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Covid pandemic: All you need to know about major developments around the world in the past 24 hours

USA

he Biden administration has asked a federal appeals court to lift a court-ordered stay on a sweeping workplace Covid-19 vaccine rule to avoid serious harm to public health, or alternatively to allow a masking-and-testing requirement.

The administration said in its filing that if the ruling remained, it should at least be modified to allow the masking-and-testing requirement. A modified stay would also shield employers from state and local laws banning vaccine and mask mandates, the administration said.

Top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday the vast majority of Americans who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 should receive a booster shot, and that an additional dose could eventually become the country’s standard for determining who is fully vaccinated. To date, about 33 million Americans have received a booster dose.

As for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, which started with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine earlier this month, Fauci said there is no sign of any new safety issues. “There is no signal at all,” Fauci said.

EUROPE

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said a further 700,000 people could die from Covid-19 in Europe by March, taking the total to above 2.2 million, as it urged people to get vaccinated and to have booster shots. Covid-19 is now the top regional cause of death.

Total cumulative deaths from the respiratory disease in the 53 countries of the WHO’s European region have already surpassed 1.5 million, it said, with the daily rate doubling from late September to 4,200 a day. The WHO’s European region also includes Russia and other former Soviet republics as well as Turkey.

SOUTH KOREA

South Korea reported a new daily record of 4,116 coronavirus cases for Tuesday, as the country battles to contain a spike in serious cases requiring hospitalisation, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum called on health authorities to classify the patients accordingly based on the severity of the symptoms and make use of self-treatment options for mild or asymptomatic cases. Less than 20pc were treating themselves at home last week, Kim said. Despite the increase in hospitalisation rate, the country’s mortality rate remains relatively low at 0.79pc.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand will keep its borders closed to most international travellers for a further five months, the government said on Wednesday, outlining a cautious easing of border curbs that have been in place since Covid-19 hit in March 2020. Fully vaccinated international travellers will be allowed to enter the country from April 30, 2022 onwards, with the re-opening staged over time, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a news conference.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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