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Covid-19: Canada Deemed ‘Very High’ Risk For Travel



Covid-19: Canada Deemed ‘Very High’ Risk For Travel
Canada was moved to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest-risk category for travel on Monday.

The world’s second-largest country by total area, Canada has seen a steep rise in cases as the Omicron variant spreads. The country recorded 294,437 new cases for the week ending January 8, according to Johns Hopkins University figures, its highest weekly total of the pandemic.

Canada was joined by one other destination — the Caribbean island of Curaçao — in moving up to the CDC’s Level 4: Covid-19 Very High category on Monday.

The CDC places a destination at Level 4 when more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents are registered in the past 28 days. The CDC advises travelers to avoid travel to Level 4 countries.

Canada had previously been at Level 3 since August 30, 2021. Curaçao, a self-governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, had been at Level 3 since November 22, 2021.

On December 15, Canada issued an advisory to its citizens asking that they avoid all nonessential international travel. Last week, a group of air travelers partying maskless en route to Mexico from Montreal earned a rebuke from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Most international visitors to Canada are required to be vaccinated and to have a negative Covid-19 test result.

In addition to new entries Canada and Curaçao, some of the biggest travel names remain firmly lodged at the CDC’s Level 4 for now:

• France
• Iceland
• Ireland
• Italy
• Netherlands
• Portugal
• South Africa
• Spain
• Switzerland
• United Kingdom

More than 80 destinations were rated Level 4 as of January 10. You can view the CDC’s risk levels for global destinations on its travel recommendations page.

In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

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On December 30, the CDC increased the risk for cruise ship travel to Level 4 and said it should be avoided, regardless of vaccination status.Last week, two large cruise lines canceled upcoming sailings on numerous ships as Covid-related interruptions mounted.

Level 3 additions

The Level 3 category — which applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days — saw 10 new additions on Monday from a variety of regions:

• Armenia
• Bahrain
• Belarus
• Cape Verde
• Ethiopia
• Lesotho
• Singapore
• United Arab Emirates
• Zambia
• Zimbabwe

The Level 3 designation was actually good news for Armenia and Belarus, which had previously been at Level 4.

It was also good news for Lesotho and Zimbabwe, two of eight southern African countries that landed at Level 4 at the end of November after the Omicron variant was discovered in the region.

The US travel ban affecting those countries was lifted on December 31.It was a move in the wrong direction for Bahrain, Cape Verde, Ethiopia and Zambia, which had been at Level 2.

The United Arab Emirates jumped up two risk levels from Level 1.And Singapore, which was listed as unknown last week because of a lack of information, moved into Level 3.

Level 2

Destinations carrying the “Level 2: Covid-19 Moderate” designation have seen 50 to 99 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

That level saw eight new additions Monday, five of them in Africa:
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• El Salvador
• Fiji
• Kuwait
• Liberia
• Rwanda
• São Tomé and Príncipe
• Togo

Level 1 and Unknown

In the category of “Level 1: Covid-19 Low” destinations, fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents have been logged over the past 28 days. There were no updates to that category on Monday.

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Finally, there are destinations for which the CDC has an “unknown” risk because of a lack of information. Usually, but not always, these are small, remote places. No new destinations were listed in the “unknown” category on Monday.

Considerations for travel

Transmission rates are important to consider when making travel decisions, but there are other factors to weigh as well, according Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“The transmission rates are one guidepost,” Wen said. “Another is what precautions are required and followed in the place that you’re going and then the third is what are you planning to do once you’re there.”

Are you planning to visit a lot of attractions and go to indoor bars? That’s very different from you’re going somewhere where you’re planning to lie on the beach all day and not interact with anyone else. That’s very different. Those are very different levels of risk.

“Vaccination is the most significant safety factor for travel since unvaccinated travelers are more likely to become ill and transmit Covid-19 to others, Wen said.

She said people should be wearing a high-quality mask — N95, KN95 or KF94 — anytime they’re in crowded indoor settings with people of unknown vaccination status.

Before you travel, it’s also important to consider what you would do if you end up testing positive away from home, Wen said. Where will you stay and how easy will it be to get a test to return home?




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Russia Cuts Off Gas Supplies To Bulgaria And Poland



Russia Cuts Off Gas Supplies To Bulgaria And Poland

The Russian energy giant Gazprom says it has cut off all gas deliveries to both Bulgaria and Poland after both countries refused to start paying for the supplies in roubles.

Earlier, both Polish and Bulgarian energy providers said they had received official notices from the Russian gas supplier that deliveries were due to be cut.

Gazprom’s announcement comes after some confusion earlier this morning, when data showed gas supplies into Poland through Belarus temporarily reduced to zero before resuming.

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Bulgaria’s gas network had also said the country was still receiving Russian gas as of this morning.

We are yet to see any data of gas volumes into Poland or Bulgaria since Gazprom’s announcement just now.




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New Omicron Variant BA.2 Is Now The Leading Version Of COVID-19 And Considered “Highly Contagious”



JUST IN: Ghana Records Two New Cases Of Omicron COVID-19 Variant


BA.2, the new Omicron variant that led to a surge of new COVID-19 cases in Europe, has now overtaken the U.S. as the most dominant version of the virus throughout the country. This latest data estimate is from a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, predicted that BA.2 would quickly become dominate in the U.S

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The first case of the BA.2 was initially identified in the U.S. back in December. Meanwhile, scientists have been closely watching BA.2—which is now the third of the genetically distinct varieties of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The rapid growth of BA.2 is due partially to its eight gene mutations that spike protein on the virus’s surface, something that is not found in the previous strain, BA.1.

Although BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1, as of now there are no signs that it causes more severe illness and it’s shown that vaccines continue to protect against the worst outcomes.

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Many U.S. health officials said that they expect cases to rise and are firmly blaming U.S. residents for not doing enough to prevent another potential surge of COVID-19.





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JUST IN: China Eastern Plane Carrying 133 People Crashes In Guangxi, Says State Media



China Eastern Plane

A China Eastern plane carrying 133 people on board has crashed in Guangxi province, Chinese state media is reporting.

The number of casualties and reason for the crash are not yet known.

The crash of the Boeing 737 jet, in a mountainous region, led to a fire in the woods, state media is reporting.

Flight MU5735 was scheduled to leave Kunming at 13:15 local time (05:15 GMT) and was en route to Guangzhou.

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Flight tracking sites report the plane was in the air for just over an hour.

The plane went down near Teng county in Wuzhou province. Guangxi is a southern province neighbouring Guangzhou, a major city in the south-east.

Rescue crews have been deployed to the area, CCTV reported.

According to FlightRadar23 data, the last sourced information on the flight showed it ended at 14:22 local time, at an altitude of 3,225 ft.

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More soon…





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