(Reuters) – The head of the World Health Organization has called for launching negotiations this year on an international treaty to boost pandemic preparedness, as part of sweeping reforms envisioned by member states.
* Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease is to reduce the coronavirus risk level for the country to “high” from “very high” as the situation improves, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.
* Spain is considering easing rules on wearing face masks outdoors, as early as in mid-June.
* With half the country at least partially protected against the coronavirus, Americans escaped their pandemic doldrums over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
* South Korea closed its first phase of reservations for Johnson and Johnson vaccines as military personnel signed up for all 800,000 shots on offer, the government said.
* A shipment of coronavirus vaccines to North Korea via the global COVAX sharing program that was expected for late May has been delayed again amid protracted consultations, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said.
* Australia’s Victoria state authorities said it was still unclear whether a snap one-week lockdown to contain a fresh COVID-19 outbreak would end as planned on Thursday night, as the state grapples with a growing virus outbreak.
* Japan plans to start vaccination at workplaces and universities on June 21 to speed up the country’s inoculation drive.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Dubai, the second-largest member of the United Arab Emirates federation, has started offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 12-15 year old’s, the government media office said on Twitter.
* Turkey further eased measures including partially lifting a weekend lockdown and opening restaurants to a limited number of guests.
* A Wuhan-based affiliate of China’s Sinopharm said the start of operations at a new factory will raise the annual production capacity of its COVID-19 vaccine to at least 1 billion doses.
* A deal on an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization was no closer to acceptance on Monday despite Washington’s backing, due to expected skepticism about a new draft, sources close to the talks told Reuters.
* Global stocks again hit record highs and oil rose on Tuesday, before European and U.S. data that should this week offer major clues to the health of the world economy.
* Euro zone manufacturing activity expanded at a record pace in May, according to a survey which suggested growth would have been even faster without supply bottlenecks that have led to an unprecedented rise in input costs.
* Ireland will begin to gradually phase out temporary coronavirus-related jobless payments later this year while maintaining other income and business supports as the economy fully reopens, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said.
* Turkish factory activity shrank in May for the first time in a year as output and new orders slowed down due to a 17-day full lockdown imposed to curb a surge in new coronavirus cases, a survey showed.
(Compiled by Jagoda Darlak and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by William Maclean)