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March 7, 2022

Covid-19 update: Hong Kong mortuaries overwhelmed

Global: The global Covid death toll is nearing 6 million, with a figure of 5,998,853 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have continued past 446 million to a world wide figure of 446,234,255.

News by region

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 79 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has increased to more than 958,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US will run out of Covid-19 treatments in the coming months without new funding from Congress, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki warned on Friday. Her comments follow a request by President Joe Biden’s administration for $22.5 billion in emergency funds for the coronavirus response. Without it, the US will run out of monoclonal antibody treatments by May and out of antiviral pills by September, she said. Testing capacity would also soon slow, she said.

Starting Monday, New Yorkers will no longer require proof of vaccines to eat inside or go to concerts and children won’t need to cover their faces in school, Mayor Eric Adams announced Friday. The easing follows similar moves by Boston, Washington DC and Philadelphia, and is a sign of economic revival.

Europe

Ireland lifted its last Covid-19 restriction, ending the requirement for international travelers to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. “Another step forward in our Covid efforts,” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tweeted. Face masks are still recommended but not required, according to the public health website.

Asia-Pacific

Hong Kong: Hong Kong reported 37,529 new daily Covid cases and 150 deaths, taking total fatalities in the fifth wave of the virus to 1,561. The city’s death rate from the latest wave is 0.36% and involves people aged 11 months to 108 years old, with a median age of 85, health authorities said at a news conference. Six of the fatalities were children, four of whom were under the age of 10.

Hong Kong’s mortuaries are so overwhelmed they’re deploying mobile refrigeration units to store bodies, as scenes reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic play out amid the city’s worst Covid-19 wave yet. Photos taken at the Fu Shan Public Mortuary show four refrigerated units in a car park. Nearby, bags of ice are stacked next to an empty coffin.

Malaysia: Malaysia will announce the date for reopening its international borders next week, the New Straits Times reported, citing Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. The Cabinet approved the reopening proposal at a meeting this week and Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will announce the date, the report said. The announcement is crucial to allow airlines, hotels, immigration department and other tourism-related businesses to prepare for the reopening, Khairy told reporters on Saturday at a conference.

Indonesia: Indonesia will allow quarantine-free entry for foreigners traveling to Bali starting 7 March, bringing forward the plan by a week. Visitors from 23 countries, including the US, UK and Australia, can get a visa on arrival as long as they are fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 prior to departure. They will be tested again upon arrival on the island, with those positive for the virus required to isolate in a hotel or hospital until a follow-up swab on the third day. They must also have health insurance with Covid-19 coverage. Bali’s local government is preparing for the looser entry requirements by accelerating its booster program to reach at least 30% of its population by 7 March, and readying hospital capacity for Covid-19 care.

Africa-Middle East

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia will lift almost all Covid-19 restrictions, effective today, after the progress of the national vaccination program and high overall rates of immunity. Citizens will no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing outdoors, state-run SPA reported, citing a statement issued by the interior ministry. Worshipers will no longer need to socially distance inside mosques, including the holy sites of Mecca and Medina, but will be required to remain wearing masks in these places, according to SPA report.

Economy news

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s retail sales grew at the slowest pace since July, with the government warning of further pressure ahead amid a surge in Covid cases. The value of retail sales grew 4.1% in January from a year earlier, compared with the median estimate of 0.4% in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The volume of sales rose 1.7%.

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