* Shanghai warned that anyone who violates strict COVID-19 lockdown rules will be dealt with strictly, while also rallying people to defend their city as its tally of new cases rebounded to more than 25,000.
* More than 30 Taiwan companies, many making electronics parts, said government COVID-19 control measures in eastern China had led them to suspend production until at least next week.
* South Korea will administer a second COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for people over 60, as the country continues to battle the highly contagious Omicron variant.
* Shionogi & Co shares plunged in Tokyo trading amid concerns that the drugmaker’s oral treatment for COVID-19, which is still awaiting approval from regulators, could pose pregnancy risks.
* New Zealand welcomed hundreds of travellers from Australia with emotional scenes as it opened its borders to its trans-Tasmanian neighbour for the first time since mid-2021.
* The BA.2 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus is now responsible for 86 per cent of US COVID-19 cases and more than 90 per cent of infections in the Northeast, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised but defied calls to resign on Tuesday after being fined for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules by attending a gathering in his office to celebrate his birthday.
* Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak offered an “unreserved apology” for breaking COVID-19 lockdown laws, echoing comments from Johnson, and said he had accepted and paid a fine.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Saudi Arabia will let up to 1 million people join the Haj pilgrimage this year, greatly expanding the key event to participants from outside the kingdom after two years of tight COVID-19 restrictions, state media said.
* An experimental drug being developed by RedHill Biopharma that improved outcomes in a randomised trial involving severely ill COVID-19 patients infected with earlier versions of the coronavirus is showing promise against the Omicron variant in test tube experiments, researchers said.
* Asian shares and US futures rose after US inflation figures were not as high as markets had feared, causing US yields to pause their march higher.
* China’s imports unexpectedly fell in March as COVID-19 curbs hampered freight arrivals and weakened demand, while export growth slowed slightly, with analysts expecting trade to worsen in the second quarter.
* The World Trade Organisation revised down its forecast for global trade growth this year to 3 per cent from 4.7 per cent amid a pandemic and war “double whammy”.