Today, as the world celebrates Silvester and New Year’s Eve, we stand four days before the 1,000th day of the pandemic, the equivalent of 2.7 years. It is also 38 months since SARS-CoV-2 made itself known in Wuhan, China.
Since that point we have seen 665 million cases of the virus and 6.7 million deaths caused by it. There have been years-long lockdowns and tremendous upheaval in every corner of the globe.
Tomorrow is the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar and we can only hope for a better 2023 than 2022 turned out to be.
From everyone at the Morning News Brief, Frequent Business Traveler, and The Travelist, allow us to wish you Feliz Año Nuevo, Bonne Année, Boldog Új Évet Kivánok, Gott nytt år, С Новым годом, Felice anno nuovo, Prosit Neujahr, and Happy New Year.
In other news we cover today, XBB 1.5 is now the dominant subvariant in the United States, mask mandates are returning in some school districts, and
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that the new omicron sublineage XBB 1.5 now accounts for 40.5% of all cases in the country.
The XBB subvariant, from which XBB.1.5 descends, is a recombinant of two subvariants that descended from the BA.2 omicron subvariant.
Some school districts are bringing back mask mandates in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus, influenza, and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. Two New Jersey districts, namely Paterson Public Schools and the Camden City School District, announced the return of indoor masking for pupils.
Meanwhile, faced with the possibility of another coronavirus surge stemming from holiday gatherings, Los Angeles County health officials are urging workers and students to wear masks in indoor public settings for at least ten days once they return to work and school.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in a New Year’s Eve speech to the nation, said that things in the country will soon get better. He also called for greater unity as the country enters a “new phase” in its approach to combating the pandemic.
“It has not been an easy journey for anyone. Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us,” Xi said in the course of his speech.
The World Health Organization on Friday once again called on Chinese health officials to regularly share real-time data on the pandemic situation in the country, underscoring the importance of this during the current surge in infections.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government announced plans to improve medical services and supplies in rural areas prior to next month’s Lunar New Year’s travel rush. A statement released on Saturday said officials would accelerate the production of Covid medicines, allocate equipment to rural areas, ensure public access to over-the-counter medicines, and monitor the sale of rapid test kits and fever medication.
England is the latest country to introduce new rules for arriving Chinese travelers. Following the lead of the United States, India, and Italy, among others, it will require arriving passengers from the country to present a negative Covid test in order to gain entry.
The move, described as “balanced and precautionary,” goes into effect on January 5, 2023.
Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, December 31.
As of Saturday morning, the world has recorded 664.7 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 million cases, and 6.7 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 636.7 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.5 million.
Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Saturdayat press time is 21,371,741, an increase of 22,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 21,331,020, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 40,721, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.
The United States reported 33,191 new coronavirus infections on Saturdayfor the previous day, compared to115,787 on Friday, 122,934 on Thursday, 75,769 on Wednesday, and 4,923 on Tuesday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 52,681. Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.
The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 55,479, a decrease of 15% averaged over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources. The average daily death toll over the same period is 316, a decrease of -23% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 42,324, an increase of 4%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 5,135, an increase of 10% and the test positivity rate continues to stand at 15%, a 19% increase.
In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 102.5 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of just over 1.1 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,704.
The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States. Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.
Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 39.3 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.4 million total cases.
Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 693,904, has recorded 36.3million cases, placing it in the number five slot.
The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are Japan, with 29.2 million cases, South Korea, with just under 29.1 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.1 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.1 million, and Russia, with 21.8 million.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 268.4 million people in the United States – or 80.8% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69%, or 229.9 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 663.8 million. Breaking this down further, 91.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 236.9 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.7% of the same group – or 203.3 million people – is fully vaccinated. In addition, 17.3% of the same population, or over 44.7 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine.
Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.
Some 69.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information. So far, 13.17 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 3.42 million doses are now administered each day.
Meanwhile, only 25.9% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.
Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.
In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.
Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)