The United Kingdom is banning arrivals from South America following evidence of a new variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in Brazil.
The government says that beginning at 4 a.m. Friday, arrivals will no longer be allowed from all South American countries as well as the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa and Panama in Central America.
Biden Announces $1.9 Trillion Plan
President-elect Joe Biden late Thursday announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to address the ongoing CCP virus pandemic in the United States.
Biden asserted that more spending early on would reduce the long-term economic damage caused by the CCP virus lockdowns and restrictions.
WHO Team Arrives in China
A global team of researchers arrived Thursday in the Chinese city where the pandemic was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries.
The group sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization (WHO) was approved by CCP leader Xi Jinping after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of WHO.
Ontario Under New Orders
Canada’s two largest provinces are now under significant restrictions to curb surging cases of COVID-19 and a professional group for emergency doctors is calling for more transparency around vaccine distribution.
Among added measures is a requirement for people to wear a mask inside businesses and restrictions on the size of gatherings. All “non-essential” retail stores may only open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Premier Doug Ford has said everyone must stay home and only go out for trips deemed essential.
Calls to Reopen Classrooms Grow
State leaders around the United States are increasingly pushing for schools to reopen this winter as teachers begin to gain access to the CCP virus vaccine.
Ohio’s governor offered to give vaccinations to teachers at the start of February, provided their school districts agree to resume at least some in-person instruction by March 1. In Arizona, where teachers began receiving shots this week, the governor warned schools that he expects students back in the classroom.
Lebanon Imposes All-Day Curfew
On Thursday, Lebanese authorities swung the other way: They began enforcing an 11-day nationwide shutdown and round-the-clock curfew, hoping to blunt the spread of CCP virus infections spinning out of control after the holiday period.
The curfew is the strictest measure Lebanon has taken since the start of the pandemic.
Germany, Sweden Report Record Death Tolls
Germany recorded a new record number of deaths from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus on Thursday, prompting calls for an even tighter lockdown. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 25,164 new cases and 1,244 fatalities, bringing Germany’s total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 43,881.
Sweden, whose unorthodox pandemic strategy placed it in the global spotlight, reported a record number of virus deaths for a single day on Thursday, taking the total toll to 10,185, although new infections appear to be easing. The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 351 more deaths since Wednesday, and reported 6,580 new cases.
US Tops 10 Million Vaccinations
More than 10 million Americans had received their first dose of a CCP virus vaccine as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The United States reached 10.2 million inoculations one day after the CDC and Trump administration gave new guidance to U.S. states on who should receive the shots first. Strict rules putting healthcare workers first in line had slowed the rollout. Now states are urged to also vaccinate anyone over the age of 65.
Natural Immunity Similar to Vaccine Immunity: Study
The level of natural immunity people acquire from having caught the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, in the past is high and likely to be roughly the same as the protection they will get from vaccination against the disease, scientists have said a new official study shows.
Public Health England (PHE) said in a media release on Thursday that its SIREN study of 20,787 healthcare workers had concluded that having previously had the disease gave people at least 83 percent, but up to 99 percent, immunity to reinfection probably for a minimum of five months.
Though the study did not include research on people who had received vaccines, scientists welcoming its findings said it shows that previously infected people gain as much immunity from having caught the disease in the past as they will get from a vaccine.
Two Members of WHO Delegation to Wuhan Held Back
Two members of a World Health Organization-led team that arrived on Thursday in China’s Wuhan city to investigate the origins of the CCP virus remained behind in Singapore after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies, the global body said.
The team of 15 had all tested negative for the disease prior to leaving their home countries and underwent further testing while in transit in Singapore. The results of nucleic acid tests were negative but showed two of the members had CCP virus antibodies, the Geneva-based agency said in a tweet.
Deaths Surge in New York Nursing Homes
Long-term care facilities in New York, including nursing homes and adult care facilities, saw a surge in COVID-19 deaths in the final weeks of 2020, federal data shows.
There were 508 deaths in long-term care facilities in New York in the two-week period ending on Jan. 4—an average of over 250 deaths per week—according to the Long Term Care Community Coalition, whose figures are based on New York State Department of Health data.
California Counties Ask for More Vaccine Doses
California counties are asking for more CCP virus vaccine doses as the state added a potential 4 million people to those eligible for them.
State public health officials followed federal guidance Wednesday by announcing that people 65 and older could get it. But Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents and an epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, says it can’t do that before inoculating some 800,000 health care workers first.
California received more than 2.4 million vaccine doses, but only a third have been used. The state aims to administer 1.5 million doses by Friday.
Pope Francis Vaccinated
The Vatican has confirmed Pope Francis received the first shot of the CCP virus vaccine on Thursday.
No photos of the 84-yer-old pontiff receiving the shot have been released. The pope has advocated that everyone should get the vaccine, calling it an “ethical option.”
The Vatican launched its vaccination program this week, administering the Pfizer vaccine. Vatican City has had at least 27 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, including a cluster among the Swiss Guards last fall.
Lorenz Duchamps, Mark Clark, Zachary Stieber, The Canadian Press, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.