Covid-19 has infected more than 425M people and killed over 5.9M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

Johnson said the country was “moving from government restrictions to personal responsibility” as part of a plan for treating Covid-19 like other transmissible illnesses such as flu.
Johnson said the country was “moving from government restrictions to personal responsibility” as part of a plan for treating Covid-19 like other transmissible illnesses such as flu. (Reuters)

Monday, February 21, 2022

UK scraps remaining Covid restrictions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has scrapped the last domestic coronavirus restrictions in England, including the requirement for people with Covid-19 to self-isolate.

“We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions to relying on vaccines and treatments as the first line of defence,” Johnson said.

Despite warnings from scientists that ending restrictions could weaken the country’s ability to monitor and track coronavirus, Johnson confirmed that mandatory self-isolation for people with Covid-19 will end starting Thursday.

The routine tracing of infected people’s contacts is also set to stop, and starting April 1, lab-confirmed PCR tests for the virus will be available free only to older people and the immune-compromised.

The government will also stop offering the public free rapid virus tests, though they will be available privately for a price, as is already the case in many countries.

Britain reported 38,409 new Covid-19 cases and 15 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test in the last 24 hours, official data showed. 

Türkiye reports over 85,000 new cases

Türkiye has reported 85,026 new coronavirus cases, and according to a chart shared by the Health Ministry, 268 people lost their lives and 94,402 others recovered from the disease over the past day.

Biological E. Covid shot gets India emergency approval for 12-18 age group

Indian vaccine maker Biological E. Ltd has said its Covid-19 vaccine received an emergency use approval in the country for use in children aged 12 to 18.

The company's shot, called Corbevax, is the third vaccine approved for use in children aged 12 and above in India, joining Zydus Cadila's DNA shot ZyCoV-D and homegrown player Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.

India has so far only started vaccinating children aged 15 and above. According to government figures, more than 76 million children between 15 and 17 have been inoculated mainly using Covaxin.

Italy reports over 20,000 cases, 201 deaths

Italy has reported 24,408 Covid-19 related cases, against 42,081 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths rose to 201 from 141.

Some 231,766 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 372,776, the ministry said.

Bulgaria to ease restrictions as cases drop

Bulgaria is set to lift the obligatory Covid-19 "green certificate" for entry to restaurants, shopping malls and other public venues from March 20 as coronavirus infections ease, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said.

The health pass - a digital or paper certificate showing someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus - was made obligatory for most indoor spaces in Bulgaria last October.

Its introduction has prompted a series of protests in the European Union's least vaccinated member state, angering bar and restaurant owners and anti-vaccine activists.

Israel to allow in tourists regardless of vaccination status

Israel will allow entry to all tourists, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, from March 1, the prime minister's office said. 

Entry into Israel will still require two PCR tests, one before flying in and one upon landing in Israel, the office said.

Hong Kong to expand its vaccine bubble

Hong Kong has confirmed that its vaccine bubble will be expanded to include shopping malls and supermarkets, but said exemptions and random inspections would happen at some sites, as authorities battle a new record surge in Covid-19 infections.

The coronavirus outbreak has overwhelmed healthcare facilities in the global financial hub, with a new daily high of 7,533 infections and 13 deaths, among them an 11-month-old child, building pressure on the government.

As most major cities learn to live with the virus, Hong Kong has imposed its toughest curbs yet, with Chinese President Xi Jinping saying that reining in the disease is the city's "overriding mission".

Germany adds nearly 74,000 new cases

Germany has reported 73,867 further coronavirus cases and 22 more deaths in the last 24 hours, according to official data.

South Africa changes vaccination rules 

South Africa said that it was changing vaccination rules to try to increase uptake, as inoculations have slowed and the country has ample vaccine stocks.

The government is shortening the interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine from 42 to 21 days and will allow people who have received two doses of Pfizer to get a booster dose three months after their second shot as opposed to six months previously.

It will also offer the option of "mixing and matching" booster jabs, with adults who were given one dose of Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) vaccine being offered either a J&J or Pfizer booster two months after their J&J shot. 

India sees 206 more fatalities

India's daily Covid-19 deaths rose by 206 to 512,109, Indian health ministry has said. 

The country's daily cases rise by 16,051 with total Covid-19 cases reaching 42.84 million.

New Zealand signals easing of curbs

New Zealand will lift Covid-19 vaccine mandates and social distancing measures after the Omicron peak has passed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

Ardern refused to set a hard date, but said there would be a narrowing of vaccine requirements after Omicron reaches a peak, which is expected in mid to late March. 

"We all want to go back to the way life was. And we will, I suspect sooner than you think," Ardern said at a weekly news conference.

Australia fully reopens its borders

Australia has fully reopened its international borders to travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus after nearly two years of being shut in the pandemic as tourists returned and hundreds of people were reunited with family and friends.

More than 50 international flights will reach the country through the day, including 27 touching down at Sydney, its largest city, as the tourism and hospitality sectors look to rebuild after getting hammered by Covid-19 restrictions.

As borders fully reopen, Australia's outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant appears to have passed its peak with hospital admissions steadily falling over the past three weeks.

The bulk of Australia's pandemic total of around 2.7 million confirmed cases has been detected since the emergence of Omicron in late November. Total deaths stood at 4,913.

Mexico reports 163 more Covid deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 163 new confirmed deaths from Covid-19, according to data released, bringing the official death toll since the pandemic began to 315,688.

Brazil registers over 400 Covid deaths

Brazil has registered 406 Covid-19 deaths and 40,625 additional cases, according to data released by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered a total of 644,286 coronavirus deaths and 28,208,212 total confirmed cases.

Brazil has experienced a severe spike in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks due the Omicron variant, though the lethality of the current wave is much lower than previous wave s due to relatively high vaccination rates.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies