(Reuters) – A Canadian mayor said on Thursday police were prepared to physically remove anti-coronavirus mandate protesters who have blocked a vital U.S.-Canada trade route and forced U.S. automakers to reduce operations.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.
* French President Emmanuel Macron refused a Kremlin request that he take a Russian COVID-19 test when he arrived to see President Vladimir Putin this week, and was therefore kept at a distance from the Russian leader, two sources in Macron’s entourage told Reuters.
* Czech restaurant and hotel operators saw light at the end of the tunnel as the government cancelled rules requiring vaccination certificates to enter restaurants and events as Omicron infections started to ebb.
* Spain lifted a requirement to wear face masks outdoors as COVID-19 infections continue to recede from record heights but some Spaniards, wary of contagion, chose to keep the face coverings on.
* Prince Charles, who has tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time, recently met his mother Queen Elizabeth, but the 95-year-old British monarch is not displaying any symptoms, a palace source said.
* The Premier League said it has decided to remove a number of COVID-19 emergency measures such as wearing face coverings in indoor areas from Friday.
* Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday called on Canada to reopen a key bridge to traffic that has been snarled by large protests by truckers.
* Toyota Motor Corp said it is suspending production through Saturday at its plants in Ontario and Kentucky due to supply issues stemming from trucking protests.
* Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said.
* Hong Kong reported 986 new coronavirus infections as authorities scramble to contain an outbreak which medical experts warn could see 28,000 daily cases by the end of March, with the unvaccinated elderly a particular worry.
* The Philippines welcomed back more than 200 foreign tourists on Thursday, becoming the latest Southeast Asian nation to reopen in a bid to revive a battered tourism sector after its borders shut to visitors nearly two years ago.
* New Zealand police arrested 120 people as they attempted to forcefully remove hundreds of protesters camped outside parliament to protest vaccine mandates and coronavirus restrictions.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Tunisia will lift the night curfew it imposed last month to curb the spread of COVID-19 from Thursday, a statement from the government said.
* Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has been isolating since Saturday after contracting the coronavirus, tested negative for COVID-19, state-owned Anadolu news agency cited his doctor as saying.
* Africa is moving out of the pandemic phase and moving towards a situation where it will be managing the virus over the long term, the head of the WHO on the continent said.
* An antibody-based COVID-19 therapy developed by GSK and Vir Biotechnology retains neutralising activity against the emerging BA.2 form of the Omicron coronavirus variant, according to data from a laboratory study cited by Vir.
* A Japanese Health Ministry committee has approved the oral COVID-19 drug made by Pfizer, the ministry said.
* Major global stock indexes fell on Thursday under pressure from crucial U.S. inflation data, falling technology shares and rising benchmark bond yields. [MKTS/GLOB]
(Compiled by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Valentine Baldassari and Shailesh Kuber; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Anil D’Silva)