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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now - Metro US

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

The streets of Sao Paulo city empty overnight under new COVID-19 curfew

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Brazil has record COVID-19 deaths

Brazil on Tuesday reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths just as the country’s new health minister nominee pledged to continue the controversial policies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the severity of the disease.

The comments by cardiologist Marcelo Queiroga, a day after he was tapped by Bolsonaro, dashed hopes for significant change in course to curb a worsening pandemic. COVID-19 has killed more than 280,000 people in Brazil, which had the worst weekly death toll in the world last week.

On Tuesday, Brazil reported a record 2,841 deaths.

Coronavirus ‘not under control’ in Paris region

The coronavirus situation is worsening in the greater Paris region, where hospitals are under immense strain, the director general of the AP-HP Paris hospitals organisation, Martin Hirsch, said on Wednesday.

Hirsch told RTL radio there were two options to contain the disease – a local weekend lockdown, already in place in other parts of the country, or a broader lockdown in the region.

“The virus is not under control. There are as many patients in intensive care units today as there were at the peak of the second wave,” he said.

‘Tornado’ hitting Papua New Guinea’s hospitals

Rapidly increasing coronavirus infections in hospitals in the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea were hitting its fragile health system “like a tornado,” with services shutting as staff fall ill, health workers said on Wednesday.

Australia said it would send 8,000 vaccines to its northern neighbour, responding to a request for urgent assistance for the country’s small health workforce of 5,000 nurses and doctors.

“When you have a tornado like this that rips into the heart of the health system, the potential for a calamity is huge. That is what is scaring all of us at the moment,” David Ayres, country director with Marie Stopes PNG, told Reuters.

Vaccination of pregnant women could protect babies

Pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19 could pass along protection to their babies, a new study in Israel found.

According to the research conducted in February, antibodies were detected in all 20 women administered both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine during their third trimester of pregnancy and in their newborns, through placental transfer.

Pfizer and BioNTech said last month they had started a 4,000-volunteer international study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of their vaccine in healthy pregnant women.

Iceland opens borders for vaccinated visitors

Iceland will this week open its borders to all visitors who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 without mandatory testing or quarantine, as it seeks to attract more tourists to help revive its coronavirus-hit economy.

The North Atlantic country, which will become one of the first to open its borders since the beginning of the pandemic, saw tourist numbers plummet by 75% last year to just under half a million, causing its economy to contract by 6.6%.

Visitors must present proof of vaccination with a vaccine that has been certified by the European Medicines Agency, which excludes Chinese and Russian vaccines.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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