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Dollar surge causes medicine and baby milk shortages at pharmacies

The head of the Order of Pharmacists of Lebanon, Joe Salloum, warned Wednesday that the dramatic surge in the dollar exchange rate on the black market has led to “a near-complete halt of the delivery of medicines and baby milk to pharmacies.”

Pharmacies are “gradually running out” of medicines and baby milk, Salloum cautioned.

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China reduces COVID-19 case number reporting as virus surges

China's National Health Commission scaled down its daily COVID-19 report starting Wednesday in response to a sharp decline in PCR testing since the government eased antivirus measures after daily cases hit record highs.

A notice on the commission's website said it stopped publishing daily figures on numbers of COVID-19 cases where no symptoms are detected since it was "impossible to accurately grasp the actual number of asymptomatic infected persons," which have generally accounted for the vast majority of new infections. The only numbers they're reporting are confirmed cases detected in public testing facilities.

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China struggles with COVID infections after controls ease

A rash of COVID-19 cases in schools and businesses were reported by social media users Friday in areas across China after the ruling Communist Party loosened anti-virus rules as it tries to reverse a deepening economic slump.

Official data showed a fall in new cases, but those no longer cover big parts of the population after the government on Wednesday ended mandatory testing for many people. That was part of dramatic changes aimed at gradually emerging from "zero-COVID" restrictions that have confined millions of people to their homes and sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign.

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China's looser anti-COVID measures met with relief, caution

People across China reacted with relief and caution Thursday to the dramatic government decision to loosen some of the world's most severe COVID-19 restrictions.

For the first time in months, Jenny Jian hit the gym in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou without being required to scan the "health code" on her smartphone, part of a nationwide system that tracks where hundreds of millions of people go.

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China announces rollback of strict anti-COVID-19 measures

In a sharp reversal, China has announced a series of measures rolling back some of its most draconian anti-COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting harsh lockdowns and ordering schools without known infections to resume regular classes.

The National Health Commission in a 10-point announcement on Wednesday stipulated that COVID-19 tests and a clean bill of health displayed on a smartphone app would no longer be required, apart from vulnerable areas such as nurseries, elderly care facilities and schools. It also limited the scale of lockdown to individual apartment floors and buildings, rather than entire districts and neighborhoods.

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Hong Kong divided over China's COVID-19 protests

The recent wave of protests against China's anti-virus restrictions was a ray of hope for some supporters of Hong Kong's own pro-democracy movement after local authorities stifled it using a national security law enacted in 2020.

Thomas So, who joined about a dozen students from the Chinese mainland staging a rare protest this week at the University of Hong Kong, is among them.

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China eases some virus controls, searches pedestrians

More Chinese cities eased some anti-virus restrictions as police patrolled their streets to head off protests Thursday while the ruling Communist Party prepared for the high-profile funeral of late leader Jiang Zemin.

Guangzhou in the south, Shijiazhuang in the north, Chengdu in the southwest and other major cities announced they were easing testing requirements and controls on movement. In some areas, markets and bus service reopened.

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Syria receives cholera vaccines ahead of inoculation drive

Syria has received two million doses of cholera vaccines, the first to reach the country during a months-long outbreak, the country's health ministry said Wednesday.

The war-torn country has been suffering from a cholera outbreak since September and has struggled to contain it due to its devastated water and health infrastructure. Syria's Health Ministry has documented 1,556 cases and 49 deaths since then.

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Polio is back in Indonesia, sparking vaccination campaign

Children in school uniforms and toddlers with their parents lined up Monday for polio vaccinations in the Sigli town square on the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, after four children were found infected with the highly contagious disease that was declared eradicated in the country less than a decade ago.

The virus was first detected in October in a 7-year-old boy suffering from partial paralysis in the province of Aceh near Sigli, and since then three other cases have been detected, prompting the mass immunization and information drive.

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China affirms zero-COVID stance, eases rules after protests

Authorities eased anti-virus rules in scattered areas but affirmed China's severe "zero- COVID" strategy Monday after crowds demanded President Xi Jinping resign during protests against controls that confine millions of people to their homes.

The government made no comment on the protests or criticism of Xi, the most widespread display of opposition to the ruling Communist Party in decades. There was no official word on how many people were detained after police used pepper spray against protesters in Shanghai and struggled to suppress demonstrations in other cities including Beijing, the capital.

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