| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Coronavirus digest: Australia’s New South Wales sees first omicron death

The first death from the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the most populous state of New South Wales, Australia, has ben confirmed today, Monday.
The death was of a man in his 80s who contracted the virus at a care home in western Sydney. He was fully inoculated but had other health issues.
On Monday, the state saw 6,324 new cases of COVID-19 infection, a dip from the record number of cases a day before.
Fresh restrictions went into force in New South Wales on Monday, including a cap of one person per 2 square meters (about 21 square feet) in bars and restaurants and mandatory “check-ins” with QR codes in all hospitality venues.
Cases of local symptomatic infections in China were on the rise again on Monday, with most recorded in the country’s latest hot spot of Xian.
The northwestern city is in its fifth day of a lockdown.
China reported 162 new infections with confirmed symptoms, against 158 a day earlier.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong has suspended Korean Air flights for two weeks, the company said on Monday.
The decision came after some Korean Air passengers traveling from South Korea to Hong Kong tested positive upon landing last week.
The suspension is set to last until January 8.
South Korea has approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pills, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said on Monday.
The drug, called Paxlovid, is “expected to help prevent serious deterioration of patients” and diversify COVID-19 treatments, drug safety minister Kim Gang-lip told the media. The pills will be used for patients aged 12 and above with mild to moderate symptoms who are deemed to be at high risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.
In Germany, tighter curbs will take effect in four states on Monday with the rest of the country set to toughen restrictions on Tuesday.
Contacts in private and public life will further be restricted as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads.
Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will be put under the new rules on Monday.
Germany reported 13,908 new coronavirus infections on Monday and 69 more deaths
The seven-day incidence rose to 222.7 from 220.7 the previous day. The figure indicates how many people per 100,000 population have been infected with the virus in the past seven days.
Stricter coronavirus measures are also set to be imposed in the Czech Republic on Monday, after the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency expired on Saturday.
Under the new restrictions, it would be mandatory for travelers entering the Czech Republic from other EU nations to produce a negative COVID-19 test before crossing the border, even if they are vaccinated or have recovered from the infection.
Only those who have received a booster dose and unvaccinated children below the age of 12 are exempted from the testing mandate.
Middle East
In Oman, employees will not be permitted to enter their workplace — private or public — without a vaccine certificate that indicates they are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, the sultanate’s health minister told the media on Monday.
It will also be mandatory for foreign travelers of age 18 and above, entering Oman, to have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 jab.
After a recent flight from Seattle to Shanghai was told to turn around and return to Seattle, Delta Air Lines said the midair maneuver was prompted by new pandemic-related cleaning requirements at a Shanghai airport.
The US company did not provide details, but said that the new mandates at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport “require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta.”