(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Chinese delegates to propose vaccine passports at annual meetings
Some delegates attending the annual meetings of the Chinese parliament and its advisory body due to begin this week will propose issuing COVID-19 vaccine passports and recognising such passports globally that they say will restore some normality, boost international tourism and economic exchanges, the Global Times reported on Wednesday.
Zhu Zhengfu, a member of the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), also told the Global Times, published by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper, that international arrivals could be exempted from quarantine requirements if they have a negative nucleic acid test and a vaccine passport.
Contagious Brazil variant evades immunity, scientists warn
A highly transmissible COVID-19 variant that emerged in Brazil and has now been found in at least 20 countries can re-infect people who previously recovered from the disease, scientists said on Tuesday.
In a study of the mutant virus’s emergence and its spread in the Amazon jungle city of Manaus, the scientists said the variant – known as P.1 – has a “unique constellation of mutations” and had very rapidly become the dominant variant circulating there.
Vaccination required for 2021 haj – Saudi newspaper
Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has ruled that only people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to attend the haj this year, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on Monday.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for those willing to come to the haj and will be one of the main conditions (for receiving a permit to come),” the report said, citing a circular signed by the health minister.
Australia armed forces called in to support immunisation
Australia will seek the support of the defence forces in its COVID-19 immunisation drive, authorities said on Wednesday, as it looks to ramp up a vaccination rollout programme that is running behind schedule.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will provide help in rolling out vaccines to aged care residents in rural and regional areas not readily accessible by other medical providers, acting Defence Minister Marise Payne said. ADF teams are expected to start next week and will focus on planning, logistics and operations support.
Biden says will have enough vaccine for every U.S. adult by May
The United States will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday after Merck & Co agreed to make rival Johnson & Johnson’s inoculation.
Biden on Tuesday called on U.S. states to prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers to ensure children could return to school quickly and safely, and said every educator should receive at least one shot by the end of March.
Japan embarks on random and targeted testing
Last week, about 600 people were tested for the coronavirus in the city of Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo – the Japanese government’s first stab at systematic random and targeted testing that it hopes will prevent a new wave of infections.
Concerned by highly transmissible variants of the virus and asymptomatic spread, Japan revised its pandemic strategy in early February. However, many health experts argue the updated strategy still falls far short of what is needed, especially given that inoculations have only just started and vaccine supplies are limited.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)