Some U.S. Schools Lift Mask Mandates; Flu Cases Up: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- China is seeing a new coronavirus cluster in its northwestern provinces, with eight infections detected since Sunday. Some U.S. schools are starting to lift mask mandates as the latest Covid-19 wave fades, and case trends suggest others may soon follow.
Influenza cases are 23% higher across the U.S. compared with a year ago, according to data collected by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. The rise may be due to people spending more time together and a loosening of social-distancing measures and mask wearing after vaccination.
Australia’s Queensland outlined plans to reopen its borders to the rest of the nation, following pressure from Prime Minister Scott Morrison on states to do so by Christmas. Myanmar is preparing to welcome foreign tourists again early next year. New Zealand extended a lockdown in Auckland for at least another two weeks, but a vaccination target will be introduced to signal when curbs could be eased.
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Chicago Cops Lag on Shot-Status Mandate (5 p.m. NY)
Nearly one-third of Chicago Police Department employees have not reported their Covid-19 vaccination status to the city, defying Friday’s deadline to provide the information or risk unpaid leave.
About 64% of the department’s 12,770 employees have reported their vaccine status, according to data released by city officials on Monday. The figures show that 6,894 say they’re fully vaccinated and 1,333 report they are not, according to the data. That’s the lowest reporting rate among the city’s departments.
About 4,500 from the department have not responded as mandated by the city amid a standoff between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7 President John Catanzara Jr.
Pfizer Seeks Canadian Approval for Kids’ Shot (5 p.m. NY)
Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE are seeking Canadian approval for their vaccine for children as young as 5. The country’s health regulator said it will “prioritize” the review.
ESPN Reporter Out After Refusing Vaccine (3:40 p.m. NY)
ESPN reporter Allison Williams said she was being fired from the sports network after refusing to get a coronavirus shot. Her last day will be next week.
The on-air personality, best known for her college football and basketball coverage, said on her Instagram page that her request for an accommodation to not get the inoculation was denied.
Scientists say there is no evidence that vaccines have a negative effect on male or female fertility.
Pre-Existing Conditions Cited in N.J. Deaths (2:15 p.m. NY)
About 72% of breakthrough Covid-19 patients who died in New Jersey had underlying medical conditions, according to Ed Lifshitz, medical director of the state’s Health Department.
Of 362 breakthrough deaths, 262 had pre-existing conditions. A similar percentage of breakthrough Covid-19 patients hospitalized -- 69% of 1,718 -- had previous medical issues, Lifshitz said Monday at a virus briefing in Trenton.
The older a breakthrough patient is, and the more underlying conditions they have, the “more likely you are going to have a bad outcome,” Lifshitz said.
New Jersey reported 36,616 breakthrough cases between Jan. 19 and Oct. 4, or 0.65% of total fully vaccinated individuals. Hospitalizations among that group totaled 794, or 0.01%; while deaths totaled 215, or 0.004%.
Some U.S. Schools Lift Mask Mandates (1:35 p.m. NY)
Some U.S. schools are starting to lift mask mandates as the latest Covid-19 wave fades, and case trends suggest others may soon follow.
At least a half dozen school districts across the country have recently lifted their mandates, the first such swing away from the face coverings, according to Burbio, which tracks the developments and runs a dashboard on schools. They include Troup County in Georgia, Rogers Public Schools in Arkansas and Northside ISD in Texas, Burbio reported.
German Emergency Set to Lift Nov. 25: Bild (10:10 a.m. NY)
German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said that enough people have been vaccinated to permit ending a national state of emergency as scheduled on Nov. 25, Bild newspaper reported Monday, without saying where it got the information.
Spahn told a meeting of regional leaders that a complete return to normalcy would nevertheless only be possible in the spring of next year at the earliest.
U.S. Influenza Activity Jumps 23% (8 a.m. NY)
Influenza cases are 23% higher across the U.S. compared with a year ago, according to data collected by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Las Vegas and Nevada topped the list for cases, along with several Texas communities.
The rise may be due to people spending more time together and a loosening of social-distancing measures and mask wearing after vaccination.
Walgreens tracks flu activity by using retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza in stores nationwide.
Indonesia Sees Endemic Phase in January (6:35 a.m. NY)
Indonesia expects to enter the endemic phase for Covid-19 in January, as long as it can go through the year-end holiday without a further spike in cases, according to Luhut Panjaitan, the minister overseeing the pandemic response.
The Asian nation is on course to have 122 million people fully vaccinated by year-end, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.
EU Vaccine Exports Top 1 Billion in 10 Months (5:39 p.m. HK)
The European Union exported over 1 billion vaccine doses to more than 150 countries over the past 10 months, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.
The EU and the U.S. are joining forces to deliver more doses to low- and middle-income countries and will rally Group of 20 leaders around the effort later this month. The EU committed to donate at least 500 million doses to vulnerable countries in coming months. It has delivered 87 million so far.
Czech Republic Cuts Vaccine Time Limit (4:46 p.m. HK)
The Czech Republic shortened the limit for receiving the third dose of Pfizer/Biotech vaccine to six months from eight months.
The move follows an acceleration in the spread of the coronavirus during the last week in the nation of 10.7 million, with 787 new cases reported on Sunday, the highest number on any Sunday since April.
China Finds Eight New Cases in Fresh Flareup (4:02 p.m. HK)
China is seeing a new cluster of cases in its northwestern provinces, with eight infections detected since Sunday.
The resurgence has been traced to two retired university lecturers from Shanghai who were infected in Shaanxi Province. Since then, over 1,500 close contacts have been identified and six more people found to have the virus in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
Xi’an, the Shaanxi capital that’s home to some 13 million people and the location of the Terracotta Army, is preparing to roll out a citywide testing program, according to the Global Times.
Taiwan Reports No Cases First Time Since April (2:46 p.m. HK)
Taiwan reported zero local and imported cases of Covid-19 Monday, for the first time since April 8, said Chou Jih-haw, Director-General of Centers for Disease Control, at a briefing in Taipei.
Taiwan is moving closer to cutting its virus alert to level 1, the lowest, given that the local situation has stabilized, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung was quoted by Taipei-based Apple Daily as saying.
Valneva Says Covid Shot Beat Astra’s in Trial (2:36 p.m. HK)
Valneva SE is preparing to seek regulatory approval for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine after showing it elicits better immunity than AstraZeneca Plc’s shot.
Patients injected with two doses of the product had more antibodies -- a proxy for protection against the coronavirus -- and fewer side effects than those who got the Astra shot in a study of about 4,000 adults, the French drugmaker said in a statement Monday. Both groups had the same number of Covid cases and no patient got severely ill, the company said.
New Zealand Extends Auckland Lockdown (12:57 p.m. HK)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended a lockdown in Auckland for at least another two weeks, but said a vaccination target would be introduced on Friday to give people an indication of when restrictions could be eased.
Auckland will remain at Alert Level 3, meaning people can’t leave the city and should stay at home where possible, Ardern told a press conference Monday in Wellington.
Myanmar Working on Welcoming Back Tourists (11:41 a.m. HK)
Myanmar is finalizing procedures for reopening its tourism sector to foreigners early next year and will initially target visitors from Southeast Asia, according to Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism Htay Aung.
The effort comes as new Covid-19 infections decelerate in the nation of 55 million, which has prompted the lifting of a ban on inter-provincial travel. The easing and traditional holidays have already spurred some locals to go on vacation.
Australia’s Queensland to Reopen Border (11:35 a.m. HK)
Fortress Australia’s walls have cracked further after Queensland state outlined plans to reopen its borders to the rest of the nation.
Queensland won’t require fully vaccinated travelers from other states to quarantine on arrival from Dec. 17 or once 80% of the population are inoculated, whichever is earlier, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters Monday. Overseas arrivals will be allowed to quarantine at their place of residence, she said. All border restrictions will be lifted for vaccinated travelers -- both domestic and international -- should the 90% threshold be met.
The plan follows pressure from Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on states to end border closures by Christmas.
Singapore’s New Virus Cases Drop (9:47 a.m. HK)
Singapore had the fewest new daily Covid-19 cases since Oct. 14, at 3,058 as of noon on Oct. 17, according to the Ministry of Health. The country has seen a surge in the number of virus patients in critical condition, with 66 people in the intensive care unit compared with 48 people on Friday.
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