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

A man wearing a face mask walks next to people lining up at a makeshift COVID-19 testing site following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Beijing, China, 25 April 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Mass COVID-19 testing is taking place in Beijing.
Image: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
  • This weekly COVID-19 news roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top COVID-19 news stories: G20 agrees to fund for global pandemic preparedness; COVID cases down in the Americas; Many countries easing restrictions.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 509.5 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 6.2 million. More than 11.52 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

The World Health Organization has endorsed the use of Pfizer's oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment in high-risk patients. An analysis of trial data showed it dramatically cut the risk of hospitalization.

An experimental treatment from Shionogi has shown rapid clearance of the virus that causes COVID-19, according to new data, the Japanese drugmaker announced yesterday.

Beijing's biggest district, Chaoyang, has begun three rounds of COVID-19 testing for all residents after dozens of cases were reported.

Thailand will next month lift a requirement for COVID-19 vaccinated visitors to undergo a test and brief quarantine period on arrival.

England's COVID-19 prevalence fell to 1 in 17 people in the week ending 16 April, Britain's Office for National Statistics said, compared with 1 in 14 in the previous week.

The US has extended a requirement for non-US citizens crossing land or ferry terminals at the country's borders with Mexico or Canada to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the United States for a second year in a row last year, with death rates rising for most age groups, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study has shown.

Hong Kong SAR, China, reopened gyms, beauty parlours, theme parks and cinemas last Thursday for the first time in more than four months, as authorities relaxed COVID-19 restrictions. From May, non-residents will also be allowed to enter for the first time in more than two years.

Israel has lifted a COVID-19 restriction requiring its citizens to wear masks indoors.

Singapore is set to lift most of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions from 26 April and ease entry requirements for travellers.

It comes as authorities in New Delhi, India, last week made the wearing of masks compulsory again after a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Norway will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to those aged 80 and over, the country's Institute of Public Health announced last Wednesday.

The Philippines has begun the rollout of a second COVID-19 booster dose to adults with weakened immune systems.

Child vaccination rates in the United States fell during the COVID-19 pandemic as many children skipped appointments with doctors and states eased vaccine requirements during remote learning, according to a government study released last week.

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

What is the Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship?

The Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship is one of the largest multi-stakeholder collaborations in the social innovation sector.

The Alliance has 100 members – corporations, investors, philanthropists, governments, researchers, media, and industry actors – who work together to build an engaged ecosystem of key public and private sector leaders in support of a social innovation movement that transforms society to be more just, sustainable and equitable.

Launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis by the Schwab Foundation together with Ashoka, Catalyst2030, Echoing Green, GHR Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and Yunus Social Business in April 2020.

In that pursuit, the Global Alliance will continue to mobilise a trusted community of leaders together with core partners - SAP, Bayer Foundation, Motsepe Foundation, GHR Foundation, Porticus, Deloitte, Microsoft and Catalyst 2030, that acts and learns together so that social entrepreneurs can flourish.

Contact us to get involved.

2. G20 agrees to global fund for pandemic preparedness

The G20 has provisionally agreed to set up a global fund for pandemic preparedness. The fund is likely to be housed at the World Bank.

The US and Indonesia have been pushing for the establishment of such a fund to help make the world better prepared to tackle future pandemics after COVID-19, but others have been concerned that the fund could weaken the World Health Organization (WHO) or other global health mechanisms.

However, a statement issued by Indonesia, chair of the G20, after meetings of finance ministers in Washington last week confirmed that the G20 has "reached a consensus" on establishing a new fund to address what it called the financing gap for pandemic preparedness, prevention and action.

The WHO and the World Bank last week estimated the annual gap in pandemic preparedness funding at $10.5 billion and said any preparedness fund needs to be financed over five years, suggesting a $50 billion requirement.

3. COVID-19 cases down in the Americas

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) said on 20 April that COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining in the Americas, with infections falling 2.3% in the previous week and deaths down by 15.2%.

The trend comes as cases are rising in North America. In Canada, hospitalizations rose by more than 20% as the proportion of BA.2 Omicron sub-variant cases grew.

As borders have re-opened and tourism has ramped up, cases have also surged in some Caribbean countries and territories, with Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Barbados and Saint Martin having recorded the largest relative increases.

"Nonetheless, on a broad scale, COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining in the Americas," PAHO director Dr Carissa Etienne said.

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