An Egyptian medical worker checks people's temperatures on the first day of vaccination against COVID-19 in Egypt, on March 4, 2021 in Cairo. (KHALED DESOUKI / AFP)
LONDON / ZURICH / RABAT / CAIRO / NAIROBI / COPENHAGEN – Egypt on Thursday lifted all COVID-19-related entry restrictions for all travelers, whether Egyptians or foreigners.
The decision was made by Egypt's Supreme Committee for the Management of the Epidemiology and Health Pandemic Crisis according to the pandemic conditions in Egypt and abroad, said Nader Saad, a spokesperson of the Egyptian cabinet, in a statement.
Nearly 86.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as 4.5 million booster shots, have been provided for the people, the statement said, adding that there are nearly 57.5 million doses in reserve to continue the vaccination campaign.
The statement said that 800 DNA reagents were distributed by the Egyptian health ministry to detect the monkeypox cases, and strict measures are taken to have veterinary quarantine for the animals coming from abroad.
In this Sept 3, 2021 file photo, pupils line up at a COVID-19 test station as they enter their new secondary school for the first time at Wales High school, Sheffield, England. (RUI VIEIRA / AP)
The Omicron variant of coronavirus is less likely to cause long COVID-19 than previous variants, according to the first peer-reviewed study of its kind from the United Kingdom.
Researchers at King's College London, using data from the ZOE COVID-19 Symptom study app, found the odds of developing long COVID-19 after infection were 20 percent to 50 percent lower during the Omicron wave in the UK compared to Delta
Researchers at King's College London, using data from the ZOE COVID-19 Symptom study app, found the odds of developing long COVID-19 after infection were 20 percent to 50 percent lower during the Omicron wave in the UK compared to Delta. The figure varied depending on the patient's age and the timing of their last vaccination.
Long COVID-19, which includes prolonged symptoms ranging from fatigue to 'brain fog', can be debilitating and continue for weeks or months. It is increasingly being recognized as a public health problem, and researchers have been racing to find out if Omicron presents as big a risk of long COVID-19 as previously dominant variants.
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The study from King's is believed to be the first academic research to show Omicron does not present as great a risk of long COVID-19, but that does not mean long COVID-19 patient numbers are dropping, the team said.
While the risk of long COVID-19 was lower during Omicron, more people were infected, so the absolute number now suffering is higher.
"It's good news, but please don't decommission any of your long COVID services," lead researcher Dr Claire Steves told Reuters, appealing to health-service providers.
The UK's Office for National Statistics said in May that 438,000 people in the country have long COVID-19 after Omicron infection, representing 24 percent of all long COVID-19 patients.
It also said the risk of lingering symptoms after Omicron was lower than with Delta, but only for double-vaccinated people. It found no statistical difference for those who were triple vaccinated.
In the King's research, 4.5 percent of the 56,003 people studied during Omicron's peak, December 2021-March 2022, reported long COVID-19. That compared to 10.8 percent of 41,361 people during the Delta wave, June-November 2021. It did not compare vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
While the study – published in The Lancet journal on Thursday – compared Delta and Omicron, Dr Steves said previous work had showed no substantial difference in long COVID-19 risk between other variants.
More work was needed to establish why Omicron may have a lower long COVID-19 risk, the team added.
An employee at a Nordisk Film cinema in the center of Copenhagen on May 6, 2021 checks the "Corona pass” of a customer as they come to watch a film on the first day that movie theaters in the Danish capital reopened after being closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. (TOM LITTLE / AFP)
The recent marked increase in COVID-19 infections in Denmark is being driven by the rapid spread of a new Omicron subvariant BA.5, according to a weekly trend report published by the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), Denmark's top infectious disease authority, on Thursday.
The report reveals that between week 22 and week 23, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the country increased by 53 percent. There were 99 cases per 100,000 population in week 23.
In total, the number of new hospital admissions related to COVID-19 increased by 23 percent to 220 in week 23.
"Until mid-May, BA.5 accounted for less than 1 percent of the weekly sequenced samples, but towards the end of May, we can see that this variant was growing," SSI's Professional Director Tyra Grove Krause was quoted by a press release as saying.
"Now we can see that BA.5 has a good grip, and we expect it to be dominant towards the summer holidays."
While the number of those infected with the BA.2.12.1 and BA.4 subvariants continues to rise, accounting for roughly 13 percent and 5 percent of the new cases diagnosed in week 23, respectively. According to the SSI report, the BA.5 subvariant accounted for approximately 29 percent of all new infections in the same period.
Furthermore, those aged between 50 and 69 had the highest infection rate, while those in the 70 to 89 age group had the highest number of new hospital admissions.
By June 15, 3,149,405 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,421 coronavirus-related deaths had been reported in Denmark.
There will not be another attempt to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory, said German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, while making the case for more people to get a second booster shot.
Anyone who is often in contact with others and wants to protect themselves and others should consider a fourth shot, regardless of age, said Lauterbach. Some 80 percent of Germany's over-60s have not had their fourth COVID-19 shot, he added.
He also recommended that people continue to wear masks inside in light of a summer wave of infections.
Medical workers attend to coronavirus patients in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, April 14, 2021. (BRIAN INGANGA / AP)
Kenya's ministry of health on Thursday launched an accelerated COVID-19 vaccine booster shot campaign amid rising infections.
Susan Mochache, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health told journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya that research conducted on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine has revealed that immuno-compromised people might need a third dose.
"In addition, over time, the immunity, even for healthy people, starts to go down necessitating the booster shot for increased immune response. Further, the booster dose is critical in responding against emerging variants," Mochache said.
The ministry of health said that it is committed to safeguard the health of Kenyans and will also take concerted efforts to ensure that the gains made in the fight against COVID-19 are not lost.
A handout picture released by the Moroccan Royal Palace on Nov 6, 2021, shows King Mohammed VI delivering a speech to the nation in the capital Rabat. (MOROCCAN ROYAL PALACE / AFP)
King Mohammed VI of Morocco has tested positive for COVID-19 but has exhibited no symptoms, his doctor said on Thursday.
The king will be on sick leave for a couple of days, his doctor Lahcen Belyamani said in a statement carried by state media.
King Mohammed, who holds sweeping powers, has headed the Muslim world's longest-serving dynasty since 1999.
A health worker looks at a computer screen next to a plush toy representing a Santa Claus at the pediatric polyclinic emergency unit that welcomes children infected with COVID-19 and suffering from other diseases at the Pourtales hospital in Neuchatel, western Switzerland on Dec 21, 2021. (FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)
The Swiss parliament failed to finance the government's plan to buy COVID-19 vaccines in 2023, forcing the cabinet to try to renegotiate contracts with Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech for millions of doses.
With the two houses of parliament split over the funding request, budget rules required the adoption of the cheaper version of draft legislation, the SDA news agency said in a report posted on parliament's website.
Parliament approved spending 560 million Swiss francs ($579 million) instead of the requested 780 million. That means the government could initially procure only 3.5 million additional vaccine doses each from Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech instead of seven million each for 2023 it announced in March.
The report cited Finance Minister Ueli Maurer as saying the vaccine contracts with the two manufacturers would become completely void in the event of a cutback so new contracts would have to be negotiated, with the outcome uncertain.
The vote came after news last month that Switzerland will destroy more than 620,000 expired doses of Moderna's vaccine as demand for the shots drops dramatically.
European Union governments as well are intensifying pressure on COVID-19 vaccine makers to renegotiate contracts, warning millions of shots that are no longer needed could go to waste, Reuters reported this week.
South African government will use $480 million of the World Bank loan to pay for COVID-19 vaccines purchased between December 2020 and June 2021 and other costs associated with the vaccines, a health official said on Thursday.
"The money will pay what we have already used, the rest will be used for logistics costs and management of the vaccines cold chain too," National Department of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale told Xinhua in a phone interview on Thursday, about the loan for South Africa's COVID-19 Emergency Response Project recently approved.