COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 8 February

A child receives his first dose of Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine as a man dressed as Captain America sits next to him, during the vaccine rollout for children aged 5-11, at a mall in Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 7, 2022.

Superhero characters entertain children as they receive COVID-19 vaccines in Manila, Philippines. Image: REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

Simon Torkington
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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 stories: COVID-19 disrupts health services in 90% of countries - WHO; India approves Russia's one-shot vaccine; Nigeria receives 2 million vaccine doses from COVAX scheme.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 397.7 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.75 million. More than 10.24 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

India has approved Russia's one-shot Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine for people who have not yet received a vaccine, the shot's Indian manufacturer said on Monday. India currently uses AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine in tandem with local firm Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and has inoculated more than 75% of its 950 million adult population.

Australia's COVID-19 hospital cases and people admitted to intensive care continued to trend lower on Tuesday as authorities urged people to get their vaccine boosters to prevent serious illness and deaths from the coronavirus.

Hong Kong SAR will limit public gatherings to two people and close sites such as churches and hair salons, leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday, as the Asian financial hub battles a growing coronavirus outbreak that has caused record infections.

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Nigeria has received 2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine from Finland, Greece and Slovenia, with more EU donations set to arrive. The delivery is part of a donation pledge by the European Union to African countries via the COVAX initiative launched by the World Health Organization in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic will not end with the Omicron variant and New Zealand will have to prepare for more variants of the virus this year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday in her first parliamentary speech for 2022.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday advised against travel to six countries including Japan, Cuba, Libya, Armenia, Oman and the Democratic Republic of Congo over COVID-19 cases. The CDC now lists more than 130 countries and territories with COVID-19 cases as 'Level Four: Very High'.

Malaysia's coronavirus recovery council on Tuesday said it has recommended a full reopening of borders as early as 1 March without mandatory quarantine for travellers, as part of plans to accelerate economic recovery.

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

2. COVID disrupts health services in over 90% of countries - WHO

Disruptions in basic health services such as vaccination programmes and treatment of diseases like AIDS were reported in 92% of 129 countries, a World Health Organization (WHO) survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic showed on Monday.

The survey, conducted in November to December 2021, showed services were "severely impacted" with "little or no improvement" from the previous survey in early 2021, the WHO said in a statement sent to journalists.

"The results of this survey highlight the importance of urgent action to address major health system challenges, recover services and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the WHO said.

Emergency care, which includes ambulance and ER services, actually worsened, with 36% of countries reporting disruptions versus 29% in early 2021 and 21% in the first survey in 2020.

Elective operations such as hip and knee replacements were disrupted in 59% of the countries and gaps to rehabilitative and palliative care were reported in about half of them.

The survey's timing coincided with surging COVID-19 cases in many countries in late 2021 due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, piling additional strain on hospitals.


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3. Philippines boosts child vaccination drive with superheroes and puppets

Ironman, Captain America, puppeteers and performers on stilts entertained children at a vaccination centre in the Philippines on Monday, part of a drive to boost its COVID-19 inoculation campaign among its youngest citizens.

Artists made swords and models from balloons as 'superheroes' posed for pictures with children age 5 to 11 after they received their shots in the capital Manila.

The Philippines has vaccinated about half of its 110-million population, but many areas outside urban centres are still lagging far behind, complicating efforts to suppress fresh outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

Children have been particularly affected by containment measures in the Philippines, which kept schools closed for nearly two years and required young people to stay indoors under some of the world's strictest lockdown rules.

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