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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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

People with health issues or inactivated vaccine should get COVID-19 booster – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended on Thursday that people who are immuno-compromised or received an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine should receive a booster dose to protect against waning immunity.

With vaccination rates worryingly low in much of the developing world, the WHO has said in recent months that administering primary doses – rather than boosters – should be a priority.

U.S. campaign to vaccinate young children off to sluggish start

The United States rushed millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for children aged 5-11 across the nation, but demand for inoculations for younger kids has been low, more than a dozen state public health officials and physicians said.

Of the 28 million eligible U.S. children in that age group, around 5 million have received at least one dose, according to federal data, likely satisfying initial pent-up demand from parents who were waiting to vaccinate their kids.

Britain implores people: obey COVID rules

Britain on Thursday implored people to obey tougher restrictions to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant after revelations about alleged lockdown parties at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s residence provoked an outcry over hypocrisy.

Johnson imposed restrictions on England on Wednesday, just hours after apologising for a video showing staff laughing about a party in Downing Street during a 2020 Christmas COVID lockdown when such festivities were banned.

China approves Brii Biosciences antibody treatment

China’s medical products regulator said on Wednesday it had approved the use of Brii Biosciences’ neutralising antibody cocktail for COVID-19, the first treatment of its type against the virus given the go-ahead in the country.

The combination of BRII-196/BRII-198 showed a 80% reduction of hospitalisation and deaths in non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients at high risk of developing severe disease, based on final results from a Phase III clinical trial, Brii said in a statement on Thursday.

India’s Serum Institute let Africa down on vaccines, says Africa CDC

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, let Africa down by pulling out of talks to supply COVID-19 vaccines, creating distrust that has affected demand, the head of the Africa Centre for Disease Control said on Thursday.

John Nkengasong denounced recent comments from Serum that uptake of its COVID-19 shots had slowed because of low demand from Africa and vaccine hesitancy, saying the real problem was that Serum had acted unprofessionally.

S.Korea parents protest over student vaccine pass mandate

Several parents associations in South Korea held protests on Thursday against a vaccine pass mandate for children aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 among teenagers.

From February, those aged 12 or older will have to show a vaccine pass to enter public spaces, including private tuition centres, libraries and study cafes. The exemption age is currently 17 years.

Austria to announce details of planned vaccine mandate

Austria’s government is due to announce details on Thursday of a plan to make coronavirus vaccines compulsory, which according to officials will include a minimum age of at least 14 and a maximum fine of $4,000, but not prison, for hold-outs.

While some countries have introduced vaccine requirements for parts of their populations like health workers, Austria is the first European Union member state to announce a general requirement.

 

(Compiled by Linda Noakes;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Nova Scotia reports 68 people in hospital because of COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia has reported that 68 people are in hospital because of COVID-19, including 10 in intensive care.

A news release from the province Sunday said the patients are receiving specialized care in a COVID-19 designated unit.

The average age of the patients admitted for COVID-19 is 65, the release states. The majority of the patients, 65, were admitted during the Omicron wave. 

There are also two other groups currently in hospital related to the virus, according to the release.

  • 60 people who were identified as positive upon arrival but were admitted for another medical reason, or were admitted for COVID-19 but no longer require specialized care
  • 112 people who contracted COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital.

The abbreviated release did not provide the number of COVID-19 admissions and discharges. 

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,711 tests on Saturday and 696 new cases have been reported.

There are 447 cases in the central health zone, 108 in the eastern zone, 105 in the western zone and 36 in the northern zone.

Less than than 10 per cent of Nova Scotians are unvaccinated, according to provincial statistics.

As of Friday’s update, unvaccinated Nova Scotians were about four times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than someone with two doses of vaccine. That is based on average hospitalizations since the province started releasing the daily hospitalizations by vaccine status on Jan. 4.

Summary offence tickets

Halifax Regional Police issued 11 summary offence tickets Sunday for violations of health regulations.

Police responded to reports of a party at a Bayers Road residence shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Tickets were issued to 11 occupants for failing to comply with provisions of the Health Protection Act. 

The tickets carry a fine of $2,422.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported one death and 384 new cases Sunday. There are 5,503 active cases and 12 hospitalizations. 
  • Prince Edward Island reported five hospitalizations Saturday. There were 309 new cases and 222 recoveries in Saturday’s report.
  • New Brunswick reported four more deaths and 115 hospitalizations Sunday. The province has 5,265 active cases.
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UK’s Johnson plans to scrap COVID-19 self-isolation law – The Telegraph

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The United Kingdom is drawing up plans under which people will not be legally bound to self-isolate after catching COVID-19, The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to permanently revoke emergency coronavirus laws as Britain’s COVID-19 cases continue to fall, the report said, adding official guidance would remain but would not result in fines or legal punishment if ignored.

The plans will be worked up over the coming weeks, with an announcement expected as early as the spring, the report said.

Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said COVID-19 self-isolation in England will be cut to five days from seven if someone tests negative twice.

Johnson is also set to lift Plan B COVID-19 restrictions, introduced last month to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, according to an earlier Telegraph report.

 

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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'Choose increased antibodies over brand': Moderna appointments still being cancelled in London, Ont. area – CTV News London

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Doctors and pharmacists continue to advocate for people to get the first available mRNA vaccine for their COVID-19 booster dose.

“We have had some feedback that appointments are being canceled because people are holding out for Pfizer,” says Dr. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Southwestern Public Health (SWPH).

“I strongly strongly urge everyone, particularly those over the age of 50, to choose increased antibodies over brand,” she added.

Lock made those statements during her weekly briefing on Jan 12.

“Our immunity following our original two doses is decreasing over time,” says Lock. “Our bodies don’t care what brand they receive. They follow the science, not the manufacturer. Studies show that immunity shoots back up after the booster and it doesn’t matter which brand.”

This week, First Ave. Pharmacy in St. Thomas, Ont. took to Facebook saying it had openings due to people refusing Moderna as a booster dose.“We send out a mass email saying that there’s a shortage of Pfizer and we might have to offer them Moderna and some people would cancel their appointment online or they would call us and cancel their appointments,” says Minh Nguyen, pharmacist at First Ave. Pharmacy. “Both Moderna and Pfizer are mRNA vaccines and equally effective at preventing severe illness from COVID. So I would say get whatever mRNA vaccine you can.”

Sunday, the Metrolinx Go-VAXX bus returned to London, Ont. It was stationed in the parking lot at the new East Lions Community Centre on Brydges St.

They had some appointments booked, but we were even taking walk-ins with Pfizer being administered.

“I’ve had Pfizer for my first two shots and that’s what I preferred,” says Michael Sean MacVoy, a truck driver getting his booster. “At this point, I didn’t care.”

Diane Crozman was in the same scenario, getting Pfizer a third time. “It doesn’t really make a difference to me,” she said. “They said the Moderna is going to work the same, but Pfizer that’s good because I’ve already got the other two Pfizer.”

Justin Seaward showed up for a walk-in booster, minutes after his wife went home from her booked appointment.

“I’ve had Pfizer, Moderna, then Pfizer now,” says Seaward. “It didn’t really make a difference much to me. I just wanted to be Vaxxed so I can feel safer for my family.”The Middlesex-London Paramedic Service (MLPS) had administered 2,194 doses of vaccine over the past six days since starting pop-up clinics in Middlesex County.

The percentage of people upset that Moderna was being administered is very low.

“It has happened a few times at the front door, but very rare,” says Miranda Bothwell, acting superintendent for special operations with MLPS.

They will be back on the road, continuing their pop-up clinic tour Monday in Lucan, Ont. 

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