South Korea reported a record high in daily Covid-19 cases, sparking a surge in the Omicron version of the virus. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 38,691 new cases of the virus on Monday, a nine-fold increase from levels seen in mid-January, when Omicron became the country’s leading strain.
The country’s top infectious disease expert, Jeong Eun-kyeong, warned that South Korea could see a daily jump of 130,000 or 170,000 by the end of February.
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has strained the country’s health and administrative resources.
Australia to reopen borders to vaccinated tourists
Australia is set to reopen its borders to all vaccinated travelers from 21 February. Australia imposed some of the toughest travel restrictions in the world in March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his senior ministers agreed that the border would reopen to all immunization visa holders from February 21.
Morrison said visitors must have proof of vaccination. The Australian prime minister referred to the incident last month, when the Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic was deported by the Australian governmentT because he was not vaccinated.
German states prepare to open despite surge in COVID cases
Several German states are planning to ease coronavirus restrictions despite rising infections. Germany reported 95,267 new daily cases on Monday, a 22 percent increase from the same day last week. However, the seven-day hospitalization rate dropped to 5.4 per 100,000, the lowest in more than two months.
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Officials in the southern state of Bavaria said the state was lifting a night-time curfew on restaurants and would further ease restrictions on sporting and cultural events.
Similarly, Brandenburg is due to make a decision on Tuesday about easing restrictions in retail, and may allow some stores without masks to enter. Other regions, such as Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, announced easing restrictions last week.
US urges citizens to avoid travel to Japan, Cuba
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised against travel to six countries—Japan, Cuba, Libya, Armenia, Oman and the Democratic Republic of Congo—in a spike in Covid-19 cases.
The CDC now lists more than 130 countries and territories with COVID-19 cases as “Level Four: Very High.” It lists more than 50 countries as “level three: high,” discouraging non-essential travel by unvaccinated Americans.
China closes city on Vietnam border
China has imposed strict restrictions in its southwestern city of Bice to fight the growing local infection of Kovid-19. Residents have been asked to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.
Bice has a population of about 3.6 million and borders Vietnam. The Chinese authorities have implemented strict guidelines to prevent any flare-up immediately.
(with inputs from AP, Reuters)
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