The world had counted a total of 517,102,062 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,250,668 deaths as of 13:20 Sunday (BJT), according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
In particular, the United States, which reported most cases, had logged over 81.85 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with deaths related to the disease exceeding 997,500 as of Saturday, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Specifically, the country’s case count totaled 81,850,636 as the death toll hit 997,503 as of 19:20 Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Saturday.
More than 576.52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the country by Saturday, showed the CSSE data.
A new, highly transmissible subvariant of Omicron, BA.2.12.1, is spreading rapidly across the United States, as COVID-19 cases in the country are ticking up again.
The New York State Department of Health first announced cases infected with the subvariant in mid-April. As of April 23, 41.6 percent of the confirmed cases in the state are caused by it, according to the latest data of the department.
The new strain made up 36.5 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the country in the week ending April 30, according to the data released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The data increased from 26.6 percent a week before, and 16.7 percent two weeks earlier, CDC data showed.
BA.2.12.1 appears to be about 25 percent more transmissible over the BA.2 subvariant, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Italy recorded 40,522 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 113 new deaths, according to the latest statistics released by the Italian Ministry of Health on Saturday.
The total number of confirmed cases and deaths are now respectively 16,767,773 and 164,417.
In the meantime, South Africa counted 8,524 new confirmed cases, according to data from the National Institute For Communicable Diseases released on the same day.
The cases accounted for 31.08 percent of all those tested, the highest single-day positivity rate in testing this year, which is close to the record high of 34.9 percent registered on December 14, 2021.
What is worrying is that the current positivity rate in testing has stayed at high levels.
Experts were worried South Africa has entered its fifth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Two new subvariants of the Omicron strain, BA.4 and BA.5, are likely to become the dominant mutant strains in the new wave due to their stronger transmissibility.
Japan on Saturday reported 39,327 new confirmed cases and 27 more deaths, according to statistics of the NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation).
China removes some COVID test rules on travellers from U.S.
Travellers flying to China from U.S. cities including Los Angeles, New York and San Francesco from May 20 will no longer need a RT-PCR test seven days before flights, notices issued late on Tuesday by the Chinese embassy and consulates showed.
Previous requirements on antibody tests before flights will be removed as well, the notices said.
Travellers still need to do two RT-PCR tests within 48 hours or 24 hours of their flights – depending on which airport they are flying out of – plus another antigen test, those notices showed.
Beijing extends work-from-home guidance in several city districts
Beijing on Sunday extended guidance to work from home in four districts of the Chinese capital, including the largest, Chaoyang, as the city tries to stop a COVID-19 outbreak.
Beijing found 55 new cases in the 24 hours to 3 p.m. (0700 GMT) on Sunday, 10 of which were outside areas that under quarantine, officials said. The city is scrambling to stamp out such community infections.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tested positive for COVID-19 with moderate symptoms, her office said in a statement on Saturday.
She will not be in parliament for the government’s emissions reduction plan on Monday and the budget on Thursday, but “travel arrangements for her trade mission to the United States are unaffected at this stage,” the statement said.
Ardern had been symptomatic since Friday evening, returning a weak positive at night and a clear positive on Saturday morning on a rapid antigen test, it said.
She has been in isolation since Sunday, when her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive, it said.
Due to the positive test, Ardern will be required to isolate until the morning of May 21, undertaking what duties she can remotely.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will address media in her place on Monday.
“This is a milestone week for the Government and I’m gutted I can’t be there for it,” Ardern said in the statement.
“Our emissions reduction plan sets the path to achieve our carbon zero goal and the budget addresses the long-term future and security of New Zealand’s health system,” she said. “But as I said earlier in the week isolating with COVID-19 is a very kiwi experience this year and my family is no different.”
Ardern also said on Saturday that her daughter Neve had tested positive on Wednesday.
“Despite best efforts, unfortunately I’ve joined the rest of my family and have tested positive for COVID 19,” Ardern posted on her official Instagram page.
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