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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Greece lifts COVID restrictions for summer tourism season

Greece said on Wednesday that pandemic restrictions such as mask-wearing indoors and COVID certificates will be lifted throughout the summer tourism period and authorities will consider reinstating them in September. Coronavirus infections in Greece have eased in recent weeks, with authorities recording 15,000 infections and 64 deaths on Tuesday. Out of a population of 11 million, some 72% are fully vaccinated.

US renews COVID-19 public health emergency

The United States on Wednesday renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency, allowing millions of Americans to keep getting free tests, vaccines and treatments for at least three more months. The public health emergency was initially declared in January 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began. It has been renewed each quarter since and was due to expire on April 16.

Italy reports 62,037 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, 155 deaths

Italy reported 62,037 COVID-19 related cases on Wednesday, against 83,643 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths fell to 155 from 169. Italy has registered 161,187 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020 , the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world. The country has reported 15.5 million cases to date.

US life expectancy fell by 2 years in 2020, sharpest drop among high-income peers

Life expectancy in the United States fell by nearly two years in 2020 to about 77 years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the sharpest drop compared to 21 other high-income countries, according to a global study. Americans on average are now expected to live for 76.99 years from 78.86 years in 2019, according to the study, which looked at national death and population counts in 2019 and 2020 to calculate the mortality rate ratio.

Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

China’s race to stop the spread of COVID-19 is clogging highways and ports, stranding workers and shutting countless factories – disruptions that are rippling through global supply chains for goods ranging from electric vehicles to iPhones. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

S. Korea to expand rollout of second COVID booster shot to people over 60

South Korea’s health ministry said on Wednesday it will administer a second COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for people over 60 as the country continues to battle the highly contagious Omicron variant. “The government plans to expand the fourth round of vaccination to those aged 60 and older,” Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol told a meeting, adding the infection rate in the age group has continued to rise to stand above 20%.

US extends transit mask mandate through May 3 amid COVID uptick

President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday extended by 15 days a US mandate requiring travelers to wear masks on airplanes, trains and in transit hubs. Industry groups and Republican lawmakers want the administration to immediately end the 14-month-old mask mandate. The latest extension would keep the requirements, which had been set to expire April 18, in place through May 3 amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Mexico plans vaccinations for more children, presses for COVAX doses

Mexico will vaccinate more children against COVID-19, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday, urging global health authorities to deliver the doses it had ordered for the purpose. Mexico last year began inoculating some at-risk children, and children with disabilities, but has so far held back from rolling out a broader vaccination program for minors.

Pfizer’s Bourla: COVID vaccines for new variants possible for Fall

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Wednesday that the company could possibly develop a new vaccine that protects against the Omicron variant as well as older forms of COVID-19 by autumn. “It’s easy to do something only against Omicron. What is scientifically and technically more challenging … is to be effective against everything known so far, so you don’t have two different vaccines for different variants,” Bourla said, speaking at a press conference held by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations.

Bausch Health under investigation over marketing of dermatology drugs- STAT

The US Department of Justice is investigating Bausch Health Companies in connection with its marketing of four drugs used to treat different skin conditions, health news website STAT reported on Wednesday. The justice department last year sought information from Bausch Health, previously known as Valeant Pharmaceuticals, under a civil investigative demand about its activities involving promotion of the drugs for uses not approved by regulators, the report said.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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