CDC warns against US travel to Singapore, citing COVID-19 cases


On the eve of Singapore dropping quarantine restrictions for vaccinated travelers from the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department warned Americans not to visit the country. 

Both the CDC and State Department cited a “very high level of COVID-19” in Singapore.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the Southeast Asia country has had a record high 70,374 COVID cases in the last 28 days. Just over 82% of Singapore is fully vaccinated. That’s compared to more than 57% of the U.S., which has recorded more than 2.8 million cases over the same period.

Starting Tuesday, travelers from the U.S. can enter Singapore as long as they show proof of vaccination and they test negative on two PCR tests: once 48 hours before departure and again upon arrival. 

The State Department on Monday also urged Americans to reconsider travel to Poland, Hungary, Cyprus, Tunisia and Angola due to areas with “increased risk” of COVID-19.

Singapore travel: What to know about new rules 

Contributing: Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY



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Schumer Warns of Holiday Travel Mess With 40% of TSA Agents Still Unvaccinated – NBC New York


Ahead of what’s expected to be a busy holiday travel season amid the pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is raising concerns because of the number of Transportation Security Administration agents who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Democratic leader on Sunday called on the TSA to develop a contingency plan and increase its vaccination rate before the Nov. 22 deadline when all federal employees are expected to be fully vaccinated.

“Late last week the TSA hinted at a potential real travel mess as Thanksgiving approaches. And that’s because they reported that 40% of their workforce remain unvaccinated from Covid-19,” Sen. Schumer said.

“We can’t have people worried about the holiday season travel. We have to assure them that it’s going to be smooth,” he added.

The nation’s leading infectious disease doctor said Sunday that Americans eager to spend the holidays with loved ones can do so safely, if those eligible for the vaccine have gotten the shot.

“I believe strongly that, particularly in the vaccinated people, if you’re vaccinated and your family members are vaccinated, those who are eligible — that is obviously very young children are not yet eligible — that you can enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy Halloween, trick-or-treating and certainly Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with your family,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

President Joe Biden issued remarks Thursday about the administration’s coronavirus response and vaccination program.

Fauci was largely encouraged by the downward trend of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths across the nation and suggested that vaccinated individuals could have a normal holiday season with others who have received the shot. But he said that those who have not been vaccinated should continue to avoid gatherings and should wear a mask.

While TSA agents still have more than a month to get the shot, workers across New Jersey are out of time.

Pre-K-12 teachers and staff and state employees were told in August that they must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or get COVID-19 testing once or twice a week.

New Jersey has about 130,000 public school teachers, 1.3 million public school students and an estimated 70,000 state workers.



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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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WTTC warns UK government travel businesses will go bust in days | News


The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned the UK government that, with the furlough scheme coming to an end, it has just 30 days left to save travel businesses which are struggling to survive.

WTTC also warns that unless international travel opens up more widely, with simplified controls, the UK is facing a loss of £59 billion.

Hundreds of thousands of employees in the tourism sector are still benefiting from the furlough scheme, the UK government scheme which is due to end on September 31st.

This date coincides with the next Global Travel Taskforce review on October 1st, and WTTC warns that unless travel is opened up significantly by this date, many more people working in the sector could face losing their jobs due to the ending of government Covid-19-related support as businesses are forced to let people go.

Based on 2019 pre-pandemic levels, WTTC estimates that £59 billion could be lost from the economy if travel remains curtailed over the final quarter of 2021 and, furthermore, £8.9 billion could be lost purely due to the lack of inbound travel spending within the UK.

The UAE has announced a sensible way forward welcoming all fully vaccinated travellers regardless of which country they come from, plus a negative test result, a move that WTTC says will speed up the recovery of its tourism sector and provide a massive boost to its economy.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “Vast economic wealth and even more jobs in tourism could be lost in 30 days’ time, if significant travel doesn’t resume by the same time the furlough scheme ends.

“Companies are facing a desperate future unless the government supports the sector by introducing sensible controls that build traveller confidence while keeping the UK safe.

“We should allow all fully jabbed citizens and visitors to enter the UK with a negative Covid test.

“There should be no need for quarantine and excessive, expensive testing requirements.”

She added: “The UK government must do everything in its power to protect businesses and jobs in the sector and ensure it doesn’t squander the last quarter of the year.

“This year is in danger of being no better than the last for the tourism sector, despite the incredibly successful vaccine rollout.

“The next 30 days are critical to get travel back on track.

“That means abandoning the traffic lights system and reducing the current testing regime so that it is simpler and cheaper.”

United States

At the same time, the WTTC has criticised a decision from Brussels to recommend EU members reintroduce restrictions on US travellers entering the region.

The decision comes as the Delta variant is sending infections and hospitalisations soaring.

The US is now registering more than 1,000 new cases per day, the highest level since March.

National representatives met earlier this week to discuss and update the list of safe travel countries, a process that takes place every two weeks.

In response, Simpson said: “Protecting public health must remain the priority and WTTC strongly supports safety protocols to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“However, the recommendation to reimpose restrictions on US travellers is a step backwards and will only slow down the recovery of the sector.

“With high vaccination levels in both the US and the EU, we should be looking at opening up travel between these two major economies.

“We need a common set of rules that recognise global vaccines and remove the need to quarantine for people with a negative Covid-19 result.”

She added: “Rather than imposing further damaging travel restrictions, the EU should be encouraging member states to use its ground-breaking Digital Covid-19 Certificate to safely restore international travel, fundamental for the European economy.”





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Hotel industry warns of business travel slowdown


BOSTON (SHNS) – Two-thirds of American business travelers intend to take fewer work trips amid a Delta-fueled increase in COVID-19 cases, according to a new survey conducted for the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The Morning Consult online poll reached 2,200 adults, 414 of whom were business travelers, and found that 52 percent of those who travel for work are now likely to cancel existing plans without rescheduling while 60 percent intend to postpone travel. The AHLA, an industry group that sought the poll, said more than half of hotel revenue comes from business travel and events and warned the tightening outlook forecasts continued strain.

“Hotels were already on pace to lose more business travel revenue this year than we did in 2020. And now rising COVID-19 cases threaten to further reduce the main source of revenue for our industry,” AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers said.

The survey also found that 71 percent of respondents are likely to attend fewer in-person events or gatherings, 67 percent are likely to have shorter meetings or events, 59 percent are likely to postpone existing meetings or events until a later date, and 49 percent are likely to cancel with no plans to reschedule.



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U.S. warns against travel to Israel, Portugal and Spain as delta variant fuels coronavirus outbreaks


Here are some significant developments:

  • European lawmakers and business groups voiced mounting criticism of continued U.S. restrictions on international travel. As vaccinated American tourists are traveling back and forth for their summer holidays in Paris or Rome, European allies or partners of the Biden administration are finding it increasingly difficult to defend the U.S. approach.
  • Officials in Tokyo reported a record for coronavirus infections Tuesday, registering 2,848 new cases, its highest daily count ever and four times the average at the end of June. Even as case numbers spiked in the city, however, the situation inside the Olympic bubble appeared to be much more under control.
  • After the president of Tajikistan’s sister died in the hospital, reportedly of covid-19, her three sons attacked and beat up the country’s health minister and a senior doctor, according to local media. The reports cast a rare spotlight on the sudden surge of cases in this Central Asian country that for a time denied it had any infections.
  • Fresh coronavirus outbreaks are forcing factory shutdowns in countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, aggravating supply chain disruptions that could leave some U.S. retailers with empty shelves as consumers begin their back-to-school shopping.
  • Iran, one of the pandemic’s hardest-hit nations, reported its largest single-day increase in new coronavirus cases Tuesday, recording nearly 35,000 infections and 357 deaths. The recent surge has been blamed on the more contagious delta variant. About 3 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to publicly available figures.
  • Chinese researchers found that antibodies produced by the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine fell below a key threshold about six months after the second dose, raising concerns about waning immunity as new variants spread.



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Caribbean Travel – US Warns Against Travel To These Caribbean Countries


Grand-Isle-Exuma-in-the-Bahamas
The US is warning against travel to 3 Caribbean countries.

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. Aug. 26, 2021: The US State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging U.S. travelers not to travel to three Caribbean countries because of the risks of COVID-19.

The State Department has issued its highest travel alert, “Level 4 – Do Not Travel,” for the Bahamas, Haiti and Sint Maarten, which takes into account CDC travel health notices because of the risks of COVID-19.

The CDC also lists the three countries as “Level 4: Very High” for COVID-19, according to an advisory updated Monday.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, 3,134 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Bahamas in the past 28 days. That’s nearly a fifth of the small country’s total cases throughout the pandemic. Just over 14% of the population is vaccinated.

Currently, the Bahamas has 17,615 cases of the virus and 343 deaths. Seventy new cases were reported Wednesday and 5 new deaths.

Haiti has almost 21,000 reported cases and 584 deaths. Sint Maarten has 3,520 cases of the virus and 46 deaths. Three new deaths were reported yesterday along with 48 new cases.

The CDC says because of current situation in the three countries with rising infections, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.

REGIONALLY

At least a dozen Caribbean nations are seeing new spikes in COVID-19 cases amid vaccine hesitation by many.

Cuba yesterday reported over 8,600 new cases and 96 new deaths, the most for the region.

Jamaica was in the second spot – reporting 367 new cases and 14 new deaths as the country also grappled with a nursing sickout Wednesday.

That’s more than the Dominican Republic’s 314 new cases and four deaths reported yesterday.

Also seeing new spikes in cases and deaths are Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, St. Lucia and French Saint Martin.

Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Grenada and the Cayman Islands also reported new cases yesterday.  



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TSA warns of longer airport wait times as travel ramps up


The slower travel period during the pandemic allowed the agency to more quickly put new technology into place, including machines that verify travelers’ identities by comparing an image taken at the checkpoint to their photo identification. More than 1,000 credential authentication machines are being piloted at 121 locations, with plans for at least 1,000 more in the coming months, LaJoye told lawmakers.



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U.S. CDC Warns Against Turkey Travel, Eases India Advisory | World News


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Monday against travel to Turkey because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in that nation but eased its advisory for India.

The CDC added Turkey to its “Level 4: Very High” COVID-19 level, while lowering India to “Level 2: Moderate.”

U.S. President Joe Biden on April 30 imposed new travel restrictions on India in light of COVID-19, barring most non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States who had been in India within the previous 14 days.

There are no U.S. travel restrictions for travelers from Turkey.

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In additional to India, the United States currently bars most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without internal border controls, or in Ireland, China, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The CDC currently lists more than 70 countries at its travel advisory rating.

Last week, CDC and the U.S. State Department lowered the COVID-19 travel advisory for Canada to “Level 2.”

Despite the change, the U.S. government shows no sign of easing any COVID-19 restrictions.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients reiterated on Aug. 5 that in light “of the Delta variant, the United States will maintain the existing travel restrictions at this point.”

On Aug. 9, Canada opened to fully vaccinated American tourists for the first time in 16 months. The United States has not eased any restrictions that barring non-essential non-U.S. citizens from crossing its land borders with Mexico and Canada.

Those current U.S. restrictions have been repeatedly renewed in 30-day increments and are expected to be extended before they expire on Aug. 21.

(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Sonya Hepinstall and Jonathan Oatis)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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