06:20 GMT14 April 2021
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    The pandemic has claimed over 2.53 million lives worldwide, while the overall number of infected has surpassed 114 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

    The US is currently the worst-hit country, with around 28.6 million cases and over 513,000 COVID-linked deaths. Next is India with over 11 million cases and 157,000 deaths, and Brazil with more than 10.5 million cases and almost 255,500 fatalities. In the meantime, Mexico has the third-highest death toll in the world (over 185,000 deaths) while the number of infected in the country is around 2 million.

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    • 02:12

      Belgium Intends to Lift Ban on Tourist Travel by April 1

      BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - Belgium intends to lift the ban on optional, including tourist, trips outside of the country, introduced at the year start over the threat of new coronavirus strains' spread, by April 1, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

      According to De Croo, the Belgian authorities will soon prepare and send a response to the European Commission, in which they will indicate that the restrictions are "temporary in nature and concern only optional travel."

      Instead of a travel ban, the Belgian federal authorities are proposing that the regions negotiate stricter quarantine and testing rules.

      “We will have another tool that will allow us to restrict unnecessary travel,” the Belgian prime minister explained.

    • 01:04

      Czech Cabinet Imposes Mandatory Testing for COVID-19 at Enterprises, Firms, Minister Says

      PRAGUE (Sputnik) - Mandatory weekly testing for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is introduced from March 12 at enterprises and firms in the Czech Republic, Deputy Prime Minister and Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek said.

      "The government decided that from March 12, mandatory testing for the presence of coronavirus will be introduced once a week at enterprises and firms with 250 or more employees," Havlicek told reporters.

      "In smaller work collectives this measure will be introduced from March 15. For this, it will be enough to use antigen tests," he said.

    • 00:51

      Venezuela Approves Sinopharm Coronavirus Vaccine, Health Ministry Says

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Venezuelan authorities have approved the use of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine against the coronavirus, Venezuela’s Health Ministry informs.

      "Thanks to cooperation between China and Venezuela, we are taking care of the health and well-being of our people," the ministry said in a Monday statement.

    • 23:51

      Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire Become First Nations to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines From WHO’s COVAX Program

      Syringes and an empty vial of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are pictured in the Winding Wheel Theatre, Chesterfield, Britain

      Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire Become First Nations to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines From WHO’s COVAX Program

      Africa as a whole has suffered comparatively less deaths from the novel coronavirus compared to many industrialized nations, for reasons still not entirely clear. However, if global vaccination trends are not reversed, the continent’s deaths could continue long after they decline in other places.
      Read more
    • 23:18

      Moldova Intends to Urgently Buy 1 Million Doses of Coronavirus Vaccines

      CHISINAU (Sputnik) - Moldova intends to urgently buy 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, the country's cabinet said in a statement.

      "Moldovan Parliament President Zinaida Greceanii summoned members of the government led by acting Prime Minister Aureliu Ciocoi to a working meeting, she called to urgently find an opportunity to purchase a batch of 1 million doses of vaccine to immunize citizens," the cabinet said.

      "Ciocoi said the request would be considered urgently, after which the procedure for public procurement would begin," it said.

    • 22:04

      Nicaragua Starting Mass Coronavirus Vaccination Tuesday

      MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - Coronavirus vaccination is kicking off in Nicaragua on Tuesday after the first batch of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine was delivered to the country.

      "The government is ready to announce that tomorrow, March 2, we will start voluntary vaccination," Nicaragua’s Vice President Rosario Murillo said in a Monday televised address.

      According to Murillo, priority will be given to people with kidney failure, cancer and heart disease.

    • 22:01

      AstraZeneca Vaccine Not Recommended for Canadians Age 65 or Older, Advisory Committee States

      TORONTO (Sputnik) - The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) said it is not recommending AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for Canadians age 65 and older.

      "NACI does not recommend the use of this vaccine in individuals 65 years of age and older due to limited information on the efficacy of this vaccine in this age group at this time," the advisory committee said in its latest recommendations statement.

    • 20:59

      Colombia Becomes First Latin American Country to Get Vaccine via COVAX Facility

      MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - A batch of 117,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has arrived in Colombia on Monday via the COVAX global distribution facility, making it the first recipient on the continent and the second to Ghana globally.

      "A DHL flight brought to Colombia 117,000 vaccine doses from the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, acquired via the COVAX facility. This will help Colombia to advance the implementation of its national COVID-19 vaccination plan," the Colombian Presidency said on Twitter.

      Colombia expects to receive a total of 20 million doses via COVAX and 61.5 million doses from various producers overall throughout this year.

    • 20:23

      Lebanon Registers COVID-19 Vaccine by China's Sinopharm for Emergency Use

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Lebanon's Ministry of Public Health has granted an emergency use authorization to the inactivated coronavirus vaccine by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm, the Lebanese government's news agency NNA reported on Monday.

      The authorization was granted by Health Minister Hamad Hassan, according to the report.

      "At the request of the Lebanese side, the Chinese government decided to donate 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Lebanon to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic," Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian said on Twitter.

    • 19:54

      German Government Determined to Extend COVID-19 Lockdown Until Late March – Reports

      BERLIN (Sputnik) - The German government is determined to extend the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown until the end of March, Business Insider reported on Monday, citing government sources.

      According to the news outlet, the decision regarding the lockdown extension would be made during German Chancellor Angela Merkel's virtual meeting with the heads of the country's states that was scheduled for Wednesday.

    • 19:31

      Turkey Lifts COVID-19 Curfew in Low, Medium-Risk Provinces on Weekends, President Says

      ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that the coronavirus-related curfew has been lifted in low and medium-risk provinces on weekends, stressing that the country has started the return to a normal life.

      "Today, we have started a constructive return to a normal life. Everything will depend on the development of the pandemic situation in the country. We have divided the provinces into four categories: low, medium, high and very high risk for the coronavirus. In the first two categories, the curfew has been completely lifted on weekends. Cafes and restaurants have been opened in them, they will work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.," Erdogan told reporters, adding that in these provinces schools and state agencies would start to operate normally.

      The president noted that the curfew would stay in force on Sundays in the high and very high-risk provinces at least for a week, and the COVID-19 situation in the provinces would be assessed every week.

    • 19:21

      US Not Considering Sharing COVID-19 Vaccines With Mexico, Focus on Americans

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States is not considering sharing COVID-19 vaccines with Mexico at the moment, citing the Biden administration’s focus on vaccinating the American public, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Monday.

      Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to ask President Joe Biden for access to US supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine during their virtual bilateral meeting later in the day.

      “No, the President [Joe Biden] made clear that he is focused on ensuring vaccines are accessible to every American,” Psaki told reporters in response to a question about Lopez Obrador’s expected request.

    • 19:14

      Senior US Health Official Warns About Potential Surge in New COVID-19 Cases

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky warned on Monday about a potential surge in new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases after the declining trajectory appears to have stalled.

      "I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift of the trajectory of the pandemic," Walensky said in a press briefing. "The latest CDC data continue to suggest the recent declines in cases have leveled off at a very high number."

      Walensky said now is not the time for states to relax public health measures put in place to contain the disease, adding that the US public currently has the ability to stop a fourth surge of cases in the United States.

    • 18:05

      English Roadmap Out of Lockdown on Track Despite Brazilian Variant of COVID, UK Health Secretary Says

    • 17:58

      Biden's Focus is on Ensuring Every American is Vaccinated, White House Says

    • 17:27

      English Health Authority Says More Data Needed to See if Vaccines are Effective Against Brazilian Variant of Coronavirus

    • 17:21

      Turkey's Erdogan Announces Start of 'Controlled Normalisation' in COVID-19 Measures

    • 17:20

      UK Health Secretary Holds Press Conference Amid Concerns Over New Brazilian COVID Variant

      Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock gives an update on the COVID-19 pandemic

      UK Health Secretary Holds Press Conference Amid Concerns Over New Brazilian COVID Variant

      According to Public Health England (PHE), six cases of the Brazilian COVID-19 variant, known as P1, had as of Sunday been identified in the UK.
      Read more
    • 17:10

      Apple Says All US Stores Open for the First Time Since Outbreak of Pandemic

    • 16:29

      WHO Chief Calls Recent Surge in COVID-19 Cases 'Disappointing But Not Surprising'

      According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the number of new COVID-19 infections surged last week for the first time in seven weeks.

    • 16:28

      Italy Registers 246 COVID-19 Deaths, 13,114 New Cases on Monday

    • 16:17

      COVID-19 Could Have Long-Term Effect on Office Space Demand, Inflation, US Federal Reserve Governor Says

      WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The coronavirus pandemic may have dealt a long-term blow to demand for office and retail space in the United States, as well as on inflation expectations, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard told the Annual Washington Conference of the Institute of International Bankers on Monday.

      “Commercial real estate prices are susceptible to declines if the pace of distressed transactions picks up or if the pandemic leads to permanent changes in patterns of use”, Brainard said. “Low sensitivity of inflation to resource utilization could be expected to contribute to a low-for-long interest rate environment”.

      New York City’s commercial-real-estate sector put forth a proposal in December to turn some 1 million square feet of office space into housing as values of troubled retail properties sank 53 percent in 2020 from closures and inoccupancies forced by the pandemic measures, real-estate data platforms Trepp and CompStak reported.

      In terms of retail sales, online spending represented 21.3 percent of total sales for last year, up from just 5.1 percent a decade ago, according to industry group Digital Commerce 360 estimates. Pandemic-related boosts in online shopping itself have resulted in an additional $174.87 billion in e-commerce revenue in 2020, Digital Commerce 360 estimated.

      Brainard said the decline in demand for office space due to higher rates of remote work or for retail space due to a permanent shift toward online shopping could be among the long-term impacts of the pandemic.

      To prevent further erosion, the sector would need strong capital and liquidity from banks, which themselves faced significant challenges from higher-than-normal uncertainty, she said.

      “Some sectors of commercial real estate loans and commercial and industrial loans are more vulnerable than before the crisis”. Brainard said. “Although losses and delinquency rates on bank loans are currently low, performance could deteriorate as borrowers exit forbearance, with particularly hard-hit businesses and households facing arrears on rent and mortgage payments”.

      In terms of inflation, Brainard said the Federal Reserve’s long-term target of achieving a 2 percent inflation rate could be complicated by changes in the economic environment associated with low equilibrium interest rates, persistently below-target trend inflation, and low sensitivity of inflation to resource utilization.

      “In these kinds of environments, it is valuable to deploy macroprudential tools, such as the countercyclical capital buffer, to mitigate potential increases in financial imbalances”, Brainard added.

    • 16:03

      UK Gives First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine to 20.3 Million People

    • 15:42

      Italian Prime Minister Draghi Fires COVID Commissioner Over Pandemic Handling

    • 15:38

      Europe to Spend $240Mln on COVID-19 New Variant Diagnostics

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The European Commission plans to allocate 200 million euros ($241 million) to the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) Incubator in order to improve diagnostics of new COVID-19 variants in member states and help with the production of vaccines against them, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides stated on Monday.

      "200 million will be dedicated in our HERA Incubator to help all Member States step up diagnostics. More genomic sequencing, multiplex PCR tests and wastewater screening are a must for the coming month", she said during a videoconference of EU health ministers.

      Kyriakides stressed the need to increase the efficiency and speed of testing. To this end, the EC has spent over 100 million euros ($120 million) from the Emergency Support Instrument to buy 20 million rapid antigen tests and set up joint procurement exercise to procure another 550 million. The deliveries are expected to start later in the week, the commissioner stated.

      "The HERA Incubator will build on these reinforced diagnostic efforts. Through our sequencing, we will be building a library of variants. We will share this information with industry, in order to focus their efforts on producing variant vaccines", Kyriakides noted.

      According to the commissioner, the European Medicines Agency is working on streamlining regulatory procedures to ensure quick production of the variant vaccines and their roll-out in Europe.

    • 15:38

      Russia Working on COVID-19 Vaccine That Develops Cellular Immunity

      Seasonal flu and respiratory infection in Moscow

      Russia Working on COVID-19 Vaccine That Develops Cellular Immunity

      According to the head of the Russian Federal Medical‑Biological Agency, Veronika Skvortsova, the developers hope to start the clinical testing of the novel inoculation closer to July.
      Read more
    • 15:37

      Indian Lawmakers Split Over Taking COVID Vaccine

       A man receives a Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN, at a vaccination centre, in New Delhi, India, February 13, 2021

      ‘To Take the Jab or Not’: Indian Lawmakers in Dilemma Over Taking COVID Vaccine

      The second phase of the COVID vaccination drive in India kicked off on Monday. People aged above 60 and those over 45 with comorbidities are eligible to receive the jab during this phase. The COVID-19 vaccine is being given for free at government hospitals, while people will have to pay INR 250 ($3.40) for a jab at private hospitals.
      Read more
    • 15:37

      COVID-19 Has Not Spared Africa: Study Finds Massive Under-Reporting in Zambia

      FILE — In this Feb. 6, 2020, file photo, a man tries on a face mask at a pharmacy in Kitwe, Zambia. Facing financial difficulties aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, the southern African nation of Zambia seems to be headed for a default on debt owed to private investors

      COVID-19 Has Not Spared Africa: Study Finds Massive Under-Reporting in Zambia

      The study's authors were frank in their assessment of the “Africa paradox” of apparent low COVID-19 rates in the densely-populated and poverty-afflicted continent — simply putting it down to a failure to test patients even when they showed symptoms of the disease.
      Read more
    • 15:37

      EU to Propose Digital COVID-19 Vaccine 'Passport', von der Leyen Says as Travel Industry Woes Grow

      European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen looks on as she arrives at the European Parliament to explains the European Union's vaccine strategy to European Parliament, in Brussels, on February 10, 2021.

      EU to Propose Digital COVID-19 Vaccine 'Passport', von der Leyen Says as Travel Industry Woes Grow

      The announcement comes amid growing calls from EU member-states to adopt the passports amid concerns over a major decline in the bloc's tourism industry, with others stating the documents could be prematurely imposed amid a lack of understanding of current vaccination efforts.
      Read more
    • 14:49

      Japan Loses 1,000 Doses of Pfizer Vaccine Due to Freezer Failure, Report Says

      The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is taken out of the Ultra-Cold freezer at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., February 11, 2021.

      Japan Loses 1,000 Doses of Pfizer Vaccine Due to Freezer Failure, Report Says

      TOKYO (Sputnik) - The Japanese Health Ministry said on Monday that about 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus went bad at one of the country's hospitals as the result of a refrigerator failure, the Kyodo news agency reported.
      Read more
    • 14:49

      Mexico’s President Obrador Says Country Awaiting Response After Making Vaccine Request to Biden

    • 14:40

      AstraZeneca Sells Over $1Bln Stake in Moderna After Its Shares Skyrocket, Reports Say

      FILE PHOTO:The logo of AstraZeneca is seen on medication packages in a pharmacy in London

      AstraZeneca Sells Over $1Bln Stake in Moderna After Its Shares Skyrocket, Reports Say

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has sold its stake in the US Moderna company for roughly $1.2 billion after Moderna's shares skyrocketed following the company's breakthrough in the global market of vaccines against the coronavirus, The Times reported on Monday.
      Read more
    • 12:28

      Moscow Sees Growing Interest in Sputnik V, Says Countries Ready to Use National Certification Without EMA Approval

    • 11:22

      Finland Declares State of Emergency Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

    • 10:25

      Russian Vaccines Effective Against COVID Mutations 'Scaring Everyone in Europe', Putin Says

      Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19

      Russian Vaccines Effective Against COVID Mutations 'Scaring Everyone in Europe', Putin Says

      The mutated variants of the virus resulted in the tightening of pandemic restrictions in Europe, with the highly-virulent British strain forcing the UK to go into national lockdown, while many nations suspended travel to and from Britain, to curb the pandemic.
      Read more
    • 09:16

      Syria Starts Vaccinating Frontline Healthcare Workers Against Coronavirus, Report Says

    • 07:25

      UK May Start Vaccinating People Over 40 in March, Report Says

      Screen grab taken from video issued by Britain's Oxford University, showing microbiologist Elisa Granato, being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK for a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University, England, Thursday April 23, 2020

      UK May Start Vaccinating People Over 40 in March, Report Says

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The UK government will start vaccinating citizens over 40 against COVID-19 this month, as the vaccination campaign is weeks ahead of schedule, The Telegraph reported on Monday.
      Read more
    • 06:48

      London May Tighten Border Restrictions After New 'Brazilian' COVID Variant Detected in UK

      People walk on the Westminster Bridge, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak  in London, Britain, January 20, 2021

      London May Tighten Border Restrictions After New 'Brazilian' COVID Variant Detected in UK

      The P1 variant, which was first detected in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus in December, is thought to be similar to the so-called South African strain and responds less well to current vaccines.
      Read more
    • 05:15

      Less Than 10% of World’s Population Have Coronavirus Antibodies, WHO Chief Scientist Says

      A logo is pictured at the World Health Organization (WHO) building in Geneva, Switzerland, February 2, 2020. Picture taken February 2, 2020.

      Less Than 10% of World’s Population Have Coronavirus Antibodies, WHO Chief Scientist Says

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that less than 10 percent of the global population have antibodies to the coronavirus, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.
      Read more
    • 04:38

      Indian Prime Minister Gets First Shot of Coronavirus Vaccine

      India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives a dose of COVAXIN, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine developed by India's Bharat Biotech and the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi, India, March 1, 2021

      PM Modi Takes First Shot of Indian COVID-19 Vaccine as Second Phase of Inoculation Begins – Video

      The COVID-19 vaccine is being given for free at government hospitals, while people will need to pay INR 250 ($3.40) for it at private facilities. The inoculation drive began in India on 16 January and in the first phase frontline workers were given the jab.
      Read more
    • 04:36

      Brazil Confirms 34,027 New COVID-19 Cases

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