Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.8 million, with a figure of 5,886,634 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have continued past 424 million to a world wide figure of 424,278,476.
Covid antibody levels for people who have had the AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech jab decrease with age as well as being higher in women and people who had previously had Covid, data released by the British Medical Journal shows.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said countries struggling with surging Covid infections may shorten the recommended quarantine duration of 14 days in some situations. The UN agency said its new guidelines may be helpful for places where essential services are under pressure.
News by region
US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 78.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has increased to more than 935,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Canada: Police said they have largely cleared downtown Ottawa of the anti-vaccine protests that have roiled Canada and its capital for the last three weeks, as a financial crackdown widened to help prevent similar disturbances.
Mexico: A Mexican court ruled that children ages 5 to 11 are to be allowed access to Covid-19 vaccinations, the Mexican newspaper Excelsior reports. The decision by magistrates of an administrative court based in Mexico City calls for federal judges to admit orders allowing for the use of the vaccine for children, concluding that they are at risk because health authorities have refused to grant the benefit, the newspaper reports.
UK: Scrapping free coronavirus tests and the requirement to self-isolate in England could result in a “sudden change” in the public’s behaviour and lead to “rapid epidemic growth”, the UK’s government advisers have warned. The government’s advisory pandemic modelling group SPI-M-O cautioned against easing rules any further ahead of the prime minister’s unveiling of his “Living with Covid” plan on Monday.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his plan to lift remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England from criticism by the medical community. While acknowledging that the virus remains dangerous, he said declining case numbers and hospitalizations justify easing the rules.
Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s 95-year-old monarch, has tested positive for Covid-19, Buckingham Palace confirmed. The queen is experiencing mild “cold-like symptoms” but expects to continue “light duties” at Windsor over the coming week, the palace said.
People no longer have to show a Covid pass by law in order to get into large events, cinemas and nightclubs in Wales after the rule expired at midnight. As of Friday, venues are no longer required to ask customers for proof of two Covid jabs, or a recent negative lateral flow test result.
Germany: Germany’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, has dismissed calls for a speedier relaxation of restrictions to control Covid, warning that the country was in a more vulnerable situation than comparable countries owing to the relatively high number of unvaccinated people in the over 60 age bracket.
Meanwhile, Travelers from the US, the UK, Spain and Ireland and a dozen other countries won’t have to quarantine if they travel to Germany. The country’s public-health institute removed the nations from a list of high-risk countries as of Sunday.
Slovenia: Slovenia will lift all virus restrictions in industry, trade, tourism and hospitality and other services as of Monday, the country’s state news agency reported on Saturday evening. The government will also extend the opening hours of restaurants and reopen nightclubs.
Australia: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania recorded a total of 45 Covid-related deaths. Meanwhile, Western Australia recorded its highest number of daily Covid-19 cases for the pandemic, with 257 local infections.
South Korea: South Korea reported 109,831 new Covid cases on Friday, marking the first time daily reported cases have exceeded 100,000 since the pandemic began. Despite the spike in cases, authorities announced a partial relaxing of some restrictions including a later curfew for restaurants and bars.
Hong Kong: As Hong Kong finds itself engulfed in soaring Covid cases and hospitals reach breaking point, charities are warning that the city’s foreign domestic workers are being “abandoned”, with some forced to sleep rough or being denied treatment after testing positive.
Hong Kong is considering stricter social-distancing measures to try to curtail an escalating outbreak that’s strained its hospitals and exposed an inadequate health infrastructure.
The current wave of infections, by far the most severe the city has faced during the pandemic, is testing Hong Kong’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus. Scenes of elderly patients lying on gurneys in the street because hospitals have no more space and frightened residents flooding emergency rooms have shocked residents, and drawn an unusually direct intervention from China’s President Xi Jinping.
Japan: In Japan, health officials have now approved a plan for more targeted restrictions in areas where infections are still relatively high. From Sunday, limits on mobility and commerce will end in five prefectures where the virus appears to have peaked, but curbs will be extended until 6 March in 17 areas with a high level of cases.
Africa and Middle East
Africa: Six African countries – Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia – will be the first on the continent to receive the technology needed to produce their own mRNA vaccines from a scheme headed by the World Health Organization. The project aims to end much of the reliance of African countries on vaccine manufacturers outside the continent.
Egypt: Egypt is readying to export locally made Covid vaccines to African nations, looking to position itself as a hub for inoculations on the continent grappling with the virus.
Israel: Israel will allow unvaccinated tourists of all ages to enter the country, beginning 1 March. However, both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists will have to take two coronavirus PCR tests: one before getting on the plane, and one upon arrival in the country.
Australia: The NSW government announced a jobs package to support workers affected by the closure of coal-fired power stations in the state. The state’s treasurer, Matt Kean, says the investment in clean industries will create 3,700 jobs.