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Coronavirus

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Published: Updated:

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Chinese cities on high alert as peak travel season starts

Several Chinese cities went on high COVID-19 alert as the Lunar New Year holiday travel season started on Monday, requiring travelers to report their trips days before their arrival. Over the weekend, the capital city of Beijing and the southern technology hub of Yulin each detected one domestically transmitted omicron case.

Japan govt discussing quasi-state of emergency for Tokyo

Japan’s government has started discussions to impose a quasi-state of emergency on the capital Tokyo and its surrounding areas within the week, broadcaster FNN said, as COVID-19 cases rise.

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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday the capital would request such measures if the usage of beds set aside for COVID-19 patients climbed to 20 percent. The rate stood at 19.3 percent as of Sunday. Koike said last week a full declaration of emergency in Tokyo would be called for if hospital bed usage rate rises to 50 percent.

Shortage of testing kits ‘not unique’ to Australia, PM says

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the shortages of at-home antigen tests were “not unique” to the country as authorities deal with a runaway omicron outbreak that has driven up hospitalization rates and strain testing systems.

The country’s competition regulator flagged “significant concerns” about reports of price gouging of testing kits amid reports of stockpiling and called inflated prices “clearly outrageous.”

UK’s Johnson plans to scrap self-isolation law

The United Kingdom is drawing up plans under which people will not be legally bound to self-isolate after catching COVID-19, The Telegraph reported. The plans will be worked up over the coming weeks, with an announcement expected as early as the spring, the report said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to permanently revoke emergency coronavirus laws as Britain’s COVID-19 cases continue to fall, the report said, adding official guidance would remain but would not result in fines or legal punishment if ignored.

How Americans can get free COVID-19 tests promised by Biden

Americans will be able to order free COVID-19 tests online beginning Jan. 19, part of a plan by US President Joe Biden to distribute 1 billion at-home rapid kits to fight the spread of the omicron variant. The administration will work with the US Postal Service (USPS) to package and deliver tests, which it says will usually ship seven to 12 days after being ordered.

The Biden administration is also requiring health insurers to cover the cost of at-home testing kits for Americans, beginning Jan. 15. Insurance companies and health plans will be required to cover eight tests per covered individual every month, the White House said.

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