(Reuters) – Beijing residents fretted on Friday over tightening COVID curbs in its biggest district and dozens of new cases reported daily as China’s leaders reiterated their resolve to battle the virus and threatened action against critics of their strict measures.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* British police said on Friday they would investigate opposition leader Keir Starmer over a potential breach of COVID-19 lockdown rules in 2021 after receiving significant new information, delivering an embarrassing blow to the Labour Party.
* The first World Trade Organization meeting to discuss a draft agreement to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines went “very well”, its chair said on Friday, although some members voiced reservations.
* With more U.S. travelers expected to take to the skies and the roads this summer as COVID restrictions ease, unbridled demand will strain capacity in the leisure and travel industry and push prices even higher.
* Colombia will offer a second coronavirus booster shot to people aged 50 and over, the government said on Friday.
* As the death toll from COVID-19 in the United States nears the 1 million mark, members of the Native American tribe, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, are trying to cope with the devastation caused by the virus. ASIA-PACIFIC
* The Asian Games scheduled to take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September have been postponed until 2023 because of the COVID-19 situation, the governing Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said on Friday.
* China is setting up thousands of permanent PCR testing stations, with 9,000 already completed in Shanghai alone, as authorities seek to “normalise” tough pandemic controls even after the current round of lockdowns end.
* Beijing reported 66 new domestically transmitted COVID-19 infections during the past 24 hours, a disease control official at the Chinese capital said on Friday.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Aspen Pharmacare will switch about half of its COVID-19 vaccine production capacity onto other products if demand doesn’t pick up within six weeks, its CEO warned, as South Africa’s president and health officials urged more Africans to take up the shots.
* The U.S. health regulator said it was limiting the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults due to the risk of a rare blood clotting syndrome, the latest setback to the shot that has been eclipsed by rivals.
* The European Union’s drug regulator said it hoped to have vaccines adapted to address coronavirus variants, such as Omicron, approved by September. ECONOMIC IMPACT
* U.S. job growth increased more than expected in April as manufacturers boosted hiring, underscoring the economy’s strong fundamentals despite a decline in output in the first quarter.
* Japan’s airlines are betting on a travel recovery this summer after the COVID-19 doldrums, as many Japanese look to head overseas for the first time in years now that fully vaccinated residents no longer face quarantine curbs on their return.
* European airlines and hotel chains are seeing bookings recover to levels barely seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, led by demand for shorter trips, although long-distance travel remains on the ropes.
(Compiled by Shailesh Kuber and Sherry Jacob-Phillips; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D’Silva)