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

Residents line up for nucleic acid testing at a residential area during the second stage of a two-stage lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China , 4 April 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
Shanghai is lifting some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Image: REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
  • This weekly 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 news stories: Gavi secures $4.8 billion in funding pledges for COVAX; Over two-thirds of Africans infected by COVID-19 since start of pandemic, WHO says; Shanghai lifting some lockdown restrictions.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 498.8 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 6.17 million. More than 11.37 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

Authorities in Shanghai say they'll start lifting COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in some areas from today.

India has begun to roll out COVID-19 vaccine booster doses to all adults. However, the free third doses will only be available to frontline workers and those aged over 60 who get them at government centres.

Around one in 13 people in England, Scotland and Wales had COVID-19 in the week beginning 28 March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Canada will provide CAD220 million ($174.8 million) in additional funding to support COVID-19 vaccination needs in lower-income countries.

A large study of vaccinated Britons has found that disease caused by the Omicron variant lasts on average around two days less than that caused by the Delta variant.

Cyprus will lift COVID-19 travel restrictions from 18 April, ending two years of rules imposed because of the pandemic.

Germany will not end mandatory isolation for most people who catch COVID-19, the health minister said on 6 April, reversing course amid concerns that lifting quarantine restrictions would suggest the pandemic is over. "Coronavirus is not a cold. That is why there must continue to be isolation after an infection," Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Twitter.

COVID-19 infections and deaths have fallen in the Americas in recent weeks, the Pan American Health Organization said last week, but adds that the risk of further surges remains.

Spain is set to lift a requirement to wear face masks indoors – except on public transport and in hospitals and retirement homes – from 20 April.

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 COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda?

The COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda builds on the actions that its members have already taken and seeks to inspire new commitments. It outlines 25 concrete recommendations for five key stakeholder groups to support social entrepreneurs during COVID-19:

  • Intermediaries and networks are called on to surface the needs of the social entrepreneurs they serve on the ground and provide them with fitting support
  • (Impact) investors are called on to adapt their investment priorities and processes and to provide flexible capital and must-have technical assistance
  • Corporations are called on to stand with the social entrepreneurs in their supply chains and ecosystems, and join forces with them to “shape a new tomorrow”
  • Funders and philanthropists are called on to expand and expedite their financial support to social entrepreneurs and intermediaries, taking risks reflective of today’s unprecedented times
  • Government institutions at all levels are called on to recognize social entrepreneurs as a driving force in safeguarding jobs and in building a greener and equitable society, and to back them accordingly.

2. Gavi secures $4.8 billion in COVAX funding pledges

Global vaccine alliance Gavi has secured $4.8 billion in funding pledges for the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme. This leaves it just short of its $5.2 billion target.

"It is really putting us in a very comfortable position," Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Managing Director for Resource Mobilization at Gavi, told a virtual media briefing.

Saraka-Yao said $2.1 billion of the total has come from innovative finance instruments, $1.7 billion from sovereign pledges from individual countries and $1 billion from multilateral development banks.

COVAX has so far delivered 1.42 billion doses to 145 countries. Scaling up deliveries through COVAX is seen as critical to meeting a World Health Organization target to vaccinate 70% of the population in poorer nations by mid-2022.

3. Over two-thirds of Africans infected by COVID-19 since start of pandemic – WHO

More than two-thirds of Africans have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) study published on 7 April. The figure is 97 times higher than reported confirmed cases.

The study found that by September 2021, 800 million Africans had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, compared with 8.2 million cases reported at that time.

The WHO said that under-counting is happening everywhere in the world, but to a lesser degree than in Africa. On average globally, true infections are 16 times higher than confirmed cases, it said.

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