FACTBOX-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
The World Health Organization on Friday warned that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic was a long way off, citing rising weekly cases amid the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, its BA.2 sub-variant and the lifting of public health measures. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news. EUROPE
* The European Commission could soon approve Poland's coronavirus recovery plan, but Warsaw might only get billions in EU money months later once it satisfies rule-of-law concerns and implements other agreed reforms, officials said. * Britain's medicines regulator has approved AstraZeneca's antibody-based treatment for preventing infections in adults with poor immune response.
* England's COVID-19 prevalence rose to 1 in 20 in the week ending March 12, Britain's statistics office said, up from 1 in 25 recorded the previous week. * Italy and Germany have announced plans to lift restrictions, despite rising infections.
AMERICAS * A workers' union at the world's largest copper mine in Chile threatened a stoppage over claimed breaches in its collective contract, after it accused owner BHP of behaving irresponsibly amid rising infections in Jan.
* U.S. President Joe Biden has named public health expert Dr. Ashish Jha to replace White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, who will leave his post next month. ASIA-PACIFIC
* Hong Kong reported about 20,000 new cases on Friday as health experts called for a clear way out of a "zero COVID" policy that has left the city isolated. More than 45,000 people have left so far in March, compared with nearly 17,000 in December before the fifth wave hit. * Hong Kong has registered the most deaths per million people globally in recent weeks – more than 24 times that in Singapore - due to a large proportion of unvaccinated elderly as Omicron ripped through care homes last month.
* Senior Chinese health officials urged older people to get vaccinated, adding that the deaths in Hong Kong should serve as a lesson for the mainland. * Shanghai is pushing ahead with a mass testing initiative as cases spike, even as some districts ease lockdown rules.
* Thailand plans to scrap a mandatory pre-departure test for visitors starting next month but will still require entry registrations in advance and an on-arrival test. * Australia football coach Graham Arnold has tested positive for the second time in two months.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST * COVID-19 and lockdowns have slowed efforts to monitor and vaccinate children against other diseases such as polio, a WHO Africa coordinator told Reuters, as efforts begin to immunise 23 million children in five African countries efforts after a polio outbreak in Malawi.
MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS * Thirty-five generic drugmakers worldwide will make cheap versions of Pfizer's oral antiviral Paxlovid to supply it in 95 poorer countries, the U.N.-backed Medicines Patent Pool said.
* The European Medicines Agency's leading vaccine expert on Thursday said that data on vaccines tailored for Omicron should be available between April and the start of July, potentially paving the way for approval this summer. * Moderna late on Thursday sought emergency use authorization from U.S. regulators for a second COVID-19 booster shot.
ECONOMIC IMPACT * Global stocks clung to their gains for the week but a heady cocktail of rising interest rates, high oil prices and no end to war in Ukraine kept a lid on the rebound as yields sent a warning signal for the economy.
* The recent COVID-19 surge across China is likely to have a minimal impact on its GDP this year, two brokerages said, adding it could hurt demand for some commodities.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)