(Reuters) – Melbourne will exit months of COVID-19 lockdown next week ahead of schedule, while New Zealand reported its biggest rise in COVID-19 infections in six weeks.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* The French government will ask lawmakers to extend its pandemic state of emergency until July 31 next year to deal with the continuing coronavirus crisis, spokesman Gabriel Attal said.
* The U.S. government will ship 2.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan on Thursday, a White House official said.
* A U.S. judge ruled that Maine can bar religious exemptions to its requirement that healthcare workers in the state get vaccinated against COVID-19.
* Vaccination rates against COVID-19 in the United States have risen by more than 20 percentage points after multiple institutions adopted vaccine requirements, while case numbers and deaths from the virus are down, Biden administration officials said.
* New Zealand reported its biggest rise in COVID-19 infections in six weeks, with all cases detected in Auckland, raising prospects of a further extension of lockdown restrictions in the country’s largest city beyond next week.
* Australia has cancelled its men’s and women’s Open tournaments in a hammer blow for the struggling domestic game as COVID-19 and travel restrictions continue to bite.
* Indonesia’s holiday island of Bali reopened to foreign tourists after 18 months of pandemic hiatus on Thursday, but the island is lacking one crucial ingredient: international flights.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Nigeria will require civil servants to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test for the disease to gain access to their offices from the beginning of December, a presidential committee said on Wednesday.
* U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists said they did not receive enough data in time to do their own analysis of Johnson & Johnson’s application for a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, but the agency’s review of company studies raised some red flags.
* People who got Johnson & Johnson Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine as a first shot had a stronger immune response when boosted with vaccines from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE or Moderna Inc, a study run by the National Institutes of Health showed.
* Mixing booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States was found to be safe in adults, a study by the National Institutes of Health showed.
* Asian stock markets rose, the dollar eased and longer-dated bonds rallied on Thursday as investors reckoned on inflation bringing forward rate hikes around the world. [MKTS/GLOB]
* U.S. consumer prices increased solidly in September as Americans paid more for food, rent and a range of other goods, putting pressure on the Biden administration to urgently resolve strained supply chains, which are hampering economic growth.
* Australian employment fell sharply for a second month in September as coronavirus lockdowns forced firms to lay off workers, while the jobless rate was held down by another big drop in the number of people looking for work.
* The Bank of Japan must maintain its massive stimulus even when the economy rebounds from the pandemic’s hit, board member Asahi Noguchi said.
* Singapore’s central bank unexpectedly tightened its monetary policy, delivering its first such move in three years.
(Compiled by Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)