Covid-19 has infected more than 362M people and killed over 5.6M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

Studies showed the drug called Paxlovid reduces hospitalisation and death in patients at risk of severe Covid, and may also be effective against the Omicron variant.
Studies showed the drug called Paxlovid reduces hospitalisation and death in patients at risk of severe Covid, and may also be effective against the Omicron variant. (Reuters)

Thursday, January 27, 2022

EU watchdog approves Pfizer Covid pill

The European Union's drug regulator has given the green light to Pfizer Inc's antiviral Covid-19 pill for treating adults at risk of severe illness, as the region scrambles to boost its arsenal to fight the Omicron variant.

The endorsement by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for conditional approval, if followed as usual by the European Commission, allows EU member states to deploy the drug after the regulator gave guidance for its emergency use late last year.

Italy, Germany and Belgium are among a handful of EU countries that have bought the drug, branded as Paxlovid.

Hong Kong to cut quarantine for arrivals 

Hong Kong will cut quarantine for arriving travellers to 14 days from 21 starting Feb 5.

Tough coronavirus rules have made Hong Kong one of the world's most isolated cities, with flights down as much as 90%.

Residents returning from more than 160 countries have been required to quarantine for 21 days in designated hotels will now have to spend 14 days in a hotel, followed by seven days of self-monitoring, with further details to be announced.

Italy sees 389 more fatalities

Italy has reported 155,697 Covid-19 related cases, against 167,206 the day before.

The health ministry said the number of deaths fell to 389 from 426.

Italy has registered 145,159 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth highest in the world. The country has reported 10.54 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 19,853, down from 20,001 a day earlier.

India eases restrictions in New Delhi

The coronavirus restrictions in India’s capital New Delhi has been eased as the "situation is under control."

The New Delhi government decided to lift the weekend curfew and allow private offices, restaurants and cinema halls to operate with 50 percent capacity, effective immediately.

However, schools and colleges will still remain shut. 

Messi to miss World Cup qualifiers 

Coach Lionel Scaloni has said Lionel Messi is not part of Argentina’s squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers because his coronavirus infection “affected him a lot."

Messi tested positive for Covid-19 on Jan 2 and has barely played any football since late December.

The 34-year-old was on the field for less than half an hour as a substitute in Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-0 victory over Reims this past Sunday.

Turkiye logs record 82,180 new cases 

Turkiye has recorded 82,180 new Covid-19 cases in the space of 24 hours, its highest daily figure of the pandemic.

There were 174 deaths related to coronavirus in the same period, the health ministry data showed. 

In late December, daily cases stood at about 20,000, before a surge in infections due to Omicron.

Trudeau to isolate after Covid exposure

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that he had been exposed to Covid-19 and would isolate for five days, in accordance with health rules for vaccinated people.

"Last night, I learned that I have been exposed to Covid-19," Trudeau tweeted. "My rapid test result was negative."

"I feel fine and will be working from home," he said.

Trudeau, 50, received a Covid-19 booster shot in January. In his tweet, he again urged Canadians to get vaccinated against the virus.

Germany reports new daily record for infections

Germany has reported a record number of new coronavirus cases, exceeding the 200,000 mark for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the country's disease control agency, confirmed 203,136 new cases in the past 24 hours and 188 coronavirus-related fatalities.

Health authorities estimate that currently over 1.6 million people are sick with Covid-19, which is an all-time high for the country.

North Korea slowly reopens border

After spending two years in a strict lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic, North Korea may finally be slowly opening up. 

The reason could reflect a growing sense of recognition by the leadership that the nation badly needs to win outside economic relief.

The North's tentative reopening is seen in the apparent resumption of North Korean freight train traffic into neighboring China.

But it comes even as Pyongyang has staged several weapons tests, the latest being two suspected ballistic missiles on Thursday, and issued a veiled threat about resuming tests of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles.

Poland reports new daily record of Covid cases

Poland has reported a record 57,659 new daily Covid-19 infections, the health ministry said, as the Omicron variant takes hold.

Authorities have said the latest wave will drive case numbers to levels not yet seen in Poland, with estimates of the peak ranging from 60,000 to as many as 140,000 daily infections.

Poland, a country of around 38 million people, has so far reported 4,695,435 Covid-19 cases and 104,636 deaths. Over 1 million people are quarantined.

Unvaccinated US patient denied heart transplant 

A Boston hospital is defending itself after a man's family claimed he was denied a new heart for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19, saying most transplant programs around the country set similar requirements to improve patients’ chances of survival.

The family of D.J. Ferguson said in a crowdfunding appeal this week that officials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital told the 31-year-old father of two that he was ineligible for the procedure because he hasn’t been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

D.J.'s mother, Tracey Ferguson, insists that her son isn't against vaccinations, noting he's had other immunisations in the past. But the trained nurse said that he’s been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and that he has concerns about the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Russia records highest Covid cases for seventh day 

Russia's daily Covid-19 cases have surged to 88,816, a new record high for the seventh consecutive day as the Omicron variant was identified in new regions.

The number of new infections was a significant jump from the 74,692 reported on Wednesday. Officials also said that 665 people have died in the last 24 hours.

Ukraine reports new daily high of Covid infections

Ukraine has registered a record 32,393 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours.

The previous high of 27,377 cases was on November 4.

Ukraine has reported a total of 3.95 million coronavirus cases and 99,738 deaths.

Czech Republic reports record daily cases for third day

The Czech Republic reported a record daily tally of Covid-19 infections for a third day in a row, with cases surpassing 50,000 for the first time as the Omicron variant of coronavirus spreads.

The Health Ministry said it recorded 54,685 new coronavirus cases, nearly double the previous record tally seen before this week in the country of 10.7 million.

Brazil reports high Covid cases

Brazil has reported 224,567 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, breaking the country's previous record for daily infections, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

The South American country also reported 570 deaths from Covid-19. The previous record for daily cases was 204,854 on January 19.

Brazil has now registered a total of 24,535,884 cases and 624,413 deaths.

England lifts Covid restrictions

Most coronavirus restrictions including mandatory face masks were lifted in England after Britain’s government said its vaccine booster rollout successfully reduced serious illness and Covid-19 hospitalisations.

From Thursday, face coverings are no longer required by law anywhere in England, and a legal requirement for Covid passes for entry into nightclubs and other large venues has been scrapped.

Officials said that almost 84 percent of people over 12 years old in the UK have had their second vaccine dose, and that of those eligible, 81 percent have received their booster shot.

Mexico reports highest daily Covid fatalities 

Mexico's Health Ministry reported 532 more fatalities from Covid-19, the highest daily total since mid-October, bringing the overall official toll in the country since the pandemic began to 304,308.

The ministry data also showed 48,627 new infections, bringing the overall number to 4,779,296.

South Korea reports new daily cases

South Korea has reported a record high 14,518 new daily Covid-19 cases, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said, driven by the spread of the Omicron variant.

Israel broadens eligibility for fourth dose

Israel has broadened eligibility for a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to include adults under 60 with underlying medical conditions, their caretakers, and others over 18 at significant risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

An official statement said the Health Ministry's director-general had approved the measures. Earlier this month, as the Omicron variant swept the country, Israel began offering a fourth dose, meaning a second booster, of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people over 60.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies