Falling liveability in Hong Kong; Airline Bankruptcy: Virus Update

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US health officials have recalled their threshold for masking recommendations. The guidelines said the federal government is prioritizing protecting hospitals and vulnerable people over general infection prevention.

Students in New York public schools won’t have to wear masks outside when they return from a winter break on Monday, the first step in what Mayor Eric Adams said was a plan to relax mandates across the city.

More than 10% of European Union citizens living in Hong Kong have left the city, according to the European Union Office for Hong Kong and Macao, as its strict Covid Zero measures continue to frustrate the locals.

US Loosens Mask Guidelines (3:50 p.m. NY)

US health officials have recalled their threshold for masking recommendationsa signal that the federal government is entering a new phase in its response to the pandemic that prioritizes protecting hospitals and vulnerable people over general infection prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday introduced a new three-tier system for ranking local Covid-19 risks. In areas with low virus risks, officials said most people can do without masks in indoor public places such as restaurants or shopping malls.

The recommendations also apply to schools – the first update to school guidance since July 2021. While the CDC previously recommended masks for schools regardless of community risk level, the updated recommendation concerns a requirement only in high-risk areas.

Colorado urges vaccinated to throw away masks (3:10 p.m. NY)

Senior Colorado health officials are encouraging vaccinated residents “to go beyond the pandemicand get rid of their masks after two years of Covid-19, Gov. Jared Polis said Friday.

“It feels like 10 years instead of two years,” Polis told a news conference, calling for a return to normalcy. Unlike previous briefings, neither Polis nor his advisers wore masks.

“We’re in a really good place,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment. An estimated 90% of state residents are immune to the omicron variant and 81% have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Ryan said.

Singapore’s new cases fall for day three (11:20 a.m. NY)

Singapore’s new local cases have fallen for the third day in a row after hitting a record high earlier this week, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health.

The Southeast Asian financial hub found 18,383 new local infections as of midday on Friday, including those detected by rapid tests, compared with 18,434 the day before.

The city-state’s local cases hit a new high of 25,731 on February 22 and the Health Ministry expects it could be a few weeks before the wave of transmission peaks.

EU regulator suggests recall after 3 months (9:29 a.m. NY)

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use has recommended reducing the interval between primary doses and booster doses of Spikevax from six to three months. It also recommended authorizing the use of Moderna’s vaccine as a booster dose in people who have already had a primary vaccination with another mRNA vaccine or an adenoviral vector vaccine.

NYC to Relax School Mask Mandate (8:37 a.m. NY)

Students in New York public schools won’t have to wear masks outside when they return from a winter break on Monday, the first step in what Mayor Eric Adams said was a plan to relax mandates across the city.

Masks will still be required indoors for all students, staff and visitors to the largest school system in the United States, which has approximately 1 million students. Adams said he was eager to lift all of the city’s mask and vaccine mandates, but would “follow the science” and only do so at the suggestion of city health officials.

Swedish Investigation Fails Initial Response (6:49 a.m. NY)

Sweden’s initial response to the pandemic was partly misguided and slow, according to the findings of a government-appointed commission.

However, the commission’s final report concluded that the country had fared relatively well during the pandemic. Sweden was one of the countries in Europe with the lowest level of excess mortality in 2020 and 2021, despite a policy that avoided many of the harsh restrictions elsewhere on the continent.

Germany Warns Pandemic Not Over (5:44 a.m. NY)

The pandemic is not over and Germany is still struggling with rising case rates among high-risk groups, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Friday in Berlin.

Germany will face problems in the fall if it does not increase its vaccination rates, especially among its elderly population, Lauterbach said.

EU expats leaving Hong Kong (5:48 p.m. HK)

More than 10% of European Union citizens living in Hong Kong have left townaccording to the European Union Office in Hong Kong and Macao, as its strict Covid Zero measures continue to frustrate residents while the rest of the world adjusts to life with the virus.

The exodus has been happening over the past year, Chinese newspaper Ming Pao reported on Friday. The EU office has conveyed the concerns of expats and the business community to the Hong Kong government over flight bans and travel restrictions, school closures, prolonged quarantine at government facilities and separation children, he said in a statement Thursday.

Hong Kong cases rise again (5:40 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong reported 21,979 cases on Friday as authorities scramble to contain the city the worst epidemic of all time and residents are preparing for mandatory mass testing next month that is expected to uncover even more infections.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong, once known as the world’s freest economy and the “Global City of Asia”, is now second only in pakistan as the worst place to live during covid. The city saw its ranking drop to 52nd on Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking.

American Loose Mask Guide;  Slow Singapore cases: virus update

New Delhi Eases Restrictions (5:05 p.m. HK)

India’s capital today lifted most of its Covid restrictions – although mask-wearing remains in effect. All schools in the city will fully switch to in-person instruction from April 1, New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a Twitter post. India has seen some of the longest school closures in the world and most continue to offer hybrid options.

Vegan Vaccine (11:50 a.m. HK)

The world’s first plant-derived Covid vaccine has been erased for use in Canada, creating a new vaccine to fight the virus from a unit of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. and Philip Morris International.

The vaccine named Covifenz was jointly developed by Medicago Inc., a biopharmaceutical company owned by Mitsubishi Chemical and Philip Morris and based in Quebec, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc. It will be available to adults ages 18 to 64, Health Canada said in a statement.

Epidemic in China Grows (9:30 a.m. HK)

The epidemic in China continued to swell, particularly in the northern part of the country, as Inner Mongolia detected 30 new cases and Liaoning province found 18. A total of 82 national transmissions were found in Friday. more than half of China’s provinces, according to the National Health Commission. There were 22 additional infected people who did not show symptoms. Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the pathogen first emerged more than two years ago, appears to have successfully fought off a surge after reporting more than 20 cases recently.

Covid Leads to Rise in Orphans, Study Says (7:30 a.m. HK)

At least 5.2 million children have lost a parent or caregiver to Covid, putting them at risk of poverty, exploitation and abuse and highlighting the lasting scars of the pandemic, a study shows.

More than 1.2 million children under the age of nine were orphaned between March 2020 and October last year, along with 2.1 million children between the ages of 10 and 17, according to a new modeling study released in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.



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