(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
China’s Omicron-hit Tianjin launches new round of tests
The Chinese city of Tianjin started a new round of testing of its 14 million residents on Wednesday to block the Omicron variant, as financial analysts warned of the growing economic costs of curbs to stamp out clusters of infections.
Tianjin, about 100 km (62 miles) southeast of the capital, Beijing, reported 33 domestically transmitted coronavirus infections with confirmed symptoms on Tuesday, up from 10 the day before, national data showed.
S.Korean officials test positive after attending CES
More than 30 officials of major South Korean companies who attended the giant CES tech trade show in Las Vegas last week tested positive for COVID-19 while in the United States, industry sources said.
Most of the Samsung officials who tested positive were flown back to Korea from Nevada in two chartered flights, arriving late on Tuesday, with the rest set to be flown back the following day, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing unidentified industry sources.
Biden, top officials defend COVID-19 response
President Joe Biden and top health officials defended on Tuesday the U.S. government’s response to the unrelenting pandemic as daily COVID-19 infections reached a new high, largely fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron.
Biden, who has been accused of focusing on vaccinations at the expense of testing and support for struggling healthcare systems, told reporters he was “confident we’re on the right track” to fight the pandemic.
No vax, pay tax, says Canada’s Quebec
Canada’s second-most populous province of Quebec plans to force adults refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to pay a “health contribution”, in a move likely to spur debate about individual rights and social responsibility.
Premier Francois Legault told reporters that the proposal, details of which were still being finalised, would exclude those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons.
Colombia cuts booster wait time to four months
Colombia will let people get booster doses of vaccine four months after completing the initial course, President Ivan Duque said.
At the same time, those infected can have their vaccines 30 days after ending isolation, down from six months earlier, he added.
Surging infections force Finland to prioritise
Surging infections are forcing local authorities in Finland to deviate from a government strategy based on mass testing, tracking and isolation.
Helsinki and neighbouring cities recommend that those with a mild infection do not get an official test as the waiting time can now be days, authorities said in a joint statement.
“Tracing infections has lost its effectiveness due to delays in testing and in contacting the patients,” they said. Instead, authorities said anyone with symptoms, including children, should stay home on a voluntary basis.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)