WHO discusses the process of ending the public health emergency
WHO discusses the process of ending the public health emergency

WHO discusses the process of ending the public health emergency

Global: The global death toll for Covid has passed the grim milestone of 6 million, with a figure of 6,041,077 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections remain above 455 million to a worldwide figure of 456,908,767.

Public health experts at the World Health Organization have begun discussing how and when to end the global Covid-19 crisis, and explore what would be an important milestone more than two years after the virus emerged. The WHO said it was not currently considering such a statement. While the number of cases has dropped in many places, the number of deaths has increased in Hong Kong, and this week China reported more than 1,000 new daily cases for the first time in two years. Instead, discussions at the Geneva-based agency focus on what factors will ultimately signal that public health distress declared on 30 January 2020, is over. Such a statement would not only be a meaningful symbolic step, it would add momentum to the rollback of many public health policies from the pandemic.

News by region

America

U.S: Covid-19 infections have now passed 79.5 million. Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll from coronavirus has risen to more than 967,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data. Coronavirus cases in the US were slightly changed from the previous day at around 79.5 million from kl. 02:40 Hong Kong time Saturday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The national increase in cases matched the average daily increase of less than 0.1% over the past week.

Another booster shot at Covid-19 is needed “right now” due to declining immunity, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said. The company is in the process of submitting data to U.S. health officials about an additional booster, as well as planning further for a vaccine that will “protect against all variants” and offer protection for a year, he said on CBS ‘”Face the Nation.” The first booster, he said, is still “quite good for hospitalizations and deaths.” It is not so good against infections. ” Bourla also said he expects to submit data on vaccines to children under 5 next month. In February, US Food and Drug Administration exposed a review of Pfizer data for the youngest children, citing the need for more information on a three-dose regimen of shots.

Brazil: Instituto Butantan, the distributor of the Sinovac shot, has asked Brazil to use the 3- to 5-year-old Sinovac vaccine. Brazil’s health regulatory agency will have seven days from Monday to review the request, according to a statement from the agency known as Anvisa. Sinovac’s CoronaVac Covid vaccine has been in use in Brazil since June 2021 and was extended to children as young as six this year.

Meanwhile, China halted shipments of beef from a JBS plant in Mozarlandia in Brazil’s Goias state for a week after the cargoes tested positive for Covid-19, Valor Economico reports, citing the Chinese Customs Administration. Shipments from another factory owned by Frialto in Mato Grosso do Sul state were also suspended for a week, according to the newspaper.

Europe

Germany: Germany reported 237,086 new daily coronavirus infections and 249 deaths and its highest weekly incidence of 1,496 new cases per day. 100,000 inhabitants, according to figures published by the Robert Koch Institute. The country plans to lift almost all virus restrictions on March 20, but some regional authorities, including Hamburg, plan to resist, NDR reported local radio, citing the city-state’s social department. The president of Germany’s interdisciplinary association for intensive care and emergency medicine, Gernot Marx, has warned against stopping mandatory mask use in public indoor areas, the Funke Media Group reported.

Asia and the Pacific

China: China approved five rapid Covid antigen tests developed by domestic companies BGI Genomics Co., Nanjing Vazyme Biotech Co., Beijing Jinwofu Bioengineering Technology Co., Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co. and Beijing Savant Biotechnology Co., the state-owned television company CCTV reported Saturday, citing the Chinese drug regulator. National Medical Products Administration. The approvals were announced a day after the National Health Commission announced a plan on Friday to allow the use of rapid test kits for clinics and residents, as infections in the home grew to more than 1,000 a day, a level seen only at worst of China’s first eruption centered around Wuhan in early 2020.

China’s Covid flare-up has prompted organizers to postpone two conferences scheduled for this coming weekend in Beijing: China’s Development Forum, scheduled for March 19-21 at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, has also been postponed. China Photovoltaic Industry Forum, scheduled from 19-20. March, has also been postponed.

About 23 of the 31 mainland provinces reported confirmed, symptomatic cases over the past week. Including asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately, there were nearly 10,000 new cases.

China’s Dongguan city in Guangdong province suspended the operation of buses and the subway network from March 14, according to a statement on the local government’s WeChat account. The city also suspended eateries, entertainment facilities and personal classes for students.

Shenzhen will tighten its closed-loop control for cross-border shipping in the midst of a nationwide shutdown, its transportation department said in a statement Sunday.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong reported more than 32,000 new Covid cases and 190 deaths, said health official Dr. Albert Au at a briefing. Persistent daily cases of at least 30,000 a day show that coronavirus clusters still exist in the city, Au said. New cases include 13,335 confirmed by nucleic acid testing and 19,095 by rapid antigen testing. The city registered 190 new Covid deaths ranging in age from 39 to 105 years old, and 101 patients are in intensive care units, said Hospital Authority Chief Manager Dr. Sara Ho. There were also 74 “delayed” deaths.

About 300,000 people in Hong Kong are currently in isolation or in home quarantine, CEO Carrie Lam said at a news conference Sunday. The city plans to mobilize all sectors to fight Covid and help quell the fifth wave of the pandemic.

Hong Kong will not consider tightening social distance measures for now, as the current curbs are the strictest for years, CEO Carrie Lam said at a briefing. The government will take a cautious approach to considering the need for further tightening of social distance measures, taking into account the basic needs and mental health of residents, Lam said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong expects 75 medical staff from China and the first batch of Pfizer’s Covid pill Paxlovid to arrive on Monday, Lam also said at the briefing. The second team of 300 medical staff from China arrives this week. Molnupiravir Covid pills have arrived earlier in the city, the administration started at clinics designated for Covid patients. The government aims to expand the use of Covid pills to reduce deaths as there are adequate supplies.

South Korea: South Korea on Saturday reported a record 383,665 new Covid cases and 269 deaths. There were 1,066 coronavirus hospital patients in critical care, authorities said.

Thailand: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha will chair the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting on Friday and may consider easing restrictions further as the nation plans to reclassify the pandemic as endemic. The Ministry of Health and related agencies will propose some adjustments in Covid measures to unlock some business activities, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said in a statement.

Tonga: Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni tested positive for Covid-19, while the number of cases in the kingdom has climbed to more than 900 since the eruption began in February, the New Zealand Stuff reported. A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said Sovaleni, who was fully vaccinated and boosted, had mild symptoms and isolated himself in his home with members of his immediate family, Stuff said. Tonga’s Covid-19 outbreak of the Omicron variant began on February 1, when two front-line workers at the quay tested positive for the virus.

Economy news

China: Widespread shutdowns in China similar to the measures just taken in the southern technology hub of Shenzhen could affect half of the country’s gross domestic product.

Apple Inc. Supplier Foxconn is halting operations at its Shenzhen locations, one of which is producing iPhones, in response to the shutdown of the technology hub.

The Taiwanese company, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., has its China headquarters in the area and an important production site in Guanlan. It is suspending operations on the two campuses and has redeployed production to other locations to reduce the impact of the disruption, the company said in a statement. Foxconn did not specify the length of the suspension. The Chinese government’s measures call for non-essential businesses in Shenzhen to stop by March 20. While the shutdown could affect the production of many of the devices Foxconn manufactures for Apple and other brands, demand for electronics typically falls in the first quarter of each year after the peak of the holiday season.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., Bank of China Ltd., Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp. will suspend operations at all branches in Shenzhen from Monday to March 20, according to announcements on their official Wechat accounts. Banks will still provide online services through channels, including mobile apps and online portals, the announcements said. Toyota Motor Corp. shut down its factory in the Chinese city of Changchun on Monday in response to local authorities ordering the 9 million inhabitants of the northeastern region to shut down due to a coronavirus outbreak, spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said. The Changchun factory produces vehicles, including Toyota’s popular Rav4 SUV.

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