Health News Roundup: Factbox-Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 281.86 million, death toll at 5,709,162; Analysis-South America, battered by COVID-19, now winning global vaccination race and more – Devdiscourse

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Factbox-Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 281.86 million, death toll at 5,709,162
More than 281.86 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 5,709,162​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
Analysis-South America, battered by COVID-19, now winning global vaccination race
Throughout much of 2020 and early 2021, South America was ground zero in the global fight against COVID-19. Oxygen ran low in Peru. Gravediggers worked through the night in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Bodies were stuffed into shipping containers in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
South Africa study suggests Omicron could displace Delta
Research by South African scientists suggests that Omicron could displace the Delta variant of the coronavirus because infection with the new variant boosts immunity to the older one. The study only covered a small group of people and has not been peer-reviewed, but it found that people who were infected with Omicron, especially those who were vaccinated, developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant.
NYC to limit classroom closures, prioritize ramped-up testing for schools
New York City will stop quarantining entire classrooms exposed to the coronavirus and will instead prioritize a ramped-up testing program so that asymptomatic students testing negative for COVID-19 can remain in school, officials said on Tuesday. A day earlier, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 to five days from the previous guidance of 10 days.
Australia seeks to ease COVID-19 test rules as cases hit records
Australia will seek to make urgent changes to COVID-19 testing rules to ease pressure on test sites as infections surged and the country’s most populous state reported a near doubling in daily cases. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday Australia needed “a gear change” to manage testing requirements, redefine who qualifies as a close contact and the furlough of virus-exposed workers. He called a snap meeting of the national cabinet on Thursday.
South Africa recalls new isolation and quarantine rules
South Africa has recalled rules that no longer required people without symptoms of COVID-19 to isolate or test if they have been in contact with a positive case, the government announced on Tuesday, saying an amended circular will be re-issued. Last week the health ministry said that asymptomatic individuals who had been in contact with a case of COVID-19 no longer had to isolate but should monitor for symptoms for 5-7 days and avoid attending large gatherings.
China’s Xian marks first week of lockdown as COVID cases persist
A lockdown of 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xian entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with many unable to leave their homes and virtually dependent on deliveries of necessities as new COVID-19 infections persisted. Xian reported 151 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms for Tuesday, or nearly all of the 152 cases nationwide, bringing the total number of local Xian cases to nearly 1,000 during the Dec. 9-28 period. No cases of the Omicron variant have been announced in the city.
U.S. CDC estimates Omicron variant to be 58.6% of cases, revises projection
The Omicron variant was estimated to be 58.6% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of Dec. 25, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday. The agency also revised down the Omicron proportion of cases for the week ending Dec. 18 to 22% from 73%, citing additional data and the rapid spread of the variant that in part caused the discrepancy.
CDC director Walensky not considering vaccine mandate for domestic flights now
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not currently considering recommending a vaccine mandate for domestic flights, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday. “Certainly domestic flights has been a topic of conversation but that is not something we’re revisiting right now,” Walensky said on National Public Radio.
Some COVID-positive essential workers to continue working in Canada’s Quebec -minister
Quebec, the second most populous Canadian province, has “no choice” but to allow some essential workers to continue working even after testing positive for COVID-19 to prevent staff shortages from impeding its healthcare services, Health Minister Christian Dube said Tuesday. Quebec, which has been setting daily records since the Omicron variant started a new wave of rapidly rising infections, recorded 12,833 new cases on Monday – the highest one-day count of any region in Canada during the pandemic.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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