What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Patients wearing face masks rest at a makeshift treatment area outside a hospital, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Patients wearing face masks rest at a makeshift treatment area outside a hospital, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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

Hong Kong urges calm as residents fret over COVID measures

Any decision to impose a COVID-19 lockdown in Hong Kong will take into account the global financial hub's status and ensure basic needs, the government said on Wednesday, urging anxious residents who thronged supermarkets this week to stay calm.

Authorities reported a daily record of 55,353 new infections, with 117 deaths in the Chinese-ruled city. Infections have surged more than 500 times from about 100 cases a day at the beginning of February.

Japan set to extend COVID curbs

Japan prepared on Wednesday to extend infection controls in some regions amid high numbers of hospital patients hit by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The central government has received requests from five prefectures, including Osaka and Kyoto in western Japan, to extend measures set to expire on Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

Biden announces new COVID initiative that gives Americans free pills

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday his administration has launched an initiative that will allow Americans to get tested for COVID-19 at a pharmacy and immediately receive free pills if they test positive.

"We're launching the 'Test to Treat' initiative so people can get tested at a pharmacy, and if they're positive, receive antiviral pills on the spot, at no cost," Biden said during his State of the Union speech.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday warned people against the use of unauthorized versions of certain COVID-19 rapid antigen tests currently being marketed in the United States.

Two years after world's biggest lockdown, India surges back to normal life

Almost two years after India went into the world's biggest lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, students headed back to school in Maharashtra state on Wednesday, a sign of normal life resuming as infection rates fall.

India's daily coronavirus infections rose by less than 10,000 for a third straight day on Wednesday, a level last seen in late December before the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, data from the health ministry showed.

Italy records 178,000 excess deaths during pandemic

Italy has recorded some 178,000 excess deaths, mostly attributable to COVID-19, during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Statistics Office and National Health Institute said in a report on Wednesday.

The excess death figure, measured to the end of January 2022, calculates the difference between the total deaths from all causes since the start of the pandemic and the expected trend based on the 2015-2019 average.

Nerve damage may explain some cases of long COVID - U.S. study

A small study of patients suffering from persistent symptoms long after a bout of COVID-19 found that nearly 60% had nerve damage possibly caused by a defective immune response, a finding that could point to new treatments, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

The study involved in depth exams of 17 people with so-called long COVID, a condition that arises within three months of a COVID-19 infection and lasts at least two months.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022. Click For Restrictions -

Reuters Japan Health United States Asia India Europe Italy Hong Kong US