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COVID digest: Volcano-hit Tonga in lockdown

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Google Oneindia News

Tonga, Feb 02: Tonga will close its borders Wednesday after coronavirus infections was detected in two port workers helping distribute aid in the Pacific kingdom.

Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni announced the lockdown, confirming that the two men who tested positive this week in the capital Nuku'alofa were in isolation.

COVID digest: Volcano-hit Tonga in lockdown

"The most important issue at the moment is to slow down and stop those who have been affected," he said. "That's the reason for our national lockdown... no boat will be allowed to go from one island to another, no more [domestic] aeroplane flights." The measures would be reviewed every 48 hours, the prime minister said.

The COVID-19 infections are the latest adversity facing Tonga which is struggling to recover from last month's volcanic eruption and tsunami.

The devastating blast from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano created what the Tongan government described as an "unprecedented disaster."

Ships and planes from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Britain and China have been delivering aid.

Previously the island nation had logged just one COVID case, a man who returned from New Zealand in October last year and had since fully recovered.

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:

Asia

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics' organizing committee said a total of 32 new COVID-19 infections was found among Games-related personnel on February 1.

Meanwhile, the Olympics torch relay in Beijing, shortened to three days due to COVID-19 curbs, kicked off on Wednesday.

Chinese basketball great and Olympian Yao Ming will be among the first to carry the flame past landmarks including the Great Wall.

More than 1,000 torchbearers will carry the flame through competition areas in Beijing and the neighboring city of Zhangjiakou, before the opening ceremony on Friday.

The Games will take place from February 4 to 20 inside a "closed loop" bubble that seals off athletes and other Olympics personnel from the public. The events will only be attended by selected groups of people.

Meanwhile, Brigitte Henriques, the president of the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF), has tested positive for COVID. She will not travel to Beijing for the Winter Games for now, the CNOSF said.

Nathalie Pechalat, Cheffe de Mission of the Olympic delegation, also tested positive and is also grounded in France.

"They will support from a distance the French athletes and staff present in China and plan to go to Beijing when their situation allows it," a CNOSF statement read.

Europe

France began easing restrictions, including mandatory outdoor mask-wearing in a bid to ease citizens' daily lives.

Audience capacity limits for recreational events such as concerts and sporting matches were also removed. Working from home, while no longer mandatory for at least three days a week "for those positions that allow it," is still recommended.

This is part of a two-phase relaxation of curbs announced at the end of January.

Germany's daily infection breached the 200,000-mark for the second time in the past seven days. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 208,498 cases in 24 hours — the highest ever reported.

In the last 24 hours, 196 COVID-related deaths were reported, an increase on 166 reported the previous Wednesday. The rate of patients seeking help in hospitals remained stable, though, at 4.59 people per 100,000 per week.

Latest from DW

Thousands of street children in India have been forced to go back to begging and working odd jobs as schools have been closed and poor families are forced to make ends meet. The country's Supreme Court said officials need to do more to protect vulnerable children.

"School closures are not just about learning loss. It's a child protection services problem and a child emergency issue," Sonal Kapoor of the Protsahan India Foundation told DW.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the search for medications and treatment methods against the coronavirus has been intense. In the meantime, therapies and a small arsenal of medicines have proven effective.

Herbal remedies for COVID-19 are being researched in Uganda. The National Drug Authority, the country's drug regulator, intends to evaluate these medicines in clinical trials.

Source: DW

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