World experts hold special meeting on worrying new COVID-19 variant in South Africa: Latest updates

Written by on November 26, 2021

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USPS: Prepared for pandemic crush of vacation delivery

The U.S. Postal Service is gearing up for a deluge of vacation delivery, a yr after the COVID-19 pandemic led to packages and letters piling up in distribution hubs. Since then, the USPS has invested in new infrastructure and new employees. (Nov. 24)


A COVID-19 variant first found in South Africa has been dubbed “omicron” and labeled a “variant of concern,” essentially the most worrying sort by the World Well being Group and one of many first indicators that it’s price consideration as an elevated risk.

Specialists with the World Well being Group met Friday to evaluate a COVID-19 variant in South Africa that has been quickly spreading amongst younger individuals and has already spawned quite a few mutations.

In the meantime, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, mentioned American officers may have a name with South African officers Friday to seek out out extra in regards to the variant. He added there was no indication the variant had arrived within the U.S. but.

It is too early to say whether or not the brand new variant goes to have the potential impression of the troublesome delta variant.

The coronavirus evolves because it spreads and plenty of new variants, together with these with worrying mutations, usually simply die out. Scientists monitor for doable modifications that might be extra transmissible or lethal, however finding out whether or not new variants may have a public well being impression can take time.

The brand new variant has additionally been present in Botswana and Hong Kong in vacationers from South Africa, in response to Joe Phaahla, the nation’s well being minister. Phaahla mentioned the variant has seen speedy unfold in Gauteng, the nation’s most populous province. 

A number of nations, together with Germany, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Japan, have responded to information of the variant by shifting Friday to limit air journey from a number of southern African international locations. The European Union, which is made up of 27 nations, can also be recommending a ban on flights from southern African international locations, regardless of WHO officers warning in opposition to rash choices.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the top of emergencies on the WHO mentioned “it’s actually vital that there are not any knee-jerk responses.” And the Africa Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention mentioned in an announcement it “strongly discourages” such journey bans, including that “over the period of this pandemic, we have now noticed that imposing bans on vacationers from international locations the place a brand new variant is reported has not yielded a significant end result.”

Extra in regards to the newly found variant: What to know in regards to the new COVID-19 variant in South Africa

Additionally within the information:

►Israel introduced Friday it detected the nation’s first case of the newly found variant in a traveler getting back from Malawi. The traveler and two different people who find themselves suspected to be contaminated with the variant have been positioned in isolation.

►Amid information of the Omicron variant, S&P futures had been down 1.67% and Dow futures had been 2.2% decrease, forecasting a foul buying and selling day earlier than U.S. monetary markets opened on Friday.

►Officers in the UK introduced that six African international locations might be added to England’s journey “purple listing.” In the meantime, on Friday a number of European Union nations had been shifting to cease air journey from southern Africa to counter the unfold of the brand new COVID-19 variant.

►Czech President Milos Zeman was admitted to a hospital late Thursday after testing constructive for COVID-19. 

►Starting Monday, Massachusetts hospitals should reduce on non-urgent scheduled procedures attributable to staffing shortages and longer affected person stays, in response to the state’s well being authorities.

►The variety of air vacationers this week is predicted to strategy and even exceed pre-pandemic ranges, and auto membership AAA predicts 48.three million individuals will journey at the very least 50 miles from house over the vacation interval.

📈At this time’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded greater than 48 million confirmed COVID-19 instances and greater than 775,000 deaths, in accordance to Johns Hopkins College information. International totals: Practically 260 million instances and greater than 5.1 million deaths. Greater than 196 million Individuals — roughly 59.1% of the inhabitants — are absolutely vaccinated, in response to the CDC.

Hold refreshing this web page for the newest information. Need extra? Join USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch free publication to obtain updates on to your inbox and be a part of our Fb group.

Federal well being regulators say an experimental COVID-19 tablet from Merck is efficient in opposition to the virus, however they are going to search enter from outdoors consultants on dangers of beginning defects and different potential issues throughout being pregnant.

The Meals and Drug Administration posted its evaluation of the tablet forward of a public assembly subsequent week the place educational and different consultants will weigh in on its security and effectiveness. The company isn’t required to observe the group’s recommendation.

The FDA scientists mentioned their evaluate recognized a number of potential dangers, together with doable toxicity and beginning defects. Given these dangers the FDA will ask its advisers whether or not the drug ought to by no means be given throughout being pregnant or whether or not it might be made out there in sure instances. Below that situation, the FDA mentioned the drug would carry warnings about dangers throughout being pregnant, however docs would nonetheless have the choice to prescribe it in sure instances the place its advantages may outweigh its dangers for sufferers.

Given the protection considerations, FDA mentioned Merck agreed the drug wouldn’t be utilized in kids.

Moreover, the FDA flagged a priority that Merck’s drug led to small modifications within the coronavirus’ signature spike protein, which it makes use of to penetrate human cells. Theoretically, FDA cautioned, these modifications may result in harmful new variants. Regulators additionally famous that Merck collected far much less security information total on its drug than was gathered for different COVID-19 therapies.

FDA will ask its impartial advisers to debate all these points after which vote on whether or not the drug’s total advantages outweigh its dangers.

— The Related Press

Regardless of early indicators that urged the U.S. might have averted one other winter surge, COVID-19 instances are on the way in which up.

The nation reported 665,420 instances within the week ending Monday, greater than a 30% improve from the tempo of instances reported a few month in the past, in response to a USA TODAY evaluation of Johns Hopkins information.

As instances rise in 39 states, U.S. Well being and Human Companies information present hospitals in 32 states admitted extra sufferers within the newest week than the week earlier than.

“Fairly frankly, I’m actually involved,” mentioned Danielle Ompad, affiliate professor of epidemiology at New York College’s Faculty of International Public Well being. “I might say we’re higher off than we had been final yr, however instances are beginning to tick up and that’s one thing that we actually have to regulate.” Learn extra right here. 

— Adrianna Rodriguez

Buoyed by stable hiring, wholesome pay beneficial properties and substantial financial savings, customers are returning to shops and splurging on all forms of objects.

However the massive query is: How a lot will provide shortages, increased costs and staffing points dampen their temper this vacation season?

Individuals, already fatigued with pandemic-induced social distancing insurance policies, might get grumpy if they will’t test off objects on their vacation want lists, or they could really feel disillusioned by the skimpy vacation reductions. Exacerbating their foul moods is the truth that many pissed off employees known as it quits forward of the vacations, leaving companies short-handed throughout their busiest time of the yr.

Consumers are anticipated to pay on common of between 5% to 17% extra for toys, clothes, home equipment, TVs and others purchases on Black Friday this yr in contrast with final yr, in response to Aurelien Duthoit, senior sector advisor at Allianz Analysis. TVs will see the best worth spikes on common, up 17% from a yr in the past, in response to the analysis agency. That’s as a result of no matter reductions out there might be utilized to items which are already costly.

Such frustrations may mute gross sales for the vacation season which are supposed to interrupt data.

— Related Press

Contributing: Related Press

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