COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Hong Kong Exempts Executives From Quarantine Rules
Hong Kong’s borders have been sealed for more than a year and its quarantine rules — which require compulsory hotel stays of up to three weeks — are among the strictest in the world.

Corporate executives, however, are now eligible for special treatment.

The city’s Securities and Futures Commission quietly published a notice on Friday saying that fully vaccinated “senior executives” from local companies or their international affiliates could apply for an exemption to skip quarantine when they visit or return to Hong Kong. It did not issue a news release, and the notice offered no explanation for the timing or justification for the measure.

Neither the Securities and Futures Commission nor Hong Kong’s Department of Health responded to requests for comment on Saturday.

The Chinese territory reported no new cases on Friday. Though densely populated, it has managed to avoid a full lockdown and has kept its coronavirus caseload low through aggressive social distancing rules and forced quarantine in government facilities for close contacts of Covid-19 patients, among other measures. Even vaccinated travelers must quarantine in hotels for one to two weeks, depending on where they fly in from.
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Vietnam Says It Has Detected a New Coronavirus Variant
Vietnam has discovered a new variant of the coronavirus that the country’s health minister said was a mix of the variants first detected in India and Britain and was also more contagious, according to news reports.

Nguyen Thanh Long, the health minister, said in a government meeting that the new variant combined the variant discovered in India with mutations from the one initially detected in Kent, England.

“The concentration of virus in the throat fluid increases rapidly and spreads very strongly to the surrounding environment,” Mr. Long said at the meeting, a recording of which was obtained by Reuters. He called the variant “very dangerous,” Reuters reported.

It was not immediately clear how fully the new variant is understood. Mr. Long cited lab cultures in discussing its transmissibility, but they may not necessarily reflect how the virus behaves in real-world situations. It was also not clear whether its prevalence is known or whether it might evade the protections afforded by vaccines or natural immunity acquired through earlier infection from a different version of the virus. Viruses mutate constantly, but most of the mutations dwindle away.
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Hundreds Protest Vaccine Passports in London

Demonstrators opposing coronavirus vaccines and the idea of vaccine passports gathered in central London on Saturday.
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A Neighborhood in Guangzhou Locks Down Amid New Outbreak
Officials in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou ordered a neighborhood to lock down over the weekend, closing schools and banning dining in restaurants while they try to contain a cluster of coronavirus cases that appeared to have spread from a dim sum restaurant.

Investigators have so far traced the burst of cases in the city, the capital of Guangdong Province, to a 75-year-old woman who began experiencing a fever and other symptoms more than 10 days ago and was confirmed to be infected with the virus. She had dined at a dim sum restaurant in the Liwan District, where she lives, and medical tracking uncovered two other people at the restaurant who were infected and appear to have spread the virus to a dozen others, the China Youth Daily reported.

On Saturday, the Guangzhou Health Commission ordered residents in five streets of the Liwan District to mostly stay at home. Households can send one member out each day to buy necessities, and students will study remotely, with some exceptions where boarding at school is possible.

The coronavirus spread in central China in 2019, igniting the pandemic, but the country has since avoided major new virus waves by applying strict controls. Officials in Guangzhou said the latest outbreak was a worrisome development. The city has more than 15 million residents and is a major business and manufacturing center close to Hong Kong.
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Nashville Hat Shop Sold Yellow Star Anti-Vaccine Patches
Protesters gathered on Saturday outside a hat store in Nashville that sold “not vaccinated” Star of David patches and compared vaccine passports to the Nazi practice of requesting “your papers.”

The store, Hatwrks, said on Instagram in a post that was later deleted that it was selling the patches for $5. Amid an outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks across the country, the post was criticized on social media and outside the store, where protesters held signs saying “no Nazis in Nashville” and “sell hats not hate.”

A separate post to the store’s Instagram account — which also touted “mask free shopping” and promoted the conspiracy theory that vaccines have microchips in them — said that “all unvaccinated people will be segregated from society, marked and must wear a mask. What comes next?”

The hat company Stetson said that “as a result of the offensive content and opinions shared by Hatwrks,” it would stop selling its products through the store.

A post on the store’s account responding to the criticism said that “I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence and compliance.” A later post apologized “for any insensitivity,” saying “my hope was to share my genuine concern and fear, and to do all that I can to make sure that nothing” like the Holocaust “ever happens again.”.

Gigi Gaskins, who according to state records is the store’s owner, did not respond to requests for comment.
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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