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Lebanon kicks off vaccination, New Zealand no longer virus-free & other global Covid news

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up, ThePrint highlights the most important stories on the crisis from across the globe.

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New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on across the globe — the latest count being 10.9 crore infections and over 2.4 lakh deaths.

With New Zealand no longer Covid-free, Australia suspends quarantine-free travel with the country. South Africa is set to reopen its borders a month after they were shut down when a new coronavirus variant was detected, while Israel notes a trend in the age among new coronavirus cases.

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

Lebanon starts vaccination drive amid economic woes

Lebanon kicked off its vaccination drive against Covid-19 Sunday, reports Al Jazeera. This comes as the country grapples with an economic crisis and is still reeling from a devastating explosion at Beirut’s port last year that killed nearly 200 people and destroyed large parts of the capital.

The first person to get the shot was Mahmoud Hassoun, the head of the intensive care unit at the largest Lebanese public hospital located on Beirut’s outskirts, Rafik Hariri Hospital. The second was 93-year-old comedian Salah Tizani, better known by his stage name Abu Salim.

Lebanon has reported 3.3 lakh cases and nearly 4,000 deaths

South Africa to reopen borders 

South Africa is set to reopen 20 of its land border crossings that were shut last month to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, reports BBC.

The government announced Saturday that borders with Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini would be opened. Those seeking to cross the borders must produce proof of negative Covid-19 tests recently taken, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said over the weekend.

On 11 January, South Africa shut its borders with neighbouring countries after the emergence of a new variant of Covid-19.

South Africa has registered 14 lakh cases and over 47,000 deaths.

Also read: Pfizer vaccine can neutralise Covid variants first reported in UK, South Africa, study says

Australia suspends quarantine-free travel with New Zealand

Australia has suspended quarantine-free travel with New Zealand after the detection of three new cases in Auckland sent the city into lockdown, reports Reuters. This comes over a month after the first international quarantine-free flight from New Zealand landed in Brisbane.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday the latest cases were a variant of the virus more transmissible than the one first detected in the UK.

On Sunday, Australia’s Department of Health declared all flights originating in New Zealand to be classified as “Red Zone” flights for an initial period of 72 hours from Monday. All people arriving during this period will be required to undergo 14 days of supervised hotel quarantine, said the agency.

New Zealand has reported three new Covid-19 cases after eliminating local transmission of the virus almost two months ago. The country’s figures from onset of the pandemic are 2,336 cases and 25 deaths.

75% of new Covid cases in Israel found in people under 39

Seventy-five per cent of the new coronavirus cases in Israel are of people under 39 years of age, according to a report by Israel’s Coronavirus Information Center published Sunday, reports Haaretz.

The report also found that 15 per cent of patients in a serious condition are 39 years or younger, a statistic that has steadily increased since December 2020.

Also, the majority of new cases are increasing among younger demographics where 38 percent of new infections are in people aged 19 years or younger. This could be due to the spread of several new coronavirus variants and the fact that a lower number of young people are being vaccinated in Israel, states Haaretz.

So far, Israel has reported 7.2 lakh cases and 5,388 deaths.

Hong Kong residents test ahead of relaxation of Covid norms

A majority of Hong Kong’s community testing centres are fully booked through Wednesday, with queues spotted outside some locations, reports the South China Morning Post.

Wednesday will be the last day before restrictions, including a ban on dining in restaurants after 6 pm, are expected to be lifted. Gyms and cinemas are also expected to open their doors again.

The stringent social-distancing measures were put in place last November following a fourth wave of infections after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Hong Kong has reported 10,780 cases, 193 deaths and 10,185 recoveries.

What else we are reading:

Demand for detached houses rose in Covid lockdown, says Halifax: The Guardian

Covid-19: The U.S. Has Its Own New Worrisome Variants: The New York Times

Also read: Qatar approves emergency use of Moderna shot, Hong Kong to ease restrictions & other Covid news


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