July 16 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and other world leaders meet virtually on Friday for the Asia-Pacific trade group APEC, seeking collective actions to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts.
* England is in much better shape due to the COVID-19 vaccination programme but people should approach the end of coronavirus restrictions with caution, the country’s chief medical officer said on Thursday.
* The European Union added Ukraine to a list of countries for which it recommends that COVID-related travel restrictions be lifted. Rwanda and Thailand, meanwhile, were removed from the safe list.
* South Korea’s prime minister on Friday said tighter limits on private gatherings may be needed as authorities reported 1,536 new coronavirus cases and treatment centres filled up, prompting calls for more people to be allowed to receive care at home.
* The Philippines has recorded the country’s first locally transmitted cases of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, the health ministry said, with one person dying from the disease.
* Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state premiers were under increasing public pressure on Friday to get on top of a fast-growing Delta variant COVID-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his departure for the Tokyo Olympics.
* Struggling with rising coronavirus cases and a deeply unpopular Olympics, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is at risk of becoming the next in a long line of short-term leaders.
* Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, under growing scrutiny over its effectiveness, has found a small but determined group of takers in Singapore – even though the country does not count them as being vaccinated in its official tally.
* International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said there was “zero” risk of Games participants infecting Japanese residents with COVID-19, as cases hit a six-month high in the host city.
* U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday the United States is reviewing when it can lift restrictions that ban most non-U.S. citizens from traveling to the United States from much of Europe after German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue.
* Facebook is not doing enough to stop the spread of false claims about COVID-19 and vaccines, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, part of a new administration pushback on misinformation in the United States.
* Canada will allow cruise ships back into its waters starting in November, but they must fully comply with public health requirements that have yet to be finalised, Ottawa said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Eleven African heads of state called for $100 billion in hardship funding to help dig their economies out of the hole caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Africa recorded a 43% jump in COVID-19 deaths last week as infections and hospital admissions have risen and countries face shortages of oxygen and intensive-care beds, the WHO said.
* The World Health Organization’s chief scientist has advised individuals against mixing and matching vaccines from different manufacturers, saying such decisions should be left to public health authorities.
* Asian shares headed lower on Friday as profit-taking in Taiwanese chip giant TSMC, despite record profits, weighed on other tech firms and broader risk sentiment, while a more dovish U.S. rates outlook kept bond yields near multi-month lows.