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COVID-19

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Los Angeles-Hong Kong business class fare reaches $13,000 after quarantine requirements dropped

  • Hong Kong saw a massive surge of inbound and outbound travelers after Chief Executive John Lee uplifted its mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine protocol last week.
  • Travel agency Trip.com reportedly saw a 400% increase in outbound bookings on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 compared to the previous weekend, while inbound bookings surged by 150%.
  • Flight bookings for Osaka, one of the recent top destinations alongside Tokyo, Bangkok and Singapore, were up by 7,300%, the website noted.
  • Ticket prices have also increased amid the influx of travelers.
  • “I’m conscious of the fact that, while we need to control the spread of COVID, we also need to ensure that there will be maximum activities in society and economic activities for society to carry on,” Lee said.

Plane ticket prices to and from Hong Kong recently underwent a massive surge after the city announced it would finally ease its COVID-19 protocols for arriving tourists and returning residents.

For the first time in two-and-a-half years, tourists can now enter Hong Kong without having to do a mandatory weeks-long hotel quarantine at their own expense.

‘The pandemic is over’: Dr. Leana Wen voices agreement with Biden in Washington Post op-ed

Biden Pandemic is Over
  • Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician at George Washington University, agreed with President Joe Biden’s comment that “The pandemic is over” in her Washington Post op-ed on Monday.
  • “We’re still doing a lot of work on it ... but the pandemic is over,” the president told CBS’ “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley on Sunday. “If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”
  • After his comment, The Washington Post published an editorial the following day contradicting Biden’s remarks: “The pandemic is still raging — in the sense that a dangerous virus is infecting, sickening and killing people, mutating to survive and haunting the globe. The pandemic has shifted — and normalcy has returned in many ways — but it is not over.”
  • Wen, an advocate of the COVID-19 vaccine and a Washington Post columnist, agreed with Biden’s statement, writing, “He’s right. By multiple definitions, the pandemic is over.”

Dr. Leana Wen agreed with President Joe Biden’s assertion that the pandemic “is over” in an op-ed published in The Washington Post.

In a CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday, Biden discussed the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. with correspondent Scott Pelley.

Viral video shows panicked shoppers attempting to escape an Ikea outlet in China during flash lockdown

  • Chaos ensued at an Ikea outlet in Shanghai’s Xuhui district after security announced a flash lockdown on Saturday due to potential COVID-19 exposure.
  • The order came after authorities learned that one shopper had been in close contact with a positive case, Shanghai Health Commission deputy director Zhao Dandan said on Sunday.
  • Although Zhao did not specify when the close contact visited the Ikea outlet, he said that everyone located in the building and its surrounding areas was required to quarantine for two days, followed by five days of health monitoring.
  • Citing eyewitness reports on Chinese social media, Bloomberg reported that some shoppers were stuck inside the outlet for around four hours before they were transported to quarantine hotels.
  • Videos taken on Saturday have been circulating on social media, with one video on Twitter having already amassed more than 146,000 views.

Chaos ensued at an Ikea outlet in Shanghai after security announced a flash lockdown due to potential COVID-19 exposure last weekend.

The incident occurred at an Ikea in Shanghai’s Xuhui district on Saturday. Health officials ordered the outlet to commence a flash lockdown after authorities learned that one shopper had been in contact with a positive case – a 6-year-old boy from Lhasa in Tibet – according to Shanghai Health Commission deputy director Zhao Dandan on Sunday.

China’s birth rates plummet as more women choose to not have babies due to COVID-related factors

  • Demographers attribute China’s rapidly declining birth rate to the country’s strict COVID-19 restrictions, with some cities reporting double-digit drops.
  • Prominent Chinese demographer Yi Fuxian predicts COVID-19 will result in 1 million fewer births in 2021 and 2022 combined, with rates in 2023 forecasted to be even worse.
  • The city of Jiaozhou in the Shandong province reported a 26 percent drop in the first six months, while the city of Hukou in the Jiangxi province saw a steep 42 percent decline.
  • In a statement published on Aug. 1, China’s National Health Commission said, “China’s Total Fertility Rate (TSR) was lower than 1.3 in recent years,” showing a continued “decline” in “women’s willingness to have children.”
  • Using a United Nations data tool, if China’s declining birth rate from the first half of 2022 continues on the same trajectory, its total population could potentially be halved by the year 2100.

Demographers attribute China’s rapidly declining birth rate to the country’s strict COVID-19 restrictions, with some cities reporting double-digit drops.

The Chinese government’s strict zero-COVID policy has been controversial, with some claiming the communist regime’s efforts to maintain a COVID-free status as an overly ambitious and costly goal.  

Singaporean TikTok user orders food with remote-controlled car in viral video

  • TikTok user Steve Ho, 35, wowed the internet after ordering food using a remote-controlled car to stay safe amid the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Singapore.
  • The TikTok video, which Ho posted on Saturday, has received more than 102,000 views and 3,800 likes.
  • During an interview with AsiaOne, the 35-year-old man explained that he made the toy car so that he would not need to go out and run errands.
  • Ho first took his RC buddy out for a spin on July 15 when he bought ice cream and Coca-Cola at a nearby convenience store.
  • Singapore logged 7,889 positive cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the country’s total number of infected patients up to 1,652,981.

A TikTok user wowed the Internet after ordering food using a remote-controlled car to stay safe amid the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Singapore.

Steve Ho showcased his remarkable invention in a TikTok video posted on Saturday, in which the man sends his remote-controlled car to a food stall – or zi char – to order his dinner. The video has already received more than 102,000 views and 3,800 likes.

Thai Buddhist monk claims whiskey helps prevent COVID-19 after being busted for DUI

  • Phra Thanakorn, 63, is a Buddhist monk from Thailand’s Mueang Loej district who recently got caught driving intoxicated by local police.
  • The police officers said they received a report of a monk "causing mayhem" by driving around drunk and asking people for money in the market area.
  • When questioned by authorities, Thanakorn admitted to being drunk but said he drank rice whiskey mixed with lemon because he believes it helps prevent COVID-19.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous.”
  • Thanakorn is set to be kicked out of monkhood for breaking several monastic rules, such as leaving the temple grounds during the rain retreat, asking for money, getting intoxicated and drunk driving.

A Buddhist monk in Thailand claimed that rice whiskey with lemon prevents COVID-19 after police caught him driving a pickup truck while intoxicated. 

According to local authorities, they received a report that a monk had been “causing mayhem” by driving around and asking people for money in the market area of Thailand’s Mueang Loej district on Wednesday. 

Asians more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than other Bay Area racial groups, study finds

Asian covid
  • A study published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities on Tuesday found that Bay Area residents of Asian descent were more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than any other racial or ethnic group in 2020.
  • While the study also included Black, Hispanic and white residents, Asians were the only racial group whose age, income, health insurance status and medical comorbidities did not fully account for their higher risk of hospitalization.
  • “What is interesting is that even when we count for all socioeconomic factors and health profile, just being Asian alone still conferred excess risk for having severe COVID,” the study’s co-author, University of California, San Francisco, ophthalmologist Dr. David Hwang, was quoted as saying. “We don’t fully understand the reasons for that.”
  • Hwang cited other potential reasons, such as the rise of anti-Asian violence, which may have prevented many from seeking medical care during the early stages.
  • Another possibility he mentioned was language barriers, as many Asians in the Bay Area may have found it difficult to find a healthcare provider that spoke their own language or dialect.

A recent study has found that Bay Area residents of Asian descent were more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than any other racial or ethnic group in the area in 2020.

The research, co-authored by a University of California, San Francisco, researcher and published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities on Tuesday, noted that the heightened risk among Asians cannot be fully explained by socioeconomic factors or pre-existing medical conditions. 

Filipino nurse who administered world’s first COVID-19 vaccine receives UK’s highest civilian honor

  • May Parsons, the Filipino nurse who administered the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccine in 2020, received the prestigious George Cross award on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS) at Windsor Castle on July 12.
  • The award honors the 1.5 million staff of the NHS.
  • The George Cross is the highest award given by the British government to non-military citizens for their “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger,” according to the Royal Family.
  • Parsons currently works at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust as a Modern Matron for Respiratory Services.

The Filipino nurse who administered the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccine received the prestigious George Cross award on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

May Parsons was the first nurse to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine to then-90-year-old Margaret Keenan at a local hospital in Coventry, England, on Dec. 8, 2020. Keenan also became the first person to receive the approved vaccine.

10-year-old boy filmed threatening to stab Shanghai health worker with knife during COVID test

  • A furious 10-year-old boy in Shanghai was caught on camera brandishing a vegetable knife and threatening to kill a healthcare worker.
  • The incident allegedly occurred because the healthcare worker scolded the boy after informing him that it would be difficult to conduct a city-mandated COVID-19 test on him while he is on his hoverboard.
  • Angered by what the healthcare worker said, the boy allegedly retrieved a vegetable knife from his house and returned to the testing area to threaten the man.
  • A video of the incident, shared by Chinese news outlet Xing Shi Pin on Sunday, shows the boy screaming as he is being pinned down by healthcare workers with the knife in one hand.
  • After the knife is taken away and he is no longer restrained, the boy can be seen punching another man and telling a concerned elderly woman to “get lost" or else he would "beat her up."
  • The boy, who left the scene on his hoverboard, has yet to be identified.

A 10-year-old boy went viral on Chinese social media for threatening to kill a man with a vegetable knife after allegedly being told it would be difficult to conduct a city-mandated COVID-19 test while he was on his hoverboard.

The video, shared by Chinese news outlet Xing Shi Pin on Sunday, shows the boy from Shanghai screaming as he is being pinned down by healthcare workers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Japanese man who received COVID relief funds meant for 463 families loses all of it gambling online

japanesegamble
  • A 24-year-old Japanese man lost 46.3 million yen ($360,890) of Covid relief funds he received by mistake via online gambling.
  • The relief fund was part of a local government program to help mitigate the financial effects of COVID on 463 low-income households who were supposed to receive 100,000 yen ($780) each.
  • "I don't currently have the money and I don't have anything with property value at hand. It's actually difficult to return it," the lawyer quoted his client as saying.
  • After he went into hiding, the Abu Municipal Government filed a civil case against the man, suing for 51 million yen ($397,716), including legal fees.

A Japanese man reportedly gambled away millions of Japanese yen’s worth of COVID relief funds that he received by mistake.

Last month, the Japanese government inadvertently sent a COVID relief fund meant for 463 people worth 46.3 million yen ($360,890) to a 24-year-old man.

North Korea records first COVID-19 deaths after ‘explosive’ outbreak

  • North Korea has recorded its first COVID-19 deaths after the hermit nation reported an “explosive” outbreak that possibly infected over 350,000 people.
  • Around 18,000 people experienced new “fever cases” on Thursday alone.
  • One of the six people who have died as of Friday was reportedly infected with the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.
  • The country has called the outbreak in Pyongyang a "major national emergency" but has yet to confirm the exact number of confirmed positive cases.
  • News of its first-ever COVID-19 death was confirmed after the government imposed “maximum emergency measures,” including a nationwide lockdown, to contain the outbreak in the capital.
  • Some experts stated that a significant outbreak could quickly overwhelm North Korea’s poorly equipped health facilities. They also pointed out that only a few of the country’s 25.8 million citizens have been vaccinated.

North Korea has recorded its first COVID-19 deaths after the hermit nation reported an “explosive” outbreak that possibly infected over 350,000 people.

Around 18,000 people in the East Asian country experienced new “fever cases” on Thursday alone. One of the six people who have died as of Friday was reportedly infected with the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.