Latest stories
Russian embassy says North Korea lifted lockdown in capital

Russia's embassy in North Korea says the country has eased stringent epidemic controls in capital Pyongyang that were placed during the past five days to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses.

North Korea has not officially acknowledged a lockdown in Pyongyang or a re-emergence of COVID-19 after leader Kim Jong Un declared a widely disputed victory over the coronavirus in August, but the Russian embassy's Facebook posts have provided rare glimpses into the secretive country's infectious disease controls.

W140 Full Story
Syria rebel-held areas receive first cholera vaccines

The first batch of cholera vaccines has reached rebel-held areas in the northwest of war-ravaged Syria, where the extremely virulent disease is spreading.

Syria's first outbreak since 2009, which the United Nations and local officials say has killed dozens of people since August, has been attributed in part to dilapidated infrastructure after more than a decade of conflict.

W140 Full Story
Japan to lower COVID-19 to flu status, further easing rules

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday announced plans to downgrade the legal status of COVID-19 to the equivalent of seasonal influenza in the spring, a move that would further relax mask wearing and other preventive measures as the country seeks to return to normalcy.

Kishida said he has instructed experts and government officials to discuss the details on lowering COVID-19's status. A change would also remove self-isolation rules and other anti-virus requirements and allow COVID-19 patients to seek treatment at any hospital instead of only specialized facilities.

W140 Full Story
Hong Kong to scrap isolation rule for new COVID-19 cases

Hong Kong will scrap its mandatory isolation rule for people infected with COVID-19 starting Jan. 30 as part of its strategy to return the semi-autonomous Chinese city to normalcy, the city's leader said Thursday.

For most of the pandemic over the last three years, Hong Kong has aligned itself with mainland China's "zero COVID" strategy, requiring those who test positive to undergo quarantine. Many residents had to be sent to hospitals or government-run quarantine facilities even when their symptoms were mild.

W140 Full Story
WHO alert on Indian cough syrups blamed for Uzbek deaths

The World Health Organization has issued an alert warning against the use of two Indian cough syrups blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children in Uzbekistan.

W140 Full Story
WHO, officials say Uganda's latest Ebola outbreak is over

Uganda's latest outbreak of the Ebola virus is over, the government and the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Health Minister Ruth Aceng told journalists that no new cases had been registered in the past 42 days.

W140 Full Story
China economy recovering but hampered by virus outbreaks

Wang Jian is anxious to get back to work teaching basketball to children now that China has lifted anti-COVID-19 restrictions. But his gym in the eastern city of Shenyang has been closed for a month because all its coaches are infected.

The most optimistic forecasts say China's business and consumer activity might revive as early as the first quarter of this year. But before that happens, entrepreneurs and families face a painful squeeze from a surge in virus cases that has left employers without enough healthy workers and kept wary customers away from shopping malls, restaurants, hair salons and gyms.

W140 Full Story
Beds run out at Beijing hospital as COVID brings more sick

Patients, most of them elderly, are lying on stretchers in hallways and taking oxygen while sitting in wheelchairs as COVID-19 surges in China's capital Beijing.

The Chuiyangliu hospital in the city's east was packed with newly arrived patients on Thursday. By midmorning beds had run out, even as ambulances continued to bring those in need.

W140 Full Story
EU moving toward joint measures to face China COVID crisis

European Union nations are fine-tuning a coordinated response to China's COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday and are zeroing in on travel restrictions that would upset both Beijing and the global airline industry.

China has already vehemently rejected travel restrictions that some EU nations have started to impose and has warned of "countermeasures" if such actions should be expanded in coming days.

W140 Full Story
More European nations tighten COVID rules for China flights

France, Spain and England will implement tougher COVID-19 measures for passengers arriving from China, authorities said.

France's government is requiring negative tests, and is urging French citizens to avoid nonessential travel to China. France is also reintroducing mask requirements on flights from China to France.

W140 Full Story