(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the pandemic right now:
Tightening COVID net, Beijing issues punishments and stark warnings
China’s COVID-hit capital Beijing further tightened its dragnet on the virus with zero community transmission the target, punishing workplaces that flout rules or circumvent curbs and imploring residents to police their own movements.
Since late April, the city of 22 million has wrestled with dozens of new cases a day. While these have been mostly in quarantine areas, a handful have been found in the community at large, illustrating the challenge the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant poses even to the world’s most stringent pandemic containment policies.
North Korea reports no new deaths for second day
North Korea reported no new deaths among fever patients for a second consecutive day, state media KCNA said on Wednesday, a day after it said the country’s first confirmed coronavirus outbreak was being managed in a stable manner.
The COVID outbreak, which the isolated country confirmed about two weeks ago, has stoked concerns about a lack of vaccines and medical supplies, while experts said a nationwide lockdown could deepen a food crisis in the country of 25 million.
South Korea will issue a call this week at the World Economic Forum for COVID-19 vaccines and other medical help for North Korea, even if that means exemptions from U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Taiwan now has 80,000 COVID cases a day, testing its ‘new model’
Billed a COVID-19 success story as its economy boomed through the pandemic, Taiwan is now battling a record wave of infections as it eases restrictions that had kept outbreaks at bay to start life with the virus.
For the whole of 2021, Taiwan reported fewer than 15,000 locally transmitted cases. Now, it is registering around 80,000 a day – a startling reversal after the effectiveness of its long-standing zero-COVID policy won it international praise.
Germany’s vaccine panel says one COVID shot enough for children
Germany’s vaccine advisory panel on Tuesday said one COVID-19 shot was enough for healthy five- to 11-year-olds because most of them had already undergone an infection, maintaining its cautious approach.
The view by the panel of 18 appointees contrasts with European Union regulators’ approval for a two-shot regimen in that age group. U.S. regulators last week even authorized a third, booster shot for the group.
U.S. CDC recommends re-isolation if COVID recurs after taking Pfizer’s pill
Patients who experience recurrence of COVID-19 symptoms after completing treatment with Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid should isolate again for five days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an advisory issued on Tuesday.
Dozens of individuals have reported returning COVID symptoms on social media or to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after taking Paxlovid, but Pfizer suggests the experience is rare. A recent rise in COVID cases has driven up use of therapeutics in the country.
NGOs urge Biden to push for changes to WTO’s COVID waiver text
Oxfam America, Partners in Health and other civil society groups urged U.S. President Joe Biden to press for changes in a draft agreement on waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, underscoring divisions over the current text.
In a letter sent to Biden on Monday, and viewed by Reuters, the groups said an “outcome document” reached after months of discussions between the main parties – the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa – fell short of his “righteous goal” of removing IP barriers for COVID vaccines.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)