Italy reported 342 Covid-related deaths on Friday against 360 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 14,761 from 16,232.
Italy has registered 118,699 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world.
The country has reported 3.94m cases to date, Reuters reports.
Cyprus to impose two-week partial lockdown
A two-week partial lockdown will be imposed in Cyprus from Monday, with restrictions covering key Orthodox Easter holidays.
From 26 April to 9 May, people will be encouraged to work from home and must seek authorisation for only one non-work-related trip daily. Non-essential shops will close, and a 9pm to 5am curfew will be imposed.
Restrictions will be slightly eased for Orthodox Easter at the start of May.
Announcing the new restrictions, the health minister, Constantinos Ioannou, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency:
The growing number of infections, combined with intense pressure on the health system, cannot leave us indifferent and requires difficult decisions, drastic measures.
Ioannou said the measures would help the Mediterranean island’s vaccination rollout play catch up and ease pressure on hospitals, which are witnessing record patient admissions. “We are in a very difficult phase of the pandemic,” Ioannou said.
Cyprus is facing a third wave of coronavirus infections fuelled by the more contagious British variant. The situation marks a stark deterioration from September last year, when reported cases were often close to or at zero per day.
Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are to meet again on Friday to consider whether it is safe to resume injections of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to Reuters.
Distribution of the one-shot vaccines has been paused due to concerns over a possible link to blood clots in the brain. The panel had asked for more data before making a decision on whether to resume administrations.
Clots linked to the vaccine are rare. There have been six reported cases of brain blood clots accompanied by low platelets in the blood out of nearly 8 million doses administered in the US, while a handful more possible cases were under review.
Some panel members argued an extension of the pause could signal to the world that the vaccine had major safety issues.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said said she was hopeful for a quick decision on J&J’s vaccine, especially as EU regulators backed it this week.
This has been shared by Prof Christina Pagel, of University College London:
India’s Cadila Healthcare has started producing its potential Covid vaccine for which it will seek emergency use authorisation in May or June, its managing director told Reuters, with an aim to make up to 240m doses a year.
“We have just started producing doses,” Sharvil Patel said.
The World Health Organization emergencies director, meanwhile, has said India must control mobility and mixing to reduce a surge in infections.
EU regulator reiterates benefits of AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh risks
Europe’s drug regulator reiterated on Friday that benefits of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine outweigh any risks, after determining that serious side-effects of rare blood clots are likely to occur in one out of 100,000 vaccinated people, according to Reuters.
There was insufficient data on the vaccine from Europe to determine if blood clot risks with low blood platelets would differ with the each dose of the vaccine, or to provide context on its benefits and risks with regards to gender, the European Medicines Agency said.
Austria to let restaurants, hotels and theatres reopen on 19 May
Austria plans to loosen its Covid restrictions on 19 May, letting restaurants, hotels and theatres reopen their doors for the first time in more than five months, the government has announced.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter,” chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference.
According to Reuters, a government statement published at the same time said a night-time curfew would be scrapped, though meetings between 10pm and 5am would generally be limited to four adults.
EU to strike world’s largest vaccine deal with Pfizer
The agreement would be enough to inoculate the 450m EU population for two years.
It is the third contract agreed by the bloc with the two companies, which have already agreed to supply 600m doses of the two-dose vaccine this year under two previous contracts.
More comments from the news briefing have come in from Reuters.
“We will certainly add other potential vaccines, for example protein-based vaccines have also quite a potential,” Ursula Von der Leyen said.
The vaccines currently being developed by Novavax and Sanofi/Glaxo-Smith-Kline are examples of protein-based vaccines.