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Coronavirus digest: Japan to ease COVID curbs before Olympics

Organizers are eyeing a 10,000-spectator cap at the summer games. Elsewhere, England saw a 50% rise in infections due to the spread of the delta variant. Follow DW for the latest.

A woman walks past the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, March 13

Japan will ease COVID restrictions ahead of Olympics

Japan approved lifting a state of emergency in Tokyo on June 20, a month before the Olympics begin.

The capital city Tokyo and various other regions have been under a virus emergency since April 25.

With a little over a month before the Olympics, it is likely Tokyo will continue tight controls on the number of spectators allowed at large events.

On Wednesday, the government announced a relaxation of restrictions allowing for 10,000 people in parts of the country not under restrictions. Current emergency laws permit only 5,000 people or 50% of venue capacity, whichever is less.

Japan is considering allowing spectators at the Olympics, though there is no official confirmation yet. 

Foreign fans are barred from attending for the first time. Organizers have said they are waiting until the emergency is lifted before assessing whether locals can come and watch the games.

An announcement is expected later Friday after top officials discuss the matter with medical advisers.

Watch video 01:28

Can Tokyo Olympics be held safely amid pandemic?

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world.


Australia has raised the age for receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine to those over 60 after a 52-year-old woman died of rare blood clots in the brain after receiving the jab.

New Zealand's economy posted better-than-expected growth of 1.6% in the first quarter of 2021. The growth meant that the economy was back at pre-COVID levels, driven largely by spending on hospitality and retail goods like televisions and cars.

Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated foreign visitors by mid-October, as the country seeks to restart a COVID-battered tourism industry.

Watch video 03:38

Has Thailand's mass vaccination drive come too late?


Denmark health authorities announced on Thursday that 12-15 year olds can be vaccinated.

Greece is now the third country to receive approval from the European Commission for the EU-financed coronavirus recovery plan. Commission head Ursula von der Leyen announced that Greece will receive €17.8 billion ($21.2 billion) in direct grants and €12.7 billion in loans.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran announced plans to reopen nightclubs in July. Over 100 nightclubs across France have closed during the pandemic.

Austria is set to ease COVID restrictions from July 1. Restaurants and bars will reopen and events will be allowed to take place. People will no longer have to wear compulsory FFP2 masks, but will have to cover their nose and mouth while using public transport.

England has seen a 50% rise in infections since May due to the delta variant, a large prevalence study led by Imperial College London found.

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated people in the United Kingdom could be allowed to travel to amber list countries without quarantining, the Daily Telegraph reported. The list includes popular tourist destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and the United States.

Watch video 02:33

Can Britain fight spread of Indian COVID-19 variant?

The number of coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,330 to 3,718,955 on Thursday. The death toll rose by 105 to 90,179.

German biotech firm CureVac NV said its COVID vaccine was only 47% effective in a late-stage trial. The European Union had struck a deal to secure up to 405 million doses of the vaccine last November.

Russia reported 14,057 new COVID cases, including 6,195 in Moscow, in the last 24 hours. It recorded 416 deaths during the same time frame. The national infection tally stands at 5,264,047 since the pandemic began.

Middle East

UAE's Abu Dhabi has become the first city to receive the coronavirus Sotrovimab medication. Health officials had approved emergency use of the medicine, saying it reduced hospitalization and fatalities by as much as 85% if administered in time.


The United States government bought another 200 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for primary inoculation, including of children. This brings the total US order to 500 million.

Costa Rica rejected Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccines after having studied available clinical data. Uruguay had released data on the same vaccine earlier this month, in which it showed the vaccine was 90% effective in preventing intensive care admissions and deaths in the country.

rm/rt (Reuters, AP)


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