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COVID-19 sniffer dogs in Finland; vaccines required for Hajj; vaccine queue-jumping in Malaysia

A look at how COVID-19 is impacting life around the world

by Stranger’s Guide

Finland

Are dogs the new COVID-19 test? Evidently not. Despite months of training and preparation, customs officers in Finland will not use sniffer dogs to look for COVID-19 in travelers to the country. The country’s health department concluded there wasn’t enough evidence that the dogs could detect the coronavirus. The authorities also worried that if the dogs didn’t detect a scent, passengers could think they were not carrying the virus, giving a false sense of security. The Finnish government decided to use sniffer dogs in its efforts to combat COVID-19 a year ago and aimed to start using the animals at border-crossings from late February. (Helsinki Times)

Saudi Arabia

Religious pilgrims to Saudi Arabia will have to be vaccinated in order to be allowed in Mecca this year. Tawfig Al-Rabiah, the country’s health minister, said the shot will be a prerequisite from anyone attending the hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. In 2020, the government limited the number of worshippers to 10,000 locals. The year before, local pilgrims accounted for 700,000 visitors. (Morocco World News)

Czech Republic

Once considered a success story in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the Czech Republic now has some of the highest transmission and death rates of COVID-19 in the world. Its ICU wards are nearing capacity, and a year after the first cases were identified, the Czech Republic now has the second-highest incidence of coronavirus infections and third-highest death rate per capita in the European Union. The government has imposed a new lockdown, mandatory mask-wearing and restrictions on movement of its citizens. (Radio Prague)

Malaysia

A week after Malaysia rolled out its national vaccination plan, political aides are already getting accused of queue-jumping. Doctors in the country complained people were cutting in line ahead of medical workers to receive the free shot. In response, Malaysia’s science minister Khairy Jamaluddin, responsible for the vaccine roll-out, said he would investigate. Between February and April, 300,000 medical and 200,000 non-medical workers such as politicians are due to receive the vaccine. (South China Morning Post)

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