Global: The global death toll for Covid has exceeded 5.9 million, with a figure of 5,956,652 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections remain above 437 million to a worldwide figure of 437,017,561.
The vaccine manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE are much less effective at preventing infection in children ages 5 to 11 than in older teens or adults, according to a large new set of data collected by New York State health authorities, the New York Times reported. The Pfizer vaccine still prevents serious illness in children, but offers virtually no protection against infection, even within a month after full immunization, the data collected during the Omicron rise suggest, according to the newspaper. The sharp drop in vaccine performance in young children may stem from the fact that they receive a third of the dose given to older children and adults, said researchers and federal officials who have reviewed the data, according to the Times.
Roche Holding AG’s chief diagnostician said it was too early to end the pandemic, though Omicron’s spread ebbs because a seasonal resurgence is possible later this year. “It’s important that we prepare for the next winter period and not be surprised,” said Thomas Schinecker, head of the Covid test manufacturer’s diagnostic unit. In an interview, the Roche director urged governments, the biggest buyers of rapid antigen testing, to be more proactive as they plan bulk purchases ahead of a likely next wave of infections.
News by region
U.S: Covid -19 infections have now passed 79 million. Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll from coronavirus has risen to more than 950,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Americans are less worried about catching and spreading Covid-19 compared to six months ago, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the New York Times reported. Support is also declining for mask mandates, which are easing in large parts of the United States, the poll found, according to the NYT.
California, Oregon and Washington will no longer demand masks in the classrooms after the end of next week, as declining numbers of cases of Covid across the west coast accelerate efforts to return to something resembling normal life. The three states will shift to recommending masks in schools and childcare facilities instead of giving them mandates after March 11, according to a statement Monday. Oregon and Washington will also repeal the mask rules for most other indoor settings at that time. California had expired its mask requirement for indoor public spaces earlier this month.
Amazon.com Inc. said that face clothing will be optional at its U.S. operations, regardless of vaccination status, starting Tuesday. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant recommended in a note to employees that unvaccinated workers wear masks, noting that federal, state and local laws may still require face coverage in some cases. The information previously reported on the policy change. Amazon lifted its masking guide for vaccinated employees earlier this month, demanding that employees be fully vaccinated to get paid off if they became ill with Covid-19.
Asia and the Pacific
Singapore: Singapore’s case numbers have been falling for six days in a row, boosting focus on a report on Tuesday that could signal whether Omicron infections in the city-state have peaked. Tuesdays tend to be Singapore’s largest caseload each week, in part due to weekend gatherings and people testing at the start of the week. The last two weeks have seen cases fall before a Tuesday rise, delaying a potential reopening. Singapore plans to ease the restrictions significantly when the current wave of infections peaks.
China: One of China’s top health experts raised the possibility that China could follow Western nations and try to live with Covid-19, a rarely expressed view in the country as it continues with its Covid-Zero strategy. “Western countries have taken the lead in practicing coexistence with the virus, which is very risky and courageous. We will observe and learn from the experiences and experiences of Western countries with a calm and humble attitude to our own use.” Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on his social media account. “At an appropriate time in the near future, China will certainly present its version of the roadmap for coexistence with the virus,” Zeng said.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong is considering stopping public transportation during a shutdown or allowing residents who test negative with rapid screening kits to leave their homes, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified individuals. The government is considering a number of options around the closure, including whether it should be in the entire city or done on a rolling basis, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong plans to enforce a city shutdown to ensure a mandatory Covid-19 test drive scheduled for this month is effective, Sing Tao Daily reported. Testing of the financial center’s 7.4 million people will begin after March 17, the newspaper reported, citing individuals it did not identify. Officials aim to test the entire city three times in nine days, with an order to stay home to maximize impact, the report said.
Hong Kong’s health and beauty product chain Mannings said it would temporarily close 53 stores across the city from Tuesday onwards, citing the pandemic. About 38 stores will temporarily suspend pickup service for online purchases. The retailer, controlled by Jardine Matheson, still has more than 250 stores operating in Hong Kong.
Thailand: Vaccinated foreign visitors to Thailand will no longer be required to take another RT-PCR test after arriving from Tuesday, as the nation is courting tourists. The insurance requirement for Thai visas has also been lowered to $ 20,000 from $ 50,000. From Tuesday, authorities will begin distributing free rapid antigen test kits through 2,000 centers nationwide amid a health ministry warning that daily cases could rise to 100,000 in mid-April. New infections dropped to 20,420 on Tuesday.
Malaysia: Malaysia will ease the requirements for coronavirus testing for some travelers starting Thursday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement. The exemption applies to those arriving in Malaysia via the vaccinated itinerary with Singapore, the Langkawi travel bubble and short-term business travel via one-stop centers, he said.
Global: About 75% of the increase in teleworking during the Covid-19 crisis is likely to hold, according to researchers at Arizona State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Dallas Federal Reserve. Twice as many workers will be 100% remote as before the pandemic, and every fifth working day will be away from home, economists predict. And while work from home rose for all major demographic groups and industries, it did so especially among highly educated workers, the data found.