Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Oct. 4: Preparing for a Twindemic of Covid and the Flu, Ringo Starr Tests Positive

CDC Suspends Country-Specific Covid Travel Advisories

By Jonathan Spira on 4 October 2022
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The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 908th day of the pandemic.

You may begin to hear the term “twindemic” bandied about here and there in the news.  As coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom increase, which typically foreshadows an increase in the United States, the specter of an unusual confluence, a twindemic of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, is possible this winter.

While President Biden famously announced last month the pandemic was over, you, dear reader, as well as I, both know better.

The statistics confirm this.  The pandemic is far from disappearing.  The fat lady has not yet sung.

Yet people are unquestionably suffering from mask fatigue and taking fewer precautions.

In the United States alone, the average number of daily deaths is over 400 and globally that figure is over 1,400.  In addition, over 13 million people are Covid positive worldwide at the present time.

The chief executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency warned that this year will be the first time we will see the flu circulating in any real numbers alongside Covid. Patients who contract the two together are twice as likely to die versus just having SARS-CoV-2 alone.

In other words, if you haven’t gotten your new, fancy bivalent booster dose AND your flu shot, it’s time you do.

In addition, fasten your seatbelt.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

In other news we cover today, Germany instituted strict new mask mandates over the weekend, Norwegian Cruise Line ended testing requirements for the non-vaccinated, and Canada ended Covid-related entry requirements for travelers.

UNITED STATES

The Supreme Court, in its opening session Monday,  declined to hear a challenge from ten conservative states led by Missouri that sued the Biden administration over its coronavirus vaccine mandate for health-care facilities that receive federal funding. By doing so, the court let a lower-court ruling upholding the mandate stand.

Indicating a lack of sufficient data for the program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer maintain a country-by-country list of travel advisories related to the pandemic, the agency said Monday.

“As fewer countries are testing or reporting Covid-19 cases, CDC’s ability to accurately assess the Covid-19 THN [Travel Health Notice] levels for most destinations that American travelers visit is limited,” the CDC said in a statement.

Going forward, the CDC will, however, post a notice for a country if there is a concerning Covid-19 variant or other situation that would change the agency‘s travel recommendations.

GLOBAL

The United Kingdom began a public inquiry into the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The inquiry is being led by former judge Heather Hallett, who vowed to get to the truth and expose any wrongdoing or culpable conduct.  Hallett held a minute of silence at the beginning of the hearing in memory of those who died from Covid.

In China, authorities in the resort city of Sanya ordered all tourists to take PCR tests during the autumn “golden week” festival.  Anyone who fails to get tested by Tuesday will receive a yellow code in the coronavirus app that will restrict their ability to travel and enter certain establishments.

Foreign tourism in Spain increased in August, officials there said, but it nonetheless remained below pre-pandemic levels.  In August 2019, 10.12 million visitors came.  While the numbers were lower this year, their spending did approach the levels of those of 2019.

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Ringo Starr, who is 82 years old, said he tested positive for Covid. The former Beatle was forced to cancel a series of concerts in Canada as a result.

“It has been confirmed today that Ringo has Covid and the tour will be on hold while Ringo recuperates,” a spokesman for the musician said Monday, adding that Starr was “starting to feel better already.”

Finally, a Chinese artist is turning coronavirus tests into art.  Siyuan Zhuji has been filming his own nucleic acid tests using a small camera he places in his mouth.

“This is how our life is now, this period of time involves doing regular nucleic testing,” Zhuji told Reuters in an interview in his studio.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Tuesday, October 4.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded 623.9 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.2 million cases, and almost 6.6 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 604 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday is 13,287,262, a decrease of 134,000. Out of that figure, 99.7%, or 13,247,923, are considered mild, and 0.3%, or 39,339, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 47,898 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the previous day, compared to 4,755 on Monday, 6,403 on Sunday, 40,184 on Saturday, 84,801 on Friday, and 100,524 on Thursday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The 7-day incidence rate is now 46,808.  Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 45,495, a 24% decrease, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 386, a decrease of 12% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 27,596, a 12% decrease.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Tuesday, recorded just under 98.3 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.08 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 44.6 million, and a reported death toll of 528,716.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 35.5 million, although Brazil has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 686,421, and has recorded 34.7 million cases, placing it in the number four slot.

Germany is in the number five slot with 33.4 million cases.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are South Korea, with over 24.8 million cases, the United Kingdom, with 23.7 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 22.5 million, as number eight, as well as Japan, with 21.4 million, and Russia, with 21.1 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of the past Thursday, over 264.1 million people in the United States – or 79.5% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 67.9%, or 225.3 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 619.8 million. Breaking this down further, 90.5% of the population over the age of 18 – or 233.6 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 77.6% of the same group – or 200.8 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 51.9% of that population, or 104 million people, has already received a first booster dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 68% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 12.75 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 3.63 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 22.7% 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 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain in the single digits, if not lower.

In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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