A sign about COVID-19 test is displayed at a testing site as people are seen inside for testing in Morton Grove, Illinois on Jan 9, 2022. (NAM Y. HUH / AP)
WASHINGTON / MADRID / LUSAKA – The United States will boost its stockpile of at-home COVID-19 tests, ordering more than 100 million tests from domestic manufacturers, the White House said on Thursday, but warned it was a short-term solution.
US President Joe Biden's administration has repeatedly and unsuccessfully asked Congress for more pandemic money
President Joe Biden's administration has repeatedly and unsuccessfully asked Congress for more pandemic money. It said last week it would request US$22.4 billion in emergency funding for COVID-19 relief ahead of a potential case surge in autumn.
"The Administration is acting, within its limited funding, to increase the supply of at-home COVID-19 tests in the Strategic National Stockpile by purchasing over 100 million additional at-home, rapid tests from domestic manufacturers," the White House said in a statement.
The administration has warned it would be unable to provide enough tests, vaccines and treatments without more funding. Thursday's announcement comes a week after it suspended orders of free tests from its COVIDTests.gov website as of Sept 2.
"While insufficient to adequately replenish our existing stockpile of at-home tests, this procurement will help meet some testing needs in the months ahead and will put us in a better position to manage a potential increase in testing demand this fall and winter," the White House said of the new tests.
It did not say if ordering from COVIDTests.gov, through which 600 million tests have been delivered, would resume as a result. It said last week that orders through the website would resume if Congress provides funding.
A health worker takes a swab sample from a woman for a rapid antigen test for COVID-19, in the southern neighbourhood of Vallecas in Madrid, Spain, Oct 7, 2020. (MANU FERNANDEZ / AP)
Spain will start to administer the fourth dose of vaccine against COVID-19 on Sept 26, said the Ministry of Health on Thursday.
The decision was made at a meeting of the Public Health Commission, which includes members from all 17 autonomous communities of the country.
People aged over 80 and those who live in nursing homes will be the first to receive the second booster.
The ministry said the first batch of vaccines against the Omicron variant will arrive on Friday and will be distributed next week.
So far, more than 95 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Spain, with 40 million people having received two doses.
The Zambian government on Thursday announced that it was lifting most of the COVID-19 restrictions due to reduced cases of the pandemic.
The Zambian government on Thursday announced that it was lifting most of the COVID-19 restrictions due to reduced cases of the pandemic
The country has lifted restrictions on the mandatory wearing of face masks, public gatherings and physical distancing, Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said during a press briefing in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
She said a review of the COVID-19 situation in recent weeks has shown reduced incidences, with less number of cases, less hospitalization, and related deaths. The positivity rate has remained below five percent in the last month, indicating that the pandemic was under control, she added.
However, she said the wearing of face masks will be restricted to high-risk areas such as health facilities.
She added that testing will be restricted to those with symptoms and those admitted to facilities, as well as those traveling to countries that require a certificate to prove negativity.