Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Indian citizens, students now eligible for a booster shot, health min says
Indian citizens and students traveling abroad are now eligible to take a booster shot as needed, the country’s health minister said on Thursday. “Indian citizens & students traveling overseas can now take the precaution dose as required by the guidelines of the destination country,” federal health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Twitter.
Trend in Democratic Rep of Congo’s Ebola outbreak is encouraging – WHO
The trend in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is encouraging, with no new confirmed case in the past seven days, the official managing the response to the outbreak said at a World Health Organization briefing on Thursday. “The last confirmed case was reported on the 4th of May,” Dr. Mory Keita said.
North Korea had never previously confirmed a COVID infection, although South Korean and U.S. officials have said there could have been cases in the isolated country, given its trade and travel with China before it sealed its border to block the virus in early 2020.
U.S. helped raise $3.1 billion for global pandemic response
The United States helped raise over $3.1 billion in commitments to the international pandemic response ahead of the second global COVID-19 summit, but the U.S. Congress needs to authorize more funds, a senior White House official said. The summit, jointly hosted by the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, will be held virtually on Thursday for countries to discuss efforts to end the pandemic and prepare for future health threats.
N.Korea reports first COVID outbreak, orders lockdown in “gravest emergency”
North Korea reported its first COVID-19 outbreak on Thursday, calling it the “gravest national emergency” and ordering a national lockdown, with state media saying an Omicron variant had been detected in the capital, Pyongyang. North Korea had never confirmed a COVID infection before Thursday although South Korean and U.S. officials have said there could have been earlier cases in the isolated country, given its trade and travel with China before it sealed its border to block the virus in early 2020.
Beijing denies lockdown rumors as Shanghai hunts elusive COVID
Beijing denied it was heading for lockdown as panic buying gripped the capital on Thursday, while Shanghai combed the city for lingering COVID-19 cases in the hope of clearing the way to escape from weeks of painful restrictions. Daily cases in Beijing have remained in the dozens, a tiny fraction of the outbreak in Shanghai and what other cities around the world now shrug off as they look to “live with the virus”.
Analysis-COVID crisis could deepen N.Korea food shortages amid drought warnings
North Korea’s coronavirus outbreak threatens to deepen its already dire food situation this year, as a nationwide lockdown would hamper ongoing anti-drought efforts and the mobilization of labor, analysts said. The isolated North confirmed on Thursday its first COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic emerged more than two years ago, declaring the “gravest national emergency” and imposing a national lockdown.
Biden marks 1 million Americans dead from COVID
President Joe Biden on Thursday commemorated the death of 1 million people in the United States from COVID-19, marking what he called “a tragic milestone” and urging Americans to “remain vigilant” amid the ongoing pandemic. In a statement, Biden acknowledged the loss’ impact on families left behind and urged the country not to “grow numb to such sorrow,” noting “a nation forever changed.”
Omicron sub-variants driving Africa’s COVID surge – WHO
Sub-variants of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and relaxation of public health measures are driving a current surge in infections in southern Africa, a senior official from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. “This uptick in cases is an early warning sign which we are closely monitoring. Now is the time for countries to step up preparedness and ensure that they can mount an effective response in the event of a fresh pandemic wave,” said Dr Abdou Salam Gueye, Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response at the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
China to “strictly limit” unnecessary overseas travels by Chinese citizens to combat COVID
China would “strictly limit” unnecessary travel outside the country by Chinese citizens as part of its COVID-19 response, the National Immigration Administration said in a statement on Thursday. Officials should strictly prevent COVID outbreaks caused by illegal entry into China, according to the statement.
(With inputs from agencies.)