Covid-19 has infected more than 414M people and killed over 5.8M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

Indonesia's daily infections topped 57,000, surpassing the previous peak of 56,757 cases recorded in July.
Indonesia's daily infections topped 57,000, surpassing the previous peak of 56,757 cases recorded in July. (Reuters Archive)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Indonesia reports record number of Covid cases

Indonesia has reported a record number of new coronavirus cases as the Omicron variant spreads across the Southeast Asian archipelago.

The number of daily infections topped 57,000, according to the government's Covid-19 task force, surpassing the previous peak of 56,757 cases recorded in July last year during the country's Delta wave.

"The national figure for positive cases in this third wave increased sharply and faster compared to the second wave," task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito told a press briefing.

But the death rate is far lower than during the Delta surge when Indonesia reported around 2,000 fatalities a day.

Indonesia reported 134 new deaths from Covid in the last 24 hours, while the hospital bed occupancy rate is around 33 percent, compared to more than 77 percent during the Delta explosion.

UK health agency: Long Covid less common in the vaccinated

Long Covid is less likely to affect vaccinated people than unvaccinated people, a new review of 15 studies by the UK Health Security Agency has concluded.

People who received two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech , AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the single-shot J&J vaccine, were around half as likely to develop symptoms of long Covid, UKHSA said.

"These studies add to the potential benefits of receiving a full course of the Covid-19 vaccination," said Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA.

Meanwhile, Britain reported 46,186 new cases of Covid-19, and 234 deaths further deaths within 28 days of a positive test, in the last 24 hours.

NYC fires over 1,400 municipal workers for refusing Covid vaccine

New York City has fired 1,430 municipal workers who refused to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, the mayor’s office announced.

“Our goal was always to vaccinate, not terminate, and city workers stepped up and met the goal placed before them,” Eric Adams said in a statement.

New York City required municipal employees to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by October 29, 2021.

Some 9,000 people who refused to receive the vaccine were on unpaid leave since November.

Zimbabwe to dock salaries of unvaccinated govt workers

Zimbabwe’s government is set to stop paying salaries of staff who are unvaccinated against Covid-19, and has ordered vaccinated staff to report for work at their offices “with immediate effect.”

Staff without proof of vaccination will be barred from their workplaces, face “disciplinary proceedings” and forfeit their pay, the state-run Herald newspaper reported, citing a Public Service Commission notice.

Those who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds should provide an exemption certificate from a medical practitioner, according to the notice.

Scholz declines Kremlin test

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has refused a Kremlin Covid test on a visit to Moscow just like French leader Emmanuel Macron, opting instead for a swab from one of Berlin’s own doctors.

Türkiye logs highest daily Covid death toll in over 9 months

The Covid-19 related death toll in Türkiye has surged to 309 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, with new cases at 94,730.

The death toll reported was the highest since 356 on May 5. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged elderly citizens and those with chronic illnesses to exercise more caution after the data.

"The fact that infections due to Omicron are generally experienced lighter doesn't mean everything else is going fine. Let's first not forget that death figures are high," Koca said on Twitter.

Djokovic: ‘I’m not anti-vax’

Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic has said he is not anti-vaccination but would rather skip Grand Slams than be forced to get a jab.

The Serb was deported from Australia on the eve of last month’s Australian Open.

Italy reports new coronavirus cases, deaths 

Italy has reported 70,852 Covid-19 related cases, against 28,630 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths rose to 388 from 281.

Belgium permits four-day week to boost work flexibility post Covid

Belgian employees will be able to work a four-day week after the government agreed to a new labour accord aimed at bringing flexibility to an otherwise rigid labour market.

Speaking after his seven-party coalition federal government reached a deal overnight, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the pandemic had forced people to work more flexibly and combine their private and working lives.

"This has led to new ways of working," he told a press conference.

Employees who request it will be able to work up to 10 hours per day if trade unions agree, instead of the maximum 8 now, in order to work one day less per week for the same pay.

Belgians will also be able to choose to work more during one week and less the following one, allowing people to better manage their work-private life, in case of co-parenting for example.

WHO: Omicron threat remains high in east Europe

A new wave of infections from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is moving towards the east of Europe, the World Health Organization said, urging authorities to improve vaccination and other measures.

Over the past two weeks, cases of Covid-19 have more than doubled in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, WHO's Europe regional director Hans Kluge said in a statement.

The comments come at a time when several European countries including the Czech Republic and Poland have hinted at easing of Covid-19 restrictions next month if daily infection numbers kept falling.

The WHO, however, stressed the continued need for measures such as rapid testing and masking, saying over 165 million Covid-19 cases have been recorded so far across the WHO European region, with 25,000 deaths in the past week.

Virus surge begins to overwhelm Hong Kong's measures

Hong Kong's leader has said a surge of coronavirus cases is overwhelming the city’s emergency resources, but defended strict measures that have been imposed.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Chinese central government was extending help to the city, which remains a nominally autonomous enclave.

Despite its varying success, Hong Kong has stuck with China’s zero-tolerance strategy requiring lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing for Covid-19.

Papua New Guinea to reopen borders 

Papua New Guinea will reopen to vaccinated travellers from Wednesday, ending two years of strict border closures that virtually sealed the Melanesian nation off from neighbours.

The country's pandemic controller David Manning said that he had revoked rules requiring approval to enter the country and mandatory quarantine.

The rules had hampered production at some of the country's largest copper and gold mines and caused diplomatic spats - most notably with India and China, who were accused of bypassing rules to bring citizens into the country.

South Africa offers grocery vouchers to encourage vaccination

South Africa’s economic hub Gauteng is promoting Covid-19 vaccinations by offering food vouchers to people in their 50s who have not yet received a jab.

“Are you 50 and yet to vaccinate? Get vaccinated now and claim your free Rand 200 (about $13.26) grocery voucher. Offer ends soon #IChooseVaccination #VaccinesSaveLives,’’ the Gauteng Department of Health said in an advertisement.

South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 cases on the continent with over 3.642 million cases representing a 6.9 percent increase in the positivity rate. The country has recorded 97,250 fatalities to date.

Africa’s most advanced economy with a population of 60 million has so far administered 31 million vaccine doses, and of these 17.3 million people are fully vaccinated. 

Japan reports 236 more deaths

Japan reports 236 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday in daily record.

Japan's government said on Monday it has agreed to buy an additional 10 million does of Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc to be delivered in March.

Japan had already contracted to purchase 120 million doses from Pfizer this year.

Russia records 166,631 new cases

Russia has recorded 704 more deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, according to official data. 

The country also reported 166,631 further coronavirus cases.

WHO says pandemic being over is 'false narrative'

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that in some countries, high vaccine coverage combined with the lower severity of the Omicron coronavirus variant are driving a false narrative that the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus held a video conference in which he addressed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a meeting in Washington at which he expressed his gratitude for the health leadership of the US.

The Covid-19 Global Action Meeting was called by the US on the coronavirus pandemic just two years after it was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the WHO, the highest level of medical alert.

Washington DC to end vaccination requirement, mask mandates

Washington, DC is ending its Covid-19 vaccination requirement and mask mandate, the US capital's mayor said.

Speaking at a news conference, Muriel Bowser said coronavirus cases have dropped more than 90 percent and there has been a 95 percent reduction in hospitalisations since the peak of the Omicron wave in the capital.

With new changes in the Covid-19 policy, the city will end the vaccination requirement to visit indoor venues as of Tuesday, February. 

Mexico reports more cases and deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 7,831 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 146 more fatalities, bringing the country's overall death toll from the pandemic to 312,965 and the total number of cases to 5,300,537.

Brazil's death toll rises

Brazil has had 58,540 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 473 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry has said.

The South American country has now registered 27,538,503 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 638,835, according to ministry data.

Thousands of Australia's nurses walk out

Thousands of nurses have walked off the job in Australia's largest city Sydney, protesting against staff shortages and pandemic-related stresses and strains.

Defying a strike ban, thousands decked in scrubs and surgical masks marched on the state parliament over what they say are intolerable conditions.

Throngs of nurses cheered, clapped and chanted their anger at persistent shortages of hospital beds, equipment and the grinding toll of this protracted crisis.

About 2.5 million cases have been recorded in the population of 25 million.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies