Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Jan. 27: Europe Relaxes Covid Rules, CDC Adds 15 Countries to ‘Highest Risk’ Level

Two-Thirds of Omicron Cases in U.K. Are Reinfections

By Jonathan Spira on 27 January 2022
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Statue of Johann Strauß II in the Stadtpark

 

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 27th day of 2022.

Multiple countries in Europe announced they will reduce or eliminate Covid restrictions.  Austria is ending rules for non-vaccinated individuals that restricted them from entering restaurants, cafés, museums, and other venues, while the Netherlands, which had some of the toughest measures in place starting in December, is relaxing them as well.  Meanwhile, England is ending its “war footing,” which among other actions taken saw field wards for patients erected to help hospitals cope with the surge in cases.

In other news we cover today, supply chain issues due to Covid will continue, an appliance maker said, a non-vaccinated man was denied a heart transplant, and a study found that two-thirds of omicron cases were reinfections.

UNITED STATES

California now has recorded over 8 million coronavirus cases and added 2.5 million of them since January 1 of this year.  Put differently, since the start of the pandemic, 1 out of every 5 residents tested positive at some point.

If you think your washing machine or refrigerator might need replacing, you may wish to start shopping now.  Major appliances will likely remain in short supply as the pandemic fuels supply chain problems, Whirlpool’s CEO, Marc Bitzer, said on Wednesday.

A middle-aged man in Southern California is accused on targeting and spitting on elementary school students, taunting them for wearing face masks.  He reportedly lay in wait for the youngsters outside several schools, first harassing them and then following them so he could cough and spit on them.  The incidents have been captured on video, according to local media reports.

Parents went to the Crescent Valley Station of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to demand action.   On Monday, officials promised a “thorough investigation.” 

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, the unvaccinated former governor of Alaska, who was found to have dined indoors at Elio’s, a restaurant  in Manhattan, despite New York City’s requirement that individuals dining inside such an establishment furnish proof of fully vaccinated status, returned to that establishment on Wednesday both offering an apology to the restaurant’s managers for the fracas and also to dine outdoors. On Monday, Palin reported that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

“We hope that anybody who has Covid is isolating for their own safety and the safety of all New Yorkers and find it highly irresponsible that Sarah Palin refuses to do so,” a spokesman for City Hall said.

In Boston, a 31-year-old man was removed from the heart transplant list for refusing to get vaccinated.  Vaccination against the coronavirus is a requirement at virtually every major hospital in the United States for transplants.  On Tuesday, the patient, David Ferguson, underwent surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to receive a left ventricular assist device, essentially a mechanical heart pump that will stabilize his condition for the time being.

Given the scarcity of hearts available for transplant, surgeons do everything possible to ensure that a transplant patient has the greatest chances of survival.

“Our Mass General Brigham health care system requires several CDC-recommended vaccines, including the Covid-19 vaccine, and lifestyle behaviors for transplant candidates to create both the best chance for a successful operation and to optimize the patient’s survival after transplantation, given that their immune system is drastically suppressed,” the hospital said in a statement.

GLOBAL

A study in the United Kingdom found that the majority of Covid infections caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant were reinfections.   Researchers at Imperial College London analyzed over 100,000 PCR tests to make the determination and the findings fly in the face of previous beliefs about immunity to Covid bestowed by a prior infection.

Danish Sundheitsminister Magnus Neunicke said that the BA.2 sub-variant of the omicron coronavirus variant, which is dominant in Denmark, appears more contagious than the more common and original variant, but it does not appear to cause more severe illness.

TRAVEL

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added 15 countries to its Level 4, or “highest risk,” category.  The new additions include Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Jamaica, Peru, Romania, Saint Barthélemy, and the United Arab Emirates.

Level 4 Travel Health Notices may be determined by level of Covid-19 in the destination or other special considerations, the agency said on its website.

These countries have a “very high level of Covid,” and there are now some 120 destinations in the highest category.  Americans “are warned that they should avoid travel’ to countries in this category.

Finally, Delta Air Lines said it was bringing hot meals back for passengers in its domestic first-class cabins. The hot-meal service was ended in the early days of the pandemic to reduce contact between cabin crew and passengers. The change will go into effect on March 1, 2022 on flights over 900 miles (1,448 km).

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Cinemas in Canada will begin a staggered reopening at the end of the month.  Theaters located in Ontario will, however, face capacity restrictions as well as limitations on food and beverage sales as the silver screens begin to flicker.

Finally, Spotify agreed to remove Neil Young’s music from the platform after the singer published an open letter in which he demanded that his collection of songs be pulled because Spotify allows its platform to be used to spread misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines, specifically calling out its popular podcast by host Joe Rogan.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Wednesday, January 27.

As of Thursday morning, the world has recorded 364 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 4.1 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.65 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 288 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 3 million.

Worldwide, the number of active cases as of Thursdayis 70,433,532.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 70,337,550, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 95,982, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical fell is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 686,136 new cases on Thursday for the previous day, compared with 512, 947  reported on Wednesday, 1,029,906 reported on Tuesday, and 199,744 reported on Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 618,231, a 21% 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 2,466, an increase of 35% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Wednesday, recorded 74.2 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 898,680. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 40.4 million, and a reported death toll of 491,729.  Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 624,507, and has seen 24.6 million cases.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Wednesday, 251.5 million people in the United States – or 75.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 63.5%, or 210.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 537.2 million. Breaking this down further, 87.6% of the population over the age of 18 – or 226.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 73.9% of the same group – or 190.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 43.5% of that population, or 83.1 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 60.8% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Wednesday, a figure that is up .1 percentage point  in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 9.98 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 9.8% 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. 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.

Anna Breuer contributed to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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