Coronavirus cases in the Americas rose 27.2% in a week, mostly due to a spike in infections in the United States, according to the Pan American Health Organization, while China scrapped some requirements COVID-19 test for people coming from abroad.
PAHO said more than half of a total of 918,000 infections came from North America, with cases in the United States jumping 33% to 605,000 in the past week.
Infections in North America have now been rising for seven weeks, he said.
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PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne noted that many countries and local governments are dropping masking and distancing requirements and have reopened borders after a period of low transmission.
However, too many people remain at risk as only 14 of the 51 countries and territories in the Americas have met the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 70% of their population, she added at a conference. Press.
PAHO said new COVID-19 infections and deaths in the region have risen steadily over the past four weeks, with more than 3,500 deaths reported in the past week.
“It is time to take stock of these figures and to act. COVID is on the rise again in the Americas,” Etienne said.
“The truth is, this virus is not going away any time soon.”
Meanwhile, China has scrapped some COVID-19 testing requirements for people coming from countries like the United States and shortened the pre-departure quarantine period for some inbound travelers.
The slight relaxations were made in response to factors including “coronavirus variant characteristics”, according to notices from Chinese embassies and consulates which did not provide further details.
Starting Friday, travelers from Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, San Francesco and Seattle will no longer need an RT-PCR test seven days before their flight, or antibody tests, according to notices published late Tuesday by the Chinese Embassy in the United States and several consulates.
These travelers will still need to take two RT-PCR tests within 48 or 24 hours of their flight – depending on the airport of departure – plus another antigen test before the flight, according to these advisories.
Travel to and from China has plunged during the COVID-19 outbreaks as the country insists on its ‘dynamic COVID zero’ playbook which has involved restrictions on passport issuance and renewal, mandatory quarantines for most arriving travelers and flight cancellations.
But the shorter incubation period of the Omicron variant has allowed for a slight relaxation of restrictions on international travellers.
The capital Beijing said earlier this month it had reduced the quarantine period at centralized facilities on arriving travelers to 10 days from 14 days, although another week of home isolation remains in square.
Embassies in the United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Bangladesh said on Wednesday they had scrapped antibody testing requirements for travelers to China and those who had recovered from COVID-19 infection would not no longer needed to provide chest CT images.