Coronavirus: Latest Global Developments

Shoppers buy vegetables a day after many shops ran out of some produce in Hong Kong on 9 February, 2022, as stricter COVID-19 restrictions come into force following the city's highest infection numbers since the pandemic began. (AFP Photo)

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

Half Million Dead Since Omicron 

The World Health Organization (WHO) laments that half a million people have died of the virus since the Omicron variant was discovered, calling the toll "beyond tragic".

Canada Truckers Not Budging

Truckers paralysing the Canadian capital and a key bridge over the border with the United States (US) in anger at COVID rules show no sign of backing down as the nation's provinces say it is time to roll back restrictions.

New Zealand Copycats 

New Zealand anti-vaccine mandate protesters continue a similar action outside the country's parliament, the Wellington demonstrators vowing they will stay "as long as it takes".

Rich Must Pay: WHO 

The WHO urges rich countries to pay their fair share of the money needed for its plan to conquer COVID-19 by contributing US$16 billion as a matter of urgency.

S Korea Drops Tests And Trace 

South Korea is dropping its vaunted "trace, test and treat" programme as a surge in Omicron cases threatens to overwhelm the country's healthcare system.

Hong Kong Panic Buying 

Fears of a new lockdown spark panic buying in Hong Kong with the city determined to maintain China's strict "zero-COVID" policy.

US States Lift Mask Rules 

Several Democratic-run US states are planning to lift mask mandates indoors and in schools as infections decline in America.

Brazil Illiteracy Up 

The number of Brazilian children aged six and seven who do not know how to read or write has risen by 66 percent during the pandemic, an educational charity says.

Indonesia Tests Vaccine 

Indonesia begins testing a homegrown COVID vaccine on humans after getting the green light from the country's drug regulator.

Slovenia PM Positive 

Slovenia's conservative Prime Minister Janez Jansa tests positive for the virus as infections there begin to decline.

Corn Sales Popping 

The pandemic has sent sales of microwave popcorn soaring in Europe with people feasting on the popular cinema snack at home.

T20 Cricket Off 

New Zealand Cricket scraps next month's T20 series against Australia, saying the move was "inevitable" due to strict COVID-19 border controls.

Over 5.7 Million Deaths 

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,761,646 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Wednesday.

The US has recorded the most COVID deaths with 909,020, followed by Brazil with 633,810, India 505,279 and Russia 337,390.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to COVID-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.