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Covid-19 Updates

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Covid-19 Updates

DOT, DOH: Existing protocols are fine, amid China Covid fears

THE Department of Tourism (DOT) believes the current entry protocols of the Philippines are enough to address any concerns on the arrival of Chinese tourists. The same view was shared by the Department of Health (DOH) despite the continuing spread of Covid infections in mainland China, citing the high rate of vaccination among Filipinos.

COVID-19, RSV and the flu are straining health care systems – two epidemiologists explain what the ‘triple threat’ means for children

In early November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory about increased activity in respiratory infections – especially among children. The CDC and other health experts are warning of the so-called "triple threat" of respiratory illness from RSV, influenza – or the seasonal flu – and COVID-19.

EXPLAINER: Why are China’s COVID rules so strict?

BEIJING — At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China set out its “zero-COVID” measures that were harsh, but not out of line with what many other countries were doing to try and contain the virus. While most other nations saw the health and safety regulations as temporary until vaccines were widely available, however, China has stuck steadfastly to its strategy.

Indonesia launches its first home-grown COVID-19 vaccines

Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority greenlighted emergency use authorization of IndoVac in September, with an efficacy above 80% after two shots. The vaccine passed an audit by the country’s highest Islamic body that the shot is fit for consumption by Muslims — a particularly important factor in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Pfizer buying spree continues with $5.4B hematology deal

Pfizer has been flush with cash since its COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, and its treatment, Paxlovid, have hit the market, bringing in more than $16 billion combined just in the recently completed second quarter. Comirnaty rang up nearly $37 billion in sales last year alone. The drugmaker has now announced deals valued at a total of nearly $19 billion, counting debt, since late last year.
Security guards wearing face masks stand watch at the Nanluoguxiang, Beijing's popular tourist spot

Authorities in south China apologize over COVID-19 break-ins

Numerous cases of police and health workers breaking into homes around China in the name of anti-COVID-19 measures have been documented on social media. In some, doors have been broken down and residents threatened with punishment, even when they tested negative for the virus. Authorities have demanded keys to lock in residents of apartment buildings where cases have been detected, steel barriers erected to prevent them leaving their compounds and iron bars welded over doors.

COVID-19, shootings: Is mass death now tolerated in America?

After a weekend of gun violence in America, when shootings killed and wounded people grocery shopping, going to church and simply living their lives, the nation marked a milestone of 1 million deaths from Covid-19. The number, once unthinkable, is now a pedestrian reality in the United States, just as is the reality of the continuing epidemic of gun violence that kills tens of thousands of people a year.

Theories emerge for mysterious liver illnesses in children

Health officials remain perplexed by mysterious cases of severe liver damage in hundreds of young children around the world. In May 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said they are now looking into 180 possible cases across the US. More than 20 other countries have reported hundreds more cases in total, though the largest numbers have been in the UK and the US.

EXPLAINER: What’s behind North Korea’s COVID-19 admission?

Because the North has been shut up tight since early 2020, with no reporters, aid workers or diplomats regularly going in, reading the situation is something of a guessing game, and the North has been vague with its state media descriptions of widespread fevers. But there are some worrying facts: no reported vaccines, very limited testing capability, a terrible medical system and widespread poverty.

Q&A: Surgeon General on omicron, masks and mental health

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he can imagine a future where Americans don't have to contend with mask requirements. But pulling back safeguards too quickly, Murthy warns, risks more avoidable suffering, especially for people with weakened immune systems or other vulnerabilities. Murthy also shared his concerns about the pandemic's impact on the mental wellbeing of youth. He's the father of two young children. Growing up, he witnessed the toll of unresolved mental health problems.
A child's COVID-19 vaccine

In reversal, FDA puts brakes on COVID shots for kids under 5

The Food and Drug Administration, worried about the omicron variant's toll on kids, had taken the extraordinary step of urging Pfizer to apply for OK of the extra-low dose vaccine before it's clear if tots will need two shots or three. But the FDA reversed course and said it had become clear the agency needed to wait for data on how well a third shot works for the youngest age group.
People wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of coronavirus walk along a street in downtown Barcelona, Spain, July 3, 2021.

EXPLAINER: What does it mean for COVID-19 to be endemic?

Some European countries such as Spain are making tentative plans for when they might start treating COVID-19 as an “endemic” disease, but the World Health Organization and other officials have warned that the world is nowhere close to declaring the pandemic over. A look at what endemic means and the implications for the future.
Abigail Schneider, 8, completes a level of her learning game on a laptop in her bedroom as her mother April steps toward the doorway, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

A digital divide haunts schools adapting to virus hurdles

As more families pivot back to remote learning amid quarantines and school closures, reliable, consistent access to devices and home internet remains elusive for many students who need them to keep up with their schoolwork. Home internet access for students has improved since the onset of the pandemic with help from philanthropy, federal relief funding and other efforts — but obstacles linger, including a lack of devices, slow speeds and financial hurdles.
Coronavirus variants

From delta to omicron, here’s how scientists know which coronavirus variants are circulating in the US

How do scientists know what versions of the coronavirus are present? How quickly can they see which viral variants are making inroads in a population? Epidemiologists who study novel approaches for outbreak detection explain how the genomic surveillance system works in the US and why it’s important to know which virus variants are circulating.

Stay home or work sick? Omicron poses a conundrum

While many companies instituted more robust sick leave policies at the beginning of the pandemic, some of those have since been scaled back with the rollout of the vaccines, even though omicron has managed to evade the shots. Meanwhile, the current labor shortage is adding to the pressure of workers having to decide whether to show up to their job sick if they can't afford to stay home.

US hospitals seeing different kind of COVID surge this time

This time, they are dealing with serious staff shortages because so many health care workers are getting sick with the fast-spreading variant. People are showing up at emergency rooms in large numbers in hopes of getting tested for COVID-19, putting more strain on the system. At the same time, hospitals say the patients aren’t as sick as those who came in during the last surge. Intensive care units aren’t as full, and ventilators aren’t needed as much as they were before.

‘A hurricane’: Virus storm sends test-makers into overdrive

Schools in France are distributing home test kits to children, to try to slow rampaging infections so classes can stay open. The government has softened self-isolation rules, trying to limit disruption to the economy and essential services by allowing people to return to work faster after testing positive. The fully vaccinated can now break quarantine after five days with a negative test and no symptoms.

Lessons forgotten: Election rallies feed Indian virus surge

Coronavirus cases fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant have rocketed through India and the country is scrambling to ward off its impact by swiftly introducing a string of restrictions that the population thought were history. But India’s political leaders, including Modi, have largely flouted some of these guidelines and traversed cities in a massive campaign trail ahead of crucial state polls, addressing packed rallies of tens of thousands of people without masks.
People, some wearing protective face masks, line up for PCR and Rapid Antigen COVID-19 coronavirus tests in Tel Aviv, Israel

Israel sets COVID-19 record amid zigzag policy and 4th jab

In Israel as elsewhere, what's clear is that the ultra-contagious omicron variant has pushed the fight against COVID-19 into a messier phase of rules governed by a key assumption: Large portions of the public will contract the omicron version, which is more contagious but appears to cause less severe illness and death, especially among vaccinated people. But vaccinated people are catching the variant too, driving a surge fed in part by gatherings over the winter holidays.
European Medicines Agency

EU approves 5th COVID-19 vaccine for bloc, one by Novavax

The European Union’s executive branch on Monday authorized a fifth COVID-19 vaccine for use in the 27-nation bloc, giving the green light to the two-dose vaccine made by US biotech company Novavax. The decision comes as many European nations are battling surges in infections and amid concerns about the spread of the new omicron variant.
People wait in a long line to get tested for COVID-19 in Times Square, New York

Virus fears widen as omicron variant becomes dominant in US

The US’ second-largest city called off its New Year’s Eve celebration Monday, and its smallest state re-imposed an indoor mask mandate as the omicron variant leaped ahead of other variants to become the dominant version of the coronavirus in the US. The announcement underscored the variant’s remarkable ability to race across oceans and continents. It was first reported in southern Africa less than a month ago.