Live Covid updates: Tokyo reports record virus cases; Dutch government eases lockdown

Associated Press

Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 6:39 a.m.
Last updated: about 7 hours ago

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo reported a record number of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as Japan prepared to implement new anti-virus measures amid a rise in infections caused by the highly contagious variant of the omicron.

The capital recorded 12,813 new cases, while Japan’s No. 2 business district, Osaka, also reported a record 8,612 cases.

Rising infections have begun to disrupt hospitals, schools and other sectors in some areas.

“We must do everything not to overwhelm the medical systems, so that the lives that can be saved are not lost,” Economic Revitalization Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, who is also in charge of health services, told reporters. measures against COVID-19.

Nationwide, more than 62,000 cases of the virus have been reported, according to Japanese media, for a cumulative total of around 2.2 million cases and some 18,500 deaths. While indicating a new record for infections, the numbers only reflect recorded cases of COVID-19.

The majority of the country – including Tokyo and other metropolitan areas like Osaka and Kyoto – will face new restrictions from Thursday, with shortened hours for bars and restaurants and restrictions on major public events.

The Japanese government has increased hospital capacity for the treatment of COVID-19, since last summer when many critical patients overflowed hospitals and died at home, but the country continues to face a shortage of capacity. of testing.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Prime Minister Mark Rutte has further eased the coronavirus lockdown in the Netherlands, allowing bars, restaurants, museums, theaters and other venues to reopen from Wednesday for the first time this year.

But Rutte warned that the move was not without risks.

“We are taking a big step today to unlock the Netherlands as the number of infections really explodes,” Rutte said on Tuesday.

The announcement was not all good news for the beleaguered hospitality and cultural sectors, with opening hours limited to 10 p.m., while professional sports teams will only be allowed to fill stadiums until one-third of their normal capacity.

Football clubs and administrators protested the move even before it was officially announced, calling it in a joint statement “a dead-end proposal”.

The easing of restrictions follows widespread protests in recent weeks by business owners ranging from the Van Gogh museum to local cafes for being excluded from an earlier easing of pandemic restrictions.

Infections have increased in recent weeks due to the omicron variant, despite the lockdown which has been more difficult than in most European countries, but admissions to intensive care units across the country have declined. The National Institute of Public Health reported a 51% increase in new COVID-19 cases over the past week to more than 366,000, while intensive care admissions fell 34%.

“We are taking another risk,” Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said. “We do it for a good reason. Living longer with many restrictive measures harms our health and our society.


ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s health minister on Tuesday urged people to get vaccinated and save hospitals from collapsing as the North African nation faces a spike in COVID-19 infections.

Algeria is battling infections from both the delta variant and the highly contagious omicron variant, which now accounts for 60% of COVID-19 infections. On Monday, health officials reported a daily record of 2,215 cases and 13 deaths.

“I urge you to get vaccinated and break the chain of infections that risk bringing our health facilities to their knees,” Health Minister Abderahmane Benbouzid told a news conference in the capital, Algiers. “For now, hospital staff are managing. The question is, how long can they hold out?

Omicron is less likely to cause severe disease than the previous delta variant, studies show. Omicron spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects people who have been vaccinated or previously infected with earlier versions of the virus.

The inoculation rate in Algeria remains low. Less than a quarter of the population has received even a single dose of the vaccine despite the government’s vigorous vaccination campaign in state media and on social media, which includes pro-vaccine posts from famous Algerian actors, singers, athletes and influencers.

Algeria has a stock of vaccines that can more than cover vaccine needs for two years, the minister said. Overall, only 13% of Algeria’s 45 million people have been vaccinated, the minister said. Among eligible adults, only 29% received two doses of the vaccine, he said.


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Wednesday began implementing new COVID-19 response measures, including reduced quarantine periods and expanded rapid testing, as its new cases jumped by nearly 50% in one day.

The 13,012 new cases were 4,400 more than the previous single-day record of 8,571 set on Tuesday. This underscores the speed of transmissions driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, which became the country’s dominant strain last week.

South Korean officials say their early analyzes suggest omicron is spreading more than twice as fast as the delta variant, which spiked hospitalizations and deaths in the country during a devastating winter surge, but is also much less likely to cause serious illness or death.

South Korea also has a high vaccination rate. Over 85% of South Korea’s more than 51 million people have been fully vaccinated and over 50% of the population have received boosters.

Yet there are fears that a sudden burst of infections could overwhelm hospitals and disrupt essential workplaces and services by constantly placing large numbers of people in quarantine.

From Wednesday, the quarantine period for virus carriers who test positive after being fully vaccinated has been reduced from 10 days to seven days. Fully vaccinated people who come into close contact with virus carriers will no longer be quarantined, but they will have to report their daily health status to health authorities before being tested within six or seven days.


MOSCOW (AP) — Russian health authorities have shortened the required isolation period for those who come into contact with COVID-19 patients from 14 days to seven, a move that comes as an unprecedented spike in coronavirus infections , driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, is tearing the vast country apart.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced the degree on Tuesday. It only changes the rules for those who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, not those confirmed to be infected. Those who test positive must still self-isolate for 14 days, with mandatory testing on day 10 or 11.

New daily infections in Russia have risen sharply over the past two weeks, rising more than fourfold – from around 15,000 on January 10 to 67,809 on Tuesday, the highest daily tally of the pandemic.

However, according to Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, no significant increase in hospitalizations has been seen. Hospital admissions only increased by 6.4%. A total of 116,000 COVID-19 patients were in Russian hospitals as of Tuesday, with around 50,000 other hospital beds across the country unoccupied.

According to Anna Popova, head of Russia’s public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, 52% of all new infections are recorded in Moscow, the capital’s outlying region, and St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city.

The outbreak in Moscow, which reported nearly 19,000 new cases on Tuesday, has strained the city’s outpatient clinics. Social media users posted long lines of people waiting to see a doctor. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Tuesday that the influx of patients to outpatient facilities had quadrupled.

In total, the Russian coronavirus task force has reported more than 11.2 million confirmed cases and 327,448 deaths, by far the highest death toll in Europe. Russia’s national statistics agency, which uses broader counting criteria, estimates the death toll much higher, saying the total number of virus-related deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 was over 625,000.


PRAGUE (AP) — The number of COVID-19 patients in the Czech Republic has begun to rise amid a record rise in infections caused by the highly contagious omicron variant.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Health, the number of people in hospital rose to 1,695 on Monday, from 1,537 the day before.

It had been falling since December 6, when the previous wave, caused by the delta variant, peaked at 7,135 people needing hospital treatment.

The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other strains of coronavirus. It also more easily infects people who have been vaccinated or previously infected with earlier versions of the virus. However, early studies show that omicron is less likely to cause serious illness, especially for those who have received two vaccines and a booster.

Anticipating the outbreak, the Czech government reduced isolation restrictions for people who tested positive for COVID-19 from 14 days to five, and also similarly shortened quarantine times for close contacts of infected people.

He also decided to allow health care and nursing home workers who show no symptoms of COVID-19 to stay on the job even if they test positive.

The Czech Republic, a European Union country of 10.7 million people, has seen more than 37,000 COVID-19 patients die in the pandemic.

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