What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Jan 19 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:British ministers to decide on lifting England’s COVID curbsBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with his Cabinet on Wednesday to review restrictions to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in England as he seeks to move attention away from parties held at his residence during coronavirus lockdowns.The restrictions, known as “Plan B” measures, were introduced by the government last month as the Omicron strain spread rapidly across Britain. They included guidance to work from home where possible, masks for indoor settings and vaccine passports for mass events. Which mask is best at protecting against COVID-19?The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said Americans should wear the most protective mask they can. N95 respirators worn correctly are designed to filter out at least 95% of particulate matter in the air, preventing anything larger than .3 microns from passing through. KN95s and KF94s are certified in China and South Korea, respectively, and offer similar protection to N95 masks. KF stands for “Korean filter” and indicates 94% filtration.The CDC said masks are meant for single-use but can be used more than once when there is a shortage. The agency says N95s should not be used more than 5 times. The CDC recommends that a surgical mask under a cloth mask can offer increased protection if using an N95 is not possible. China reports fewest daily local confirmed cases in 2 weeksChina reported the lowest daily count of local confirmed COVID-19 infections in two weeks on Wednesday after cities sealed up areas of virus risk, quarantined infections and conducted mass testing.Beijing Municipal Postal Administration said international mail arriving in the city must be disinfected and kept static for 48 hours – 24 hours for mailbags and 24 hours for the mail separately – before further checks, state television reported on Tuesday. The measure came after Beijing officials reported one local Omicron case for Jan. 15 and said the possibility that the person was infected via imported goods “cannot be ruled out”. Japan poised to widen COVID-19 controlsJapan was poised on Wednesday to widen COVID-19 controls to cover half its population as the Omicron variant drives new infections to record levels. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to officially approve the plan after it was cleared by an expert panel.The so-called quasi-emergency measures permit governors to impose curbs on mobility and business, including shorter opening hours for bars and restaurants, as well as prohibitions on alcohol sales. The measures, already in place in three regions, will widen to cover Tokyo and 12 other prefectures, lasting from Friday until Feb. 13. Mild cases still lead to attention and memory issues – studyPeople with mild COVID-19 who do not suffer any other traditional “long COVID” symptoms can still exhibit deteriorated attention and memory six to nine months after infection, a study by Britain’s Oxford University has found.The researchers found that participants were significantly worse at recalling personal experiences, known as episodic memory, up to six months after infection. Participants performed well in tests of other cognitive abilities, including working memory and planning, in the analysis of 136 participants.