Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – Drugmakers Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are expected to make billions of dollars from COVID-19 booster shots in a market that could for years rival the $6 billion in annual sales for flu vaccines, analysts and healthcare investors say.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* The German government has designated the Israel, Turkey and the United States as high-risk countries, triggering a minimum five-day quarantine requirement for those who are unvaccinated, the Funke media group reported.

* Russia reported a record 815 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, but Moscow’s mayor said hospitalizations from the disease in the capital had halved over the last six weeks.

* Norway’s government will end some restrictions related to the pandemic, it said, but stopped short of announcing a full reopening of the economy.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Indonesia’s capital reopened its retail malls this week to an exclusive crowd – shoppers vaccinated against coronavirus.

* China reported declining numbers of new locally transmitted cases for the third consecutive day. However, ports and shipping companies are diverting vessels from a container terminal in the country’s busiest marine transportation hub, which was forced to close after a case emerged.

* Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga urged people to refrain from travelling as COVID-19 cases spiked to records in Tokyo and nationwide, heaping pressure on the medical system.

* South Korea signed a deal to buy 30 million doses of Pfizer vaccine for 2022, and the government urged people to cut holiday travel amid a worsening fourth wave of infections and a slow inoculation campaign.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a third dose of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for people with compromised immune systems.

* The United States has started shipping nearly 569,000 Pfizer vaccine doses to member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the U.S. State Department said.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Morocco received a shipment of 600,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as it expands its inoculation campaign to younger people following a surge in cases, said Said Afif, a member of the health ministry’s scientific committee.

* South Africa’s health minister Joe Phaahla said authorities would not would recommend a relaxation of lockdown measures from its current Level 3, despite an overall downward trend in infections as the country grapples with a third wave.

* Israel lowered to 50 from 60 the minimum age of eligibility for a vaccine booster shot and will also offer it to health workers, hoping to stem a surge in Delta variant infections.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* The World Health Organization said it was setting up a new group to trace the origins of the coronavirus, seeking to end what it called “political point scoring” that had hampered investigations.

* Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine candidate has received regulatory approval for mid- to late-stage trials, the government’s ministry of science and technology said in a statement.

* A two-dose vaccine from China’s Sinopharm was 50.4% effective in preventing infections in health workers in Peru when it saw a surge in cases fueled by virus variants, and booster shots can be considered, a study found.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Global stock markets hit record highs on Friday, capping another bumper week as investors seized on a dip in U.S. inflation and more forecast-beating corporate earnings.

(Compiled by Veronica Snoj and Federico Maccioni; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Barbara Lewis)

U.S. plans to give extra COVID-19 shots to at-risk Americans – Fauci

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Carl O’Donnell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is working to give additional COVID-19 booster shots to Americans with compromised immune systems as quickly as possible, as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise, top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.

The United States is joining Germany, France and Israel in giving booster shots, ignoring a plea by the World Health Organization to hold off until more people around the world can get their first shot.

U.S. regulators need to fully authorize the COVID-19 vaccines or amend their emergency use authorizations before officials can recommend additional shots, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to make third doses available sooner under certain circumstances, officials said at a July meeting.

“It is extremely important for us to move to get those individuals their boosters and we are now working on that,” Fauci said on a press call, adding that immunocompromised people may not be sufficiently protected by their existing COVID-19 vaccinations.

Fauci said rising cases resulting from the spread of the contagious Delta variant in the United States can be turned around with additional vaccinations.

The Biden administration has been eager to thaw opposition by some Americans, including those who distrust the government, to taking the vaccine as the highly infectious Delta variant sweeps the country.

Seven U.S. states with the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates account for half of the country’s new cases and hospitalizations in the last week, the White House said on Thursday.

The states are Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, according to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 coordinator, Jeff Zients, who spoke at the press briefing

Of those, Florida and Texas account for about a third of new coronavirus cases and an even higher share of hospitalizations in the country.

COVID cases are up about 43% over the previous week and daily deaths are up more than 39%, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who also spoke on the call.

The United States hit a six-month high for new COVID cases with over 100,000 infections reported on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally.

Some 864,000 vaccinations have been given in the past 24 hours, the highest since early July, the White House said.

Zients said the Biden administration supports U.S. businesses and other institutions requiring that their employees get vaccinated.

He added that the White House is considering requiring foreign visitors to be vaccinated as it plans to eventually reopen international travel but said it had made no final decision.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Susan Heavey, Carl O’Donnell and Trevor Hunnicutt; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)

Nigeria receives 4 million doses of covid-19 vaccines from U.S. government

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria has received 4 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States government, its health minister said on Monday, as the West African country battles a third wave of infections.

Osagie Ehanire said the vaccines, which arrived on Sunday, are undergoing validation by the country’s drug regulator. He said the doses will be distributed to the local states once they are certified fit for use.

The U.S. government last week shipped nearly 10 million doses to two of the most populous African countries – Nigeria and South Africa.

“Vaccination in Nigeria should soon begin with the arrival … of Moderna vaccines, thanks to the United States government,” Ehanire told a coronavirus briefing in Abuja.

He said Nigeria would receive over 40 million doses by the end of the year, without providing details.

The primary healthcare agency said last month that Nigeria had exhausted an initial supply of nearly 4 million shots and expects to receive nearly 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of August, including the U.S. government donation.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has seen a rise in coronavirus cases since mid July. Some 174,315 cases and 2,149 deaths have been recorded since the pandemic began in early 2020, official data shows.

It recently detected the highly contagious Delta variant, with the health minister warning that the country was going through a third wave of the infection.

Resident doctors in Nigerian public hospitals began an indefinite strike on Monday over grievances that include the delayed payment of salaries and allowances, the doctors’ union said, as coronavirus infections rise.

(Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Britain warns COVID-19 could infect half Myanmar in next two weeks

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Britain’s U.N. ambassador warned on Thursday that half of Myanmar’s 54 million people could be infected with COVID-19 in the next two weeks as Myanmar’s envoy called for U.N. monitors to ensure an effective delivery of vaccines.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military ousted an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, with protests and fighting between the army and newly formed militias. The United States, Britain and others have imposed sanctions on the military rulers over the coup and repression of pro-democracy protests in which hundreds have been killed.

“The coup has resulted in a near total collapse of the healthcare system, and health care workers are being attacked and arrested,” British U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward told an informal Security Council discussion on Myanmar.

“The virus is spreading through the population, very fast indeed. By some estimates, in the next two weeks, half of the population of Myanmar could be infected with COVID,” she said.

Myanmar state media reported on Wednesday that the military ruler is looking for greater cooperation with other countries to contain the coronavirus.

Infections in the Southeast Asian country have surged since June, with 4,980 cases and 365 deaths reported on Wednesday, according to health ministry data cited in media. Medics and funeral services put the toll much higher.

“In order to have smooth and effective COVID vaccination and providing humanitarian assistance, close-monitoring by the international community is essential,” Myanmar’s U.N. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who speaks for the elected civilian government, told the Security Council discussion.

“As such, we would like to request the U.N. in particular the Security Council to urgently establish a U.N.-led monitoring mechanism for effective COVID vaccination and smooth delivery of humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Myanmar recently received two million more Chinese vaccines, but it was believed to have only vaccinated about 3.2% of its population, according to a Reuters tracker.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)

COVID still devastating in the Americas, health agency says

BRASILIA (Reuters) -COVID-19 continues to inflict a devastating toll on the Americas, with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay among the countries with the world’s highest weekly death rates, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

Cases have more than doubled in the United States over the past week, mainly among unvaccinated people, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in a briefing.

The more transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus has been detected in 20 of the 35 countries in the Americas already, she said.

Cuba is seeing higher COVID infection and death rates than at any other point in the pandemic there, she said, adding that more than 7,000 minors and nearly 400 pregnant women have tested positive there in the last week.

Over the last week there were over 1.26 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 29,000 deaths reported in the Americas.

Infection hotspots have been reported in Argentine provinces bordering Bolivia and Chile, and in Colombia’s Amazon region.

“As COVID continues to circulate, too many places have relaxed the public health and social measures that have proven effective against this virus,” Etienne said.

So far, only 16.6% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as countries in the regions have yet to access the vaccines needed to keep their people safe, she said.

“The good news is that vaccines work against the variants, including Delta, in terms of preventing severe disease and death. The bad news is that we do not have yet enough vaccines to stop community transmission,” Etienne said.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – The EU is on course to hit a target of fully vaccinating at least 70% of its adult population by the end of summer, given that same percentage of over-18s has now already received a first dose, the European Commission said.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* Ireland became the latest European Union member state to commit to offering COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 12-15 as it opened its strongly subscribed program to 16 and 17-year old’s.

* Greece said children aged 12-15 could be vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Tokyo’s 2,848 COVID-19 infections are the highest tally that the Olympic host city has reported since the pandemic began, officials said, as media reported that authorities had asked hospitals to prepare more beds for patients, with the Delta variant driving the surge.

* India will meet its target of supplying more than half a billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to its states by the end of this month, the health ministry said, but added not all doses may be administered by then.

* Moderna has pushed back its late-July vaccine shipment schedule for South Korea to August due to supply problems that will also affect other countries awaiting its shots, South Korean health officials said.

* Australia’s Victoria state will lift a strict lockdown, while neighboring New South Wales faces an extension of restrictions after daily new cases spiked to a 16-month peak.

AMERICAS

* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is set to announce revised mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases.

* Argentina’s government has signed a deal with U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer to acquire 20 million doses of vaccines to be delivered this year, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti told reporters.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Saudi Arabia will impose a three-year travel ban on citizens travelling to countries on the kingdom’s ‘red list’ under efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus and its new variants, state news agency SPA said.

* Nigeria expects to take delivery of 29 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in August, allowing it to ramp up its vaccination program just as a third wave of infections takes hold, the health minister said.

* Israel is considering giving a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to its elderly population even before FDA approval to help fend off the Delta variant.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Antibodies triggered by Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine decline below a key threshold from around six months after a second dose for most recipients, although a third shot could have a strong booster effect, according to a lab study.

* Russia has given the green light for clinical trials combining a shot from AstraZeneca and Britain’s Oxford University with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to go ahead.

* Moderna is in talks with U.S. regulators to expand the size of an ongoing trial testing its vaccines in children aged between five and 11.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* World stocks fell after investors sold Chinese internet giants for a third straight day, while real U.S. bond yields hit record lows on worries about the economic outlook ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting.

* The International Monetary Fund maintained its 6% global growth forecast for 2021, upgrading its outlook for the United States and other wealthy economies but cutting estimates for a number of developing countries struggling with surging COVID-19 infections.

(Compiled by Veronica Snoj and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Grant McCool, Maju Samuel, Sriraj Kalluvila and Gareth Jones)

Factbox: Countries make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory

(Reuters) – A sharp upturn in new coronavirus infections due to the highly contagious Delta variant and a slowdown in vaccination rates have pushed governments to make COVID-19 jabs mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups.

A growing number of countries also stipulate that a jab, or a negative test, will be needed for dining out, among others.

Here are some countries’ vaccine mandates:

AUSTRALIA

Australia decided in late June to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for high-risk aged-care workers and employees in quarantine hotels.

It has also made vaccinations obligatory for Paralympic athletes heading to Tokyo because unvaccinated members on the team could pose a health risk.

BRITAIN

It will be mandatory for care home workers in England to have coronavirus vaccinations from October.

English nightclubs and other venues with large crowds will require patrons to present proof of full vaccination from the end of September.

CANADA

Canadian Treasury Board Secretariat said on July 20 it was considering whether COVID-19 vaccines should be required for certain roles and positions in the federal government, according to CBC.

FRANCE

All health workers in France must get COVID-19 jabs and anyone wanting to get into a cinema or board a train will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test under new rules announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 12.

The government said on July 19 that the planned 45,000 euro fine for businesses that do not check that clients have a health pass will be much lower, starting at up to 1,500 euros and increasing progressively for repeat offenders. Fines will not be imposed immediately.

GREECE

Greece on July 12 made vaccinations mandatory for nursing home staff with immediate effect and healthcare workers from September. As part of new measures, only vaccinated customers are allowed indoors in bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed spaces.

INDONESIA

Indonesia made COVID-19 inoculations mandatory in February, with capital Jakarta threatening fines of up to 5 million rupiah ($357) for refusing the vaccine.

ITALY

A decree approved by the Italian government in March mandates that health workers, including pharmacists, get vaccinated. Those who refuse could be suspended without pay for the rest of the year.

KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan will introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for people working in groups of more than 20, the health ministry said on June 23.

POLAND

Poland could make vaccinations obligatory for some people at high risk from COVID-19 from August.

RUSSIA

The Russian capital has unveiled a plan requiring 60% of all service sector workers to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 15, according to the Moscow Times.

Moscow residents no longer have to present a QR code demonstrating they have been vaccinated or have immunity in order to sit inside cafes, restaurants and bars from July 19.

SAUDI ARABIA

In May, Saudi Arabia mandated all public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace get vaccinated, without specifying when this would be implemented.

Vaccination will also be required to enter any governmental, private, or educational establishments and to use public transportation as of Aug. 1.

Saudi citizens will need two COVID-19 vaccine doses before they can travel outside the kingdom from Aug. 9, state news agency SPA reported on July 19, citing the ministry of interior.

TURKMENISTAN

Turkmenistan’s healthcare ministry said on July 7 it was making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over.

(Compiled by Paulina Cwikowska, Dagmarah Mackos and Oben Mumcuoglu; editing by Milla Nissi and Steve Orlofsky)

COVID-19 crisis could return quickly as infections surge, UK adviser warns

By Alistair Smout and Kanishka Singh

LONDON (Reuters) -England’s coronavirus crisis could return again surprisingly quickly and the country is not yet out of the woods, the British government’s chief medical adviser said, as infections surged ahead of the lifting of legal restrictions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is removing most pandemic restrictions in England from July 19, saying a rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has largely broken the link between infections and serious illness or death.

Some scientists are worried, though. Daily reported cases are at their highest since January, while the reproduction “R” number remains above one, indicating a continued exponential growth of cases.

“We are not by any means out of the woods yet on this,” Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said late on Thursday during a webinar hosted by the Science Museum.

He added that the doubling time for hospitalizations was around three weeks, and that low numbers of people in hospital currently could escalate in next couple of months.

“It doesn’t take many doublings until we’re in actually quite scary numbers again … I don’t think we should underestimate the fact that we could get into trouble again surprisingly fast,” Whitty said.

The Office for National Statistics estimated as many as 1 in 95 people in England were infected with COVID-19 in the week to July 10, the highest prevalence since February.

“New cases of Delta will lead to long COVID, hospital admissions and deaths,” said James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute

“The ratios between these have been massively changed by the safe and effective vaccines we are administering but the link is not eliminated.”

WRECKING THE ECONOMY

Britain’s COVID-19 death toll is among the highest in the world but two-thirds of its adult population have been fully vaccinated.

On Monday, the last remaining businesses still closed in England, including nightclubs, can finally reopen, but business leaders have warned that the self-isolation requirement for people exposed to positive cases could hinder the economy.

Over 520,000 contact tracing alerts were sent through the National Health Service app in the week to July 7.

“The hospitality sector, 20% of staff are isolating, the health service up to 25% of staff are absent, and buses and trains delayed,” Karan Bilimoria, president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), told LBC radio.

“This cannot go on … This is wrecking the economy.”

A spokesperson for Johnson said that “self-isolation remains one of the best tools that we have to tackle the virus”.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Kate Holton and Elizabeth Piper in London; Editing by Karishma Singh, Guy Faulconbridge, Catherine Evans and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Vaccines may curb new virus mutations; teens use soft drinks to fake positive COVID-19 tests

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

COVID-19 vaccines may be curbing new virus mutations

Along with preventing illness and deaths, COVID-19 vaccines may also be curbing the “rampant evolution” of the new coronavirus by limiting new mutations that allow it to evade antibodies, researchers believe. As part of a larger study, they closely analyzed gene sequences in virus samples obtained from 30 COVID-19 patients who had not been vaccinated and 23 vaccinated individuals with so-called breakthrough cases of COVID-19. In particular, they looked at genes associated with the spike the virus uses to break into cells. The spikes are targeted by the antibodies unleashed by current treatments and vaccines. The more the spike mutates, or changes, the less likely the antibodies will be fully effective. Compared to virus samples from unvaccinated patients, samples from vaccine breakthrough patients showed significantly fewer mutations on the spike, researchers from data analytics company nference reported on Monday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. The more people get infected, the more opportunities the virus has to mutate as it makes copies of itself inside the body. It is possible that by suppressing the number of copies made in vaccinated people, the chances to mutate are reduced as well, the authors suggest. “This study presents the first known evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are fundamentally restricting the … escape pathways accessible to SARS-CoV-2,” they concluded.

Some teens are faking positive COVID-19 tests

Teenagers have figured out how to use soft drinks to fake a positive COVID-19 test, and the authors of a new study warn schools and other groups to be aware. As of July 1, videos uploaded to social media under the search term #fakecovidtest, featuring young people applying various liquids to rapid antigen COVID-19 tests, had been viewed millions of times, according to the British news website inews.co.uk. That report, and others, prompted University of Liverpool researchers to study the effects of applying soft drinks and artificial sweeteners to the test swabs. All four sweeteners tested produced negative results on rapid COVID-19 tests, as did spring water. But 10 of 14 soft drinks produced positive or weakly positive results, with no apparent link between the test results and the soft drinks’ ingredients, the researchers reported on Monday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Since March, UK schools have asked pupils without symptoms to test twice weekly, the authors note. A positive test can result in an entire class having to isolate at home. Based on their findings, they advise, testing “should be performed first thing in the morning, prior to the consumption of any food or drinks, and supervised where feasible.”

Rapid COVID-19 tests are generally reliable

Used properly, “rapid antigen” COVID-19 tests that give fast results are generally reliable, a new study suggests. The tests have “good” sensitivity, or the ability to correctly identify patients who are infected with the coronavirus, and “excellent” specificity, or the ability to correctly identify people who are not infected, UK researchers reported in The Lancet Microbe. Unlike gold-standard PCR tests, which involve complex lab equipment and highly trained staff, rapid antigen tests can be processed on the spot. The researchers evaluated six commercially available tests. Compared to PCR, their accuracy at diagnosing infection varied from 65% to 89% and rose above 90% in patients with high viral loads. The researchers warn that correct use of the tests is essential, which may happen less often with members of the public than when administered by trained healthcare workers. Although PCR-based testing is more accurate, they conclude, the rapid tests’ “versatility in terms of cost and portability,” and their usefulness in disrupting transmission from infected asymptomatic individuals who would otherwise go undetected “could outweigh the risk of missing positive cases.”

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid and Megan Brooks; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – The Euro 2020 soccer tournament was blamed for a surge in cases as fans have flocked to stadiums, bars and spectator zones across Europe to watch the action while the pandemic still raged.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* Europe’s drug regulator said the vaccines approved in the European Union offered protection against all coronavirus variants, including Delta, but called for active monitoring by vaccine manufacturers to stay alert.

* Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was confident Britons fully vaccinated against COVID-19 would be able to travel abroad this year.

* A 10-week decline in new infections across Europe has come to an end and a new wave of infections is inevitable if citizens and lawmakers do not remain disciplined, the head of WHO in Europe, Hans Kluge, told a news briefing.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* President Joko Widodo said that Indonesia will impose emergency measures until July 20 to contain an exponential spike in cases that has strained the medical system.

* Japan is considering an extension of two weeks to a month for coronavirus prevention measures in Tokyo and other areas, Japanese media said.

AMERICAS

* Bolivia’s government is looking to stabilize the country’s economy, which last year plunged the most in over half a century, with a mix of fiscal spending, vaccines and gold.

* Dominican health authorities will on Thursday begin distributing a third dose of vaccine in an effort to protect against more contagious new variants.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* The United States will begin shipping the first batch of vaccines it has donated to Africa from this weekend, a special envoy of the African Union said, as the continent sees a surge in cases fueled by variants.

* The South African Medical Association threatened to take the government to court because scores of new junior doctors cannot find work placements despite staff shortages during the pandemic.

* Police in Uganda have arrested two nurses and were hunting for a man who had posed as a doctor to sell and administer fake vaccines to hundreds of people, authorities said, amid a rising second wave of infections.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Indian drugmaker Zydus Cadila said it has applied for emergency use approval of its three-dose vaccine that showed efficacy of 66.6% in an interim study and could become the second home-grown shot if regulators consent.

* CureVac said its COVID-19 vaccine was 48% effective in the final analysis of its pivotal mass trial, only marginally better than the 47% reported after an initial read-out two weeks ago.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Global stock markets rose on strong European and U.S. shares on Thursday, with stocks brushing off a rapid re-acceleration in coronavirus cases and oil and the dollar extending their first-half rallies.

* Mexico’s factories deteriorated for a 16th straight month in June amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and local restrictions, though the pace of contraction was the slowest since the effects of the pandemic first hit Mexico, a survey showed.

* Turkey’s pandemic-era ban on layoffs and a government wage support system, both adopted in early 2020, expired as most remaining restrictions were also lifted, setting the stage for a rise in unemployment.

* The IMF’s executive board approved the second review of Jordan’s four-year reform program and commended it for meeting its fiscal targets despite the fallout from the coronavirus, the finance ministry said.

(Compiled by Federico Maccioni, Amy Caren Daniel and Jagoda Darlak; Edited William Maclean)