00:36 GMT17 April 2021
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    Global COVID-19 Cases Spike to Highest Level Post-Lockdown (321)
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    The global death toll from the coronavirus infection has topped 2.58 million, with over 116 million cases detected worldwide, according to US-based Johns Hopkins University, which tracks and compiles data from federal and local authorities, the media, and other sources.

    The US is still the most affected nation amid the pandemic, with over 28.9 million infected, and a death toll in excess of 524,000. Next is India (11.1 million cases, over 157,000 fatalities) and Brazil (over 10.9 million cases, more than 264,000 deaths).

    The US economy could take as long as two years to get back on track with the current rate of job growth in the country, President Joe Biden said as he pushed for the passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. 

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    • 20:55

      Slovakia Receives 15,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Doses as Gift From France

      PRAGUE (Sputnik) - France has fulfilled its pledge to send 15,000 AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine doses to Slovakia as a gift, Slovakian Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Sunday.

      "Slovakia received 15 thousand AstraZeneca vaccines from France in Bojnice [city in central Slovakia]," Matovic wrote on Facebook.

      He also noted that the vaccine shipment would go to use starting Monday, adding that the elderly aged 60-70 would receive jabs since recent studies showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by 94 percent in the fourth week after the first shot.

      The prime minister expressed gratitude to Paris for the shipment and for the latter's efforts to persuade the European Union to allocate 100,000 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to Bratislava.

    • 18:40

      Belarus to Launch Industrial Production of Sputnik V on 30-31 March

      Belarus will launch the industrial production of Sputnik V, a Russian vaccine against COVID-19, in late March, and a trial batch is already undergoing examination in Russia, Belarusian Deputy Health Minister Dmitry Cherednichenko said.

      "On 26 February, the first batch was released, the so-called validation batch [of Sputnik V vaccines] - 15,000 ampules, which are now undergoing examination at the Russian Gamaleya Institute for stability, efficacy, and so on. And from March 30-31, we [Belarus] will already start producing the vaccine and it is planned that ... 500,000 doses per month [will be produced]", the health official told the ONT broadcaster in an interview, aired on Sunday.

    • 17:59

      Montenegro Receives 2nd Batch of Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine

      Montenegro on Sunday received the second shipment of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developed in Russia, the Health Ministry said.

      The first 5,000-dose batch was delivered to Montenegro on 25 February.

      "Health Minister Jelena Borovinic Bojovic and the State Secretary of the Health Ministry Borko Bajic welcomed the second batch [at the Podgorica Airport]", the ministry said.

      Montenegro started inoculating the population with Sputnik V on 20 February, after Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic personally handed over 2,000 doses. The Montenegrin Health Ministry told Sputnik it was engaged in negotiations with the Russian government and the Gamaleya research institute on direct supplies from Russia.

    • 17:11

      France Records 21,185 New Cases, 130 New Fatalities

    • 16:53

      Italy Registers 20,765 New Cases, 207 New Fatalities

    • 16:11

      UK Reports 5,177 New Cases

    • 15:07

      German CDU Lawmaker to Quit Politics Over Mask Procurement Scandal, Reports Say

      Nikolas Lobel, a German lawmaker from the ruling Christian Democratic Party, will step down from politics after profiting from face mask procurement deals, the Deutsche Welle broadcaster reported on Sunday.

      According to the media outlet, Lobel's company earned commissions of some 250,000 euros (almost $298,000) for brokering sales contracts between a supplier in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg and private businesses in the cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg.

      "I take responsibility for my actions and draw the necessary political consequences", the lawmaker said, as quoted by the broadcaster.

      Lobel added that he would not run for the Bundestag after resigning from his parliamentary mandate.

      German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has condemned the politician's actions, saying it "destroys trust in democracy."

    • 14:45

      Sputnik V Arrives in North Macedonia

      North Macedonia on Sunday received the first shipment of the Russian-made Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the country's Health Minister Venko Filipce said.

      Earlier in the day, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said that North Macedonia became the 46th country to greenlight the use of Sputnik V.

      Filipce and Russian Ambassador to the Balkan country Sergey Bazdnikin visited the Skopje International Airport to welcome the plane.

      "The first batch of vaccines from Russia has just arrived in Macedonia ... I thank the ambassador of the Russian Federation for his personal contribution", the health minister told reporters at the airport.

      Bazdnikin, on his part, noted that the Russian vaccine had already been registered in 46 countries and that its arrival in Skopje was the result of cooperation with the country's authorities.

      Vaccination against the coronavirus in North Macedonia started after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic donated 8,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines in mid-February.

      North Macedonia has also signed an agreement with China's Sinopharm on the delivery of 200,000 vaccine doses as well as expects to get up to 170,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, via the COVAX initiative.

    • 14:18

      UK Prime Minister Defends Government’s Proposed 1% Pay Rise for Health Workers

      People walk past a mural praising the NHS (National Health Service) amidst the continuation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, London, Britain, March 5, 2021.

      UK Prime Minister Defends Government’s Proposed 1% Pay Rise for Health Workers

      LONDON (Sputnik) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended on Sunday a controversial one-percent pay rise proposal for health workers, claiming that the government is trying to give them "as much as we can" in the light of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      Read more
    • 13:52

      Global COVID-19 Cases Exceed 116.5 Mln

    • 13:45

      Austria Halts Inoculations With Batch of AstraZeneca’s COVID Vaccine After Woman’s Death

      Austria has halted inoculations with a batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses as a precaution after one vaccinated woman died and another developed pulmonary embolism, the Austrian Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) said on Sunday.

      According to BASG, a 49-year-old woman died due to severe coagulation disorders, while a 35-year-old woman with pulmonary embolism was already recovering. Both women received their COVID-19 vaccine doses from the same AstraZeneca batch at a health center in the Zwettl district in the Lower Austria state.

      "There is currently no evidence that proves of a link [of these incidents] to the vaccination," the agency said, adding that coagulation disorders are not among known side-effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

      The BASG specified that inoculations were suspended as a precaution and an investigation into these cases has been launched.

    • 13:15

      South African Police Warn People About Sale of Fake COVID-19 Vaccines

      The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Sunday warned that fake COVID-19 vaccines are available on the black market and told citizens to stay alert and not put themselves at health risk.

      Earlier this week, Interpol said that South Africa had seized fake coronavirus vaccines. The SAPS later disclosed details about the police operation that led to the arrest of four smugglers of counterfeit COVID-19 jabs at a warehouse in the northern Guateng province. According to the police, fake vaccines and masks worth nearly $400,000 were seized in mid-November. At the same time, the law enforcement agency warned that counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines are still being sold in the country.

      "The South African Police Service is advising members of the public to be wary of unscrupulous persons that are selling vaccines for Covid-19. No approved vaccines are currently available for sale online or physically," SAPS Col. Brenda Muridili said.

      Muridili added that people who purchase fake vaccines from organized crime groups are putting themselves at risk.

    • 12:04

      Sri Lanka Receives 1st Batch of COVID-19 Vaccines Via COVAX Facility

      Sri Lanka has received the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccines through the international COVAX facility ran by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN body said on Sunday.

      "Arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility in Sri Lanka marks another step in our goal to ensure equitable and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally," WHO said in a statement.

      The first delivery to the South Asian island country included 264,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. By May, Sri Lanka is expected to receive 1,440,000 doses.

      "The additional doses to cover 20% of Sri Lanka's population will arrive in the second half of 2021. All these doses are donor-funded and provided at no cost to Sri Lanka," WHO added.

      Sri Lanka rolled out its mass vaccination campaign in January after receiving the first 500,000 doses of the Covieshield vaccine — India's version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine — from New Delhi. The vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca have also been approved by the island nation's authorities. Earlier this week, Sri Lanka, as well, became the 43rd country to approve Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

      To date, the country has confirmed more than 85,000 cases of the virus, including 494 fatalities.

      Elsewhere in the world, Ethiopia has too received the first COVAX batch of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

      "The first batch of #COVID19 vaccines, 2.2 million doses of AstraZeneca, have arrived to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this morning, through the COVAX facility, a global partnership for equitable and timely access to COVID19 vaccines," Ethiopian Health Minister Lia Tadesse wrote on Twitter.

      Health workers and high-risk groups will be the first to be vaccinated in the East African country.

      Ethiopia has so far confirmed 165,029 COVID-19 cases and 2,420 related fatalities.

      COVAX aims to ship close to 2 billion doses of vaccines globally by the end of 2021. It has recently started a roll-out of Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines and is looking to add more to its portfolio.

    • 09:55

      China Ready to Discuss Mutual Recognition of COVID-19 Vaccines With Other Counties

      China is open to discussing the protocols of the mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccines with other countries in defiance of attempts to politicize or nationalize this issue, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday.

      "China is ready to discuss with other countries the expediency and protocols of the mutual recognition of vaccines. China is opposed to the nationalism in the sphere of vaccines and rejects any attempts to politicize the vaccine cooperation," Wang said during the annual grand press conference.

      The Chinese foreign minister described vaccines as a "powerful weapon in the fight against the coronavirus that carries the hope of saving lives and must benefit the whole of the world and humanity."

      China has had a successful experience of cooperation with Russia throughout the pandemic, according to Wang.

      "We saw that when faced with the epidemic of the century, China and Russia stood shoulder-to shoulder and cooperated closely, jointly fighting COVID-19 and also resisting the 'political virus' together," the minister said, adding that Beijing and Moscow continued to stand as a "reliable pillar of the global peace and stability."

      Wang's press conference took place on the sidelines of the annual congress of China's top legislative body, the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Every year the Chinese foreign minister speaks at the conference to outline the country's external affairs outlook for the coming year. Due to COVID-19, the press conference is held virtually for already the second year.

    • 09:54

      North Macedonia Greenlights Use of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine, RDIF Says

      Evaluation of Sputnik V Vaccine Effectiveness in the Gemotest Laboratory in Moscow, Russia

      North Macedonia Greenlights Use of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine, RDIF Says

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) - North Macedonia has authorized the use of the Russian-made Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Sunday.
      Read more
    • 07:53

      China Says Ready to Work With IOC to Provide Vaccines to Olympians

    • 07:42

      Russia Reports Over 10,500 New Coronavirus Cases

      Russia's coronavirus tally has increased by 10,595 cases over the past 24 hours, down from the 11,022 cases recorded the day before, the government's coronavirus response centre said in an update on Sunday.

      "Over the past day, 10,595 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 1,228 cases (11.6 percent) without clinical symptoms," the centre said.

      The highest local daily increases were confirmed in Moscow (1,534), St. Petersburg (968) and the Moscow Region (773), as stated in the update.

      Russia's cumulative case count has now reached 4,322,776 cases, with the rate of increase at 0.25 percent, according to the centre.

      The death toll has reached 89,094, with an increase of 368 over the past day, down from 441 the day before. Moscow and St.Petersburg reported highest daily increase in coronavirus-related fatalities — 47 and 37, respectively.

      Total recoveries count 3,911,924 as 11,576 more people were discharged from hospitals over the past day, down from 15,027 the day before.

    • 06:14

      Japan Might Approve Another COVID-19 Vaccine in May-June, Health Minister Says

       Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare could approve the country's second coronavirus vaccine after Pfizer's as early as in May or June, Minister Norihisa Tamura said on Sunday.

      "There is the possibility of giving pharmaceutical approval as early as May or June," Tamura said, as quoted by Japanese news agency Kyodo.

      The vaccine by US-German pharmaceutical duo Pfizer/BioNTech got Japan's approval on 14 February. Three days later, the Japanese mass vaccination campaign kicked off.

      The approval is currently pending for two other producers — AstraZeneca, which applied in early February, and Moderna, which applied last Friday.

    • 05:47

      India Registers 18,711 New COVID-19 Cases

    • 04:23

      Germany Reports 8,130 New COVID-19 Cases

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    Global COVID-19 Cases Spike to Highest Level Post-Lockdown (321)
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