Coronavirus Morning News Brief – Feb. 7: Remembering Dr. Li, Canada Under Siege

Australia to Reopen to Vaccinated Travelers

By Jonathan Spira on 7 February 2022
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Two years ago, on February 6, 2020, Dr. Li Wenliang, the first bold-faced name of the coronavirus pandemic, died at the age of 34 after contracting Covid.

Dr. Li had tried to warn his country and fellow countrymen but was silenced by the Chinese government.  More than one month before his death, he posted information online about the deadly virus killing untold number of patients at his hospital in Wuhan, only to be threatened by authorities.  Today he is recognized as both a hero and a martyr.

So little was known about the virus when he died.  There were no measures in place in hospitals that would have saved him and his colleagues and he was reprimanded by the Wuhan City police department, forced to sign an apology letter for “spreading rumors.”  Six weeks after his death, Chinese authorities made a public apology to his family, withdrew the letter of reprimand, and members of his family were granted compensation.

In other news we cover today, multiple Canadian cities are under siege from truckers protesting Covid restrictions, Australia will reopen its borders to vaccinated travelers, and the pandemic continues to upend the 2022 Winter Olympics.

UNITED STATES

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the city’s buses and subways, reported that the number of workers out due to the coronavirus has dropped substantially.  At the height of the omicron variant-fueled surge, 20% of the total workforce had been out, resulting in the suspension of  service on multiple subway lines.  As of Friday, only 16 workers were out due to Covid.

Also in New York, the City Council will soon take up a measure that would permanently enshrine the outdoor dining program set up by Mayor Bill de Blasio during the pandemic as a means of saving restaurants from failure.  Restaurants were permitted to erect dining sheds on sidewalks and in curbside parking outside their establishments.  Over 12,100 restaurants are currently enrolled in the temporary program, which is very popular among diners and restaurateurs alike.

Meanwhile, New Jersey will drop its mask mandate in schools in March.  The plan was announced by Governor Phil Murphy, who early in the pandemic imposed some of the most stringent coronavirus measures in the country.  New Jersey, along with neighboring New York, was one of the country’s early epicenters of the virus.

GLOBAL

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, continues to be a city under siege as officials there declared a state of emergency on day 10 of unrest that started with protests by truckers against vaccine mandates.

Thousands of people in trucks, tractors, and cars have hit the streets in protest of Canada’s coronavirus restrictions.  The movement started in Alberta and has since moved to Québec City and cities and towns in between.  The protestors are using persistent and rather noisy horn honking to demand the lifting of the restrictions, including vaccine and mask mandates as well as lockdowns.

TRAVEL

The Wall Street Journal reported that bird strikes have become a greater issue during the pandemic.  As airlines cancelled flights, thus lowering the number of takeoffs and landings, birds moved in.  They even nested atop parked planes and inside engine compartments, the paper said.  Geese are a problem now at Portland International Airport, while Aeroporto Internazionale di Roma–Fiumicino, also known as Leonardo da Vinci Airport, has been plagued by seagulls.

Bird strikes are a major problem for the aviation industry.  The Miracle on the Hudson flight, helmed by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in 2009, ditched in the Hudson River after a bird strike upon taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Some two years after closing its borders to virtually all comers, Australia will reopen them, albeit only to fully vaccinated travelers.  The move was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday and goes into effect on February 21.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Vincent Zhou, a member of the U.S figure skating team, tested positive for the coronavirus and was not allowed to join his teammates on the awards podium Monday to accept the silver medal.  If Zhou tests positive a second time, he won’t be able to skate in the men’s individual event, which starts Tuesday.

Zhou reportedly ate alone, didn’t socialize with other athletes, consistently wore N95 face masks, and sanitized his hands frequently, teammates said, but this apparently was not sufficient.

TODAY’S STATISTICS

Now here are the daily statistics for Monday, February 6.

As of Monday morning, the world has recorded 396.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 2.2 million new cases in the preceding 24 hour period, and 5.76 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 315.4 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 1.8 million.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Monday is 75,556,208.  Out of that figure, 99.9%, or 75,464,997, are considered mild, and 0.1%, or 91,211, are listed as critical.  The percentage of cases considered critical fell is largely unchanged over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 60,524 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the previous day, compared to 123,593 new cases on Sunday, 310,155 on Saturday, and 312,238  on Friday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The lower figures for Sunday and Monday are being attributed in great part to the severe weather that much of the county had over the past 48 hours.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 299,922, a 57% 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 2,565, an increase of 18% over the same period.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Monday, recorded 78 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 926,029. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, 42.3 million, and a reported death toll of 502,905. Finally, Brazil has recorded the second highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 632,289, and has seen over 26.5 million cases.  France now occupies the number four position, with 20.8 million cases, and the United Kingdom is in the number five slot with 17.8 million.

VACCINATION SPOTLIGHT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Monday, 251.1 million people in the United States – or 75.6% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 64.1%, or 212.8 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 543.2 million. Breaking this down further, 87.2% of the population over the age of 18 – or 225.2 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 74.3% of the same group – or 191.9 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 45.4% of that population, or 87.3 million people, has already received a third, or booster, dose of vaccine.

Over 61.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Monday, a figure that is largely unchanged in the past 24 hours, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 10.22 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis.

Meanwhile, only 10% 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.

Paul Riegler contributed to this story.

 

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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