Puerto Rico Is the Most Vaccinated Place in the U.S.




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Australia to remove international travel ban for fully vaccinated citizens from Nov 1, Australia


Australia to remove international travel ban for fully vaccinated citizens from Nov 1

In big breaking news, Australia has announced to lift its international travel ban from its fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents from November 1. Now, the citizens would be able to travel internationally without requiring any special exemption or permission. The decision comes after Australia eases COVID-19 restrictions amid a spike in vaccination numbers.

The big decision comes after Singapore on Tuesday said it would allow fully-vaccinated travellers from Australia a quarantine-free entry from November 8. It’s been nearly 18 months that the Australians were not able to leave the country and travel abroad without a government waiver. On the other hand, thousands of fully-vaccinated residents had to live abroad because they were not allowed to return due to COVID-19.

Karen Andrews, Home Affairs minister, said, “Before the end of the year, we anticipate welcoming fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students”. She also said that for some non-citizens, travel restrictions would be eased as vaccination rates increased.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the local press, “The national plan is working … (it) is about opening Australia up and that is because the vaccination rates are climbing so high.”

During the outbreak, Australia was at a better place as compared to several other nations. Last year on March 20, Australia became one of those countries to levy some of the toughest border restrictions in the world. All the flights in the country were grounded and all the attractions were shut down.

Given its strict restrictions, the country till now has reported only 164000 COVID-19 positive cases and 1669 deaths.





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Travel exemptions to leave Australia officially scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers from November 1


The federal government has removed the need for fully vaccinated Australians to ask for permission to leave the country from Monday, but those who are unvaccinated will still have to ask for an exemption if they want to leave.

When the government closed the international border in March last year it also barred Australians from leaving the country unless they had an exemption.

It was able to make the rules under the Human Biosecurity Determination — a law created to protect the population from people bringing COVID to Australia from overseas.

Last night, Health Minister Greg Hunt changed the Determination so that from November 1, anyone who was fully vaccinated could leave as they pleased.

“Australian citizens and permanent residents who want to travel overseas will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with a [Therapeutic Goods Administration]-approved or recognised vaccine, with the second dose occurring at least seven days prior to travel,” he said.

“These changes will also facilitate travel by children under 12 years of age.”

The TGA has approved four vaccines for use in Australia — Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (now known as Vaxevria) and Johnson and Johnson.

But it has also listed several from other countries including China, India and Russia that it has recommended be recognised as vaccines that provide protection against COVID-19.

Mr Hunt said the change was the first stage in Australia’s international reopening, with the second stage focused on allowing international students and critical workers back into the country.

As for those who have not been vaccinated, they will still have to apply to leave the country and say why they want to travel.

They will also be subject to passenger caps when they return to Australia and undertake 14 days in hotel quarantine.

The November 1 date coincides with the changes to quarantine arrangements in New South Wales, with fully vaccinated travellers no longer required to undertake any quarantine.

As well as the changes to exemptions, the government has also clarified the rules around pre-flight testing for people wanting to come back to Australia, from 72 hours to a general three-day rule. 

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Australia officially allows vaccinated residents to travel outside the country


Reuters

All fully-vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to leave the country without a special exemption from November 1, authorities said on Wednesday, October 27, as Australia eases coronavirus restrictions amid a rise in vaccination rates.

Australians have been unable to travel abroad for more than 18 months without a government waiver, while thousands of fully-vaccinated residents living abroad have been unable to return due to a cap on arrivals to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Many of these are now expected to return after Sydney and Melbourne ended quarantine rules for inoculated travelers from Nov. 1. Other cities, mostly virus-free, are expected to ease their border rules once they reach higher vaccination rates.

“The national plan is working … (it) is about opening Australia up and that is because the vaccination rates are climbing so high,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Seven News on Wednesday.

Australia’s drug regulator, meanwhile, provisionally approved a booster dose of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for people aged over 18, as first-dose vaccination levels in people over 16 neared 90%.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the rollout is expected to begin by Nov. 8 once the government receives advice from the country’s vaccination technical advisory group.

The decision to lift the travel ban from next week comes after Singapore on Tuesday said it would allow quarantine-free entry to travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 from Australia from November 8.

A third wave of infections fueled by the Delta variant forced lockdowns in Australia’s biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and both have been gradually easing restrictions after racing through their vaccination targets.

Even with the Delta outbreaks, Australia has fared better than many comparable countries, with around 164,000 cases and 1,669 deaths. Victoria state reported 1,534 new cases on Wednesday, up from 1,510 a day earlier, while those in New South Wales rose to 304 from 282.

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Sydney Airport photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images



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Australia to lift outbound travel ban for vaccinated residents from next week


SYDNEY, Oct 27 (Reuters) – All fully-vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to leave the country without a special exemption from Nov. 1, authorities said on Wednesday, as Australia eases coronavirus restrictions amid a rise in vaccination rates.

Australians have been unable to travel abroad for more than 18 months without a government waiver, while thousands of fully-vaccinated residents living abroad have been unable to return due to a cap on arrivals to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Many of these are now expected to return after Sydney and Melbourne ended quarantine rules for inoculated travelers from Nov. 1. Other cities, mostly virus-free, are expected to ease their border rules once they reach higher vaccination rates.

“The national plan is working … (it) is about opening Australia up and that is because the vaccination rates are climbing so high,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Seven News on Wednesday.

Australia’s drug regulator, meanwhile, provisionally approved a booster dose of Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) COVID-19 vaccine for people aged over 18, as first-dose vaccination levels in people over 16 neared 90%.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the rollout is expected to begin by Nov. 8 once the government receives advice from the country’s vaccination technical advisory group.

The decision to lift the travel ban from next week comes after Singapore on Tuesday said it would allow quarantine-free entry to travellers vaccinated against COVID-19 from Australia from Nov. 8.

A third wave of infections fuelled by the Delta variant forced lockdowns in Australia’s biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and both have been gradually easing restrictions after racing through their vaccination targets.

Even with the Delta outbreaks, Australia has fared better than many comparable countries, with around 164,000 cases and 1,669 deaths. Victoria state reported 1,534 new cases on Wednesday, up from 1,510 a day earlier, while those in New South Wales rose to 304 from 282.

Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Fully vaccinated Indians can now travel to the US






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Barbados Opens to Vaccinated Travelers Without Quarantine




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Vaccinated but stuck: Indians await WHO nod for homegrown shot to travel abroad


Sugathan P.R., who received two doses of Bharat Biotech’s domestically developed Covaxin vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), collects vegetables in his kitchen garden in Pandalam village, Kerala, India, October 22, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Devasia

PANDALAM, India, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Stuck in a village in southern India for nine months and unable to return to his job in Saudi Arabia, Sugathan P.R. is hoping the World Health Organization will approve the Indian COVID-19 shot Covaxin, paving the way for his trip back.

Like Sugathan, millions of Indians have taken Covaxin and many have complained of travel struggles as the vaccine has not been recognised for international travel by several countries.

“I cannot continue to remain idle here any further,” said 57-year-old Sugathan, who returned to Pandalam village in Kerala in January to be with his family after missing his father’s funeral last year when the pandemic disrupted flights.

“I had the option of going to Saudi and taking (additional doses of) Covishield after a four-day institutional quarantine, but I was not sure of its implications on my health,” said Sugathan, referring to AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) vaccine.

“If the Covaxin approval does not come, I will take the risk of going and taking a Saudi-approved vaccine,” he added, sitting in his spacious two-storey house fronted by paddy fields.

The WHO is expected to take a final call on an emergency-use listing for Covaxin on Tuesday.

It has deliberated on data supplied by manufacturer Bharat Biotech since early July but has said it could not “cut corners” in making a decision. read more

Without a WHO nod, the two-dose Covaxin is unlikely to be accepted as a valid vaccine globally and would complicate travel plans for Indians who have taken it.

Rajan Pallivadakethil Unnunni, 59, who worked in Kuwait as a welder for two decades before flying to India late last year, has been unable to go back as Kuwait does not recognise Covaxin.

He is now struggling to repay his $20,000 bank loan selling chicken at a small stall in Kerala and making $4 a day.

“If I cannot go back to Kuwait, I will not be able to repay the loan and complete the education of my children,” said Rajan, seated on a plastic stool in front of his shop.

“I can buy a ticket to Kuwait only if the Kuwait government app shows a green signal.”

Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Himani Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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CDC Holiday Safety 2021 – COVID-19 Indoor Party Tips for Vaccinated Individuals


  • Federal health officials have released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for holiday celebrations and events later this year.
  • Guidelines call for guests to be fully vaccinated if possible, as this will greatly reduce risk among those who are traveling to visit your home; after earlier guidance was revised, CDC officials also advise heading outside if at all possible.
  • Some Americans will also need to wear masks at holiday parties, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Unvaccinated guests and those who are immunocompromised will need to wear masks, and others around them may need to mask up as well — even if they’re fully vaccinated.

    Hosting a holiday party in 2020 was considered extremely risky for those that had hoped to invite family and friends living outside of their homes. While around 57% of eligible Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, top health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are stressing that more will need to sign up for a full vaccine in order to keep certain loved ones as safe as possible during the holiday season.

    Risks associated with parties and events aren’t new per se, but they’re driven in large part by the viral Delta strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to a COVID-19 diagnosis. While mostly mild in nature, the risk of breakthrough cases is higher than ever, as CDC officials indicate that a current case count of nearly 25,000 nationwide is largely underreported. Plus, other variants could pose a greater threat during the cold winter season.

    After initially posting a set of guidelines that included using a window fan to increase ventilation, CDC officials have released updated holiday guidance that stresses the need for vaccines and mask-wearing for those who cannot receive a shot. Holiday events — including Halloween costume parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Hanukkah celebrations and Christmas gift exchanges, plus all the travel around these traditions — are still risky because they’re multi-generational in nature and adding unvaccinated guests into the mix can complicate the issue, experts say.

    Older loved ones may be immunocompromised or face pre-existing conditions, whereas younger children may not receive full vaccinations in time for the holiday season. And while mask mandates are largely discontinued in many states, those who are unvaccinated must wear a well-fitted mask while indoors to reduce risk among the youngest and oldest in your family. If you’re in a city, town or neighborhood where local COVID-19 transmission is high, even those who are fully vaccinated are being asked to mask up, as experts have established that asymptomatic spread (or those who are sick without any symptoms) is still a major concern.

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    If you can guarantee that everyone on your holiday guest list is vaccinated (and have received a new booster or third dose if advised to) then COVID-19 risk factor is largely reduced, especially if you’re able to host family outside, where risks are considerably lower.

    Stay outdoors and keep masks optional in private settings

    In general, outdoor activities are safer for those who are inviting family, friends and other guests who live outside of their home over for the holidays. This may already feel normal for Halloween events, where the CDC recommends smaller groups head outside to interact with the neighborhood. For Thanksgiving, though, enjoying a shared meal outside (and any social activities like a cocktail hour or parade viewing!) will allow you to largely avoid masks altogether.

    New CDC guidelines indicate that masks can be skipped while meeting outside in uncrowded spaces. If you’re participating in a public event where crowds may congregate, or if the COVID-19 infection rate is high in your area, both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can greatly reduce the mild uptick in risk while outside by masking up.

    Inside, masks may be necessary for all guests

    While new CDC guidance doesn’t include an official tip regarding window fans, the reason that news outlets covered earlier advice is that experts have long established that poor airflow can greatly increase COVID-19 risk. Since SARS-CoV-2 is airborne, airflow that is stale or non-moving can prove dangerous for any crowd in your home. It’s why outside events are safer and why opening your windows or working on ventilation inside is a smart idea for any holiday event.

    Even with optimal indoor ventilation, masks may still need to be part of your holiday traditions this year, depending on your guest list. CDC officials indicate that masks are still required for vaccinated individuals with pre-existing conditions taking medications that may weaken their immune system; it stands to reason that your other guests and family members will also need to mask up to protect such a guest. Officials made a special note about the need for masks in this case:

    You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease or is unvaccinated.

    Consider a new way of traveling

    While masks are required on all forms of public transportation, those who are ineligible to receive a vaccine at this time — particularly children under 12 — should do their best to stay off planes, trains, buses and ferries. Your family should consider embarking on a potentially longer road trip if all members can’t be fully vaccinated ahead of time, especially if you’ll be visiting another household that houses at-risk individuals.

    At this time, CDC guidance for the holiday season indicated that frequent COVID-19 testing can help reduce the risk of becoming infected, even if testing mandates are not largely required by many states. You’ll find a full list of COVID-19 testing requirements by state published by AARP here.

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    CDC officers maintain an official checklist for unvaccinated individuals for both domestic travel as well as international travel, which includes multiple rounds of testing prior to and after arriving at your destination.

    Regardless of vaccination status, the final piece of planning holiday celebrations this year largely revolves around testing — and creating plans for quarantines in the event that you do test positive for COVID-19. You’ll find a full list of travel criteria (as well as info for certain international destinations) via the CDC’s travel guide here.

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Vaccinated travelers OK for nonessential trips


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The Canadian government on Thursday quietly rolled back its guidance against all nonessential travel, replacing it with a new advisory saying travelers should be fully vaccinated before leaving the country. 

The adjustment comes just weeks ahead of the United States’ land borders reopening to vaccinated Canadian tourists and the busy holiday travel season. Starting Nov. 8, Canadians can cross into America by land or ferry for tourism purposes or to visit friends and family. 

The updated guidance says all travelers should take protective measures like mask wearing and continue to avoid cruise ship travel outside of Canada. Travelers to the U.S. should “exercise normal security precautions,” according to the government website. 

► From vaccines to testing: What travelers need to know before the new US travel system on Nov. 8

The previous travel advisory was initially posted in March 2020 and told all Canadians to avoid cruise ships and non-essential travel outside of the country “until further notice.”  

It did not prohibit international travel, and many Canadians were already making plans to visit the U.S. before the guidance was updated online. 

Also Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a standardized COVID-19 proof of vaccination for Canadian travelers. The system supports Canada’s new travel vaccine mandate that requires travelers departing from Canadian airports or trains to be fully vaccinated starting Oct. 30. 

► US land borders reopening: Travelers in Mexico and Canada plan their next US visit after new land border policy announced

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz





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