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COVID-19

Second Shanghai lockdown possible as China sees surge in COVID cases

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2022)

Shanghai residents may see another round of lockdown as the COVID-19 cases in China continue to soar amid the spread of a subvariant of omicron. 

The current wave of COVID-19 cases in the city is caused by the Omicron BA.5 variant, which was first detected in China on May 13. The patient was a 37-year-old male patient who had flown into Shanghai from Uganda, The Washington Post reported. 

On Monday, local government officials in the city of Shanghai deemed 37 streets to be at medium risk of COVID-19 transmission and one street designated high risk. While city officials have yet to impose an official lockdown, the classification means residents would not be allowed to leave their homes as part of the city’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus, the report said. 

The Shanghai government will also conduct PCR tests for all residents living in nine of the city’s 16 districts, according to a statement posted on the social media app WeChat as first reported by the Washington Post. 

City officials have not yet given a clear indication of whether they plan to put Shanghai in lockdown any time soon. However, some residents said Shanghai officials in March also initially denied reports of a possible lockdown before putting one in place. Many are now rushing to stores to stock up on goods, the International Business Times reported. 

During the last lockdown in March, the city’s 25 million residents struggled to buy food or secure basic health care. The city’s mental health hotline also received triple the number of usual calls, with as many as 2 in 5 residents reporting symptoms of depression. 

So far, there is no evidence that the BA.5 subvariant can cause more severe illnesses among patients. However, it is the most contagious COVID-19 variant so far and is thought to be even more transmissible than other Omicron variants, International Business Times reported. 

Reports of a possible lockdown come after health officials Sunday announced they have detected a new COVID-19 subvariant, Omicron BA.5.2.1, in the financial district of Pudong. The new subvariant was linked to a case from overseas, Zhao Dandan, vice director of the city’s health commission said in a briefing. 

COVID-19

Washington state Gov. Inslee tests positive for COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time.

Inslee’s office said in a statement Wednesday that he had tested positive and was experiencing very mild symptoms including a cough. He is consulting with his doctor about whether to receive Paxlovid antiviral treatments, according to the statement.

He plans to continue working. Trudi Inslee, the first spouse, has tested negative.

Inslee, who throughout the pandemic pushed for mitigation measures including indoor mask-wearing and restrictions on large public gatherings, is fully vaccinated and had booster shots in October 2021 and March 2022 and September 2022, according to his office.

“Once again I am very appreciative to be vaccinated and boosted,” Inslee said in the statement. “This is a scientific gift that has given us the capacity to prevent hospitalizations or worse. I encourage folks who haven’t received their booster to talk with their doctor and avail themselves of this protective, life-saving measure.”

Only 15% of Americans have received the recommended, updated booster that has been offered since last fall.

The governor also tested positive for COVID last May.

President Joe Biden told Congress this week that he will end the national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11.

Inslee ended the state of emergency in Washington at the end of October.

More than 1.1 million people in the country have died from COVID-19 since 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including about 3,700 last week. More than 15,000 people in Washington have died from the virus.

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COVID-19

COVID-19 is a leading cause of death among children, but is still rare

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(Last Updated On: January 31, 2023)

COVID-19 was the eighth leading cause of death among children in recent months, according to a study published Monday.

In a year-long period from August 2021 to July 2022, 821 children ages 0 to 19 died from COVID-19 at a rate of 1 per 100,000. Children’s deaths of any kind are rare, researchers noted.

COVID-19 ranked fifth in non-disease-related deaths and first in infectious or respiratory illness deaths, overtaking the flu and pneumonia, NPR reported.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, the leading causes of death among children were perinatal conditions, unintentional injuries, birth defects, assault, suicide, cancerous tumors, heart disease and influenza and pneumonia.

The time period researchers analyzed coincided with the rise of Delta and Omicron COVID-19 cases. They found that studying other 12-month periods during the pandemic did not change the results.

Researchers noted their results were limited by the underreporting of COVID-19 cases, and the exclusion of deaths where COVID-19 could have been a contributing or amplifying factor in tandem with other conditions, such as influenza, NPR reported.

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WHO: COVID still an emergency but nearing ‘inflection’ point

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Monday, after a key advisory panel found the pandemic may be nearing an “inflexion point” where higher levels of immunity can lower virus-related deaths, AP reported.

Speaking at the opening of WHO’s annual executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “there is no doubt that we’re in a far better situation now” than a year ago — when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the coronavirus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.

“We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.

Tedros’ comments came moments after WHO released findings of its emergency committee on the pandemic which reported that some 13.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered — with nearly 90% of health workers and more than four in five people over 60 years of age having completed the first series of jabs.

“The committee acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic may be approaching an inflexion point,” WHO said in a statement. Higher levels of immunity worldwide through vaccination or infection “may limit the impact” of the virus that causes COVID-19 on “morbidity and mortality,” the committee said.

“(B)ut there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future,” it said. While Omicron versions are easily spread, “there has been a decoupling between infection and severe disease” compared to that of earlier variants.

Committee members cited “pandemic fatigue” and the increasing public perception that COVID-19 isn’t as much of a risk as it once was, leading to people to increasingly ignore or disregard health measures like mask-wearing and social distancing.

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