Covid-19 has killed more than 3.3M people and infected more than 162.2M globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for May 14:
Friday, May 14:
WHO says vaccinated should still mask up in high-risk areas
Even after receiving jabs, people should wear face masks in areas where the virus is spreading, the WHO has said, after the US decided the vaccinated do not need masks.
"Vaccines are life-saving but on their own, they are not enough," the World Health Organization told AFP news agecy in an email.
The comment followed a decision by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday to lift mask-wearing guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Almost 60 percent of US adults now have one or both doses, while cases are falling fast, down to a seven-day-average of 38,000, or 11 per 100,000.
Italy reports over 7,500 new cases
Italy has reported 182 deaths against 201 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 7,567 from 8,085.
Italy has registered 123,927 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 4.15 million cases to date.
UK reports over 2,000 new cases
Britain has reported 17 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test and a further 2,193 cases of the disease, down from 2,657 new cases the day before.
Government data showed that 36.1 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine.
Italy lifts quarantine for EU, UK and Israel
Italy will scrap mandatory quarantine from Sunday for visitors from the European Union, Britain and Israel who test negative, the government has said as it looks to give summer tourism a boost.
With vaccine roll-outs picking up pace in the EU, more countries are looking to ease travel curbs and restrictions on the hospitality sector to help it recover from the pandemic.
"We have been waiting for this move for a long time and it anticipates an Europe-wide travel pass," said Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia.
Erdogan: Turkey to emerge cautiously from lockdown
Turkey will ease cautiously out of a full lockdown next week and lift restrictions more significantly in June, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said as cases have come down sharply from the peak of a second wave of the pandemic.
Erdogan said that a "controlled normalisation calendar" would start on Monday.
The downward trend in the number of daily cases in Turkey continued as the country reported over 11.300 new coronavirus cases, according to the Health Ministry data.
A total of 11,394 cases, including 1,102 symptomatic patients, were confirmed across the country, the data showed.
Turkey's overall case tally is over 5.09 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 44,301, with 242 fatalities over the past day.
Slovakia ends state of emergency
Slovakia has ended a state of emergency as the pandemic has receded, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said.
Heger cautioned that the struggle against the pandemic was not over, called for people to continue behaving responsibly, and said vaccination was the key to overcoming the virus.
Japan expands virus emergency ahead of Tokyo Olympics
Japan further expanded a state of emergency, currently in Tokyo and five other prefectures, to nine areas, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government determined to hold the Olympics just two months later.
Japan has been struggling to slow the infections ahead of the Games. The three additions include Japan’s northern island state of Hokkaido, where the Olympic marathon will be held, as well as Hiroshima and Okayama in western Japan.
The three areas on Sunday will join Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures already under the coronavirus restrictions, until May 31, Suga announced at a government taskforce meeting Friday.
Bars, karaoke parlors and most entertainment facilities are required to close. Business owners who comply will be compensated; those who don't could face fines.
“Infections are escalating extremely rapidly in populated areas," Suga said while explaining the decision.
His government is under heavy pressure from the public increasingly frustrated by the slow vaccine rollout and repeated emergency declarations. Many now oppose hosting the Olymics July 23-Aug. 8, and people appear to be less cooperative with stay-at-home and social-distancing requests that are not compulsory anyway.
Less than 2% of the public has been fully vaccinated.
France adds Bahrain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay to list of Covid risk countries
France added Bahrain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay to its list of countries deemed as high risk zones, which will mean that people arriving from those countries will have to undergo protocol measures such as quarantining on arrival.
The French Prime Minister's department added on Friday that those quarantine measures for travellers from those count ries would take effect from May 16, as France aims to ensure that its third-wave of the virus recedes.
In April, France had put Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India on its list of high-risk countries, requiring people arriving from those countries to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in France.
Sri Lanka to get World Bank vaccine funding help
The World Bank said it has signed an agreement with Sri Lanka to provide $80.5 million to help the island nation’s vaccination drive against Covid-19.
The funding comes as Sri Lanka is facing a severe shortage of vaccines because of the current crisis in neighboring India, which had earlier promised to give the vaccines to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka began it’s vaccination drive on Jan. 29 and in the first round, 925,242 people were vaccinated using Oxford-AstraZeneca shots.
At present, Sri Lanka's health ministry has about 350,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZe neca and as a result, there is a shortage of 600,000 doses in order to complete administering second doses.
Sri Lanka is currently using 600,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine and 15,000 of Sputnik V to give a first dose to others.
Cannot rule out Covid-19 escaped from lab, say leading scientists
A group of distinguished scientists wrote a letter to the journal Science, emphasizing that until proven otherwise, the possibility that covid-19 escaped from a lab should be taken seriously.
Covid-19 has killed 3.34 million people, impacted the lives of billions, and cost the world trillions of dollars.
The letter was signed by 18 scientists, from Cambridge, Stanford, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, among others.
England to reopen and monitor Indian virus variant
England will continue to gradually lift covid-19 restrictions, in spite of concerns over a coronavirus variant that first emerged in India. The vaccines minister said the relaxed policies were because vaccines are working, and there was no evidence that the B.1.617.2 variant had a more severe impact on people or was able to escape the vaccines.
Russia reports stable Covid-19 infection rates
On Friday, Russia reported 9,462 new Covid-19 cases, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 4,922,901.
The government coronavirus task force also reported 393 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 115,116.
Russia has maintained steady rates for the past thirty days, with no signs of growing infection rates.
India's cases above 24 million as mutant spreads across globe
The number of recorded infections in India climbed above 24 million amid reports that the highly transmissible mutant first detected in the country was fast spreading across the globe.
The Indian B.1.617 variant of the virus has been found in cases in eight countries of the Americas, including Canada and the United States, said Jairo Mendez, a WHO infectious diseases expert.
People infected by the variant included travellers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe. In the Cari bbean, cases of the Indian variant have been detected in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.
The mutant strain has also been detected in Britain, as well as in Singapore.
"These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences," Mendez said. "The only worry is that they spread faster."
Singapore tightens curbs on social gatherings, dining
Singapore announced the strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since easing a lockdown last year, amid a rise in locally acquired infections and with new coronavirus clusters forming in recent weeks.
The new measures announced by the health ministry, which will be effective from Sunday to mid June, include limiting social gatherings to two people and ceasing dining in at restaurants. The authorities said they will review the measures after two weeks to assess if adjustments are needed.
Philippine president eases lockdown in capital
The Philippine president has eased a lockdown in the bustling capital and adjacent provinces to fight economic recession and hunger but still barred public gatherings this month, when many Roman Catholic summer religious festivals are held.
After an alarming surge in infections that started in March started to ease, President Rodrigo Duterte announced in televised remarks Thursday night that Metropolitan Manila and four nearby provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, would be placed under a so-called “general community quarantine,” which allows essential businesses and tourist destinations to expand operations, in the last half of the month.
But he said religious fiestas in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation would remain prohibited.
“Forgo to congregate, to crowd and to hold,” Duterte said, warning village officials he would hold them responsible if quarantine restrictions were breached. “You go out, you just go hunting for the virus to enter your body and pass it on and that is a problem.”
Confirmed infections started to spike in March to some of the worst levels in Asia, surging beyond 10,000 daily and prompting Duterte to impose a lockdown in the capital and nearby regions in April.
The Philippines has reported more than 1,120,000 infections with 18,821 deaths, the second highest totals in Southeast Asia.
India reports daily rise in cases of 343,144
India reports 343,144 new cases over the last 24 hours, taking its overall caseload past the 24 million mark, while deaths rose by 4,000.
The South Asian nation has added nearly 1.4 million cases and over 16,000 deaths this week. Its total caseload now stands at 24.05 million while total fatalities are at 262,317, according to health ministry data.
Germany's confirmed cases rise by 11,336 - RKI
The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 11,336 to 3,577,040, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.
The reported death toll rose by 190 to 85,848, the tally showed.
At least 1.3B coronavirus vaccine jabs administered worldwide
More than 1.37 billion coronavirus vaccine jabs have been given worldwide, according to data gathered by the Our World in Data website.
China is the most vaccinated country with 254.3 million jabs, said the site, followed by the US with more than 260 million. India has 176.5 million, the UK with 54.2 million, Brazil has given 49.2 million shots to its residents, Germany has 36.8 million and France with more than 26 .8 million vaccine jabs.
The list continues with Turkey with over 25.5 million jabs, followed by Italy, Russia and Indonesia.
The country with the most doses of the vaccine in terms of population was the East African island nation of Seychelles, with 132 doses per 100 people.
Study: Delayed second Pfizer shot produces more antibodies
Pfizer's vaccine generates antibody responses three-and-a-half times larger in older people when a second dose is delayed to 12 weeks after the first, a British study said.
The study is the first to directly compare immune responses of the Pfizer shot from the three-week dosing interval tested in clinical trials, and the extended 12-week interval that British officials recommend in order to give more vulnerable people at least some protection quickly.
After Britain moved to extend the interval between doses, Pfizer and vaccine partner BioNTech said there was no data to back up the move. However, Pfizer has said that public health considerations outside of the clinical trials might be taken into consideration.
"Our study demonstrates that peak antibody responses after the second Pfizer vaccine are markedly enhanced in older people when this is delayed to 12 weeks," Helen Parry, an author of the study based at the University of Birmingham, said.
Mainland China reports first transmissions in over three weeks
Mainland China reported seven new cases, including its first local transmissions in more than three weeks, the country's national health authority said.
Two of the new cases were local infections in the eastern province of Anhui, the National Health Commission said in a statement. The cases were the first local transmissions since April 20, when China recorded two local infections in the southwestern province of Yunnan, where a city on the border with Myanmar reported a new cluster in late March.
The other five cases announced were imported infections originating overseas. The commission had reported nine cases a day earlier, all imported.
Nearly 12,000 lives saved by vaccines so far in England
The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in England has prevented nearly 12,000 deaths and more than 30,000 hospitalisations in older people, an analysis by government agency Public Health England (PHE) said.
Britain has given two-thirds of its adult population at least one shot of Covid-19 vaccine, helping Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his efforts to reopen the economy by the summer.
Up until the end of April, the Covid-19 vaccination programme prevented 11,700 deaths in people aged 60 or over in England, PHE said.
An estimated 33,000 hospitalisations of people aged 65 and above had been avoided in the same period.
The PHE figures did not cover Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, whose devolved governments make their own policy on combatting the pandemic.
Mexico reports 3,632 new cases
Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 3,632 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 311 more deaths, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 2,375,115 and fatalities to 219,901.
Separate government data published in March suggested the real death toll may be at least 60 percent above the confirmed figure.