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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Nearly a dozen countries resume AstraZeneca shots
Almost a dozen countries resumed use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 shots on Friday as EU and British regulators said the benefits outweighed any risks after reports of rare instances of blood clotting that temporarily halted inoculations.

The end of suspensions will kick off a test of public confidence, both in the shot and in drug regulators whose conclusions are under unprecedented scrutiny, as virus variants spread and the global death toll, now at nearly 2.7 million, rises.

Indonesia joined Germany, France and others in re-administering the shots after they suspended vaccinations on reports of around 30 cases of rare brain blood clots, after millions of injections, that sent scientists and governments scrambling to determine if there was a link.

Paris goes into lockdown
France imposed a month-long lockdown on Paris and parts of the north after a faltering vaccine rollout and spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants forced President Emmanuel Macron to shift course.

Since late January, when he defied the calls of scientists and some in his government to lock the country down, Macron has said he would dowhatever it takes to keep the euro zone's second-largest economy as open as possible.
However, this week he ran out of options just as France and other European countries briefly suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Lockdown extension looms in Germany

German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday dampened hopes that further restrictions will be lifted soon, saying rising infections could mean that curbs to slow the spread of the virus may have to be re-imposed.

"The rising case numbers may mean that we cannot take further opening steps in the weeks to come. On the contrary, we may even have to take steps backwards," Spahn told a weekly news conference.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with leaders of Germany's 16 federal states on Monday to discuss whether to extend a lockdown that has been in place since mid-December.

Philippines posts record daily cases
The Philippines recorded 7,103 new cases on Friday, a record daily increase in infections, as authorities tightened curbs in the capital and approved Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.

A new wave of cases in the Philippines, which has the second highest number of infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, is threatening hopes of a strong economic rebound after a record contraction last year and the loss of millions of jobs.

The health ministry said there were now 648,066 confirmed cases and 12,900 deaths.

U.S. to share vaccine with Mexico and Canada
The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine to Mexico and Canada in loan deals with the two countries, yielding to requests to share shots with allies.

Mexico will receive 2.5 million doses of the vaccine and Canada is to receive 1.5 million doses, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"It is not fully finalised yet but it is our aim," Psaki told a daily briefing. "Ensuring our neighbours can contain the virus is ... mission critical to ending the pandemic."

Brazil struggles with lack of ICU doctors
As Brazil's coronavirus outbreak spirals out of control, the country is facing a dangerous new shortage, threatening to drive fatalities even higher: a lack of staff in intensive care units.

Some medical professionals are burned out after months of gruelling work. Others are simply unable to keep up with the endless flow of critical patients pushing the country's healthcare system to the brink.

"Intensive care doctors are a commodity in short supply," César Eduardo Fernandes, the president of the Brazilian Medical Association, told Reuters. "There's no way to meet this brutal, catastrophic demand."

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