Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday Britain would accelerate its COVID-19 vaccination programme, to try to contain a fast-spreading variant first identified in India that could knock a re-opening of the economy off track.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* Germany classified Britain as a coronavirus risk area due to the emergence there of a highly infectious variant first detected in India. read more
* Italy's hopes of producing its own vaccine were thrown into doubt after the state audit court rejected a plan to pump public funds into local biotech company ReiThera, sources said. read more
* Ireland's health service operator shut down all its IT systems to protect them from a ransomware attack, crippling diagnostic services, disrupting COVID-19 testing and forcing hospitals to cancel appointments.
* The World Health Organization urged rich countries to reconsider plans to vaccinate children and instead donate COVID-19 shots to the COVAX scheme for poorer countries, and said it was in touch with the United States about sharing its vaccines. read more
* Some Americans reacted warily to new federal guidance allowing people to go without masks in most places, suggesting that many do not feel safe enough yet from COVID-19 to lose their face coverings.
* Brazil began a mass vaccination program on Friday for athletes, coaches, staff and journalists heading to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July. read more
* Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the alarm over COVID-19's rapid spread of through India's vast countryside, as 4,000 people died from the virus for the third straight day and total infections crossed 24 million.
* Japan has declared a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by COVID-19.
* Singapore announced the strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since easing its lockdown last year.
* Mainland China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including its first local transmissions in more than three weeks. read more
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Turkey will ease cautiously out of a full lockdown next week and lift restrictions more significantly in June, President Tayyip Erdogan said, as cases have come down sharply from the peak of a fierce second wave. read more
* More coronavirus variants are bound to be detected, a World Health Organization expert said, but now "we know what to do".
* U.S. stocks extended their recovery on Friday as investors set aside inflation worries and bought shares hammered by the week's volatility, with the shift back into riskier assets dragging on the dollar.
* U.S. retail sales unexpectedly stalled in April as the boost from stimulus checks faded, but an acceleration is likely in the coming months amid record savings and a reopening economy.
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