Thursday , January 26 2023

US to provide additional $580m in international COVID aid

22-12-2021

NEW YORK/ WASHINGTON: The United States is providing the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund and five other global aid groups an additional $580m to fight COVID-19, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The pledge came on Tuesday as health officials in the US said the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus now accounts for 73.2 percent of new cases over the past week, and as the country’s first known death linked to the variant is reported in the state of Texas.

Meanwhile, the WHO has said the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading faster than the Delta strain and is causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19.

Thailand will reinstate its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for foreign visitors and scrap a quarantine waiver from Tuesday, a government spokeswoman said. New Zealand also announced that it would delay its reopening plans until the end of February fearing a rapid spread of Omicron.

Earlier, Sweden will urge all employees to work from home if possible and impose tighter rules for social distancing, the government said on Tuesday, as it ratchets up restrictions aimed at fighting a surge in new infections of the COVID-19 virus.

The new rules also will also require seated-only service at bars and restaurants as well as at larger public events.

“We must now take joint responsibility and we need to adapt to the new reality,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told a news conference. “I understand that many are tired of this so am I but we now have a new virus variant, which means we are in a new situation.”

Sweden could see a more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in a worst-case scenario in mid-January, a record number, fresh projections from the Health Agency showed.

In previous waves of the pandemic, daily infections have peaked at just over 11,000 cases.

The new model projection factored in the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant, assuming it is 25 percent more contagious than the Delta variant and factored in varying degrees of protection offered by vaccines.

Germany’s STIKO vaccine authority shortened the recommended period between a second coronavirus shot and a booster to three months from six, reflecting the increasing presence of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

The authority said anyone over age 18 should have a booster using an mRNA vaccine three months after completing a two-shot course of COVID-19 vaccines.

STIKO previously recommended anyone fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine should wait six months after their last shot. For the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that period remains four weeks.

Israel legislators approve US travel ban

Israeli legislators have approved a ban on citizens and residents from US travel, adding it to a list of more than 50 countries declared off-limits.

A parliamentary committee voted to approve a health ministry recommendation putting the US on Israel’s “red list” along with Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, and Turkey, committee spokeswoman Ronit Gal said in a statement.

STIKO previously recommended anyone fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine should wait six months after their last shot. For the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that period remains four weeks.

Israel legislators approve US travel ban

Israeli legislators have approved a ban on citizens and residents from US travel, adding it to a list of more than 50 countries declared off-limits.

A parliamentary committee voted to approve a health ministry recommendation putting the US on Israel’s “red list” along with Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, and Turkey, committee spokeswoman Ronit Gal said in a statement. (Int’l News Desk)

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