- 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: Africa moving out of pandemic phase of COVID-19 - WHO; Germany's COVID-19 wave starts to flatten; Japan approves Pfizer's oral COVID-19 pill.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 406 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.79 million. More than 10.3 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.
Australian residents will need to receive booster shots to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, authorities have said foreign travellers will continue to only need two jabs to enter the country.
Novavax announced yesterday that its two-dose COVID-19 vaccine was 80% effective against the virus in a late-stage trial with teens aged 12-17 years.
The Dutch government has announced its aim to drop most of its COVID-19 restrictions by the end of February, after record infection levels in recent weeks had only a limited effect on hospital numbers.
Spain has lifted a requirement to wear face masks outside as COVID-19 cases continue to recede from record highs.
The Czech government has ended requirements that required vaccination certificates to enter restaurants and events.
Pfizer's oral COVID-19 drug has been approved by a Japanese Health Ministry committee.
The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in South Africa - and has been detected in multiple other African countries - the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.
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2. Africa moving out of pandemic phase of COVID-19: WHO
Africa is transitioning out of the pandemic phase of the COVID-19 outbreak and moving towards a situation where it will be managing the virus over the long term, the head of the World Health Organization on the continent said yesterday.
"I believe that we are transitioning from the pandemic phase and we will now need to manage the presence of this virus in the long term," Dr Matshidiso Moeti told a regular online media briefing.
She also said that the WHO estimates the total number of COVID-19 infections in Africa could be up to seven times higher than official data suggests, and deaths could be two to three times higher.
"We're very much aware that our surveillance systems problems that we had on the continent, with access to testing supplies, for example, have led to an underestimation of the cases," Moeti said.
3. Germany's COVID-19 wave flattens
Germany's daily rise in the number of COVID-19 infections is slowing, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed yesterday, indicating that a fourth wave of the pandemic could flatten soon.
Germany reported 247,862 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, up 5% from the same day last week. The 7-day infection incidence per 100,000 people also rose to 1,465 from 1,451 a day earlier.
Germany's adjusted hospitalization rate rose only slightly to 10.96 per 100,000 people from 10.88 a day earlier.
Germany's coronavirus wave is expected to peak around mid-February, the health minister said last month. The number of cases stabilizing means the country could start discussing easing national restrictions.