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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

U.S. to donate an additional 500 mln Covid-19 vaccines
The United States plans to donate an additional 500 million Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE to nations around the world, lifting the total the country is sharing to more than 1 billion doses, according to a source familiar with the plans.

President Joe Biden is hosting a virtual summit on Covid-19 on Wednesday and is likely to announce the new pledge then. The United States is pushing global leaders to endorse its targets for ending the Covid-19 pandemic, including ensuring 70% of the world's population is vaccinated by this time in 2022, according to a draft U.S. document viewed by Reuters.

Locked-down Melbourne beefs up security as protesters gather
Australia's Victoria state on Wednesday reported a jump in new Covid-19 infections as Melbourne braced for a third straight day of protests against lockdown restrictions, with police deploying in strength to disperse crowds.

Television footage showed crowds of protesters walking in the middle of streets in different parts of the city, with police sometimes giving chase.

Melbourne is in its sixth lockdown, the most of any Australian city since the pandemic began. Authorities are aiming for a staggered reopening, easing some curbs when the full vaccination rate for the adult population reaches 70%. The rates of people aged 16 and older who are fully vaccinated is 45% in Victoria.

Chinese city in semi-shutdown after first cases since Feb
China's northeastern city of Harbin, population 10 million, went into semi-shutdown after reporting new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases for the first time since early February. Three of 16 new local cases reported in China for Sept. 21 were in Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday.

Indoors venues such as cinemas, gyms and mahjong parlours were shut, and tourist sites were ordered to limit visitor traffic at half of their capacity, state television reported on Tuesday. The city would also suspend offline classes at all kindergartens, primary schools and high schools for a week from Wednesday, state television said late on Tuesday.

New Zealand says it may not get to zero Covid-19 cases again
New Zealand may not get back to having zero coronavirus cases in the community, the director general of health said on Thursday, as the country continues efforts to stamp out the infectious Delta variant of the virus.

"The important thing is we are going to keep finding any infections and basically continue to contact trace, test and isolate people so that we stop the virus circulating in the community," Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health told Radio New Zealand.

"Get that vaccination rate up over 90% ... that's absolutely our new means whereby we will be able to get back to the freedoms we had," he said.

IMF calls for coordinated action, accountability in Covid-19 battle
The chief economist of the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday called for coordinated action and greater accountability to ensure that the world meets a target of vaccinating 40% of people in every country against Covid-19 by the end of 2021.

"It's not enough to make announcements and pledges. You have to come through on it," said Gita Gopinath, adding it was critical to allocate adequate supplies of vaccines, especially to African countries with big deficits, by year's end, even if some shots did not get into people's arms until early next year.
(Reuters

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