The Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 2.8M people and infected more than 132M globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for April 5:

Women wearing protective masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic walk in Iran's capital Tehran, on April 5, 2021.
Women wearing protective masks amid the Covid-19 pandemic walk in Iran's capital Tehran, on April 5, 2021. (AFP)

Monday, April 5

Iran's infections jump after new year holidays

Iran's number of daily new infections has reached a four-month high as the capital Tehran was put on the highest virus risk level, with authorities blaming increased travelling.

The Islamic republic is battling the Middle East's deadliest coronavirus outbreak, and case numbers have risen following a surge in trips during the Iranian new year holidays that started on March 18.

In the past 24 hours, 13,890 new cases were recorded, Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said in televised remarks.

Kosovo approves new anti-virus measures

Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti has announced new restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

The new measures, which take effect on Tuesday, include restrictions on movement between 2000 GMT and 0300 GMT (10pm and 5am local time) and the closures of schools and restaurants.

Kurti said the restrictions were needed slow the spread of the virus and to stop hospitals from reaching capacity.

France reports almost 200 deaths

France, where a third nationwide lockdown was imposed on Saturday, has reported 197 deaths in hospitals in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 70,771.

The number of people in intensive care units increased by 92 to 5,433, official data showed, rising further above the peak of the second wave.

Italy reports over 10,600 new cases

Italy has reported 296 deaths against 326 the previous day, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections decreased to 10,680 from 18,025.

Italy has registered 111,326 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 about 3.6 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital — not including those in intensive care — totalled 28,785 on Monday, slightly up from 28,432 a day earlier.

There were 192 new admissions to intensive care units, from 195 on Sunday. The total number of intensive care patients rose to 3,737 from a previous 3,703. 

Turkey logs over 42,500 new cases 

Turkey has recorded 42,551 new cases in the last 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed, remaining near an all-time high it touched over the weekend.

Cases have soared since the government eased measures to curb the pandemic in early March, and daily cases rose to a record high of 44,756 on Saturday.

The total number of cases in Turkey stood at 3.529 million as of Monday, the data showed. The latest daily death toll was 193, highest since early January, bringing the cumulative toll to 32,456. 

UK records over 2,700 new cases

The United Kingdom has recorded a further 26 deaths and 2,762 new cases, according to daily official data released.

Both marked a rise from the figures released on Sunday, however the data was distorted over the long Easter weekend.

On vaccinations, 31.58 million people have had a first dose, up from 31.52 the day before. Some 5.43 million have had a second dose.

US cases rise for third straight week, hospitalisations also up

New cases in the United States have risen 5 percent to more than 450,000 last week, the third week in a row that infections have increased, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data.

The average number of patients in hospitals rose 4 percent to more than 37,000 in the week ended April 4, breaking a streak of 11 weeks of falling admissions.

Health officials have expressed concerns about the increase in travel around the Easter holiday and school spring breaks, at a time when more infectious variants of the coronavirus are circulating.

Doses of virus vaccine arrive at sites around Spain

Spain has received a further 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer jab, as its regions prepare to expand vaccinations to more stadiums, auditoriums and bullrings.

In the northwestern province of Zamora, boxes of jabs arrived at a warehouse followed by a police escort.

Across Spain, from Catalonia to Pamplona and Zaragoza, health workers prepared to inoculate more people as the country's vaccine drive pushed forwards.

Mexico's president now says he won't get vaccine

Mexico’s president has said he won’t get a vaccine because his doctors told him he still has a high level of antibodies from when he was infected in January.

“I have sufficient levels of antibodies and right now it isn’t indispensable for me to get vaccinated for now," said President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Lopez Obrador would have gotten a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, based on his address in a borough in the city’s centre, where he lives in an apartment at the National Palace.

Third Peru presidential candidate contracts virus

Ex-footballer George Forsyth has become the third candidate in Peru's presidential elections to test positive for the virus, as the country also recorded a record daily death rate.

Unlike neighbour Chile, which had also been due to hold elections on Sunday but postponed them in the face of the health crisis, Peru's president has decided to push ahead, and some 25 million people are eligible to go out and vote.

With a week to go, Peru on Saturday reported a record daily 294 deaths.

Oman to ban entry of visitors from April 8

Oman's virus committee has said the country will only allow citizens and residents to enter the Gulf Arab state from April 8 following an increase in cases that is pressuring the healthcare system.

The committee also extended an evening ban on all commercial activities until the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which is due to start in mid-April this year, according to a statement on state media.

A curfew imposed on March 28 on movement of vehicles and people outdoors between 1600 GMT to 0900 GMT (local 8 pm and 5 am) would be lifted, as scheduled, on April 8 but would be reinstated during the month of Ramadan from 1700 GMT to 0800 GMT (local 9 pm to 4 am), the statement added.

Ukraine tightens restrictions in Kiev

New curbs, including primary school closures and travel restrictions, have come into force in Ukraine's capital Kiev, as infections surged.

Last month, authorities re-introduced anti-virus restrictions in the city of 3 million. These were tightened with primary schools and kindergartens closing on Monday and only essential workers such as doctors and firefighters allowed to use public transport.

Young Pakistanis receive vaccine in private hospitals

Young people in Pakistan have began getting shots of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine at private hospitals after authorities allowed health facilities to start using the jabs.

State-run facilities are currently only offering free vaccine shots to healthcare workers and people who are above 50, while younger people have to wait months for their jabs.

India's Panacea Biotec to produce 100 million Sputnik V doses annually

Indian biotech firm Panacea Biotec Ltd has agreed to produce 100 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine annually, said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the shot internationally.

RDIF did not say when production would begin.

Portugal eases lockdown in second phase

Pedro Costa's eyes sparkled with joy as Portugal has entered the second phase of easing its lockdown, allowing him to at last welcome back loyal customers to his tiny coffee kiosk in the heart of Lisbon.

"This lockdown was more painful but it is positive we are reopening," said the 30-year-old. "It's the best day: the restart. It's time to move forward and I hope we will not need to take a step back."

Japan fears variants are behind possible fourth wave

Japanese health authorities are concerned that variants of the virus are driving a nascent fourth wave in the pandemic with just 109 days remaining until the Tokyo Olympics.

The variants appear to be more infectious and may be resistant to vaccines, which are still not widely available in Japan. The situation is worst in Osaka, where infections hit fresh records last week, prompting the regional government to start targeted lockdown measures for one month from Monday.

A mutant variant first discovered in Britain has taken hold in the Osaka region, spreading faster and filling up hospital beds with more serious cases than the original virus, according to Koji Wada, a government adviser on the pandemic.

"The fourth wave is going to be larger," said Wada, a professor at Tokyo's International University of Health and Welfare. "We need to start to discuss how we could utilize these targeted measures for the Tokyo area."

Japan has twice declared a state of emergency that covered most of the country in the past year, most recently just after New Year as the pandemic's third and most deadly wave struck. Officials are now opting for more targeted measures that allow local governments to shorten business hours and impose fines for noncompliance.

Singapore to accept digital travel pass from next month

Singapore will next month accept visitors who use a mobile travel pass containing digital certificates for tests and vaccines, its aviation regulator said on Monday, becoming one of the first countries to adopt the initiative.

Singapore will accept the International Air Transport Association (IATA) mobile travel pass for pre-departure checks, where travellers can get clearance to fly to and enter Singapore by showing a smartphone application containing their data from accredited laboratories.

The pass was successfully tested by Singapore Airlines . More than 20 carriers, including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Malaysia Airlines, are also testing the pass.

"The success of our joint efforts will make IATA's partnership with the government of Singapore a model for others to follow," IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement.

Asian business hub Singapore, which has had relatively few coronavirus cases this year, has been a leader in developing and using technology during the pandemic and wants to be among the first countries to reopen to host international events.

Airlines are hoping more countries will approve digital passes on apps to allow travel to resume faster and avoid complications and delays at airports where multiple checks on documents are required.

Currently, travellers from most countries are required to take pre-departure swab tests within 72 hours of their flights in order to travel to Singapore, with results presented at airport check-in and on arrival.

Bangkok nightspots may close as virus precaution

Thai health officials are considering the closure of entertainment venues in Bangkok after an outbreak of coronavirus cases in nightspots in and around the capital, and another at a prison in the south.

Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokesperson for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said 194 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, most from Bangkok entertainment venues and from Narathiwat prison. Thailand has had 29,321 confirmed cases, including 95 deaths.

The centre ordered affected nightspots closed until they undergo deep cleaning. Bangkok’s city government announced the names of the venues involved and urged people who patronised them over the past month to be tested.

Health officials said they are considering ordering the closure of all Bangkok entertainment venues for two weeks to try to stop the spread of the virus.

The outbreaks come just ahead of the major holiday of Songkran in mid-April, which usually sees an exodus of people from cities to visit relatives in other provinces, and is generally celebrated over an entire week. The official holiday was postponed last year because it came right after Thailand’s first wave of the virus.

The government is trying to finalise plans to gradually reopen the country to foreign tourists, who stopped coming after scheduled passenger flights into the country were banned in April last year.

Britain eyes twice weekly virus tests for all

The British government says all adults and children will be able to have routine coronavirus tests twice a week as a way to stamp out new outbreaks as the UK emerges from lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said regularly testing people who don’t have symptoms would help “stop outbreaks in their tracks, so we can get back to seeing the people we love and doing the things we enjoy.”

The lateral flow tests, which will be available by mail or from pharmacies, give results in minutes but are less accurate than the PCR swab tests used to officially confirm cases.

The government insists they are reliable and will play an important role in opening up society.

The tests are being introduced as Johnson announces the next steps in the country’s road map out of its three-month lockdown. Johnson is expected to confirm later Monday that hairdressers, shops and pub and restaurant patios will reopen in England on April 12.

Johnson is unlikely to tell Britons when they will be able to go abroad on vacation — currently banned by law — though the government has said it will not be before May 17.

Hong Kong bar owners in 'hunger strike' over virus 

A group of bar, karaoke and mahjong parlour owners have gone on a symbolic hunger strike in Hong Kong over anti-coronavirus measures that have kept them shuttered for most of the last year.

The four-day protest started on the pavement outside the Hong Kong government's headquarters on Sunday -- the one-year anniversary of when authorities first ordered a round of closures to stem infections.

Those taking part are refusing food in shifts, more an act of protest than a full hunger strike.

"People are queueing for beaches... restaurants are full but only we are in pain an d barred from opening," Leung Lap-yan, founding president of the Licensed Bar and Club Association, told reporters.

Hong Kong's bars, a major early source of infections, have been hit particularly hard by social distancing measures that have been tightened and relaxed depending on infection rates.

Over the last year, they have been fully closed for 230 days, opened with restrictions for 101 days, and allowed to run normally for only 24 days.

Russia reports 8,646 new cases, 343 deaths

Russia reported 8,646 new cases, including 1,876 in Moscow, taking the official national tally to 4,589,540.

The government taskforce said 343 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing its death toll to 100,717. The statistics agency has kept a separate count and reported a much higher toll of 225,000 from April 2020 to February. 

China administered 139M vaccine doses as of April 4

China had administered 139.97 million doses of vaccines as of Sunday, the National Health Commission said.

That is up about 3.29 million from Saturday's total of around 136.68 million doses. 

Bangladesh enforces weeklong virus lockdown

Bangladesh began enforcing a weeklong nationwide lockdown Monday, shutting shopping malls and transportation as authorities try to stop a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.

The decision came after health authorities said that they were facing overwhelming pressure in intensive care units in recent weeks because of severe infections. This is the second time the South Asian nation has enforced a virus lockdown after the first last March.

On Monday, authorities suspended operations of all domestic flights, river transport, and trains. Only emergency services will remain operational.

Banks will operate for only two and a half hours daily. Industries are allowed to operate but factory owners have to facilitate commute of their workers.

The government has asked people not to go out from 6 pm to 6 am.

Owners and workers of shopping malls in Dhaka’s Elephant Road area took to the streets Monday, demanding that authorities allow them to run their shops.

Bangladesh has reported 637,364 virus cases since the pandemic began, with 9,266 deaths.

Polish hospitals struggle with surge of virus patients

Polish hospitals struggled over the Easter weekend with a massive number of people infected following a huge surge in infections across Central and Eastern Europe in recent weeks.

Tougher new pandemic restrictions were ordered in Poland for a two-week period surrounding Easter in order to slow down the infection rate. The country hit new records of over 35,000 daily infections on two recent days, and deaths have been in the hundreds each day.

The aim of the new restrictions was to prevent large gatherings over the long weekend culminating with Easter Monday.

Meanwhile, the government is also trying to speed up the country's vaccine rollout, but the pressure on the country's hospitals is still relentless.

On Easter Sunday, coronavirus patients filled almost all of the 120 beds at the County Hospital of Bochnia, 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the southern city of Krakow.

Greece reopens shops despite high infection rate

Greece on Monday relaxed a nationwide lockdown by opening most retail shops despite a high level of infections and fatalities.

By allowing people to "decompress" outside their homes as the weather improves, the government hopes to also stem damage to the economy that has taken a major revenue blow from reduced tourism.

Customers must pre-book appointments before visiting shops, and up to 20 people will be allowed inside at a time.

"We are fully booked till Saturday. It's going to be a good month," Filippos Hortis, an Athens sports store owner, told Skai TV.

Critics have noted the paradox of the lockdown being relaxed while new cases of the virus are reported at a rate of over 3,000 daily.

That is around 1,000 more than when the restrictions were announced in November, with the daily number of deaths now more than double.

India's daily Covid cases pass 100,000 for first time

India's daily cases soared by 103,558, the biggest such daily increase, data from the health ministry showed, taking the total to 12.59 million.

The country added 478 new deaths, raising the total to 165,101. 

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 8,497

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 8,497 to 2,893,883, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 50 to 77,013, the tally showed.

UK to announce new international travel rules

Britain will set out plans to restart international travel, using a "traffic-light" system as the country cautiously emerges from lockdown.

The announcement comes as the UK has set a tentative date of May 17 to relaunch international travel.

Travel destinations will be ranked green, amber or red according to virus risk, Downing Street said in a statement late Saturday, with the government to provide more details on Monday.

International travel is currently banned except for a handful of permitted reasons. This has created massive pent-up demand for summer holidays abroad.

Philippines extends lockdown as infections spike

The Philippine government extended a lockdown by another week after an alarming spike in coronavirus infections continued to surge and started to overwhelm many hospitals in the capital and outlying regions.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, under lockdown last week as daily infections breached 10,000. Roman Catholic leaders shifted Holy Week and Easter events online after all public gatherings, including in places of worship, were temporarily banned.

The government-run Lung Center of the Philippines became the latest hospital in the capital region to announce over the weekend that it can no longer accept walk-in patients after its ward reached full capacity and its emergency room was handling twice its capacity.

“We are not just full. We are very full. In fact, the hospital has been full for the past two weeks,” Lung Center spokesman Dr. Norberto Francisco said.

Other hospitals said they could expand bed capacity but lacked enough medical workers partly because many had been infected.

Duterte’s administration has increasingly faced criticisms of mishandling the pandemic, but presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants came as a surprise.

Virus cases rise in southwestern Chinese city

Cases in the southwestern Chinese city of Ruili bordering on Myanmar have now topped 100.

That comes as authorities have launched an aggressive campaign to vaccinate all 300,000 residents of the city, whose outbreak is something of an anomaly in a country that has all-but eliminated local transmission of the virus.

The National Health Commission reported an additional 20 cases on Monday, five of them in which the persons showed no symptoms.

The cases were detected during city-wide nucleic acid testing, bringing the city’s total to 51 confirmed cases and 56 asymptomatic cases, which China has placed in a separate category.

Confirmed cases are treated in hospital while those who test positive without showing symptoms are isolated and placed under isolation.

Venezuela president extends virus quarantine

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro announced on Sunday he will extend for the third consecutive week lockdown restrictions to curb the spread of the virus throughout the crisis-stricken South American nation.

The additional seven-day extension comes after the country saw an increase of 70% of infections registered in the last seven days, authorities say.

Maduro indicated that the increase in positive cases is linked to the presence in 13 regions of the country of the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, known as P1 and P2, which has its epicentre in Brazil.

Maduro also took the opportunity to lash out again at Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, blaming him for the spread of the virus and variant first identified in Brazil, and suggesting the variant should be called the "Bolsonaro mutant".

In order to reduce the spread of the virus, from March 21 and at least until April 11, only essential services including around food, health, telecommunications and transportation, will remain open.

In Venezuela 1,662 deaths have been confirmed and recorded with more than 166,100 positive confirmed cases, of which 1,786 were registered in the last 24 hours, the highest since the first two cases were detected on March 13, 2020.

Brazil registers 1,240 more fatalities

Brazil has registered 1,240 new Covid-19 deaths, the health ministry said, as the country deals with the worst of the pandemic yet, which has led the country to have the highest daily death tolls in the world.

Deaths now total 331,433. Cases rose by 31,359 and now total 12,984,956.

Mexico's death toll rises to 204,147

Mexico has reported 1,263 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 136 more fatalities, bringing the country's total to 2,250,458 infections and 204,147 deaths, according to data from the health ministry.

The government said the real case numbers are likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently by the health ministry suggested the actual death toll from the coronavirus may be at least 60 percent above the confirmed figure.

Colombia to extend restrictions as cases rise

Colombia will extend coronavirus restrictions based on intensive care unit occupancy rates, President Ivan Duque has said, amid rising case numbers.

The Andean country, which has recorded more than 2.4 million coronavirus cases and nearly 64,000 deaths, has so far administered nearly 2.4 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

The government has repeatedly warned people not lower their guard during the Easter holidays - traditionally a popular travel period - and put in place weekend curfews.

"It's clear that ... some municipalities have shown increases in recent weeks and there also exists the risk of a new national increase in the coming weeks," Duque said in remarks broadcast on social media. 

"We must act, prevent and take appropriate decisions."

Capital Bogota and the cities of Manizales, Armenia, Tunja, Barranquilla, Monteria, Leticia and Pereira are under observation for increasing cases and deaths, Duque said, while Medellin, Cali, Santa Marta and Barranquilla are also being watched for decreasing intensive care unit capacity.

Curfews based on ICU capacity will be in place from Monday and continue through April 19, he said.

Pakistan to start vaccination for over 80

Pakistan federal authorities will start coronavirus vaccinations for residents over 80 on Monday.

The country received 60,000 doses of the CanSino vaccine from China early in the week. 

Pakistan is already using the Sinopharm vaccine, donated by Beijing last month.

The National Command and Control Center says the vaccine administration will begin in all the four provinces for people over age 80.

Pakistan reported 4,723 new coronavirus cases and 84 confirmed deaths in the last 24 hours. The country is facing a virus surge, which the government says is worse than last year’s outbreak when a nationwide lockdown was imposed.

Pakistan has reported a total of 68,288 cases and 14,697 confirmed deaths.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies