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Covid-19: Chinese cities on alert ahead of Lunar New Year & Cathay Pacific in hot water

ThePrint brings you some important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic.

File photo of pedestrians walking down a road in Shanghai on the day of the Lunar New Year last year. | Photo: Qilai Shen | Bloomberg
File photo of pedestrians walking down a road in Shanghai on the day of the Lunar New Year last year. | Photo: Qilai Shen | Bloomberg

New Delhi: The Covid-19 pandemic continues to raise concerns globally, especially with the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, Omicron, fuelling a fresh surge in cases around the world. The total number of Covid cases reported globally has touched 328,926,347, with 5,558,861 deaths.

In Northern Ireland, teachers have been absent in half of the schools due to Covid-related reasons, while Chinese cities are on high alert ahead of the country’s Lunar New Year celebrations. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s flagship airline is in trouble over breach in Covid protocol.

ThePrint brings you some important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese cities on Covid alert ahead of Lunar New Year

Chinese cities, including Luoyang, Jieyang and Yulin, are on high alert for Covid-19 ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Reuters reported Monday.

Typically, millions of people travel around China on the occasion — to be celebrated on 1 February this year — but certain cities will now require travellers to report their trips days before their arrival, as the Omicron variant spreads in many areas of the country, including in capital Beijing.

Last week, Beijing and Shenzhen each detected one domestically transmitted Omicron case.

China has so far registered 105,087 Covid cases and 4,636 deaths.

Covid keeps teachers away from half of Northern Ireland’s schools 

Over half of teachers in schools in Northern Ireland were absent due to coronavirus or self-isolation during the first full week of term, the BBC reported Monday.

Staff absence rates were higher across primary and special schools and some institutions have reported difficulty getting substitute teachers when staff are off.

According to data from the Department of Education, one in every 13 teachers in primary and special schools was absent due to Covid-related reasons between 10 and 14 January. A minority of schools have also had to send some classes home for remote learning on specific days due to staff absences.

The UK, of which Northern Ireland is a part, has registered 15,217,280 cases and 151,987 deaths.

Israel Health Minister pushes for 5-day isolation period for Covid

Israel Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz has requested senior ministry officials to shorten the isolation period for people infected with Covid-19 from seven days to five, Haaretz reported Sunday.

Three weeks ago, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it was cutting the isolation period for asymptomatic patients to five days.

Top health bodies have in Israel have advocated easing of isolation rules. The Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians has suggested that patients not be required to isolate unless they showed symptoms, were at risk of serious illness, or had had contact with a high-risk population.

Israel has registered 1,792,137 Covid cases and 8,318 deaths so far.

Cathay Pacific accused of aiding Omicron spread in Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship airline, has been accused of contributing to the spread of the Omicron variant in the island city after at least 50 people tested positive for the highly transmissible variant last week, The Guardian reported Monday.

Two crew members of the carrier allegedly broke their home quarantine by going shopping or meeting friends. As cases increased, published infection flow charts marked cases with the airline’s brand. Meanwhile, the government has launched inquiries and threatened legal action against the company.

The airline was described as “a very big noncompliance case” by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam last Tuesday, and accused of sending some crew members back to the territory on empty cargo flights to access shorter quarantine periods.

The carrier had just come off a government ban on flying key international routes as punishment for carrying Covid-positive passengers.

Hong Kong has registered 13,041 Covid cases and 213 deaths so far.

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