* Mainland China reported 10 new cases on March 3, matching the figure from a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said.
* New infections of COVID-19 are dropping in the United States, Canada and Mexico, but in Latin America vaccinations have hardly begun, raising the risk of dangerous new variants emerging, the Pan American Health Organization said.
* Brazil’s economy shrank by 4.1% last year due to the pandemic, its worst drop in decades, as a devastating second wave threatens to cut short a stronger-than-expected rebound at the end of 2020.
* The US Senate is expected to begin debating President Joe Biden’s US$1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday after agreeing to phase out payments to higher-income Americans in a compromise with moderate Democratic senators.
* Europe’s medicines regulator said it has started an ongoing review of the Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute for possible approval in the region, while the European Commission said that there were no talks under way to buy Russia’s vaccine.
* Chancellor Angela Merkel and German state leaders have agreed a phased easing of coronavirus curbs along with an “emergency brake” to let authorities reimpose restrictions if case numbers spike again, while France is preparing for a possible easing of restrictions from mid-April.
* Italy will administer a single vaccine dose to those who have already been infected with COVID-19, the health ministry said.
* Hungary will close all shops except foodstores and pharmacies and shift to remote learning in primary schools as cases are spreading fast.
* Brazil set a daily record for COVID-19 deaths for a second straight day on Wednesday, as a resurgence of the virus led Sao Paulo state to shutter businesses and the government to try to clinch vaccine deals with Pfizer and Janssen.
* Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said authorities have detected the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus in the country.
* OPEC and its allies in will decide on Thursday whether to freeze oil output or raise it slightly from April as a recent price rally is clouded by concern over the fragility of economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
* The crude oil market “shows clear signs of recovery in terms of consumption, supply and prices” in March, Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum Tareck El Aissami said Wednesday.
* Egypt expanded its vaccination rollout to include the elderly and people with chronic diseases after several weeks of vaccinating medical staff.
* Turkish restaurants reopened and many children returned to school on Tuesday after the government announced steps to ease restrictions even as cases edged higher.
* Britain’s medical regulator said it would fast-track vaccines for coronavirus variants, adding that the makers of already-authorised shots would not need new lengthy clinical trials to prove their adapted vaccines will work.
* Iran has agreed to hold technical meetings in early April with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to clarity outstanding concerns, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Thursday.
* Intensified control operations and limited breeding of locusts in east Africa have calmed the locust crisis in the region, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in its latest update on Thursday. FAO noted that control operations have been intensified in Ethiopia and Kenya against swarms that are still immature.