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Headlines
• Japan imposes new emergency measures
• Pfizer vaccine 100% effective against SA variant
• Sweden reports vaccine shortages
• Brazil sees 60k deaths in March
• 13.7% of people still have symptoms after 12 weeks

World news

• New emergency measures are to be imposed in three prefectures in Japan from 5 April. The controls allow regional governments to order businesses to shorten hours and to impose fines of $1,800 or publish the names of those that do not comply.

• Italy has made coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for all health workers.

• Sweden’s government has postponed a planned easing of some restrictions, which included raising the limit on the number of visitors to amusement parks, concerts and football matches, until at least 3 May.

• A shortage of vaccines means Sweden expects to offer all adults a first dose of a vaccine by 15 August, later than its original plan of the end of June, officials said today.

• Rates of stillbirth and maternal death rose by about one-third during the coronavirus pandemic, with the impact most acute in poor and developing countries, according to a study published in the Lancet.

• India has opened up its vaccination programme to people aged over 45 today

• In a study of 48,000 people, Researchers at University College London, the Office for National Statistics, and the University of Leicester found nearly one-third of those admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are readmitted for further treatment within four months of being discharged, and one in eight patients dies in the same period.

• Estimates from the ONS suggest that 0.28% of the population would have tested positive for coronavirus in the week to 27 March, slightly lower than 0.30% people in the previous week.

• Five weeks after infection 20% of people describe themselves as experiencing long Covid symptoms, and about 13.7% still have symptoms after 12 weeks, according to an infection survey.

• The Welsh Government has confirmed the next set of steps to ease lockdown restrictions will go ahead from 12 April. All shops will be able to reopen and travel in and out of Wales from the rest of the UK will resume.

• According to the ONS, 22% of black or black British adults reported vaccine hesitancy (17 February to 14 March), half the proportion that reported hesitancy for the period 13 January to 7 February.

• Johnson & Johnson has said that a batch of its vaccines failed quality standards and cannot be used.

• France has also imposed a nationwide month-long lockdown. Schools will close for at least three weeks, workers will work from home, and travel within the country will be banned for a month after Easter.

• China’s CanSino Biologics has said that the efficacy rate for its single-dose vaccine may fall over time, although it should still have a rate of 50% or more 5-6 months after being administered.

• Vietnam received 811,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccines today, its first batch of vaccines under the global Covax scheme, following a week-long delay caused by limited supply.

• Poland has extended vaccine availability to the over-40s

• Hong Kong authorities have said they will resume the use of the BioNTech’s vaccine on Monday, after pausing nine days ago due to defective packaging.

Company news

Retail

Next – Group sales dropped 17% to £3.6bn for the year ending in January; however, online sales grew by 13%. Homeware, children’s wear, sportswear and stay-at-home basics, such as sweatshirts and joggers, also helped mitigate lower demand for formal clothes including dresses or suits. The company counted nearly one million online customers under the age of 20. That number increased by 40% over the last year, while digital shoppers over 60 rose by 49% to more than 800,000.