Covid news update: latest on coronavirus pandemic today

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Covid News Update: Latest On Coronavirus Pandemic Today
Relatives wearing protective gear carry the body of a victim who died of Covid-19 during a funeral procession in Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley. Photo by ABID BHAT/AFP via Getty Images
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Ireland

Europe

  • Europe's medicines regulator is reviewing reports of a rare nerve-degenerating disorder in people who received AstraZeneca's shots, raising fresh questions about potential side effects of the vaccine.
  • Health minister Jens Spahn defended another U-turn by Germany on the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying making it available to all adults who want it would protect more people against Covid-19 more quickly.
  • Britain's decision to advise all under 40-year-olds to take an alternative vaccine to the Oxford/AstraZeneca one will not affect the country's plan to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July, a senior health official said.

Worldwide

  • Canada said it was prepared to discuss an intellectual property rights (IP) waiver for Covid-19 vaccines while also stressing the importance of protecting IP and the integral role industry played in developing the medicines.
  • Japan extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other areas until the end of May to stem a surge in Covid-19 cases, but prime minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated that it is still possible to host Tokyo Olympics this summer.
  • Vietnam's health ministry reported its first death in a patient who received AstraZeneca's vaccine shot, as the country is battling a new outbreak.
  • India reported another record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing total new cases for the week to 1.57 million, as its vaccination rate falls dramatically due to a lack of supplies and transport problems.
  • Tunisia will impose a full lockdown against Covid-19 for one week from Sunday, prime minister Hichem Mechichi said.
  • All public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace in Saudi Arabia will be required to get a Covid-19 vaccination, the human resources ministry said, without specifying when this would be implemented.

Medical Developments

  • Novavax said the distribution of its vaccine in Japan is expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022 and continue for the near-term, predicting the need for protection against variants in the future.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech have filed for a full approval for their Covid-19 vaccine, which is now authorised only for emergency use, the drugmakers said.
  • Pfizer has also sought Swiss regulatory approval for its Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 12 to 15, regulator Swissmedic said.

Economy

  • Global stocks rallied, with the MSCI's all-country index hitting a record peak after US jobs data for April came in well below expectations.
  • European Union insurers will be stress tested for the impact of a prolonged Covid-19 pandemic scenario which could affect the value of their investments and business volumes.
  • The Bank of England does not expect to see a wave of bankruptcies among British firms when the government ends its coronavirus emergency support for the economy, chief economist Andy Haldane said.
  • The US Chamber of Commerce said the federal government should end the $300 (€250) weekly supplemental unemployment benefit in president Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion (€1.6 trillion) Covid-19 aid package to ease a labour shortage that limited hiring in April.

Thursday, May 6th

Ireland

  • The Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to the public for the first time in Ireland.
  • Lidl will stock Covid-19 antigen tests across the country from tomorrow.
  • Ireland's athletes are set to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with donated vaccine doses, ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • A leading cardiologist has warned that Covid-19 should serve as an eye-opener to Irish people to improve their own general health and well-being.
  • The HSE has asked for “flexibility” to allow the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, also known as the Janssen vaccine, for people aged under 50.

Europe

  •  The Group of Seven meeting in London was hit by a Covid-19 scare when India's foreign minister and his entire team said they were self-isolating after two delegation members tested positive.
  • British officials are currently looking at which vaccines would offer the best booster shot for vulnerable people later this year and no decisions have been taken yet.

Worldwide

  • New York's Major League Baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets, will give free tickets to fans who get vaccinated against the coronavirus at their ballparks before the games, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.
  • With Covid-19 vaccine demand declining in the United States, some Canadians facing third-wave lockdowns are flying south to get inoculated, perhaps months earlier than they would be able to at home.
  • Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said that US President Joe Biden will soon send doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines to the South American country, which has recorded the world's second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak.
  • India reported a record 412,262 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday and a record 3,980 daily death toll, as a second wave of infections swamps the health system and spreads from cities into the vast countryside.
  • Australian officials reinstated social distancing measures across greater Sydney, as they scrambled to find missing transmission links in a Covid-19 case connected to an Indian variant of the virus.
  • A variant of Covid-19 first diagnosed in India has been detected in Kenya, days after the same variant was detected in neighbouring Uganda.
  • Moderna Inc said on Wednesday early human trial data shows that a third dose of either its current Covid-19 shot or an experimental new vaccine candidate increases immunity against variants of Covid-19 first found in Brazil and South Africa.

Economy

  • World shares and commodity prices held firm on Thursday as investors switched to cyclicals amid hopes of a strong economic recovery, but drugmakers' shares came under pressure after Washington backed waiving patents for Covid-19 vaccines.

Wednesday, May 5th

Ireland

  • Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has pointed towards a return to normality for the country by late summer.
  • Consideration is being given to running Covid-19 mass vaccination centres on a 24-hour basis.The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) asked the health service to consider the move, as a possible measure to scale up the rollout of the programme.
  • The French embassy in Dublin is receiving “desperate” calls in relation to Ireland’s hotel quarantine system, according to the French Ambassador to Ireland.
  • A walk-in Covid-19 test centre is open in the town of Milford in Co Donegal today amid ongoing concern about the high number of infections in the county.

Europe

  • Everyone aged over 50 in Britain will be offered a third Covid-19 vaccination jab in the autumn in an attempt to eradicate the threat from the infection entirely by Christmas, the Times newspaper reported.
  • Madrid's conservative regional leader won a landslide re-election on Tuesday, propelled to victory by her refusal to close down bars and shops during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • British new car sales posted a 30-fold increase in April, according to preliminary data, as dealerships reopened to the public in England.
  • Portugal said it will protect the rights of migrant fruit and vegetable pickers, and keep them safe after a wave of infections in the sector revived concerns over the conditions they live in.

Worldwide

  • US President Joe Biden announced a goal to vaccinate 70 per cent of adults with at least one Covid-19 shot by the July 4th Independence Day holiday and said the government would inoculate 12- to 15-year-olds as soon as allowed.
  • The Canadian province of Alberta reported its first death of a patient from a rare blood clot condition after receiving the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, its chief medical officer confirmed late Tuesday.
  • Canada's pandemic-era policy of turning back asylum-seekers trying to enter between official border crossings is unlawful and violates their rights, a legal action alleges.
  • India's Covid deaths rose by a record 3,780 during the last 24 hours, a day after the country crossed the grim milestone of 20 million infections, while S&P Global Ratings said the second wave could hurt the nation's near-term economic recovery. Eight Asiatic lions at a zoo have contracted the virus.
  • Australia's prime minister, under pressure to overturn rules barring travel from India, said it was "highly unlikely" travellers would face maximum penalties of five years jail and a $66,000 (AUS) fine.
  • The ban on travellers from India by Australia has added "anxiety" for its cricketers after the Indian Premier League's (IPL) suspension, Australia vice-captain Pat Cummins said.
  • Japan is considering extending a coronavirus-spurred state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and other major urban areas, sources said on Wednesday, a move that could cast doubt on the planned Summer Olympics.
  • Australia's most populous state on Wednesday reported its first locally acquired Covid-19 case in more than a month and health authorities are working to trace the source of the infection.
  • Nepal urgently needs at least 1.6 million AstraZeneca doses to administer second shots as it records a surge in new cases.
  • Iraq's health minister resigned over a fire from an exploding oxygen tank at a Baghdad Covid-19 hospital last month.
  • The United Arab Emirates has extended a ban on entry for travellers coming from India, the foreign ministry said.

Saturday, May 1st

Ireland

  • Five new states will be added to Ireland's hotel quarantine list, the Minister for Health has confirmed. Arrivals from Costa Rica, Georgia, India, Iran, and Mongolia are now set to complete mandatory hotel quarantine in the Republic after 4am on Tuesday, May 4th.
  • The majority of fines for breaches of Covid-19 restrictions are issued over the weekend, new figures from An Garda Síochána show.
  • The Government has been warned of the risk of the “significant impact of a further wave” of Covid-19 infections if social contacts increase too much before vaccines take full effect.
  • Seven new walk-in Covid-19 testing centres will open across the country in the coming days.

Europe

  • Hungary reopens spas, zoos and gyms to those with proof of vaccination.
  • Turkish police detained 212 demonstrators after scuffles broke out at May Day marches on Saturday amid a coronavirus-related curfew, according to the Istanbul governor's office and Reuters witnesses.
  • Orthodox Christians flocked to Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday to celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony, gathering in far greater numbers than last year because coronavirus restrictions have eased.
  • The Netherlands has postponed a further easing of lockdown measures until at least May 18th as Covid-19 infections remain high and hospitals are struggling with large numbers of coronavirus patients, the government said on Saturday.

Worldwide

  • Protesters against military rule marched in Myanmar on Saturday three months after a coup ended a democratic transition, with several small blasts compounding a sense of crisis that a UN envoy warned could bring state administration to a halt.
  • India recorded more than 400,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time on Saturday as it battles a devastating second wave, and the country's massive new vaccination drive was hampered in some areas by shortages of the shots.
  • A forum of scientific advisers set up by the government warned Indian officials in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country, five scientists who are part of the forum told Reuters.
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Friday, April 30th

Ireland

Europe

  • Some EU countries still want Brussels to strike a deal to buy Valneva's vaccine candidate despite a recent setback in talks, as the bloc aim to shore up and diversify supplies, sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.
  • All people in France aged 18 and over will be able to get Covid-19 vaccines from June 15th onwards, said French President Emmanuel Macron on his Twitter feed, as the country aims to ease its way out of a third Covid lockdown.
  • Sweden said it would take three weeks longer then expected to offer all adults their first Covid-19 shot after it decided not to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Britain said it would host a summit in 2022 to raise money for vaccine research and development to support an international coalition seeking to speed up the production of shots for future diseases.

Worldwide

  • Doctors and scientists in India are warning of the dire hazards of trying to make medical oxygen at home as the country faces a shortage of the gas in its Covid-19 battle and various videos and tips on DIY methods do the rounds on social media.
  • Thailand will next month receive another 3.5 million doses of Sinovac Biotech's vaccine, a senior health official said, as the country seeks to shore-up supplies amid its biggest outbreak so far.
  • The Olympics must not be a burden on medical systems, Japan's chief government spokesman said, amid worries that daily athlete testing will tax health resources already stressed in fighting a rebound of Covid-19 cases.
  • Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he expects the United States to send Mexico around  five million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine.
  • Brazil's Senate approved a bill to suspend patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines, tests and medications during the pandemic.
  • Turkey's official Medicines and Medical Devices Agency said the country has granted emergency use authorization to Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.
  • Uganda has detected the Indian variant, stirring fears the East African nation could suffer a resurgence of cases just when its outbreak has waned, a senior health official said.
  • Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said they had applied to the European health regulator to extend the marketing authorisation for their coronavirus vaccine for use in adolescents aged 12 to 15.

Economy

  • World shares softened following Thursday's record peak on strong US data and earnings, while the dollar was on course to narrowly avoid a fourth straight weekly decline.
  • Taiwan's economy grew at its fastest pace in more than a decade in the first three months of 2021 as the “work from home” boom sparked strong global demand for the island's hi-tech exports.
  • The economies of Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy contracted in the first quarter, data showed, as restrictions to curb a third wave of coronavirus stifled output.

Wednesday, April 28th

Ireland

  • The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is meeting to consider advice on the next phase of reopening society, with the return of non-essential retail, personal services, more outdoor sports and religious services in May under consideration.
  • Ireland will be in a “very good position by June” in terms of its Covid-19 vaccine rollout, the Taoiseach has said.
  • The HSE is redrawing its vaccination programme to include a more rapid rollout in the coming weeks. Changes to advice on the rollout could see people under 50 moved up the queue, the Dáil has heard.
  • Ireland is still on track to offer a first Covid-19 vaccine dose to over 80 per cent of the population by the end of June, according to the Minister for Health.
  • Leo Varadkar has said the Irish public should be “less puritanical” about people meeting and socialising outdoors as Covid-19 restrictions lift.
  • Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that maintaining pandemic supports forever “isn’t tenable” but that no decision has been taken to cut them at the end of June as yet.

Europe

  • The European Commission's lawsuit against drugmaker AstraZeneca over vaccine supplies began at a Brussels court, where the bloc's lawyers pressed for immediate deliveries from all factories. The parties agreed to hold two more hearings on May 26th.
  • European Union countries introducing their own vaccination certificates would be left with a dangerous myriad of disjointed solutions if the 27-nation bloc fails to build a joint system, a senior official said.
  • In Poland, children from the first three grades are expected to go back to school next week and people should not have to wear masks outdoors from May 15th if they keep a safe distance from others, the health minister said.
  • Vaccines deployed in England can cut transmission of the coronavirus in households by up to half, data from Public Health England showed.
  • Britain is working on using the existing National Health Service coronavirus app to show that people have received their vaccine for international travel, the transport secretary said.

Worldwide

  • India's toll surged past 200,000 deaths as shortages of oxygen, medical supplies and hospital staff compounded a record number of new infections.
  • Pakistan recorded more than 200 deaths in a day for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
  • South Korea said it will offer some exemptions to mandatory quarantine measures for people who have been fully inoculated against Covid-19.
  • Japan's government plans to spend 500 billion yen (€3.8 billion) from emergency reserves to support businesses hit by measures taken under a state of emergency to fight the pandemic, news agency Kyodo said.
  • The Biden administration on Tuesday said it was easing restrictions on Chinese and other students travelling to the United States this fall.
  • Mexico will produce Russia's Sputnik V vaccine domestically, its foreign minister said on a visit to Moscow.
  • A Senate inquiry into the Brazilian government's handling of the pandemic kicked off on Tuesday, with lawmakers launching what may be a major headache for the president ahead of next year's election.
  • Iran has found three suspected cases of the coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa, its health minister said.

Medical developments

  • Experts say medical waste firms risk becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of debris and environmentalists are demanding more sustainable solutions as the vaccine rollout accelerates and millions of syringes, needles and tiny vials are thrown away.
  • German biotech startup BioNTech is seeking details of reports from Israel of cases of heart inflammation among people receiving the Covid-19 vaccine it is making with Pfizer. It also expects the shot will win approval from the Chinese health authorities "by June at the latest", its chief executive said.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not found a link between heart inflammation and Covid-19 vaccines, the agency's director said on Tuesday.

Economy

  • World shares cosied up close to record highs and the dollar and global bond yields nudged up, as traders waited to see if the US Federal Reserve utters the dreaded 'T' word later - tapering of its mass stimulus programme.
  • Paraguay's central bank has cut its annual economic growth forecast to 3.5 per cent from 4 per cent, amid a surge in cases and a stalled vaccine rollout.

Monday, April 26th

Ireland

  • A “slow” reopening of the country as Covid-19 restrictions loosen will help avoid setbacks and a fourth wave of the disease, the Tánaiste has said.
  • Today brings a substantial easing of Covid-19 restrictions, with the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, zoos and other outdoor visitor attractions.
  • Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy is highest among younger adults in Ireland, according to a new Ipsos MRBI survey.
  • Ireland is in a different position to that of last summer during the Covid-19 pandemic and case numbers are set to begin climbing, according to an infectious diseases expert.
  • Health conditions that carry the most risk of having a severe outcome from Covid-19 include chronic heart disease, neurological conditions, kidney disease and cancer, a new Irish study has found.
  • 1reland is to donate 700 oxygen concentrators to India as part of efforts to assist with the devastating Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

Europe

  • A British minister flatly denied a report that prime minister Boris Johnson said he would rather bodies piled “high in their thousands” than order a third social and economic lockdown to stem coronavirus infections.
  • Fully vaccinated American tourists will be able to visit the European Union over the coming months without restrictions, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said.
  • Germany's coronavirus infection rate rose at the weekend despite stricter restrictions and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he did not expect moves to ease curbs before the end of May.

Worldwide

  • Children attending summer camp can get within three feet of each other but should wear masks to limit the spread of Covid-19, according to fresh guidance issued by the US CDC.
  • Canada's health department said 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine imported from Emergent BioSolutions' Baltimore facility were safe and met quality specifications.
  • India's government will not import Covid-19 vaccines itself but expects states and companies to do so, two government officials told Reuters.
  • Thailand's government slapped restrictions on travel from India over concerns of imported coronavirus cases and closed more venues in Bangkok, even as it came under fire for not doing enough to contain a spike in infections.
  • The Philippines announced that the total number of coronavirus cases it had recorded had exceeded one million as it continued to record thousands of new infections in the capital region, the epicentre of its latest outbreak.
  • Turkey's cabinet will discuss adopting a tighter lockdown on Monday as President Tayyip Erdogan tries to prevent a second lost year of tourism revenues, officials said.
  • Turkish pharmaceutical firm Viscoran İlaç will produce Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine at its plants, with production to launch in upcoming months, the company said in a joint statement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

Economy

  • European stocks clawed their way higher on Monday as world markets began the week in a relatively upbeat mood following further signs last week that economies are recovering rapidly.
  • German business morale improved only slightly in April as a third wave of Covid-19 infections and a semiconductor shortage in the motor vehicle sector slowed a recovery in Europe's largest economy, a survey showed.

Friday, April 23rd

Ireland

  • The director general of the HSE, Paul Reid, has said that his frustration levels with delays of deliveries of AstraZeneca would “blow the roof off”.
  • The Health Protection Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has received a total of 29 reports of blood clotting events of all types among people who have received the Covid-19 vaccine, and a “small number” of serious clotting-type events combined with low platelets among people who received the AstraZeneca jab.
  • The HSE’s chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry has said that he believes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a good vaccine and that it should be used.
  • Outdoor visitor attractions, hairdressers and beauty salons are trading again in the North.
  • Ongar in Dublin has the highest 14-day incidence rate in the country according to the latest Local Electoral Area (LEA) data from the HSE.
  • Liz Canavan, assistant secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach, said people can afford to be “cautiously optimistic” but they need to “stay vigilant”.

Europe

  • Europe's drug regulator approved an expansion in manufacturing capacity of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Belgium, while recommending an approval for a new filling line at Moderna's site in Spain.
  • Germany and Hungary have backed a proposed lawsuit by the European Union against AstraZeneca over its failure to deliver supplies of Covid-19 vaccines according to its contract with the bloc, two EU diplomats and a source said.
  • France will step up donations to the international Covax vaccine programme in the coming months with a donation of 500,000 shots, including from suppliers other than AstraZeneca, President Emmanuel Macron said.

Worldwide

  • New daily cases of Covid-19 in Canada could almost double to more than 15,000 from 8,600 by the end of April unless stricter measures are taken as new coronavirus variants spread, health officials warned.
  • Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet again on Friday to consider whether it is safe to resume injections of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, as senior US health officials prepare for a green light.
  • Brazil’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is being put at risk by people failing to show up for their second shot, with 1.5 million people missing appointments for the follow-up dose needed to maximise protection, according to the Health Ministry.
  • People scrambled for life-saving oxygen supplies across India on Friday and patients lay dying outside hospitals as the capital New Delhi recorded the equivalent of one death from Covid-19 every five minutes. The World Health Organization (WHO) emergencies director said the country must control mobility and mixing to reduce a surge in infections.
  • Japan declared “short and powerful” states of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures as the country struggles to contain a resurgent coronavirus pandemic three months before the Olympics.

Economy

  • A deluge of new orders swept through British businesses in April as the country lifted some of its COVID-19 restrictions, according to a survey that pointed to a rapid rebound for the pandemic-hit UK economy.
  • German lawmakers approved a debt-financed €60 billion ($71 billion) supplementary budget to boost aid for businesses and healthcare during the pandemic, which would lift annual new borrowing to a record high.

Thursday, April 22nd:

Ireland

  • The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) will meet today to consider the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following the European Medicine Agency's (EMA) findings that the benefits of the shot outweigh the risk of blood clots.
  • Pfizer have announced the family members of the company's employees in Ireland will be offered the vaccine from next month.
  • Taoiseach Micheál Martin has signalled hairdressers, non-essential retail and religious services will be prioritised under the next stage in the easing of restrictions which is due to be announced next week.
  • Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said international holidays will resume in "months rather than weeks". The Green Party leader said he did not want to speculate on exact dates, as he did not want to raise expectations and then dash hopes.

Europe

  • The European Commission is working on legal proceedings against AstraZeneca after the drugmaker cut Covid-19 vaccine deliveries to the EU, sources familiar with the matter said. The Commission said it was considering all options to ensure AstraZeneca met its commitments with the EU on deliveries of vaccines.
  • Germany wants to buy up to a total 30 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in June, July and August as long as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives the shot the green light, the premier of the state of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, said on Thursday.
  • Hungary is expected to reopen restaurant terraces and shorten a night curfew from Saturday as the vaccination campaign allows for a further reopening of the economy, prime minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff has said.

Worldwide

  • A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson's vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint, shoddy cleanups and poorly-trained staff to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the FDA. Also, US president Joe Biden announced tax credits for certain businesses that pay employees who take time off to get vaccines.
  • India reported on Thursday 314,835 new cases of the coronavirus over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily increase recorded anywhere. Some hospitals in the Indian capital of New Delhi have run out of oxygen, putting lives at risk, the city's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said.
  • India's only domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has been found to be 78 per cent effective in a second analysis of clinical trials done around the country, its makers said.
  • Pfizer is in discussions with India and is committed to making its Covid-19 vaccine available for deployment in the country, the US drugmaker said.
  • Syria's government has received its first delivery of Covid-19 vaccines through the global COVAX initiative, with almost 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot, UN officials said.
  • South African researchers hope to next week resume a study using J&J's vaccine to immunise healthcare workers, one of the scientists leading the programme said.
  • Japan is expected to issue a third state of emergency in Tokyo and three western prefectures, including Osaka and Kyoto, which could last for about two weeks.
  • Malaysia's government enacted a new emergency law allowing it to use funds derived from oil and gas contributions to pay for vaccine procurement, as it looks to ramp up its Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Economy

  • Global stocks ground higher while oil ebbed on Thursday as markets were torn between betting on economic recovery in the US and other developed markets, or worrying about a surge in Covid-19 cases in countries such as India.
  • Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced new tax measures to help the economy recover from the effects of the pandemic, cutting the basic business tax rate by two percentage points to 22 per cent from next year.

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