For the vaccinated, much of life opened up at midnight on Thursday: they could once again invite family and friends into their homes, plan a trip to the gym, drink in a bar, sit in a cafe and drink an espresso.
Our New Zealand reporter, Tess McClure, has the full story here.
China will reduce the time needed for approval of travel by US business executives to no more than 10 days, China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, said on Thursday.
Qin told a dinner hosted by the US-China Business Council that Beijing would also work to make Covid-19 testing more convenient and would allow executives to work during quarantine, Reuters reports.
He repeated Beijing’s call for Washington to abolish additional tariffs imposed on Chinese goods by the administration of former President Donald Trump.
More daily Covid updates out of southeast and east Asia have just dropped.
Thailand has reported another 4,912 cases of Covid-19 and 33 deaths over the past 24 hours.
South Korea reports another 4,944 cases of Covid-19 and 34 deaths. The figures are a drop on Thursday’s record of more than 5,200 daily infections as concern grows over the sharp rise in patients with severe symptoms.
Some Covid numbers out of South Africa have just been released.
Another 11,535 new cases and 44 deaths have been reported.
This is a significant jump from Wednesday’s 8,561 new cases, up from 4,373 the day before and 2,273 on Monday.
Hawaii says it has detected a case of the Omicron variant in an unvaccinated Hawaii resident with no recent travel history, the Associated Press reports.
Hawaii Epidemiologist Dr Sarah Kemble said Thursday that the adult had been infected with Covid-19 a year ago, isn’t currently hospitalised and had “mild-to-moderate” symptoms including headache, body aches and cough.
She wouldn’t identify the patient other to say the person lives on the island of Oahu.
China has reported 96 new confirmed Covid cases for 2 December, up from 73 cases a day earlier, its health authority said on Friday.
Of the new infections, 80 were locally transmitted, according to a statement by the National Health Commission, compared with 53 a day earlier.
China reported 24 new asymptomatic cases, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, compared with 13 a day earlier.
There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,636. As of 2 December, mainland China had 98,993 confirmed cases.
In addition to the conventioneer, health officials said tests showed five other people recently infected with Covid-19 had the variant, the Associated Press reports.
They included a person in the city’s Long Island suburbs who had recently travelled to South Africa, residents of Brooklyn and Queens and another case possibly linked to travel.
“No cause for alarm. We just want to make sure that the public is aware of information when we receive it,” said Governor Kathy Hochul.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the geographic spread of the positive tests suggested the variant was undergoing “community spread” in the city, and wasn’t linked to any one event.
Officials in the city of 8.8 million said they expected it would be only a matter of time before the new variant was reported in the city.
“We should assume there is community spread of the variant in our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
As comfort over air travel returns, it’s inevitable that new variants like Omicron will spread from country to country and state to state, said professor Danielle Ompad, an epidemiologist at New York University’s School of Global Public Health.
“We shouldn’t panic, but we should be concerned,” she said.
Hi I’m Samantha Lock and welcome to our Friday Covid blog.
I’ll be giving you a rundown of the latest coronavirus updates as they happen.
Let’s start off with the news that multiple cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been detected in New York, health officials said late Thursday, including a man who attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November and tested positive for the variant when he returned home to Minnesota.
Health officials also said tests showed five other people recently infected with Covid-19 had the variant in the city’s Long Island suburbs as well as Brooklyn and Queens, the Associated Press reports.
Governor Kathy Hochul said the cases were “no cause for alarm” as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the geographic spread of the positive tests suggested the variant was undergoing “community spread” in the city.