Coronavirus live news: India’s cases surging as deadly second wave spreads, Iran imposes 10-day lockdown

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “India’s cases surging as deadly second wave spreads, Iran imposes 10-day lockdown – as it happened” was written by Nadeem Badshah, Edna Mohamed and Clea Skopeliti, for theguardian.com on Saturday 10th April 2021 23.08 UTC

12.01am BST

That’s it from us today. Thanks for following our coverage.

Updated at 12.08am BST

11.30pm BST

Brazil recorded 2,616 new Covid-19 deaths and 71,832 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the country’s health ministry said.

Brazil, which has the second-highest death toll after the US, has recorded 13.45 million cases and more than 350,000 deaths, Reuters reports.

11.12pm BST

France will lengthen the period between the first and second shots of mRNA anti-Covid vaccines to six weeks from four weeks as of April 14 to accelerate the inoculation campaign, health minister Olivier Veran told the JDD newspaper.

“That will allow us to vaccinate more quickly without reducing protection,” Veran told the paper.

France has approved use of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, Reuters reports.

Veran also said from Monday, the AstraZeneca vaccine would be made available to all over-55s and not just those with serious pre-existing conditions.

10.56pm BST

The Australian government is funnelling millions of dollars to private contractors for its beleaguered Covid vaccine rollout using opaque deals – some of which are hidden from the public and ignore transparency standards.

The government is relying heavily on contractors to aid its vaccine rollout, including multinational consultants PwC and Accenture, logistics companies DHL and Linfox, and healthcare contractors Healthcare Australia, International SOS, Sonic Clinical Services and Aspen.

But the health department has repeatedly refused to tell the Guardian how much each of the companies is being paid. It has also failed to publish any information about the key rollout contracts on the AusTender website, which is the public’s only window into government procurement.

10.30pm BST

The archbishop of Chile’s capital Santiago, Celestino Aos, has been hospitalised after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Roman Catholic Church in Chile said.

Aos, 76, and Monsignor Alberto Lorenzelli, the auxiliary bishop of Santiago, were confirmed by the church as having tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week, Reuters reports.

Both had received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine being administered by the Chilean health authorities, the church said, with the second dose administered on March 11.

The church said in its Saturday statement that Aos was admitted to a university hospital in the capital “on medical advice and in a preventive manner”.

“Although the effects of the disease are moderate, they need to be addressed with specialised equipment to avoid possible complications,” the statement said, adding that Lorenzelli’s condition had not changed.

10.13pm BST

Aerial view showing almost empty streets in Bogota, during a 4-day lockdown ordered by Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez as the capital has experienced a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and ICU occupation in hospitals.
Aerial view showing almost empty streets in Bogota, Colombia, during a 4-day lockdown ordered by Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez as the capital has experienced a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and ICU occupation in hospitals. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/AFP/Getty Images

10.10pm BST

Marchers took to the streets in the Romanian capital of Bucharest to protest restrictive measures to fight the spread of Covid-19 even as new daily infections and deaths rose, Associated Press reports.

About 1,000 people converged on Victory Square and University Square, expressing frustration with an earlier curfew and shop closures that took effect at the end of March.

Romania does not have compulsory vaccinations.

The protest was held on the same day that Romania passed the milestone of having one million confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Hospital intensive care units are struggling to cope with the record demand of just under 1,500 Covid–19 patients and 12,000 others are in other wards.

9.30pm BST

Mexico’s tally of 2,192 new coronavirus deaths is one of its biggest one-day tolls during the pandemic, bringing the country’s total to 209,212 deaths, Reuters reports.

The health ministry, which is due to have a news conference later in the day, reported 6,356 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, taking the country’s total to 2,278,420 infections.

9.02pm BST

A summary of today’s developments

  • In the UK, 2,589 people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 4,368,045. There have been 40 further deaths, bringing the total to 127,080.
  • France reported 72,450 coronavirus deaths in hospital, an increase of 227. It also reported 43,284 new coronavirus cases, Reuters reports. The country has registered more than 4.98 million cases in total.
  • Italy reported 344 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday compared to 718 the day before, Reuters reports. The daily tally of new infections fell to 17,567 compared to 18,938 the day before, the health ministry said. Italy has registered 113,923 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year.
  • Tunisia’s prime minister announced a curfew tightened to combat a rise in coronavirus infections and deaths following a presidential request. The government this week had called on governors to begin the nightly curfew at 7 pm instead of 10 pm, from Friday until the end of the month.
  • Several hundred people protested against Finland’s Covid-19 restrictions in Helsinki on Saturday without having obtained permission, leading to 20 arrests when they refused to disperse.
  • India records 145,384 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 794 deaths, the highest number of deaths in more than five months as the country deals with a deadly second wave of infections.
  • Russia has reported 8,704 new Covid-19 cases and 402 deaths on Saturday.
  • A scientist advising the British government has said that any blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are “extraordinarily rare events.”
  • The German biotech firm Curevac believes the EU might give its Covid-19 vaccine approval in May or June.
  • Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen has threatened quarantine-breakers with jail time on Saturday and told civil servants that they could lose their jobs if they go unvaccinated.
  • Thailand plans to install 10,000 field hospital beds in Bangkok, as it deals with the third wave of Covid-19.
  • Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country today to curb the spread of its fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Colombian capital, Bogotá, is under a strict lockdown to slow a third wave of the pandemic; as mayor Claudia Lopez has said, “only strictly essential activities will be allowed”.
  • Nearly 2 million coronavirus home testing kits are being distributed across Greece’s pharmacies as pupils and teachers are asked to present biweekly negative tests.

8.45pm BST

Mexico’s coronavirus death toll has risen to 209,212 in total, Reuters reports.

8.30pm BST

Venezuela has paid million, half of the required amount, for doses it is set to receive through the global COVAX program, vice president Delcy Rodriguez announced, Reuters reports.

You know that the COVAX mechanism requires an advance – Venezuela has even doubled the required advance,” said Rodriguez, adding that the government had deposited “59.2 million Swiss francs in the accounts of GAVI,” a co-leader of the COVAX program that seeks to improve low-income countries’ access to vaccines.

8.05pm BST

The UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson will not attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral to allow for the attendance of as many family members as possible during coronavirus restrictions with the number of guests allowed limited to 30.

The duke’s funeral will take place in Windsor Castle next Saturday and the public are being told to stay away because of the pandemic.

Johnson’s spokesman said: “As a result of the Coronavirus regulations, only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“The Prime Minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday”.

7.47pm BST

Visitors on a ride in Hellendoorn Adventure Park which is open for the day during a trial in which visitors with a negative Covid-19 test result can enter by appointment in Hellendoorn in the Netherlands.
Visitors on a ride in Hellendoorn Adventure Park which is open for the day during a trial in which visitors with a negative Covid-19 test result can enter by appointment in Hellendoorn in the Netherlands. Photograph: Vincent Jannink/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

7.30pm BST

Several hundred people protested against Finland’s Covid-19 restrictions in Helsinki on Saturday without having obtained permission, leading to 20 arrests when they refused to disperse.

Up to 300 people gathered in the centre of the capital and authorities moved to break up the protest since it was not authorised, AFP reports.

Public gatherings of more than six people are banned in Helsinki due to the pandemic.

Many protesters however formed a procession and began to march. Police announced 20 arrests for refusing to comply with orders.

7.12pm BST

New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo provides an update on the Covid numbers in the city.

6.51pm BST

France has recorded 43,284 new coronavirus cases.

The country has registered more than 4.98 million cases in total.

6.40pm BST

6.24pm BST

Soldiers patrol the outskirts of Bogota amid a reinstated strict lockdown to help curb the spread of coronavirus, in Bogota, Colombia.
Soldiers patrol the outskirts of Bogota amid a reinstated strict lockdown to help curb the spread of coronavirus, in Bogota, Colombia. Photograph: Fernando Vergara/AP

5.59pm BST

Tunisia’s prime minister announced a curfew tightened to combat a rise in coronavirus infections and deaths following a presidential request.

The government this week had called on governors to begin the nightly curfew at 7 pm instead of 10 pm, from Friday until the end of the month.

After meeting with governors, prime minister Hichem Mechichi said the curfew would remain from 10 pm to 5 am, adding “there is a social reality to consider”.

He cited “the president of the republic’s request and concerns expressed by certain segments of the population” over the additional restrictions but also emphasised the epidemiological situation was “very serious”.

Private and public gatherings remain banned and Mechichi urged Tunisians to be more vigilant about physical distancing and wearing masks.

5.35pm BST

France reported 72,450 coronavirus deaths in hospital, an increase of 227.

It also reported 5,769 people in intensive care units for Covid-19, Reuters reports.

5.14pm BST

Dozens of shopkeepers in Naples, took to the streets on Saturday holding up women’s lingerie to protest against the protracted shutdown of their businesses due to coronavirus restrictions, AFP reports.

Campania is one of the few regions in Italy where top-level “red zone” restrictions, meaning the closure of most shops, were on Friday extended for at least another week.

In the central Chiaia shopping district, shopkeepers formed a human chain, clutching women’s undergarments, and carrying placards such as “We can no longer pay rent and bills” and “The state has forgotten about us”.

Lingerie has become a symbol of retailers’ protests in Naples because, since underwear is considered an essential item, shops that offer them can stay open through the lockdown.

Many started to sell women’s underwear “because they have families to feed, rents to pay and staff to support”, Carla della Corte, head of the local chapter of the Confcommercio retailers’ lobby, told the Corriere della Sera daily.

“[Selling] underwear is a way to survive,” she added.

According to local newspaper Il Mattino, about 150 shopkeepers took part in the rally.

4.56pm BST

Italy reported 344 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday compared to 718 the day before, Reuters reports.

The daily tally of new infections fell to 17,567 compared to 18,938 the day before, the health ministry said.

Italy has registered 113,923 deaths linked to Covid-19 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 3.75 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 27,654 on Saturday, down from 28,146 a day earlier.

4.44pm BST

In the UK, government data up to Friday shows of the 39,001,554 jabs given thus far, 32,010,244 were first doses – a rise of 106,878 on the previous day.

Some 6,991,310 were second doses, an increase of 450,136.

4.37pm BST

In the UK, 2,589 people have tested positive for the virus as of 4pm on Saturday, bringing the total to 4,368,045.
There have been 40 further deaths, bringing the total to 127,080.

Updated at 4.37pm BST

4.30pm BST

Key developments summary

  • India records 145,384 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 794 deaths, the highest number of deaths in more than five months as the country deals with a deadly second wave of infections.
  • Russia has reported 8,704 new Covid-19 cases and 402 deaths on Saturday.
  • A scientist advising the British government has said that any blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are “extraordinarily rare events.”
  • The German biotech firm Curevac believes the EU might give its Covid-19 vaccine approval in May or June.
  • Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen has threatened quarantine-breakers with jail time on Saturday and told civil servants that they could lose their jobs if they go unvaccinated.
  • Thailand plans to install 10,000 field hospital beds in Bangkok, as it deals with the third wave of Covid-19.
  • Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country today to curb the spread of its fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Colombian capital, Bogotá, is under a strict lockdown to slow a third wave of the pandemic; as mayor Claudia Lopez has said, “only strictly essential activities will be allowed”.
  • Nearly 2 million coronavirus home testing kits are being distributed across Greece’s pharmacies as pupils and teachers are asked to present biweekly negative tests.

My colleague Nadeem Badshah will be taking over the blog now.

4.27pm BST

Libya has officially launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign, starting with prime minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, health authorities said. After the vaccination of Dbeibah, health minister Ali al-Zenati was next to receive a jab,

On Tripoli’s outskirts, Badreddine al-Najjar, head of Libya’s Centre for Disease Control, said, “The national vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has been launched at the CDC headquarters.”

AFP reports

Dbeibah urged fellow citizens to register online for their vaccinations.

He has earmarked the country’s jab campaign as a policy priority, alleging vaccine delivery was hindered by outgoing authorities.

“The arrival of vaccines has been delayed by political, not financial, considerations,” he said.

[…]

The World Health Organization said Thursday that two new variants of the coronavirus are present in Libya.

Officially, Libya has registered a total of around 167,000 coronavirus cases, including over 2,800 deaths, out of a population of seven million.

No lockdown measures are currently in place, and while masks are obligatory in public places, the measure is widely flouted.

Libya has so far received 200,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, alongside over 57,600 AstraZeneca shots, the latter delivered through the Covax programme for lower and middle-income countries.

Libyan Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, and Health Minister Ali al-Zenati.
Libyan Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, and Health Minister Ali al-Zenati. Photograph: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

3.58pm BST

Vaccine-makers around the world face shortages of vital components including large plastic grow bags, according to the head of the firm that is manufacturing a quarter of the UK’s jab supply.

Stan Erck, the chief executive of Novavax – which makes the second vaccine to be grown and bottled entirely in Britain – told the Observer that the shortage of 2,000-litre bags in which the vaccine cells were grown was a significant hurdle for global supply.

His warning came as bag manufacturers revealed that some pharmaceutical firms were waiting up to 12 months for the sterile single-use disposable plastic containers, which are used to make medicines of all kinds, including the Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax Covid-19 vaccines.

But Erck and his British partners said they were confident they had enough suppliers to avoid disruption to the supply of Novavax. The vaccine is waiting for approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) but the first of 60 million doses ordered by the government are already in production in Teesside.

3.33pm BST

Dozens of Bahraini detainees, including long-term political prisoners, have been released after protests by their families after positive Covid-19 cases in their prison, activists said today.

They said authorities had vowed to release 126 prisoners and 73 other detainees but only 166 had walked out so far from the jail in Faw, in the east of the kingdom, AFP reports.

Mohamed Jawad, 75, uncle of the prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab, who spent 10 years behind bars, is one of the released detainees.

Those released are to serve out the rest of their terms under electronic tagging.

Bahraini officials say three Jaw inmates have contracted coronavirus but been isolated and that their condition is stable.

The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy says dozens of prisoners have been infected by the virus in the reportedly heavily overcrowded jail. But according to the health ministry, a prison vaccination campaign has been completed.

Updated at 3.56pm BST

2.53pm BST

A Covid-19 test tent set up in front of the Opera in Paris.
A Covid-19 test tent set up in front of the Opera in Paris. Photograph: Lewis Joly/AP

Updated at 2.58pm BST

2.35pm BST

A further 466,480 vaccinations have taken place in England, including first and second doses, taking the total number since the rollout began to 32,737,372.

Of the daily figure, 62,274 were first doses while 404,206 people received a second shot as the rollout prioritises administering final doses within the three-month window.

A total of 26,996,936 have now had their first dose and 5,740,436 have had both, NHS England data shows.

2.20pm BST

Nearly 2 million coronavirus home testing kits are being distributed across Greece’s pharmacies as pupils and teachers are asked to present biweekly negative tests.

About 1,950,000 kits are being sent to the country’s pharmacies, which will ask people for their social security number and ID in order to dispense the tests, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports.

Students and teachers must present a negative test result to their school every Monday and Thursday.

Updated at 2.46pm BST

1.51pm BST

The British Retail Consortium estimated that lockdowns in 2020 cost non-essential retail £22bn in lost sales. So with non-essential shops allowed to open again on Monday after nearly four months, retailers have concocted plans to make real-life shopping trips a pastime once again.

Lauren Cochrane looks at how different shops are adapting:

Updated at 2.07pm BST

1.21pm BST

According to a tally compiled by AFP, at least 2,917,316 people have died from Covid-19 worldwide since the virus first emerged in December 2019.

The US is the worst-affected country with 561,074 deaths, followed by Brazil at 348,718, Mexico with 207,020, India with 168,436 and Britain with 127,040.

Updated at 2.08pm BST

1.16pm BST

The 8 million people living in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, are under a strict lockdown to slow a third wave of the pandemic mayor Claudia Lopez has said, “only strictly essential activities will be allowed”.

The strict lockdown comes in addition to night curfews that 7 million people in Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Santa Marta, where the health system is overwhelmed by the virus.

Colombia has the second-most cases in Latin America, recording more than 2.4m cases.

Updated at 2.10pm BST

1.04pm BST

People are seen walking along a street in Iran
Iranian authorities begin a two-week lockdown from 10 April to slow the spread of the Covid-19. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Updated at 2.10pm BST

12.42pm BST

A travel trade body has called for an investigation into the costs of the Covid-19 tests for people in the UK wanting to travel abroad this year, PA reports.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, announced a ‘framework’ for the resumption of travel, which includes requiring all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests.

But post-arrival tests must be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost about £120, Shapps said.

The International Air Transport Association, the trade association for the world’s airlines, has called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate testing prices.

In a statement, it said: “Engage the UK Competition and Markets Authority to act in the interests of consumers and launch an immediate investigation into coronavirus testing charges.”

Gwyn Topham has more on the new UK travel framework here:

Updated at 12.48pm BST

12.29pm BST

The China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG) has obtained regulatory approval to move a third Covid-19 vaccine candidate into the human testing stage, CNBG said on Saturday.

Reuters reports:

The subsidiary of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) said that manufacturing the candidate based on protein cultivated in factories does not require facilities with high biosafety levels.

This means it could be easier to produce than the two CNBG vaccines already being used in China’s mass vaccination drive, which involve active coronavirus during production.

More than 10 vaccine candidates led by Chinese scientists have entered different stages of clinical trials.

Four vaccines, two from Sinopharm CNBG, one from Sinovac Biotech and one from CanSino Biologics, have been cleared for use among the general public.

A fifth vaccine from the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is also based on protein, has gained the green light for limited emergency use.

Workers transport boxes of vaccines developed by Beijing Institute of Biological Products.
Workers transport boxes of vaccines developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products. Photograph: Reuters

Updated at 12.31pm BST

11.57am BST

Police in Paris fined more than 100 diners on Friday at an underground restaurant for breaking coronavirus restrictions and arrested its organiser.

Police officers were called “for an excessive noise complaint about a restaurant,” the French capital’s police wrote on Twitter.

Underground restaurants offering wealthy people pre-coronavirus dining experiences have made headlines in France this week after a private television channel, M6, broadcasted a report into a restaurant in an affluent area of Paris where neither the staff nor the diners were wearing a mask.

Updated at 12.05pm BST

11.39am BST

Iran orders 10-day lockdown as cases rise

Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country today to curb the spread of its fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported.

The new lockdown will affect 23 of the country’s 31 provinces, with businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities forced to shut and gathering banned during the Muslim holy month Ramadan, whichbegins on Wednesday.

According to the health ministry, Iran’s cases have surpassed 2m with a new daily average of more than 20,000 infections over the past week and 64,000 total fatalities.

President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks: “Unfortunately, today we have entered a fourth wave.” Blaming the new surge in cases on the variant first discovered in the UK, which spread to Iran from neighbouring Iraq earlier this year.

Updated at 11.56am BST

11.24am BST

Phnom Penh authorities commence lockdown in parts of the city to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Phnom Penh authorities commence lockdown in parts of the city to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Photograph: Mak Remissa/EPA

Updated at 11.57am BST

11.18am BST

Thailand plans to install 10,000 field hospital beds in its capital, Bangkok, as the country deals with a third wave of Covid-19, a health official said today.

Hospitals are reluctant to test for Covid-19 because they must admit people if they test positive.

At least a dozen hospitals in the capital have said they had stopped testing because of a lack of kits or capacity, authorities said.

Suksan Kittisupakorn, director general of Thailand’s medical service department, said: “We aim to increase [field] hospital beds to 10,000 in no time, which should give the public confidence that we can still contain this round of outbreak.”

Reuters reported that Thailand aims to begin mass immunisation from June and has so far vaccinated more than 530,000 health workers and those deemed vulnerable.

On Saturday, the country received 1m doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine and is due to get another 500,000 doses this month, according to deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Traisoranakul.

Updated at 11.55am BST

10.57am BST

A former Brazilian president has told the Guardian that the country faces perhaps the gravest moment in its history and is “adrift on an ocean of hunger and disease”.

Brazil’s coronavirus death toll hit devastating new heights, with more than 12,000 deaths in the last three days.

Brazil first female president, Dilma Rousseff, believes that much of the devastating response to Covid-19 is because of the current far right leader, Jair Bolsonaro.

Rousseff claimed Bolsonaro’s sabotaging of containment and vaccination efforts, refusal to order a lockdown and failure to offer adequate economic support to poor people had contributed to a tragedy of “catastrophic proportions”.

My colleague Tom Philips has more in this interview:

Updated at 11.01am BST

10.44am BST

Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen has threatened quarantine-breakers with jail time on Saturday and told civil servants that they could lose their jobs if they go unvaccinated.

Cambodia has registered more than 1,000 infections in the past two days, bringing the country’s tally to 4,081 cases and 26 deaths.

This week authorities banned travel between provinces, imposed a night-time curfew in the capital Phnom Penh and shut down popular tourism sites.

AFP reports:

Prime minister Hun Sen on Saturday threatened harsher measures, saying anyone who flouts a two-week quarantine period would face a quick trial and jail time.

“People who break Covid measures must be sentenced,” he said on state-run TV. “I accept being called a dictator, but I will also be admired for protecting my people’s lives.”

Cambodia has already passed a strict Covid-19 prevention bill that could mean people flouting virus rules are jailed for up to 20 years.

Hun Sen also announced that being vaccinated was mandatory for all state officials and the armed forces, warning them they could be fired if they refuse.

The kingdom’s vaccination programme began in February, and a million people have since received at least their first of two shots. Infection numbers started surging in late February when an outbreak was detected in the local Chinese community.

Vendors sit behind a piece of rope, used to create social distancing.
Vendors sit behind a piece of rope, used to create social distancing. Photograph: Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 11.36am BST

10.17am BST

Thailand has reported 789 new Coronavirus cases and one new death today, as it deals with a new wave of infections. The new case numbers bring the total number of infections to 31,658, with 97 deaths, according to the Covid-19 information centre.

Updated at 10.19am BST

10.05am BST

The third-largest economy in the eurozone, Italy, will only recover from its coronavirus-related slump at the end of next year, the national business lobby Confindustria said on Saturday.

After a record fall of 8.9% last year, the association said the country’sGDP should expand by 4.1% this year and by 4.2% in 2022.

AFP reports:

Confindustria’s forecasts were more optimistic than the International Monetary Fund’s, which last week predicted growth of 4.2% and 3.6% in 2021 and 2022.

A crucial part of the recovery rests on the success of its so-far struggling vaccination programme and on a vast injection of loans and grants from the EU.

Italy is eligible for about €200bn (£174bn) from the bloc’s flagship virus recovery fund, but in return it has to commit to a comprehensive reform plan, subject to Brussels’ approval.

Prime minister Mario Draghi, the former European Central Bank president who has been tasked with reviving Italy’s economic prospects, is expected to present the plan by the end of the month.

The country badly needs relief from an economic and health emergency, after more than 113,500 people died with coronavirus and almost one million people lost their jobs since February 2020.

Updated at 10.13am BST

9.46am BST

The German biotech firm Curevac believes the EU might give its Covid-19 vaccine approval in May or June, a spokesman was quoted as saying in Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper on Saturday.

Thorsten Schueller told the paper: “We are already very advanced in phase 3 clinical trials and are expecting the data for the final approval package.”

He said Curevac still planned to produce up to 300m vaccine doses this year.

Previously, approval for the German vaccine was expected in June.

Updated at 9.52am BST

9.35am BST

A scientist advising the British government has said that any blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are “extraordinarily rare events,” PA reports.

Prof Peter Openshaw, a member of the Covid-19 clinical information network, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

We still don’t know whether they are directly related and caused by the vaccine, but it seems possible that they could be.

It wouldn’t be surprising to find the J&J, the Janssen vaccine, also causes rare blood clots because it’s based on an adenovirus technology, which is not that far away from the technology being used in the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

When asked if he was concerned it could undermine public confidence in the Covid-19 vaccines, he said:

These are extraordinarily rare events, and there is no medicine that is going to be completely free of side effects, but this is on the scale of the risk of adverse outcome you would expect if you get into a car and drive 250 miles, and many of us wouldn’t blink before taking that risk.”

While the vaccine is yet to be approved for use in the UK, the government has already ordered 30m doses.

Updated at 9.53am BST

9.22am BST

Russia has reported 8,704 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, taking the national infection tally to 4,632,688 since the start of the pandemic. A further 402 deaths were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bring the death rate to 102,649, the coronavirus crisis centre said.

However, Rosstat, the government statistic service, has reported a much higher toll of 225,00 from April 2020 to February.

Updated at 9.30am BST

9.16am BST

As many as 60 countries, including some of the world’s poorest, might have their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine stalled as nearly all deliveries through the global initiative are blocked until as late as June.

Covax, the programme set up to provide the vaccine to low-income countries, has shipped more than 25,000 doses only twice a week on any given day, but deliveries have all but halted since Monday, AP reports.

According to daily data compiled by Unicef, during the past two weeks, fewer than 2 million Covax doses were clear to be shipped to 92 countries – the same amount that administered in Britain alone.

While the vaccine shortage is due mainly to India’s decision to stop exporting vaccines from its Serum Institute Factory, which produces the majority of the worlds Oxford/AstraZeneca doses, the head of the World Health Organization criticised the “shocking imbalance” in global Covid-19 vaccination output.

However, as Covax only ships vaccines cleared by the WHO, which currently are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioTech and Jonhson & Johnson, it is prompting the WHO to consider speeding up its endorsement of vaccines from China and Russia, which have not been authorised in Europe or North America.

Updated at 9.31am BST

8.51am BST

China’s Covid-19 vaccines output could reach more than 3bn doses by the end of 2021, a National Health Commission official said on Saturday.

Reuters reports that Zheng Zhongwei, who also heads a team coordinating the country’s vaccine development projects, made the comment at an industry event in the city of Chengdu.

Updated at 9.04am BST

8.42am BST

Morning summary

  • Victoria in Australia has recorded its first overseas Covid-19 case in hotel quarantine since resuming international flights. The state began accepting international arrivals on Thursday.
  • Retailers prepare to open in many parts of the UK after at least 15 weeks of lockdown. The country’s next step on its road to recovery begins on Monday.
  • After New Zealand paused applications for family reunifications in the wake of Covid-19, the government has been urged to end months of misery for migrant workers.
  • People in England who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine are seeking help at A&E despite having only mild side effects.

8.40am BST

India records more than 100,000 daily cases again this week

India records 145,384 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 794 deaths, the highest number of deaths in more than five months as the country deals with a deadly second wave of infections, Reuters reports.

The country’s overall caseload has increased to 13.21 million, the third-highest globally, behind the US and Brazil, recording 100,000 new cases on Monday and four more times after that.

Maharashtra, the Indian state with the highest number of cases, is imposing a weekend lockdown until Monday, after having already shut down restaurants, malls and places of worship.

As the government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks, many states have complained about the shortage of vaccines.

The entrance of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in Hyderabad.
The entrance of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in Hyderabad. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 8.41am BST

8.18am BST

Good morning from London! I’m Edna Mohamed and I’ll be covering the latest coronavirus news for the next few hours. As always for any tips, you can message me on Twitter or email me at edna.mohamed.casual@theguardian.com

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