* German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron called for European Union countries to coordinate their COVID-19 border reopening policies and guard against new variants of the virus.
* Prime Minister Mario Draghi urged Italians to get fully vaccinated against coronavirus, acknowledging that a government decision to ban AstraZeneca doses for people aged over 60 had created confusion.
* The Kremlin blamed a surge in COVID-19 cases on reluctance to have vaccinations and "nihilism" after a record 9056 new infections in Moscow, mostly with the new Delta variant, fanned fears of a third wave.
* As a three-day coronavirus travel ban came into force around Lisbon on Friday afternoon, drivers stopped by police asking them their reason for travelling said they felt concerned about the worrying rise in infections.
* Face masks will mostly no longer be required across the Netherlands and other restrictions will ease from next week, after a drop in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
* The Delta variant, first identified in India, is becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease, the World Health Organisation's chief scientist said.
* Japanese medical experts said that banning spectators at the Olympics was the least risky option for holding the Games, even as they appeared resigned to the possibility of fans in venues during the pandemic.
* President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday urged Americans to get COVID-19 shots, as the country looks likely to miss the White House's goals for vaccination next month as a new coronavirus variant triggered serious concerns.
* Canada is extending a ban on non-essential travel with the United States and the rest of the world until July 21, officials said, prompting frustration from businesses and US legislators.
* California officials unveiled a website to access or download a digital copy of COVID-19 immunisation records, though they stressed the state would not make it mandatory to carry the vaccine credentials.
* A Brazilian pandemic inquiry has placed the health minister, former health minister and ex-foreign minister "under investigation," Senator Renan Calheiros said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The Palestinian Authority (PA) cancelled a deal to receive soon-to-expire COVID-19 vaccines from Israel after an initial Israeli shipment showed an expiration date sooner than had been agreed, the PA health minister said.
* Uganda's president Yowreri Museveni introduced sweeping new anti-coronavirus measures including a ban on all vehicular movement except for essential workers to help curb a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation.
* Fresh vaccine supplies are accelerating inoculations in Oman, a government health official said, as a surge in cases puts hospitals under pressure.
* Turkey has sharply accelerated vaccinations this week, raising hopes of a strong economic performance in the second half of the year.
* The European Union lost its bid to speed up deliveries of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines, the first of its legal challenges against the drugmaker that rocked the bloc as it scrambled to shore up supplies.
* All three main indices on Wall Street dropped with investors wary of a more hawkish stance from the US Federal Reserve, while the dollar posted the strongest gains in over a year and oil prices continued a steady climb.
* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he expects that by the third quarter the country's economy will reach pre-pandemic levels.
Australian Associated Press