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February 8, 2022

Covid-19 update: Global infections are approaching 400 million

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.7 million, with a figure of 5,751,259 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 397 million to a world wide figure of 397,430,717.

News by region

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 76 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has increased to more than 905,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Democratic leaders in the US Congress held a moment of silence on Monday to commemorate the 900,000 American lives lost to the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Jersey school districts will be allowed to drop a mask mandate next month, Governor Phil Murphy is expected to announce Monday. The move will be effective 7 March, with flexibility for districts to decide on their own requirements.

California will lift its universal mask mandate for indoor public places next week, the LA Times reported, citing state officials. State officials are also working to update school masking requirements.

Canada: Canada’s public safety minister has said US officials should stay out of his country’s domestic affairs, joining other Canadian leaders in pushing back against prominent Republicans who offered support for demonstrators protesting Covid-19 restrictions who have besieged central Ottawa for more than a week.

Protests against vaccine mandates and Covid-19 restrictions have temporarily closed the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest land connection for trade between the US and Canada. The bridge, the largest crossing point between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is closed in both directions, according to a Canadian government website.

Europe

Sweden: Sweden will lift its travel restrictions for foreign nationals travelling to Sweden from Nordic countries and the rest of the European Union and European Economic Area from Wednesday, the government has announced.

Germany: The German government is working on plans to relax coronavirus restrictions after the peak in new cases has passed, most likely by the end of February.

UK: The number of positive Covid-19 cases in the English Premier League, the most watched sports league in the world, has doubled in a week to 22 cases, but with a far higher number of tests being carried out.

Prof John Bell, an Oxford scientist who worked on the AstraZeneca vaccine, has accused scientists and politicians of having “probably killed hundreds of thousands of people” by damaging its reputation.

More people are back in City of London offices than at any time since December, when the government told people to work from home to slow the spread of Omicron. Almost 70% of staff were back in the workplace in the financial district on Thursday, according to data compiled by Google.

Asia pacific

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said the Asian financial hub will stick to a “dynamic zero” Covid-19 strategy to contain the virus a day after the city saw a “shocking” new record of over 600 infections. “We should contain the spread of the virus as much and as fast as possible,” she said.

Hong Kong has reported a record 614 cases and many of its residents have begun to crowd supermarkets in an effort to stock up on food and other necessities. One vegetable vendor told Reuters supplies had dropped by 30%.

The city is expected to return to some of its strictest anti-virus measures by limiting public gatherings to two people, and the number of restaurant patrons to two per table, Sing Tao reported earlier.

China: China reported 69 Covid-19 infections Tuesday, with all but three found in the border city of Baise, which was locked down on Monday as the country tries to bring its virus infections back to zero. The outbreak has likely been caused by the Omicron variant and local authorities warned of a tough battle to bring the outbreak under control, saying it could have been quietly spreading for more than a week. Beijing, which is hosting the Winter Olympics and trying to bring a delta cluster at a cold storage facility under control,reported no infections for the first time in three weeks.

Japan: Japan’s government plans to extend the Covid-19 quasi-state of emergency covering Tokyo and 12 other prefectures until 6 March, Mainichi reported, citing unidentified officials. The measures, including restaurants closing early and limits on event attendance, had been slated to end 13 February. A formal decision could come as soon as Thursday, the report said.

Australia: Australia will open its border for fully vaccinated tourists and all visa holders on 21 February, almost two years after borders were first closed.

New Zealand: A convoy of cars and campervans blocked streets around New Zealand’s parliament in Wellington on Tuesday to protest Covid-19 restrictions, attempting to mimic the truckers who have gridlocked the Canadian city of Ottawa. About 2,000 protesters descended on downtown Wellington from around the country, parking their vehicles in streets around parliament buildings, disrupting traffic and holding speeches on parliament grounds. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had no intention of engaging with the protesters. “I think it would be wrong to in any way characterize what we’ve seen outside as a representation of the majority,” she told reporters inside parliament.

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