Coronavirus News Briefing – Dec. 1: U.S. Plans Tougher Rules for Travelers Arriving from Foreign Countries

By Anna Breuer on 1 December 2021
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London from the air

As the omicron “variant of concern” continues to take hold, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was considering tightening coronavirus testing requirements for travelers coming to the United States.  The new rules would mandate a Covid-19 test within 24 hours of boarding a flight to the United States and a second test within five days of arrival.  The current rules call for a test within 72 hours of boarding.

The rules would apply to all travelers including U.S. citizens.

Meanwhile, the White House unveiled its holiday decorations, this year crafted under the guidance of First Lady Jill Biden.  The decorations are an homage to frontline healthcare workers and are intended, the White House said, to evoke feelings of unity and healing.

In the United Kingdom, the government reinstated some Covid restrictions, making the donning of face masks mandatory on all public transit as well as in shops and other similar venues.

An anti-vaccine Christian broadcaster, Marcus Lamb, died after contracting the coronavirus.  Lamb, who was 64, was a co-founder of the conservative Christian Daystar Television Network.  He vocally opposed Covid vaccines in his broadcasts.

Finally, Japan asked all airlines to stop accepting new bookings for flights into the country for the remainder of 2021. Earlier in the week, officials barred all non-resident foreigners from entering the country and, the following day, it closed its borders to all non-Japanese travelers, including permanent residents of Japan, from ten countries in the southern Africa region including South Africa.

As of Wednesday morning, the world has recorded 263.3 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.7 million new cases, and almost 5.3 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 237.7 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 83,120, a 2% decrease.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 893, a decrease of 16% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 49.4 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 803,159. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 34.6 million, and a death toll of 469,247, 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, 614,754, and has just 22.1 million cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, 233.2 million people in the United States – or 70.2% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 59.4%, or 197 million people, are now fully vaccinated, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 460.8 million. Breaking this down further, 82.7% of the population over the age of 18 – or 213.5million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 71.1% of the same group – or 183.7 million people – is fully vaccinated.

Some 54.5% 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, 8 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 6% 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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