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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 22nd Feb 2022

Lockdown Exit
FDA Reportedly Mulling Approving Second Covid Booster Shot
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering authorizing a fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine later in the year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The Food and Drug Administration has started reviewing data to authorize a second booster dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the WSJ reported on Saturday, citing people familiar with the situation. The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last month, the FDA amended its emergency authorization for the Moderna shot, shortening the interval for a booster shot from six months to five months. Earlier in January, the FDA cut the recommended interval between the second and third doses of the Pfizer vaccine for all adults to five months. Planning is still in the early stages, and several issues would need to be resolved yet
As Covid-19 Cases Wane, U.K. to Lift Remaining Curbs
The U.K. government will lift all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England this week, including a legal requirement that those infected with the virus self-isolate, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks to fully reopen the British economy and society two years after the pandemic first hit. Mr. Johnson said Monday that with the virus on the wane, government-mandated rules are no longer necessary to stop the spread of Covid-19. “We don’t need laws to compel people to be considerate of others,” he told Britain’s Parliament. “Let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves and others without restricting our freedoms.” In a plan the government has dubbed “Living With Covid,” contact tracing will end in England by Thursday, as will government payments for those who isolate with the disease. The government said it would end public access to free Covid-19 testing on April 1. Other parts of the U.K. set their own pandemic-related policies.
Coronavirus Daily: Tracking in the UK Works. So Why Stop It?
These days in Europe, it seems as though the pandemic is behind us. An increasing number of countries are ditching the use of certificates to enter indoor venues like restaurants or gyms and abandoning quarantine rules. And more people are going bare-faced, which reflects a certain level of regained normalcy. The U.K. was one of the first nations to accelerate that return to normal. Now, concerns are mounting that it may be getting ready to go a step further and scrap the weekly Covid-19 survey by the Office for National Statistics. While the U.K. Health Security Agency opened a new laboratory last week that will test new Covid vaccines, gather research and assess variants, the ONS weekly survey helps the government keep on top of infection rates and antibody levels across the country. It is less prone to fluctuations because it studies the same households, and can detect Covid in people who might not get tested, or in those who don’t know they’re infected as well as asymptomatic cases.
UK Second Booster: Most Vulnerable to Get Fourth Dose of Vaccine in Spring
Britain’s most vulnerable people will be offered another Covid-19 booster shot this spring to bolster their protection as the country prepares to abandon all pandemic restrictions. The shot will be offered to adults aged 75 and older, care home residents, and those over the age of 12 who are immuno-suppressed and at much higher risk of severe Covid, U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement Monday. The booster is advised for around six months after a previous dose and is seen as a bridge before another, potentially broader, booster campaign this fall.
Staff shortage concerns challenge Germany's vaccine mandate
Frank Vogel, a 64-year-old local politician from the eastern German Erzgebirge region, has been scrambling to find ways to keep nursing homes open when a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers takes effect next month. His region near the Czech border has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Germany. With only 57% of healthcare workers there having received two shots against the coronavirus, implementing the mandate would result in staff shortages that would force facilities to shut. "In the end, you have the question: How do you then deal with the people being cared for in these facilities?" Vogel told Reuters.
Covid: Living with Covid plan will restore freedom, says Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is due to set out his plans to scrap all remaining Covid legal restrictions in England, including the requirement to isolate. His meeting with the cabinet ahead of updating MPs in the Commons was delayed, however. There are reports of tensions between the Treasury and the Department of Health over how parts of the plan will be funded. Some experts have urged caution and Labour queried plans to reduce testing. Speaking before Monday's announcement, Mr Johnson said his plan would bring society "towards a return to normality". No 10 said the Covid vaccination programme had put England in a "strong position to consider lifting the remaining legal restrictions".
COVID-19: Emotional reunions as Australia opens border to vaccinated tourists
Australia has reopened its borders to vaccinated travellers after almost two years of pandemic-related closures. Hundreds of people have been reunited with family and friends, with more than 50 international flights arriving in Australia through the day. "It is a very exciting day, one that I have been looking forward to for a long time, from the day that I first shut that border right at the start of the pandemic," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a visit to the island state of Tasmania, which relies heavily on tourism.
'Welcome back world!': Australia fully reopens borders after two years
Australia on Monday fully reopened its international borders to travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus after nearly two years of pandemic-related closings as tourists returned and hundreds of people were reunited with family and friends. More than 50 international flights will reach the country through the day, including 27 touching down in Sydney, its largest city, as the tourism and hospitality sectors look to rebuild after getting hammered by COVID-19 restrictions. "It is a very exciting day, one that I have been looking forward to for a long time, from the day that I first shut that border right at the start of the pandemic," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in the island state of Tasmania, which relies heavily on tourism.
UK's Johnson set to scrap COVID restrictions in England
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's "living with COVID" plan, scrapping coronavirus restrictions and cutting access to free tests, drew 11th-hour objections on Monday that it was premature and would leave the country vulnerable to new viral variants. As Hong Kong builds isolation units and Europe retains social distancing and vaccine rules, Johnson is moving to repeal in England any pandemic requirements that impinge on personal freedoms, such as self-isolating after a positive COVID test. But the plan, geared to help deflect discontent over his scandal-ridden leadership among lawmakers in his Conservative Party that has threatened his grip on power, ran into difficulty just hours before he was due to launch it.
Exit Strategies
Stratec Founder Weighs Options After Covid Boom
Stratec SE’s founder is exploring options for the German health-care technology provider that could include a potential sale, people familiar with the matter said. Hermann Leistner and his family have received preliminary private equity interest in their 40.55% stake, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information. Any deal for Leistner’s stake could trigger a bid for all of Stratec, which has a market value of 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion). Stratec shares rose as much as 11% on Monday. Deliberations are in the early stages, and there’s no certainty they’ll result in a transaction, the people said. A representative for Stratec declined to comment.
Children aged 12-15 to be offered a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine
Children aged 12 to 15 years are to be offered a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine in a bid to reduce infection rates among this age group. The move follows a recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), which has been accepted by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. The go-ahead was given by Niac despite the lack of authorisation by the European Medicines Agency for boosters doses for this age group. The EMA is currently assessing an application by Pfizer/BioNTech for use of its booster vaccine in adolescents from 12 years. Because off-licence use is being allowed in Ireland, Mr Donnelly said special attention would be paid to the provision of support and guidance information as part of the informed consent process for children and young people and their parents.
The Novavax vaccine is here. So who was waiting for it?
During the push last year to vaccinate the state against coronavirus, staff at Bay Centre Medical at Byron Bay, an area known for its lower vaccination rates, lost count of the number of patients “waiting for Novavax”. So, when their first order of 100 doses arrived last week, the practice’s doctors started calling around. They made a total of 10 bookings. “I don’t think we’ll order it again, really,” said practice manager Karina Masterson, adding unvaccinated people were now more commonly asking for vaccine exemption certificates because they caught the virus over summer. Monday marked the official first day of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine being available in Australia, the fourth brand of shot now obtainable, and the vaccine cited by a number of otherwise hesitant people as their entry to the rollout. (Some GPs and pharmacies started giving the shots last week after receiving shipments early.)
Three-fourths of Hong Kong parents won’t allow young children to get Covid shots
More than three-quarters of parents with young children have said they will not let their youngsters receive a Covid-19 vaccine, with 80 per cent citing side effects or death as their main concern, according to a survey. The survey was published by the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, which last month interviewed 322 parents of children aged five to 15. According to the survey findings, released on Sunday, about 76 per cent of respondents with children aged five to 11 said they were unwilling to vaccinate them within the next six months, three times more than the amount of parents with older children.
UK needs 'early warning system' for new Covid variants says vaccine expert
The UK needs an 'early warning system' to track new variants when Covid restrictions are lifted, a leading vaccine expert has said. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to announce his living with Covid plan today (Monday, February 21) which will see the scrapping of regulations put in place to control the pandemic. Professor Sir Andrew Pollard told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there is a need to monitor variants to see if they are more dangerous than Omicron. The director of the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford said: “One of the key things is, whenever we do reduce restrictions, we need to have a number of measures in place for that period, and one of the most critical is surveillance for the virus, an early warning system if you like, which tells us about new variants emerging and gives an ability to monitor whether those new variants are indeed causing more severe disease than Omicron did.
A fourth Covid-19 shot might be recommended this fall, as officials 'continually' look at emerging data
As the world approaches the second anniversary of the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization, on March 11, more nations are rolling out -- or are discussing the possibility of -- fourth doses of coronavirus vaccine for their most vulnerable. In the United States, leading public health officials say they are "very carefully" monitoring if or when fourth doses might be needed.
New Zealand will lift Covid restrictions only when ‘well beyond’ peak, Jacinda Ardern says
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said Covid-19 restrictions, including mandates and vaccine passes, will begin to lift once the country gets “well beyond” the Omicron outbreak’s peak. At a post-cabinet press conference on Monday, Ardern said case numbers were likely to peak in mid-to-late March, or three to six weeks away. Case numbers were expected to double every three to four days. “It’s likely then, that very soon, we will all know people who have Covid or we will potentially get it ourselves,” she said. Ardern said at an earlier stage of the pandemic, this prospect would have been “scary”, but now there are three main reasons why it is less so: the highly vaccinated population; Omicron being a mild to moderate illness due to high vaccination rates and boosters making hospitalisation 10 times less likely; and public health measures like masks, gathering limits and vaccine passes slowing down the spread to ensure everyone who needs a hospital bed can get it.
Germany hopes protein-based Covid vaccine will sway sceptics
Germany will offer its population a new protein-based Covid-19 vaccine comparable to conventional flu jabs this week, in the hope of swaying a sizeable minority that remains sceptical of the novel mRNA technology used in the most commonly used vaccines. About 1.4m doses of the Nuvaxovid vaccine developed by the US biotech company Novavax are to arrive in Germany this week, the country’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, confirmed last Friday. A further million doses are to arrive the week after, with the German government’s total order for the year 2022 amounting to 34m doses. Novavax’s product has until now been used only in Indonesia and the Philippines, but it was permitted for use in the EU last December. It is still awaiting authorisation in the US, as some concerns about the company’s production capacity persist.
Experts react to PM outlining easing of health restrictions
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement flagging the easing of some vaccine mandates and a move away from vaccine passes once the Omicron peak has passed is the "right move", says one expert. At today's post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern said it looked likely New Zealand's would hit an Omicron peak in roughly mid to late March before cases rapidly declined and then stabilised at a lower level. At the point, Ardern said, public health measures could begin to be eased. "Put simply, the reason we will be able to move away from vaccine passes and many mandates is because many more people will have had Covid. "In the same way as coming out the other side of the peak will give us a chance to step down through the traffic light system, and ease things like gathering limits, it will also enable us to move on from vaccine passes and ease mandates in places where they are less likely to impact on vulnerable people. They will remain important in some areas, though, for some time."
Majority of Japanese unhappy with progress of booster shots - survey
Most Japanese think the rollout of booster shots against COVID-19 is too slow and many give mixed reviews to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's handling of the pandemic, including last week's decision to ease border rules, a poll showed. Anger over the Japanese government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic helped sink the administration of Kishida's predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, and Kishida faces a crucial election for the upper house of parliament in July.
New Zealand's Ardern signals mandates will ease after Omicron peaks
New Zealand will lift COVID-19 vaccine mandates and social distancing measures after the Omicron peak has passed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, as protesters occupying the parliament grounds again clashed with police. Inspired by truckers' demonstrations in Canada, thousands of protesters have blocked streets near the parliament in the capital Wellington for two weeks with trucks, cars and motorcycles, piling pressure on the government to scrap vaccine mandates. Ardern refused to set a hard date, but said there would be a narrowing of vaccine requirements after Omicron reaches a peak, which is expected in mid to late March.
Hong Kong maps terms of COVID vaccine pass amid record high cases
Hong Kong will expand its vaccine bubble to include shopping malls and supermarkets, authorities confirmed on Monday, but added there would be exemptions and random inspections in some places, as they battle a new record surge in COVID-19 cases. The outbreak has overwhelmed healthcare facilities in the global financial hub, with a new daily high of 7,533 infections and 13 deaths, among them an 11-month-old child, building pressure on the government. As most major cities learn to live with the virus, Hong Kong has imposed its toughest curbs yet, with Chinese President Xi Jinping saying that reining in the disease is the city's "overriding mission".
Italy recommends fourth COVID vaccine dose for immunocompromised
Italy's health ministry has recommended that people with a severely compromised immune system receive a fourth mRNA vaccine shot against COVID-19, provided that at least 120 days have passed from their previous booster, it said on Sunday. The special commissioner appointed by the government for the COVID-19 emergency will set the date for the recommendation to come into force based on the needs of the vaccine campaign, the ministry said. The ministry added that the decision reflects the still high circulation of the virus and the effectiveness that booster shots had shown in preventing COVID-related deaths and, more generally, symptoms that would require hospitalisation.
S.Africa changes COVID vaccination rules to try to boost uptake
South Africa's health department said on Monday that it was changing COVID-19 vaccination rules to try to increase uptake, as inoculations have slowed and the country has ample vaccine stocks. The government is shortening the interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine from 42 to 21 days and will allow people who have received two doses of Pfizer to get a booster dose three months after their second shot as opposed to six months previously. It will also offer the option of "mixing and matching" booster jabs, with adults who were given one dose of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine being offered either a J&J or Pfizer booster two months after their J&J shot.
U.K. Unions Challenge Johnson’s Move to End Covid Rules
U.K. trade unions are challenging plans by Boris Johnson to end Covid-19 regulations in England, saying the prime minister should put public health first. The Trades Union Congress, an umbrella group for British unions representing more than 5.5 million people, said Monday that the government should first commit to improving sick pay and supporting people with weakened immune systems and long Covid. The group warned that introducing charges for Covid tests at a time of rising consumer prices would be “an act of madness.” Johnson is set to announce an end to England’s rules on Monday, a day after the U.K.’s 95-year-old monarch Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for the virus. The Cabinet is scheduled to meet Monday to sign off on the so-called Living with Covid plan ahead of a statement by the premier to Parliament.
Hong Kong’s Contact Tracing App Now Flags Unvaccinated Users
Hong Kong’s Covid contact-tracing app has begun flagging users who haven’t uploaded vaccination records, as the city struggles to contain a resurgent outbreak that’s taxing its health system. The LeaveHomeSafe app -- mandatory for entrance to many restaurants and other public venues -- was updated over the weekend and now flashes a red QR code on its check-in page for users that haven’t linked to an official immunization record.
Partisan Exits
Canada emergency powers still needed, PM says, citing signs of new blockade
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said his government still needed temporary emergency powers in the wake of a truckers' blockade, citing "real concerns" about threats in the days ahead. Trudeau told a televised news conference there were signs some truckers were regrouping outside the capital Ottawa and might come back to try to restart a three-week occupation that brought downtown Ottawa to a halt. The protesters initially wanted an end to cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, but the occupation turned into a demonstration against Trudeau and the minority Liberal government.
UK's Johnson scraps COVID restrictions in England
British Prime Minister Boris on Monday said he would end all coronavirus restrictions in England including mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 and free testing, drawing scepticism from some scientists and political opponents. Johnson's "living with COVID" plan has sparked alarm that it is premature and will leave the country vulnerable to new viral variants, but the government says it has provided more testing than most other countries, and must now curb the cost. The plan to ditch the remaining legal restrictions is a priority for many of Johnson's Conservative Party lawmakers, whose discontent over his scandal-ridden leadership has threatened his grip on power. Some critics think the plan is also a bid to divert attention from those scandals.
Canada looks to end Covid-19 protests with tougher financial measures after another weekend of arrests
Another weekend of protests against Canada's Covid-19 mandates saw around 200 arrests in the nation's capital as authorities moved to end the weekslong demonstration, towing vehicles and going after protesters' pocketbooks with financial penalties. Police said they employed pepper spray and escalated tactics over the weekend to disperse crowds and make arrests with protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building. Some of those arrests included protesters who allegedly had smoke grenades and fireworks, and were wearing body armor, police said. Ontario's Special Investigation Unit is also reviewing an incident where a woman was reportedly seriously injured after an interaction with a police officer on a horse, and a second where an officer discharged a less-than-lethal firearm at protesters.
Scientific Viewpoint
The Science Behind Why Children Fare Better With Covid-19
To understand why children fare better than adults against Covid-19, said Kevan Herold, a professor of immunobiology and internal medicine at Yale University, imagine the immune system as a medieval fortress. The innate response, which includes mucus in the nose and throat that helps trap harmful microbes, is like the moat, keeping assailants out. Innate immunity also includes proteins and cells that trigger the body’s initial immune response. Dr. Herold likens them to cannonballs launched as the enemy is beginning an invasion. A second line of defense, the adaptive immune system, includes T cells and B cells. The adaptive immune system takes longer to initiate a response, but can remember specific weaknesses of past invaders. Think of them as soldiers preparing for battle inside the fortress, Dr. Herold said. Innate immunity doesn’t have the same kind of memory. It relies on patterns associated with harmful microbes more generally. Immunologists have found that children’s immune systems have higher levels of some innate molecules and increased innate responses compared with adults. Experts including Dr. Herold and his wife, Betsy Herold, a pediatric infectious-disease doctor at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, think this is key to helping children better fight off the virus that causes Covid-19.
Six African countries selected to kick off Covid-19 jab production
The World Health Organization (WHO) has selected the first six African countries to receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines, a move aimed at ramping up production and countering vaccine inequity. Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will gain access to technology and training to enable them to design and manufacture their own Covid jabs, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “No other event like the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that reliance on a few companies to supply global public goods is limiting, and dangerous,” said Tedros. “The best way to address health emergencies and reach universal health coverage is to significantly increase the capacity of all regions to manufacture the health products they need.”
'Increased risk' of mental health disorders after Covid-19 infection
Covid-19 is associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance use, and sleep disorders, up to a year after initial infection, a study suggests. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest that tackling mental health disorders among survivors ought to become a priority for better healthcare overall.
Biological E. COVID shot gets India emergency approval for 12-18 age group
Indian vaccine maker Biological E. Ltd said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine received an emergency use approval in the country for use in children aged 12 to 18. The company's shot, called Corbevax, is the third vaccine approved for use in children aged 12 and above in India, joining Zydus Cadila's DNA shot ZyCoV-D and homegrown player Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. India has so far only started vaccinating children aged 15 and above. According to government figures, more than 76 million children between 15 and 17 have been inoculated mainly using Covaxin.
Synairgen therapy fails in late-stage study in COVID patients; shares sink
Synairgen's inhalable therapy has failed in late-stage trial testing in patients hospitalised with COVID-19, wiping out over 85% of the British drugmaker's stock value on Monday after the blow to the development of its key product. SNG001, an inhalable formulation containing the broad-spectrum antiviral protein interferon beta, was being tested for whether it reduced patients' hospital stay and how rapidly they recovered when given the drug along with standard treatment. The therapy did not show any meaningful change in those parameters compared with a placebo.
Valneva receives 12.5 million pound COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing grant in Scotland
The Scottish unit of French vaccine maker Valneva (VLS.PA) has received a grant of up to 20 million pounds ($27 million) to partly fund the research and development (R&D) of manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine VLA2001, the company said on Monday. Valneva will receive the funds from Scotland's national economic development agencyScottish Enterprise, which it has been in talks with since December. The funding will come in two tranches. The first grant of up to 12.5 million pounds will support the company's efforts on the VLA2001, its inactivated, whole virus COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The second round of up to 7.5 million pounds will be used for Valneva's other vaccines.
COVID: Do we know the real death toll?
There has long been a debate over how COVID-19-related deaths are recorded. The Johns Hopkins University in the United States, which is widely accepted as a reputable source, puts the global death toll at more than 5.8 million people. Some COVID-deniers insist that this number is exaggerated but they offer no scientific evidence to substantiate their claims. The United Kingdom-based science writer, David Adam, argues in an article he wrote for the British weekly scientific journal Nature that the actual death toll from COVID-19 is much higher than the official figure. The article has reopened the debate on how deaths are recorded differently across the world, and what the best way might be to accurately calculate deaths attributed to COVID-19. Adam argues that records of excess mortality — a standard that requires a comparison of all deaths recorded with those expected to occur — show that many more people than the numbers reported and recorded have died in the pandemic.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Indonesia relies heavily on China's Sinovac vaccine. A new wave of infections puts it to the test
Indonesia is going through a new wave of Covid infections, with daily cases hitting record highs last week. The Southeast Asian country has relied heavily on inactivated virus vaccines produced by China, which studies previously showed were less effective than mRNA shots. The latest surge in Indonesia’s Covid cases has put China-made vaccines to the test. Two medical doctors who spoke to CNBC argued that China-produced vaccines — such as the one developed by Sinovac Biotech which Indonesia has relied on most heavily — are still able to prevent severe illness and death.
Who is dying of COVID amid omicron surge and widespread vaccine availability?
When the recent COVID-19 wave fueled by the omicron variant hit the U.S., no one expected it would lead to the number of deaths it did. As of Wednesday, the nation is reporting 2,200 new COVID daily deaths on average. While this is lower than the 3,400-peak seen last winter, it's still three times higher than the number of average fatalities recorded two months ago. With around 60% of Americans fully vaccinated during the most recent wave, daily deaths from omicron are still relatively high, which begs the question: Who is dying of COVID-19 when there is such strong vaccination coverage? Infectious disease doctors say it is still mainly unvaccinated people, most of whom are in their 30s and 40s with no underlying health issues, who are dying.
Thailand raises Covid-19 alert level amid rising new infections
Thailand on Monday raised its Covid-19 alert level to the second-highest tier following a rising number of new infections linked to the spread of the Omicron variant. The Ministry of Public Health raised the Covid-19 alert level from 3 to 4, a category that includes regulations discouraging dining or drinking at restaurants and avoiding public gatherings to contain the spread of the virus. The ministry expected the number of new infections to keep rising in the coming one or two weeks due to the fast spread of the Omicron variant, which now accounts for more than 90 percent of active cases.
Covid-19: 2365 new community cases, two people have died
In New Zealand, there are 2365 new community cases in the Covid-19 outbreak, as officials report two further deaths. Two people with Covid-19 have died in Auckland, one at Middlemore Hospital and a patient in their 70s at Auckland City Hospital. There are active cases of Covid-19 in all 20 of the country’s district health board areas. More than 2.1 million booster shots have now been given nationally, with more than 15,000 administered on Sunday.
Covid-19: Omicron sub-variant BA.2 accounts for about a third of sequenced cases in NZ
A sub-variant of Omicron which began spreading rapidly in New Zealand after the ill-fated Soundsplash music festival now accounts for roughly a third of all sequenced Omicron cases. Experts say there's no reason to have a heightened fear of the spread of BA.2 – a sub-variant of the dominant BA.1 (Omicron), which was first found in southern Africa in late 2021. From January 1 to February 14, ESR's whole genome sequencing identified 346 cases of BA.2 – roughly a third of the 1316 Omicron cases sequenced over the six-week period. There were also 435 cases of Delta, the more severe of the three.
Victoria records three new COVID-19 deaths, hospitalisations at 361
The Victorian government announced a further $200 million to support businesses and industries affected by COVID-19. The state reported three more COVID-19 deaths and the number of people in hospital after contracting the virus now sits at 361. Of those patients, 49 are intensive care units and 11 are receiving ventilation. The state recorded another 5,611 new COVID-19 cases.
Italy reports 42081 new coronavirus cases on Sunday
Italy reported 42,081 COVID-19 related cases on Sunday, down from 50,534 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths reported fell to 141 from 252. Some 372,776 tests for COVID-19 were carried out in the past day, well below the previous day's figure of 492,045. Italy has registered 152,989 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world.
UK COVID cases down 25.5% in last week
The number of COVID-19 cases being recorded in Britain fell by 25.5% in the last seven days, over the week before, while deaths within 28 days of a positive test fell by 19%, official data showed on Sunday. The United Kingdom recorded 25,696 new cases on Sunday and 74 new deaths.
Hong Kong set to report 7533 new COVID-19 cases, new record -TVB
Hong Kong was set to report 7,533 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, a new record high, broadcaster TVB reported, as the city battles to contain a surge in cases that has overwhelmed its healthcare facilities.