Coronavirus levels resume falling in the region’s wastewater amid the COVID-19 wave.

COVID-19 cases have increased dramatically again in the United States and around the globe, with the novel Omicron variation accounting for most new cases.

The winter outbreak has caused many specialists and authorities to underline the need for concealment inside and social isolation, in addition to vaccination, including repeat injections.

We’ve compiled a list of the most recent news and updates on coronavirus in New England and abroad.

Boston-area

Another positive hint that Omicron’s grip on the state may be easing, the quantity of coronavirus discovered in Eastern Massachusetts wastewater has continued its rapid fall in recent days, according to data provided Thursday by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

The numbers have fallen to less than a fourth of their early-month Omicron-fueled peaks, but they remain greater than they were during last winter’s rise.

Officials of Cambridge-based Biobot Analytics, the company that does the testing, claim they have discovered a correlation between the quantity of virus identified and newly reported coronavirus cases many days later. Thus, the decreases in viral levels signal that further declines in cases are possible.

The MWRA’s Deer Island treatment facility receives wastewater from 43 cities, including Boston. SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies per milliliter of wastewater are determined by testing the sewage.

The MWRA publishes statistics for two distinct regions: the southern and the northern. As of Thursday, the seven-day mean for the southern area was 2,634 RNA copies/mL.

It is down from a January 3 high of 11,446 RNA copies/mL. As of Thursday, the seven-day median for the northern area was 2.061 RNA copies/mL, down from 8,644 on January 5.

London’s Plane comes back to Miami because of a maskless passenger. 

According to American Airlines, an aircraft bound for London was diverted to Miami after a passenger failed to comply with the legal need to wear a face mask.

The airline contacted Miami police, and authorities took a lady off the Plane on Wednesday evening at Miami International Airport. According to a representative for the Miami-Dade Police Department, American Airlines workers handled the customer “administratively.”

Djokovic awaits deportation determination as the hearing recessed.

Tennis legend Novak Djokovic is awaiting a ruling on whether he will be permitted to remain in Australia after the adjournment of a hearing on a government deportation order by the Federal Court.

On Friday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke canceled Djokovic’s visa, citing the public interest.

Chief Justice James Allsop said that the court would certainly signal to the parties its judgment on whether to vacate his second visa revocation later Sunday, with detailed reasons to follow.

Djokovic loses deportation plea in Australia.

Novak Djokovic’s chances of competing at the Australian Open were crushed when a judge denied his appeal against a deportation order.

Three Federal Court justices supported the immigration minister’s decision on Friday to withdraw the 34-year-old Serb’s visa in the public interest.

Djokovic, who is not immunized against COVID-19, will very certainly stay in prison in Melbourne until he is deported.

Europe

The previous week, a World Health Organization administrator warned of a “dwindling window of opportunity” for European nations to avoid being overrun by coronavirus illnesses caused by the Omicron type.

With very robust national health systems, that window may have already closed in France, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

The head of an intensive care unit at a Strasbourg hospital turns away patients. A surgeon at a London hospital discusses a major lapse in the diagnosis of a man’s cancer. Spain’s resolve to avert a systemic breakdown is being put to the test as Omicron keeps medical workers off the job.

Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia will begin vaccinations against coronavirus for children aged 5 to 11, the Ministry of Health said in a tweet.

Saudi Arabian citizens may now get a third vaccination shot, or booster, three months after receiving the second dose. 

Saudi Arabia warned people in December to avoid “unnecessary” travel outside the nation due to an increase in coronavirus infections and the introduction of a new Omicron type.

COVID program delivers 1 billion shots to poorer nations

The World Health Organization stated Sunday that a United Nations-backed initiative that distributes coronavirus vaccinations to several developing countries had given 1 billion doses. 

Nonetheless, that milestone “is only a reminder of the work that remains” after wealthy nations’ hoarding and stockpiling.

According to the United Nations’ health agency, a shipment of 1.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Rwanda on Saturday contained the billionth dosage administered via the COVAX program.

Denmark raises COVID rules opens numerous public outlets.

Denmark relaxed some coronavirus restrictions and reopened several venues on Sunday, despite the spread of the Omicron type across the nation.

Cinemas, zoos, museums, and theatres were among the establishments that reopened their doors to guests. Indoor and outdoor sporting activities were also open to a limited number of spectators.

At most of these locations, visitors must wear masks and demonstrate that they have been vaccinated, recovered, or recently tested negative for COVID-19.

On January 31, the government of Denmark, a nation of 5.8 million people, proposed to remove coronavirus prohibitions further.

Surgeon general supports Biden’s reaction to the steep COVID-19 wave.

Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General, supported the Biden administration’s reaction to the spike of COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron strain while acknowledging that health authorities must “fill that gap” in the acute testing deficit.

“We need to do more,” Murthy said on ABC’s “This Week,” noting that the surge in infections had outpaced an eightfold increase in testing in the previous month.

At numerous churches, epidemic hits collection plates budgets.

The coronavirus struck when Americans were already attending fewer worship services. At least half of the well almost 15,300 religious communities polled in a’s survey by Faith Communities Today disclosed weekly participation of 65 or fewer. 

It aggravated the issues faced by smaller churches, where increasingly tight budgets frequently prevented them from hiring full-time clergy.

Attendance has been a recurring issue. As Christian leaders sought to reintroduce in-person worship, the highly transmissible delta variety, and now the even faster-spreading Omicron, thwarted such attempts, with some churches reverting to online worship and others remaining open reporting a decline in pew attendance.

Some colleges reduce regulations for a virus that won’t go out.

As the Omicron outbreak grows throughout the nation, increasing COVID-19 case numbers and disrupting everyday life, several colleges are preparing for a new phase of the pandemic, one that recognizes the virus is here to stay and necessitates a rethinking of campus life.

Schools are asking: Should mass testing continue? Is contact tracing necessary? How about keeping track of the number of instances – and making them available on campus dashboards? And, in the event of a surge of cases, are courses need to be remote?

Universities ranging from Northeastern in Boston to the University of California, Davis, have started to consider COVID in “endemic” terms, moving away from responding to each outbreak as a crisis and toward the everyday reality of living with it. And in other instances, there has been retaliation.

The U.S. surgeon general alerts that Omicron has not previously peaked.

On Sunday, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States surgeon general, said that the Omicron coronavirus outbreak had not yet peaked nationwide, adding that the following few weeks will be very challenging in many regions of the country as hospitalizations and fatalities increased.

Murthy emphasized the “positive news” of plateaus and declines in known cases in the Northeast, particularly in New York City and New Jersey, during a CNN “State of the Union” interview.

However, “the difficulty is that the country as a whole is not rising at the same rate,” he said, adding that “we should not anticipate a national high in the next days.”

Scammers see an option in need for virus testing in the U.S., administrators say

Last week, federal and state authorities issued a warning about coronavirus testing scams that exploited the United States’ stretched testing infrastructure, leaving Americans with inaccurate test results, erroneous medical bills, and costly at-home tests.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, fraud involving the virus has continued. Nevertheless, the Omicron version’s fast spread has given fraudsters chances to take advantage of the increased demand for testing.

The Better Business Bureau issued a warning on Friday about phony websites and pop-up testing sites that take personal information from users, swab them for a test, and never give results.

Billions of dollars stay in national COVID aid, but Omicron triggers a call for more support from Washington.

With COVID-19 on the rise a year ago, Congress started work on the nation’s greatest pandemic relief package, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was adopted in March.

However, with the Omicron type currently generating record case numbers, nothing on that scale is being explored, mostly because tens of billions of dollars from the first injection remain accessible to tap.

As nations choose to live with the virus, some disease specialists warn of surrendering too shortly.

Nations worldwide are making a modest but significant shift in their approach to the coronavirus war: Crushing the virus is no longer the goal. Numerous nations are wishing for a draw.

It is a strategic retreat in overt and covert methods, signified by Washington, Madrid, Pretoria, South Africa, and Canberra, Australia.

Unlike China, which continues to fortify cities, few governments currently adhere to a “zero-covid” approach.

The expression is often used in the United States, and many other countries are “infected.” Some authorities and experts have commended this new position and welcomed it by people fatigued by the sufferings and interruptions of this third year of a worldwide health disaster.

Omicron forces marijuana enterprise supply chain

Licensed marijuana businesses are not permitted to transport marijuana goods over state boundaries. However, this does not imply they are immune to the supply chain problems plaguing the rest of the corporate world.

As demand for the Omicron variant grows, Massachusetts cannabis businesses are experiencing significant shortages of critical foreign-made packaging and construction materials, such as vaporizer batteries and cartridges, childproof containers, and the steel beams and air conditioning equipment used to construct indoor cultivation facilities.

Boston Region’s WasteWater Area

According to state statistics released Sunday, coronavirus levels in the Boston region’s wastewater continued to decline Friday. Nonetheless, public health experts warned that COVID-19 remained a hazard despite a statewide outbreak and hospitalizations.

The newest statistics from the region’s wastewater data, which scientists see as an early warning system for the virus’s local spread, came amid negative national news about the epidemic.

The country continues to contend with daily increases in new cases — which have surpassed 800,000 as of Sunday due to the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron type — as hospitals struggle to cope with the influx of patients.

Hong Kong 

According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong discovered an untraceable delta case on Sunday while also facing the possibility of a new Omicron cluster caused by a lady who tested positive during a 21-day hotel quarantine.

Experts are investigating if the Omicron infection occurred due to cross-infection at the hotel since another patient was staying in an adjacent room.

According to a local microbiologist, people living in adjoining hotel rooms should undergo another 14-day quarantine.

Hong Kong has reinstated strict controls, including the shutdown of gyms and supper eating in restaurants, to halt the spread of the Omicron variety.

On Sunday, health minister Sophia Chan said that present limitations would not be completely lifted even after the Lunar New Year. The epidemic situation in the city must improve before the mainland Chinese border can reopen.

Coronavirus levels in the region’s wastewater continue to fall despite the national COVID-19 outbreak.

Australia 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccination for overseas travel.

LAST WEEK, the TGA said that it had collected fresh proof indicating that the vaccination presents protection and may reduce the probability of an arriving visitor circulating COVID-19 while in Australia.

China 

Omicron has entered China’s political, economic, and technological hubs for the first time, placing pressure on the country’s reaction to the more transmittable form as it prepares for the Winter Olympics, which begin in less than three weeks.

China has found locally spread Omicron illnesses in Beijing, the financial hub Shanghai, and Guangdong province, home to Shenzhen’s southern technological hub. These three provinces account for one-fifth of the country’s revenue.

One out of every five provinces has found the highly altered strain, while 14 have confirmed imported cases.

Omicron spreads to China’s main cities.

For the first time, the Omicron variety has infiltrated China’s major power facilities, placing a strain on the country’s viral response at a critical time.

While the infections are still in their infancy, their timing alarm generates.

The Lunar New Year holiday, characterized by mass travel as millions return home, starts February 1, and the Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin February 4.

According to the National Health Commission, at least 166 domestic cases were discovered throughout China.

Local outbreaks of the highly contagious form have been found in Beijing, Shanghai’s financial district, and Shenzhen, southern Guangdong province’s technology and industrial center.

Together, these sectors account for around one-fifth of the country’s total domestic output.

At a conference, Pang Xinghuo, an official with the city’s health officer, said that the individual who caught the first known Omicron illness in Beijing had received foreign mail.

The strain is identical to that seen in North America and Singapore. Pang said that the city is not ruling out the patient’s possibility of getting infected through international mail.

Qatar 

The Gulf state’s Ministry of Public Health reported the death in a statement on Sunday. Additionally, it said that the infant had no known medical concerns.

According to the ministry, while newborn fatalities are exceedingly uncommon, this was the second kid to die from COVID-19.

While COVID-19 symptoms in children have historically been milder, the virus is now infecting many youngsters due to the Omicron variant’s increased contagiousness.

Australian Open

It seemed like a fog had lifted from the Australian Open to some. To others, Novak Djokovic remained almost palpably present, the name on the lips of everyone on the first day of the year’s first major tennis event.

Djokovic departed Australia late Sunday after losing his legal battle to revoke his visa due to his absence of a COVID-19 vaccine. His flight from Melbourne arrived in Dubai early Monday, just before the tournament’s first matches started.

Louisiana nursing homes

The Times-Picayune reported that Louisiana nursing facilities face epidemics, with almost 1,000 illnesses among patients and more than 2,700 among staff in the previous two weeks. According to the publication, the level is six times greater than in late December.

The epidemic is exacerbating the state’s nursing personnel shortfall. Nursing home deaths are increasing marginally, albeit at a far slower rate than infection deaths.

New Virginia 

On Saturday, Glenn Youngkin, who was inaugurated as Virginia’s governor, has signed executive orders repealing COVID-19 restrictions.

The Republican governor issued 11 executive orders detailing his administration’s goals, including repealing the state’s vaccination requirement for all workers and letting parents decide whether their kid wears a mask to school, according to WTOP news.

Hong Kong 

On Sunday, Hong Kong discovered an untraceable delta case while facing the possibility of a new Omicron cluster caused by a lady who tested positive during a 21-day hotel quarantine, according to the South China Morning Post.

Experts are investigating if the Omicron infection occurred due to cross-infection at the hotel since another patient was staying in an adjacent room.

Fauci states it’s too soon to tell Omicron indicates the epidemic’s end.

The president’s top medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said it is too early to predict if the Omicron variant would signal the end of the COVID-19 epidemic.

“It’s unclear if Omicron will be the live virus vaccine that everyone hopes for, given the high level of variability and the emergence of new varieties,” Fauci said Monday during the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda online conference.

Because the virus’s changes seem to be capable of evading some immune response through vaccinations and infection, attaining herd immunity would be tough, he said.

The U.S. official said that variant-specific vaccinations are not the best strategy to combat the illness and that universal vaccines are required.

Could Novak Djokovic be banned from the French Open also?

Novak Djokovic returned home Monday after being denied the opportunity to defend his Australian Open title, only to find himself in a new predicament: he may be disqualified from the French Open this year as well if he has not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine.

A jet carrying the world’s top-ranked player landed in his home Serbia, bringing an end to the first act of a dizzying tale that has resonance in elite sports, Australia’s pandemic politics, and the contentious argument over coronavirus vaccinations.

Only 36 percent of Americans state pandemic reaction is ‘going well.’

As the inaugural anniversary of President Joe Biden approaches this week, American perception of his attempts to curb the epidemic is at an all-time low, CBS News reports.

According to the survey issued Sunday, just 36% of respondents said that the United States’ efforts to combat the coronavirus were “doing well.” 

According to a previous version of the survey, only 49% of Americans approved of the president’s handling of the epidemic, down from 66% in July.

Chairman Milley tests positive for COVID-19

According to the agency’s announcement, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

According to Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesperson for the Joint Chiefs, Milley, who has been vaccinated and had a booster injection, is experiencing moderate symptoms and is working remotely.

Milley last spoke with Vice President Joe Biden on January 12 after a funeral. According to Butler, he tested negative before attending the funeral and each day afterward until Sunday.

In the statement, except for one joint chief, Butler said that all other joint chiefs tested negative. The second individual who tested positive has not been discovered.

Canada

Canada’s health agency has authorized Pfizer’s medication to alleviate the effects of COVID-19.

Health Canada has approved Paxlovid for adult patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 and is also at a high risk of developing more severe illnesses. Health Canada has not approved its usage in adolescents or patients who have been hospitalized because of COVID-19.

The declaration by the FDA on Monday comes amid an increase in the number of illnesses caused by the highly transmissible Omicron type.

California 

Authorities said that around $7 million in excess personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies bought by a Northern California county during the coronavirus epidemic were destroyed in recent rainstorms after being kept outdoors for months.

San Mateo County authorities recognized the calamity after a KGO news story released Thursday showing hundreds of soggy boxes outside the San Mateo Event Center in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Amid the epidemic, the need for single-family rentals soars.

Single-family rental housing offers several features that have risen to the top of house purchasers’ wish lists after the epidemic.

And Walker & Dunlop, a real estate financing business, forecasts that this market will outperform other commercial sectors in the United States over the next few years, including condominiums and apartments, offices, retail, and storage.

Boris Johnson’s ex-aide blames him for lying to U.K. Parliament. 

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s former top adviser, charged the premier of lying to Parliament, stating that he would “swear under oath” that the premier was aware of and permitted a drinks party at Downing Street during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cummings’ latest outburst against his former employer after being thrown out of his post 14 months ago.

His January 7 tweet about a Downing Street party on May 20, 2020, that Johnson attended compelled the prime minister to apologize in the House of Commons, leaving him battling for his future.

Trucker vaccine law is making load and fruit pricier. 

New regulations requiring truckers to show evidence of immunization when crossing the Canada-US border are reducing transportation capacity and increasing the cost of transporting anything from broccoli to tomatoes.

The cost of shipping fruit from California and Arizona to Canada increased 25% last week, according to George Pitsikoulis, president and chief executive officer of Montreal-based distributor Canadawide Fruits.

“The less supply there is, the higher the price. Ultimately, it is the customer who bears the cost of this, “Pitsikoulis said over the phone on Monday.

Canada introduced new restrictions on January 15 requiring border officers to deny entry to unvaccinated U.S. truckers, a move industry officials warned might stymie already-stressed supply networks.

Canadian truckers who do not have evidence of immunization will be subject to undergo quarantine upon re-entry from the United States.

Shipping is likely to be interrupted both ways, as the United States is poised to implement its vaccination requirement for international tourists on January 22. According to the American Trucking Associations, only around 50% to 60% of truck drivers in the United States are vaccinated.

Israeli trial 

According to preliminary results presented Monday from an Israeli experiment, a fourth dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine proved ineffective in preventing infection with the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Two weeks after the vaccination experiment began with 154 medical workers at Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center, researchers discovered that the vaccine effectively increased antibody levels.

However, Gili Regev-Yochay, the trial’s chief researcher, said that this provided just a partial resistance against Omicron.

Greece

On Monday, Greece mandated vaccinations for those 60 and older, citing the continued strain on Greek hospitals, where most chronically sick patients are in that age bracket.

Seniors who do not get vaccinations will face fines, beginning with a 50-euro ($57) charge in January and increasing to a monthly punishment of 100 euros ($114) afterward.

Around 69% of Greece’s 10.7 million residents are completely vaccinated, somewhat less than the E.U. average of 70.3 percent. COVID- In Greece, 19 fatalities and daily hospitalizations have risen due to the introduction of the highly infectious Omicron strain.

However, most persons infected with the virus hospitalized or die from it have the delta version. The ICU capacity crunch has alleviated marginally.

Minister of Health Thanos Plevris said that the penalties would be collected via the tax office, funding public hospitals.

“The age element is critical because it affects the public health system,” Plevris told Sunday’s private Open T.V.

Last year, Greece mandated vaccinations for health care employees. Adult immunization certificates will expire after seven months beginning February 1, unless the bearer obtains a booster dose.

China 

The 2022 Beijing Winter Games organizers paused general ticket sales, citing the “present severe and delicate situation” with COVID-19 in China.

Rather than that, specific groups of viewers will be invited. According to the official organizing committee’s website, they will be forced to follow stringent virus precautions before, during, and after the event.

This decision reverses a previous decision to restrict Olympic ticket sales to mainland Chinese residents. The games are set to begin on February 4.

Hong Kong 

Two former flight attendants were detained in Hong Kong for allegedly leaving their residences while they were supposed to be isolated for probable coronavirus illnesses, which were subsequently confirmed.

The two came from the United States on December 24 and 25, respectively. According to a government statement issued late Monday, they engaged in “unnecessary actions” while under medical monitoring.

While their employment was not mentioned in the announcement, the arrests occurred after flagship airline Cathay Pacific announced the termination of two crew members for violating coronavirus rules. Both were eventually found to be carriers of the Omicron variety.

The pair were freed on bond, and their case will be heard in court on February 9. They might face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars ($642) if convicted of breaking anti-epidemic legislation.

Hong Kong has been battling an Omicron epidemic linked to multiple Cathay Pacific crew members who dined at pubs and restaurants around the city before testing positive for the Omicron type.

Previously, some air and sea crew workers in Hong Kong were permitted to isolate at home under specific quarantine exemptions.

Regulations imposed on December 31 require crew members to segregate for almost a week in a certified quarantine hotel to protect public health.

Prisoners sued Arkansas jail that showed them ivermectin to treat COVID.

According to a national suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four prisoners, prisoners at an Arkansas prison who had COVID-19 were unwittingly treated with ivermectin by the detention center’s doctor, a drug that health officials have repeatedly stated is risky and can not be used to cure coronavirus infectious disease.

Australia 

Tuesday, Australia reported a record number of COVID-19 fatalities. The country’s second-largest state declared a medical emergency to deal with rising patient admissions and a staffing shortage caused by the coronavirus.

The 74 fatalities happened in three of the country’s most populated states. Thirty-six were recorded in New South Wales, 22 in Victoria, and 16 in Queensland. On September 4, 2020, 59 coronavirus-related fatalities set a new daily record.

Omicron forces more cruise lines to cancel trips.

Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have canceled multiple voyages due to the Omicron variant’s continued havoc on the cruise industry.

Hundreds of passengers have been infected with the coronavirus aboard ships in recent weeks, with many getting unwell and spending days in quarantine.

Japan 

Japan’s government contemplates social restrictions in Tokyo and other areas as the coronavirus Omicron spreads.

Japan has never imposed a lockdown during a pandemic, preferring to request eateries and bars shut early. Crowds have returned to many regions of Japan, cramming businesses and activities, but COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

China 

Chinese official media say that shipments sent from outside may have spread the coronavirus strain Omicron in Beijing and other cities.

Globally, health authorities have emphasized that the virus is mostly transmitted by respiratory droplets produced when infected individuals breathe, talk, cough, or sneeze.

On the other hand, China has frequently stressed the threat of infection from packaging. However, only tiny quantities of the virus have been detected on such things and have increased testing of frozen food and other imported commodities.

Abu Dhabi 

Abu Dhabi is asking visitors entering the city to produce confirmation of booster injections in response to a statewide increase in coronavirus infections caused by the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variety.

Earlier this week, the government’s health app said that visitors to the capital of the United Arab Emirates must provide a “green card” certifying their vaccination status.

Visitors are no longer considered completely vaccinated, according to the app, unless they have gotten a booster dosage at least six months after their second injection.

To keep their “green” status, anybody intending to visit Abu Dhabi must also have tested negative for the virus within the past two weeks.

The emirate has adopted a more aggressive stance against the virus than neighboring Dubai, the free-wheeling tourist powerhouse. Residents of Abu Dhabi are required to present their green passes while visiting public areas or government buildings.

The UAE has one of the highest immunization rates per capita globally. According to health officials, the nation has completely immunized more than 90% of its people.

Although infections were at an all-time low in December, they have lately soared to levels not seen in months.

Hong Kong 

Thinking that imported hamsters may have transferred COVID-19 to people, Hong Kong ordered the killing of thousands of tiny creatures, shuttered pet stores that sold them, and quarantined over 100 pet shop visitors as part of its increasingly zealous campaign to eradicate the virus.

The outbreak was sparked when almost a dozen hamsters imported from the Netherlands and sold at a local pet shop named Little Boss were infected with delta. 

This highly contagious COVID-19 strain had been undetected in the city for months until a worker there tested positive. The virus was also detected in samples taken from the shop’s storage in another city section.

All pet stores selling hamsters in Hong Kong – a total of 34 – have been ordered to close immediately for more testing and cleaning. Individuals who recently purchased hamsters have been instructed to surrender the animals to authorities for culling. 

Individuals who purchased hamsters from Little Boss will be required to enter a government quarantine camp.

Around 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, chinchillas, and rabbits, would be slaughtered during the suspension of such imports.

The hamster controversy comes as Hong Kong scrambles to eradicate illness in the city, where dozens of cases associated with the highly infectious Omicron type have been discovered after more than a half-year of no local transmission.

Officials in the financial center and mainland China, the last locations in the world to adhere fully to the COVID-Zero method, are pointing to frozen food, foreign mail, and animals as possible sources of isolated outbreaks that slipped past their stringent control and tracking efforts.

South Africa

According to research conducted by a local university, lions and pumas at a zoo in Pretoria, South Africa, contracted severe COVID-19 from asymptomatic zoo workers, raising fears that new varieties of the illness might develop from animal reservoirs.

In a statement on Tuesday, the University of Pretoria announced that a 2020 study of feces from two pumas that experienced diarrhea, nasal discharge, and anorexia revealed the animals had COVID-19 and recovered completely after 23 days.

A year later, during South Africa’s delta-variant-driven third wave, three lions tested positive for the coronavirus, one of which developed pneumonia.

The investigations add to the growing body of data showing although the mainstream view holds that the coronavirus spreads from animals to people, the converse is also possible.

According to data, the sickness spread among employees during the lions’ illness, and it was most likely transmitted to the large cats. The researchers noted that the illness might evolve in the animals and re-infect humans.

Measures such as mask use and infection management while working with caged animals, as well as barriers to prevent zoo visitors from getting too near to them, are recommended, the researchers stated in a statement.

Poland 

Poland’s health experts have entered the fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, expecting that it will peak in mid-February at over 60,000 new illnesses each day, if not more.

The deputy health minister, Waldemar Kraska, said Tuesday that the highly transmissible Omicron variation accounts for 17% of all sequenced samples countrywide. However, 50% are in the Pomerania region along the Baltic coast in the north.

If the Health Ministry’s forecasts are true, the infection rate in the next wave will be more than quadruple that of the COVID-19 pandemic’s third wave in spring 2021.

Poland reported 19,652 new cases of COVID-19 and 377 fatalities on Tuesday.

Poland has a vaccination rate of 56.5 percent, substantially lower than many other European Union member states, and a mortality rate that is significantly higher in proportion to the population.

Harvard University

Harvard University said last week that it would discontinue contact tracking and that students who test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to inform close contacts on their own.

As students prepare to return to school for the spring semester, Giang T. Nguyen, executive director of Harvard University Health Services, announced revisions to the university’s COVID-19 regulations.

“With almost universal immunization in our Harvard community, the majority of infected persons exhibit no symptoms or just minor symptoms that disappear fast,” Nguyen stated in the statement.

“As a result, we are confident in our capacity to carry out plans for in-person learning in late January while implementing new measures that include community-wide boosters and a shorter time of isolation in situ followed by rigorous masking.”

Baker tells Mass. is ‘on the bottom of the Omicron surge.’

On Tuesday, Governor Baker voiced cautious optimism about Omicron at a news conference announcing a new testing strategy for K-12 schools.

Baker referenced current wastewater statistics during a Q&A session after the press briefing to suggest that the massive rise in COVID-19 cases may be waning.

“One thing I’d say about COVID, in general, is that you never know. However, it seems as if we are far over the peak of the Omicron surge in Massachusetts, “Baker said.

Since December 2021, the Omicron variety has spread across Massachusetts, causing an increase in infections and accounting for 95% of COVID cases in the state.

Baker mentioned a dramatic up and down surge in Omicron-related cases in the United Kingdom and South Africa, indicating that he anticipated a similar drop in Massachusetts.

Coronavirus levels in wastewater continued to decline, according to data published Friday.

White House starts COVID-19 test submission website.

The Biden administration stealthily released its website enabling Americans to seek free COVID-19 testing at home on Tuesday, one day before the site was slated live.

Americans may now obtain four at-home tests per residential location, delivered by the US Postal Service.

It is the latest action taken by President Joe Biden to address criticisms about a lack of supplies and excessive wait times for testing amid a statewide outbreak of COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron strain.

According to a White House official, the website is “currently in beta” and functioning at a “restricted capacity” before its formal debut. The website will be formally launched Wednesday morning, an official said.

Massachusetts 

The Massachusetts Legislature is considering a measure to delay this year’s primary election to September 6 and provide $55 million for COVID-19 expenditure requirements as the state confronts an Omicron-related case spike.

The House Ways and Means Committee adopted the measure Tuesday, and it is anticipated to be debated by the entire house on Wednesday and the state Senate next week.

Mexico City

Hospital occupancy rates are rapidly increasing in Mexico City as Omicron, a highly dangerous COVID-19 strain, ravages the nation, establishing new daily infection records.

Since January 3, occupancy levels have increased by more than a factor of two to 58 percent, according to a government data repository for public hospital availability that samples around one-fifth of all hospitals.

According to Mexico City figures, 1,441 individuals were hospitalized as of Monday, almost quadrupling the 383 patients in public and private hospitals at the start of the year.

Las Vegas

On Tuesday, the show’s producers said that the 64th Grammy Awards would be held on April 3 in Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The Grammy Awards, the music industry’s most high-profile media event, were planned in Los Angeles on January 31.

The ceremonies were postponed earlier this month due to increased COVID-19 cases. At the same time, organizers sought a site large enough to hold the event, which sometimes involves more than a week of rehearsals and other preparation.

Australia

Over 30 unions have warned Australian companies to beef up COVID-19 safety measures as employers seek more dangerous strategies to deal with widespread workforce absences.

Unions seek more viral protection and free, fast antigen testing for employees, driven by rising outrage over a South Australian slaughterhouse that advised staff to go to work even if infected with the virus unless their symptoms made them too sick to work.

The issue has become a flashpoint for unions, with many companies experiencing workforce shortages as employees contract COVID or are forced to isolate themselves during the country’s worst wave of cases in history.

Australia’s government is adamant about avoiding more lockdowns and maintaining an open economy despite record hospitalizations and growing mortality rates.

“Essential employees are expected to put themselves in harm’s way to keep the country running, sometimes without the safeguards they need,” the Australian Council of Trade Unions said in a statement after a meeting of national union officials Tuesday.

New Zealand 

New Zealand is considering a phased border reopening next month as it hurries to provide booster immunization doses before the Omicron type of coronavirus spreads across the population.

“We want to provide New Zealanders adequate time to take boosters,” Chris Hipkins described journalists in New Plymouth on Wednesday. “We will transition to a self-isolation paradigm; the only issue is when.”

Germany

Germany joined countries like the U.K., France, and Italy to record more than 100,000 new COVID-19 infections on one day, adding to evidence that the highly contagious Omicron variant is spreading fast across Europe’s largest economy.

Another 112,323 infections were registered after 74,405 on the previous day, according to data published Wednesday by Germany’s public-health institute RKI.

Japan 

The Japanese government will impose new COVID-19 limits on Tokyo and a dozen other cities on Friday, enabling local authorities to reduce restaurant hours in response to a rise of omicron cases that threatens to cripple society.

On Wednesday, a government-appointed expert panel authorized a proposal to impose a three-week moratorium on the 13 regions until February 13, according to Economic Revitalization Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, who is also responsible for antiviral measures.

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