Coronavirus News Briefing – Nov. 28: Dutch Officials Find 13 Omicron Cases in Travelers Arriving from South Africa

By Paul Riegler on 28 November 2021
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“Chicken and Biscuits” cancelled several performances due to Covid earlier in its run.

Officials in the Netherlands said on Sunday that they had found at least 13 cases of the new omicron coronavirus variant among the 61 passengers who had tested positive upon arrival from South Africa at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Friday.

Two flights arrived at Schiphol after a travel ban from southern African countries was put into place and all 600 hundred passengers on two arriving flights were segregated from other travelers and tested for the coronavirus, with screening for the new omicron variant.

Meanwhile, countries took steps to stem the spread of the new variant. On Saturday, the United Kingdom made masks mandatory on public transit and in shops starting Tuesday. Travelers from abroad will face tighter testing requirements for Covid starting that day as well.  Two cases of Covid with the omicron variant – one in Essex and one in Nottingham – have been discovered so far.

Switzerland said it would require travelers from Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Malawi to present a negative Covid-19 test and quarantine for ten days, the Bundesamt für Gesundheit or Federal Office of Public Health said in a tweet.

Israel, meanwhile, closed its borders to foreign nationals after detecting the omicron strain in at least one coronavirus test.

Finally, “Chicago,” the long-running musical set in Chicago in the Jazz Age, was forced to close for at least one performance on Saturday after two theater employees tested positive for Covid.  The musical did not have any performances scheduled for Sunday and said it planned to resume performances on Monday.  “Chicago” is the longest running revival in Broadway history, having started its run in 1996.

Broadway theaters began to reopen in August and all theatergoers are required to present proof of vaccination and wear masks.  All performers are required to be fully vaccinated.  There have, however, been some breakthrough cases and the show “Aladdin” was closed for two weeks due to positive Covid cases and “Chicken and Biscuits” cancelled several performances due to positive Covid tests as well.

As of Sunday morning, the world has recorded 261.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 million new cases, and 5.2 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 236.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 85,423, a 5% increase.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 955 , a decrease of 13% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Sunday, recorded 49.1 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 799,312. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, almost 34.6 million, and a death toll of 468,554, although experts believe that both numbers are in reality significantly higher.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 614,236, and has seen just 22.1 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Sunday, 231.4 million people in the United States – or 69.7% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 59.1%, or 196.2 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 454.4 million. Breaking this down further, 82.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 212.3 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 70.1% of the same group – or 183.1 million people – is fully vaccinated.

Some 54.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 7.9 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 5.7% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 65% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. In countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that well-off countries are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, while the majority of poor countries have yet to give a single dose to its citizens.

It is critical that the world do a better job of sharing vaccines with poorer nations.

Sharing vaccines is not merely a form of charity.  Rather, the equitable distribution of vaccines is in every country’s health and economic interest and no country will be able to move past the pandemic until other countries have recovered as well.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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