German officials are meeting on Monday morning (local time) to discuss control mechanisms for coronavirus test centres following fraud accusations, a ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
Since allegations of potential fraud at several providers were made public earlier this week and German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Saturday that there will be stricter controls, a debate has started on how to control the test centres and who should be in charge.
Here's the latest from around the world overnight.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn and his counterparts in the 16 federal states will meet on Monday morning to discuss control mechanisms for coronavirus test centres following fraud accusations, a ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
Since allegations of potential fraud at several providers were made public earlier this week and Spahn said on Saturday that there will be stricter controls, a debate has started on how to control the test centres and who should be in charge.
"Where cheating takes place, everyone must know that this can be punished quite severely," Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht told broadcaster ARD. "This message must also be sent out from the state, that such controls will be enforced and then the appropriate legal consequences will follow."
Germany offers its citizens at least one free coronavirus test per week, with several federal states providing one free test a day. The state pays 18 euros (NZ$30) per test. As a result, private test centres have been set up en masse in recent weeks.
Some coronavirus test centres have been charging for more tests than they have carried out, daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and broadcaster ARD reported this week.
Britain reported 3240 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, a drop from 3398 cases the previous day, and six deaths within 28 days of a positive test compared with seven on Saturday.
The total number of people who had received the first dose of a vaccine increased to 39,259,168, Public Health England said
Italy reported 44 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, down from 83 the day before and the lowest figure since mid-October, while the daily tally of new infections also dropped to 2949 from 3351, the health ministry said.
Italy has registered 126,046 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world.
The country has reported 4.216 million cases to date.
The number of deaths is often lower on a Sunday but the latest figure confirms a declining trend. People reported dead due to COVID-19 stood at 72 last Sunday and 93 a week before that, down from 139 on Sunday, May 9.
The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 - not including those in intensive care - totalled 6591 on Sunday, down from 6800 a day earlier.
There were 27 new admissions to intensive care units, little changed from 29 on Saturday. The total number of intensive care patients stood at 1061 from 1095.
France reported the number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 fell by 35 to 2993 on Sunday, while the overall number of people in hospital with the disease fell by 72 to 16,775.
Both numbers have been on a downward trend in recent weeks.
The number of people in intensive care units was below 3000 for the first time since January 24.
While reporting 8541 new cases, the health ministry also announced 44 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals and said there had been 150,026 COVID-19 vaccine injections over the past 24 hours.
Taiwan's government has signed deals with two local companies to provide up to 20 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccines, the official Central News Agency said on Sunday, in a boost to the island's pandemic fight.
The news comes days after the Chinese-claimed island blamed Beijing for blocking a deal earlier this year for BioNTech SE vaccines, which China denies.
After recording just a handful of daily infections for months, Taiwan is dealing with relatively large numbers of community transmissions, though infection rates are starting to fall.
It has only vaccinated around 1 percent of its more than 23 million people but has almost 30 million shots on order, from AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna Inc and two domestic firms.
The Central News Agency said the government had on Friday signed deals with Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp and United Biomedical Inc for five million doses each, and had oral agreements for another five million each, for a total of 20 million shots.
Medigen confirmed the details in a statement to the stock exchange while the government's central epidemic command centre said it would issue a statement later. United Biomedical did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, neither shot has yet been formally approved for use and both are still undergoing tests, which Taiwan's government says are going well.
Vietnam's business hub Ho Chi Minh City will begin social distancing measures for 15 days starting from May 31 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the government said on Sunday.
The city has seen a rise in cases related to a religious mission that has recorded at least 125 positive tests, accounting for most of the city's infections, according to a government statement.
After successfully containing the virus for most of last year, infections in Vietnam have risen since late April, accounting for more than half of the total 7107 registered cases among its population of 98 million. It still has one of the world's lowest cases, with a total of 47 deaths so far and authorities seem determined to keep it that way.
Africa and the Middle East
Egypt will lift restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including easing the early closure of shops and restaurants, from Tuesday, the cabinet said.
Since May 6, stores, malls and restaurants had to close by 9 p.m. after a rise in infections.
Egypt imposed strict measures at the start of the pandemic, closing its airspace and setting nightly curfews to combat the spread of the virus, but it has remained largely open since June 2020.
As part of its efforts to save the tourism sector, it completed vaccinating workers in all hotels in Southern Sinai and Red Sea provinces and plans to vaccinate all residents of the two resorts of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheik, the cabinet said on Sunday.
South Africa has extended its nightly curfew and limited the number of people at gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19 as positive cases surge, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
The level two lockdown restrictions will start on Monday, forcing non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres to close by 2200 local time (2000 GMT) as the curfew will now start at 2300 from midnight and end at 0400, Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation.
All gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 100 people indoors from 250 and 250 people outdoors from 500. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers, no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used.
Ramaphosa said according to the country's health experts, the recent surge in new infections is due to the increasing number of social gatherings where people are not observing essential health protocols.
Kenya has extended its nightly curfew by 60 days to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.
The move followed a decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta in late March to extend the 10 p.m to 4 a.m. curfew.
A ban on political gatherings and processions that could turn into super spreader events was also extended for 60 days, as was a prohibition on overnight events and vigils, the ministry said.
When the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Kenya in March 2020, the government closed schools, imposed a curfew, banned public gatherings and on multiple occasions restricted movement in and out of the most-affected regions.
Some restrictions, such as on schools, were eventually relaxed. The ban on public gatherings and processions and overnight meetings will stay in force, the ministry said.
Kenya has recorded 170,485 cases and 3141 deaths, Ministry of Health data showed on Saturday, with a positivity rate of 8.9 percent.
COVID-19 vaccinations began on March 5 and so far 968,733 people have received their first dose.