What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: A public school student receives a dose of the Sinopharm vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as part of a vaccination campaign for adolescents, in Caracas, Venezuela October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/File Photo

Chinese port city battles growing cluster

A growing COVID-19 cluster in China’s Dalian has spurred the port city to limit outbound travel, cut offline school classes and close a few cultural venues after being told by authorities to contain the outbreak more quickly. On Friday, Dalian called on residents not to leave their home unless necessary.

Dalian, a main port for seafood shipments as well as fruit and some meats, has also ordered all businesses handling imported chilled and frozen foods to suspend operations, according to the state-backed Global Times newspaper.

Japan prepares beds, booster shots before winter

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida outlined on Friday an urgent plan to increase hospital beds and medical resources in preparation for a possible resurgence of COVID-19 this winter. The government plans to boost hospital bed capacity by about 30%, bolster in-home care, and collect data to predict which hospitals will come under pressure.

Kishida said this week that the “trump card” in the government’s pandemic fight was the procurement of oral treatments that could prevent the need for hospitalisation. Japan will pay about $1.2 billion to Merck & Co Inc for 1.6 million courses of the COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir, according to terms announced on Wednesday. That’s about half the supply that has been secured by the United States and compares with a total of 1.7 million coronavirus cases in Japan since the start of the pandemic.

Beijing’s ‘Ice Cube’ capacity capped at 20%

Attendance for curling events at Beijing’s “Ice Cube”, built as the “Water Cube” for swimming events at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, will be limited to fewer than 1,000, or 20% of its 4,600 person capacity as a COVID-19 prevention measure, the venue’s general manager told the Global Times newspaper.

The Feb. 4-20 Games will be held without overseas spectators and organisers have yet to announce arrangements for domestic ones as China sticks with a zero-COVID policy, using some of the world’s most stringent measures.

Sweden again charts novel COVID path with no-test stance

Sweden has seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 testing this month, just as much of Europe contends with surging infection rates, after its health agency said vaccinated Swedes no longer need get tested even if they have symptoms of the disease.

The health agency’s stance has rekindled criticism that the country has once again broken ranks with its neighbours and has led to some of its regions no longer providing free testing for all. Health agency official Sara Byfors defended the decision saying testing would still be at high enough levels to catch trends and it had never caught all cases.

Dutch consider new partial lockdown as cases hit record

The Dutch government on Thursday was considering whether to impose Western Europe’s first partial lockdown since the summer, as new coronavirus cases jumped to the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet was due to discuss the advice in an emergency meeting late on Thursday and will announce its decision at a news conference at 1800 GMT on Friday.

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