(Reuters) -India and Thailand reported record daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, as a new wave of infections, combined with a shortage of hospital beds and vaccines, threatens to slow Asia’s recovery from the pandemic.
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.
* Denmark said it had not yet decided what to do with leftover AstraZeneca vaccines after a senior figure from the World Health Organization suggested the country would share them with other nations.
* Britain’s health ministry said there were no plans to halt rapid testing, after the Guardian newspaper reported the programme may be scaled back in England because of concerns about false positives.
* Four people died in Italy from rare blood clots after they received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, a report from the AIFA national pharmaceutical agency said.
* The pandemic prompted a rise in domestic violence, online fraud and child pornography last year in Germany, although there were fewer break-ins and car thefts.
* Finland’s health minister said the Nordic country was initiating talks with Russia over buying its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
* The United States is preparing for the possibility that a booster shot will be needed between nine to 12 months after people are initially vaccinated against COVID-19.
* Brazil’s hospitals were running out of drugs needed to sedate COVID-19 patients, with the government urgently seeking to import supplies amid reports of the seriously ill being tied down and intubated without effective sedatives.
* Chile’s health authorities said they believed a dip in the record case numbers seen over the past week represents a “stabilization” of a second COVID-19 wave.
* Many Indian hospitals were scrambling for beds and oxygen as COVID-19 infections surged to a new daily record on Thursday, with a second wave of infections centred on the rich western state of Maharashtra.
* Thailand reported the sharpest increase in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, prompting authorities to prepare new restrictions.
* Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said the government can take over hotels and turn them into isolation facilities as surging COVID-19 infections put a strain on the overstretched healthcare sector.
* A senior Japanese ruling party official said cancelling this year’s Olympics in Tokyo remains an option if the coronavirus crisis becomes too dire.
* New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country would donate vaccines for 800,000 people via the COVAX dose-sharing facility.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The coronavirus is killing one person every four minutes in Iran, state TV reported on Thursday.
* Many Africans who have received their first vaccine do not know when they will get a second shot because deliveries are delayed, the continent’s top public health official said.
* Merck & Co Inc said it plans a large study of what could become the first pill to target the coronavirus in people at risk of severe COVID-19, but will no longer pursue use of the experimental antiviral drug in hospitalized patients.
* German biotech firm CureVac said it has seen the number of requests for its experimental vaccine increase over the past few days, as concerns over rare side effects have hit some other coronavirus shots.
* The European Medicines Agency said it is reviewing available data on the use of GlaxoSmithKline’s monoclonal antibody to treat COVID-19 patients.
* World stock markets extended a five-day run of fresh highs on Thursday, fueled by upbeat earnings and strong U.S. economic data that herald a solid recovery ahead, while Russian markets tumbled at the prospect of the harshest U.S. sanctions in years. [MKTS/GLOB]
* U.S. retail sales rose by the most in 10 months in March as Americans received additional pandemic relief checks from the government and increased vaccinations allowed broader economic re-engagement.
* Italy cut its economic growth forecast for this year and said the budget deficit would surge to a 20-year high.
(Compiled by Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Anil D’Silva)