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Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – Residents of Beijing fretted over anti-virus restrictions curbing their movement while also worrying about the dozens of new COVID-19 cases reported daily, as China's leaders threatened action against critics of their zero-tolerance COVID policy.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* Spain received 4 million tourists in March, more than eight times as many as in the same month last year, after most pandemic-related restrictions were lifted, data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) showed.

AMERICAS

* Major U.S. airlines, business and travel groups and other companies have urged the White House to abandon COVID-19 pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated international passengers travelling to the United States.

* U.S. President Joe Biden's daughter Ashley will not travel to Europe with the first lady after having "close contact" with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the White House said.

* The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus is intrinsically as severe as previous variants, according to a preprint version of a large U.S. study that counters assumptions in other studies that it was more transmissible but less severe.

* As the death toll from COVID-19 in the United States nears the 1 million mark, members of the Native American tribe, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, are trying to cope with the devastation caused by the virus. ASIA-PACIFIC

* Shanghai said on Friday it has brought China's worst outbreak of COVID-19 under effective control following a month-long lockdown of nearly 25 million people, with authorities vowing to stand by their zero-COVID strategy despite mounting economic costs. AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST

* Aspen Pharmacare will switch about half of its COVID-19 vaccine production capacity onto other products if demand doesn't pick up within six weeks, its CEO warned, as South Africa's president and health officials urged more Africans to take up the shots.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* The U.S. health regulator said it was limiting the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine for adults due to the risk of a rare blood clotting syndrome, the latest setback to the shot that has been eclipsed by rivals.

* Additional reports of patients with long COVID who were helped by Pfizer Inc's oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid offer fresh impetus for conducting clinical trials to test the medicine for the debilitating condition, U.S. researchers said.

* The European Union's drug regulator said it hoped to have vaccines adapted to address coronavirus variants, such as Omicron, approved by September. ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Australia's central bank drastically revised up forecasts for inflation, foreshadowing how far interest rates might have to rise to bring the country's cost of living crisis under control.

* Japan's household spending likely fell in March from its level a year earlier, a Reuters poll showed, the first such drop in three months as cautious consumers tightened purse strings amid rising prices and lingering COVID-19 concerns.

* Chile's central bank hiked the country's benchmark interest rate to 8.25% on Thursday, above expectations, from 7.0% previously, as authorities worldwide tighten monetary policy to keep a lid on stubbornly high inflation.

(Compiled by Sherry Jacob-Phillips; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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