Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – India’s tally of coronavirus infections rose on Monday to just short of 20 million, propelled by a 12th straight day of more than 300,000 new cases, as scientists predicted the pandemic could peak in the next couple of days.

FILE PHOTO: Volunteers prepare to cremate the body of a person who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a crematorium ground in Giddenahalli village on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India, May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Samuel Rajkumar

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* The European Union’s executive recommended easing COVID-19 travel restrictions to allow foreign travellers from more countries to enter the EU.

* Britain is on course to ditch on June 21 the social distancing rule that means people need to stay at least one metre apart, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 9,160 to 3,425,982, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Monday.

* Ukraine has signed a contract with Pfizer for an additional 10 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, bringing the total number of doses to 20 million, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said on Saturday.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Pfizer is in discussions with the Indian government seeking an “expedited approval pathway” for its COVID-19 vaccine, its CEO Albert Bourla said on LinkedIn, announcing a donation of medicines worth more than $70 million.

* Taiwan became the latest place to ban arrivals from coronavirus-stricken India, as it moves to prevent new infections, with more nations reporting cases of a variant first identified in the subcontinent.

* South Korea is banking on the arrival of nearly 14 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by June, officials said, to boost an immunisation drive that could lose momentum due to dwindling supplies as result of shipment delays.

* Indonesia has recorded two cases of a highly infectious COVID-19 variant first identified in India, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.

* Malaysia will begin a parallel COVID-19 inoculation programme this week for people who chose to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, after it was removed from an ongoing rollout due to public fears over its safety, a minister said.

AMERICAS

* Over 60 U.S. stadiums and other venues are deploying an app from Clear to verify people’s COVID-19 status, placing the New York company known for its airport security fast lanes at the forefront of a national debate over “vaccine passports”.

* U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to impose new travel restrictions on India starting Tuesday, barring most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States, a White House official told Reuters.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Turkey will still expect to welcome 30 million arrivals this year, twice the number last year, if daily coronavirus cases fall below 5,000 after a lockdown ends on May 17, Tourism and Culture Minister Mehmet Ersoy said.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Moderna will supply 34 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year and Sweden has donated 1 million AstraZeneca shots to the global COVAX programme, a small boost as it struggles to get stocks to inoculate the world’s poorest people.

* A single dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine may not generate a sufficient immune response to protect against dominant new variants, except in people who have already been infected with COVID-19, according to a UK study.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* European shares gained on Monday as investors bullish about the global economic recovery looked ahead to a busy week for U.S. economic data that is expected to underline the strength of the rebound.

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