(Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday “quick action” to enforce the law against protesters who have blocked a key U.S. trade corridor and damaged auto production in both nations, the White House said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* France will ease some restrictions on foreign travellers from Saturday to reflect an improving pandemic situation, no longer requiring that those with a European vaccination certificate undertake a COVID-19 test before departing for France.
* France mobilised thousands of police, armoured personnel carriers and water cannon trucks in Paris to keep out convoys of motorists converging on the capital for a protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
* Belgium announced further easing of coronavirus restrictions to allow nightclubs to reopen and drop the requirement for primary school pupils to wear masks, as cases of the Omicron variant fell from an end-of-January peak.
* The estimated range of England’s COVID-19 reproduction “R” number is between 0.8 and 1.0, similar to its range the previous week, the UK Health Security Agency said, with the daily reduction in cases also around the same level.
* Canada is reviewing its pandemic-related border restrictions and will likely announce changes next week, as the worst of a Omicron variant-driven wave appears to have passed, Canada’s health minister said.
* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said all options were on the table to end blockades by anti-vaccine mandate protesters in Ottawa and at border crossings, adding the government was not currently contemplating sending in the army.
* A variety of U.S.-based groups are organising convoys of trucks and other vehicles for this weekend and early next month, emulating the protests against COVID-19 mandates that have roiled Canada and disrupted North American supply lines.
* Thousands of unvaccinated New York City municipal workers are up against a deadline on Friday to get a COVID-19 shot or get fired, with Mayor Eric Adams apparently determined to carry out the terminations despite an outcry from union leaders.
* Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley said they are dropping the requirement for staff to wear masks in the office.
* Toyota Motor Corp , Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co, said Friday the disruption at the Canadian border from trucking protests forced new production cuts at plants in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Alabama and Ontario.
* The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines that are part of the Quad group of countries’ pledge to donate shots across the world, manufactured by India’s Biological E, will roll out in the first half of 2022, the grouping said in a statement.
* Hong Kong reported a record number of new daily infections and China said it would fully support the city with its “dynamic zero” coronavirus strategy, as local authorities struggle to control a deepening outbreak.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Tunisia will lift the night curfew it imposed last month to curb the spread of COVID-19 from Thursday.
* Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has been isolating since Saturday after contracting the coronavirus, has tested negative, state-owned Anadolu news agency cited his doctor as saying.
* The U.S. FDA authorized Eli Lilly and Co’s COVID-19 antibody drug for people aged 12 and older at risk of severe illness, adding a tool that has been found to work against the highly contagious Omicron variant.
* A U.S. decision on Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years of age has been postponed for at least two months after the FDA said it needed more data.
* The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee said it was reviewing reports of heavy menstrual bleeding and absence of menstruation from women who had received COVID vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Inc.
* The WHO said it had added its first monoclonal antibody tocilizumab to its so-called pre-qualification list, an official list of medicines used as a benchmark for procurement by developing countries.
* Gilead Sciences Inc’s drug, remdesivir, showed antiviral activity against Omicron, Delta and other variants of the coronavirus in laboratory studies, the company said.
* Wall Street tumbled in choppy trade on Friday, European shares finished lower but still eked out their first weekly gain of the year as traders grappled with decades-high inflation and the prospect of a tightened rate hike timeline from the U.S. Federal Reserve. [MKTS/GLOB]
(Compiled by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Marta Frackowiak and Shailesh Kuber; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Milla Nissi and Anil D’Silva)