Health and Healthcare Systems

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 15 February

A student is pictured through a window during her first day of face-to-face classes, after the state government declared it mandatory to attend in person after taking virtual classes for almost two years due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Monterrey, Mexico February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Mandatory in-person learning has returned to Mexico after COVID-19 restrictions moved schooling online. Image: REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Joe Myers
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  • This daily news round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top news stories: Major Chinese industrial city sets up COVID-19 controls; Previous COVID-19 infection less effective against Omicron variant - study; Restrictions eased in many parts of the world.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 413.5 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.82 million. More than 10.40 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The US states of Washington DC and Maryland have both announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

Hong Kong, SAR, leader Carrie Lam has ruled out a citywide lockdown to tackle a surge in COVID-19 infections.

The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Alberta have announced plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions. Ontario is set to lift pandemic-related capacity limits, while Alberta has ended its mask requirements for school children.

Novavax has submitted an application to Switzerland's drugs regulator to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine in adults.

Kuwait's cabinet has lifted many COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on foreign travel, Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah said yesterday.

Sweden's Health Agency recommended on Monday that people aged 80 or above should receive a second booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine, the fourth jab in total.

COVID-19 case numbers have dropped slightly in Germany, as the government plans to ease pandemic restrictions.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries. Image: Our World in Data

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2. Major Chinese industrial city sets up COVID-19 controls

The Chinese high-tech industry centre of Suzhou has introduced new restrictions after detecting new COVID-19 cases.

The city, a trading, commercial and industrial hub in the eastern province of Jiangsu, has reported 8 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Monday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

Despite the low caseload by global standards, Suzhou said on Monday it had suspended some long-distance bus services, locked down affected buildings and urged residents not to leave home or the city for nonessential reasons.

Suzhou Industrial Park - an important high-tech development zone that hosts about 100,000 companies and accommodates manufacturing facilities of foreign firms such as Samsung and Eli Lilly - started a round of mass testing on Monday.


3. Previous COVID-19 infection less effective against Omicron variant - study

The immune response to COVID-19 helps to protect against reinfection, but that protection is weaker against Omicron than it was against earlier variants new data has shown.

A previous COVID-19 infection only protects against Omicron reinfection 56% of the time, according to new research. Having had COVID-19 was 90.2% reinfection with the Alpha variant, 85.7% effective against a Beta variant reinfection, and 92% effective against Delta reinfection, researchers reported in the The New England Journal of Medicine.

As was the case with reinfection due to earlier variants, however, "the protection of previous infection against hospitalization or death caused by reinfection (with Omicron) appeared to be robust," they said.

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