CategoryVariant

New York Cases Continue to Drop

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Even as New York State prepared for a significant snowfall on Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul told New Yorkers that the state’s coronavirus forecast was improving:

“The Covid clouds are parting,” Ms. Hochul said.

For the past week, New Yorkers have watched with tentative optimism as the skyrocketing rate of new coronavirus cases began to slow, then fall. Test positivity rates are down as well, with just 13 percent of statewide tests on Saturday coming back positive compared to 23 percent a few weeks ago. In every region but one, seven-day averages of new cases were lower than the past three days.

This and other recent data show that the latest surge in New York driven by the Omicron variant may be starting to trend downward, and that several Northeast states — including New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island — may be heading in the same direction.

“Overall, the prognosis, the forecast for Covid is much brighter than it has been before,” Ms. Hochul said at a briefing, giving one of her clearest messages yet that the crush of cases caused by the Omicron variant might be beginning to lift. She went on: “That is very positive news, if our hospitalizations continue to go down as well.”

Statewide, New York reported 51,264 new cases on Saturday, down from the peak of more than 90,000 a week earlier, according to a New York Times database. The average number of hospitalizations across the state appear to be leveling off as well.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/01/16/world/omicron-covid-vaccine-tests


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End of UK’s Covid pandemic is in sight, says WHO

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The end of the pandemic is in sight for Britain, the World Health Organisation’s coronavirus chief has suggested.

As ministers prepare to lift most remaining restrictions next week, Professor David Nabarro said that the country could see “light at the end of the tunnel”. Facemasks are likely to remain a legal requirement on public transport and indoors but work from home guidance and vaccine passports are expected to be scrapped at the end of the month.

Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, said that infection and hospital admission figures were “looking positive” for lifting restrictions on January 26.

Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for Covid-19, told Sky News: “Looking at it from a UK point of view, there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel.”

Professor Mike Tildesley, of Warwick University, a member of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) advisory body, agreed there were signs that the Omicron wave was “turning around”. He said there was “cautiously good news” in data suggesting cases had come down and hospital admission rates were flat.

Ministers have decided to end work from home guidance as a priority given its economic impact while vaccine passports provoked a Tory revolt in the Commons last month.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/uk-covid-update-says-masks-will-stay-but-vaccine-passports-face-axe-hs72fvd7n


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Tory chairman Oliver Dowden ‘hopeful’ coronavirus restrictions can be lifted by end of January in England

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Coronavirus restrictions in England could be lifted by the end of January, with the Tory party chairman saying he was “hopeful”, thanks to “encouraging signs”.

The current Plan B rules – which includes the mandatory wearing of face masks in some settings, the use of vaccine passports or negative lateral flow tests to enter some venues and working from home where possible – are due to be reviewed in 10 days.

Mr Dowden told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday that the “signs are encouraging” that these restrictions will be able to be lifted at this point.

“It has always been my hope that we would have the Plan B restrictions for the shortest period possible,” the Conservative Party’s chairman said.

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-tory-chairman-oliver-dowden-hopeful-coronavirus-restrictions-can-be-lifted-by-end-of-january-12517385

New York’s governor announces a significant drop in daily cases, a rare sign of hope

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New York State recorded about 48,000 coronavirus cases on Friday, a nearly 47 percent drop from the roughly 90,000 cases reported a week earlier, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Saturday.

The total number of positive cases — 47,870 — represented only 14.6 percent of the 327,427 tests reported by the state, a significant decline from the 23 percent positivity rate recorded on Jan. 2.

Hospitalizations also seemed to decrease slightly, with 38 fewer hospitalizations recorded on Friday compared with the day before.

This and other recent data show that the latest surge in New York driven by the Omicron variant may be starting to trend downward from a Jan. 9 peak, and that several Northeast states — including New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island — may be heading in the same direction.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/01/16/world/omicron-covid-vaccine-tests#new-york-governor-announces-a-significant-drop-in-daily-cases-a-rare-sign-of-hope


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Covid is ‘crashing’ as Omicron increasingly acts as a natural vaccine: Mild or no coronavirus symptoms yet all the antibodies

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Covid scientist are increasingly convinced the Omicron variant is acting as a natural vaccine for tens of millions of people around the world as most infected people have no or very mild symptoms, yet their bodies do produce full antibodies.

Many countries are currently seeing record numbers of infections, including the UK, US, most of Europe and Asia, but hospital admissions only show a modest or even no serious increase.

In South Africa, where Omicron was first detected in November, infection rates are dropping rapidly and most experts believe the Omicron wave has passed and other countries should expect the same cycle in the next few months.

The high level of contagiousness, paired with very mild symptoms, may make Omicron a blessing in disguise, some Covid scientists argue. In fact, some go as far by suggesting there may no need to get vaccinated anymore, just get Omicron.

A number of experts around the world are convinced the world is currently seeing the tail of the pandemic, based on other virus outbreaks in history.

Dr Namita Jaggi of Artemis Hospitals in India told various media outlets that “pandemics have traditionally speaking petered out by having variants that are milder and less severe till they finally die out.”

“So no, Omicron is not a cause of concern, rather we must optimistically hope that we are moving towards the end of the pandemic,” Jaggi said.

Nicanor Austriaco, a Filipino-American molecular biologist, also believes Covid may slowly be killing itself off with the milder Omicron variant.

During a Town Hall meeting, last week, he said that those infected with Omicron will have antibodies that “will protect them against Delta, Gamma, Beta, Alpha and D614G” variants.

“This variant is the beginning of the end of the pandemic that has crippled the global community for two years already,” Austriaco told The PhilStar newspaper last week.

https://www.cityam.com/covid-is-crashing-fast-as-omicron-increasingly-acts-as-a-natural-vaccine-mild-or-no-coronavirus-symptoms-yet-all-the-antibodies/

Covid in the UK: Reported cases at lowest level for a month

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The UK has reported another 81,713 coronavirus cases, the lowest daily level seen since 15 December.

The apparent ebbing of the Omicron wave comes as some experts claim the end of the pandemic is in sight for the UK.

However, the number of deaths within 28 days of a test remains high, with 1,843 over the past seven days – a 45% rise from the previous week.

The number of hospital patients with Covid has dropped – though the most recent figures date from Monday.

The 15,698 admitted in the seven days to 10 January represented a slight week-on-week fall.

Prof Julian Hiscox, chairman in infection and global health at the University of Liverpool, told the BBC that we are heading towards a new phase of the pandemic where the virus has a lesser impact on daily life.

“We’re almost there, it is now the beginning of the end, at least in the UK. I think life in 2022 will be almost back to before the pandemic,” he said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-59973659

More countries begin to show potential Omicron u-turns

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‘High confidence’ Omicron is less severe in UK

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There is now high confidence that Omicron is relatively mild for most adults, says the UK Health Security Agency in its latest risk assessment.

This is largely thanks to vaccines providing high protection against serious illness caused by this latest Covid variant that is infecting many.

Covid cases are on the way down, according to UK daily figures.

There were 99,652 new cases reported on Friday, a continuing drop which pushed the seven-day figure down by 29.5% on the week before.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-59999698

Mark Drakeford to ease Wales’ restrictions

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Welsh Covid restrictions on large events and businesses brought in to tackle the Omicron variant will be scrapped in two weeks under new plans.

It follows mounting pressure from opposition parties demanding an exit plan, and falling case numbers.

Rules limiting outdoor activities will be lifted first.

The Welsh government said the success of the booster campaign meant it was able to lift restrictions, with 1.8 million having received an extra dose.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-59984873

Omicron waves appear to slow in New York City, other major metropolitan areas

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The explosion of omicron cases along the Interstate 95 corridor from the Mid-Atlantic to New England is showing signs of slowing down, according to health officials and epidemiologists, offering reason for cautious optimism that the turning point could be near and that the coronavirus variant’s U.S. trajectory is similar to that of other countries.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said Tuesday the rates of tests returning positive and case increases seem to be slowing — particularly in New York City, which emerged as an early epicenter of the highly contagious variant.

“They’re still high, but we are not at the end, but I want to say that this is, to me, a glimmer of hope, a glimmer of hope in a time when we desperately need that,” Hochul said at a news conference.

“Omicron is more like a flash flood than a wave. It goes to enormously high levels very quickly and then, based on other parts of the world, may come down very quickly,” said Tom Frieden, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director and New York City health commissioner. “We know that the more people who are up to date with their vaccines, the fewer deaths there will be, the fewer hospitalizations there will be and the less economic disruption there will be.”

David Rubin, who tracks national coronavirus trends for PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says federal data shows a sharp decline in emergency room visits for coronavirus in the Northeast and the rest of the nation is on track to follow a similar path.

“You got a picture of an East Coast that’s rapidly improving, a Southeast that’s not far behind, a Midwest that’s maybe a week behind the East Coast while the West Coast has not yet peaked,” Rubin said. “Our assessment is we have likely peaked as a country.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/01/12/covid-omicron-plateau-new-york


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