Anger, Confusion Spread Over UK’s New COVID Travel Rules | World News


By CARA ANNA, DANICA KIRKA and SHEIKH SAALIQ, Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Travelers and authorities from India and some African countries are furious — and confused — about Britain’s new COVID-19 travel rules, calling them discriminatory.

The British government announced what it billed as a simplification of the rules last week, including allowing fully vaccinated travelers arriving in England from much of the world to skip quarantine and take fewer tests.

But the fine print on who was considered “fully vaccinated” is proving far more complicated. In order to skip self-isolation, travelers must have received a vaccine under the American, British or European programs or have received a U.K.-authorized shot from an approved health body. Bodies in more than a dozen countries in Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East made it to the list — but India’s did not, nor did any in Africa.

Countries like Kenya, which has received hundreds of thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the U.K. itself, were left wondering why their vaccination programs don’t appear to be good enough in the eyes of the British government. That’s leading to concerns that the rules could exacerbate already worrying vaccine hesitancy in Africa as some people question whether the doses available there don’t measure up.

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Kenya’s government noticed “significant public concern” in the wake of the new rules. South African Medical Association chairwoman Dr. Angelique Coetzee said citizens were being “discriminated against” and it’s “totally unacceptable.” South African authorities objected not only to the new quarantine rules but also to the fact that the country remains on the U.K.’s so-called red list, from which all travel is severely restricted.

The Hindustan Times, one of India’s leading English-language dailies, called the decision “illogical and harmful” in an editorial.

Shashi Tharoor, a leader of India’s main opposition Congress party, said he had canceled his upcoming book tour of Britain in protest. “Why should Indians be deemed to be lesser breeds than others?” he wrote Tuesday on The Quint news website.

The U.K. Department for Transport, which issued the rules, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But since the initial furor, Britain has walked back one aspect that caused particular consternation: Doses of AstraZeneca made in India, known as Covishield, were initially not on the list of approved vaccines. The Indian-made product hasn’t been formally authorized by U.K. regulators, although some doses have been used in Britain — and millions were shipped to low- and middle-income country.

Covishield was added to the U.K.’s list of approved vaccines for travelers on Wednesday, but the group of approved public health bodies remained unchanged — meaning the practical effect of the move is limited. Outrage over Covishield was particularly pointed in India, where the vast majority of people have been vaccinated with the shot.

Before Covishield was added to Britain’s travel list, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters this week: “We understand that this has been used in (Britain’s) National Health System and therefore non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy.”

Shringla said the rules, which take effect next month, could force India to “impose reciprocal measures” if the issue isn’t resolved.

The government has yet to officially comment on the change, but even after it, outrage continued to pour out from Indians on social media.

“India’s digital certification is far more reliable than other countries’ manual system. Is UK trying to make money on PCR tests?” tweeted Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of Indian pharmaceutical company Biocon.

For African nations, the new U.K. rules are a setback after a glimmer of hope following India’s announcement this week that it will resume exports and donations of surplus coronavirus vaccines in October — after a monthslong freeze because of a surge in domestic infections.

Less than 4% of Africa’s population of 1.3 billion is fully vaccinated, and many have looked on with dismay as richer countries stockpile doses and discuss giving third shots to their populations.

Beyond supply issues, many African countries are struggling with vaccine hesitancy as misinformation swirls about the shots.

Kenya’s health minister and the British ambassador to Kenya issued a joint statement on Tuesday that appeared aimed at allaying the latest concerns.

“We want to make it clear that both the U.K. and Kenya recognize vaccines administered in both countries,” specifically AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, they said.

However, “establishing a system to mutually recognize each other’s vaccine certificates for a vaccine passport program takes time,” they said, adding that neither country had completed the process.

Kirka reported from London and Saaliq from New Delhi. Associated Press writers Mogomotsi Magome in Johannesburg and Gerald Imray in Cape Town, South Africa, contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Health News Roundup: U.S. CDC warns against travel to Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and Brunei; Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus and more


Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Theranos founder’s defense may turn on state of mind, experts say

As Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial gets underway this week, lawyers for the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur may try to show she was a true believer in the blood-testing technology at her startup Theranos Inc, and never intended to defraud investors and patients, legal experts said. On Wednesday, federal jurors in San Jose, California will hear opening arguments in the case against the Stanford University dropout who once dazzled Silicon Valley and is now charged with misleading investors and patients by falsely claiming that the company’s printer-sized devices could run a range of tests and produce accurate results using a single drop of blood.

75% of U.S. adults have taken at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine – CDC

75% of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The agency said 193,798,688 of adults have had at least one shot, while 165,947,460 people, or 64.3% of the adult population, are fully vaccinated.

U.S. CDC warns against travel to Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and Brunei

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday warned against travel to Sri Lanka, Jamaica and Brunei because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The CDC raised its travel advisory to “Level 4: Very High” for those countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there.

Factbox – Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and increase U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations, the White House said on Tuesday. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

Spain authorises booster COVID-19 shots for severely immunocompromised people

Spain’s healthcare regulator approved on Tuesday a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for people with severely compromised immune systems who are likely to have weaker protection from the conventional two-dose inoculation schemes. The so-called booster shot should be administered 28 days after the previous one in some cases, and preferably the same type of vaccine is to be used, the Public Health Commission said in a statement. It would not say how many people could get such shots.

Mexican Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion in historic shift

Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Tuesday that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, a major victory for advocates of women’s health and human rights, just as parts of the United States enact tougher laws against the practice. The court ruling in the majority Roman Catholic nation follows moves to decriminalize abortion at state level, although most of the country still has tough laws in place against women terminating their pregnancy early.

AstraZeneca boss Soriot says do not rush needlessly into COVID booster vaccines – The Telegraph

AstraZeneca Plc Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said booster COVID vaccine doses may not be needed for everyone in Britain and rushing into a nationwide rollout of third doses risks piling extra pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), the Telegraph reported on Tuesday. “We need the weight of the clinical evidence gathered from real world use before we can make an informed decision on a third dose,” Soriot wrote in the newspaper.

Biden to outline plan to curb coronavirus Delta variant as cases grow

President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and increase U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations, the White House said on Tuesday. The United States, which leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths, is struggling to stem a wave of infections driven by the variant even as officials try to persuade Americans who have resisted vaccination to get the shots. Rising case loads have raised concerns as children head back to school, while also rattling investors and upending company return-to-office plans.

Venezuela receives first batch of vaccines through COVAX mechanism

Venezuela has received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX mechanism intended for poor countries, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Tuesday, after months of delays the government attributed to U.S. sanctions. The South American country has received 693,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac Biotech, the first of a total of 11 million it will receive through COVAX, overseen by the GAVI alliance and the World Health Organization.

Bristol-Myers to require U.S., Puerto Rico staff to be vaccinated

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co will require all its employees working in the United States and Puerto Rico to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus effective Nov. 1, the drugmaker said on Tuesday. In the face of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, spurred by the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, many U.S. companies have come out with mask mandates and changed their vaccination policies.

(With inputs from agencies.)



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Travel, spread between families rises COVID cases in Newtown as other towns’ rates increase


DANBURY — COVID-19 case rates are rising further in the Danbury area, and one town said it’s partially because of travel and spread between families and kids.

Most towns in the Danbury area are in what the state considers the “orange” zone, which means they have averaged between 10 to 14 daily new COVID cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period.

Newtown, however, is the only area town in the “red” zone. This is the worst alert level and means the town has averaged 15 or more cases over the last two weeks. In Newtown’s case, the rate is 15.4, according to state data.

There are 73 other Connecticut towns under this alert level, up from 39 the previous week. The highly contagious delta variant has driven up cases in the state and country.

Newtown reported 60 cases from Aug. 1 to Aug. 14, with 18 of those cases being among people who have the vaccine, according to the local health department. Those who are vaccinated have mild or no symptoms, the health department said in a message to the community.


“Vaccination is still our top tool to minimize serious illness, hospitalizations and death,” the health district wrote. “We do know that vaccination is not 100 percent protective, as is the case for all vaccinations, but it’s very effective.”

Newtown and New Milford have not instituted indoor mask mandates, unlike surrounding communities, including Danbury.

Data isn’t available yet to show whether Danbury’s mask mandate has prevented cases from rising in the city. The mandate went into effect on Sunday, but the state data shows only cases reported as of last Saturday.

“I was hoping by instituting the mask mandate, I certainly could do something toward mitigating the numbers here in Danbury,” Mayor Joe Cavo. “I hope that the masks will prove that it does.”



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Delta’s spread brings new layer of travel concern, uncertainty: Travel Weekly


Though a significant slowdown in bookings has yet to materialize, travel advisors report that the rapid spread of the delta Covid variant has raised new concerns from clients about what options are available to them should destinations begin to impose new travel restrictions or protocols.

And, likewise, the industry as a whole is feeling rising concerns about yet another layer of uncertainty on travel’s road to recovery.

At Virtuoso’s 33rd annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference, held Aug. 8 to 13 in Las Vegas, Misty Belles, Virtuoso’s vice president of global public relations, told attendees that the consortium’s preliminary July booking data reflected a “slight impact” from the variant but that delta-related pullback has been “minimal” thus far.

Eric Hrubant, president of New York-based CIRE Travel, said that while he has yet to see clients cancel a trip or hold off on booking due to delta, “there does seem to be a level of concern.”

“That said, people don’t seem to be concerned enough not to travel,” added Hrubant. “They do, however, want to know all the variables and explore contingency plans as part of their normal planning process, should certain countries go back into lockdown.”

T0816EricHrubant_C [Credit: Courtesy of Eric Hrubant]

Eric Hrubant

With delta also proving to be very highly transmittable and reports of unusual breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated, Hrubant has found it important to emphasize to clients that a negative Covid test is still required to reenter the U.S.

“We’re making it very clear to everybody that even if you’ve been vaccinated, you can still test positive for Covid and then have to quarantine for 10 days before you can retest and come back to the U.S.,” Hrubant said. “We just want them to be aware, so it’s not a shock if it happens, and we have some kind of Plan B we can jump on.”

Lackluster response to border reopenings

Daniel Scher, a travel consultant with Strong Travel Services, a Dallas-based Virtuoso agency, reports that while he also has yet to receive any delta-related cancellations, the variant’s surge may have contributed to a lackluster response to recent border reopening news.

T0816DanScher_C [Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Scher]

Dan Scher

“I was predicting a huge jump forward with the U.K. recently opening up, but now, with this new variant kicking around the U.S. and parents worried school starting and how that will play out, it seems nobody’s been in a big hurry to get out there,” said Scher.

Like Hrubant, Scher agreed that heightened concern around testing has resurfaced, with his focus shifting toward minimizing the number of tests a traveler may need to take during a trip.

“We’re trying to get people to travel to just one place and then get them there nonstop and avoiding any connections,” Scher said. “It’s about keeping it simple right now, while also talking to the client about a backup plan and making sure they’ve got some kind of [insurance] coverage should they be quarantined for whatever reason.”

Too soon to tell

Josh Bush, CEO of Philadelphia-based Avenue Two Travel, a Virtuoso network agency, has seen some unevenness in his bookings in recent weeks, though it remains unclear to him just how much of that can be attributed directly to the delta variant.

T0816JoshuaBush_C [Credit: Courtesy of Avenue Two Travel]

Josh Bush

“Two or three weeks ago is when we started to see kind of a speed bump, with booking pace at that point off by about 20% from the previous two or three weeks,” Bush said. “But then this past week, we were back to a pre-pandemic run rate. So, between two down weeks and one good recovery week, how much of that is delta-related and how much is just the booking pattern as kids return to school? It’s a little too soon to tell.”

As delta’s spread has led to Covid spikes across the globe, Bush is bracing for yet another possible wave of lockdowns and policy changes. His solution for some clients has been what he calls “trip stacking,” which involves planning two or three different types of trips for the same dates, ensuring that should trip A suddenly become unfeasible, clients will still have trip B or C to fall back on. 

Then, thanks to flexible booking policies, clients can reschedule their plans and perhaps consider their original itinerary or other backup trip plans for a later date.

“It’s a combination of looking at various types of travels, such as a cruise, a European vacation and maybe a sun-and-sand destination. As things get closer to departure, if, say, the cruise gets canceled or shifted, I have that Hawaiian backup trip [ready],” explained Bush. “We hold that space knowing that terms are flexible, and we’re not ultimately canceling any trip, just changing the dates associated with them.”

Bush estimated that around 10% to 12% of Avenue Two’s clients are opting for trip stacking, with that share representing what he calls the agency’s “best customers” accounting for the bulk of the company’s revenue.

“These are the people that were planning trips and trying to travel last year,” said Bush. “This is a strategy for somebody whose overwhelming value is around travel, and we know that they’re going to follow through on not just one but two or all three of those trips.” 



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Beijing imposes new travel restrictions to prevent Covid-19 spread | World News


The city of Beijing has rolled out a range of measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic by imposing restrictions on travellers from regions with relatively high virus transmission rates.

According to Chinese state media Global Times, people from medium or high-risk regions who are planning to return to Beijing will be prevented from buying tickets for air and railway services.

The Beijing authorities said that health codes for people who are still in medium- and high-risk regions will be adjusted to the yellow colour, and anyone with a health code that is not green will not be allowed to board planes or trains bound for Beijing.

Presenting a green health code will be a must.

This comes as several cities in China are witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases. The delta-driven outbreak grew to over 500 symptomatic cases scattered across 15 provinces and municipalities.

Beijing Daxing International Airport has announced the suspension of flight routes from 15 cities including hotspots of outbreaks such as Nanjing, Yangzhou and Zhangjiajie.

Wen Wu, the airport’s deputy general manager said: “Beijing Daxing International Airport has suspended flight routes from 15 cities such as Nanjing, Yangzhou and Zhangjiajie, said Wen Wu, the airport’s deputy GM, as part of measures to curb the epidemic flare-up.” as per Global Times.

Meanwhile, The Beijing International Film Festival has been postponed due to new COVID-19 outbreaks in the country, Sputnik reported citing the event’s official statement on Thursday.

“Due to the recent outbreaks of the epidemic in many areas of the country, the 11th Beijing International Film Festival, originally scheduled for August 14-21, will be postponed for general safety and health reasons,” the statement said.

However, the organisers have not announced for how long the festival will be put off, reported Sputnik.



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Coronavirus latest: ‘Winter could come early’ if viruses spread in Britain as Americans urged not to travel to UK


Winter could come early” if viruses are allowed to spread in the UK, a leading professor has said.

“I’m not sure about this thing about let’s get the epidemic over with before winter – I don’t buy it,” he told Times Radio.

“If you’re doing little to stop it and the spread of other respiratory viruses, cases of which have been very low because we’ve been in lockdown, then our winter could come early, if you like. Winter is a long way off and we might have new treatments by then. And I’d rather keep incidents as low as we can for as long as we can.”

It comes as the US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both issued on Monday their highest warnings against travel to the United Kingdom because of a rising number of Covid cases.

Each raised the UK to Level Four, telling Americans they should avoid travel there. In May, the US government had lowered the UK to a Level 3 advisory rating.

Live updates

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More than one million children in England out of school last week

More than one million children in England were out of school last week due toCovid-19 related reasons, Government figures show.

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Fresh chaos over NHS Covid app pingdemic advice

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Young’s eyes boost from ‘staycation summer’ as pub sales rebound

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Olympics 2021: Covid infection bubble already ‘broken’ and risks spreading to general populace

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Shadow health minister Justin Madders: ‘The Government making it up as they go along’

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “The Government [are] making it up as they go along.

“Ministers mix messages, change approach and water down proposals when the public and businesses need clarity and certainty.

“If this is a true change in approach on the app, why didn’t the Prime Minister set this out last night?

“Yet again there is more confusion and incompetence from the heart of government at the expense of public health. They need to get a grip.”

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Downing Street doubles down on self-isolation rule

Downing Street slapped down business minister Paul Scully after he suggested that self-isolating, when pinged by the Covid-19 app should be a matter for individuals and employers to decide.

It was “crucial” to self-isolate when told and business should be supporting employees to do so, Downing Street said.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus.

“Given the risk of having and spreading the virus when people have been in contact with someone with Covid it is crucial people isolate when they are told to do so, either by NHS Test and Trace or by the NHS covid app.

“Businesses should be supporting employees to isolate, they should not be encouraging them to break isolation”

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Professor Ian Young: ‘I am very concerned about the uptake of vaccination’

Professor Ian Young said he was “very concerned” about stalling vaccination rates in Northern Ireland, with almost 20 per cent of the adult population still to come forward for a first dose.

“I am very concerned about the uptake of vaccination, there’s still around 18% of adults who have not come forward for the first dose of their vaccine,” he said.

“And that means 18 per cent of people who are just as susceptible to the most severe effects of Covid as they were earlier in the epidemic and at just the same risk of severe illness, long-term illness in the form of long Covid, hospital admission and death.”

He urged those who have yet to come forward for their jab to “think really hard” about taking up the opportunity.

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NI’s chief scientific adviser expresses concern at ‘rapid’ rise in Covid-19 cases

Northern Ireland’s chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young has expressed concern at the “rapid” rise in Covid-19 cases in the country, warning of an “inevitable” increase in death rates as a result.

“We’re very concerned by the numbers of cases which are increasing rapidly, they’ve doubled in around the last eight days, as indeed have the number of patients in hospital,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

“And this is following the same pattern or trajectory that we saw earlier in the epidemic, albeit that the proportion of individuals who are getting more severe illness and going into hospitals is less.

“So, I think we’re going to see a lot more cases before this situation improves and we’re going to see significantly more pressures in our hospitals as a result of those cases. This is not over, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

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154,334 Covid-19 deaths have now occurred in the UK – ONS

A total of 154,334 deaths have now occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

The highest number of deaths to occur on a single day was 1,483 on January 19.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily toll peaked at 1,461 deaths on April 8 2020.

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Some 20 Covid-19 related care home deaths in England and Wales

Some 20 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to July 9, up from 11 deaths in the previous week.

In total, 42,587 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.



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Tokyo Olympics Is a ‘Perfect Storm’ for COVID-19 Spread


Key Takeaways

  • Tennis player Coco Gauff will not be competing in the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Experts fear that the Olympics will turn into a superspreader event.
  • Isolation and rigorous contract tracing will be essential to curb the spread of the virus.

U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff announced on Sunday that she would withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

So far, three athletes in the Olympics Village have tested positive for the coronavirus. Other positive cases include soccer players Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, and one official, The New York Times reported.

While current case numbers are small, experts see a perfect storm for new cases and variants.


Krutika Kuppalli, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina, says she worries about rapid transmission of current COVID-19 cases.

“You’ve got a pandemic that is worsening, cases that are surging, a variant that we know is much more highly transmissible in Tokyo, where vaccination is not coverage is not very high,” Kuppalli tells Verywell. “You’ve got a perfect storm, so to speak, of things that could happen to increase transmission with the Olympics.”

Kappelli adds that worse variants may develop if the cases continue to rise. 

The Olympic games will start this Friday, July 23. Around 85% of athletes in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated, according to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. Among other COVID-19 prevention measures, athletes are required to follow a three-day quarantine, limit their travel for two weeks after arrival, and compete without spectators in most sports.

People other than athletes, such as coaches, trainers, event staff, and janitorial workers, are also at high risks of contracting COVID-19, Kappelli adds. Workers who are unvaccinated are the most vulnerable.

Ensuring sufficient protocols and contact tracing measures are in place will be crucial to quelling the spread of the virus, Kuppali says. This will include stringent isolation of people who are sick, and making sure all people that the infected athlete came in contact with are notified, even if they are outside of the Olympic Village, she adds. But she is unsure what the current protocols are.

“I feel for the athletes who have spent their whole lives training. This is their dream to compete in the Olympics [and] it was already postponed one year,” Kuppali says. “I can’t imagine being in their situation, but at the same time we are in a global pandemic and we’ve lost so many lives.”

Alex Pollack, the CEO and founder of Paradocs Worldwide, an organization that provides paramedic staff at large events like festivals, says he feels comfortable monitoring events in areas with high vaccination rates. If he were to be overseas in Tokyo, however, the situation would feel more dangerous to him.

“If we had a festival in New York or LA with super high vaccination rates, I wouldn’t necessarily be concerned, because most of the people will be local,” Pollak tells Verywell. “I would be more concerned for people going back home to whatever country they came from, if they had super low vaccination rates.”

Similar to the Olympics, Paradocs Worldwide follows pandemic protocols like masking, temperature checks, and COVID-19 testing. Social distancing measures are used depending on the location and the size of the event.

While the largest concern is curbing the spread of the coronavirus among unvaccinated populations, people in the Olympic village should be cautious not to contract COVID-19 themselves, too, Kappelli adds.

Kappelli also warns that Olympics athletes should remain cautious to avoid contracting COVID-19 and being at risk of developing post-viral symptoms, many of which reduce a person’s energy levels and ability to engage in physical activity. An Olympian losing their athletic ability could be devastating, she says.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s going to happen,” Kuppali says, adding that the Tokyo Olympics has “the potential to be an extremely large super spreader event.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.





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Chicago officials issue travel advisory amid spread of Covid delta variant in Arkansas and Missouri


Chicago officials issued a travel warning on Tuesday for Missouri and Arkansas amid an increase of Covid-19 cases there, authorities said.

This is the first time in weeks the city has issued a travel warning. Tuesday’s announcement means any unvaccinated people traveling from Missouri and Arkansas are advised to obtain a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Chicago, or they must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, a city statement said.

Missouri and Arkansas have recently seen coronavirus cases increase to more than 15 cases per day, per 100,000 residents, officials said.

On June 1, the city noted that no states were at the 15 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents mark. That had not been the case since July 2020, officials said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and this only goes to show that the virus is still very much a threat and that we must all remain vigilant against it,” Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement obtained by NBC affiliate WMAQ.

“That means getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public settings if you are not fully vaccinated.”

The city’s department of public health urges vaccination and adherence to all mask guidelines while traveling, officials said.

Arkansas reported last week that less than 35 percent of adults having been fully vaccinated.

Infection rates have worsened with the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus. The highly transmissible variant is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week.

As of July 3, the latest date for which data was available, the delta variant accounted for 51.7 percent of new Covid-19 cases that had been genetically sequenced in the country. Two weeks earlier, on June 19, the variant accounted for just over 30 percent of new cases.

Studies have shown that the Covid-19 vaccines are effective against multiple variants, including the delta variant. A recent report from Public Health England, where the variant accounts for more than 90 percent of new cases, found two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be 96 percent effective against hospitalization.

The country has seen an uptick in Covid-19 cases, especially in states that lean Republican, where vaccination rates were well below the national average.

But it’s not just red states that have recently seen an increase in Covid-19 infections. Last week, health officials in Los Angeles reported 839 new infections over a one-week period, a 165% increase from the previous week.

California public health officials recorded 2,411 new infections as of last Friday, with a seven-day average of 3.3. cases per 100,000 people. The state has administered more than 42 million vaccine doses. State officials lifted Covid-19 restrictions June 15, more than a year after its lockdown.

As of last week, Los Angeles County was reporting an average daily case rate of 3.5 per 100,000 residents, doubling the prior week’s rate of 1.74 cases per 100,000 residents.

Erika Edwards contributed.



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Spread of delta coronavirus variant prompts new social distancing and travel restrictions worldwide


Here are some other developments:

  • Australia is on the verge of a national coronavirus outbreak just as most other developed economies are emerging from restrictions, with the delta variant of the virus seeding new clusters across the continent.
  • Italy on Monday lifted its outdoor mask mandate as cases drop and vaccinations rise, marking a major milestone for one of the earliest and hardest-hit hotbeds of the pandemic.
  • Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who had taken time off to recuperate from fatigue, will be off-duty for a few more days than planned. The Tokyo 2020 Games begin in 25 days, and infections have started rising again in the Japanese capital.
  • Bogus vaccination certificates are booming in Russia as Moscow orders 60 percent of workers who interact with the public to get inoculated or get different jobs. The capital on Sunday logged a record 144 covid-19 deaths in 24 hours.
  • The United States is providing Honduras with 1.5 million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Sunday. The nation of about 10 million has one of the lowest inoculation rates in Latin America, with fewer than 1 percent of the population fully inoculated.





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