The 6 Worst Places to Travel Alone, Expert Warns — Best Life


Traveling with family or friends can be fun, but there’s something thrilling about embarking on an adventure alone. Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach vacation, a ski trip, or a city expedition, the options are seemingly endless. But when going solo, it’s important to make sure you’re headed somewhere that’s accommodating to individuals without a group, that adheres to COVID-19 restrictions, and is safe for people planning to explore on their own. Though you might meet friends along the way, you want to make sure that the destination you choose is suited for your particular needs—and certainly some spots are not geared for solo traveling. Read on to see the six worst places to travel alone.

RELATED: Never Leave a Hotel Before Doing This, Experts Warn.

Bora Bora

If you’re looking for a taste of paradise and a heaping of pristine beaches, Bora Bora is the place to be—but it is definitely a more honeymoon-focused destination. Mar Pages, the co-founder of Solo Female Travelers Tour, went to Bora Bora solo and experienced the constant reminder that she was, in fact, alone. Pages said the staff at the luxury resort where she was staying “insisted on filling two glasses with water, bringing two bread pieces, and giving me two menu cards every time I sat down for a meal, despite the many times I repeated I was by myself.” While it was empowering and exciting to travel solo, having someone with you on this island vacation might benefit you in the end. “You can absolutely visit Bora Bora solo,” says Pages. “But it pays to have someone to share the cost of an overwater villa with who will drink the water and eat the bread slices.”

tanzania
Shutterstock

Tanzania offers beautiful savannas and safaris full of wildlife which makes it an ideal place to have on your travel bucket list. However, it isn’t necessarily the best destination to venture alone due to the exorbitant cost. You will likely spend the entire day in a vehicle going on game drives, so Pages recommends Tanzania for group trips. “A quality safari will be on 4×4 open-top vehicles which can accommodate up to seven guests but are optimal for four to five,” she says. “If you are by yourself, it becomes very expensive to pay for the petrol and a guide all to yourself.”

South Sudan countries the U.S. government doesn't want you to visit

Like Tanzania, Sudan is optimal for group trips. Why? It can not only be pricey to visit but challenging to get around. “Traveling independently is complicated, and some parts of the country are just not accessible unless you hitchhike,” says Pages. “Even then, you actually need a local agency to get the right road permits and access tickets to some of the archaeological sites.” According to Pages, beyond Khartoum, you will need your own driver and guide.

RELATED: For more travel advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

turkmenistan
gonetothemoon/Shutterstock

If you’re in search of the gateway to the Silk Road, Turkmenistan may be appealing to you—but traveling there can be tricky. “In order to visit the country, you need a visa that must be obtained by a local operator,” says Page. “And you need a guide to visit anywhere beyond the capital of Ashgabat.” While that means you’ll have a driver to yourself, this can be costly. Joining a tour, however, can decrease the price if you have your heart set on exploring the capital. Just be prepared for some potential hurdles to get over even before your journey begins.

View on Gulf of Tadjourah, Djibouti, East Africa
iStock

Djibouti is known for its beautiful, unique landscapes with extinct volcanoes and salt lakes. For those who enjoy nature’s many wonders, this country can be alluring. But like some of the previous places on this list, Djibouti can be inaccessible, which can make it even more challenging for solo travelers. “Djibouti’s main sites are away from the capital, and there is no real public transportation to speak of, so you need to hire a driver,” explains Page. That, of course, can be expensive if you have no one to split the costs with.

bahgdad iraq country names

The cost is something that might give you pause if you’re thinking of traveling to Iraq, but safety is a factor, too. “I have many friends who have visited in the last six months [but] going on your own makes it more costly to hire private transport or security,” explains Page. Although, she says, you want to avoid booking with a big group for security reasons. It’s important to note that the country is currently advising Americans to not travel here “due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, and civil unrest.”

RELATED: This Is the Worst Place to Sit on a Plane, Flight Experts Say.



Source link

Queensland travel agent warns of staff shortages as quarantine-free travel opens


A veteran Queensland travel agent is warning of a looming “supply crunch” as agents struggle to meet the demand from the high number of people planning an overseas holiday.

From 1am today, quarantine-free international travel into Queensland for fully vaccinated people resumed.

Travellers will not have to quarantine, provided they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) result within 24 hours of entering the country.

The principal of Main Beach Travel on the Gold Coast, Mike Dwyer, said one in three travel agencies had closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

“We’re already struggling to service existing demand which is really just the tip of the iceberg.”

The industry veteran said people who wanted to travel overseas needed to start thinking about it sooner rather than later. 

“About half of our incoming calls are from travellers who are stranded overseas needing help to reorganise their flights home,” Mr Dwyer said.  

Great haired man wearing a white shirt and black jacket.
Mike Dwyer is concerned there’s a looming shortage of agents to service overseas travellers.(Supplied: Mike Dwyer)

“I am really concerned about our industry and the lack of travel agencies and the lack of support for the industry.

“As the demand ramps up, we are going to hit a supply crunch, because there’s not enough agents to help people make their plans.” 

Mr Dwyer opened his business in 2000 and said his focus is on servicing outbound travellers.

“Aussies have always been great travellers and many people have had their plans cancelled over the last two years.

“There’s lots of people with family in Europe who they haven’t seen for two years.”

The travel business owner said quarantine-free travel would now give more people the confidence to book a holiday.

a closed travel agency displays closed signs on its doors
Mr Dwyer says one in three agencies closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

“One of the biggest impediments for travelling overseas has been the fear of coming home and quarantining for two weeks,” he said.

“Removing that restriction makes it a lot better for people wanting to get overseas.

“I think people have lost faith in the consistency of the rules so there will be a lot of nervousness still.”

Logistical challenges

Mr Dwyer said COVID-related challenges meant more people were choosing to book through a travel agent rather than handle the bookings themselves.

“Every country has its own set of rules and regulations.

“On top of that, the airlines have specific requirements about being tested either 24 or 48 hours before a flight.”

Passangers wearing face masks exit an airport tunnel
Chris Mills says it could take months for airlines to restore international connections. (AAP: James Ross)

Inbound travel 

When it comes to inbound travel, the chief executive of Queensland Airports, Chris Mills, said he was expecting a trickle, and not a flood, of international travellers to arrive in tourist destinations including the Gold Coast.

“What we’re expecting [is] from February onwards; we’re working with the airlines to get them back on restoring connections with countries that are in pretty good shape.”

Mr Mills said countries including New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea would be prioritised.  



Source link

CDC warns against travel to 22 destinations over Covid-19


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday advised against travel to 22 nations and territories due to a rising number of Covid-19 cases, including for Israel, Australia, Egypt, Albania, Argentina and Uruguay.

The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to “Level Four: Very High,” telling Americans they should avoid travel to those destinations, among others.

Panama, Qatar, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Suriname, Saint Lucia and Bolivia, were also among the countries named.

In total, the CDC now lists just over 100 countries and territories at “Level 4.”

The CDC also raised another 20 countries to “Level 3: High,” including Uganda, Kuwait, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba.

The CDC recommends that unvaccinated Americans avoid nonessential travel to those destinations.



Source link

CDC Warns Against Travel to Aruba Amid Omicron Variant




Source link

WHO warns world cannot ‘boost its way out’ of pandemic: Live | Coronavirus pandemic News


The World Health Organization chief warned Wednesday that the rush in wealthy countries to roll out additional COVID vaccine doses was deepening the inequity in access to jabs that is prolonging the pandemic.

“No country can boost its way out of the pandemic,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Meanwhile, a new South African study, along with data on hospitalisations and deaths in the country’s fourth wave of COVID infections, suggest that the risk of severe disease is lower with Omicron than with previous variants, a top scientist has said.

South Africa’s noticeable drop in new COVID-19 cases in recent days may signal that the country’s dramatic Omicron-driven surge has passed its peak, medical experts said earlier.

Here are the latest updates:

Pfizer oral COVID pill gets US authorisation for at-home use

Pfizer Inc said the US Food and Drug Administration authorized its antiviral COVID-19 pill, making it the first at-home treatment for the coronavirus that is expected to become an important tool in the fight against the fast spreading Omicron variant.

Data from Pfizer’s clinical trial showed its two-drug antiviral regimen was 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths in patients at high risk of severe illness.


Blanket booster drives risk prolonging pandemic: WHO chief

The head of the World Health Organization warned that blanket booster programs in rich countries risk prolonging the world’s battle with COVID-19 and said that “no country can boost its way out of the pandemic.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the priority must be to reduce deaths and help all countries meet minimum vaccination targets that many still haven’t reached.

Moreover, he noted that “the vast majority of hospitalisations and deaths are in unvaccinated people, not unboosted people”.


Italy reports more than 36,000 new cases

Italy reported 146 coronavirus-related deaths against 153 on Tuesday, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 36,293 from 30,798.

Italy has registered 136,077 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth-highest in the world. The country has reported 5.5 million cases to date.


Britain reports record 106,122 new infections

The United Kingdom reported more than 100,000 new daily coronavirus cases for the first time since widespread testing was introduced, with 106,122 compared with 90,629 on Tuesday.

There were 140 deaths within 28 days of a positive case, down from 172 the previous day, according to government data.

The UK has recorded over 11.5 million cases since the pandemic began in March 2020 [File: Andy Rain/EPA]

Too soon to say if Omicron more transmissible than Delta: WHO

The World Health Organization does not yet have enough data on the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus to say if it is more transmissible than the Delta variant, an official said, almost a month after South Africa first raised the alarm about its emergence.

“We do have some data suggesting that rates of hospitalisation are lower,” WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove, said in a briefing with media.


Advisor: Omicron doubles or triples infection risk while flying

Aircraft passengers are twice or even three times more likely to catch Covid-19 during a flight since the emergence of the omicron variant, according to the top medical adviser to the world’s airlines.

The new strain is highly transmissible and has become dominant in a matter of weeks, accounting for more than 70 percent of all new cases in the US alone.

Read more here.

Business class may be safer than more densely packed economy cabins, said David Powell, physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association, which represents almost 300 carriers worldwide [File: Bloomberg]

NHL says players will not be able to participate in Beijing Winter Games

The National Hockey League said it will not send its players to compete in the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics after the regular season schedule was disrupted due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events – 50 games already have been postponed through December 23 – Olympic participation is no longer feasible,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.


Britain to vaccinate vulnerable younger children

Britain said it would start vaccinating vulnerable children aged five to 11 against COVID-19 after the country’s medicines regulator approved the use of a lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot in that age group.

The children will receive two 10-microgram doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – a third of the adult dose – with an interval of eight weeks between the first and second doses, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said.

UK Schools Remain Open To Support Children Of Key Workers During Coronavirus LockdownBritain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it had approved the new age-appropriate Pfizer-BioNTech after finding it was ‘safe and effective’ for children aged five to 11 [File: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

Nigeria destroys 1 million expired vaccine shots

Authorities in Nigeria have publicly destroyed over one million expired doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine even as the West African country’s vaccination rate has almost doubled in the last one week amid a spike in confirmed infections.

The expired doses – numbering 1,066,214 – were destroyed in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, a week after the nation said it will no longer accept donated COVID-19 vaccines with short shelf lives.

Al Jazeera’s Fidelis Mbah reported from Abuja that the government’s very public display of destroying the vaccines was to assure citizens whatever jabs were administered, were of “good quality” – amid conspiracies and false information against vaccines in the country.

Rea more here.


Unless poor nations vaccinated, new variants will keep coming: Academic

Bharat Pankhania of the The University of Exeter Medical School told Al Jazeera THAT unless poor nations are fully vaccinated, richer nations immunising their populations multiple times will not stop variants emerging.

“Again, the richer nations can do whatever they like, because they’ve got the vaccines, supplies, and they can immunise their population once, twice, thrice,” he said from Bath, UK.

However, he said: “If you do not suppress infections in vulnerable countries where you have a lot of immune suppressed people, then you will get the drive for variants to emerge. And Omicron is one such example. And we can definitely get other variants which will again be a setback.”


World’s children bearing brunt of pandemic, Vatican studies say

The world’s children are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with marked increases in violence, abuse, child labour, lost schooling, and malnutrition, two Vatican studies said on Wednesday.

The studies, based on academic, scientific, United Nations data and other source material, were produced by the Vatican’s development office and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

“Reports of violence, abuse, and exploitation of children have sharply increased since the pandemic began. Poorer communities disproportionately bear these adversities,” one of the studies said.


France cancels order for Merck’s antiviral drug

France has cancelled its order for Merck & Co’s COVID-19 antiviral drug following disappointing trial data and hopes instead to receive Pfizer’s competing drug before the end of January, the health minister said.

France is the first country to publicly say it has cancelled an order for the Merck treatment after the company released data in late November suggesting its drug was markedly less effective than previously thought, reducing hospitalisations and deaths in its clinical trial of high-risk individuals by about 30 percent.

“The latest studies weren’t good,” Olivier Veran told BFM TV.

France had placed an early order for 50,000 doses of the drug molnupiravir developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

Player welfare not taken seriously enough: Liverpool’s captain

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said player welfare is not being taken seriously enough following the Premier League’s decision to continue playing despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“I am worried about player welfare and I don’t think anybody takes that seriously enough, especially in this period, when COVID is here,” Henderson told BBC Sport.

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders said it was “absurd” to play twice in four days while missing a number of key players due to COVID-19 and injuries, while Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said players’ health and safety was at risk.


Gerrard says Villa player ‘reluctant to get out of car’ due to virus fears

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard said fear of the coronavirus is so heightened that one of his players was reluctant to get out of his car.

An outbreak at Villa saw their match against Burnley last Saturday postponed at short notice, with Gerrard warning that it will be a “nightmare” if the Midlands club have to tackle two matches in two days with just 14 players available.

“We had a situation at the weekend where one of the players was reluctant to get out of his car because he had some symptoms and he’s got a young family, and you can totally understand his view in his situation,” Gerrard said.

The Premier League announced on Monday its intention to continue with scheduled matches over the traditionally busy Christmas and New Year period [Rui Vieira/AP Photo]

Finland begins vaccinating children aged 5-11

Finland will from Thursday start offering coronavirus vaccines to children between 5-11 years of age, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said.

The Finnish Health Institute earlier this month recommended that children aged five and over should be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they or someone in their household were at high risk of severe infection.


Sweden to require negative virus test for all foreigners on entry

All foreigners seeking to enter Sweden will have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours, the government said as cases surged.

The requirement will come into force on December 28 and will apply to all non-citizens and non-residents over the age of 12, including travellers from the European Union and neighbouring Nordic countries.

“All travellers will need to be able to present a negative test for an ongoing infection of COVID-19 upon arrival to Sweden, regardless of which country you are travelling from,” the government said in a statement.

Sweden has recorded more than 1.2 million cases to date [File: Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency vai Reuters]

South Africa’s study suggests Omicron less severe than other variants

A new South African study, along with data on hospitalisations and deaths in the country’s fourth wave of COVID infections, suggest that the risk of severe disease is lower with Omicron than with previous variants, a top scientist has said.

“In South Africa, this is the epidemiology: Omicron is behaving in a way that is less severe,” said Professor Cheryl Cohen of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), one of the authors of the new study.

“Compellingly, together our data really suggest a positive story of a reduced severity of Omicron compared to other variants,” she said during a news conference by a group of NICD scientists.

Read more here.


Turkey’s domestic COVID-19 vaccine receives emergency use authorisation

A nurse prepares a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Ankara City Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, April 2, 2021. [File: Cagla Gurdogan/Reuters]

Turkey’s domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, Turkovac, has received emergency use authorisation by Turkish authorities and will be open to use from next weekend, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Turkey began developing Turkovac this year, but the launch date for the vaccine has been beset by delays. President Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey would make the shot available globally.

Turkey has already administered more than 125 million doses of vaccines using shots developed by China’s Sinovac and by Pfizer/BioNTech, with more than 51 million having received two doses of the vaccines. It has also begun administering booster shots.


AstraZeneca, Oxford team up to develop Omicron-targeted vaccine

AstraZeneca is working with Oxford University to develop a better coronavirus vaccine that will exclusively target the Omicron variant.

“Together with Oxford University, we have taken preliminary steps in producing an Omicron variant vaccine, in case it is needed, and will be informed by emerging data,” said the British-Swedish pharmaceutical in a statement provided to local media.

Sandy Douglas, head of a research group at Oxford University, told The Financial Times that updated vaccines are a must when dealing with logistical challenges posed by the rapid spread of variants such as Omicron, and that they could help alleviate pressures on healthcare services and systems.

“Adenovirus-based vaccines (such as made by Oxford/AstraZeneca’s) could in principle be used to respond to any new variant more rapidly than some may previously have realised,” she said.


China orders 13 million Xi’an residents to stay home over COVID outbreak

The northern Chinese city of Xi’an on Wednesday ordered all 13 million residents to stay home, in a strict lockdown as concern grows over a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

With Beijing preparing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in February, China is on high alert as it fights local outbreaks in several cities.

All households may only “send one household member outside once every two days to purchase necessities,” with all others ordered to remain indoors except for emergencies, the city government said in a statement on its official Weibo social media account.


Philippines halves COVID-19 booster wait time to three months

People queue at a vaccination centre amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in San Juan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, November 29, 2021. [Peter Blaza/Reuters]

The Philippines has halved to three months the waiting time for a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine in its battle to rein in the more infectious Omicron variant of coronavirus, which has forced a global tightening of curbs.

From Wednesday, adults can receive a booster dose at least three months after taking the second complement of a two-dose vaccine, versus six months earlier, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said.

Single-dose vaccine recipients are eligible for a booster after two months, he told a regular news conference.


Poland reports highest number of COVID-related deaths in fourth wave

A man receives a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the University Hospital in Wroclaw, Poland, January 25, 2021. [File: Tomasz Pietrzyk/Agencja Gazeta via Reuters]

Poland reported 775 COVID-related deaths on Friday, the highest daily number in the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the data from the health ministry showed, with total number of infections since the start of the pandemic crossing 4 million.

Poland has been dealing with persistently high daily case numbers in a fourth wave that has forced authorities to tighten restrictions.

“Unfortunately, (deaths) dominate among the elderly and the unvaccinated… we do not get vaccinated and we go to hospitals too late,” ministry’s spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz told reporters.


Israel to offer fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose in bid to outpace Omicron

Israel has announced it will offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to health workers and people older than 60, amid concern about the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

A health ministry expert panel recommended the fourth shot late on Tuesday, a decision that was swiftly welcomed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as “great news that will help us overcome the Omicron wave that is spreading around the world”.

Read more here.


Japan confirms first known local Omicron transmissions

Japan confirmed its first known local transmissions of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Osaka on Wednesday, a sign it is already making its way in the country.

The family of three in Osaka had no record of traveling overseas and their infections could not be traced, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said.

The three are the first known cases of community transmission of the highly infectious Omicron variant in Japan, Yoshimura said. “I believe they only happened to be detected and we must take steps on the assumption that there already are other cases of community transmission,” he said.


South Africa’s case drop may show Omicron peak has passed

A boy receives a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at Discovery vaccination site in Sandton, Johannesburg, on December 15, 2021. [Luca Sola/AFP]

South Africa’s noticeable drop in new COVID-19 cases in recent days may signal that the country’s dramatic Omicron-driven surge has passed its peak, medical experts say.

After hitting a high of nearly 27,000 new cases nationwide last Thursday, the numbers dropped to about 15,424 on Tuesday. In Gauteng province – South Africa’s most populous with 16 million people, including the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria – the decrease started earlier and has continued.

“The drop in new cases nationally combined with the sustained drop in new cases seen here in Gauteng province, which for weeks has been the center of this wave, indicates that we are past the peak,” Marta Nunes, senior researcher at the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics department of the University of Witwatersrand, told The Associated Press.


UK says 14 deaths and 129 hospitalised by Omicron

There are currently 129 people in hospital with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and so far 14 people have died with it, junior health minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News.

She also said the UK government would not hesitate to bring in further COVID-19 restrictions if the data showed it was necessary.


Finland aims to tackle rising COVID cases by curbing bars’ opening hours

Finland will restrict restaurants’ opening hours to curb rising COVID-19 infections and the spread of the new Omicron variant, the government said.

Starting on Christmas eve, bars will have to stop serving alcohol at 9pm and close at 10pm. From December 28 onwards, alcohol can only be served until 5pm and bars need to close by 6pm  and restaurants by 8pm, the government said in a statement.

The government also decided university and other adult students would shift to remote schooling after the Christmas holidays and foreign travellers coming to Finland would need a proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 and a recent negative test result.


France could soon have 100,000 COVID cases a day

France could have around 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, health minister Olivier Veran said, up from around 70,000 currently as the country battles a fifth wave of the epidemic.

Veran said no new restrictions were on the table for now, although nothing could be ruled out, with authorities hoping an increase in the numbers of people having vaccinations will allow them to keep the virus in check.


Malaysia suspends ticket sales for quarantine-free travel to Singapore

Malaysia has temporarily suspended sales of tickets for air and land travel under a vaccinated travel lane scheme with Singapore until January 20, the health ministry said, amid concerns over the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The action followed a similar move by Singapore to freeze all new ticket sales over the same period.

Under the vaccinated travel lane programme, both countries allow quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travellers, who have to do multiple screenings.


California says health care workers must get booster shots

California health care workers will be required to have coronavirus booster shots to ensure that hospitals are ready to deal with a surge in cases as the more-transmissible Omicron variant spreads throughout the state.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the order on Tuesday on his personal Twitter account and planned to provide more details at a Wednesday news conference.

California already requires health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, a directive that took effect in September and has since led to the firing or suspension of thousands of people. Now it will join New Mexico as at least the second state to require booster shots for health care workers.


Australia PM meets with state leaders as virus cases surge

New COVID-19 cases in Australia’s most populous state surged to a pandemic record on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with state leaders to discuss preventive measures.

Morrison emerged from the national cabinet meeting again rejecting lockdowns and mask mandates imposed by the federal government. He said policies on mask-wearing were best left to state governments and to Australians who should follow “commonsense behavioural measures.”

“Despite these rising cases, hospitals and health systems remain in a strong position but of course, they will be tested,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra after the emergency meeting.


Singapore suspends quarantine-free travel ticket sales

Singapore has said it will freeze all new ticket sales for flights and buses under its programme for quarantine-free travel into the city-state from December 23 to January 20, the government said, citing the risk from the fast-spreading Omicron.

“Our border measures will help to buy us time to study and understand the Omicron variant, and to strengthen our defences, including enhancing our healthcare capacity, and getting more people vaccinated and boosted,” Singapore’s health ministry said in a statement.

Under the vaccinated travel lane programme, Singapore allows quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travellers, who have to take multiple COVID-19 tests.

About two dozen countries are listed in the programme including Australia, India, Malaysia, Britain and the United States.

Travellers already holding tickets on flights or buses and who meet all other requirements can still travel under the programme.

Singapore has confirmed imported Omicron cases and several local infections.





Source link

Canadian Government Warns Residents to Avoid Nonessential Travel


For travelers from Canada who are unclear what to do about holiday plans in international destinations, the federal government issued new guidance on Wednesday that could tip the scales: Consider canceling your trip.

Since early November, Canada has seen a steady rebound in coronavirus cases, according to a Dec. 10 epidemiology report published by the country’s public health agency. Now, with the rise of the Omicron variant — which spurred travel restrictions around the globe connected to several countries in southern Africa — the Canadian government has issued an advisory against all nonessential travel just over a week before Christmas.

“To those who were planning to travel, I say very clearly, now is not the time to travel,” the country’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The advisory will be in effect for four weeks and will then be re-evaluated. The government also plans to increase testing at the border, Mr. Duclos said, and will provide more detail in future announcements.

The Dec. 10 epidemiology report also shows that fewer than 1 percent of Covid-19 infections were contracted during international travel and that fewer than 1 percent were linked to an exposure to someone who had traveled.

Yet Mr. Duclos said avoiding travel was smart because Canadians abroad may not be able to gain access to health care if they get sick during travel.

“The situation abroad is already dire in many places,” Mr. Duclos said. “Once they have left Canada, there is very little we can do to help them.”

Fully vaccinated Canadians traveling by air or land for less than 72 hours will still be able to return home without providing proof of a negative coronavirus test, the country’s transportation minister, Omar Alghabra, said.

Over 76 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, according to federal data, with unvaccinated patients accounting for more than three-quarters of hospitalizations and deaths reported to the public health agency as of November.

As the holidays near, the country’s most populated province, Ontario, is recommending that personal gatherings be limited to 25 people as cases mount, fueled in part by the spread of new variants, including Omicron, which is estimated to infect 7.7 times as many people as the Delta variant, provincial health experts reported.

Provinces are racing to offer booster doses and free rapid antigen tests to Canadians through the holiday season, with an inventory of 16 million booster doses currently available and 35 million rapid tests scheduled for distribution by the federal government.



Source link

Canadian Government Warns Residents to Avoid Nonessential Travel


For travelers from Canada who are unclear what to do about holiday plans in international destinations, the federal government issued new guidance on Wednesday that could tip the scales: Consider canceling your trip.

Since early November, Canada has seen a steady rebound in coronavirus cases, according to a Dec. 10 epidemiology report published by the country’s public health agency. Now, with the rise of the Omicron variant — which spurred travel restrictions around the globe connected to several countries in southern Africa — the Canadian government has issued an advisory against all nonessential travel just over a week before Christmas.

“To those who were planning to travel, I say very clearly, now is not the time to travel,” the country’s health minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The advisory will be in effect for four weeks and will then be re-evaluated. The government also plans to increase testing at the border, Mr. Duclos said, and will provide more detail in future announcements.

The Dec. 10 epidemiology report also shows that fewer than 1 percent of Covid-19 infections were contracted during international travel and that fewer than 1 percent were linked to an exposure to someone who had traveled.

Yet Mr. Duclos said avoiding travel was smart because Canadians abroad may not be able to gain access to health care if they get sick during travel.

“The situation abroad is already dire in many places,” Mr. Duclos said. “Once they have left Canada, there is very little we can do to help them.”

Fully vaccinated Canadians traveling by air or land for less than 72 hours will still be able to return home without providing proof of a negative coronavirus test, the country’s transportation minister, Omar Alghabra, said.

Over 76 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, according to federal data, with unvaccinated patients accounting for more than three-quarters of hospitalizations and deaths reported to the public health agency as of November.

As the holidays near, the country’s most populated province, Ontario, is recommending that personal gatherings be limited to 25 people as cases mount, fueled in part by the spread of new variants, including Omicron, which is estimated to infect 7.7 times as many people as the Delta variant, provincial health experts reported.

Provinces are racing to offer booster doses and free rapid antigen tests to Canadians through the holiday season, with an inventory of 16 million booster doses currently available and 35 million rapid tests scheduled for distribution by the federal government.



Source link

B.C. mom warns parents about international travel rules for kids


A B.C. mom is warning other parents about rules around keeping children home after international travel — rules she wasn’t aware of until she recently returned to Canada after a trip to California. 

Stephanie Meyer and her family went to Palm Springs for a week in mid-November for a short getaway after nearly two years of pandemic life. 

Meyer, her husband and their 13-year-old were all fully vaccinated. As vaccines weren’t yet available for her younger children, ages two, five, seven and 11, they were not. 

She did as much research as she could; she checked the airline’s website, the federal government website, watched the news, and said it all suggested no one in her family would have to quarantine upon returning to Canada.

Before heading home the whole family took PCR tests, all of which came back negative. 

As she arrived at YVR, she was handed an information package about their return home and what was required. That’s when she learned she’d have to keep her young children home from school and daycare for two weeks. 

“We were caught off guard,” Meyer said. 

“My husband and I had to scramble and try and figure out what we were going to do for the children that weren’t vaccinated because all of a sudden they had to stay home from school for the next two weeks. So therefore, we have to co-ordinate with the principal and the teachers, some of whom were also caught off guard.”

With the holidays approaching and families planning to leave the country to see friends and relatives they haven’t been able to see in many months, Meyer worries other parents will run into this situation, and that many won’t have the option to stay home with their children due to work and other commitments. 

Not technically quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says that any unvaccinated children under 12 are exempt from quarantine, which specifically includes staying inside your home, monitoring for symptoms and recording your temperature daily. 

From what Meyer understood before leaving, the kids could travel and would not have to quarantine when they got home as long as their parents were vaccinated. Which, technically, is true — kids don’t have to quarantine. However they do have to stay home from school and daycare for 14 days, regardless of their test results. 

They also can’t take crowded transportation, visit a place where vulnerable people are and must limit contact with others. The difference, it seems, is they can still, for example, visit a grocery store with a parent as long as they are wearing a mask. 

Public health says all unvaccinated children, except those under five years of age, are subject to these requirements. 

But Meyer said it doesn’t make sense that kids would have to stay home after taking three tests: one before leaving the U.S., another upon arrival at YVR and a third eight days after returning home.

“I think most families could deal with having to spend a week afterwards,” she said. 

“But the two weeks is a real struggle, and I would assume that once people know about this …  it will impact their travel plans.”

The federal government didn’t explain why kids have to stay away from school but can go into other parts of the community, even after a series of negative tests, other than to say that COVID-19 measures are based on scientific evidence.

“Like every other element of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response, border measures are based on available data, scientific evidence and monitoring of the epidemiological situation both in Canada and internationally,” a Public Health Agency spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

“Any decision to ease or modify border measures in Canada will be based on scientific evidence, and an assessment of domestic and international public health measures and in close consultation with provincial, territorial and international partners.”

Airline responsibility

When asked about how they’re informing customers of these rules before they buy tickets and board planes, WestJet said they do offer resources to help families plan for travel, especially since many Canadians may not have boarded a plane since 2019.

However, the company said it strongly disagrees with forcing children to stay away from school and daycare after international travel. 

“As confidence in travel continues to build, we very much sympathize with Canadian families who are planning or wishing to travel given our nations strong vaccination coverage and are being punished by Canada’s discriminatory travel child policy,” a spokesperson said.

“Since the introduction of the policy for travelling minors, WestJet has been tirelessly advocating to end the family travel ban put in place by the PHAC as it significantly disincentives travel for families and is undermining the recovery of our industry.”

The company said air travel is the “most tested activity in Canada,” and that the rule to stay home from school adds two weeks of cost for possible private child care or parents having to stay home, calling it “unacceptable.”

Air Canada, on the other hand, told CBC News it’s the customer’s responsibility to make sure they know the rules and comply with public health measures. They pointed to their Travel Ready Hub, which connects customers to the government website for information on travel.



Source link

Covid-19 Ireland – Omicron cases here ‘tip of iceberg’ as Leo warns restrictions could last past January


TANAISTE Leo Varadkar has warned new Covid-19 restrictions could extend beyond early January.

And Irish experts cautioned that the Omicron variant “is far more transmissible” than Delta and capable of reinfection in those who previously battled Covid.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said restrictions could be extended

5

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said restrictions could be extended
The NI Department of Health confirmed their first three cases of Omicron

5

The NI Department of Health confirmed their first three cases of Omicron

It comes as the Northern Ireland Department of Health today confirmed their first three cases of the dreaded new super-strain.

All three positive cases have a link to travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland with two from same household in the greater Belfast area and a third unconnected case in the South Eastern Trust area.

WAVE FOUR

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said the country is facing “a serious fourth wave” of the virus, and despite a highly successful vaccination rollout, “the picture of progress is mixed”.

He raised concerns the new restrictions on hospitality, which he said were a “body blow” for the hospitality industry, could be extended beyond January 9, the date flagged by Government when they were introduced on Friday.

Speaking in the Seanad on Tuesday, he said: “Despite a successful vaccination programme and what seemed like a gradual normalisation of society, the virus is very much still with us and we are now experiencing a serious fourth wave.

“The new restrictions announced on Friday were a bitter disappointment to all of us.

Most read in The Irish Sun

“They were a body blow in particular for sectors like hospitality, arts, events entertainment and leisure.”

Mr Varadkar said he was not convinced that the full picture concerning the Omicron variant would be clear by January 9.

He added: “I think we need to operate on the basis that these restrictions will be in place at least until the ninth of January.

“And generally in our experience of the pandemic, when restrictions are imposed, they tend to be extended, not reversed sooner than the date designated.

“I think we need to bear that in mind. You should always make decisions mindful of the fact that what might appear to be a temporary measure can be one that lasts for months and even years.”

RULES BLOW

Varadkar highlighted that the restrictions had been tightened at a time when the “epidemiological situation is improving, when numbers in hospital and ICU appear to have peaked and are falling and deaths are at a relatively low level, thankfully.

But he said they were introduced on “the basis of strong public health advice” and three concerns in particular – increased socialisation over Christmas, uncertainty over the Omicron variant and the return of the flu season, which did not emerge last year.

And Irish scientist Professor James McInerney warned that even though it is early days on Omicron, “all data seems to point to a highly transmissible variant”.

Speaking on RTE’s Prime Time, he said: “The Omicron variant is far more transmissible. Probably a little bit early days to say for sure if that is definitely the full story.

Professor of Experimental Immunology at TCD Kingston Mills

5

Professor of Experimental Immunology at TCD Kingston Mills
Experts warned that the new variant is 'highly transmissible'

5

Experts warned that the new variant is ‘highly transmissible’

“It may also be a little bit of the story in that the Omicron variant is capable of reinfecting people who have already been reinfected or immunised.

“The data from South Africa says it’s pretty transmissible.

“It seems to have increased in the PCR tests and the testing they are using in a much faster rate than previous variants increased in rate if you like.

“I think it’s very early to say what the R number might be for it.

“The data is still only weeks old, and it takes a little bit of time to figure that out. It’s also the case that the R number varies from location to location and whether you’re in a city or a densely populated area and so on.”

VARIANT FEARS

Ireland confirmed its first cases of the deadly Omicron variant last Wednesday as Tuesday saw 5,590 new Covid-19 cases reported in the Republic.

The case jump can be partly attributed to a lag in test results, after just under 3,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

Health chiefs also confirmed 505 Covid patients are in hospital, with 117 of these in ICU.

The dreaded new strain has already ripped through the world with cases reported through the world and across Europe.

Professor of Experimental Immunology at TCD, Kingston Mills admitted that there is still “a lot we don’t know” about the B.1.1.529 Omicron strain.

‘MORE TRANSMISSIBLE’

He said: “What we know from South Africa is that this has become the dominant variant already in only a number of weeks – pushing out the Delta variant. And that is suggesting that it is more transmissible.

“The estimates for the UK are that it will double every two days. In terms of causing more severe disease, as the case may be, in the early cases of South Africa it is causing less severe disease. That is influenced by two factors.

“One is that in South Africa, 60-80 per cent of the population are estimated to be infected already with SARS-CoV-2 and that would be the Delta and previous variants.

“It appears that people who have previously been infected with those variants are susceptible to infection of the new variant but are not getting severe disease – suggesting that immunity induced by the previous infections gives a level of protection that will stop serious disease.”

‘TIP OF THE ICEBERG’

He admitted that although this is “good news”, the question of whether the vaccine will do the same remains a “big issue”.

The expert added that the confirmed Omicron cases in Ireland are “only the tip of the iceberg” as sequencing for detecting the cases is only in small samples.

He said: “If it is in the hundreds in the UK, it is only a matter of time before it is in the hundreds in Ireland. It inevitably will become the dominant variant in Europe.

“The booster campaign is more important than ever because there is evidence that the vaccines can have some protection against all these variants, including the Omicron variant so it is really important to get a third dose of the vaccine.”

It comes as it was warned more than 200,000 people did not turn up for their booster appointment in the past two weeks.

VACCINE NO-SHOWS

Taoiseach Micheal Martin told the Dail he is concerned that there is less urgency from people to get the booster jab.

He said the HSE offered 208,000 appointments in the week commencing November 22 but only 80,000 turned up.

Last week, more than 180,000 booster slots were offered with 93,000 arriving.

Martin said: “The same urgency doesn’t seem to be there in terms of availing of the option to take the booster as was there when we were offered the first dose and the second dose.

“If you look at the over-75 group, in that group where people have been taking up the offer of a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine we are seeing significant reduction in the incidence of disease.”

Despite this, people have reported queuing for hours outside vaccine centres over the past week to get jabs.

Concerns have been raised that the no-shows could be driven by people in their 60s being offered appointments but who are not yet eligible for the third dose because they received their second fewer than five months ago.

A HSE spokesperson told the Irish Sun the high no-show numbers may be impacted by people being offered multiple appointments through GPs, pharmacies or vaccination centres.

More than 200,000 people did not turn up for their booster appointment in the past two weeks

5

More than 200,000 people did not turn up for their booster appointment in the past two weeks





Source link

NBA warns unvaccinated players of updated travel restrictions for games in Canada


By David Close, CNN

NBA players who are unvaccinated against Covid-19 will soon not be allowed to travel to and from games in Canada.

In a league memo sent Tuesday and obtained by CNN, the NBA warned teams, due to Canadian laws, those players who have not received the vaccine and do not have approved medical or religious exemptions, will not be allowed to travel to games against the Toronto Raptors, Canada’s lone Canadian team, starting January 15.

No major professional sports league in the United States has required its players to be vaccinated.

A league source tells CNN 97% of NBA players are vaccinated with 60% of eligible players having received a booster shot. With about 500 players across all the 30 rosters, the travel restrictions would impact approximately 15 players.

The league also stated, due to US travel requirements, any unvaccinated player holding temporary visa status in the United States, would not be allowed to reenter the US should that player have left the country to play a game in Canada, or for any other reason.

The memo also warns any player not complying with the travel mandates will be subjected to suspension and fines.

Tuesday’s NBA memo specifically states all teams must report back to the league by Friday with which players remain unvaccinated, and that the memo has been distributed to them.

On November 19, the government of Canada announced adjustments to its border measures which included updated entry mandates for previously exempted professional and amateur athletes. Only fully vaccinated individuals can enter the country starting January 15.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.



Source link