The US reported nearly 1 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, the highest daily tally any country has seen in the world. The cases are nearly double the previous US peak that was set a week back with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
President Joe Biden urged concern, not alarm as he emphasised that vaccines, booster shots and therapeutic drugs have lessened the danger for the overwhelming majority of Americans who are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Texas officials on Tuesday indicated that about 40 per cent of its Army National Guard members are refusing to inoculate themselves against Covid in the latest challenge to the Biden administration order which requires all members of the military to get jabbed.
In the UK, prime minister Boris Johnson has said he will stand by the implementation of Plan B restrictions currently in force in England despite the UK recording a further 218,724 cases of Covid on Tuesday. The prime minister also announced that 100,000 critical workers would be given rapid tests for the virus every day.
Speaking to a virtual Downing St press conference, he said: “Anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over is profoundly wrong. This is a moment for the utmost caution.”
Why the new Covid variant with 46 mutations is not causing alarm
While the newly identified IHU variant with 46 mutations looks problematic on paper, its emergence in southeastern France has been met with a shoulder shrug by many scientists.
This is in part because the variant predates Omicron and has failed to take off globally in the same way, indicating a low rate of transmission. The variant first popped up on scientists’ radar in early November, but it has been linked to only 12 cases of infection.
Recap: Johnson announces 100,000 daily rapid tests for key workers
Prime minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said that 100,000 critical workers will be given daily lateral flow tests to keep the services open.
“We’ve identified 100,000 critical workers in areas from food processing, to transport to our Border Force and from 10 January we will be rolling out lateral flow testing for all these workers available on every working day,” said the prime minister during a press conference.
“We will be sending testing kits directly to these organisations and liaising with them on the logistics.”
Johnson to stick with plan B restrictions
Prime minister Boris Johnson refused to tighten plan B curbs, insisting that high vaccination rates and public compliance with existing restrictions gave England a chance to “find a way to live with this virus” without shutting down social and economic life.
This comes as the country confirmed 200,000 cases with health experts warning about the threat to patient care without the imposition of new restrictions.
The prime minister, however, acknowledged that Covid is far from over. “Anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over is profoundly wrong. This is a moment for the utmost caution.”
Australia reports record daily covid cases for third consecutive day
Australia’s daily Covid-19 cases hit a record high for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, as it reported 64,758 new cases. As the surge in Covid cases put a strain on hospital resources and testing facililites, prime minister Scott Morrison sought to reassure the Australians that the situation was under control.
“There are no silver bullets here,” Mr Morrison told reporters ahead of his meeting with national cabinet and group of federal and state and territory leaders over the pandemic. “You’ve just got to work the problem, work it together and push through.”
Japan to consider emergency steps as Okinawa sees a surge in Covid cases
Officials in Japan are considering imposing emergency steps after the Okinawa region saw a surge in Covid cases, as the infection rate doubled on Wednesday from the previous day.
New infections jumped to 600 from 225 on Tuesday, the highest since the autumn when Japan was in the midst of its fifth and biggest wave of Covid-19.
Okinawa health experts are like to meet on Wednesday to determine whether to ask the federal government to impose strict measures, an official told Reuters.
According to the Mainichi newspaper, Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki told chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno that he was considering requesting a state of quasi-emergency under which restaurants and bars would be allowed to operate for fewer hours.
National Guard members in Texas refuse Covid vaccine
Thousands of National Guard members in Texas are refusing to get inoculated against coronavirus, in their latest challenge to the Biden administration under which all members are required to get jabbed.
Texas has more than 20,000 National Guard members, of which about 40 per cent of its Army National Guard are currently refusing to receive the Covid-19 vaccination “for either religious accommodation needs or otherwise,” according to a lawsuit filed by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton.
The lawsuit added that more than 200 airmen in the Texas Guard are also refusing the vaccine. The suit comes a week after a federal judge rejected a similar challenge brought by Oklahoma’s governor amid growing opposition from the Republicans over the vaccination mandate for Guard members.
Biden urges Americans to get vaccines and booster shots
President Joe Biden urged Americans to get vaccines, booster shots and therapeutic drugs against Covid as the country saw a record number of Covid cases. “You can still get Covid, but it’s highly unlikely, very unlikely, that you’ll become seriously ill,” said Mr Biden of vaccinated people.
“There’s no excuse, there’s no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated,” he added. “This continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” He also encouraged Americans, including newly eligible teenagers aged 12 to 15, to get a booster dose of the vaccines for maximum protection.
US records nearly one million cases
The United States reported nearly one million new coronavirus infections on Monday, the highest daily tally of any country in the world. Nationally, the US had seen a daily average of 486,000 new covid cases over the last week. The rate has doubled in the last seven days with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The 978,856 new infections documented on Monday included some cases tallied on Saturday and Sunday, when many states do not report.
The number of hospitalisations has gone up by about 50 per cent in the last week and now exceeds 100,000, according to Reuters. The average deaths remained at about 1,300 a day throughout December and into early January.
Welcome to The Independent’s live blog covering the Covid-19 pandemic for Wednesday 5 January.
Source Link Covid news – live: US records nearly 1 million Covid cases as Biden urges Americans to get vaccinated