COVID-19 cases soar in Asian hot spots; US gets new COVID czar

South Korea right now reported a large bounce in COVD-19 instances, which topped 600,000, as Omicron surges proceed in a handful of Asian sizzling spots.

In the meantime, in the USA, President Joe Biden right now named a brand new White Home COVID-19 coordinator to interchange Jeff Zients, who has held the place during the last 14 months.

Deaths stay low in South Korea

South Korea right now reported its highest single-day complete, which at 621,328, was up sharply from 400,714 the day past. Officers additionally reported a every day excessive for deaths, with 429 extra fatalities. Lee Sang-won, with the Korea Illness Management and Prevention Company, mentioned every day instances are monitoring far greater than officers anticipated, in accordance with Reuters.

The nation is thought for its robust public well being response, particularly contact tracing and testing. Although testing remains to be widespread, contact tracing and another measures have been scaled again. Officers will contemplate scaling again measures tomorrow.

Officers additionally mentioned excessive vaccine uptake, with 63% of individuals boosted, has restricted deaths.

Hong Kong struggles with excessive fatalities

In Hong Kong, the tempo of recent infections and deaths continued at a really excessive stage, with 21,650 new instances and 202 extra deaths. The nation is experiencing one of many world’s highest demise charges, partly linked to vaccine gaps in weak older teams.

Officers right now announced plans to scale up mortuary capability and pace the processing of our bodies. At present, 1,500 our bodies are saved in an expanded facility with room for two,300 our bodies.

Elsewhere, China—experiencing its largest spike in 2 years—reported 2,462 new cases, which embody 1,206 folks with asymptomatic infections. Nearly half of the brand new instances are from hard-hit Jilin province, particularly Jilin Metropolis. The entire province is presently on lockdown, and well being officers have been conducting rounds of mass testing.

In different international developments:

  • Africa’s vaccine uptake elevated 15% in January and February, as immunization packages ramped up in some bigger nations, the World Well being Group (WHO) African regional workplace said yesterday. At present, about 15% of the area’s grownup inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated, nicely behind different elements of the world, and officers mentioned vaccination wants to extend ninefold to succeed in the goal of vaccinating 70% of the inhabitants by June.
  • Italy right now introduced phased plans to wind down most of its restrictions, together with phasing out vaccine passes on Might 1, ending a color-coded regional danger system, requiring staff over 50 to be vaccinated, and indoor masking.
  • The United Nations-based Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) right now announced that it has signed agreements with 35 producers to make a generic model of Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 remedy Paxlovid, which is given with a low dose of ritonavir, to assist provide 95 low- and middle-income nations. The sublicenses observe a voluntary deal between MPP and Pfizer that was signed in November.

Jha to take pandemic response reins

President Biden right now named Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, the brand new White Home COVID-19 coordinator, changing Jeff Zients. In a statement, Biden credited Zients with managing the rollout of vaccines and boosters and placing the infrastructure in place to ship not solely vaccine, but additionally assessments, therapies, and masks.

“The progress that he and his staff have made is gorgeous and much more essential, consequential. Lives have been saved,” Biden mentioned.

Jha is dean of the Brown College College of Public Well being. Biden mentioned Jha is well-known amongst Individuals for his sensible and calming public presence and is ideal for the job, because the nation enters the subsequent phases of the pandemic, Biden mentioned.

Feds unveil air flow requirements

In different federal developments, the Biden Administration unveiled new requirements for air flow of faculties and companies. The guidance from the Environmental Safety Company (EPA), the primary to deal with air filtration in these settings, is an element the nation’s new COVID-19 plan.

In releasing the brand new steerage right now, the EPA issued a “Clear Air in Buildings Problem,” which focuses on making a clear indoor air motion plan, optimizing fresh-air air flow, enhancing air filtration and cleansing, and conducting group engagement.

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