Omicron BA.2 strain on rise in US; Japan, Hong Kong ease curbs: 10 updates

Global Covid-19 surge: The emergence of the more transmissible BA.2 Omicron strain has led to fresh spike in several countries. Here is a round-up of the Covid surge across the world in 10 points.
A man is tested as a measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus near the Shanghai Jin'an Central Hospital in Shanghai.(AFP)
A man is tested as a measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus near the Shanghai Jin'an Central Hospital in Shanghai.(AFP)
Published on Mar 22, 2022 07:17 AM IST
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By | Written by Ishika Yadav | Edited by Swati Bhasin

The pandemic is far from over, the WHO has been insisting, as several countries face a spike in daily Covid cases accelerated by the emergence of the more transmissible BA.2 Omicron strain. In Europe, France, the UK and Germany are witnessing a fresh surge. China has stepped up its restrictions in a bid to tackle the spread of the virus.

Here's a round-up of the Covid surge across the world in 10 points:

1. China has implemented a strict policy that includes strict lockdowns, mass testing and mandatory quarantine in state facilities as the nation fights Omicron BA.2 led surge.

2. Shanghai saw a record number of Covid cases for a second straight day. 896 cases were found on Monday as the city became the latest Chinese hotspot, a report by Bloomberg said, citing local media.

3. France reported an average of close to 90,000 new coronavirus infections over the last seven days marking a 36% rise from one week ago following easing of restrictions.

4. The UK opened bookings on Monday for the fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose for those aged 75 and over and high-risk immunosuppressed individuals as daily cases continue to rise in the country.

5. Germany is now setting fresh records for infection rates almost daily,. Austria has also reached new highs and cases in the Netherlands have doubled since lifting curbs2, Bloomberg reported.

6. Cases are beginning to climb in New York City, where BA.2 accounts for a larger share of cases than in other parts of the country, reports said, citing the data from the top medical body CDC. About 50 to 70 per cent of all Covid cases in the US are BA.2, San Diego-based genomics firm Helix estimates . According to the tests sequenced over the last two weeks, the Omicron subvariant BA.2 is rapidly gaining ground in the US.

7. The US drug regulator said on Monday a panel of independent advisers will meet on April 6 to discuss considerations for use of Covid-19 vaccine booster doses. Moderna is seeking the US health body's nod for a second booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 18.

8. Japan’s government lifted quasi-state of emergency measures in Tokyo and other regions across the country, bringing to an end steps introduced in early January as cases continue to tumble after peaking in early February. Tokyo is seeing an average of about 7,500 cases a day as of Monday.

9. Indonesia is also lifting all quarantine rules for fully-vaccinated visitors to end two years of border closure, following its neighbours in easing entry restrictions as Southeast Asia moves past the worst of the omicron wave.

10. Hong Kong will resume international flights from the United States, Britain and seven other countries, the government said as it loosened some of the world's toughest Covid-19 restrictions.

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