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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

2 min read

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Trump campaign sues New Jersey over mail-in ballots

The re-election campaign of U.S. President Donald Trump has sued New Jersey, following a decision on Friday by its Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, to mail a ballot to every voter in the state for November’s elections, as well as hold in-person voting amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit filed described the step taken by Murphy as “illegal” and made two charges – first, that Murphy exercised power that belonged to the state legislature in changing the state’s election law, and second, that the changes “will violate eligible citizens’ right to vote”.

Election officials in most states have encouraged at-home voting as the highly contagious coronavirus has made voting in person a concern.

Vaccine for free for Australians

Australia has signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce and distribute enough doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine for its population of 25 million, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.

All Australians will be offered doses cost-free but a medical panel will determine the priority list of recipients.

“If it does work and it’s 80% to 90% effective, then absolutely it will be a game-changer,” said Brett Sutton, chief health officer in Victoria state, although he cautioned that broad testing was still at a preliminary stage.

“So we shouldn’t hang our hats on a single vaccine.”

Part of NZ lockdown illegal

A New Zealand court on Wednesday found the first nine days of a hard lockdown put in place by the government this year requiring people to isolate at home was justified, but unlawful, as an order imposing stay-at-home restrictions was not passed until April 3.

“In the end, the measures taken by the government worked to eliminate COVID-19, save lives and minimise damage to our economy,” Attorney General David Parker said after the ruling.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday she would increase the number of defence personnel at quarantine facilities and borders to beat any spread of the virus, as five new cases in the community were reported.

WHO’s struggle for a global vaccine plan

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to join a global pact aimed at ensuring less wealthy countries have access to novel coronavirus vaccines, warning about the risks from so-called vaccine nationalism.

The COVAX global vaccines facility is a programme designed to pool funds from wealthier countries and non-profit groups to develop a vaccine and distribute it equitably around the world. Its aim is to deliver 2 billion doses of effective, approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

“We need to prevent vaccine nationalism,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing. “Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest.”

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