Covid-19 has killed more than 3M people and infected over 148M others globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for April 26:

People wearing protective face masks shop at a fresh market, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Istanbul, Turkey on April 26, 2021.
People wearing protective face masks shop at a fresh market, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Istanbul, Turkey on April 26, 2021. (Reuters)

Monday, April 26:

Turkey adopts 'full closure' until May 17

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has imposed a nationwide "full closure" until May 17 including a continuous lockdown, school closures and intercity travel restrictions to curb coronavirus cases and deaths.

Total daily cases in Turkey had peaked above 63,000 on April 16 before dropping sharply to below 39,000 on Sunday, while the daily death toll has remained above 300 for the past week.

On Monday, Turkey saw over 37,000 cases and 353 deaths. 

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said all intercity travel would need approval from authorities and all schools would stop in-person classes.

He said the manufacturing and food sectors would be exempt from the new restrictions. 

Daily case numbers needed to fall below 5,000 by the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, he added.

Germany moves to relax curbs for vaccinated people

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the German government was looking at relaxing restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated, as the pace of inoculations picks up.

Speaking after talks with the regional premiers of Germany's 16 states, Merkel said people who have received both jabs should "obviously" be allowed to get a haircut or go into a shop without having to show a negative test, and be exempt from quarantining after close contact with an infected person.

The same would apply to people who can prove they have recovered from an infection, for instance by showing a positive PCR test that is at least 28 days old.

Italy reports over 8,000 new cases

Italy has reported 301 deaths against 217 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 8,444 from 13,158.

Italy registered 119,539 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 3.97 million cases to date.

France reports over 5,000 new cases

France has reported 5,952 new daily infections and 400 deaths, bringing the confirmed case total to 5,503,996 and death toll to 103,258.

UK records over 2,000 new cases

Britain has recorded 2,064 new cases and six deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official government data.

That compares to 1,712 new cases and 11 deaths reported a day earlier.

The government said 33,752,885 people had received a first vaccination dose, and 12,897,123 had received a second dose.

Indian virus variant found in northern Italy

Authorities in northern Italy have announced they had identified two cases of the Indian variant of the virus, in a father and daughter recently returned from India.

The news follows reports of another case in the central region of Tuscany last month, and comes after the Italian government banned arrivals from the virus-hit country.

"Today in (the city of) Bassano we have the first two patients, two Indians," announced Luca Zaia, head of the Veneto region.

Bassano, in the province of Vicenza, lies some 65 kilometres (40 miles) north-east of Venice.

US to share up to 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses

The United States has said it will start to share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc's vaccine doses with other countries as they become available, White House senior virus adviser Andy Slavitt said.

The Biden administration in March said it would send roughly 4 million of the drugmaker's vaccine to Canada and Mexico and is under growing pressure now to expand sharing of its stockpile with India and other countries. 

Pakistan deploys army in 16 cities to enforce precautions

Pakistani troops have been deployed in 16 major cities to assist civilian authorities in enforcing measures meant to curb the spread of the virus, including the wearing of masks in public and the closing of non-essential businesses after 6pm.

The announcement came as the country recorded its highest daily death toll in recent days since the start of the pandemic, and officials said the health care system was nearing its breaking point.

Covid-19 infections surge in Nepal, fuelled by mutant strains from India

Authorities in Nepal are grappling to contain the rapid rise of Covid-19 cases with experts fearing that thousands of people in the Himalayan state have caught the more infectious mutant strains emerging out of India.

Nepal, which shares a long porous border with India, reported 3,032 new infections on Sunday, the highest daily surge recorded this year. It took the total caseload since the pandemic first struck Nepal to 300,119, and there have so far been 3,164 deaths, according to government data.

EU sues AstraZeneca over delayed deliveries of vaccine

The European Commission has said it had launched legal action against AstraZeneca for not respecting its contract for the supply of vaccines and for not having a "reliable" plan to ensure timely deliveries.

"The Commission has started last Friday a legal action against AstraZeneca," the spokesman told a news conference, noting all 27 EU states backed the move

Pakistan trying to add beds, ventilators quickly

Pakistani authorities are racing against time to add more beds and ventilators at hospitals amid a surge in deaths and infections.

Authorities have started summoning troops to ensure people don’t violate social distancing rules, according to Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad.

Pakistan says it will be forced to impose a nationwide lockdown if the situation does not improve this week.

Pakistan on Monday reported 70 deaths from the virus and 4,825 cases in the past 24 hours.

Moderna vaccine to be reviewed for WHO emergency listing on April 30

Moderna's vaccine will be reviewed on April 30 by technical experts for possible WHO emergency-use listing, a World Health Organization spokesman told Reuters.

"We are discussing the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Friday...," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said in reply to a query. A decision on the US drugmaker's vaccine, now being evaluated under the abridged procedure on the basis of prior review by the European Medicines Agency, was expected in one to four days after that, Lindmeier said.

Italy tiptoes towards post-virus normality

Italy has inched forward towards normality as coffee bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres reopened in most regions as part of a phased springtime relaxation of lockdowns.

"Finally!" said Lorenzo Campania, an elderly man from a small village near Rome, as he had breakfast seated at an outdoor table near the capital's central Piazza Venezia.

Fourteen of the country's 20 regions have been designated yellow zones, meaning there is a relatively low risk from the virus. Five are classified orange and one, Sardinia, red.

France's Sanofi to help Moderna manufacture shots

Sanofi will fill and pack millions of Moderna vaccines from September in an effort to help meet the demand for the US drugmaker's shots, the French company said.

Sanofi said it would help supply up to 200 million doses of Moderna's vaccine at its Ridgefield facility in New Jersey. Financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed.

The deal marks Sanofi's third such agreement this year. In January, Sanofi pledged to help supply over 125 million doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech from this summer.
Infections surge past 1 million in the Philippines

Confirmed infections in the Philippines surged past 1 million in the country's latest grim milestone, as officials assess whether to extend a monthlong lockdown in the Manila region amid a deadly spike or relax it to fight an economic recession, joblessness and hunger.

The Department of Health reported 8,929 new infections, bringing the country’s total to 1,006,428, including 16,853 deaths. The totals are the second-highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

French primary pupils return to school despite high numbers

France sent primary and nursery pupils back to school, the first phase of reopening after a three-week lockdown, even as daily new infections remained stubbornly high.

President Emmanuel Macron said a return to school would help fight social inequality, allowing parents who struggle to pay for childcare to get back to work, but trade unions warned that new infections would lead to a "torrent" of classroom closures.

In the upmarket Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, pupils wore face masks and rubbed disinfectant gel on their hands as they filed through the front door of the Achille Peretti primary school.

Turkey to produce Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine

The production of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine in Turkey will start in the coming weeks, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has said.

The production will be organised at the plants of the Turkish pharmaceutical company Viscoran Ilac, the RDIF said in a statement.

"RDIF and the Turkish pharmaceutical company Viscoran Ilac announced cooperation for the production of the world's first registered vaccine against the coronavirus Sputnik V in the country.

"Viscoran Ilac has made preparations for the localisation of production and plans to start production of Sputnik V in the coming months at several enterprises," the statement said.

Palestinians fight to survive in Gaza's Covid unit

Slumped in a hospital bed, his face obscured by an oxygen mask in an intensive care unit for coronavirus patients in the blockaded Gaza, Hussein al Hajj said he wanted to talk.

"Vaccinations are essential, but I'm going to have to survive the virus before getting vaccinated," the 71-year-old retired Palestinian teacher told AFP news agency through strained breaths.

In Gaza, a Palestinian territory under strict Israeli blockade since 2007, the pandemic has been defined by contrast.

Through its early months roughly a year ago, the enclave's Hamas governors largely succeeded in limiting significant viral spread.

But this year, health authorities in Gaza say the situation turned more dire following the emergence last month of the more contagious British coronavirus variant, which fuelled a surge in cases among younger Palestinians.

"The situation is critical," said Rami al Abadelah, director of infections diseases at Gaza's Health Ministry.

Last week the enclave of some two million people registered a pandemic record of 23 deaths in a single day.

Around 850 Gazans have died from Covid-19, while the territory is expected to cross the 100,000 case threshold within days.

The resource-strapped authorities are conducting about 3,200 tests a day and the 36 percent positive test rate is among the highest in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

"Officially we have about 1,000 (new) cases a day, but it's probably 5,000 or more because people don't go to the hospital or call us to say if they have symptoms," Abadelah said.

The United Nations and rights groups have said that Israel has a legal obligation to ensure vaccine supply to Gaza, as the military power responsible for the crippling blockade.

Israel has baulked at such calls, insisting the Palestinian Authority in occupied West Bank is responsible for all Palestinian vaccinations.

For Gazans, that means relying on the PA which has faced a series of procurement challenges and on the Covax programme set up to support Covid vaccinations among poorer nations.

"We have received 110,000 doses by we need an additional 2.6 million," Abadelah said.

India's coronavirus crisis intensifies as nations pledge aid

India's coronavirus cases has hit a record peak for a fifth day as countries including Britain, Germany and the United States pledged to send urgent medical aid to help tackle the crisis overwhelming its hospitals.

Infections in the past 24 hours rose to 352,991, with overcrowded hospitals in Delhi and nationwide turning away patients after running out of supplies of medical oxygen and beds.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all citizens to be vaccinated and exercise caution, saying the storm of infections had shaken the nation.

Hospitals and doctors have put out urgent notices saying they were unable to cope with the rush of patients.

J&J vaccine study to resume in South Africa on Wednesday

A research study in South Africa further evaluating Johnson & Johnson's vaccine in the field will resume on Wednesday, the health ministry has said, after the study was paused over rare cases of blood clots in people given the vaccine.

During the pause, it had been established that there is a one in a million chance of getting a clot after the vaccine, so regulators across the world have recommended the continued use of J&J's shot, the ministry said.

Local regulator SAHPRA, the South African Medical Research Council and health ministry have worked to ensure there is intensified pre-vaccination assessment and post-vaccination monitoring when the J&J study resumes, it added.

Malaysia says Astrazeneca vaccine safe, will be used on elderly

Malaysian health authorities said the vaccine developed by Astrazeneca is safe for use, three days after the Southeast Asian nation received its first batch of the shots bought through the COVAX facility.

"I confirm the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca is safe, and it will be administered to those aged 60 years and older," Health Minister Adham Baba said in a televised news conference.

Fiji capital in lockdown after virus 'superspreader' event

The Fijian capital Suva has entered a 14-day lockdown as the Pacific island nation battled to contain a spike following a "superspreader" funeral event.

Around 100,000 people in the city must stay in containment zones and non-essential businesses are shuttered after the first community virus cases in 12 months were detected.

A soldier contracted the virus at a quarantine facility and is believed to have transmitted it to a maid, who then exposed up to 500 people at a funeral.

Australia's Perth to exit lockdown

The government of Western Australia state has said it will lift a three-day lockdown in Perth and neighbouring Peel region as planned from midnight after no new cases were found in the past two days.

Perth and the Peel region were placed into a hard lockdown from Saturday after an infected traveller from overseas, who likely contracted the novel virus during his two-week quarantine in a Perth hotel, visited several venues while unknowingly infectious.

"The short three-day lockdown has done the job it was designed to do," state Premier Mark McGowan told reporters in Perth.

Hong Kong, Singapore to start long-delayed travel bubble next month

A long delayed travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore will begin on May 26, the two cities said, as they moved to re-establish overseas travel links and lift the hurdle of quarantine for visiting foreigners.

The bubble between two of Asia's biggest financial hubs had been slated to begin last November but was suspended after a spike in virus cases in Hong Kong.

The scheme will start with one flight a day into each city, with up to 200 travellers on each flight, Hong Kong's Commerce Secretary Edward Yau and Singapore's Transport Minister Ong Ye Ku said at simultaneous press events.

Germany's cases rise by 11,907 – RKI

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany has increased by 11,907 to 3,299,325, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 60 to 81,624, the tally showed.

Germany will send oxygen, medical aid to India 

Germany will send oxygen and medical aid to India in the coming days to help it tackle its crisis, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

India is suffering from a spike in coronavirus infections, with the number of cases surging by 349,691 in the past 24 hours, the fourth straight day of record peaks. Hospitals are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen.

"The second wave is currently rolling over India with unprecedented power. It was right that we acted quickly to stop the entry of the new mutation in Germany," Maas told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Germany has classified India as a coronavirus high incidence area and also put the country on a separate warning list for coronavirus variants.

Mexican minister visits Russia, vying to bring vaccine production home

Mexico's top diplomat traveled to Moscow on Sunday for a visit with Russian officials, his office said, amid talks to hammer out plans for Mexico to bottle Russia's Sputnik V vaccine domestically after delays in shipments.

The government is aiming to quicken its pace of vaccinations, with just more than 4% of its population of 126 million people fully inoculated.

Mexico has registered 214,947 deaths, the fourth most worldwide, and 2,328,391 infections from the pandemic. The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher.

Mexico's state-run vaccine manufacturer, Birmex, is working with Russia on a plan to bottle the two-shot vaccine in Mexico, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said last week, just as Argentina produced its own first test batches of Sputnik V.

"Birmex is working jointly with Russian institutions so that Mexico can bottle the vaccine," Ebrard told Russian media outlets on Friday. "There is already significant progress."

Russia has shipped 1.1 million Sputnik V doses to Mexico to date, far fewer doses than those slated to have arrived by now.

Brazil registers 1,305 deaths 

Brazil registered 1,305 new deaths on Sunday and 32,572 additional cases, according to data published by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered 390,797 total coronavirus deaths and 14,340,787 total confirmed cases.

Mexico reports 1,653 new cases, 94 more deaths

Mexico on Sunday reported 1,653 new confirmed cases in the country and 94 more fatalities, according to Health Ministry data, bringing the country's total to 2,328,391 infections and 214,947 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll was at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

US determined to help India deal with Covid-19 surge: Biden

US President Joe Biden said the United States is determined to help India deal with a massive spike in coronavirus cases, just as India helped Americans when US hospitals were strained early in the pandemic.

"Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need," Biden said on Twitter. 

Netherlands to ban flights from India from Monday

The Netherlands will prohibit passenger flights from India from Monday at 6 pm (1600 GMT) until May 1 due to fears over a new variant, the ministry of transport said.

The ban, announced on Sunday, does not include cargo flights or planes carrying medical personnel. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies