White House plans COVID-19 test blitz at home for winter, and Germany to shut down its unvaccinated – Community News

White House plans COVID-19 test blitz at home for winter, and Germany to shut down its unvaccinated

The White House will unveil new measures later Thursday to help the US get through the winter while dealing with the new strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and will focus on home tests and boosters in a public information campaign .

The measures come a day after the first case of a variant called omicron was discovered in the US in a person in San Francisco who recently flew back from South Africa, where scientists were the first to report on omicron. The US is one of several countries that have restricted travel from South Africa and neighboring countries in an effort to keep omicron out, though more testing is needed for now to determine if it’s more portable than other variants. deadlier or more resistant to existing vaccines and treatments.

See: After high hopes for Merck’s COVID-19 pill, Wall Street now expects ‘lukewarm’ clearance

While South Africa has reported a sharp rise in the daily number of cases – to 8,561 cases on Wednesday from 1,275 a week earlier – doctors say symptoms have been mostly mild so far and vaccine makers have said they believe their products still provide protection offer or can be relatively adjusted quickly.

“We have more tools today to fight the Omicron variant than we have had to fight previous variants, including Delta,” the White House said in a statement.

It noted that nearly 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated, booster shots are allowed for all adults, and children ages 5 and older have been added to the vaccine program.

“Today’s actions will ensure that we use these tools as effectively as possible to protect the American people from this variant and to continue fighting the Delta variant during the winter months, when viruses tend to thrive,” the statement said. declaration. “These actions will help our economy grow and protect Americans from severe COVID-19.”

See: Not sure if you should get a COVID booster? Here’s what you need to know.

As expected, travelers entering the US will be required to undergo a PCR test 24 hours prior to departure under the new measures, rather than 72 hours as currently required. But the bigger news is the expansion of home testing, with President Joe Biden planning to announce that private insurers will offer reimbursements.

For the uninsured, the government will offer free testing at health centers and clinics nationwide, allowing Americans to quickly test themselves before joining friends or relatives over the holidays.

Biden is also extending the requirement to wear a face mask on public transportation, including planes, trains and buses until March 18. “Fines will be doubled from their initial levels for non-compliance with masking requirements — with a minimum fine of $500 and fines of up to $3,000 for repeat offenders,” the statement said.

The CDC said the first known US case of the Omicron variant has been identified in California. The coronavirus strain is spreading around the world as scientists race to learn more about its effects. WSJ’s Brianna Abbott explains what could be next for the US Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

According to a New York Times tracker, the US still has an average of more than 900 COVID deaths per day, with cases and hospitalizations on the rise. Michigan remains the state with the highest daily increase in the number of cases per capita, with more than 8,000 cases per day.

Elsewhere, Germany has followed Austria by imposing restrictions on unvaccinated people, depriving them of access to all but the most essential businesses, Reuters reported. They also agreed to pass legislation in the national parliament to make vaccination mandatory.

Authorities fear the fourth wave of COVID-19 risks overwhelming intensive care units and resulted in more than 73,000 new infections and 388 deaths on Thursday.

The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that a “toxic mix” of low vaccination rates and low testing rates formed the basis for more variants, AFP reported. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said for now, delta remains the more dominant variant.

“We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save lives from delta. And if we do that, we will also prevent the transmission and save lives of omicron,” Tedros told a news conference.

From the UK, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline GSK,

said a preclinical analysis of the antibody-based COVID therapy suggests it will work against Ommicron. The therapy is being developed with Vir Biotechnology VIR,
who saw his shares soar on the news.

Wealthy countries that donate COVID vaccines should give “better quality” doses rather than doses that are about to expire, a Covax chief said Wednesday after the plan set a new delivery record, News9live.com reported. Covax is a United Nations program that aims to supply vaccines to low-income countries.

See: Risk of government shutdown increases as Republicans aim for vaccine mandate

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After scientists discovered a new strain of the virus that causes Covid-19, countries restricted travel to and from southern Africa. WSJ’s Anna Hirtenstein explains that investors have turned to bonds and gold as they prepare for more potential disruption. Photo: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

Latest results

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, the global number for the coronavirus-borne illness climbed above 263.6 million on Tuesday, while the death toll topped 5.22 million. The US continues to lead the world with a total of 48.7 million cases and 782,100 deaths.

India is second only to the US with 34.6 million and has suffered 469,724 deaths. Brazil has the second highest death toll with 614,964 and 22.1 million cases. In Europe, Russia has the most fatalities with 272,279 deaths, followed by the UK with 145,586.

China, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019, has had 111,353 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, according to official figures, which are widely regarded as hugely restrained.