The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 2.8M people and infected over 130M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for April 2:

Nearly 58 million people are fully vaccinated, either with a single-dose or two-shot regimen in US.
Nearly 58 million people are fully vaccinated, either with a single-dose or two-shot regimen in US. (Reuters)

Friday, April 2:

US administers vaccine to more than 30% population 

The United States has administered at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to more than 100 million people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The 101,804,762 people who have received at least one dose represents more than 30 percent of the US population, according to CDC data.

Nearly 58 million of those people are fully vaccinated, either with a single-dose or two-shot regimen. More than half of that number are people aged 65 and older.

As the vaccination campaign ramps up significantly in the country hardest hit by Covid-19, President Joe Biden promised last week that 90 percent of adults in America would be eligible to receive the vaccine by April 19.

Biden has pledged that 200 million doses would be administered in his first 100 days in office, doubling an initial target which was met in late March.

Turkey reports record high cases

Turkey has reported more than 42,000 new virus cases, the Health Ministry said, the highest single-day spike since the beginning of the pandemic.

A total of 42,308 cases, including 1,471 symptomatic patients, were registered across the country over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 3.4 million.

The nationwide death toll has reached 31,892 with 179 more fatalities over the past day.

As many as 24,419 more patients won the battle against the disease, raising the number of recoveries to over 3 million.

France sees biggest jump in intensive care patients

France has reported that 5,254 people were in intensive care units with Covid-19, an increase of 145 people in one day and the highest daily increase in five months.

New confirmed cases also jumped by the highest week-on-week rate since the end of November, when France was in its second nationwide lockdown.

The ministry reported 46,677 new cases, 6.2 percent more than a week ago, taking the total to 4.74 million cases.

Kenya stops private import of vaccines

Kenya has ordered an immediate halt to imports of vaccines by private companies, the health minister said, adding such shipments were unlicensed and potentially dangerous because the shots could be counterfeit.

Kenya, which went into a partial lockdown on March 26 after a surge of infections and deaths, has started vaccinating its citizens using just over 1 million shots secured through the global Covax vaccine-sharing facility.

At least one private firm has also brought in shots of the Sputnik V vaccine, according to Kenyan news media, who say the shots are being sold for about around $150 (16,000 shillings) for a double dose.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe told a news conference the government had resolved to stop the practice, without identifying any company or vaccine.

"There will be no licensing of private players in the importation of vaccines and any such license given will be and is hereby cancelled," Kagwe said.

The government, which does not charge for shots, will be the sole agent of vaccination until further notice, he said. Those who break the rule will be prosecuted.

Italy reports 481 deaths

Italy has reported 481 virus-related deaths against 501 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections decreased to 21,932 from 23,649.

Italy has registered 110,328 deaths linked to Covid-19 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 3.6 million cases to date.

CDC discourages Americans from travel

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely travel at "low risk" but still discouraged Americans from doing so because of high coronavirus cases nationwide.

The CDC's shift in guidance should be a shot in the arm for the travel industry, which is still struggling from the dip in passengers since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

But CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters that, despite the new guidance for vaccinated people, now was not a good time to take a trip.

"We know that right now we have a surging number of cases. I would advocate against general travel overall," she said. "We are not recommending travel at this time, especially for unvaccinated individuals."

Johnson & Johnson testing vaccine on teens

Johnson & Johnson has started testing its vaccine on adolescents, beginning with those ages 16 and 17.

The teens will be added to an ongoing study of the vaccine in adults that began last September, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker said. After initial data from the older teens is reviewed, the trial will expand to add adolescents ages 12 to 15.

J&J says the first teens are being enrolled in the United Kingdom and Spain. Teens in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands will be added, followed by teens in Brazil and Argentina.

The study is testing the safety and efficacy of both one-dose and two-dose regimens of the vaccine, with the two-dose regimens being studied at intervals of one, two and three months after the first shot.

England to ban travel from four new countries

Britain has said it will add Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines to its travel "red list", banning entry to people arriving from those countries unless they are British or Irish nationals.

Those who come to Britain from countries on the red list will be refused entry, while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

From 4 am on April 9, Pakistan, Kenya, the Philippines and Bangladesh will be put on the list, the government said, joining about three dozen other nations mainly in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

Severe travel curbs in South America

South American nations have severely tightened coronavirus travel curbs including shutting their borders with Brazil, where infections are spiralling, as the WHO slammed Europe's "unacceptably slow" vaccine roll out.

Spikes in South America have reached alarming levels, fuelled by a more contagious variant first detected in Brazil, as Chile closed all borders, Bolivia sealed its frontier with Brazil, and Peru went into a lockdown over Easter.

Ecuador's president also announced fresh curbs against an outbreak he described as a "public calamity".

Austria to give Czech Republic 30,000 doses of vaccine

Austria will provide the Czech Republic with 30,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's office has said in what it called a display of solidarity after it felt the European Union did not do enough to help its neighbour.

After days of negotiations, EU ambassadors on Thursday agreed to change the bloc's vaccine distribution system for 10 million BioNTech-Pfizer doses due to be delivered in the second quarter, so needier countries could receive more.

Of those 10 million doses, 2.8 5 million so-called "solidarity vaccines" will be shared between five countries - Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia.

Austria said on Thursday night it was "incomprehensible" that it's neighbour the Czech Republic, which has been hit hard by the more dangerous British variant of virus, was not given more doses. 

Hong Kong bars incoming Singapore Airlines flights 

Hong Kong has barred incoming passenger flights from Singapore operated by Singapore Airlines until mid April, after a positive Covid-19 case was found on a flight.

Three passengers on the March 31 flight also failed to comply with requirements specified under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation, Hong Kong authorities said.

Singapore Airlines confirmed the order but said passenger services from Hong Kong to Singapore would not be affected. The suspension applies until April 16.

"We will continue to work with the authorities to ensure that all passengers meet the regulatory requirements for entry into Hong Kong," it said in a statement.

Vietnam asks for foreign support in procuring vaccines

Vietnam has appealed to diplomats from the United States, European Union and Japan to help it secure supplies of virus vaccines, as part of efforts to acquire the 150 million doses needed to cover its adult population.

Vietnam has received about 930,000 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine so far but wants to procure doses from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, China's Sinovac, and Russia's Sputnik V shot.

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long on Thursday asked Japan's embassy for help with technology transfer for vaccine production and testing in Vietnam, the ministry said in a statement.

Long also asked the US ambassador for help with accelerating Vietnam's inoculation programme and securing access to vaccines from US drugmakers, and told EU representatives he hoped European pharmaceutical firms would consider more investment in Vietnam, the statement said.

Kazakhstan posts virus high

Kazakhstan posted its highest daily number of coronavirus cases, as a slow vaccine rollout stokes fears of another nightmare summer in former Soviet Central Asia.

According to official statistics the country posted 2,077 new cases, a record since the beginning of the pandemic.

The largest city Almaty, an overall leader in terms of cases, last month broke its coronavirus cases record several times, as health officials warned that fast-spreading British and South African strains of the disease were now in the country.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev strongly criticised his government's slow vaccine rollout of a locally produced version of Russia's Sputnik V jab on Thursday, noting that only 47,000 people in the country of 19 million people had been fully vaccinated.

Bulgaria to receive 'solidarity' vaccines

Bulgaria will receive more than 1.2 million additional doses of Covid-19 vaccine produced by BioNTech and Pfizer in the second quarter, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has said.

Most European Union member states agreed late on Thursday to share part of 10 million BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine deliveries with Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia, countries they said were most in need.

But Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Friday criticised that deal as unbalanced, saying he did not understand how the European Union could agree on such a plan when the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia opposed it, he told CTK news agency.

Bulgaria, which has the slowest inoculation rate in the EU, will receive 1.26 million doses out of 2.85 million so-called "solidarity vaccines" for the five EU members.

Russia says 20 manufacturers worldwide have Sputnik V vaccine production agreements

Russia has agreements with 20 manufacturers in 10 countries worldwide to produce its Sputnik V vaccine, Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that markets the shot internationally, said.

During a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Dmitriev said India and South Korea were already producing Sputnik V and that many of the 20 manufacturers would reach full capacity in April. 

Turkey begins rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Turkey has begun inoculating its citizens with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The first dose was administered in Ankara. Citizens who prefer it over the Sinovac vaccine can request it during their vaccination appointment.

Meanwhile, Turkey is expected to roll out its first locally produced Covid-19 vaccine by the end of summer, the country's health minister has said.

"I believe that our first vaccine will be ready and successful by August, September, by the summer term," Koca said.

Brazil exhumes old graves to make space as Covid-19 deaths soar

Brazil's biggest city sped up efforts to empty old graves, making room for a soaring number of Covid-19 deaths as Sao Paulo city hall registered record daily burials this week.

Gravediggers in the Vila Nova Cachoeirinha cemetery in the city's northern reaches worked in white hazmat suits to open the tombs of people buried years ago, bagging decomposed remains for removal to another location.

Relocating remains is standard in cemetery operations, said the municipal secretary responsible for funeral services, in a statement.

India reports six-month high of daily infections amid new curbs

India reported 81,466 new infections, the highest daily number in six months, as several states were hit by a second wave of the coronavirus.

Health ministry data showed the total number of cases surged to 12.3 million, making India the third-most hit country from the virus after the United States and Brazil. The number of those dead rose by 469 to 163,396.

Vaccination drives have been intensified amid the recent surge of cases, and many states are considering imposing fresh curbs on movement of people.

Mexico reports 5,381 new cases, 454 deaths

Mexico reported 5,381 new confirmed cases and 454 more fatalities, bringing the country's total to 2,244,268 infections and 203,664 deaths, according to data from the health ministry.

The government says the real case numbers are likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently by the health ministry suggested the actual death toll from coronavirus may be at least 60 percent above the confirmed figure.

Australia's Queensland state starts Easter weekend with no new cases

Australia's state of Queensland that has been battling a small outbreak recorded no new cases as the country began what the Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a 'sacred' long Easter weekend.

On Thursday, a three-day snap lockdown was lifted on the state's capital Brisbane, as authorities managed to contain the spread of the virus that quickly grew to 18 cases.

However, the economic costs out the outbreak is expected to be significant.

Australian media reported that many have cancelled their plans to visit the state, a popular destination for domestic travelers over the Easter break and subsequent school term holidays.

The tourism industry is expected to lose $27 million.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 21,888 - RKI

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 21,888 to 2,855,061, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by 232 to 76,775, the tally showed. 

Ireland adds 26 countries to mandatory quarantine list, removes one

The Irish government added 26 countries to a list of states subject to mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival because of the coronavirus, but did not include additional countries from the European Union or the United States.

According to a report in the Irish Independent newspaper, the government had been advised by the Chief Medical Officer to add 43 countries including the United States, France, Germany and Italy to a list of jurisdictions subject to 12-day hotel quarantine on arrival.

Ukraine reports record daily high of 19,893 new cases

Ukraine reported record daily high of 19,893 new cases over the past 24 hours, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said.

The previous high of 18,132 cases was registered on March 26. Ukraine reported a total of 1,711,630 cases with 33,679 deaths as of April 2. 

Australia investigates possible link of blood clot case to AstraZeneca vaccine

Australia is investigating whether a blood clotting disorder case recorded is related to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd said.

Australian media reported that a 44-year-old man was admitted to a Melbourne hospital with possible clotting days after receiving the vaccine.

"Investigators have not at this time confirmed a causal link with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but investigations are ongoing," Kidd told a televised briefing.

China vaccine maker Sinovac says doubles production capacity

Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac said a third production line for its vaccine has been put into use, doubling its annual capacity of the jabs to two billion doses.

Its CoronaVac is one of four domestic vaccines given conditional approval by Chinese authorities, which helps rush emergency drugs to market.

On Wednesday, experts from the World Health Organization said an interim analysis of clinical trial data from two Chinese vaccines, including Sinovac's product, showed they demonstrated "safety and good efficacy", although more data is still needed.

Brazil reports 91,097 new cases, 3,769 deaths

Brazil has recorded 91,097 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 3,769 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has registered nearly 13 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to325,284, according to ministry data

UK regulator found total of 30 cases of blood clot events after AstraZeneca vaccine use

British regulators have said they have identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events after the useo f the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, 25 more than the agency previously reported.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said it had received no such reports of clotting events following use of the vaccine made by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc.

UK offers £400 mn to aid culture's Covid recovery

Britain is to offer hundreds of millions of pounds in grants to aid the recovery of cultural venues and heritage sites hit by the pandemic, the government has announced.

Some 2,700 organisations including the Glastonbury music festival will benefit from the grants which amount to £400 million ($550 million and 470 million euros), the ministry of culture said in a statement.

The money is part of a £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund set up by the government to help the ailing sector survive with venues shuttered amid restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

France to ban outdoor drinking under new restrictions

Alcoholic drinks will be prohibited in French parks and other outdoor public spaces as part of the new limited nationwide lockdown to stem the Covid-19 crisis, Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced.

Addressing the National Assembly, Castex also said authorities would be quick to disperse groups of more than six people on riverbanks or squares after the new restrictions unveiled by President Emmanuel Macron late Wednesday.

Castex said he "unreservedly" condemned people who had not been respecting the rules, after images emerged of beer-swigging crowds on riverbanks in the spring sunshine in cities including Paris and Lyon.

Meanwhile, prosecutors should "systematically" probe organisers of clandestine parties for putting the lives of others in danger, he added.

Madagascar joins Covax after vaccine u-turn

Madagascar's health minister has announced the country had joined the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme, following through with a recent pledge to roll out jabs after months of resistance from the president.

Vaccination has yet to begin on the Indian Ocean island nation, where President Andry Rajoelina took a hard-line stance against jabs that most other governments scrambled to secure.

Instead, Rajoelina relentlessly stood by a locally-made herbal infusion he claims is a coronavirus "cure", saying last month that he was in no hurry to launch mass inoculations for his citizens nor get a jab himself.

But heavy criticism forced him to make a U-turn last week, when his office said the government would "seek" and "use" vaccines against Covid-19.

Madagascar, an island of around 27 million inhabitants, has recorded more than 24,600 coronavirus cases, including at least 433 deaths.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies