COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 21 February

International passengers arrive at Melbourne Airport after Australia reopened its international borders to travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Melbourne, Australia, 21 February 2022. AAP Image/Joel Carrett via Reuters
Australia has reopened its borders to international tourists after COVID-19 restrictions.
  • 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 COVID-19 news stories: New review warns on long COVID; England set to scrap self-isolation requirements; Australia reopens to international tourists.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 424.3 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths has now passed 5.88 million. More than 10.42 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

New Zealand will lift COVID-19 vaccine mandates and social distancing measures after the Omicron peak has passed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

Italy has recommended that people with a severely compromised immune system should receive a fourth mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. The jab should come at least 120 days after their third dose.

Hong Kong SAR, China, is in "all-out combat" to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases, a top official in the city said yesterday.

Australia has welcomed back its first international tourists after nearly two years of sealed borders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

US President Joe Biden is set to extend the US national emergency declared in March 2020 as a result of COVID-19 to beyond 1 March, because of the ongoing risk to public health.

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.

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2. England set to lift requirement to self-isolate

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to outline plans today that would see remaining COVID-19 restrictions – including the need to self-isolate after a positive test – scrapped in England.

It's part of his government's "living with COVID-19" strategy, which aims to achieve a faster exit from the pandemic than other major economies.

Under the plans, which have been in the works for weeks, England will become the first major European country to allow people who know they are infected with COVID-19 to freely use shops, public transport and go to work.

Johnson said he does not want people to "throw caution to the wind" and that there is no case for complacency, but added that the vaccine rollout means the government wants to move from state mandates to encouraging personal responsibility.

However, medical leaders and government advisers have warned that dropping restrictions could lead to rapid epidemic growth.

3. New review warns on impact of long COVID

Researchers in the UK, led by Oxford University, said on Friday that understanding of long COVID and the options to treat it are emerging as long-term issues for global healthcare systems.

The review, published in the European Heart Journal, looks at the direct impacts of coronavirus infection, such as myocardial infarction or inflammatory myocarditis – severe heart conditions – and long-term effects such as fatigue and mental wellbeing.

"Long COVID is, besides its huge impact for the affected individual, of great societal and economic importance as it leads to leave of absence from work, reduced work performance and hence unforeseen costs," said Thomas Lüscher from the Royal Brompton and Harefield Clinical Group.

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