(Reuters) – China’s two biggest cities tightened COVID-19 curbs on their residents on Monday, raising new frustration and even questions about the legality of its uncompromising battle with the virus.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* 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. travellers expected to take to the skies and the roads this summer as COVID-19 restrictions ease, unbridled demand will strain capacity in the leisure and travel industry and push prices even higher. ASIA-PACIFIC
* Shanghai authorities were tightening the city-wide COVID-19 lockdown they imposed more than a month ago, prolonging into late May an ordeal that China’s capital Beijing was desperate to avoid by turning mass testing into an almost daily routine.
* If Shanghai Communist Party chief Li Qiang has been politically bruised by the city’s struggle to tame a COVID-19 outbreak that has infuriated residents and caused severe economic damage, there is little sign of it.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Israel said it was ending mandatory COVID-19 testing for arrivals at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, but foreigners would still have to test negative overseas before boarding a flight to the country.
* 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.
* China’s export growth slowed to single digits in April, while imports were unchanged as tighter and wider COVID-19 curbs halted factory production, disrupted supply chains and triggered a collapse in domestic demand.
* Bank of Japan policymakers remained unwavering in their resolve to keep massive monetary stimulus, even as some saw signs of change in the country’s low-inflation environment, minutes of their March policy meeting showed on Monday.
* Japan’s services sector activity expanded for the first time in four months in April, as consumer sentiment recovered after the government lifted coronavirus curbs following a decline in domestic Omicron infections.
* COVID-19 restrictions imposed earlier in the year, which have now been lifted, led to a strong pick-up in Indonesia’s economic activities, Margo Yuwono, head of Indonesia’s statistics bureau, told a news conference.
* 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.
* China’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $68 billion in April, the biggest drop in five and half years, official data showed, as the dollar climbed while foreign investors dumped Chinese stocks amid worries about the slowing economy.
(Compiled by Sherry Jacob-Phillips; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)