What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Covid-19 death tolls are likely a "significant undercount"
Official tolls showing the number of deaths directly or indirectly attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to be a "significant undercount", the World Health Organization said on Friday, saying 6-8 million people may have died so far.
Presenting its annual World Health Statistics report, the WHO estimated that total deaths from the pandemic in 2020 were at least 3 million last year or 1.2 million more than officially reported.
WHO data analyst William Msemburi said this estimate included both unreported Covid-19 deaths as well as indirect deaths caused by the lack of hospital capacity and restrictions on movements among other factors.
Japan approves more vaccines
Japan is set to extend a state of emergency to cover the southern island of Okinawa on Friday, just as it approved two more novel coronavirus vaccines to speed up its lagging inoculation campaign.
After health regulators' green light a day earlier, the government said it approved vaccines developed by Moderna and AstraZeneca, which will join that developed by Pfizer together with BioNTech in a vaccination drive that began in mid-February.
Nearly 70% of Japanese firms want the Tokyo Olympics either cancelled or postponed, a Reuters survey found, underscoring concerns that the Games will increase infections.
Thailand sees first local cases of Indian variant
Thailand has detected its first 15 domestically transmitted cases of the highly infectious Covid-19 variant first found in India, authorities said on Friday, a discovery that could complicate efforts to address its most deadly outbreak so far.
The 15 cases included 12 construction workers at their camp in northern Bangkok, where about 1,100 of the 1,667 workers there tested positive for Covid-19.
Clusters have been detected in several of the 409 such camps around the capital, where city authorities say 62,169 workers live, about half of those migrant labour.
Hungary to lift most Covid-19 curbs
Hungary will lift most remaining Covid-19 curbs, including a night-time curfew, as soon as the number of those vaccinated reaches 5 million this weekend, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.
Orban told state radio that masks would no longer need to be worn in public, and gatherings of up to 500 people could be held in the open air, with events in closed spaces open to though to people with vaccination cards.
"This means we have defeated the third wave of the pandemic," Orban said, adding that the time has come to say "goodbye to masks" in public places.
New type of coronavirus originating in dogs found
A new type of coronavirus believed to have originated in dogs was detected among patients hospitalised with pneumonia in 2017-2018, and may be the eighth unique coronavirus known to cause disease in humans if it is confirmed as a pathogen, a study said.
Researchers in the study, published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, said their findings underscored the public health threat of animal coronaviruses.
The researchers said they had tested nasal swab samples taken from 301 pneumonia patients at a hospital in the east Malaysian state of Sarawak. Eight of the samples, mostly from children under 5 years old, came back positive for a canine coronavirus.