Covid-19 has infected more than 437M people and killed over 5.97M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

Germany will provide a further $1.5 billion to a global initiative for better access to coronavirus vaccines for poorer countries.
Germany will provide a further $1.5 billion to a global initiative for better access to coronavirus vaccines for poorer countries. (AP)

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Germany pledges more funds for Covid vaccines 

Germany will provide a further $1.5 billion to a global initiative for better access to coronavirus vaccines for poorer countries.

"The global Covid-19 pandemic has not been overcome," Finance Minister Christian Lindner told reporters after a virtual meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven leading economies.

Germany would also provide an additional 224 million euros for logistics on the ground, or "in-country delivery costs," Lindner said. 

Italy adds 233 more fatalities

Italy has reported 46,631 further cases, against 17,981 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths rose to 233 from 207.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 10,456, down from 10,851 earlier.

Italy has registered 155,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world. 

Britain revokes mandatory Covid shots for health workers

Britain has confirmed that a requirement for health workers to have a Covid-19 vaccination would no longer be introduced in April and care home workers would no longer be required to have the shots from March 15.

Health minister Sajid Javid in January said that the government intended to revoke the regulations, subject to consultation. 

On Tuesday, the health ministry said that following the consultation, the requirement would be dropped.

Australian prime minister diagnosed with Covid-19

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has tested positive for Covid-19 but will continue his official duties while isolating.

“I am experiencing flu-like symptoms and will be recovering over the next week,” Morrison said in a statement.

He said would continue working as prime minister, focusing on the government’s responses to the Ukraine war and devastating floods on Australia’s east coast. 

France reports 200 more deaths 

France's overall death toll from the coronavirus rose to 110,412, up by 200, according to official data.

Patients in intensive care units for Covid-19 stood at 2,408 people, down by 48.

Indonesia extends AstraZeneca Covid vaccine shelf life

Indonesia has extended the shelf life of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine to nine months, as nearly six million doses it received in donations were in danger of expiring.

The decision underscores challenges many developing countries face in their slow inoculation campaigns, as vaccines donated by wealthy countries arrive with a relatively short shelf life of just a few months or even weeks.

"The food and drugs agency extended the expiry date ... based on new available data about its efficacy," a health ministry spokesperson, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said.

China should eventually ‘co-exist’ with Covid

China should aim to co-exist with the virus and could move away from its zero-Covid strategy "in the near future," a top Chinese scientist said in a possible sign that the country's leadership is rethinking its strict approach.

China's strategy against Covid-19 cannot "remain unchanged forever" and "it is the long-term goal of humanity to co-exist with the virus" at tolerable death and illness rates, Zeng Guang, the former chief scientist of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote on social media platform Weibo.

Zeng said that while China's approach had prevented the early chaos of widespread infection experienced by many Western countries, its low infection rate was now a "soft spot" as far fewer people had built up natural immunity.

Bahrain approves Valneva's Covid vaccine for emergency use

Bahrain has granted emergency use authorisation to the Covid-19 vaccine developed by France's Valneva, the company said.

Valneva expects to deliver the first shipments of its VLA2001 vaccine to the kingdom at the end of March, after it signed an advance purchase deal for one million doses in December last year.

"As the only dual-adjuvanted, inactivated Covid-19 vaccine approved in Bahrain, VLA2001 will provide a differentiated vaccine option to the Bahraini population and medical community," said CEO Thomas Lingelbach.

Hong Kong reports 32,597 new cases

Hong Kong has reported 32,597 further Covid-19 cases and a record 117 deaths in the past 24 hours, as the global financial hub prepared for mandatory testing and a lockdown. 

Local media reported compulsory Covid testing would start after March 17, sparking concerns many people will be forced to isolate and families with members testing positive would be separated.

Officials are planning to test the city's 7.4 million people three times over nine days, with the government recommending that people stay home during the period, Sing Tao newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.

South Africa records zero Covid deaths

South Africa has recorded zero Covid-19 deaths in the last two days, for the first time since May 2020.

"Empirically, the hospitals are pretty much empty of Covid cases," said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Covid has hit South Africa harder than any other country on the continent, making the drop in deaths all the more remarkable. 

China reports 200 new cases

Mainland China has reported 200 new confirmed coronavirus cases, the country's national health authority said, compared with 234 a day earlier.

Of the new cases, 75 were locally transmitted, the National Health Commission said, compared with 87 a day earlier.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 144 compared with 114 a day earlier.

There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

As of February 28, mainland China had confirmed 109,526 cases.

Mexico reports over 2,000 cases

Mexico has registered 2,524 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 573 new deaths, according to Health Ministry data.

The overall number of confirmed cases hit 5,508,629 and the death toll in the country rose to 318,149. 

Brazil registers nearly 20,000 cases

Brazil has had 19,516 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 199 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 28,787,620 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 649,333, according to ministry data. 

The ministry added that data from the states of Paraiba (cases) and Mato Grosso have not been updated.

France reports over 2,000 cases in intensive care

France reports 2,456 people in intensive care units for Covid-19.

The country has reported over 22 million cases and nearly 140,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies