What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Hong Kong “overwhelmed” as infections hit record

The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has “overwhelmed” Hong Kong, the city’s leader said on Monday, as daily cases have surged by some 20 times over the past two weeks, leaving hospitals short of beds and struggling to cope.

Carrie Lam, the head of the administration in the Chinese ruled city, issued a grim update for residents already subjected to tight restrictions on social gatherings as health authorities reported a record 2,071 infections on Monday, with 4,500 separate preliminary positive cases. read more

Taiwan says it needs to re-open

Taiwan aims to ease its strict COVID-19 quarantine policy from next month as it needs to gradually resume normal life and re-open to the world, the government said on Monday.

Since the pandemic began two years ago, Taiwan has succeeded in keeping reported cases of COVID-19 below 20,000, having enforced a blanket two-week quarantine for everyone arriving on the island even as large parts of the rest of the world have ditched theirs. read more

South Korea to start giving fourth doses of vaccine

South Korea will begin giving out fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines this month and supply millions of additional home test kits to ease shortages amid a surge in Omicron infections, authorities confirmed on Monday.

The surge has pushed daily cases to records, but widespread vaccination, with first booster shots received by more than 57% of the population of 52 million, has helped limit deaths and serious infections. read more

Vietnam won’t close factories amid COVID surge

Vehicles block the route leading from the Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor, as truckers and their supporters continue to protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

Vietnamese factories making everything from shoes to smartphones are expected to continue production despite record COVID-19 infections, reversing a policy of sweeping lockdowns last year that hobbled global supply chains for Western retailers.

One of the world’s biggest garment makers, Vietnam reported more than 26,000 new infections on Sunday, or about double the peak last year, when factories supplying brands such as Nike, Zara, Apple and Samsung were shut for months.

But unlike nine months ago, when the Delta variant was spreading through a mostly unvaccinated population, now millions of factory workers have been fully vaccinated and the Omicron variant is proving less severe, the government said. read more

Germany’s COVID case numbers drop

Coronavirus case numbers have slightly dropped in Germany, as the government plans to loosen coronavirus restrictions in Europe’s biggest economy.

Germany reported 76,465 new daily coronavirus cases on Monday, down 20% from the same day last week. The 7-day infection incidence per 100,000 people also fell to 1,460 from 1,467 on Sunday. read more

Sweden recommends fourth jab for the elderly

Sweden’s Health Agency recommended on Monday that people aged 80 or above should receive a second booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine, the fourth jab in total, to ward off waning immunity amid the rampant spread of the Omicron variant.

The recommendation also covered all people living in nursing homes or who receive assisted living services at home. The second booster shot should be administered at least four months after the first booster jab, the agency said in a statement. read more

Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Jan Harvey

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