South Africa calls for international travel bans to be scrapped | News


South Africa minister of tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu, has confirmed the country remains open to tourism despite the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant.

Authorities in the UK temporarily banned flights and reintroduced quarantine for arrivals from a number of destinations in southern Africa in response to the discovery.

Japan, Israel and the European Union have all also moved to impose stricter measures against South African travellers.

The response was branded “disappointing” by officials in South Africa.

Sisulu explained: “While this is most disappointing South Africa will continue working with policy makers in the UK, Japan, Israel and European Union to ensure that the best possible interventions are put in place.

“I would like to commend the South African scientists on their diligence and all the work they have done and remain confident that all measures will be put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

She added: “We remain open for business and tourism travel, and we appreciate the continued support from various partners across the world and are confident that through the tourism recovery plan in place, we will reignite demand and once more be tourism strong.”

South Africa president, Cyril Ramaphosa, earlier condemned travel bans enacted against his country and its neighbours over the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

He said he was “deeply disappointed” by the action, which he described as unjustified, and called for the bans to be urgently lifted.

Omicron has been classed as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Kgomotso Ramothea, acting hub head at South African Tourism for the UK and Ireland added: “The news of South Africa being put back on the UK red list is devastating for the tourism industry which was just beginning to get back on its feet.

“We were starting to make progress in welcoming visitors back to our wonderful country as we headed into the destination’s summer season.

“We respect the UK government’s need for caution around the new variant, however we are disappointed that South Africa will again be missing out on tourism during the peak season this year which will further delay tourism recovery.

“We would urge the UK government to reconsider current managed quarantine rules to ones that will cause minimal disruption to travel plans while ensuring that people are equally as protected.”





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Kamala Harris calls South Africa travel ban ‘necessary’ amid concerns over COVID-19 omicron variant


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Vice President Kamala Harris said Saturday that she has been briefed about the COVID-19 omicron variant and insisted that the Biden administration did what “is necessary” in implementing travel restrictions from South Africa and seven other countries to prevent its spread, but made no mention of additional travel restrictions.

Harris’ comments came during a visit to a Christmas market in downtown D.C. in celebration of Small Business Saturday.

OMICRON COVID-19 VARIANT CASES IDENTIFIED IN UK: LIVE UPDATES

US Vice President Kamala Harris makes her way to board a plane before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on June 14, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

US Vice President Kamala Harris makes her way to board a plane before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on June 14, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“I have been briefed,” Harris told reporters. “As the president has said, we’re gonna take every precaution and that’s why we’ve taken the measures we have.”

Harris said she “can’t stress enough” how important it is for Americans to get their booster shots or their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “I will say what I say every time because it remains true. They are safe, the vaccines are free, and they will save your life.”

President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Asked about any additional travel restrictions, Harris thought for a moment and said, “We’ll take it one step at a time, but as of now we’ve done what we believe is necessary.”

Harris was accompanied on her visit to the Christmas market by second gentleman Doug Emhoff. The two bought an assortment of items, including candles from Smell of Love Candles, an “I’m Speaking” calendar, spices, maps from Terratorie and treats from The Capital Candy Jar.

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a press conference in Paris, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Thomas Coex, Pool Photo via AP)

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a press conference in Paris, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Thomas Coex, Pool Photo via AP)
(Thomas Coex, Pool Photo via AP)

On Friday, Biden restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries starting Monday over concerns of the “heavily mutated” omicron variant, which has been identified in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

The omicron variant, according to World Health Organization (WHO) officials, has a large number of mutations, “some of which are concerning.”

In addition to the U.S., the European Union, United Kingdom and Israel have halted air travel to southern Africa in response to the new variant.



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Travel Care’s Staff Preparing for Busy Holiday Season : South Florida Caribbean News


Travelers Care Founder & CEO Shelly-Ann Cawley with Mr. Aristides Cordoba, 80 years-old,  Fort Lauderdale International Airport Traveling to Havana, Cuba.

Travelers Care Founder & CEO Shelly-Ann Cawley with Mr. Aristides Cordoba, 80 years-old, Fort Lauderdale International Airport Traveling to Havana, Cuba.

by Howard Campbell

[FORT LAUDERDALE] – As Christmas approaches, Shelly-Ann Cawley is preparing her troops at Travelers Care for the busiest period of the year for the airline industry.

It is a time when families gather for seasonal parties celebrating Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. Many travelers are senior citizens who require professional accompaniment.

Cawley is a leisure industry veteran who started Travelers Care in early 2019. Their prime market is assisting seniors from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean to various destinations.

She envisages a hectic winter season as more persons shed the anxiety of commuting by air due to the Coronavirus.

“With the entire travel industry currently being impacted by continued workforce shortage, weather delays and other factors creating irregular operations, traveling can be even more difficult especially now in a pandemic,” said Cawley.

She added that her company has seen interest for their service from Germany, Costa Rica, Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom.

Shelly-Ann Cawley, Doreen Dwyer, Sophia Williams-Coley

Ms. Doreen Dwyer, 88 years-old with her grand-daughter Sophia Williams-Coley (left) and Travelers Care Founder and CEO Shelly-Ann Cawley at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada.

That service includes:

  • Arranging all flights
  • Baggage, Check-in & TSA processing
  • Ensure all paperwork is completed and in place for travel
  • Assist with all Travel Authorizations
  • Ensure all international requirements are met
  • Arrange wheelchair and other assistive services
  • Arrange transport on the ground with our transportation partners
  • We work with airlines to ensure compliance with all FAA & ADA regulations
  • Complete personal assistance onboard the aircraft
  • Provide updates, pictures, and constant communication to your family
  • Provide Safety, Comfort and Peace of Mind for you and your relatives

Like Cawley, Travel Care’s staff has years of experience in the travel and hotel industries under their belts.

It has seasoned them for what can be a challenging job.

“My team and I have learnt personally when working with seniors that the small things are important. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, listening to their stories, addressing them with titles, a hand shake, and or giving them a honest compliment,” she said. “Rather than seeing their impediments we enjoy the experience and humor of the seniors we care for – don’t forget the life lessons passed on to us too.”

 





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Biden restricts travel from South Africa and seven other countries starting Monday


Acting on advice from the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Biden administration will restrict travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

Biden on Friday night signed the official proclamation restricting the travel of those “physically present” in the countries during the “14-day period preceding their entry, or attempted entry into the United States.”

The proclamation includes a list of those exempted from the new restrictions, including US citizens, lawful permanent residents and noncitizens who are the spouses of citizens or permanent residents.

It says it will remain in effect until terminated by the President and will not apply to any flights scheduled to arrive in the US that depart prior to 12:01 a.m. EST on Monday.

The decision to restrict travel comes as the federal government is still attempting to learn more about the new variant, named Omicron. They need to see more sequencing, but after discussing what they’ve seen so far, officials decided to halt travel from these other countries out of concern about what they don’t yet know.

Biden was briefed Friday on the new coronavirus variant circulating in southern Africa, he said in the announcement.

He told reporters later Friday of the decision: “I’ve decided we’re going to be cautious.”

“We don’t know a lot about the variant except that it is a big concern and seems to spread rapidly, and I spent about a half hour this morning with my Covid team led by Dr. Fauci, so that was the decision we made,” the President said.

Officials said the policy was implemented out of an abundance of caution given the World Health Organization has now identified this as a variant of concern.

“Our scientists and public health officials are working quickly to learn more about this variant,” one official said.

White House in contact with airlines

A senior Biden administration official said earlier Friday that several steps had to be taken before the restrictions begin on Monday, including the formal US proclamation, Transportation Security Administration directives and coordination with airlines.

“This is a quick timeline but there are things that need to be done beforehand,” the official said.

An airline source told CNN that airline executives and the White House were in touch Friday, prior to the announcement of new travel restrictions.

Another source familiar with the situation said there was a call Friday afternoon with the federal government and the airline industry. The federal government is working on drafting an official directive that will include guidelines for airlines that go into effect just after midnight Monday morning.

The trade group for major US airlines said it has “many unanswered questions” about the forthcoming restrictions. Airlines for America spokesman Carter Yang told CNN the group is communicating with the administration and believes that travel decisions must “be rooted in science.”

“We remain in communication with the US government as specifics remain unknown at this time and there are many unanswered questions,” Yang said. “Amid this rapidly evolving situation, it is critical that US government decisions regarding international travel restrictions and requirements be rooted in science.”

South Africa’s health minister announced Thursday the discovery of the variant, which appears to be spreading rapidly in parts of the country.

Buying time

The travel restrictions will buy the US federal government more time to investigate the new variant, officials say — but not much.

Inside the government, it is seen as inevitable that the new variant will appear in the US at some point, but the new restrictions should give federal health agencies and their global counterparts more time to learn about the variant, including the severity of the disease it causes. Officials do not believe, based on current thinking, that the variant is in the US yet.

Officials acted quickly to implement new restrictions. While the emergency of the variant had been flagged in the last several weeks, it was only in recent days that they learned how serious it was.

US officials are expected to speak to scientists in South Africa again, potentially on Sunday.

Currently, “there’s no indication” that the new variant is in the United States right now — and US scientists are working closely with colleagues in South Africa to learn more about the emerging variant, Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar before the travel restrictions were announced Friday.

“Right now, we’re getting the material together with our South African colleagues to get a situation where you could actually directly test it. So, right now you’re talking about sort of like a red flag that this might be an issue — but we don’t know,” he said.

“You want to find out if in fact it does evade the vaccines that we’re doing,” Fauci said when asked about potential travel restrictions. “You’re prepared to do everything you need to do to protect the American public, but you want to make sure there’s a basis for doing that.”

Several other countries — including the United Kingdom — have banned flights from South Africa and surrounding African countries in response to the emergence of the variant.

The travel restrictions do not apply to American citizens and lawful permanent residents. As with all international travelers, they must still test negative prior to travel.

This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.

CNN’s Allie Malloy, Jeff Zeleny, Gregory Wallace and Pete Muntean contributed to this report.



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9 Cities That Retirees Love In South Dakota


Retirees are flocking to South Dakota. The state is known for being tax-friendly and has a diversified economy. The state sales tax remains lower than most states at 4 percent. Combine this with local sales tax rates; the average South Dakota sales tax after local surtaxes are under 6 percent. Median home prices in South Dakota are $235,500, making this appealing to retirees. Affordable housing, combined with a low local tax rate, makes South Dakota attractive from a monetary standpoint. The outdoor amenities are the icing on the cake, making this a friendly state for all retirees. Here are nine cities in South Dakota that retirees love.

Sioux Falls of Sioux Falls, South Dakota
photo.eccles / Shutterstock.com

1. Sioux Falls

With a population of 171,00 and growing, Sioux Falls offers housing that retirees have grown to appreciate. Apartments, condos, twin homes, and houses are all priced right for your budget. Family life, healthcare, and four seasons make this South Dakota city one of the most livable places in the nation for retirees. The unlimited educational opportunities through Lifelong Learning programs help keep retirees in tune with what is going on in our world today. Sculpture walks, the Museum of Virtual Materials, award-winning Falls Park, and 80 parks make up Sioux Falls. With so many outdoor activities, this makes this town attractive to all retirees. If you wish to remain active and enjoy retirement, Sioux Falls will become your home of choice in southeastern South Dakota.

Pro Tip: The Sioux Falls Airport offers daily flights to Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Dallas, making it convenient to travel from home.

The motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

2. Sturgis

When you hear the town of Sturgis, you often think of Harley Davidson Motorcycles. The annual motorcycle rally is held in August of each year. Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts swarm upon this charming town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. If you visit, there’s a good chance that you will fall in love with this town. Retirees enjoy the small-town charm, with a little feel of suburbia. The upscale coffee shops and bars are places to relax and gather with your friends. Fewer than 7,000 people reside in Sturgis, this town is attractive to retirees that want a smaller community with four seasons. You can expect to pay nearly $162,000 for a home in Sturgis, with an average monthly rental price of $530.

Pro Tip: Plan your vacation for the first week of August, to avoid the crowds in Sturgis.

Downtown Rapid City, South Dakota
James Gabbert / Shutterstock.com

3. Rapid City

Rapid City sits on the eastern side of the well-known Black Hills in western South Dakota. Nearly 75,000 people call Rapid City home, making it attractive to retirees that want the feel of a big city, within small-town America. The proximity to the Black Hills makes this an attractive place to call home. The Black Hills offers activities all year long, with an opportunity to experience the four seasons. A sense of community is strong in Rapid City with retirees, as card games, pickleball, and pool are popular among the residents. Another bonus is that your grandkids will want to come to visit you, as the Black Hills offers a playground for kids of all ages. 

Pro Tip: Mount Rushmore is one hour from Rapid City.

The World's Only Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota
J K Laws / Shutterstock.com

4. Mitchell

Mitchell is known best for being home to the Corn Palace, the only one in the world. Each year this palace is redecorated in a different theme featuring the 12 different colors of corn. Concerts, trade shows, special exhibits, and other events are held in this venue. With a population near 15,500, this is the 6th-largest city in South Dakota. Mitchell is affordable for retirees, with home values hovering around $147,000. Outdoor enthusiasts appreciate fishing, swimming, hiking, paddle boarding, and canoeing. Small town charm is what you will experience if you retire in Mitchell, South Dakota. As you travel I-90, the exit to Mitchell is at Exit 332.

Pro Tip: You and your dog can exercise at the Mitchell Dog Park, featuring 2.3 acres for large dogs, and 0.85 acres for smaller dogs.

Aerial shot of Vermillion, South Dakota
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

5. Vermillion

Vermillion is home to the University of South Dakota and the community pride runs high. Retirees enjoy this community in southeastern South Dakota since there is much to explore. The National Music Museum houses more than 15,000 non-western instruments and is an incredible place. Retirees may realize that their college days are long gone, but their love for college life still remains high. In Vermillion, residents of all ages feel young and have embraced an affordable lifestyle in this college town. Volunteer opportunities are abundant and help provide meaning to the life of retirees. Vermillion has more than 90 acres of parks for people to enjoy. From relaxing at a picnic table to hosting a family reunion, these parks offer a fantastic place to gather up your family. Frisbee golf, pickleball courts, and a lot of open green space make these parks extra inviting.

Pro Tip: Grab a sandwich from Mister Smith’s Bakery. In 2002, Oprah Magazine said this bakery is the home of “the best bread in the world.”

The yellow brick road at Storybook Land
The yellow brick road at Storybook Land (Lost_in_the_Midwest / Shutterstock.com)

6. Aberdeen

Art is strong in Aberdeen, through music, shows, concerts, recitals, theatrical shows, and Storybook Land. With close to 17 percent of the population being 65 and over, Aberdeen welcomes retirees. Housing is affordable, with an average home priced at $161,800. With a population hovering around 26,000, retirees can find large city amenities with quieter surroundings. Northern State University and Presentation College are in town, adding to opportunities for volunteerism and education. With two hospitals to serve the community, medical care is also easy to come by. Several parks offer hiking, birding, camping, and biking opportunities. You and your dog can exercise at three off-leash dog parks that are located throughout Aberdeen.

Pro Tip: Storybook Land is for people of all ages.

Downtown Watertown, South Dakota
Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com

7. Watertown

Watertown is located off of I-29 at Exit 177 in South Dakota. Art and business are strong in this charming community that welcomes retirees. The Terry Redlin Art Center features more than 150 paintings of this artist’s work. Sushi, steak, burgers, pizza, and Mexican restaurants offer a nice variety of food choices for the food critic. The median value of a home in Watertown is $170,500. This small town of fewer than 25,000 offers direct flights to Chicago and Denver. This progressive town in South Dakota recently renovated the Goss Opera House in Downtown Watertown. Can you imagine hosting your family, for a family gathering, in a room in this historic opera house? You can call Watertown home and be anywhere in the world within a few hours. Retirees love the four seasons, ease of travel, and wide-open spaces.

State Capitol Building in Pierre, South Dakota
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

8. Pierre

Pierre is the state capital of South Dakota and the 8th largest town in the state. If you want to be in the middle of South Dakota, Pierre is where you want to call home. Retirees can easily find themselves traveling any direction and be in another state in a few hours. Outdoor lovers enjoy the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, one of the largest manmade lakes in the world. Fishing, hiking, camping, biking, and paddle boarding are popular summer activities. Winter brings cross-country skiing and snowmobiling into the spotlight. History buffs enjoy the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center and research opportunities in the State Archives research room.

Pro Tip: Book a dinner cruise aboard the last authentic paddle wheeler on the Missouri River.

The agricultural museum of Brookings, South Dakota
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

9. Brookings

Brookings sits near Watertown, giving these two towns an extra dose of fun when it comes to living here as a retiree. The State Agricultural Heritage Museum is in Brookings, showcasing tractors and farm equipment that seem to go on for miles. This agriculture museum has an incredible volunteer program, including training and an opportunity to volunteer as often or as little as you like. Homes are valued at near $181,000, and close to 9.5 percent of the population is over 65 years of age. With three hospitals, Brookings offers high-quality medical care and choices when it comes to your care. Dakota Nature Park is popular for fishing, kayaking, and biking. With plenty of nature trails to explore, birding and hiking will be available all year long. Once the snow flies, grab your snowshoes and head for the trails. 

These nine towns offer incredible opportunities for retirees and something a little different. The location, proximity to other states, logistics, and historical sites are unique to each area. If you have ever stopped at the Corn Palace while traveling along I-90, it may have never crossed your mind that you may want to live there someday. Oftentimes, the places that we visit while traveling, become our home at some point in our lives. 

The people we meet when we travel often have an impact on where we live throughout our lives. South Dakota offers the opportunity to enjoy winter, spring, summer, and fall. Let’s face it, the fall foliage can be stunning in the Midwest. There’s a nice balance with a change of activities in South Dakota. Retirees can enjoy the season and know that there are new opportunities around the corner, as the seasons change. There’s something to be said about the change of seasons, as you never have time to be bored.

Read all about TravelAwaits‘ retirement information here, including these articles:



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South African scientists detect new variant amid spike: COVID updates


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Thousands of people traveling for the holidays this week will first test themselves for COVID-19 without a doctor, lab or any medical oversight.

While quick home tests are hailed as a major convenience and a smart way to protect loved ones, they’ve also raised a significant challenge for public health officials. How can agencies comprehensively track cases and trends when many consumers don’t report home test results?

Federal and state health officials have worked since March 2020 to build capacity to test, report and keep tabs on COVID-19 cases. Public health officials say reporting cases is critical for spotting trends and detecting surges so hotspot communities can lessen risk and prepare hospitals for a rush of people seeking care.

But it’s unclear how often customers report results from the dozen authorized home coronavirus tests that typically deliver results in 15 minutes outside a lab or doctor’s office. And public health’s data blind spot is poised to grow larger.

Private test manufacturers already make more home antigen tests than standard laboratory tests — and the gap could nearly double next month as new home tests flood the market.

— Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY

Also in the news:

►Beginning Monday, Massachusetts hospitals will have to cut back on non-urgent scheduled procedures due to staffing shortages and longer patient stays, according to the state’s health authorities.

►The number of air travelers this week is expected to approach or even exceed pre-pandemic levels, and auto club AAA predicts48.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday period.

►More than 100 children at a vaccination event in Iowa on Saturday were given the incorrect dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement from the hospital. A MercyOne spokesperson said there are no significant health risks associated with the larger dose, just a likelihood the children will have more severe versions of the common vaccine side effects.

►France has launched a plan Thursday to give COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, as it opted against a further lockdown or curfew to help combat a worrying uptick in infections in the country.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 775,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 259 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans — 59.1% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: During COVID-19, they believed home was safer than school. Now some NYC parents are accused of neglect.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch free newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced Thursday.

The coronavirus evolves as it spreads and many new variants, including those with worrying mutations, often just die out. Scientists monitor for possible changes that could be more transmissible or deadly, but sorting out whether new variants will have a public health impact can take time.

South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new infections, Phaahla said at an online press briefing.

“Over the last four or five days, there has been more of an exponential rise,” he said, adding that the new variant appears to be driving the spike in cases. Scientists in South Africa are working to determine what percentage of the new cases have been caused by the new variant.

Currently identified as B.1.1.529, the new variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travelers from South Africa, he said.

The WHO’s technical working group is to meet Friday to assess the new variant and may decide whether or not to give it a name from the Greek alphabet.

— Associated Press

Just over nine out of ten federal employees have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the required deadline, the Biden administration announced Wednesday when releasing agency-by-agency vaccination rates.

Those rates were as high as 97.8% at the Agency for International Development. Workers at the Agriculture Department had the lowest rate: 86.1%.

Federal employees had until the end of Monday to get vaccinated or request a medical or religious exemption. Unlike a rule the Biden administration wants to impose on private employers, federal workers are not allowed to opt out of the vaccine requirement if they agree to weekly testing.

Workers who are not in the process of getting vaccinated or seeking an exemption will begin a “period of education and counseling, followed by additional enforcement steps,” according to the White House.

— Maureen Groppe and Michael Collins, USA TODAY

European Unions’ drug regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for young children

The European Union’s drug regulator cleared the way for children ages 5 to 11 to begin receiving the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on Thursday amid a new wave of infections across the continent.

The European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee, an EU agency in charge of the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products, concluded that the benefits of vaccinating children outweigh the risks. The European committee will send its recommendation to the European Commission next, which will issue a final decision.

Germany has been facing its worst surge of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, reporting more than 333,000 cases the week of Nov. 15, according to the World Health Organization. That’s nearly double the weekly rate reported during a prior surge in December 2020.

— Celina Tebor, USA TODAY

German Chancellor Angela Merkel labeled Thursday “a very sad day” and backed calls for more restrictions, as her country became the latest to surpass 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The national disease control agency said it recorded 351 deaths in connection with the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, taking the total toll to 100,119. In Europe, Germany is the fifth country to pass that mark, after Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.

The longtime German leader, who is currently in office as caretaker until her successor is sworn in, warned that hundreds more deaths were already looming.

“(The deaths) correlate very clearly with the number of infections that are occurring,” she said. “We know how many people on average do not survive this disease.”

The Robert Koch Institute, a federal agency that collects data from some 400 regional health offices, said Germany set a record for daily confirmed cases — 75,961 — in the past 24-hour period. Since the start of the outbreak, Germany has had more than 5.57 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

— Associated Press

Despite early signs that suggested the U.S. may have avoided another winter surge, COVID-19 cases are rising again.

The country reported 665,420 cases in the week ending Monday, more than a 30% increase from the pace of cases reported about a month ago, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

As cases rise in 39 states, U.S. Health and Human Services data show hospitals in 32 states admitted more patients in the latest week than the week before.

“Quite frankly, I’m really concerned,” said Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. “I would say we are better off than we were last year, but cases are starting to tick up and that is something that we really need to keep an eye on.”

After nearly two years of combating COVID-19, health experts thought the U.S. would have been in a better position to control the pandemic. Instead, many people remain unvaccinated and ignore mitigation measures, slowing the pace of progress and burning out health care professionals. 

— Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press



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Israel bars travel to and from South Africa over new COVID strain – Israel News


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