COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Vietnam sentences flight attendant for spreading coronavirus
Hanoi, Vietnam (CNN) — A court in Vietnam handed a two-year suspended jail term to a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant on Tuesday after finding him guilty of breaking Covid-19 quarantine rules and spreading the virus to others, police said. Duong Tan Hau, 29, was convicted of "spreading dangerous infectious diseases" at the one-day trial at the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.

Vietnam has been praised for its efforts to contain the virus through mass testing and tracing and strict centralized quarantining. It has recorded fewer than 2,600 Covid-19 infections and only 35 deaths due to the disease.

Hau breached the country's 14-day quarantine regulations and met 46 other people following his flight from Japan in November, according to the indictment posted on a police ministry website.

Hau had mingled with other people during a stint in state quarantine and according to the indictment visited cafes, restaurants and attended English classes while he was supposed to be self-isolating. He tested positive for Covid-19 on November 28.

Hau's violations resulted in the quarantine and testing of around 2,000 other people in the city at a cost of 4.48 billion dong (about $194,000), the indictment said.

State media said he had infected at least three other people.

"Hau's violation was serious, put society in danger and endangered the safety of the community," the statement said.
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Peru will enter total lockdown Thursday to curb spread of Covid-19
Peru will enter a total lockdown starting Thursday through Easter Sunday to try curb the spread of the pandemic, the Peruvian government announced Wednesday.

The total lockdown includes a 24-hour curfew, ban on the use of private vehicles, and only one person per household is allowed to leave home for essential shopping, according to a statement from the Peruvian Council of Ministers.

Domestic flights and inter-city public transport will also stop, the statement read.
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Italy makes coronavirus vaccines mandatory for health care workers
The Italian government has made the coronavirus vaccine mandatory for all health care and pharmacy workers, according to a new decree passed on Wednesday.

In a statement, the government said the measure was introduced to protect medical staff, patients and vulnerable people who are at a risk of infection.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said there was “great satisfaction” on the decree’s passing, adding that winning the “health battle is a prerequisite for a real restart of the country.”

Health care workers who refuse the vaccine will be reassigned where possible to not be in contact with patients. However, sanctions can include not being paid, according to Labour Minister Andrea Orlando who provided details at the end of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday night.

The decree also protects those who administer the vaccine by excluding them of criminal liability as long as the inoculation has been carried out in accordance with instructions set by the health ministry.
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Biden Says He Would Support Moving All-Star Game Over Georgia Voting Law
In an interview on ESPN, President Biden discussed the restrictions passed by the state’s Republicans last week and encouraged baseball fans to abide by social-distancing protocols.

President Biden said on Wednesday that he would “strongly support” Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game from Atlanta after the executive director of the players’ union said he was open to discussing such a move after Georgia Republicans passed a law last week to restrict voting access in the state.

“The very people who are victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports,” Mr. Biden said in an interview on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” the night before opening day. “And it’s just not right.”

His comments came on the same day that major companies like Delta Air Lines, Georgia’s largest employer, sharply criticized the legislation in the face of mounting pressure from activists, customers and Black executives. The law introduced stricter voter identification requirements for absentee balloting and limited drop boxes in predominantly Black neighborhoods, and it expanded the legislature’s power over elections.

... In the interview, the president also encouraged baseball fans to wear masks and abide by social-distancing protocols. While spectators are required to wear masks at every ballpark, policies have differed depending on the guidelines of each city or state. The Texas Rangers plan to open their stadium, in Arlington, to full capacity, allowing about 40,300 fans to fill in.

“I think it’s a mistake. They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the scientists and the experts,” Mr. Biden said, referring to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert. “But I think it’s not responsible.”

... On Monday, Mr. Biden called for governors and mayors to reinstate mask mandates. The administration has also been working to combat vaccine hesitancy in minority communities as well as among conservatives in rural areas, with an advertising campaign and by relying on community leaders to promote the benefits of the coronavirus vaccine.

Asked what he would say to athletes who are hesitant to be vaccinated, Mr. Biden said: “I’m president of the United States. I got vaccinated.”
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FDA Approves 2 Rapid, At-Home COVID Tests
Americans will soon be able to purchase Abbott's BinaxNOW and Quidel Quickvue tests at drug stores. The two options join a test made by Ellume, which received FDA approval in December, in the market. The two, newly-approved swab tests will be sold at a lower price point.

The BinaxNOW and Quickvue tests are expected to be sold in two-packs for around $15-20; Ellume costs $30.

Experts believe the availability of at-home coronavirus tests could help slow the continued spread of the virus, which is contagious even when people are asymptomatic.

"Screening testing, especially with the over-the-counter tests authorized today, is an important part of the country's pandemic response—many schools, workplaces, communities, and other entities are setting up testing programs to quickly screen for COVID-19," said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina told NPR that if "we can stop all the outbreaks from growing, then boom, we can open up businesses and schools without risk because the outbreaks...even if a case does come in, it fizzles out very quickly."
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Biden urges religious leaders to tell people to not be 'fearful' of the COVID-19 vaccine: 'It's about protecting people'
  • Biden urged faith leaders to tell members of their community to get vaccinated.
  • "When they're in your sanctuaries, you can talk to them about what we have to do," Biden said.
  • Polling has shown white Evangelical Christians are especially skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We need you to spread the word. Let people in our communities, in your communities know how important it is to get everyone vaccinated when it's their turn," Biden said during a weekly call with faith and community leaders. "And soon, they'll just be able to just line up and just get their name on a list. And that's how we're going to defeat this virus. And that's how we're going to come together again in our communities, in our houses of worship, in my view."

Biden said he's concerned people are becoming too "cavalier" about COVID-19 as states across the country see spikes in cases.

"We're not finished with this," the president warned, going on to say that while some people see COVID-19 protocols as an "imposition on people's freedoms" he sees adhering to public health recommendations as "a goodly thing to do."

"Protect your brother and sister. That's what this is about. It's about protecting people. It's a patriotic duty I think we have," Biden added.
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Hungary, despite having one of the world’s worst per capita death rates, plans to ease restrictions.
Despite Hungary’s currently registering one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that his government will not tighten restrictions and is determined to continue moving to reopen society.

“Infections are widespread, and lockdowns or curbs can only slow the spread but they can’t stop them,” Mr. Orban said in a televised interview on Wednesday evening.

Mass vaccination, he noted, is the only way to bring the suffering to an end.

After a month of lockdown measures to combat the virus, Mr. Orban said, the plan to reopen stores after Easter, followed by schools and then restaurants and hotels, would not change.

With more than 20 percent of Hungarians having received at least their first dose of a vaccine, the country is ahead of most other European nations. The campaign has been bolstered by Mr. Orban’s decision to import vaccines from China and Russia.

Mr. Orban has sought to keep the focus on the nation’s vaccination campaign, while downplaying the death toll and the impact on the nation’s struggling hospitals.

Hungary registers the highest fatality rate per 100,000 people in the world over the last seven days, according to the New York Times coronavirus database. There were 302 deaths reported on Wednesday, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia