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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

People wearing face masks cross a street, following the coronavirus
People wearing face masks cross a street, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Hong Kong

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

Hong Kong to focus COVID resources on elderly

Hong Kong announced plans to devote more medical resources to elderly people on Wednesday as COVID-19 infections swept through care homes and deaths climbed rapidly among the mainly unvaccinated seniors.

The government will strengthen medical treatment and resources and set up more isolation and temporary care facilities for elderly coronavirus patients, Chief Executive Carrie Lam told a media briefing.

Hong Kong is rushing to build facilities for COVID-19 patients, with Reuters drone footage showing construction work in full swing after a temporary bridge linking the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen to the Asian financial hub opened at the weekend.

Shanghai steps up defences against wave of asymptomatic cases

The Chinese financial hub of Shanghai is moving quickly to halt the spread of COVID-19 amid a rising wave of local symptomless cases, testing tens of thousands of people, delaying dozens of concerts and exhibitions and shutting some public venues.

Shanghai reported 62 domestically transmitted asymptomatic infections for Tuesday, the seventh consecutive day of increases in such cases, official data showed on Wednesday. That was the highest daily count for the city since China started in late March 2020 to classify symptomless infections separately from confirmed cases.

Austria puts its COVID vaccine mandate on ice

Austria is suspending its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, its ministers for health and constitutional affairs said on Wednesday, six days before fines for breaches were due to start being imposed.

The measure, the most sweeping in the European Union as it applied to all adults with few exceptions, has been in effect since Feb. 5, but enforcement was only due to begin on March 15. Because the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has tended to cause fewer severe cases than previous variants, the strain on intensive-care units has eased.

Romanian government to lift COVID restrictions

Romania will lift all COVID restrictions from Wednesday including requiring a digital pass to access institutions and the obligation to wear protective masks both indoors and outside, Health Minister Alexandru Rafila said on Tuesday.

The country remains the European Union’s second-least vaccinated state, with just under 42% of the population fully inoculated amid distrust in state institutions and poor vaccine education.

France’s new infections start creeping up again

French health authorities reported 93,050 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, the highest daily total since Feb. 22, and an increase of 16.6% versus a week ago.

The number of new daily infections has now shown a week-on-week rise for the fourth consecutive day, reversing a declining trend that started at the end of January.

Omicron sub-variant BA.2 makes up 11.6% of COVID variants in U.S.

The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron was estimated to be 11.6% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of March 5, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

Scientists are tracking a rise in cases caused by BA.2, the dominant variant in South Africa, which is spreading rapidly in parts of Asia and Europe.

Pfizer begins COVID pill study in high-risk children aged 6-17

Pfizer said on Wednesday it has begun a mid-to-late-stage study of its antiviral COVID-19 pill for non-hospitalized children aged 6-17 years who are at high risk of developing severe illness.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill is authorized for emergency use in the United States for kids 12 years or older and high-risk adults. But there are no oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 authorized in the United States for younger children.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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