(Reuters) – Melbourne will exit months of COVID-19 lockdown next week ahead of schedule, while New Zealand reported its biggest rise in infections in six weeks.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Russia reported a record 986 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours and 31,299 new cases, its highest one-day infection tally since the pandemic began.
* The country will lift its COVID-19 ban on flights to countries including Tunisia, Thailand, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Iran, Slovenia, and Oman from Nov. 9, the government coronavirus task force said.
* Britain’s defences against COVID-19 are working and the pandemic situation is currently stable, health minister Sajid Javid said.
* The French government will ask lawmakers to extend its pandemic state of emergency until July 31 next year to deal with the continuing coronavirus crisis, spokesman Gabriel Attal said.
* The U.S. government will ship 2.4 million doses of vaccine to Pakistan on Thursday, a White House official said.
* A U.S. judge ruled that Maine can bar religious exemptions to its requirement that healthcare workers in the state get vaccinated against COVID-19.
* Vaccination rates against COVID-19 in the United States have risen by more than 20 percentage points after multiple institutions adopted vaccine requirements, while case numbers and deaths from the virus are down, Biden administration officials said.
* New Zealand reported its biggest rise in infections in six weeks, with all cases detected in Auckland, raising prospects of a further extension of lockdown restrictions in the country’s largest city beyond next week.
* Australia has cancelled its men’s and women’s Open tournaments in a hammer blow for the struggling domestic game as COVID-19 and travel restrictions continue to bite.
Japan’s government will begin preparations to restart a popular subsidised travel programme that was suspended late last year due to the pandemic, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Nigeria will require civil servants to show proof of vaccination or a negative test for the disease to gain access to their offices from the beginning of December, a presidential committee said on Wednesday.
* U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists said they did not receive enough data in time to do their own analysis of Johnson & Johnson’s application for a booster dose of its vaccine, but the agency’s review of company studies raised some red flags.
* People who got Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as a first shot had a stronger immune response when boosted with vaccines from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech or Moderna, a study run by the National Institutes of Health showed.
* World markets stayed focused on rising inflation on Thursday as tech stocks rebooted global equities, oil and gas prices fired up again but the dollar and benchmark government bond yields both stalled. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The oil market continues to face uncertainties stemming from the pandemic, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo told reporters on the sidelines of an energy forum in Moscow.
* Germany’s top economic institutes cut their joint forecast for 2021 growth in Europe’s largest economy to 2.4% as supply bottlenecks hampered manufacturing, but they raised their prediction for next year.
* The Bank of Japan must maintain its massive stimulus even when the economy rebounds from the pandemic’s hit, board member Asahi Noguchi said, reinforcing expectations the country will lag behind in withdrawing crisis-mode policy measures.
(Compiled by Federico Maccioni and Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Bernadette Baum)