The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally announced that it is safe for students and teachers to attend school without masks, as long as they have been vaccinated. Children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots. The Associated Press has the story:
Government says masks not necessary at schools any longer, but children under 12 aren’t supposed to get the shots
NEW YORK — U.S. health officials say vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new guidelines Friday. The changes come after a growing national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots, as well as a general decline in recent months in COVID hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.
The nation’s top public health agency is not advising schools to require shots for teachers and vaccine-eligible kids.
The guidance generally leaves it to local officials to figure out how to ensure the unvaccinated are using precautions while letting those who are fully protected go mask-free. The biggest questions will be at middle schools where some students are eligible for shots and others aren’t.
At some of the nation’s largest school districts, widespread mask-wearing is expected to continue this fall. In Detroit’s public schools, everyone will be required to wear a mask unless everyone in the classroom has been vaccinated. Philadelphia will require all public school students and staff to wear masks inside buildings, even if they have been vaccinated. Masks won’t be mandated in Houston schools.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— CDC: Vaccinated teachers and students in U.S. don’t need masks
— Lockdowns in Asia as some nations see 1st major virus surges
— Afghanistan getting vaccine doses donated by United States
— Spain, Portugal frustrated by shifting virus travel policies
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LONDON — The U.K. has seen daily coronavirus infections hit a near six-month high as coronavirus spreads among younger age groups.
Government figures Friday showed another 35,707 confirmed lab cases, the highest daily tally since Jan. 22 with more than 40,000 reported cases.
The recent spike has been due to the more contagious delta variant and mostly occurred among younger people, many of whom have yet to receive a first dose of vaccine.
With all remaining restrictions on social contact to be lifted in England on July 19, cases are expected to continue marching higher. The British government has said the daily case rate may hit 100,000 this summer, which would be a new high.
There is growing evidence the number of people requiring hospitalization and dying from COVID-19 are picking up pace, though not at the same rate as infections.
BANGKOK — Officials in Thailand have announced a seven-hour curfew and other restrictions for the capital and nine other provinces to try to slow a growing number of cases and deaths in a coronavirus surge.
People living in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces, along with four in the country’s far south, must stay at home from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., not hold gatherings of more than five people and avoid unnecessary travel.
The restrictions take effect on Monday. The greater Bangkok area will have more restrictions, including school closings.
Health authorities on Friday announced 9,276 new cases, bringing the confirmed total to 317,506. Seventy-two new deaths were confirmed for a total of 2,534. More than 90% of the cases and deaths have occurred since early April.
The spread has been fueled by the more contagious delta variant and a slow vaccination drive.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The Indonesia government announced it will use doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States through the COVAX Facility.
Many health care workers were previously vaccinated with the Chinese produced Sinovac vaccine. Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin says health workers will become the priority group, especially because of the new variants.
“We have not reached the vaccination target. So, it is important for us to give the third vaccination dose to the health care workers as they face the virus every day. We should protect them so they can focus on working,” he says.
The 4 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine are scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Sunday. The government is planning to start the third dose of vaccination next week.
Indonesia Food and Drug Monitoring Agency also announced the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna.
LONDON — The European Medicines Agency says its expert committee has concluded that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are possibly linked to very rare cases of chest pain and heart inflammation in some people following vaccination.
That echoes a similar conclusion reached by U.S. officials in June. In a statement on Friday, the EU drug regulator is recommending that the two conditions, myocarditis and pericarditis, be included as side effects on the vaccine labels, together with a warning to raise awareness among health workers and people receiving the shots.
The decision was made based on a review of more than 300 cases of chest and heart inflammation among more than 190 million doses of the two vaccines administered across Europe. Health officials say the benefits of the coronavirus vaccines far outweigh the small risks of side effects.
Also, the EMA is recommending people who have a history of a rare condition that causes blood vessels to leak avoid the coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson. Its experts examined three cases of capillary leak syndrome in people who received the J&J vaccine; two died shortly after being vaccinated.
The regulator says the syndrome should be recognized as a new side effect of the J&J shot and advised a warning to raise awareness among health workers.
BUDAPEST — Hungary’s capital city is offering free antibody testing to older people amid concerns that certain COVID-19 vaccines don’t provide adequate protection.
The offer of 20,000 tests Friday came after fully vaccinated people reported that tests carried out at private laboratories indicated they hadn’t developed antibodies to defend against the coronavirus.
City leaders say most such reports came from people who received China’s Sinopharm vaccine. An early vaccination leader in the European Union, Hungary is the only country in the bloc to use the Chinese shot.
Budapest’s mayor is pushing for Hungary’s government to offer third shots for those that need them.
BERLIN — Germany is listing Spain as a “risk area,” putting the popular tourist destination in the lowest of its three risk categories, a move with few practical effects for travelers but may put off would-be vacationers.
Germany’s national disease control center says the new status will take effect on Sunday. Parts of Spain, including Andalucia and Catalonia, were already on the list. They are now joined by the rest of the country, including the Balearic Islands, which are hugely popular with Germans.
Anyone arriving from a “risk area” can avoid a 10-day quarantine by proving they have tested negative. People flying to Germany are required to test negative before boarding a flight wherever they come from.
Effective Sunday, Germany is putting Cyprus in its second-highest risk category as a “high-incidence area.” People arriving from countries on that list can avoid quarantine if they can prove that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Others can cut short the 10-day quarantine by testing negative after five days.
KABUL, Afghanistan — U.N. children’s agency UNICEF says more than 1.4 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses will be delivered to Afghanistan on Friday as the country battles a third wave of infections.
The COVID-19 vaccines are being donated by the United States and delivered through the U.N.-backed COVAX program. Another shipment is expected to arrive later this month, bringing the total donations to around 3.3 million doses.
“These vaccines arrive at a critical time for Afghanistan as the country faces a difficult surge in COVID-19 infections,” Hervé Ludovic De Lys, UNICEF’s representative in Afghanistan, said in a statement.
He added while the the donated vaccines are appreciated, “much more needs to be done. I hope that other governments will step up and share their doses, supplies and therapeutics to protect those most in need.”
As of July 8, Afghanistan had reported a total a total of 131,586 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 5,561 deaths. Since the third wave started last month, the country has averaged more than 2,000 new confirmed cases a day. The Afghan government has closed universities and schools.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani’s minister for planning and development says there are clear signs that the fourth wave of coronavirus infections is starting in the Islamic nation.
Asad Umar said on Twitter widespread disregard for social distancing rules and the emergence of the delta variant first identified in India were the two main causes. His announcement came weeks after authorities said the country’s third COVID-19 wave had ended but that a fourth could start in July.
Pakistan reported 1,737 new cases and 25 more deaths on Friday. Prime Minister Imran Khan urged people the day before to adhere to infection-prevention recommendations to avoid a lockdown.
Pakistan has reported 969,476 confirmed cases and 22,520 virus-related deaths.
SYDNEY — Australian authorities are tightening restrictions in Sydney after reporting 44 new community cases, the largest number since a coronavirus outbreak began there last month. The city of more than 5 million is already in lockdown.
New South Wales State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said new restrictions would limit the number of people who can exercise together to two in most cases, and exercisers would need to stay close to home. The number of mourners at funerals would also be limited to 10 from Sunday.
Berejiklian said the state was facing it’s scariest test since the pandemic began and that unless numbers started to come down, authorities would likely extend the lockdown beyond next Friday.
She said the message was that people could not leave home unless it was absolutely necessary.
Authorities also deployed at least 100 extra police officers to ensure lockdown compliance.
The highly contagious delta variant outbreak began after a limousine driver tested positive on June 16. He is thought to have been infected while transporting a U.S. flight crew from Sydney airport.
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea will enforce its strongest social distancing restrictions in the greater capital area starting next week as it wrestles with what appears to be the worst wave of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
The plans, which may bring Seoul’s thriving nightlife to a standstill, were announced shortly before the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported another new 1,316 cases on Wednesday, breaking the country’s previous one-day record of 1,275 set the day before.
Nearly 1,000 of the cases came from Seoul and nearby metropolitan regions, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where officials will elevate social distancing restrictions to an unprecedented “Level 4” for two weeks beginning Monday.
The measures include prohibiting private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m., shutting down nightclubs and churches, banning visitors at hospitals and nursing homes and limiting weddings and funerals to family-only gatherings. Protests will be banned and shopping malls will have to close at 10 p.m.
South Korea has recorded more than 8,300 new cases so far this month. The surge in infections is a worrisome development in a country where a shortage in vaccine supplies has left 70% of the population still waiting for a first shot.
OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says there are cases of the latest COVID-19 variant of interest in the country, but it’s too early to know how widespread it is or what impact it could have.
Dr. Theresa Tam said Thursday 11 cases of the Lambda variant that was first identified in Peru last year have been reported to Health Canada to date. However, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec said Thursday it has confirmed 27 cases already, all in March and April.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is monitoring Lambda to see how it spreads and how it responds to vaccines, Tam said.
“We’re just trying to gather up some information on who it is that’s having the Lambda variant right now, but there’s very few cases at this point,” she said.
Early studies, including one from New York University published July 2, suggest Lambda may be a bit resistant to antibodies produced by the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, but concluded it is not by enough “to cause a significant loss of protection against infection.”