Covid-19 has infected more than 373M people and killed over 5.6M worldwide. Here are some of the latest coronavirus-related developments:

Administration of vaccines to children begins from Sunday, Qatar's Ministry of Public Health says.
Administration of vaccines to children begins from Sunday, Qatar's Ministry of Public Health says. (Reuters)

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Qatar approves Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children

Qatari Ministry of Public Health has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years.

In November, Gulf states Bahrain and Saudi Arabia approved the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use for children in the same age category.

Turkiye reports over 88,100 new cases

The Turkish Health Ministry has reported 88,145 new Covid-19 cases, 189 deaths, and 81,530 recoveries over the past day. 

Also, some 428,214 virus tests were done in the past 24 hours.

To stem the virus’ spread, the country has also administered more than 141.77 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since it launched an immunisation drive in January 2021, said new ministry figures.

Israeli justice minister tests positive

Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the eighth minister to contract the virus this month.

Sa’ar tweeted “A 'Positive' start for a week where all of us will be at home”, with a photo confirming his infection.

The ministers of communications, defence, foreign affairs, finance, culture, housing and public security have also contracted the virus.

Italy sees 104,065 fresh infections

Italy has reported 104,065 Covid-19 related cases, against 137,147 the day before, the health ministry has said, while the number of deaths fell to 235 from 377.

Italy has registered 146,149 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 10.9 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 19,617, down from 19,636 a day earlier.

Britain reports 85 more fatalities

Britain has reported a further 62,399 cases of Covid-19 and 85 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, government statistics showed.

Those figures do not include cases and deaths from Northern Ireland, which did not provide its numbers in time for inclusion in the daily update, the government said.

That compared with 72,727 cases and 296 deaths reported on Saturday.

Beijing reports highest cases since June 2020 as Olympics loom

Beijing has recorded its 20 new Covid-19 cases, its highest for a year and a half, as the Chinese capital gears up to host the Winter Olympics in five days.

City authorities have locked down some housing compounds, while officials in Fengtai district, where most infections were detected, have begun testing around 2 million people for the virus.

Meanwhile, 34 new infections were detected among Olympics-related personnel, the Games' organising committee said, including Poland's short track medal hopeful Natalia Maliszewska.

Of those, 13 were athletes or team officials who tested positive after arriving at the airport on Saturday.

Among the total infections, 23 were among new airport arrivals, while 11 were people already in the "closed loop" bubble that separates event personnel from the public in an effort to curb the spread of infections.

The loop allows Games participants to move freely between their accommodations and Olympic venues on official transport, but they are not allowed to move freely in the city.

Russia reports record daily Covid cases

Russia has reported a record daily number of Covid-19 cases as the Omicron variant of coronavirus has spread, authorities said.

New daily cases jumped to 121,228, up from 113,122 a day earlier.

The government coronavirus task force also reported 617 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Austria to ease virus rules after vaccine mandate begins

Austria is set to loosen coronavirus restrictions in February after the country’s national vaccine mandate, the first of its kind in Europe, takes effect on Tuesday.

Starting February 5, restaurants will be allowed to remain open until midnight, as opposed to 10pm, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said.

In addition, rules effectively barring unvaccinated people from stores and restaurants will be phased out. Starting February 12, proof of vaccination or recovery will no longer be required to enter shops.

A week later on February 19, entry into restaurants will be allowed for all who can prove vaccination, recovery or a negative coronavirus test.

Nehammer also said last week that lockdown restrictions for vaccinated people, which have been in place since November, will end on Monday.

Joni Mitchell boycotting Spotify

Singer Joni Mitchell has said she is pulling her music from Spotify over “lies” on the streaming service about Covid-19, just days after fellow musical titan Neil Young did the same.

In a post on her website, the “Big Yellow Taxi” singer says she is supporting Young, who clashed with Spotify over its wildly popular “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.

Britain considers vaccinating children

Britain will this week begin offering vaccinations to children aged between five and 11 who are most at risk from coronavirus, the state-run National Health Service said.

Britain has been slower than some other countries in offering the shots to 5-11 year olds, and is not planning to vaccinate the age group more broadly unlike countries such as the United States and Israel.

NHS England said children in the cohort who were in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed would be able to get a first Covid-19 shot, in line with advice issued last month by the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI).

"I would like parents and guardians to be reassured that no new vaccine for children would have been approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness had been met," UK vaccines minister Maggie Throup said.

China registers 81 new Covid-19 cases

China reported 81 new Covid-19 cases on the mainland, the national health authority said.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that 54 of the new cases were locally transmitted and 27 imported.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, was 65 versus 32 a day earlier.

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

Mainland China had reported 106,015 cases.

Hong Kong allows hamster pet shops to resume business

Dozens of pet stores that sold hamsters in Hong Kong may resume business, Hong Kong's government said, after being shuttered last week and thousands culled over coronavirus fears.

Authorities enraged pet lovers with an order to cull more than 2,200 hamsters after tracing an outbreak to a worker in a shop where 11 hamsters tested positive. Imported hamsters from Holland into the Chines e territory had been cited as the source. All hamster imports remain banned.

The city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement late on Saturday that it collected 1,134 samples from animals other than hamsters including rabbits and chinchillas, which were all negative.

Five stores, including the "Little Boss" pet shop, which started the outbreak, remained shuttered as they had not yet "passed the virus test," the government said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies