Coronavirus live news: France to launch J&J vaccine rollout; India sees over 200,000 new cases again | World news
Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said Greece will reopen for tourism from 15 May as infections begin to level off in the Mediterranean country due to vaccinations.
“The vaccines, the self-tests and the better weather make us confident that this unprecedented adventure is ending,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address reported by Reuters.
He warned that case rates remained high and called on people to avoid travel over the Orthodox Eastern weekend, which starts on 30 April.
“I have said that our aim is for a safe Easter, and a free summer,” he said.
The country aims to reopen restaurants at the beginning of May, state minister George Gerapetritis said, according to media reports, with outdoor dining set to return after Easter.
The UK has reported a further 2,396 new Covid-19 cases as well as 22 deaths, according to government data.
Wednesday’s figures compare with 2,491 cases and 38 fatalities a week ago.
The seven-day rolling average, which evens out reporting irregularities in the daily figures, shows that cases are down by 9.4% compared with the previous week (8-14 April).
Fatalities have decreased by 28.2% by the same measure.
107,622 people in the UK received their first dose of a vaccine yesterday, and 350,027 received their second dose. This means 62.9% of adults have had a first dose, and 20.5% have had a second dose.
That’s it from me for now — Rhi Storer — for the afternoon. I’ll now hand the liveblog back over to my colleague Clea Skopeliti.
My colleagues Ashley Kirk, Michael Safi and Pablo Gutiérrez have analysed vaccination rate data and coronavirus deaths data over the past six months. Their conclusions shows that the vast majority of the world is yet to see a substantial benefit.
Despite their life-saving capabilities, many countries have yet to administer enough doses to see real change. Supply shortages, safety concerns, public apathy and slow rollouts have resulted in most countries still being reliant on onerous lockdowns and other quarantine measures to reduce the severity of their outbreaks.
You can read about this in this interactive article here:
In a rather bizarre incident, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had completed its inspection of a plant that makes Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine with remediation of issues including peeling paint and loose debris at the site.
Emergent Biosolutions Inc, which owns the plant, earlier this week said it would stop production while the FDA conducted an inspection of the facility.
The FDA’s inspection report, cited failures including a failure properly train personnel to avoid cross contamination of Covid-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. They also reported the building used for manufacturing the components of the two vaccines was not a suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning and maintenance.
The facility has not been authorised by the regulator to manufacture or distribute any of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine or components and, to date, no vaccine manufactured at this plant has been distributed for use in the US.
Hi there, this is Rhi Storer taking over the liveblog from my colleague Clea Skopeliti for the next hour. Please send over your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or alternatively, you can message me on Twitter.
Sweden’s government has warned that coronavirus measures may be strengthened if people ignore existing restrictions as intensive care units in some regions hit capacity.
“There is no room now to start living as if the pandemic is already over. The infection rate does not go down by itself,” Reuters quotes the minister for health and social affairs, Lena Hallengren, as telling a news conference.
She did not rule out introducing stricter restrictions but did not specify what measures may be introduced.
Intensive care occupancy has risen to its highest level since the initial outbreak a year ago, with some regions hitting their limit. Across the nation, the number of available beds for those worst ill is below 20%.
Data from the European centre for disease control this week showed Sweden had among the highest number of new cases per capita in the EU during the last 14-day period, but paradoxically also among the lowest deaths.
The Swedish health agency has attributed this to vaccinations – 23.7% of the adult population has received at least one dose.
Oman will ban entry to travellers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh from 24 April, as part of measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, Omani state TV reported on Wednesday.
The travel ban comes amid a dramatic surge in coronavirus infections and deaths in India, which has recorded new cases over 200,000 for seven consecutive days.
The world’s second-most populous nation recorded 295,041 new infections on Wednesday – the highest daily figure reported in any country during the pandemic.
Syria receives first Covax vaccine doses
North-western Syria has received its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines, AFP’s correspondent reports, with the doses arriving in a Idlib on Wednesday.
Some 53,800 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine were sent to the rebel-dominated city via the WHO-backed Covax programme. Other regions of Syria will also receive doses through the scheme.
Regime-controlled areas have already begun vaccinating health workers, but not with doses from Covax.
“Today, we received the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines,” said Abdul Hamid al-Hussein of the Physicians Across Continents group which accompanied the shipment into Syria.
Mahmoud Daher, a senior official with the WHO, said the UN is ready to vaccinate Syria’s most vulnerable.
“Once the vaccines arrive, we are prepared to start vaccination to priority groups through our implementing partners,” he told AFP before the vaccines crossed into Idlib.
The first groups to be vaccinated will be medical workers and first aid responders, followed by people over 60. Younger people with chronic illnesses will get the vaccine next.
Police in Cambodia have come under fire for caning people who breached coronavirus restrictions during a two-week lockdown in the capital.
Despite still having one of the world’s lowest caseloads, authorities in Phnom Penh imposed a lockdown on 15 April following an outbreak beginning in late February, Reuters reports.
Police arrested lockdown breachers and beat some with rattan canes following breaches of lockdown. In some “red zone” districts of the city, people are banned people from leaving their homes except for medical reasons.
Cambodian human rights groups condemned the canings and arrests, saying that there were better ways to ensure people protected themselves and others from the coronavirus.
“We are shocked such severe punishments are used against people for some small infractions,” Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) echoed the concerns, with its executive director Chak Sopheap saying: “We are dismayed at footage showing use of force by authorities against individuals. Violence is never the answer.”
A police spokesman defended the arrests and beatings, saying that “a small number of people” didn’t follow the rules and police “must take measures to save their lives”.