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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Almost a third of people report lingering symptom 6-12 months after COVID-19 -study

Almost a third of people report at least one ongoing symptom between 6 and 12 months after their coronavirus infection, a survey of 152,000 people in Denmark has found. The study includes one of the largest groups yet of people who were not hospitalized with COVID, and followed them for longer than other major studies, the researchers from Denmark’s State Serum Institute (SSI) said.

Belgium set to remove almost all COVID restrictions

Belgium will remove almost all its coronavirus restrictions from Monday, ending a requirement to wear masks in almost all places and scrapping the need to show a COVID-19 pass for indoor venues from cafes to sports halls. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that the major easing of measures has come almost exactly two years since the pandemic first struck the country, which is home to NATO and EU institutions.

Exclusive-Encompass Health’s home health unit attracts acquisition interest-sources

Private equity firms including Advent International and companies including Aveanna Healthcare Holdings Inc have expressed interest in acquiring the home health and hospice business of Encompass Health Corp, people familiar with the matter said. Encompass, which provides post-acute healthcare services, said in October that it planned to spin off the business, called Enhabit, in the first half of 2022. Last month the Birmingham, Alabama-based company said it was open to the separation happening through a sale or a merger.

FDA declines pediatric EUA for Ocugen’s COVID vaccine Covaxin

Ocugen Inc said on Friday US regulators have declined to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covaxin, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by its Indian partner Bharat Biotech, for use in individuals aged 2 to 18 years. Shares of Ocugen slumped 30% premarket on the news.

EU COVID vaccinations fall as pandemic worries ebb, Ukraine grabs spotlight

COVID-19 vaccinations in the European Union fell last week to their lowest level in more than a year, EU data show, as fears about the pandemic ebbed, governments relaxed restrictions and public attention shifted to the crisis in Ukraine. The pace of immunizations in the bloc began steadily falling since the start of the year amid a slowdown in infections. Some 72% of EU’s population has had two doses by now, leaving tens of millions still unvaccinated.

FDA approves expanded use of Bristol Myers cancer drug Opdivo

Bristol Myers Squibb said on Friday the US Food and Drug Administration had approved the expanded use of its cancer drug Opdivo along with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with an aggressive form of lung cancer. The approval was based on data from a late-stage study showing the drug along with chemotherapy improved event-free survival and pathologic complete response compared to chemotherapy alone in patients with resectable non-small cell lung cancer, the drugmaker said.

China to handle COVID clusters in a targeted, science-based manner

China will cope with local COVID-19 outbreaks in a “science-based, targeted” manner to maintain the normal order of life, according to a government work report released at the open of the country’s annual meeting of parliament on Saturday. China will stick to preventing inbound COVID infections and the domestic resurgence of the disease while continuing to refine its epidemic measures, according to the report.

Most EU women blame COVID pandemic for spike in gender violence -poll

Nearly three out of four European Union women think the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an increase in physical and psychological violence against them, according to a Eurobarometer poll published on Friday. The poll, commissioned by the European Parliament ahead of Women’s Day on March 8, shows 77% of women in the EU think the pandemic caused a rise in gender violence in their countries, with nine in 10 respondents in Greece and Portugal saying so.

Mexico reports 308 more COVID-19 deaths, 9,748 new cases

Mexico reported 308 more fatalities from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total death toll since the pandemic began to 319,604, according to health ministry data. The country also reported 9,748 new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total to 5,554,392.

England’s estimated COVID R number roughly steady

The estimated range of England’s COVID-19 reproduction “R” number is between 0.8 and 1.0, roughly steady compared to the previous week’s range of 0.7 to 1.0, the UK Health Security Agency said on Friday. An R number between 0.8 and 1.0 means that for every 10 people infected, they will on average infect between 8 and 10 other people.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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