million doses by the end of May. 

Still, he stressed that “the issue of vaccine inequity and unequal distribution of the vaccine remains clear for all to see and remains troubling.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said on March 26 that “60 percent of the Covid vaccine supply was reserved by a handful of wealthy countries," adding that “some developing countries may not receive the vaccine until 2024.”

Dujarric again urged greater financial support to the COVAX facility, which is part of the World Health Organization’s ACT-Accelerator programme. 

The ACT-Accelerator said last week that despite donor contributions amounting to $11 billion, it needs an additional $22.1 billion in 2021 to fund the delivery of over 2 billion doses of vaccines, 900 million tests and up to 100 million new treatment courses.

North Korea says will not go to Olympics over Covid fears

North Korea will not attend this year's Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pyongyang's sports ministry said, blowing the final whistle on Seoul's hopes of using the Games to restart talks with its nuclear-armed neighbour.

The isolated North's participation in the last Winter Games, hosted by the South in Pyeongchang, was a key catalyst in the diplomatic rapprochement of 2018.

Leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong attended as his envoy in a blaze of publicity, and the South's President Moon Jae-in seized the opportunity to broker talks between Pyongyang and Washington that led to a series of high-profile meetings between Kim and then US president Donald Trump.

But Pyongyang's announcement puts an end to Seoul's hopes of using the postponed Tokyo Games, due to begin in July, to kick off a reset in the now deadlocked talks process.

Brazil sees over 1,300 fatalities

Brazil has recorded 28,645 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 1,319 deaths from Covid-19, according to the country's Health Ministry.

Brazil has registered more than 13 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to332,752, according to ministry data released on Monday.

Africa needs $12B for vaccines - World Bank

The World Bank estimates that Africa would need about $12 billion for Covid-19 vaccines and their distribution to attain sufficient levels of vaccination coverage to interrupt virus transmission, according to new paper by the bank and the IMF.

The paper argued for a further extension of the Group of 20's debt service moratorium through year-end, noting the continued high liquidity needs of developing countries and their deteriorating debt sustainability outlooks.

It said the amount of money Africa needed to interrupt transmission of the virus was about the same as the total amount of official debt service payments already deferred by 45 of the poorest countries participating in the G20's Debt ServiceSuspension Initiative.

UK to ease lockdown next week

Britain’s slow but steady march out of a three-month lockdown remains on track even as coronavirus cases surge elsewhere in Europe, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced, as he confirmed that businesses from barbers to bookstores will be allowed to reopen next week.

Johnson said it’s too soon to decide, however, whether UK residents will be able to have summer trips abroad. 

He confirmed that the government will test out a contentious “vaccine passport” system – a way for people to offer proof they have protection from Covid-19 – as a tool to help travel and large events return safely.

Four weeks after England took its first step out of lockdown by reopening schools, Johnson said Britain’s vaccination program was proceeding well and infections were falling. He said the next step would come as planned on April 12, with the reopening of hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, nonessential shops and bar and restaurant patios.

“We set out our road map and we’re sticking to it,” Johnson said during a news conference.

But, he added, “We can’t be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries, and we’ve seen how t his story goes.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies