(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Thailand, Australia, Israel ease travel curbs
Thailand, Australia and Israel eased international border restrictions significantly on Monday for the first time in 18 months, offering a broad test of demand for travel worldwide.
The relaxation contrasts with tightening lockdowns elsewhere, notably in eastern Europe, where infections have hit record numbers, and in parts of China, which has taken a zero-tolerance approach to the pandemic despite relatively few cases.
Hundreds of vaccinated foreign tourists arrived in the Thai capital for quarantine-free travel after the Southeast Asian nation approved visitors from more than 60 countries, including China and the United States.
In Sydney, hundreds of citizens were greeted by family and friends as they became the first to arrive from abroad without a permit or the need to quarantine since April 2020.
In Israel individual tourists who have received COVID-19 vaccine boosters will be allowed to enter but not if more than six months have lapsed since their last dose, with some exceptions.
South Korea imposes vaccine passports
New rules aimed at moving South Koreans toward “living with COVID-19” came into effect on Monday, with the easing of a range of curbs and the introduction of vaccine passports at high-risk venues such as gyms, saunas and bars.
The switch of focus comes as more than 75% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated. The first phase of the revised rules is due to last for a month, with plans to scrap all restrictions by February.
Cambodia reopens to ‘new way of life’
Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, declared his country reopened and ready for a new way of life on Monday, having surpassed its vaccination target and recorded one of Asia’s highest inoculation rates.
Cambodia has vaccinated nearly 86% if its more than 16 million people, with 2 million given booster shots already and 300,000 school children age 5 set to be inoculated on Monday alone.
Novavax vaccine receives first emergency use authorization
Novavax and partner Serum Institute of India said on Monday they received emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia, making it the first approval anywhere in the world for Novavax.
Novavax also said it had filed an application for emergency use for the vaccine to Canada and the European Medicines Agency.
For Indonesia, the shot will be manufactured by Serum Institute and sold under the Indian company’s brand name, Covovax.
Singapore may see 2,000 COVID-19 deaths each year -minister
Singapore could see as many 2,000 COVID-19 deaths annually over time, mainly among the elderly, but it was focused on avoiding excess mortality, a minister said on Monday, as the country battles its biggest surge in infections.
At 0.2% Singapore’s case fatality rate is similar to the rate of deaths from pneumonia before the pandemic struck, said Janil Puthucheary, a senior minister of state in parliament.
It is also lower than other countries where cases surged before vaccination, he said.
China says U.S. COVID origins report is without credibility
A declassified U.S. intelligence report saying it was plausible that the pandemic originated in a laboratory is unscientific and has no credibility, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a statement on Sunday.
The updated U.S. intelligence briefing, published on Saturday, said that a natural origin and a lab leak were both plausible hypotheses to explain how SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, first infected humans, but that the truth may never be known.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)