July 11 (Reuters) – Multiple Chinese cities are adopting fresh COVID-19 curbs to rein in new infections, with the commercial hub of Shanghai bracing for another mass testing campaign after detecting the BA.5 Omicron subvariant.
* Shanghai has discovered a COVID-19 case involving a new subvariant Omicron BA.5.2.1, an official said, signalling the complications China faces to keep up with new mutations as it pursues its “zero-COVID” policy.
* South Korea’s president will suspend informal media briefings he has held nearly every day since taking office in May, his office said, citing rising numbers of COVID-19 infections as a survey showed a fall in his approval ratings.
* Macau shut all its casinos for the first time in more than two years, sending shares in gaming firms tumbling as authorities struggle to contain the worst coronavirus outbreak yet in the world’s biggest gambling hub.
* The government of Shanghai has called on citizens to share “heart-warming” photographs, videos and stories about a punishing two-month lockdown imposed in April by the authorities to curb China’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak.
* At the Tour de Suisse last month, only half of the riders finished the race as the virus spread like wildfire and riders and staff are now fearing it might happen on the world’s biggest cycling event.
* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it authorized state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill Paxlovid to eligible patients, in a bid to improve access to the treatment.
AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST
* Flag carrier El Al Israel Airlines reached a collective agreement with its pilots to restore their salaries to pre-COVID pandemic levels and end months of labour action that led to cancelled flights.
* Africa’s top public health body said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer for countries on the continent to receive supplies of the Paxlovid pill to treat COVID-19.
* With just a very small amount of raw sewage and a new analysis technique, researchers can determine the genetic mixture of SARS-CoV-2 variants in the community and detect new variants up to 14 days before they start showing up on patients’ nasal swabs, according to a new report.
* China, the world’s second-largest economy is recovering from lockdowns and supply chain disruptions that started in April, but headwinds to growth such as the Ukraine war, an uncertain economic outlook and new flare-ups in domestic COVID outbreaks persist, a Reuters poll showed.
* New Zealand’s central bank is expected to deliver this week a third straight half-point rate hike in its most aggressive policy tightening in over two decades, but growing signs of a potentially sharp economic downturn may temper the hawkish dash.
* If new bonds are issued, they will take available funding to levels similar to the stimulus that helped drive China’s recovery from the initial COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. This is a time-honoured strategy of lifting infrastructure and construction spending to boost the economy.
* Indonesia’s central bank may raise interest rates in the current quarter to contain future pressure on core inflation, but any hike will not be aggressive and the size will hinge on the scale of energy subsidies next year, its governor said.
Compiled by Sherry Jacob-Phillips; Editing by Arun Koyyur