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

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

COVID-19 pandemic in Tokyo
COVID-19 pandemic in Tokyo

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

Hong Kong COVID infections surge

Hong Kong reported 986 new coronavirus infections on Thursday as authorities scramble to contain an outbreak which medical experts warn could see 28,000 daily cases by the end of March, with the unvaccinated elderly a particular worry.

The rise in cases, up 10-fold since Feb. 1, is proving to be the biggest test for the global financial hub’s “dynamic zero” policy of virus suppression, which has turned Hong Kong into one of the world’s most isolated cities.

Japan’s COVID surge shows signs of peaking

Japan’s biggest wave of COVID-19 cases to date is showing signs of peaking though authorities are extending virus restrictions into next month to try to bring down the rate of hospitalisations.

Top medical adviser Shigeru Omi said on Thursday that health centres would shift towards focusing on care for the elderly and those at risk of developing serious illness.

Vietnam warns of hospitals strain

Vietnam warned on Thursday that its healthcare system could become overloaded after seeing a surge in new daily coronavirus infections following its week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

The Southeast Asian country reported nearly 24,000 new cases on Wednesday, compared to about 15,000 per day in the week before the annual holiday, when millions of people travelled to their rural homes and to tourist hotspots.

South Korea turns to self-treatment

South Korea said on Thursday patients with mild coronavirus symptoms will have to treat themselves, aiming to free up medical resources for more serious cases, as new infections hit a fresh high because of the fast spreading Omicron variant.

South Korea has largely been a COVID-19 mitigation success story, thanks to aggressive testing and tracing, social distancing and mask wearing.

COVAX cuts North Korea’s vaccine allotment

The COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine-sharing programme has scaled back the number of doses allocated for North Korea, international aid organisations said, as the country has so far failed to arrange for any shipments.

A website dashboard maintained by the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, shows the number of doses earmarked for North Korea now stands at 1.54 million, down from as many as 8.11 million last year.

Philippines welcomes back foreign tourists

The Philippines welcomed back more than 200 foreign tourists on Thursday, becoming the latest Southeast Asian nation to reopen in a bid to revive a battered tourism sector after its borders shut to visitors nearly two years ago due to the pandemic.

Popular for its white sand beaches and rich marine life, the Philippines has seen a sharp drop in coronavirus cases.

New York, Massachusetts ease COVID rules

The governors of New York and Massachusetts announced on Wednesday that they would end certain mask mandates in their states, joining a growing list of U.S. state leaders planning to lift face-covering rules as the latest COVID-19 surge eases.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said her state would stop requiring people to wear a mask or prove they had received a COVID-19 vaccine when entering most indoor public places, starting on Thursday, thanks to a decrease in cases and hospitalizations.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Mark Heinrich)