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The U.K. confirmed seven people had died from blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine. More than 18 million doses have been administered in the country, and the regulator insists the shot is safe.
Global coronavirus cases surpassed 130 million. Weekly U.S. infections hit their highest point since late February, even with vaccinations at record levels. India reported the most new cases since the peak of its outbreak in September.
The Philippines extended a lockdown in Manila and nearby provinces by at least a week as active coronavirus cases reached the highest in Southeast Asia. Argentine President Alberto Fernandez tested positive after taking a preliminary antigen screening for his fever.
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Vermont Cases Surge (11:56 a.m. NY)
Vermont’s new infections are hitting the highest point of the pandemic, despite administering vaccines at a rate above the national average. New cases have topped 200 on three days since last Friday, and the per capita rate of infection has risen to one of the nation’s highest over the past week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Infection.
“The seven-day case rate average is, in fact, at an all-time high for the pandemic,” Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, said Friday during a virus press briefing, the Burlington Free Press reported. Almost 35% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
U.K. Says Astra Shot Safe Despite Clot Deaths (9:17 a.m. NY)
The U.K. confirmed seven people had died from rare blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine. The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said Saturday that of 30 cases of clotting and low blood platelets identified in people in the U.K. who had received the shot through March 24, seven had died. More than 18 million doses have been administered in the country and the regulator insists the shot is safe.
Australia is also investigating a case of clotting. The country said Saturday that it was cooperating with regulators in the U.K. and the European Union after identifying a case of blood clotting on April 2 in someone who had received the AstraZeneca shot.
U.S. Adds Almost 68,000 New Cases (8 a.m. NY)
The U.S. added almost 68,000 new cases Friday, as weekly infections hit their highest point since late February, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The upward trend continues even as the U.S. is vaccinating at record levels, with 4 million shots given on Friday, data from the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker show.
Another 949 deaths were reported Friday, after two days above 1,000. Weekly fatalities are at their lowest point since late October, before the national surge in deaths, infections and hospitalizations around the holidays.
Manila Lockdown Extended (7:52 a.m. NY)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved a proposal to extend a lockdown in the capital Manila and nearby provinces by at least a week as the country’s active coronavirus cases reached the highest in Southeast Asia.
The national capital region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will remain under the enhanced community quarantine from April 5 to 11, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Saturday. The nation’s most stringent movement restriction was originally intended to be in effect only for a week to April 4.
U.K. Young Adults Could Get J&J Shot (7:17 a.m. NY)
Young adults in the U.K. could receive a new single shot Covid-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson in a “jab and go” offering by July, the Telegraph reported, citing government officials. The Janssen jab is likely to be an attractive offer to young millennials just in time for the summer holidays. The U.K. has ordered some 30 million doses of the Janssen jab, which is made using the same method as the AstraZeneca vaccine, the newspaper said.
U.K. Bars Kenya Visitors (6 a.m. NY)
The U.K. announced that from 4 a.m. on April 9, visitors who have been in, or transited through Kenya, in the previous 10 days cannot enter the country. British and Irish nationals, and third-country nationals with residence rights in the U.K. arriving in England from Kenya will be required to quarantine in a hotel, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement on its website. Different rules shall apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the agency said.
Vaccinated Britons Face Fewer Curbs (5:27 p.m. HK)
Vaccinated Britons will face fewer Covid tests and could avoid some quarantine measures under U.K. government plans to ease restrictions around overseas summer holidays, according to the Daily Telegraph.
On Monday Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out a plan for opening up travel and is expected to reveal a traffic light system under which countries are rated red, yellow or green according to their risk based on vaccination levels, Covid rates and the prevalence of new variants, the newspaper said. All travelers returning to the U.K. will need pre-departure Covid tests irrespective of their vaccination status.
Poland’s Cases Slow (4:56 p.m. HK)
Poland reported 28,073 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. That compares with 31,757 new cases a week earlier and a record of 35,251 on April 1. The death toll increased to 571 from 448 a week ago and a record of 674 on Nov. 25.
U.K. Official Slams Astra ‘Bickering’(4:47 p.m. HK)
“Bickering” and disputes about vaccine supplies and possible side-effects of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine “needs to stop” as it “just layers uncertainty in people’s minds,” Kate Bingham, who headed and launched the U.K. Vaccine Taskforce, said in a Financial Times interview.
Bingham said that AstraZeneca, whose vaccine safety has been called into question in a number of countries, are “heroes” for picking up an experimental vaccine invented at Oxford University and working out how to test, manufacture and distribute it at low cost around the world. The company has signed more deals to supply low-income countries than any another pharmaceutical rival and have been “caught up in geopolitics,” Bingham told the FT.
Bangladesh Set to Lock Down (4:01 p.m. HK)
The Bangladeshi government has decided to enforce a seven-day lockdown from Monday as coronavirus cases and deaths are surging across the country, Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader said at a media briefing in Dhaka on Saturday.
IMF Approves Kenya Funding (2:45 p.m. HK)
The International Monetary Fund approved a $2.34 billion financing package for Kenya to support the country’s Covid-19 response and address an urgent need to reduce debt vulnerabilities. “Kenya was hit hard at the onset by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the IMF said.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Kenya are at 136,893, with 2,186 fatalities as of April 2, according to the health ministry.
Separately, Kenya has ordered an immediate suspension on private importations of vaccines, citing fears that it may lead to counterfeit inoculations entering, the AP reported.
Argentine Leader Tests Positive (12:55 p.m. HK)
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez said he has tested positive for Covid-19 after taking a preliminary antigen test for his fever.
Fernandez said in a tweet that he is currently isolated while waiting for the results of a polymerase chain reaction test, which is more definitive. The Argentine leader took a first dose of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in a public hospital in Buenos Aires province in January.
India Cases Spike (12:46 p.m. HK)
India reported 89,129 new cases, the highest daily tally in more than six months, as the nation sees a resurgence that threatens to be more severe than when infections peaked in September.
Cases have more than quadrupled over the past month, after India appeared to rein in its outbreak earlier this year. The country has the third most cases globally, though daily infections are now at a level similar to those seen by Brazil, the second-worst country.
Maharashtra state, home to India’s financial hub of Mumbai, may be headed for another lockdown, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said Friday. With more than 50% of the state’s hospital beds occupied, systems could be overwhelmed in 15 to 20 days, he said. Some curbs will be announced in the coming days, Thackeray said.
Brazil Reports 70,238 Cases, 2,922 Deaths (10:11 a.m. HK)
Brazil, one of the worst Covid-19 hot spots around the globe, reported 70,238 cases in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. The country’s death toll rose by 2,922. President Jair Bolsonaro promised in a tweet that the government would make nearly 3,000 more doctors available to fight the outbreak.
China Cluster Grows; Korea Cases Above 500 (9:49 a.m. HK)
China’s biggest cluster since mid-February continued to expand in a border city in the southwestern province of Yunnan. The province reported seven new infections and five new asymptomatic cases on Friday, accounting for all the local cases in China for the day, according to the National Health Commission.
All of the Yunnan cases were found in the city of Ruili, which is close to the border with Myanmar, after city-wide testing, the provincial government said on its Weibo account Saturday. Earlier this week, Ruili said that it would test the entire local population. As of Friday, Yunnan had 26 cases.
South Korea, meanwhile, reported 543 cases on Saturday. It’s the fourth straight day that infections topped 500 — the longest such streak since mid-January.
— With assistance by Ian Fisher, Emma Dong, Jeff Sutherland, Dorota Bartyzel, Arun Devnath, Deirdre Hipwell, Eric Ombok, Deana Kjuka, Ditas B Lopez, and Andreo Calonzo