COVID-19

Covid-19 deaths pass three million worldwide

The milestone comes the day after the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned the world was "approaching the highest rate of infection" so far.

India - experiencing a second wave - recorded more than 230,000 new cases on Saturday alone.

Almost 140 million cases have been recorded since the pandemic began.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Friday that "cases and deaths are continuing to increase at worrying rates".

He added that "globally, the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months".

Former Italy Rugby World Cup captain dies after contracting Covid-19

Cuttitta had been hospitalised in Rome with Covid-19 and died on Sunday following complications from the virus.

The former prop played for the Italy side who stunningly beat Scotland in their first Six Nations match in 2000.

He was the Azzurri captain 22 times in 69 appearances from 1990-2000, including at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and went on to become a scrum coach for Scotland from 2009-15.

Born in Italy, Cuttitta and his twin brother Marcello Cuttitta – who also played for the national team – grew up in South Africa.

Tonga extends Covid-19 State of Emergency declaration

According to Prime Minister Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, novel coronavirus disease is a continuous public health emergency in Tonga.

In renewing the State of Emergency declaration, he said it is still necessary for emergency powers to be exercised in order to prevent or minimize risk and the loss of human life to Covid-19.

The declaration applied over all the land and sea areas of Tonga commenced Monday 12 April 2021 at 8pm.

It will end on Monday 10 May 2021 at 8pm, unless further renewed in accordance with the law.

Covid-19 bans lifted in New Caledonia

The territory returned to its Covid-free status after a four-week lockdown, but still required people to wear masks in public places.

As of yesterday morning, mass gatherings were again allowed, clearing the way for churches to have services for the first time in five weeks.

Boarding schools have been able to receive students and re-open today.

On 7 March, a cluster of local Covid-19 cases was detected, prompting an immediate sharp lockdown.

A total of 63 infections were recorded since then but none in the past week.

Covid cancels Oceania Rugby U20 Trophy

The Samoa and Tonga Under 20 teams were scheduled to contest the title on 22 May but, following consultation with Lakapi Samoa and Tonga Rugby Union, Oceania Rugby said the game will not go ahead.

Competitions Manger, Wayne Schuster, said the ongoing travel restrictions, advice from health authorities and the continued challenge in hosting tournaments in the Covid-19 landscape were the main factors in their decision.

"Unfortunately rescheduling or postponing this year's event would also not be realistic under the current circumstances."

PNG University goes into covid lockdown

The lockdown at Lae's University of Technology started on Sunday after the deaths of two academics - one the head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Gabriel Arpa.

Unitech's administration said the cause of their deaths is yet to be confirmed but both people had Covid-19 symptoms, The National newspaper reported.

Unitech said as an interim precaution, they had decided to suspend all classes for two weeks and impose a total lockdown.

Osaka requests cancellation of Olympic torch relay leg

The relay, due to reach Osaka in mid-April, is seen as the first major test of Games organisers' abilities to hold a large event under strict coronavirus curbs. It features 10,000 runners carrying the torch through all Japan's 47 prefectures.

The western metropolis of Osaka is grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases and the governor of Osaka prefecture has called for cancelling the leg that takes place in the city.

Air NZ sets up team to review compassionate refunds

Customers can ask for a refund if they can no longer travel due to ill health or financial hardship caused by the pandemic.

The policy has been in place since the start of the pandemic, and the airline said a large number of people had re-booked using their credits.

But it recognised travel was still out of reach for some people and wanted to remind them of potential refunds.

France schools to close under third lockdown

Macron said that schools would move to remote learning from next week.

Lockdown measures, introduced in some areas of France earlier this month, are also being extended to other districts.

All non-essential shops are to close from Saturday and there will be a ban on travelling more than 10km from home without good reason.

France's Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 59,038 new coronavirus cases.

The ministry added that 5053 patients were in intensive care units, down from a 2021 record of 5072 on Tuesday.

Australia falls 85% short of vaccine delivery goal

The 85% shortfall comes two days after Brisbane entered another snap lockdown to combat a small outbreak.

Last week the government said the vaccine rollout did not demand urgency given Australia's low infection rates.

The country has recorded 909 deaths and 29,300 cases since the pandemic began - far fewer than many other nations.

But sporadic outbreaks have led to six lockdowns in cities in recent months. Critics say situations like Brisbane's outbreak show why a quick vaccine programme is still needed.