(Reuters) – Canada will ease entry for fully vaccinated international travellers starting on Feb. 28 as COVID-19 cases decline, allowing a rapid antigen test for travellers instead of a molecular one.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.
* A new wave of infections from the Omicron variant is moving towards the east of Europe, the World Health Organization said, urging authorities to improve vaccination and other measures.
* The Dutch government will lift most of its coronavirus restrictions as of Friday.
* Germany can start easing restrictions now that a wave of infections with the Omicron variant is subsiding, its health minister said.
* Novak Djokovic is prepared to miss the French Open and Wimbledon rather than have a COVID-19 vaccination but denies being an anti-vaxxer, the world number one said in his first interview since his failed attempt to play at the Australian Open.
* Ottawa’s police chief has resigned after criticism that he did not do enough to stop COVID-19 protests that have paralysed Canada’s capital city and forced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke emergency powers, a city official said.
* The leak website Distributed Denial of Secrets said it has posted more donor files from the fundraising platform GiveSendGo relating to the Canadian movement of people opposed to pandemic health measures, including COVID-19 vaccines.
* Washington, D.C. will no longer require people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter many businesses starting Tuesday, its mayor said, joining a slew of local leaders who are dialling back pandemic restrictions as the Omicron wave ebbs.
* Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam ruled out a citywide lockdown, but a surge of infections meant she could not “preclude” the possibility of postponing next month’s chief executive election.
* Vietnam’s tourism ministry proposed a full reopening of the country to foreign visitors and a lifting of nearly all travel restrictions from March 15, three months earlier than planned.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Israel will start offering AstraZeneca’s antibody cocktail Evusheld to people with compromised immune systems who did not get a sufficient antibody boost from vaccines.
* Vaccinating pregnant women against the coronavirus may help prevent COVID-19 hospitalisations in infants after they are born, especially if the expecting mothers got the shots later in their pregnancy, U.S. researchers reported.
* Long COVID is less likely to affect vaccinated people than unvaccinated people, a new review of 15 studies by the UK Health Security Agency has concluded.
* A Chinese mRNA vaccine candidate showed a sharper drop in neutralising antibody activity against Omicron than against the non-mutated coronavirus in a small study, but a booster readily induced antibody production in animal tests, a research paper said.
* Euro zone economic growth slowed sharply quarter-on-quarter as expected in the last three months of 2021, data confirmed, as activity was hit by another wave of infections and surging prices that cut into disposable incomes.
* German investor sentiment rose in February on expectations that restrictions to contain COVID-19 will ease, allowing growth in Europe’s largest economy to pick up, a survey showed.
(Compiled by Aditya Soni and Milla Nissi; Edited by Sriraj Kalluvila, Mark Heinrich and Shounak Dasgupta)