(Reuters) – Disruptions in basic health services such as vaccination programmes and treatment of diseases like AIDS were reported in 92% of 129 countries, a World Health Organization survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic showed on Monday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* A Polish short track speed skater recalled on Monday “crying like crazy” in the back of an ambulance amid confusion over isolation procedures at the Winter Games in Beijing. More than 350 Games participants, including dozens of athletes, have tested positive on arrival in the Chinese capital since Jan. 23.
* Sweden said it would lift entry restrictions for foreign nationals travelling arriving from Nordic countries and the rest of the EU and EEA from Wednesday.
* Several German states are planning to loosen coronavirus restrictions despite rising infections, officials said.
* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against travel to six countries including Japan, Cuba, Libya, Armenia, Oman and the Democratic Republic of Congo over COVID-19 cases.
* A Canadian court granted an interim injunction against anti-vaccine protesters who have been occupying the national capital’s downtown for more than 10 days.
* The governors of New Jersey and Delaware said their states would lift school mask mandates in the coming weeks, aiming for a return to “normalcy” as the surge in coronavirus infections fueled by the Omicron variant abates in their states.
* Police in Canada’s national capital have seized thousands of litres of fuel and removed an oil tanker as part of a crackdown to end an 11-day-old protest against government health measures and vaccine mandates, police said.
* American figure skater Vincent Zhou said he has withdrawn from the Beijing Olympics ahead of this week’s men’s singles competition after testing positive for COVID-19.
* Japan’s prime minister said he wanted to speed up the country’s COVID-19 booster shot programme to 1 million shots a day by the end of the month, about double the current pace.
* Indonesia will tighten social restrictions in Jakarta and Bali, as well as in two other cities on Java island, in a bid to contain a spike in coronavirus infections, a senior cabinet minister said.
* Hong Kong residents crowded supermarkets and neighbourhood fresh food markets on Monday to stock up on vegetables, noodles and other necessities after a record number of COVID-19 infections in the city and transport disruptions at the border with mainland China.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Botswana’s 2021/22 budget deficit has widened to 5.1% of GDP as the country uses funds to finance its recovery from the pandemic, its finance minister said, adding the economy’s rebound remained strong.
* Rwanda plans to raise spending by 17% in the year to end-June to help the economy emerge from the pandemic and boost the vaccination programme, its finance minister said.
* Nigeria has received 2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine from Finland, Greece and Slovenia, with more EU donations set to arrive in the coming weeks, government officials said.
* South Africa’s health regulator said it had approved a COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm, although a senior health official said the government was not planning to procure doses for now.
* Restoring normal population mobility to “COVID-zero regions” like China will cause some 2 million deaths in a year and the key to controlling the virus is developing vaccines that are better at preventing infection, Chinese researchers said.
* Wall Street shares rose on Monday, as European bond yields jumped after the European Central Bank last week drove speculation about monetary tightening as soon as March and yields of benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries hit two-year highs. [MKTS/GLOB]
(Compiled by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Valentine Baldassari and Shailesh Kuber; Editing by Anil D’Silva)