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

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks walk out of a
FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks walk out of a metro train following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong

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

‘Welcome back world!’: Australia fully reopens borders

Australia on Monday fully reopened its international borders to travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus after nearly two years of pandemic-related closures as tourists returned and hundreds of people were reunited with family and friends.

More than 50 international flights will arrive through the day, including 27 touching down in Sydney, its largest city, as the tourism and hospitality sectors look to rebuild after getting hammered by COVID-19 restrictions.

Hong Kong’s ‘zero-COVID’ success worsens Omicron spike

Under zero-COVID, Hong Kong authorities essentially closed the border and hospitalised even asymptomatic coronavirus-positive people and isolated close contacts of infected people. A person showing few if any symptoms could spend weeks in hospital, then move to an isolation facility for several more weeks before being allowed to return to normal life. In return, most people in the global financial hub could go about their work and daily lives with few restrictions.

Zero-COVID messaging, some epidemiologists fear, may encourage complacency and false hopes among the largely unvaccinated elderly that the city may again become virus-free and stay that way. More than 60% of residents over age 80 have not been vaccinated, although some 85% of the entire population has had at least one shot.

Israel to allow in tourists regardless of vaccination status

Israel will allow entry to all tourists, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, from March 1, the prime minister’s office said on Sunday. Entry into Israel will still require two PCR tests, one before flying in and one upon landing in Israel, the office said.

“We are seeing a consistent decline in morbidity numbers, so this is the time to gradually open up what we were the first in the world to close,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. “At the same time, we will keep a finger on the pulse, and in case of a new variant we will react quickly.”

Italy recommends fourth vaccine dose for immunocompromised

Italy’s health ministry has recommended that people with a severely compromised immune system receive a fourth mRNA vaccine shot against COVID-19, provided that at least 120 days have passed from their previous booster, it said on Sunday.

The special commissioner appointed by the government for the COVID-19 emergency will set the date for the recommendation to come into force based on the needs of the vaccine campaign, the ministry said.

Biden to extend U.S. national emergency

President Joe Biden said on Friday a U.S. national emergency declared in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended beyond March 1 due to the risk to public health posed by the coronavirus.

Biden’s decision to extend the emergency comes even as a slew of local leaders in the United States are dialing back pandemic restrictions as the Omicron wave ebbs. The governors of New York and Massachusetts recently announced they would end certain mask mandates in their states, following similar moves by New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Delaware and Oregon.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh)

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