4,500 die of corona in US in a day

14 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday announced all air travelers entering the country will need a negative Covid-19 test before departure, as the country hit a record of nearly 4,500 deaths in a single day, reports AFP.

The policy takes effect on January 26 and expands an existing measure targeting Britain, where the strain known as B117 has been tied to a drastic spike in cases.

Ireland, which now has the world’s highest per capita infection rate, also announced Tuesday it was extending testing measures that previously applied only to travelers from the UK and South Africa.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer,” said Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States remains the worst-affected country, with around 380,000 -- or a fifth—of the world’s almost two million dead, despite accounting for just four percent of the global population. In 24 hours, the US recorded more than 235,000 new cases and a record high of 4,470 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins tally on Tuesday evening.

Also Tuesday, Democratic members of US Congress voiced fury at Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks while lawmakers sheltered from a mob that rampaged through the Capitol last week.

“I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers,” said Brad Schneider, the third Democratic representative to test positive.

Across the border in Canada, the most populous province of Ontario ordered residents to stay home as projections showed the number of cases could soon explode and overwhelm hospitals.

But there was some positive news in the European Union, which started the approval process for its third vaccine on Tuesday.

The 27-nation bloc promised an “accelerated timeline” after confirming drug company AstraZeneca had applied for approval for the jab it developed with Oxford University.

The EU’s medicines agency said a decision would still not come before January 29.

But the European Commission said Tuesday it had concluded exploratory talks with Franco-Austrian biotechnology laboratory Valneva for the possible purchase of up to 60 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. Switzerland meanwhile approved the Moderna vaccine, having already been the first country in continental Europe to start using the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

Even with mass vaccinations however, World Health Organization scientists warned that coverage would still not be wide enough for population-level immunity this year.

Malaysia declared a state of emergency on Tuesday as fears grow that its health system is close to being overwhelmed, after China and Japan took measures against localized clusters.

The Netherlands became the latest European nation to tighten virus controls, extending its restrictions until February 9, including the closure of schools and non-essential shops, and a ban on people having more than two visitors in their homes.

“I don’t think I am going to surprise you this evening, the lockdown is extended by three weeks,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a televised news conference.


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