What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: A COVID-19 testing centre sign is pictured at Duesseldorf Airport in Duesseldorf, Germany, December 21, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

EU to keep non-essential travel curbs amid chaotic border measures

European Union government leaders will agree on Thursday to maintain curbs on non-essential travel within the EU despite the bloc’s executive asking six countries to ease border restrictions on Tuesday.

The executive European Commission is seeking a coordinated approach to border curbs among EU states. It said on Tuesday it had given Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden 10 days to justify their unilateral restrictions, which Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said had “gone too far”.

Japan regions push to end state of emergency

Regional Japanese governments have requested emergency pandemic measures be lifted ahead of the March 7 scheduled end as new COVID-19 cases trend lower, the country’s economy minister said, adding the government will seek expert views before agreeing.

The state of emergency would likely be lifted in stages though businesses would be asked to continue closing early, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Wednesday.

AstraZeneca to miss 2nd-quarter EU vaccine supply target by half

AstraZeneca Plc has told the European Union it expects to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply in the second quarter, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday. The expected shortfall, which has not previously been reported, follows a big reduction in supplies in the first quarter and could hit the EU’s ability to meet its target of vaccinating 70% of adults by summer.

Contacted by Reuters, AstraZeneca did not deny what the official said, but a statement late in the day said the company was striving to increase productivity to deliver the promised 180 million doses.

India says virus variants not behind upsurge in cases

India said on Tuesday mutated versions of coronavirus were not responsible for an upsurge in cases in two states, a potential relief for a country where mask-wearing and social distancing have largely disappeared.

Maharashtra in the west and Kerala in the south account for 75% of India’s current active cases of about 147,000, and both states have seen a sudden rise in new infections in recent days, fuelling calls for a faster roll-out of vaccines.

More dancing in Australia, Madison Square Garden opens to fans

The Australian states of New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia will loosen restrictions on dancing at indoor venues and ease other curbs from Friday after several weeks of no COVID-19 cases. In NSW, 30 people will be allowed to dance at weddings and as many as 30 people will be able to sing indoors together, up from five currently.

New York City welcomed ticketholders at live sports events for the first time on Tuesday night since the pandemic brought sports to a halt nearly a year ago, with 2,000 fans watching the Knicks take on the Golden State Warriors at Madison Square Garden.

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