Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
(Reuters) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday that it would take up to three months to stabilise a worsening COVID-19 pandemic that has overwhelmed health facilities and forced the postponement of an upcoming leadership election.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* Scrapping COVID-19 tests and isolation periods in England could lead to rapid epidemic growth as people's behaviour changes more swiftly than at previous times in the pandemic, government advisers said in a document.
* Germany still expects to receive 1.4 million doses of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 21, the country's health minister said.
* Poland has made progress in talks with the European Commission on unblocking COVID-19 recovery funds, its prime minister said, adding that he believed an agreement could be reached.
* Police began towing trucks from central Ottawa and stepped up arrests of protesters in a bid to end a trucker-led movement that has blockaded Canada's capital for three weeks and embarrassed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government.
* Canada has passed the peak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and is now in a good shape to handle the pandemic in the future without needing to impose tougher restrictions, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said.
* Healthcare workers say misinformation is the single most important factor influencing people who refuse to get vaccinated while COVID-19 kills around 2,200 Americans a day, the majority of whom are unvaccinated.
* Attendees of the 94th Oscars ceremony in March will be required to show proof of vaccination and at least two negative results from PCR tests, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
* A Japanese health panel approved a plan for more targeted curbs across much of the nation, as new infections decline but deaths rise to a record level.
* China's state planner issued rules to promote a faster recovery from the pandemic in the services sector, including providing tax incentives to the catering, retail, tourism and aviation industries.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* The World Health Organization said six African countries - Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia - would be the first on the continent to receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines.
* Malaysian researchers found that treatment with the anti-parasite drug ivermectin did not prevent patients with COVID-19 from becoming severely ill in a randomised clinical trial published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.
* Moderna has applied for patents in South Africa relating to its COVID-19 vaccine, prompting fears among charities that the company could eventually seek to prevent a new African vaccine manufacturing hub from making its own version of the mRNA shot, although a Moderna spokeswoman said it did not plan to do so.
* British retail sales grew faster than expected in January, recovering about half the losses suffered when a wave of infections caused many shoppers to stay at home during December.
* Thailand's property market may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024 due to a slower-than-expected economic recovery amid a new outbreak and higher inflation, the research unit of a state home loan lender said.
(Compiled by Marta Frackowiak and Aditya Soni; Edited by Sriraj Kalluvila, Milla Nissi and Shounak Dasgupta)
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