Health News Roundup: U.S. Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine-or-test policy for large businesses; Philippines extends coronavirus curbs in capital region until end-Jan and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine-or-test policy for large businesses

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses – a policy the conservative justices deemed an improper imposition on the lives and health of many Americans – while endorsing a separate federal vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities. Biden voiced disappointment with the conservative-majority court’s decision to halt his administration’s rule requiring vaccines or weekly COVID-19 tests for employees at businesses with at least 100 employees. Biden said it now is up to states and employers to decide whether to require workers “to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.”

Philippines extends coronavirus curbs in capital region until end-Jan

The Philippines’ coronavirus task force will extend coronavirus curbs in the capital region and other provinces until the end of January, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said on Friday. The Southeast Asian nation is battling its biggest surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the more infectious Omicron variant, disrupting business operations and government services.

Biden to send more military medics to U.S. hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he would send more military health workers to hospitals in six U.S. states and provide free masks and more free tests to help Americans tackle the fast-spreading Omicron variant. He announced the phased dispatch of 1,000 military health personnel beginning next week as U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a record high and health facilities faced a staffing crunch.

Indonesia approves Merck’s COVID-19 pill for emergency use

Indonesia has approved Merck & Co Inc’s COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir for emergency use, the country’s food and drug agency said in a statement. A batch of 400,000 pills had arrived in Indonesia, health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said this week. The pill was jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

WHO recommends Eli Lilly, GSK-Vir’s drugs, widening COVID-19 treatment pool

A World Health Organization (WHO) panel recommended use of two drugs by Eli Lilly, and GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology for COVID-19 patients, adding treatment options as the fast-spreading Omicron variant renders many ineffective. WHO data shows Omicron, which is evading protection provided by many vaccines and therapies, has been identified in 149 countries. It is quickly replacing Delta as the dominant variant in several nations, forcing governments and scientists to bolster defences with testing, shots and therapies.

S.Korea extends distancing curbs ahead of holidays, Omicron wave

South Korea will extend tougher social distancing rules for three more weeks amid concerns over a looming wave of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant especially ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, officials said on Friday. The curbs were restored a month ago just six weeks after being eased under a “living with COVID-19” scheme, as record-breaking numbers of new cases and critically ill patients threatened to saturate the country’s medical system.

Australia’s worst-hit state says COVID-19 hospitalisations may plateau next week

COVID-19 hospitalisation rates in Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales could plateau next week, a top health official said on Friday, as the state suffered record deaths from the virus for a third day. Pressure on hospitals will likely remain for “the next few weeks”, the state’s health deputy secretary, Susan Pearce, said, though hospitalisation numbers were tracking better than the best-case scenario in an official modelling a week ago.

Shanghai cuts some tourism trips on COVID-19 cases again after brief resumption

The eastern Chinese financial hub of Shanghai suspended some tourism activities on Friday as part of its efforts to head off a handful of sporadic new local transmissions, while it also faces an increase in COVID-19 infections from overseas. Shanghai’s tourism and culture authority said travel agencies and online tourism companies must once again halt organising group tours between Shanghai and other provinces, regions or municipalities, after the city reported five new domestically transmitted infections on Thursday, all linked to a previous arrival from overseas.

Pfizer says it applied for Japan gov’t approval for oral COVID-19 drug

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Friday it has applied for Japanese government approval for its oral COVID-19 treatment. The application is based on global Phase II/III trials that Japan was part of, Pfizer said in a statement.

Explainer-Why you should still try to avoid catching Omicron

A fast-spreading Omicron variant that causes milder illness compared with previous versions of the coronavirus has fueled the view that COVID-19 poses less of a risk than in the past. In which case, some ask, why go to great lengths to prevent getting infected now, since everybody will be exposed to the virus sooner or later?

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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