* Britain’s Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, has died at the age of 99, Buckingham Palace announced Friday. “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the palace said in a statement.
* China’s COVID-19 vaccines, made by Sinopharm and Sinovac, are in final stages of review for emergency use listing by the World Health Organization (WHO) which expects to decide on at least one at an April 26 meeting, its regulation director Rogerio Gaspar said on Friday.
* The European Union will shortly sign contracts to purchase up to 1.8 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine to cover the bloc’s need for booster shots over the coming two years, German daily Die Welt reported on Friday.
* Global stocks hit record highs on Friday, as tech shares on Wall Street cheered receding US inflation fears, with the lack of inflation pressure keeping bond yields near two-week lows.
* Officials from Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain will continue talks on the return of the United States to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran next week, after “constructive exchanges” this week, the European Union said on Friday.
* The United States has informed Turkey that two of its warships will pass through Turkish straits to be deployed in the Black Sea until May 4, Ankara said on Friday, as Russia has bulked up its military forces on Ukraine’s eastern border.
* A senior Iranian military commander said that Israel and the United States are suspected to be behind the recent attack on an Iranian ship in the Red Sea, Press TV reported on Friday. Iran will “definitely” respond to the attack on the country’s ship in the Red Sea, said Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces.
* Indonesia has administered around 12 million to 13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, making the country included in the top 10 countries that have the most COVID-19 vaccinations in the world, a minister said.
* COVID-19 deaths in Europe surpassed the one million mark on Friday, reaching 1,001,313, according to the dashboard of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe.
* The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 4,317,900 as of Friday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said. The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU), said the death toll from the pandemic stood at 114,926 while 3,879,505 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.
* India reported another record number of new COVID-19 infections on Friday with daily deaths also hitting their highest in more than five months.
* World food prices rose by 2.1 percent in March, reaching levels last seen in June 2014, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported on Thursday.
* Brazil on Thursday registered a record daily count of 4,249 deaths from COVID-19, taking the national death toll to 345,025, the Ministry of Health said. It was the second time in a week that Brazil’s daily death toll had surpassed 4,000, following 4,195 fatalities on Tuesday.
* The Argentine government extended on Thursday the social, preventive and mandatory distancing measures established to control the COVID-19 pandemic until April 30, according to a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette.
* Cambodia reported a daily record 576 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, in a spike in infections since an outbreak detected seven weeks ago that has seen a seven-fold increase in its overall case tally.
* Thailand’s economy may expand less than forecast this year, a central bank official said on Friday, after a third wave of coronavirus infections and concerns about a highly contagious variant.
* Germany is currently negotiating with Russia on an advance purchase agreement of its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.
* Germany’s top public health official said that it would not be possible to halt a third wave that is causing a worrying increase in patients in intensive care.
* France’s top health body said recipients of a first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine who are under 55 should get a second shot with a new-style messenger-RNA (mRNA) vaccine.
* Poland seems to have passed a peak in the number of coronavirus infections, Health Minister said, adding that the country is still testing its health system capacity.
* Finland plans to gradually begin to ease restrictions, Prime Minister Sanna Marin told a news conference on Friday.
* Venezuela has the capacity to produce the experimental Cuban coronavirus vaccine candidate known as Abdala at a Caracas biomedical facility, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said.
* Australia has doubled its order of the Pfizer Inc COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as the country raced to overhaul its inoculation plan over concerns about the risks of blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
* The Republic of Korea will reimpose a ban on nightclubs and karaoke bars after the number of new coronavirus cases surged, fanning fears over a potential fourth wave.
* Johnson & Johnson is in talks with India to begin a clinical trial of its single-dose vaccine, the company said on Friday.
* Spain’s government slashed its forecast for this year’s economic recovery on Friday to reflect a COVID-induced contraction in the first quarter and expected delays to the arrival of EU rescue funds. The government now expects gross domestic product to grow 6.5% in 2021, down from a previous estimated range of 7.2%-9.8%, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told a news conference.
* Tunisia approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi said, and will soon receive 1.5 million doses under an African Union plan.