Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – Shanghai authorities appealed to residents to keep cooperating with tight curbs imposed to stop COVID-19 spreading, saying they recognised their frustrations as China’s most populous city entered the fourth day of a two-stage lockdown on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A nurse puts on her protection suit before entering a COVID-19 patient’s ward, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cascais, Portugal, January 27, 2021. 2021. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals here for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* Britain may be wasting nearly 3 billion pounds ($3.94 billion) on contracts for COVID-19 gear that have not given value for money, with millions spent each month storing unneeded and sometimes out-of-date kit, a watchdog said on Wednesday.

* The European Union’s drug regulator has started reviewing Sanofi and its British partner GlaxoSmithKline’s application seeking conditional authorisation for their COVID-19 vaccine, the agency said on Wednesday.

AMERICAS

* U.S. President Joe Biden rolled up his sleeve for a second COVID-19 booster shot on Wednesday as his administration rolled out efforts to help Americans live with the coronavirus, including a new website and a renewed push for vaccinations and funding.

* The United States is planning to end a COVID-era order blocking asylum seekers and other migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border by May 23, a U.S. official told Reuters, adding that the decision has not yet been finalised.

* Much of Canada is facing a fresh COVID-19 wave just as authorities ease measures meant to curb the spread of the virus, emboldened by a brief drop in cases and relatively high vaccination rates.

* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday removed its COVID-19 notice against cruise travel.

* Drugstore chains Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid said on Wednesday they would start offering second booster doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, after the shots were cleared in the United States.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Coronavirus infections in Asia passed 100 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the region records a resurgence in cases, dominated by the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant.

* China’s financial hub of Shanghai reported 5,298 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and 355 symptomatic cases for March 30, the city government said on its official WeChat account on Thursday.

AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

* Ghana will start producing its own COVID-19 vaccines by January 2024, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Wednesday.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Children ages 5 to 11 who received the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were 68% less likely to be hospitalized during the Omicron wave in the United States than unvaccinated children, a study showed.

* The World Health Organization released an updated plan for COVID-19, laying out key strategies that, if implemented in 2022, would allow the world to end the emergency phase of the pandemic.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Activity in China’s factory and services sectors swung into negative territory in March, an official survey showed, contracting simultaneously for the first time since the peak of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

* Japanese factories posted their first rise in output in three months in February as resilience in global demand led to a rebound in car production, a welcome sign for policymakers hoping to keep the country’s fragile economic recovery on track.

* Asian stocks eased after this week’s global rally, following Wall Street’s overnight stumble, while oil dropped sharply as the United States weighed a massive draw from its reserves to rein in surging fuel prices. [MKTS/GLOB]

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