(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
COVID disrupts aid flight to tsunami-hit Tonga
As aid trickles into the South Pacific nation of Tonga, devastated by a volcanic eruption and tsunami, an Australian aid flight was forced to return to base due to a positive COVID-19 case onboard, a defence official said on Friday. All crew had returned negative rapid antigen tests before departure, but PCR tests later showed the positive result. The supplies were moved to another flight that took off on Friday.
Tonga is COVID-free and has a strict border control policy, and is requiring contactless delivery of aid that began arriving by plane on Thursday.
Hong Kong warns people trying to prevent hamster cull
Hong Kong police will deal with pet lovers who try to stop people giving up their hamsters to be put down, or who offer to care for abandoned hamsters, authorities said, after they ordered a cull of the cuddly rodents to curb the coronavirus.
Thousands of people have offered to adopt unwanted hamsters amid a public outcry against the government and its pandemic advisers, which the office of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called irrational.
A divided nation: Western Australia stays shut
Australia will remain a divided nation with the vast mining state of Western Australia cancelling plans to reopen its borders on Feb. 5, citing health risks from a surge in the Omicron COVID-19 variant in eastern states. Instead, reopening will be delayed indefinitely or at least until the percentage of triple dose vaccinations reached 80%. It is currently around 26%.
Australia’s most populous state New South Wales (NSW) on Friday reported its deadliest day of the pandemic, with 46 deaths.
Canadian provincial leader wants to pause truckers’ vaccine mandate
The premier of Canada’s Alberta province on Thursday called on the federal government to pause a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers that companies say will disrupt the supply chain and fuel inflation.
The mandate, imposed by Ottawa to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, has cost Canadian trucking companies about 10% of their international drivers, six top executives said this week. They said they are hiking wages to lure new operators during the worst labour shortage they have experienced.
Israel to scrap quarantine for children exposed to COVID carriers
Israel will ditch mandatory quarantine for children exposed to COVID-19 carriers, the government said on Thursday, citing a need to relieve parents and schools as case numbers spiral due to the fast-spreading but low-morbidity Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that as of Jan. 27, children will instead be required to take twice-weekly home antigen tests for the virus and, if they prove positive or feel unwell, absent themselves from school until they recover. The home kits will be supplied free of charge, he said.
Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Kim Coghill
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