China’s foreign ministry office in Hong Kong said that it will simplify mainland China visa applications for foreigners in the city who have been inoculated with Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines.
The simplified process, effective from Monday, resumes pre-pandemic application requirements, and will be available only to applicants and their family members inoculated with Chinese-produced vaccines who have obtained a vaccination certificate, the office of China’s foreign commissioner in Hong Kong said in a statement dated Friday.
It said it made the move “in view of resuming people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries in an orderly manner.” It did not say why the simplified procedures were not extended to those receiving other Covid-19 vaccines.
Foreign travellers who have been vaccinated with non-Chinese vaccines will continue to be required to present negative nucleic acid tests and a health and travel declaration form, the statement said.
It was not immediately clear if the simplified procedures will be available to foreigners applying for visas outside of Hong Kong. – Reuters
Hong Kong is facing its fifth wave of infection, with a growing cluster centred around a high-end gym logging 99 cases so far. The gym is popular with the city’s central business district workers, local media reported, and several major banks and law firms are among dozens of businesses given compulsory testing orders. Authorities have also locked down four residential buildings in the Mid-levels, in another ambush-style operation to ensures all residents are tested overnight before being allowed to move freely again.
Staying in Australia for a moment, there’s some concern over new cases in Queensland. There are three cases under investigation.
Authorities have reported one new case but believe it is historical and unconnected to the Princess Alexandra Hospital, where a doctor who had interacted with Covid patients tested positive on Friday. That doctor was wearing appropriate PPE so authorities are investigating how she was infected, the ABC reports.
“It’s not helpful to speculate … what we do know is all our hospitals have the PPE supply available to them that is the national standard,” QLD health minister Yvette D’Ath said a short time ago.
Two people the doctor had previously met with began showing symptoms on Wednesday. The doctor’s close contacts have tested negative, and more than 230 other contacts have been tested.
Then there is another case, reported on Saturday, who tested positive on day 12 of quarantine. Authorities are working to find out if they picked up the infection while in quarantine, or just didn’t show a positive reading until day 12. The person was in hotel quarantine at the same time as a case linked to the doctor.
*This post was amended to remove an inaccurate reference to the doctor treating Covid patients.
Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison and chief health officer, Paul Kelly, recently addressed media.
The NSW hotel worker who tested positive had received the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination, but there is a lag time between vaccination and developed immunity, says Kelly. It’s the state’s first community acquired case in 55 days.
Morrison is also defending the government against criticism that its vaccine rollout is not going according to plan. He’s saying Australians believe the government has been transparent, and Australia “is leading the world out of this pandemic”.
Issues with international supply (including EU countries blocking shipments to Australia) have meant the country has only received about 700,000 doses, instead of the millions hoped for by now. Morrison says the shortfall will start to be made up soon as local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine ramps up.
He’s also announced $1bn in funding to telehealth, extending the services until June.
Hello and welcome to our continuing coverage of the pandemic. This is Helen Davidson in Taipei, here to take you through the next few hours. Below is a quick summary of the latest developments, then I’ll bring you the latest from the Asia region.
- Italy will ramp up its Covid-19 vaccination programme to hit a target of administering 500,000 doses each day, the country’s coronavirus special commissioner said on Saturday.
- There have been a further 5,534 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data – compared with 6,039 cases last Saturday.
- Australia’s prime minister and chief medical officer have just received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, alongside 84-year-old Jane Malysiak, who survived the second world war and immigrated to Australia from Poland more than 70 years ago.
- A NSW quarantine hotel worker who had received the first dose of a vaccine, has tested positive to Covid. It’s the state’s first community case in 55 days.
- The United States has reported a record daily number (more than 4.5 million) of vaccine doses administered. This has far surpassed the previous highest daily figure, which stood at 2.9 million doses.
- Australia’s centre-left Labor party has been reelected in the state of Western Australia after implementing some of the country’s strictest measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
- Argentina’s government is concerned by the rise in Covid-19 cases across the region and will increase border controls and preventative measures, the country’s health minister has said.
- Covid-19 infection levels in the greater Tokyo area appear to be increasing, health minister Norihisa Tamura has said, and threaten to jeopardise the lifting of the state of emergency scheduled for 21 March.