COVID-19 Spreading in A&B, Omicron Dominant in BVI, Mexico Daily Virus Record, US Surge, World Stats

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COVID-19 spreading among Antigua & Barbuda’s youth population

Dillon De Shong
Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Most of the over 800 people in Antigua and Barbuda, who are currently infected with coronavirus (COVID-19), are young.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne during his weekly talk show on Saturday.

“Because they are the younger stronger ones among us they have been having relatively mild symptoms. But we can expect that as our young people contract the disease, they will take it into their homes and it means therefore that their mature relatives are likely to contract the disease and could become vulnerable,” Browne said.

 

The country recently confirmed its first cases of COVID-19’s omicron variant after a surge of new infections that began in late 2021.

Health officials confirmed that the highly infectious omicron and delta variants are circulating in the community along with the other variants of concern.

Omicron has shown itself to be milder than previous strains of COVID-19 but the prime minister urged islanders not to be complacent since persons with comorbidities have died when they contract the variant.

 

He has encouraged all persons, who are eligible to be vaccinated, to either get immunized or their booster shots since the vaccines are working. About 60 per cent of the island’s population is fully vaccinated.

“If we didn’t have such a high prevalence of vaccinations within the country, I could have guarantee you that the effects of the omicron variant on our people would have been significantly different,” the prime minister noted.

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Mexico Hits Record 30,000 Daily COVID-19 Cases

Medical staff treat a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient in the emergency room at Metropolitano Hospital in Monterrey, Mexico, January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Medical staff treat a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient in the emergency room at Metropolitano Hospital in Monterrey, Mexico, January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

MEXICO CITY, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Mexico hit a record in confirmed daily COVID-19 cases on Saturday, according to official data, posting more than 30,000 additional infections as the highly contagious respiratory disease spread in the country.

The health ministry tallied 30,671 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, after registering more than 20,000 new infections on each of the previous three days.

COVID-19 fatalities, however, have not shown a similar spike in recent days, with 202 confirmed deaths on Saturday.

The total number of confirmed cases in Mexico since the pandemic began stands at 4,113,789, with 300,303 confirmed fatalities, the fifth highest official death toll worldwide.

Mexican health authorities have said that both confirmed cases and the overall death toll likely represent a significant undercount due to the lack of widespread testing.

Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by David Alire Garcia and David Gregorio

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Omicron overtakes delta to be the BVI’s dominant COVID variant

Dillon De Shong

 

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Health officials in the British Virgin Islands believe that the omicron variant of COVID-19 has taken over delta to become the dominant strain.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronald Georges said almost half of the samples sent for genomic sequencing over the last few weeks were identified as omicron.

“This is how omicron functions. It comes in and slowly out-competes all other variants to become the dominant variant. We are going to see quite an increase in cases. The doubling time for omicron is considered between two and three days. So omicron is much more efficient in spreading from person to person,” he stated last evening.

Georges noted that most of the over 1,000 active cases in the territory are experiencing mild COVID-19 which is characteristic of omicron.

The CMO noted that while omicron might be mild, it has the ability to overload a system.

The hospital is currently taking steps to increase capacity to deal with the surge, which is expected to last for almost two months.

Officials expect hospitals to need about 75 per cent of what was needed during the delta surge.

Parents of young children, who are unvaccinated, have been urged to pay close attention to them since omicron has led to a spike in pediatric admissions to hospitals.

Georges is therefore urging persons, who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, to take a shot of the vaccines available on the island.

Presently, just over 57 per cent of persons on the island are vaccinated.

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Vaccine plea for pregnant women

Pregnant women are already on the priority list for the Covid vaccine as they’re at increased risk from the virus. Now there’s a new drive for them to get jabbed or have a booster as soon as possible. It’s part of a government campaign which sees expectant mothers share their experiences to encourage others not to delay getting vaccinated. The government says the vaccine is safe and has no impact on fertility. Read more here.

Pregnant woman being vaccinated

Boosters in India as cases surge

Covid vaccine boosters are being given to priority groups in India as infections, fuelled by Omicron, surge. Health and front-line workers are among those being targeted as early studies show boosters may provide more protection from the variant. Find out more here.

A health worker inoculates a man with a third dose of the Covaxin vaccine at a vaccination centre in New Delhi on January 10, 2022, as the country sees an Omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 coronavirus casesImage source, AFP
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Omicron fuels unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases

The U.S. health care system is in for significant pain in the short term, but the fast surge could even help defeat the pandemic in the longer term by conveying broader immunity.  

Some experts are calling for people to buckle down for a last stretch of diligent precautions like mask-wearing in public, indoor settings to spread cases out and get hospitals through the next few weeks before the situation improves.  

“We need to have sort of the last effort so that we can make it to the spring,” Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), said in a press briefing.   

Some experts predict that cases could peak in the U.S. later in January or in early February, though because of the large size of the country, certain areas will have localized spikes after currently hard-hit areas like New York have already peaked.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday the experience in South Africa indicates a “precipitous increase and then a precipitous decline,” in the shape of an “ice pick,” though she noted that pattern could be one that “travels across the country” at different times.   

Carlos del Rio, an infectious diseases professor at Emory University School of Medicine, predicted the national peak could come “between the third week of January and the first or second week of February.”  

Once the highly transmissible omicron variant burns through the population, the outlook will be improved.   

“At this rate we may actually really be able to reach herd immunity because we’re going to get so many people in the population infected that at some point in time this may be sort of the beginning of the end of the pandemic, at least in this country,” del Rio said, during a discussion hosted by Emory University. “Because omicron is really going to infect pretty much everybody who hasn’t been infected so far.” 

Experts still stress that it is far better to get your immunity from vaccinations and boosters without getting sick, rather than from getting the virus, which can have lingering effects even if it is not bad enough to require hospitalization.  

The symptoms of omicron are milder on average, and people who are vaccinated and boosted are especially well-protected against severe disease. But even with only a small percentage of cases requiring hospitalization, the sheer number of total cases means overwhelmed hospitals.   

“We are overrun,” said Orlowski, of AAMC, which represents teaching hospitals across the country.   

The U.S. is recording more than 700,000 new cases per day and climbing, an unprecedented number, though between the protection from vaccinations and omicron’s diminished severity, many are mild or asymptomatic.   

Still, hospitalizations from COVID-19 are spiking to over 128,000, according to a New York Times tracker, though deaths have so far stayed relatively steady at about 1,400 per day.   

Orlowski and del Rio said about a third of patients in the hospital with the virus are not sick solely because of COVID-19, but have other conditions that in some cases are exacerbated by having the virus, too. Some hospitals reported as many as roughly half of patients testing positive were not primarily in the hospital because of COVID-19.   

Del Rio said that among patients solely in the hospital for COVID-19, about 80 to 90 percent are unvaccinated, or in some cases have received two doses of vaccine (without a booster shot) and also have an underlying condition.   

Hospital staffing shortages, from workers having burned out and left over the past two years, or from workers currently being home with the virus themselves, are adding to the strain.   

“The percent in the ICU is much lower [than previous surges], but that doesn’t mean that we’re not getting overwhelmed,” del Rio said.   

While the broad immunity provided after the omicron wave could improve the outlook going forward, potential new variants can always pose a curveball.   

For unvaccinated people infected with omicron, Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, said it is unclear “if there’s a new variant that arises in six months or a year, will they still be protected if they refuse to get vaccinated?” 

Advocates have long pushed the Biden administration to step up its efforts to vaccinate the world to help cut off the development of new variants.  

Few experts are calling for shutdowns like there were in the early days of the pandemic, but steps like mandating vaccination to eat in a restaurant or go to a concert, as several large U.S. cities have already done, would help, Wen said. Better availability of rapid tests has also been a major pressure point on the Biden administration.   

There is currently a split, Wen said, between the “very low” risk to individuals who are vaccinated and boosted, on one hand, and the “existential, very high societal risk,” of the “collapse of our health care system,” largely fueled by unvaccinated people.   

But even vaccinated people are harmed by overwhelmed hospitals, if they have a life-threatening medical event such as a heart attack or bodily trauma from a car crash. 

“It may have a long-term beneficial effect for a combination of reasons, leading with the fact that the spike is going to be quick,” said Ross McKinney, chief scientific officer at AAMC. “And then secondarily going to the fact that people may be protected having been exposed.”

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WORLD STATS

Coronavirus Cases:

307,982,664

Deaths:

5,507,272

Recovered:

259,627,916
Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

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Latest News

January 10 (GMT)

Updates

  • 5,334 new cases and 26 new deaths in B

 

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