International agencies including the World Health Organization urged countries on Tuesday to suspend the sale of live wild mammals in food markets, warning they may be the source of more than 70% of emerging infectious diseases in humans. The guidance, aimed at ensuring the global food system is safe and sustainable, follows a WHO-led mission to Wuhan, China to investigate the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. "This + other recommendations will contribute to < the risk of emerging #zoonoses," Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO official who led the January-February mission, said in a tweet.
Hong Kong confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, while the city’s BioNTech vaccination programme was boosted by the arrival of 300,000 more doses. Three of the latest Covid-19 cases were locally transmitted, one of which was untraceable, and the rest were imported from India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Japan. Eight of those imported cases involved a mutant strain of the coronavirus, taking the total number of variant-strain infections identified in Hong Kong to 210.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “We believe there are still some unknown cases in the community … we are expecting there might be some rebound of cases [after the Easter holiday], so we need to closely monitor the situation,” said Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, of the Centre for Health Protection. “One or two of the cases today had onset of symptoms quite early on. They had gone to various places in the community so there is a risk of spread.” The day’s sole untraceable case involved a 55-year-old housewife living in Sham Tseng. She bought groceries near Yeung Uk Road wet market during both her incubation and infectious periods, and also visited Leisurely Veggie restaurant at Citywalk shopping centre in Tsuen Wan on March 28 with relatives and a friend. The woman went grave-sweeping on April 3 with her family in Tsang Tsui before eating at Pastaholic restaurant in Tuen Mun’s Trend Plaza. She also shopped at Toys ’R’ Us and Uniqlo in Tuen Mun Town Plaza. The two others confirmed on Tuesday as infected locally were the 55-year-old’s relatives. One of them was a 34-year-old woman who briefly lived with the housewife, and works at Prosperity Tower in Central. Hong Kong ‘vaccination bubble’ plan not intended to coerce jabs: Lam They took part in some shopping, eating and grave-sweeping activities together, while the younger woman also engaged in the latter in Tseung Kwan O with eight relatives. The other local case involved a 38-year-old man, who has two homes in Tsim Sha Tsui and Ngau Chi Wan. He also stays at the housewife’s home on occasion and works on the 29th floor of the Clifford Centre in Cheung Sha Wan. More than 20 colleagues of the two workers will be quarantined. Asked about the contagion risks associated with grave-sweeping, Chuang said: “I do not think grave-sweeping itself will pose risks to the spread of Covid, if [people] put on masks. “But if some of the members of the [grave-sweepers] take off their masks and share food after grave-sweeping, they may pose risks to other members nearby.” Fewer than five preliminary-positive cases were also reported on Tuesday. The city’s official tally now stands at 11,607 cases, with 207 related deaths. Separately, the government has launched its pilot Covid-19 vaccination programme for care homes, under which outreach teams and visiting medical officers will attend 10 facilities for the elderly and administer shots for suitable residents. The scheme will be extended later to the rest of the city’s 1,100 or so institutions for the elderly, people with disabilities and nursing homes. On Monday, health minister Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee assured that more BioNTech doses were on their way and supplies were stable after vaccinations using the German-made shots were halted over packaging defects on more than 50 vials. The reported issues triggered a 12-day suspension starting in late March of that vaccination programme, leaving 1 million doses in storage pending an investigation. Question marks remain over whether they will be put to use. The latest BioNTech shipment follows the delivery of 300,000 doses on April 2. Two vaccines have been approved for emergency use in Hong Kong: CoronaVac, produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech, and Comirnaty, which was jointly developed by US-based Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, and is supplied through the mainland firm Fosun Pharma. Meanwhile, authorities have said current social-distancing rules, which include limiting public gatherings and restaurant tables to four people, will be extended for another two weeks to April 28 when they expire on Wednesday, given the ongoing possibility of a rebound in infections after the Easter holiday. Officials have also banned Emirates passenger flights from Dubai and Bangkok from landing in Hong Kong for two weeks until April 26, after flight EK384 brought in five passengers who tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival at the airport on Sunday.More from South China Morning Post:Coronavirus: Hong Kong residents will be allowed to dine out in larger groups, access travel privileges under ‘vaccination bubble’ incentives aimed at boosting jabs rateCoronavirus: Hong Kong ‘vaccination bubble’ plan not intended to coerce residents into getting jab, Carrie Lam saysThis article Coronavirus: Hong Kong confirms 13 new cases; 300,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shots land in city first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
The study of patients in London hospitals is consistent with emerging evidence that this lineage is more transmissible than the original Covid-19 strain.
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The German government agreed Tuesday on controversial changes to a national infections control law, handing Berlin more power to impose tougher measures such as night-time curfews to halt the raging coronavirus pandemic.
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The Indian city of Pune is running out of ventilators as gasping coronavirus patients crowd its hospitals. The surge, which can be seen across India, is particularly alarming because the country is a major vaccine producer and a critical supplier to the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative. Already the rise in cases has forced India to focus on satisfying its domestic demand — and delay deliveries to COVAX and elsewhere, including the United Kingdom and Canada.
Hong Kong’s leader has rejected accusations the city’s new “vaccination bubble” plan is intended to coerce residents into taking a coronavirus jab, saying it provides a “timetable and road map” for returning to normal life, while acknowledging the incentives were devised to address an unsatisfactory inoculation rate. Defending the multifaceted scheme rolled out a day earlier, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday also insisted new rules for local restaurants and bars that some had already decried as unworkable were not overly burdensome. “I don’t think it’s complicated,” she said. “The response I’ve got is very good.”Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The rebuttal came as the city confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, and announced the arrival of 300,000 more doses of the German-made BioNTech vaccine. Three of the new infections were locally transmitted – including one that was untraceable – while the rest were imported. Lam, meanwhile, also highlighted the city’s “travel bubble” discussions with Singapore, a quarantine-free air travel corridor, and pointed out her administration recently revised the proposal by adding a requirement that travellers from Hong Kong to Singapore must first get a Covid-19 vaccine before departure. “This is our suggestion to the Singaporean government, which of course they have no objection to,” said Lam, who did not offer a timeline on when the talks would end and the bubble would launch, saying only: “I expect an early indication of agreement between the two sides”. Hailing it as a “new direction in fighting the pandemic”, Lam on Monday unveiled a raft of changes to the city’s social-distancing measures, some of which were for the first time tied explicitly to Covid-19 vaccinations. The plan will give vaccinated residents greater freedom to dine out in bigger groups, travel abroad and enjoy other relaxations of social-distancing rules. Bars and pubs – closed entirely since late November – will be allowed to reopen at limited capacity, but only if all staff and customers have received their first vaccine dose. More restrictions will be lifted if both shots have been taken. A staged relaxation was also announced for restaurants, which would permit diners to eat in groups of eight and extend dine-in services to 2am, if all restaurant employees were fully vaccinated and customers had received at least one dose. But restaurant owners questioned if it was practical to require their employees to receive jabs, while others suggested the incentives were an attempt to coerce wary Hongkongers into vaccination. Lam rejected that idea on Tuesday, saying the plan presented an opportunity for the city to get out from under the pandemic. “Every country, every place has to design their incentives … taking into account the local context,” she told the press ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting. “The local context at this point in time is the vaccination rate is not very satisfactory. It’s about 8 per cent … [Now] we have a direction, timetable, road map to return to a relatively normal life, this is for everybody.” Under the government’s plan, fully inoculated people will be allowed to visit care homes after passing rapid virus tests, while authorities are also looking to cut quarantine stays for fully vaccinated arrivals from lower-risk countries, possibly to fewer than seven days for some. Earlier on Tuesday, Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee told a radio programme the government would discuss with the restaurant sector how to implement the gradual relaxation in restrictions. One topic for discussion would be workaround measures for those unsuitable for vaccination to prevent outcomes such as workers being fired if they are unable to get inoculated. “We do not want to see such a situation … We will discuss with the industry what kind of proof employees can provide that they cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons,” she said on Tuesday morning. A day earlier, Lam had said the government was considering ending free Covid-19 screening services for those not subject to a mandatory testing order in favour of pushing residents to be vaccinated instead. Britain ban lifted, but ‘chaos’ over special flights has some criticising coordination Asked about those plans, Chan said it was only in the discussion stage, while noting mandatory testing remained important from the perspective of public health. Chan also emphasised that vaccinations were more effective in protecting the public, and that people did not have to conduct tests as regularly once they had been inoculated. “Of course testing is important in fighting the pandemic; it lets you know whether a person at that moment is infected. But testing does not provide protection,” she said. Coronavirus pandemic is ‘a long way from over’, says WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Ho Pak-leung, a microbiologist from the University of Hong Kong, said the government’s plan deserved public support. Pointing out that “long-term pain is worse than short-term pain”, he told the same radio show he hoped the new measures could break the vicious cycle of outbreaks in the city. But he also expressed disapproval of any move to dismantle the free testing system. “If you are charging or making the arrangement inconvenient, fewer citizens will get tested and tests will be delayed. So when restrictions are relaxed, it could trigger a risk of more transmission chains in the community,” he said. Addressing planned changes to Hong Kong entry requirements, Ho said authorities should first focus on low-risk countries, and only consider reducing the quarantine period for those coming from medium-risk destinations once they were confident in the local pandemic situation. He recommended the city reached a local vaccination rate of 40 per cent before reducing the quarantine for medium-risk countries to 14 days.More from South China Morning Post:Coronavirus: Hong Kong restaurant and bar owners angry and disappointed over government requirements for lifting restrictionsCoronavirus: Hong Kong residents will be allowed to dine out in larger groups, access travel privileges under ‘vaccination bubble’ incentives aimed at boosting jabs rateThis article Coronavirus: Hong Kong ‘vaccination bubble’ plan not intended to coerce residents into getting jab, Carrie Lam says first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Hospitals dealing with Covid-19 patients stated that even when a patient has typical symptoms of the disease, they test negative for the infection, sometimes twice or thrice even through RT-PCR tests.
The English variant of the novel coronavirus does not increase the severity of Covid-19 compared to other strains, according to research published Tuesday that also confirmed its increased transmissibility.
California on Monday re-opened enrollment for its state health insurance exchange, hoping more people will buy coverage now that the federal government is offering new assistance that could lower monthly premiums by $1,000 or more in some cases. About $3 billion of that money is coming to California in the form of new subsidies to help some people pay their monthly health insurance premiums. The new subsidies are only available through December 2022 to people who buy coverage through a health insurance exchange, which were created as part of former President Barack Obama's health care law.
Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility President & CEO Cid Wilson joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss how CEOs are planning to move against restrictive voting laws.
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