Tag: outbreak

The US is reportedly close to lifting its 8-month travel ban for Europe, now that its own COVID-19 outbreak is far worse



a group of people performing on a counter: Travelers walk through a nearly empty terminal at Boston's Logan Airport on November 20. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


© AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Travelers walk through a nearly empty terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport on November 20. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

  • The White House is considering lifting the travel ban on non-US citizens coming from Europe and Brazil, Reuters reported.
  • President Trump has not made up his mind yet, but the plan is supported by members of the White House coronavirus task force and other agencies, according to Reuters.
  • The US barred entry to travellers from Europe in March as the outbreak surged there, but the US outbreak has now spent months as the world’s worst-affected country.
  • Currently, non-US residents who have been in European nations or Brazil in the previous 14 days can’t enter the US, though some travellers are considered exceptions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House is considering lifting its travel ban on inbound travel to the US from Europe and Brazil, Reuters reported early Wednesday.

It comes as the US’s coronavirus outbreak continues to be the worst in the world.

Reuters cited five US and airline officials saying that an end to the ban was close.

It reported that the plan is supported by members of the White House’s coronavirus task force and other federal agencies.

But it said that President Donald Trump has not yet decided whether he supports it. There is currently no date for when an easing may take place.

The US banned travellers from Europe in March in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, and added Brazil in May.

But the US outbreak has spiralled since, and the US has now spent months as the country with the highest number of virus cases and deaths in the world.

Not long after the US put its ban in place, much of Europe likewise banned entry from the US.

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More than 12.5 million people in the US have now been infected by the coronavirus, and more than 259,000 people have died from it. The US is currently in the middle of a third surge, with its cases at an all-time high.

Europe’s cases rose rapidly in the last few months after the virus was brought under control over the summer. But the continent’s cases have started falling after countries implemented lockdowns and new restrictions.

Here’s how the US’s outbreak looks:



chart, histogram: The US's new daily coronavirus cases as of November 24. Worldometer


© Worldometer
The US’s new daily coronavirus cases as of November 24. Worldometer


 

And here’s the outbreak across Europe, where cases have started falling again:



The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the EU/EEA and the UK, as of November 25. ECDC


© ECDC
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the EU/EEA and the UK, as of November 25. ECDC

The lower infection rate in Europe may prompt Trump to decide against lifting the ban, Reuters reported.

Currently, non-US residents who have been in the European countries or Brazil over the last 14 days can’t enter, though there are

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Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Starts to Climb as Coronavirus Outbreak Worsens | National News

More people than ever during the pandemic are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite federal government recommendations against doing so.

The Transportation Security Administration recorded over 3 million people passing through airport security across the country during the three-day period of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Still, that’s fewer than half the travelers recorded during the same timeframe last year.

The weekend numbers peaked on Sunday at 1,047,934.

“It was the highest since the steep decline due to the pandemic and the second time in three days that checkpoint volume surpassed 1 million,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein tweeted.

Cartoons on the Coronavirus

The previous record of airline travelers during the pandemic was the Sunday after Columbus Day weekend in October.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske last week said that he expects the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after to see the largest numbers of travelers.

In updated guidance, the agency recommended celebrating the holiday either virtually or with those in the household, which it defines as “anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit.”

“People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households,” the CDC said.

The guidance does not take issue with the act of flying itself, saying “most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.”

But a plane packed with passengers could be a different circumstance.

The agency said “social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.”

It also notes that air travel can involve close contact with other people through spending time in security lines and terminals.

The U.S. is headed toward documenting 200,000 coronavirus cases in a single day. Fatalities are also trending upward, with the country recording over 2,000 deaths in a single day last week for the first time since May.

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Iran shuts down businesses, restricts travel as it faces the Middle East’s worst COVID-19 outbreak

Iran took the drastic step of closing its businesses and restricting internal travel as Tehran battles against the region’s worst coronavirus outbreak.



Hassan Rouhani looking at the camera: Iran shuts down businesses, restricts travel as it faces the Middle East's worst COVID-19 outbreak


© Getty Images
Iran shuts down businesses, restricts travel as it faces the Middle East’s worst COVID-19 outbreak

Iranian officials had already issued guidance urging residents to wear masks and avoid nonessential travel, but with a confirmed case tally of more than 840,000 and a death toll of more than 430 over the past five days, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani indicated more stringent action was needed.

“If in the past people were told to follow the health protocols to ensure their own and relatives’ health, and to reduce the pressure on the medical staff, today, in addition to those recommendations, everyone must carefully follow the health principles to avoid economic pressure as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.

“In the implementation of the comprehensive plan, all institutions must work together,” he added. “Everyone should help in this regard, especially those who are in quarantine.”

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The new lockdown measures include closing most businesses, shops, malls and restaurants, and officials designated nearly 160 towns and cities as hot spots between which travel by private car is suspended.

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The closures are currently slated to last for two weeks, though the government has the option of extending them should it deem it necessary.

Rouhani noted that the restrictions would have a negative economic impact and that the government would look to provide a stimulus for 30 million people. But he expressed confidence that the measures would help curb the rapid spread of the virus.

“If we carefully implement the comprehensive plan with the requirements mentioned above, there will be no need for even a one-hour shutdown, and there is no doubt that by following the instructions and requirements, we can shorten the shutdown period and reduce the spread of the disease,” he said.

However, Tehran’s health efforts could be hindered by a government shake-up in the midst of the alarming outbreak. Iranian newspapers said Saturday that Reza Malekzadeh, the deputy health minister in charge of research, and Ali Nobakht, an adviser to the health minister, resigned from their posts in response to remarks from Minister of Health Saeed Namaki that government research was unsuccessful, according to The Associated Press.

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Australia Reinstates Travel Restrictions After Outbreak

Just days after vowing to reopen internal borders before Christmas, Australian states began imposing fresh travel restrictions following an outbreak in the South Australian capital, Adelaide.

The state went seven months without any new locally acquired infections. But by Monday, a cluster that started with a quarantine worker had grown to 17 cases.

Western Australia reimposed restrictions on South Australia hours after lifting them. The state’s residents will now have to take a covid test and complete a 14-day quarantine if they want to enter Western Australia.

Tasmania said any South Australians who have arrived in the state since Nov. 9 must go into self isolation. Queensland declared Adelaide a hotspot and said it would require visitors from the city to quarantine for two weeks.

Lawmakers in Australia are particularly sensitive to any lapses in quarantine, which were responsible for the country’s biggest outbreak, in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria.

The remote Northern Territory also said anyone traveling there from South Australia would need to complete 14 days of supervised quarantine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the outbreak is a “wakeup call” to the country to avoid complacency as the virus hasn’t gone away. “It’s a reminder that even after lockdown, even after all this time, the virus hasn’t gone anywhere and can be activated, and that’s why none of us can be off our game.”

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‘Gold star’ is cold comfort in hotel quarantine outbreak

A ”back of house” worker at the Peppers hotel inadvertently has been at the epicentre of the latest outbreak. Professor Spurrier said on Monday the oversight at the ”medi-hotels” in Adelaide was by both SA Health and the SA Police with police and nurses on site. But there were private security guards involved along with staff employed directly by the hotels.

The “Parafield” cluster in Adelaide’s outer northern suburbs first emerged publicly on Sunday afternoon, with the focus on an 80-year-old woman who had fallen ill and went to the emergency department of the Lyell McEwin Hospital at Elizabeth after 5.30pm on Friday. Her positive COVID-19 test was one of three local transmission cases first revealed by Professor Spurrier.

Growing list of venues

The two others were from the same family. The 80-year-old, who is now in hospital in a stable condition, is the mother of a hotel worker from the Peppers hotel. The hotel worker’s partner, who has also tested positive, worked at the Yatala Labour Prison in the northern suburb of Northfield. The duo are described as a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s.

But by Monday morning the COVID cluster had expanded to 17, with 15 of them from the same family. By mid-afternoon, thankfully, the cluster remained at 17 in an update by Professor Spurrier.

Two are from outside the family. SA Health by late Monday morning put out an extensive list of shopping centres, bus routes, two schools, a swimming centre and a Hungry Jack’s fast food restaurant at Port Adelaide as among the places where those who had now tested positive had been since November 7. It was added to in increments on Monday afternoon, with petrol stations and supermarkets joining an ever-growing list.

The eerie similarities between the Melbourne COVID-19 outbreak, which began in a quarantine hotel although through different circumstances, left many people simply shaking their heads that the virus had escaped into the wider community, given all the pain and angst the Victorian capital had endured.

When the Melbourne lockdowns began in the second wave of COVID-19, other airports, including Adelaide’s, all stepped up the number of repatriation flights landing in their jurisdictions because Melbourne Airport was off limits as part of the battle to bring COVID-19 numbers down.

The number of COVID-19 cases in returned overseas travellers in Adelaide quarantine hotels had been on the rise in the past few weeks. Those repatriation flights to the city have been barred for at least a week. Victoria, however, is now down to just three active cases overall.

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UK removes Denmark from travel corridor list after outbreak in Denmark’s mink farms

Hans Henrik Jeppesen interacts with one of his minks at his farm near Soroe, after government’s decision to cull his entire herd due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Denmark November 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

(Reuters) – Britain said it is removing Denmark from the government’s travel corridor list, with people arriving in UK from there needing to self-isolate starting Friday after health authorities in Denmark reported widespread coronavirus outbreaks in mink farms.

“Passengers arriving into the UK from Denmark from 4am on Friday 6 November 2020 will need to self-isolate for 14 days by law before following domestic restrictions now in force,” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

“I understand that this will be concerning for both people currently in Denmark and the wider UK public, which is why we have moved quickly to protect our country and prevent the spread of the virus to the UK,” he added.

Denmark announced strict new lockdown rules on Thursday in the north of the country after authorities discovered a mutated coronavirus strain in minks bred in the region, prompting a nationwide cull.

Outbreaks at mink farms have persisted in Denmark, Europe’s largest producer and exporter of mink furs, despite repeated efforts to cull infected animals since June.

On Thursday, Sweden and Germany were also removed from England’s travel corridors.

Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Gerry Doyle

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When there’s a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel, who gets to know and when? Salish Lodge becomes a case study for Seattle’s hoteliers

When Mary Lankford checked into the Salish Lodge & Spa with her husband and six-month-old baby on Sept. 30, the lodge had known for a week that multiple employees had tested positive for COVID-19. But Lankford did not find out about it until a news report announced the outbreak later that evening. 

Lankford and other guests who stayed at Salish Lodge between Sept. 22 (when Public Health – Seattle & King County began its investigation) and Sept. 30 (when Public Health publicly announced the outbreak) were angry that they had not been informed as soon as the cases were discovered. 

Salish Lodge says it followed the guidance of the county public health office, and Public Health – Seattle & King County says it generally focuses on zeroing in on who may have been exposed and informing that targeted group. 

Hotel guests say they just want to know whenever there are COVID-19 cases where they’re staying. 

The Salish Lodge outbreak of 25 cases, and a recently confirmed case of six guests who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Residence Inn by Marriott Seattle Downtown/Lake Union, has raised the question of who should be notified, when, and by whom when there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel. (The Residence Inn’s general manager declined to comment Wednesday, citing guest privacy concerns, but said no staff members have tested positive.)

The answer, it turns out, isn’t one size fits all. When and who to inform about a COVID-19 outbreak is a delicate balancing act that must take into account the resources of county public health and the affected business, employee and customer privacy, the potential for spreading misinformation, community well-being, maintaining customer trust and numerous epidemiological concerns.

The Salish Lodge outbreak showed that hotels are in a unique position as businesses that provide many services to a large clientele over days rather than hours, and as places that guests see as a home away from home. 

As Seattleites become quarantine-weary and many Washington hotels see an uptick in local staycationers, the situation that unfolded at Salish Lodge carries lessons about the evolving relationships and responsibilities between guests, hotels and public health in the COVID-19 era.

“Safety is the new luxury” 

The pandemic has taken a significant toll on the hotel and travel industries. According to Visit Seattle, hotel occupancy rates in the Seattle metro market sat at 38.5% for the week of Sept. 20 — compared to 82.4% for the same period last year. 

Anthony Anton, Washington Hospitality Association (WHA) president and CEO, says hotels must invest in COVID-19 safety for guests and staff if they want to survive the pandemic.

The Hotel Sorrento in Seattle has gone above and beyond to come up with solid COVID-19 safety protocols.  (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
The Hotel Sorrento in Seattle has gone above and beyond to come up with solid COVID-19 safety protocols. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

“So much of our reputation and public trust is connected to our profitability,” said Anton. “We’re having to learn and get better and we’re really diligent about it, because if people don’t trust us, they’re not going to

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Trump Administration Expands Travel Bans Over the Wuhan Virus Outbreak

During a press conference on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Trump administration plans to expand travel bans to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. The ban goes into effect Monday night at midnight eastern standard time.

“As the president just suggested, all of our health experts presented information. Dr. Fauci will reflect on those numbers. [They] made a unanimous recommendation to the president that we suspend all travel from the U.K. and Ireland that will be effect midnight Monday night eastern standard time,” Pence said during the press conference. “Again, Americans in the U.K. or Ireland can come home. Legal residents can come home… they will be funneled through specific airports in the process.”

Last week, President Trump suspended all travel from the European Union. When the initial Wuhan Virus broke out in China, President Trump announced a ban on all travel from China. Not long after that announcement, the administration extended the ban to include Iran and any foreign national who has visited the country in the previous 14 days.

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Tahoe towns ask vacation homes to stop rentals amid coronavirus outbreak

South Lake Tahoe city officials sent a message on Monday to all vacation homeowners, short term rental property owners, hotels and motels to stop rentals immediately amid the coronavirus outbreak. The city is requesting rentals stop until at least April 23. The immediate request for all vacation homeowners to stop rentals comes after the city saw thousands of visitors last weekend despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandatory order to stay at home order.Mayor Jason Collin said visitors are traveling for non-essential needs, and could be held accountable for a misdemeanor charge.“We are very kindly asking people to not to come to Tahoe. We love our visitors, we just don’t want you here right now,” Collin said. City officials are concerned about visitors coming into town given their limited health care resources. Barton Memorial Hospital is the only hospital for the city. The hospital has nine ICU beds, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Collin said the hospital has fewer than 10 ventilators. The hospital services up to 35,000 residents in the city and county alone, Collin said. “That’s not enough. That’s not enough for 30,000 people,” resident Shira Martorana said. Barton Health said it is working with other local hospitals to share resources in preparation for a potential influx of patients. In the meantime, residents like Martorana are applauding the city’s request to pause vacation rentals because she is especially prone to lung infections. “I survived swine flu in 2009, but I was sick for six weeks, in and out of the hospital three times. And so I have scar tissue in my lungs,” Martorana said. Kathy Liebhardt, owner of Tahoe Destination Vacation Rentals, agrees with the city’s decision to pause rentals to vacationers, but she is concerned about the timeline since city officials are asking all current renters to leave now. “I’m going to disagree with that. I have a family in from Australia. Where are they supposed to go? I can’t tell them just to leave,” Liebhardt said. “I have a family in from Germany, same situation. Am I supposed to just kick them out? Where are they supposed to go?”Liebhardt is letting her current renters stay put since their flights have been canceled, she is transforming her vacation properties from places of leisure into places of business moving forward.“If we have nurses that are needed up in Tahoe, I will put them up for housing. That’s the important point to push. I am not allowing vacationers to come up just because they need to come up,” Liebhardt said. The request from South Lake Tahoe is just that: A request, not a legal order. The mayor said enforcement of the request will be discussed at an emergency city council meeting on Wednesday. The mayor also added that while the request was sent to rental property permit holders, the same message applies to homeowners that have a second home in Tahoe, which is to stay home.City officials in Truckee posted a similar request on Facebook on Tuesday, saying, “Now is not …

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US couple quarantined in Spain amid coronavirus outbreak get all-clear after ‘horror vacation’

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MADRID – A Georgia couple who was traveling throughout southern Spain earlier this month until members of their tour party tested positive with coronavirus are now on their way back home after getting the all-clear from doctors.

Sharon Wells, 62, and her husband Craig Carpenter, 55, of Pooler, Ga., and their party were quarantined for 19 days at the four-star Sol Melia Hotel in Torremolinos, a holiday resort near Malaga.

Sharon Wells, 62, and her husband Craig Carpenter, 55, of Pooler, Georgia, are quarantined in the Sol Melia in Torremolinos, Spain amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Sharon Wells, 62, and her husband Craig Carpenter, 55, of Pooler, Georgia, are quarantined in the Sol Melia in Torremolinos, Spain amid the coronavirus outbreak.
(Courtesy of Sharon Wells)

A 70-year-old American man who was on the tour died in the hospital from the virus. He was treated for COVID-19 with the group’s Spanish tour guide at a hospital in nearby Ronda.

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Wells, a retired nurse, said 19 members of the tour were cleared to go back to the U.S. but four others are being re-tested after suffering fevers. They are awaiting the results.

Of those who have to stay, two are being treated in a hospital. One is in intensive care and has been on a ventilator for four days.“This was a horrific experience; it was a vacation from hell,” Wells told Fox News in a phone interview from her hotel. “I felt like I was in solitary confinement for 20 days in a foreign country with people who did not understand us.”

Sharon Wells tested positive for COVID-19, however, she has not shown any symptoms. Her husband Craig Carpenter tested negative.

Sharon Wells tested positive for COVID-19, however, she has not shown any symptoms. Her husband Craig Carpenter tested negative.
(Courtesy of Sharon Wells)

Wells tested positive for the virus but her husband tested negative.

“I have never felt so alone and afraid. I wasn’t afraid for myself but for my friends and family at home,” she said.  “They were pouring out the prayers for our return. People I didn’t know were sending their prayers to me and my husband.

US COUPLE QUARANTINED IN SPAIN HOTEL AMID CORONAVIRUS SAY IT COULD BE A LOT WORSE

She continued: “I kept the faith and stayed strong. With God all things are possible. I had complained about it raining since Saturday. I listened to a young minister preach in (the U.S.) He said we have to go through something, then the rain comes. I took that as going through trials and tribulations but God has sent the rain to wash it all away.

“I went to the doctor and he said you have been cleared to go home. I jumped and shouted ‘Hallelujah, thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus!”

She praised the staff at the hotel where she stayed who even went out to Burger King to get her a burger.

Doctors gave the couple the all-clear as they had shown no symptoms of the illness after nearly three weeks in isolation.

Wells and Carpenter, a retired former computer programmer, had planned a two-week vacation in Spain

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