Covid-19: Global news you need to know


Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Tokyo hospitalizations mount

More than half of Tokyo’s hospital beds set aside for Covid-19 patients were occupied on Tuesday, a level that officials have previously flagged as a criterion for requesting a state of emergency.

The capital and most of Japan are now under curbs to contain record coronavirus cases driven by the contagious Omicron variant.

Covid cases within ‘controllable range,’ says Olympics organizer

The Covid-19 situation at the Beijing Winter Olympics is within the “expected controllable range” despite increasing positive cases being detected, a senior official at China’s Olympics Pandemic Prevention and Control Office said on Tuesday.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Organizing Committee has reported 200 Covid cases since 23 January among airport arrivals and those in the Games “closed loop” bubble that separates all event personnel, including athletes, from the public.

Australian PM says his government was ‘too optimistic’

Australia’s prime minister faced up to criticism of his leadership on Tuesday, saying his government had been too optimistic about the impact of coronavirus vaccinations leading to disappointment and exhaustion when the Omicron variant hit.

Scott Morrison faces an approval rating falling to its lowest level in two years with an election due in four months and public confidence battered by widespread shortages of rapid antigen tests as Omicron cases surged past 1 million over the summer.

South Africa scraps isolation for Covid positive people with no symptoms

South Africa no longer requires those who test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms to isolate and has also reduced the isolation period for those with symptoms by three days, as the country exits its fourth wave of the coronavirus, a government statement said on Monday.

Following a special cabinet meeting held earlier to decide on the amendments, the country made the changes based on the trajectory of the pandemic and levels of vaccination, according to a press release issued by Mondli Gungubele, a minister in the presidency.

Romania daily Covid cases at new record high

The number of new coronavirus infections in Romania reached a record high of 40,018 in the past 24 hours, government data showed on Tuesday, with hospitalizations on the rise as the country’s vaccine uptake lags.

Romania is the European Union’s second-least vaccinated country after Bulgaria, with roughly 41% of the population fully inoculated, reflecting mistrust in state institutions and poor vaccine education.

Britain adds possible reinfections to case numbers

Britain has started counting possible COVID-19 reinfections in its daily coronavirus data, changing its approach to reflect the increased number of people catching the disease for a second time as the Omicron variant predominates.

The UK Health Security Agency added around 840,000 cases to the cumulative total, taking it to 17.3 million coronavirus infections reported.

Huge volumes of Covid hospital waste threaten health

Discarded syringes, used test kits and old vaccine bottles from the Covid-19 pandemic have piled up to create tens of thousands of tons of medical waste, threatening human health and the environment, a World Health Organization report said on Tuesday.

The material, a portion of which could be infectious since coronavirus can survive on surfaces, potentially exposes health workers to burns, needle-stick injuries and disease-causing germs, the report said.