Biden forms task force, faces criticism over surge: virus update

Beijing reported the first case of the omicron variant in the city just three weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics. The strain was also found in Shanghai.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner opposes the offer of new subsidies for Covid-19 measures, he told Welt am Sonntag.

India has extended a ban on campaign rallies, with five states due to go to the polls from February 10. New cases in Indonesia hit a three-month high.

  • Virus Tracker: Cases exceed 323.8 million; deaths exceed 5.5 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: more than 9.66 billion vaccines administered
  • From pandemic to endemic: can 2022 succeed where 2021 failed?
  • Omicron’s surge gives bosses a reason to order hits Biden now can’t
  • Chaos at Hong Kong quarantine camp leaves some inmates trapped
  • Canada is playing a dangerous game by demanding that American truckers have shots

Indonesia Cases Hit 3-Month High (9 a.m. NY)

Indonesia reported 1,054 new infections on Saturday, the most since Oct. 13, on the spread of the omicron variant. More than 4.2 million people in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy have tested positive for the coronavirus, government data shows.

President Joko Widodo has decided to provide free booster shots, as well as restricting government officials and their families from traveling abroad, in a bid to slow the rate of infection.

India extends ban on campaign rallies (9 a.m. NY)

India has extended a ban on campaign rallies until January 22 as new infections soar. Five Indian states will go to the polls from February 10.

The country reported 268,833 new infections on Saturday. At the height of the outbreak last year, daily cases had passed the 400,000 mark.

US Vaccine Push Weakens (8:30 a.m. NY)

The number of new people receiving the Covid-19 vaccine is at one of the lowest points since the rollout began, according to a review of the latest US government data.

Beijing Reports Omicron Case 3 Weeks Before Winter Olympics (7:46 a.m. NY)

Beijing reported the first case of the omicron variant in the city, adding pressure on authorities less than three weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics.

Cases of Omicron were confirmed earlier in Shanghai and Guangdong province.

German Finance Minister Rejects New Financial Support (5:32 a.m. NY)

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner opposes the offer of new financial aid for Covid-19 measures, Welt am Sonntag reports.

“We have become accustomed to high state payments during the pandemic. This phase must end,” he told the newspaper in an interview. Lindner also said he was against paying a vaccination “premium” to people still reluctant to get vaccinated.

Germany reported a record seven-day incidence rate of 497 per 100,000 in the 24 hours to Saturday, according to the country’s public health authority, RKI.

RKI had earlier reported a drop in new Covid cases.

UK Government Set to Abandon England’s ‘Plan B’ (5 a.m. NY)

The UK government is set to lift some virus restrictions in England from January 26, the Telegraph reports. The move, which could be announced this week, could include an end to Covid passports and advice on working from home, the newspaper said, without giving details. Some rules regarding the use of face masks will likely remain in place.

Hong Kong Reports Five New Cases Amid Stricter Rules (4:54 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong has reported five new cases of the coronavirus, including four of the omicron variant, as the city enters its second week of heightened social distancing rules.

Two of the newly infected people were linked to locally known clusters and three were imported cases, the Center for Health Protection said Saturday. An aircraft cleaning staff member was one of 10 preliminary positive cases reported, he said.

Hong Kong plans to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11 from next week with the vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Co., Civil Service Chief Patrick Nip told local radio, RTHK reported earlier. The city plans to extend the BioNTech SE jab offer in February after the Lunar New Year, RTHK said.

Uganda Destroys Expired Virus Injections (4:43 p.m. HK)

Uganda will destroy more than 400,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines after they expire following low usage in the northern region of the country, the Saturday Monitor newspaper reported.

The vaccines were mainly manufactured by Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, the Kampala-based newspaper reported, citing Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng.

Tokyo Covid Cases Top 4,000 Again (4:24 p.m. HK)

Tokyo reported 4,561 cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, topping 4,000 for a second day as the highly contagious omicron variant spread across Japan.

It is the highest number of cases since August 26, when the capital was in a virus emergency. The seven-day case average rose to 2,427 from 502 a week ago, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The recent outbreak prompted the Japanese capital to raise its Covid alert to the second-highest level of four levels this week. Japan has also placed three other areas under near-emergency, allowing local authorities to impose restrictions on businesses like bars and restaurants. Japan is seeing few Covid-related deaths, although hospital admissions are increasing.

Philippines Adds 39,004 New Infections (4:02 p.m. HK)

The Philippines added 39,004 new cases, fueling fears of a return to stricter movement restrictions.

The new cases brought the total number of infections in the country to 3.17 million. There were 43 additional deaths, according to data released on Saturday.

Dogs Can Detect Long Covid in Humans (1:26 p.m. HK)

Dogs are able to detect infection in some long-lasting Covid patients, suggesting that a simple, non-invasive test may be possible to detect the presence of the virus, according to a study conducted in France.

The study showed that dogs can detect volatile organic compounds for up to a year and a half after the initial phase of Covid-19, the researchers said in the preprint published on The study has not been peer reviewed.

Australian Regulator Reviewing Potential Use of Novavax (12:47 p.m. HK)

Australia’s pharmaceutical regulator is evaluating the vaccine from Novavax Inc., with a decision on whether to approve it for use there likely within the next 10 days, Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.

The decision comes as authorities are stepping up vaccinations for teenagers and urging people aged 16 and over to get vaccinated to ease pressure on the country’s health system.

New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, recorded 48,768 new Covid-19 infections and 20 related deaths on Saturday. Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament in its capital Melbourne, has recorded 25,526 new infections and 23 deaths. Authorities expect infections to peak later this month or early February.

Biden team appeals Texas block on health workers’ tenure (9:37 a.m. HK)

The Biden administration is appealing a federal court block on the mandate to vaccinate health workers in Texas, the only state that doesn’t have to comply with the rule after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it could move forward in the rest of the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday filed a notice of appeal of a preliminary injunction granted Dec. 15 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. HHS also requested a stay of the injunction pending its appeal to the Fifth Circuit.

Deadline set for healthcare workers in 24 states (8:02 a.m. HK)

Medical facilities in two dozen states affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Biden administration’s Covid vaccination mandate for health care workers have until March 15 to have their employees fully vaccinated, according to published guidelines. Friday.

Injunctions had prevented the mandate from taking effect in those states, prompting many facilities to suspend efforts to implement the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirement. The High Court lifted these injunctions on Thursday.

Friday’s guidelines affect more than 10 million workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities who receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. That’s a later date than allotted to healthcare facilities in 25 states that weren’t involved in the litigation that reached the Supreme Court. They have until January 27 to receive their first doses and until February 28 to be fully vaccinated.

Australia Says Djokovic Poses Public Risk (7:42 a.m. HK)

Tennis star Novak Djokovic’s entry permit to Australia has been canceled because his presence risks heightening anti-vaccination sentiment and creating a risk to public order, according to court documents.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has banned the world’s No. 1 tennis player, despite saying Djokovic entered with a valid medical exemption to get vaccinated and himself posed negligible risk to the health.

Its continued presence “could lead to increased anti-vaccination sentiment being generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to increased civil unrest,” Hawke said in the filing.

GE Shuts Down, Honeywell Maintains Vaccine Policy (7:02 a.m. HK)

General Electric Co. is suspending implementation of the Biden administration’s vaccine or test mandate for large employers, while another industrial heavyweight, Honeywell International Inc., will stick to its policy.

The Boston-based maker of jet engines, wind turbines and medical scanners confirmed its decision Friday via email. GE is the first major company to end its policy after the Supreme Court blocked the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s efforts to boost Covid-19 vaccinations.

Still, the court ruling had no effect on a workplace vaccination mandate at Honeywell, the Charlotte, Arizona-based maker of automation equipment and aircraft parts said Friday via email. North Carolina.

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