Spain 'desperate' for UK tourists, Sweden postpones easing: COVID-19 daily bulletin
Updated 00:56, 23-Apr-2021
Aden-Jay Wood


- Spain is "desperate to welcome" UK tourists this summer, Tourism Minister Fernando Valdes has said. "I think we will be ready here in Spain. We also think that the vaccination scheme in the UK is going pretty well, so hopefully we'll be seeing this summer the restart of holidays," he added.

- Sweden is to postpone its plans to ease some restrictions amid a surge in infections. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said: "When the strain on healthcare eases and the spread of infection drops, only then will the government be ready to start lifting restrictions. But we are not there yet."

- The European Commission has decided not to take up an option to buy an additional 100m doses of AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria jab, an EU spokesperson has said.

- New infections in the Netherlands rose by 9,868 in the past 24 hours, the highest daily rise since January, as the country struggles to battle against the third wave of the virus.

- Germany's upper house approved a new law that allows the government to have more control in local regions to bring a third wave of the pandemic under control. The controversial law now needs to be signed off by the president in order to be passed.

- The German Football League will place all teams in the top two divisions into quarantine towards the end of the season in order to ensure the campaign finishes in time for the summer's European Championships. From May 12, all individuals who test negative are to enter a compulsory quarantine training camp until the end of the season.

- Norway is to lend more than 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab to Sweden and Iceland, the country's Health Minister Bent Hoie said. "We will get the doses we lend back as soon as we ask for them," he added.

- The World Health Organization has confirmed it will on April 26 review China's Sinopharm vaccine for possible emergency use listing, while the Sinovac jab will be reviewed on May 3.

- Germany says it wants to buy up to 30 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V jab in June, July and August as long as Europe's drugs regulator gives the shot the all-clear, Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer has said.

- The European Commission has said it is considering all options to ensure AstraZeneca meets its vaccine delivery commitments with the EU. The statement comes after news organization Politico said the Commission was working on legal proceedings against the drugmaker after it cut the number of shots delivered to the bloc.

- Hungary is hopeful it can reopen restaurant dining on terraces and shorten a nighttime curfew from Saturday amid a slowdown in new infections, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, has said. 

- Greece will begin inoculating people with the Johnson & Johnson jab on May 5, after Europe's drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, backed its use.


The European Commission has said it is considering all options to ensure AstraZeneca meets its vaccine delivery commitments with the EU. /Reuters

The European Commission has said it is considering all options to ensure AstraZeneca meets its vaccine delivery commitments with the EU. /Reuters



Nawied Jabarkhyl in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls for an investigation into text messages he sent to one of the country's richest businessmen saying he could "fix" tax issues.

James Dyson was being asked to help produce ventilators in the UK as the country grappled with the pandemic around a year ago.

The messages have raised concerns about lobbying in British politics, but Downing Street says the need to save lives required unconventional tactics.

Elsewhere, driving tests are resuming in some parts of the UK from Thursday. There's a backlog of around 420,000 tests because of COVID-19.

And the Brit Awards ceremony, which celebrates British music, will take place in front of an audience of 4,000 people next month – another step in getting large crowds back into live events.


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Toni Waterman in Brussels

Belgium's reproduction, or R, rate is back above 1.0, meaning COVID-19 is once again increasing in the community. The number of new infections increased by 1 percent last week compared with the week before, hitting an average of 3,479 cases a day. 

Health experts and government officials will meet again on Friday to discuss rules on how to reopen the hospitality sector. Cafes, restaurants and bar terraces are slated to resume operations on May 8.

Some reports have suggested that an 8 p.m. closing time may be enforced, but the sector is pushing to keep terraces open until at least 11 p.m.. All bars and restaurants have been shuttered since October, except for takeaway service.


Spain is 'desperate to welcome' UK tourists this summer, Spain's Tourism Minister Fernando Valdes has admitted. /AP

Spain is 'desperate to welcome' UK tourists this summer, Spain's Tourism Minister Fernando Valdes has admitted. /AP


Ross Cullen in Paris

Prime Minister Jean Castex will hold his weekly COVID-19 news conference at 6 p.m. local time on Thursday. The health secretary and education secretary will join him for the government update. 

Castex will outline the issues surrounding the ongoing high case numbers and high number of deaths in France. He will also outline ministers' strategy for easing current restrictions, such as opening certain cultural locations and parts of the hospitality sector from the middle of next month. 

France has broken through the mark of 5 million second doses of the coronavirus vaccine and the prime minister is set for his second shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Primary schools are set to reopen on April 26 with reinforced protocols, including classes closing as soon as one pupil tests positive. All other children in the lesson will be considered contact cases.

Penelope Liersch in Budapest

Hungary is nearing 3.5 million coronavirus vaccines, the figure needed to allow outdoor dining to reopen. Currently, just over 3.4 million people have had at least one dose of vaccine.  

The number of cases reported in the past day has risen by more than 3,500, a thousand more cases than were recorded on Wednesday. Hospitalizations have dropped by more than 500 for the second day, with more than 7,500 patients still being treated. The number of patients on ventilators has also decreased. 

In the past 24 hours, another 214 people have died from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll to more than 26,000.

WATCH BELOW: Germany's upper house approves new controversial law




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