The head of the World Health Organization cautioned those who have been vaccinated against complacency as coronavirus cases surged in Europe and rose in large swaths of the United States.On the eve of Thanksgiving, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lamented “the false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic.” Tedros urged everyone — including the vaccinated — to continue wearing masks, maintaining distance and avoiding crowds, citing the “unsustainable pressure” on health systems in many countries.In the United States, new daily coronavirus cases have risen by 10 percent in the past week, according to Washington Post figures .Deaths have increased by 10 percent, while hospitalizations have inched up by 4 percent in that period.More than 36 million Americans have received their booster shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .Almost 60 percent of people in the country have been fully vaccinated.Here’s what to know Denver on Wednesday began requiring masks or proof of vaccination for entry to indoor spaces, with city leaders calling the measure necessary to relieve pressure on hospitals.Mayor Michael B.Hancock (D) said a flood of mostly unvaccinated covid-19 patients was causing “a dangerous strain,” creating the possibility of reduced or even rationed care unless steps were taken to mitigate the burden.“We are issuing what I like to call a ‘vax or mask’ mandate,” the mayor said during a Tuesday news conference announcing the measure.“Either your venue or business is requiring proof of vaccination or you choose to be a place where only masks are required.”Hancock said he knew it was “disappointing that the decisions of some, again, mean additional restrictions on our vaccinated residents.” He called the city’s vaccination rate “stellar,” saying 70 percent of residents had been fully vaccinated and 76 percent had received at least one dose.But the requirement is needed to prevent hospitals from reaching a breaking point, he said.“Wear a mask or get vaccinated,” Hancock said.“We prefer, of course, our residents get vaccinated.”The mandate, issued through a Tuesday public health order, applies to everyone older than 2.
It is set to continue through Jan.3.
Key update Key coronavirus updates from around the world Return to menu By Adela Suliman 4:04 p.m.Link copied Link
Here’s what to know about the top coronavirus stories around the globe from news service reports.
TORONTO — The Pan American Health Organization warned Wednesday that a surge in coronavirus cases in Europe could be a “window into the future for the Americas,” urging countries across the region against the easing of public health measures, especially as the holidays approach.“Time and again, we’ve seen how the infection dynamics in Europe are mirrored here several weeks later,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said at a virtual news conference.“The future is unfolding before us, and it must be a wake-up call for our region because we are even more vulnerable.”Nineteen nations in the region are falling short of the World Health Organization’s goal to vaccinate 40 percent of every country’s population by the end of the year and 70 percent by the middle of next year, Etienne said, and many of them have lifted public health measures in densely populated areas.“This is a worrisome combination that keeps us vulnerable to the virus and threatens our hard-fought gains,” Etienne said.In the past week, the number of new cases in the Americas has increased by 23 percent, mostly in North America, according to PAHO.While new cases in Central America are declining, much of South America is also seeing a jump in new infections.In Bolivia’s Santa Cruz department, new cases skyrocketed by 400 percent, the agency said, after strikes and protests blocked people from accessing vaccination centers and testing sites.Trinidad and Tobago is reporting record infection rates, and at least five of its hospitals are at more than 80 percent capacity.
ROME — Italy announced Wednesday that it would soon begin barring the unvaccinated from many leisure activities, including restaurants and bars — even if they have a recent negative coronavirus test.It is Italy’s latest move to ramp up pressure on the unvaccinated as it tries to stem a worsening infection rate and avoid the kind of catastrophic spikes seen in other European nations, including neighboring Austria and Slovenia.At an evening news conference, Prime Minister Mario Draghi framed the steps as a way to preserve normal economic activity through the winter and keep the virus in check.“We see a situation outside of Italy that is very grave,” Draghi said.“We also see that our situation is gradually but steadily worsening.”Greece and the Czech Republic are among the countries that have adopted similar measures.
Some parts of Germany also are enforcing such rules, which restrict access to certain public spaces to those who have been vaccinated or have recovered.Previously, Italy also considered a recent negative test a ticket to such activities.The new rules will apply nationwide from Dec.
6 until Jan.15 — and will apply for longer periods in regions where the coronavirus situation is deemed more worrisome.The government also said Wednesday that it would make vaccination compulsory for several new work sectors, including the military and police forces.For all other workers, a government-issued Green Pass is mandatory — but a recent negative test still suffices as a way to earn the pass.
Massachusetts Gov.Charlie Baker (R) issued an emergency order Tuesday requiring some hospitals to reduce nonessential surgical procedures because of critical staffing shortages.The order, which goes into effect Monday, applies to any hospital or hospital system with limited capacity.
In issuing it, state officials cited high hospitalization numbers and the loss of about 500 hospital beds caused in part by staff shortages.They also expressed concern about yearly increases in patients during the holiday season.“The current strain on hospital capacity is due to longer than average hospital stays and significant workforce shortages, separate and apart from the challenges brought on by covid,” Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said in a news release .She added that the order would “ensure hospitals can serve all residents, including those who require treatment for covid-19.”Massachusetts reported about 640 people hospitalized with the coronavirus Wednesday, putting it in the middle of U.S.states, according to Washington Post tracking.
Cases in the state have risen in recent weeks, as they have nationwide, but cases and hospitalizations in the state remain far lower than during last winter’s peak.
Massachusetts recorded a seven-day average of 2,811 new cases Tuesday, down from a pandemic high of 6,475 in January.Health-care leaders attributed the strain on hospitals partly to an unusually high number of patients with non-covid-19 medical issues.Many patients are believed to have delayed medical treatment during the height of the pandemic.“Our health-care system and state leaders have done heroic work to mitigate this public health crisis over the past 20 months,” said Steve Walsh, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, which helped develop the emergency order.“But we are now seeing significant strain on hospital capacity due largely to workforce shortages and an influx of non-COVID-19 patients who deferred care and now need complex medical care.”
Nov.22 was the deadline for federal employees to provide documentation demonstrating they are vaccinated or to request an exemption.What will happen next? (Julie Yoon/The Washington Post) Ninety-two percent of federal employees and military personnel have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose while nearly 5 percent have asked for exemptions on religious or medical grounds, the White House said Wednesday.Among civil servants, vaccination percentages range from 86.1 percent at the Agriculture Department to 97.8 percent at the U.S.
Agency for International Development.Percentages of employees asking for exemptions also vary, from 10.2 percent at the Department of Veterans Affairs to 1.3 percent at USAID and the State Department.At the largest federal agency, the Defense Department, 93.4 percent of military and federal personnel combined have received at least one vaccination dose while 5.5 percent have asked for exemptions.The figures from the Office of Management and Budget form the most complete accounting to date of compliance with a requirement that federal employees be fully vaccinated as of Nov.
22, except in limited circumstances.Deadlines for uniformed military personnel vary by service.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Vaccinated people must continue taking precautions, WHO says Return to menu By Brittany Shammas 11:52 a.m.Link copied Link
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern Wednesday that coronavirus vaccines have created a “false sense of security,” with vaccinated people no longer taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus.“We’re concerned about the false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic and that people who are vaccinated do not need to take any other precautions,” he said during a media briefing.
“Vaccines save lives, but they do not prevent transmission.”Before the arrival of the delta variant, studies showed that vaccination reduced transmission by 60 percent, Tedros said.With delta’s emergence, that number has fallen to 40 percent.Delta is by far the dominant variant globally, according to the WHO’s weekly epidemiological update .Tedros said 60 percent of coronavirus cases and deaths last week were concentrated in Europe.But, he added, “no country or region is out of the woods.”“The sheer number of cases is translating to unsustainable pressure on health systems, exhausted health workers in many countries and communities,” he said.Countries should surge capacity now to avoid the worst consequences of future waves, Tedros said.On the individual level, people should continue wearing masks, maintaining distance, staying away from crowds and meeting others indoors or in well-ventilated spaces.Those measures should be taken regardless of vaccination status, he said, noting that vaccinated people have a much lower risk of severe illness but are still at risk of infection.“We cannot say this clearly enough: Even if you’re vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself and infecting someone else who could die,” he said.
Key update Thanksgiving 2021: Americans weigh how to celebrate safely while covid cases rise Return to menu By Fenit Nirappil 10:53 a.m.Link copied Link
Tens of millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, a major test for living with the coronavirus instead of avoiding it at all costs — as experts brace for the possibility of another winter surge partially fueled by indoor holiday gatherings.Public health authorities are not begging Americans to skip Thanksgiving or keep get-togethers small as they did last year before vaccines were available and during the start of a winter wave that would kill thousands a day.Instead, their focus for Thanksgiving 2021 is all about risk reduction: getting vaccines and boosters, undergoing testing to prevent asymptomatic transmission and, in some cases, celebrating outdoors or while masked.
And they urge extra vigilance when Thanksgiving gatherings include an elderly or immunocompromised person who would have a harder time fighting off the virus even if they are vaccinated.
Advertisement Updates continue below advertisement Russia’s Putin gets his Sputnik V booster shot and takes part in testing of a nasal vaccine spray Return to menu By Robyn Dixon 10:15 a.m.Link copied Link
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the testing of a new, nasal form of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, several days after getting a booster shot following a fall in his antibody levels.Putin told a video meeting of government ministers Wednesday that he was revaccinated with a booster several days ago.He decided to take the nasal powder after meeting Sunday with Denis Logunov, the deputy director of the research center that developed Sputnik, Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology.Unlike some world leaders, Putin prefers not to be filmed or photographed getting his vaccine shots, and the administering of the nasal spray also was not filmed or photographed.But Sunday’s meeting appeared to be an effort to boost Russia’s flagging vaccination levels, with the country in the midst of a crippling fourth pandemic wave.Logunov told Putin it was important to be revaccinated six to eight months after being initially vaccinated, adding that a nasal vaccine being tested gave extra protection.“This is an experiment so far?” Putin asked in the meeting Sunday, and Logunov responded that it was.“Can I take part in this experiment?” Putin said.“Of course, Mr.President.”Putin said Wednesday that Logunov administered a powder in both his nostrils using a syringe and told him to breathe in deeply.“Then I sat for some 15 minutes, and that’s all.Frankly speaking, I didn’t feel anything.Nothing at all,” he added.
“After these two procedures, the shot and the nasal form, I exercised this morning,” Putin said.Russia plans to market the nasal Sputnik V spray next year, according to Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is in charge of marketing the vaccine.Just over 37 percent of Russians have been fully vaccinated against the virus that causes covid-19, according to Our World in Data.
It is one of the lowest rates globally, with trust in the vaccine remaining stubbornly weak.Russia also faces a widespread problem of people obtaining fake vaccination certificates.Russia reported 33,558 new coronavirus infections Wednesday and 1,240 deaths, close to the record on Friday of 1,254 deaths.Russia has recorded a total of 9,434,393 coronavirus infections and 267,819 deaths, although analysts say that the actual number of deaths is likely to be more than 700,000, judging by excess-mortality statistics.
As cities and states around the country weigh their mandates, we’re going to have to decide whether or not to wear a mask indoors.We ask some experts for advice on when it’s okay to drop the mask.
Two coronavirus cases recently identified at a Hong Kong quarantine hotel are “very likely to be epidemiologically linked,” local public health authorities said , leading a medical expert to slam face masks with breathing valves as “selfish.”Following a public health investigation, which included an inspection of the Regal Airport Hotel where the two travelers were quarantining, Yuen Kwok-yung, a leading microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said Monday that one of the two infected guests used a valve-equipped face mask when he opened his hotel door to retrieve delivered meals and deposit trash, and was maskless at times.Yuen, who advises the Hong Kong government on covid policies, went on to call valve-equipped face coverings “selfish,” explaining that these vented designs “filter air when inhaling, but when the air is breathed out through the air valve, it is not filtered, which is not good,” the South China Morning Post reported .A 36-year-old male guest at the hotel, who arrived from South Africa on Nov.11, tested positive for the coronavirus two days later.According to the Hong Kong health department , he apparently opened his hotel room sometimes without a proper surgical mask.
This may have allowed virus-carrying particles to enter the hotel corridor, which the department said also had “unsatisfactory” air flow.
Senior health officials stress need for boosters as new cases rise Return to menu By Andrew Jeong 7:07 a.m.Link copied Link
Americans should get their booster shots now, senior health officials say, as cases tick back up across the country and the approaching holiday season brings with it indoor, maskless gatherings.Anthony S.
Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Tuesday that the “overwhelming majority” of vaccinated Americans should receive a booster dose.“We’d like to get as many people who were originally vaccinated with the first regimen boosted,” Fauci said in an interview with Reuters .New daily coronavirus cases in the United States have risen by 10 percent in the past week, according to Washington Post figures .Deaths have increased by 10 percent while hospitalizations have irisen by 4 percent during the same period.Fauci also said it is possible that the definition of a full vaccination could expand to include three doses of an mRNA vaccine such as those from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or two doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.“Right now, officially, fully vaccinated equals two shots of the mRNA and one shot of the J&J, but without a doubt that could change,” he said.“That’s on the table for discussion.”Fauci’s encouragement for more people to get booster shots echoed similar messages from Biden’s top health officials earlier this week.
On Monday, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters that adults should get booster doses, especially ahead of the holiday season.“Boosting people’s overall protection against covid-19 disease and death [is] important to do now,” she said, because winter is when respiratory diseases are more likely to spread and because more Americans are planning to travel and gather.“We are really enthusiastic for people to be able to gather again for this holiday season, and we would just encourage that people do so safely,” Walensky said.During the same briefing, Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, stressed that boosters offer the “highest level of protection against covid.” More than 135 million Americans are eligible for the extra shots, he said.“The message to everyone who is eligible is clear: Don’t delay.Get your booster shot,” Zients said.More than 36 million Americans have received their extra shots, according to the CDC .Nearly 60 percent of the country’s 332 million people are fully vaccinated.
Traveling has always come with complications, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it more challenging than ever.Our By The Way Concierge column will take your travel dilemmas to the experts to help you navigate the new normal.
“How should I handle visits (after air travel) to households where some members are unvaccinated?” — Anonymous We recently broke down the ins and outs of seasonal safety in our guide to safer holiday travel .You will find that expert advice from doctors and epidemiologists changes distinctly for those who are unvaccinated, or those who will be around people who are unvaccinated.“The safest protection for you and your loved ones is for everybody who’s eligible to be immunized and everybody who’s eligible for a booster to be boosted,” Chris Beyrer, epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told me when I called him with your question.If someone involved in your holiday festivities is unvaccinated, Beyrer said, it is appropriate to ask the un-immunized to get a rapid test in advance of gathering.
European region faces 700,000 more deaths by March, WHO says Return to menu By Rachel Pannett 5:47 a.m.
Link copied Link
Europe and parts of central Asia could face another 700,000 deaths by March, the World Health Organization says, as the region’s coronavirus cases soar.As winter sets in and people gather indoors, Europe has once again become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with death rates on the rise — especially in pockets where vaccination rates are low.The World Health Organization said Tuesday that covid-19 deaths in the 53 countries it includes in the European region are projected to reach 2.2 million by next spring, based on current trends, after passing 1.5 million last week.Confirmed covid-related deaths last week hit nearly 4,200 a day, it said, doubling from 2,100 deaths a day at the end of September.“Today, covid-19 is the number one cause of death across Europe and central Asia,” the WHO said in a statement .
“We can expect that there will be high or extreme stress on hospital beds in 25 countries, and high or extreme stress in intensive care units in 49 out of 53 countries between now and 1 March 2022.”In response, European authorities have announced more-stringent measures in an attempt to control rising cases ahead of the winter holidays.They are tightening rules for the unvaccinated, prompting a wave of protests — including clashes in Rotterdam and massive rallies in Vienna.“As we approach the end of 2021, let’s do everything we can by getting vaccinated and taking personal protective measures, to avoid the last resort of lockdowns and school closures,” said Hans Henri P.
Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, on Tuesday..