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March 21, 2022

Covid-19 update: BA.2 subvariant of Omicron driving up cases in Europe

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 6 million, with a figure of 6,077,597 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have continued past 470 million to a world wide figure of 470,740,762.

News by region

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have now passed 79.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has increased to more than 971,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

A likely rise in US Covid-19 cases probably won’t amount to a full-scale surge or prompt a renewal of widespread restrictions, one of President Joe Biden’s top advisers said.

“The bottom line is we likely will see an uptick in cases, as we’ve seen in the European countries, particularly the UK,” Anthony Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “Hopefully we won’t see a surge. I don’t think we will.”

Europe: The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is driving up cases in Europe and now accounts for about 30% of infections in the US, where indoor-mask and vaccine requirements have largely been rolled back.

Asia pacific

China: Walt Disney Co.’s Shanghai resort and parks will close temporarily starting 21 March as the Chinese city reported record high new Covid infections. The new cases as of Saturday include 17 confirmed local infections and 492 that are asymptomatic, Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Heath Commission, said at a press conference on Sunday. Shanghai Disney Resort had been operating at controlled capacity since mid-March, with attractions at a reduced volume and theater shows suspended, according to its website. Visitors were required to wear masks at all times, provide a negative Nucleic Acid Test within 24 hours and present green QR codes upon entry.

Hong Kong: Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the government would lift a ban on flights from nine countries including the US, UK and Australia as of 1 April, and cut the time incoming travellers need to spend in hotel quarantine from 14 days to seven provided they test negative for Covid. Most social distancing measures and other curbs will remain in place to continue to curb the outbreak at least until 21 April, Lam said, after which Hong Kong would spend three months easing social restrictions in phases. Lam also said that plans for citywide mass testing are “on hold” as case numbers are still high. The government would consider mass testing when necessary, she added.

Hong Kong reported 246 deaths and 14,149 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the lowest daily toll in more than three weeks, down from more than 50,000 a day earlier in the month. However, deaths remain elevated with 246 new fatalities reported, 41 of them backlogged.

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