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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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France seeks quick resumption of AstraZeneca shots
France expressed hope European medical experts would clear up questions over the safety of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 shot on Thursday, as experts warned the decision by major European states to stop using it posed a greater risk to public health.

In a coordinated step, Germany, France and Italy suspended the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine on Monday pending the outcome of an investigation by the bloc's medicines regulator into isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts.

They were joined by Sweden and Latvia on Tuesday, bringing to more than a dozen the number of EU countries that have acted since reports first emerged of thromboembolisms affecting people after they got the AstraZeneca shot.

German cases growing exponentially again
Coronavirus infections are rising exponentially in Germany, an expert at the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Tuesday.

The number of cases per 100,000 reported on Tuesday was 83.7, up from 68 a week ago, and the RKI has said that metric could reach 200 by the middle of next month.

"We are exactly on the flank of the third wave. That can no longer be disputed. And at this point we have eased the restrictions and that is speeding up the exponential growth," Dirk Brockmann, an epidemiologist at the RKI, told Germany's ARD television.

India widens curbs
India reported 24,492 new cases on Tuesday, the sixth straight day of more than 20,000 infections, as curbs to try to stop the spread were expanded in parts of the country that have recorded a surge.

Total cases have now risen to 11.41 million, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil. Deaths increased by 131 to 158,856 in the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.

The government has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out mutations of the virus as a factor, unlike in the West.

Daytime karaoke sessions spread virus in Japan
A rash of Japanese coronavirus clusters linked to daytime karaoke sessions by the elderly, including several linked to 93 cases in one prefecture, prompted a stern warning on Tuesday and calls for caution from authorities.

The recent clusters, which are spread across the country, come as the Tokyo metropolitan area is nearing the planned end of a state of emergency aimed at curbing the latest wave of cases.

At least 215 people have recently tested positive in cases linked to daytime karaoke sessions, a pursuit especially popular with the retired and elderly.

Manila orders anyone younger than 18 to stay indoors
The Philippine capital Manila will widen a ban on minors leaving their residences to include youths of up to 18-years old for two weeks starting on Wednesday, tightening restrictions in a bid to tackle a new surge of infections.

Only those aged 18-65 years old will be allowed out of their homes, the Metro Manila Development Authority said in a statement, citing an agreement among mayors.

The Philippines late last year started easing one of the world's longest and strictest lockdowns though a rule that anyone under 15 must stay indoors in Manila remained in place.
(PA)

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