Covid-19 has infected more than 443M people and killed over 6M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

Hong Kong is in the throes of its worst outbreak that is overwhelming hospitals and shattering the city's zero-Covid strategy.
Hong Kong is in the throes of its worst outbreak that is overwhelming hospitals and shattering the city's zero-Covid strategy. (AP)

Friday, March 4, 2022

Hong Kong suspends court services amid virus surge

Hong Kong has announced it will suspend court services for a month as the city recorded more than 50,000 new cases for the third consecutive day.

The judiciary said it would adjourn most hearings between March 7 and April 11 after "striking a balance between public health considerations and due administration of justice".

The suspension excludes ongoing hearings and urgent applications while some in-person proceedings will be dealt with on paper instead.

On Friday, Hong Kong saw 52,523 new infections, bringing the total to more than 390,000 since the highly transmissible Omicron variant broke through.

There have been 1,341 deaths in the latest wave among a population of 7.4 million, with more than half of the deceased being elderly people living in care homes.

NYC to lift school mask rules, vaccine mandates for dining

New York City will do away with several virus measures next week, after long priding itself as having America’s toughest Covid-19 measures.

Mandatory masking in public schools and vaccination requirements at restaurants, entertainment and cultural venues will end, Mayor Eric Adams has announced.

Individual businesses can still decide to keep mandates in place if they choose, but as of Monday the city will no longer require they check guests' vaccine cards. 

Belgium set to remove almost all restrictions

Belgium will remove almost all its restrictions from Monday.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the major easing has come almost exactly two years since the pandemic first struck the country, which is home to NATO and EU institutions.

From Monday, Belgians wanting to dine in a restaurant or visit a museum or cinema will not need a pass proving vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test.

Masks, currently required for most indoor venues, will only be mandatory on public transport and in hospitals and care homes. Capacity limits on indoor venues will also be lifted.

Survey finds almost a third of people report lingering symptom '6-12 months after Covid-19'

Almost a third of people report at least one ongoing symptom between 6 and 12 months after their infection, a survey of 152,000 people in Denmark has found.

The questionnaire-based study suggested that the most commonly reported long-term symptoms were changes in sense of smell and taste, as well as fatigue.

Conducted between September 2020 and April 2021, the survey compared the responses of 61,002 people who had tested positive six, nine or 12 months before with those of 91,878 people who had tested negative.

In total, 29.6 percent of the respondents who had tested positive reported at least one ongoing physical symptom 6 to 12 months after infection, compared to 13 percent in the control group.

Ireland's president isolating with Covid

Ireland's President Michael D Higgins has tested positive for Covid-19 and is displaying mild symptoms.

Higgins, 80, and his wife, Sabina, tested positive ahead of a visit to a school in a north Dublin suburb, a spokesman for his office said.

"President and Sabina Higgins ... having taken antigen tests that have tested positive, will be isolating for the next seven days," his office said. 

"The president while isolating is continuing to work from home."

Türkiye reports over 38,000 new cases

Türkiye has confirmed 38,283 new infections,180 deaths and 63,311 recoveries over the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry said a total of 365,614 tests were also done.

Türkiye has administered over 145.94 million doses of vaccines since it launched an immunisation drive in January 2021.

Earlier this week, Türkiye lifted the requirement to wear a mask outdoors.

South Korea breaks grim record of daily infections again

South Korea’s daily Covid-19 tally continues to climb, with the country reporting over 260,000 new cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

Infections have surged since the first case of the highly contagious omicron variant was reported in South Korea last December.

The latest daily count of 266,853 cases surpassed the previous grim record of 219,241 reported on Wednesday, and raised the country’s total caseload above 3.95 million, according to Health Ministry data.

S.Africa risks destroying 100,000 vaccine doses by end-March due to slow uptake

About 100,000 doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine PFE.N are at risk of being destroyed by the end of this month due to slow uptake by citizens, South African health authorities said.

South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent, however inoculations have slowed and the country has ample vaccine stocks of about 25 million doses. 

"There is a risk that just over 100,000 or so doses which will expire by end of March ... may have to be discarded. It will be a sad day if significant volumes of doses can end up being discarded. We hope it will not reach that stage," Health Minister Joe Phaahla told an online news conference.

US waives Covid test for Americans leaving Russia, Belarus

The United States is waiving a requirement for negative Covid-19 tests from Americans leaving Belarus or Russia to travel home, the State Department said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it would exercise its discretion to allow travel by US citizens, permanent residents and holders of valid immigrant visas who were in either country by a February 28 cut-off date.

Earlier, it made a similar waiver for Americans leaving Ukraine who had been in the country by February 10.

Life in South Asia returns to normal as Covid cases decline

The markets are crowded again. Traffic is jamming the roads. Migrant workers have returned to the cities. And young people are back at schools and universities — many of them for the first time in years.

It isn’t quite how things were before the Covid-19 pandemic — mask mandates still exist in some places — but with infections steadily declining, life in South Asia is returning to a sense of normalcy.

Twitter to welcome workers back in the office

Twitter's new chief Parag Agrawal said it will reopen offices globally this month but let people work remotely if they wish, as many businesses end closures put in place to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Google is also preparing for employees to return to its Silicon Valley offices in early April, with the expectation they will work from home only a couple of days a week.

Tech company campuses were abandoned early in the pandemic as the spread of Covid-19 caused a societal shift to working remotely.

Global death toll from Covid-19 exceeds six million

Coronavirus has killed more than 6,000,000 since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally by worldometer tracker.

The United States has recorded the most Covid deaths, followed by Brazil, and India.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid, the WHO estimates the true death toll could be two to three times higher.

South Korea reports new daily record

South Korea has reported a daily record of 266,853 new Covid-19 cases, and record daily 186 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

The country moved forward with easing some social distancing restrictions, however, as authorities announced they would be pushing a curfew on restaurants and cafes back one hour to 11 pm.

South Korea has reported 3.69 million cases and nearly 199,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mexico registers more than 10,000 new cases

Mexico has reported 461 more confirmed fatalities from Covid-19, bringing the total death toll registered in the country since the pandemic began to 319,296, according to Health Ministry data.

The country also reported 10,558 new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total to 5,544,644.

Brazil reports thousands of new cases

Brazil had 61,870 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 578 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said.

The South American country has now registered 28,904,030 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 650,578, according to ministry data.

CDC: More than 90% of US population can skip wearing masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that more than 90 percent of the US population is in a location where Covid-19 levels are low enough that people do not need to wear masks.

The CDC dramatically eased its Covid-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors. 

As of last week, the CDC said about 70% of US counties and 72 percent of the US population were in communities where indoor face coverings are no longer recommended. The CDC said it will update its county ratings weekly.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies