Canada to scrap mask mandate on planes, joining Japan, Hong Kong and U.A.E. in lifting COVID restrictions

By Ciara Linnane

Cases are rising again in northern Europe and nearly half of US states

The Canadian government announced Monday that people on planes will no longer have to wear masks to protect themselves from COVID-19, the Associated Press reported

The rules will be lifted on October 1st. Government officials also confirmed that Canada is dropping vaccination requirements for people entering the country at the end of the month. It is not to be expected that the USA will follow suit in the short term.

The news comes at a time when many other places, including Japan and Hong Kong, are lifting travel restrictions. The United Arab Emirates is dropping mask requirements in public places, with the exception of medical facilities, mosques and public transport, according to a Monday report from the official Emirates News Agency, quoted by the AP

Dubai Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, was forced to halt all passenger flights when it was shut down for eight weeks along with other UAE airports at the start of the 2020 pandemic. However, unlike the capital Abu Dhabi, Dubai soon reopened to travelers and did not require proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter most places, putting it on the UK’s ‘do not travel’ lists for much of the last year, brought to the USA and many other countries.

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In the US, known COVID cases continue to fall and are now at their lowest since late April, although the actual number is likely higher given how many people are testing at home, where data is not being collected. The daily average for new cases on Monday was 52,539, down 23% from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker.

The tracker shows a rise in cases in 21 states and in Washington, DC. The hardest-hit state is Montana, where cases are up 75% from two weeks ago, followed by Massachusetts at 40%, New Jersey at 33%, and Oregon and Maine at 32%. All states in the Northeast are seeing a surge in cases.

The daily average for hospitalizations fell 15% to 29,443, while the daily average for deaths rose 9% to 417.

From the CDC: Keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting on the latest developments each weekday since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

– Novavax (NVAX) shares rallied on Tuesday after the company announced one million doses of its protein-based COVID vaccine Nuvaxovid are now available in the UK vaccine offered to you by the National Health Service,” Novavax CEO Stanley C. Erck said in a statement. The Novavax vaccine uses more conventional technology than that of Pfizer (PFE), BioNTech (BNTX) and Moderna (MRNA) developed mRNA-based vaccines that were the first to be approved and were widely used during the pandemic.

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– A prominent Chinese commentator said while the country ponders its COVID-19 policy, epidemiological experts must speak up and the government must conduct full investigations and make all studies available to the public, Reuters reported. Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the nationalist state tabloid Global Times, made the comments on Chinese social media and garnered 34,000 likes on the microblog Weibo. “Regarding the future, China needs very rational research and calculations,” Hu said. The move was unusual after China’s leader warned against comments criticizing the government’s COVID policies.

– A Southern California man was sentenced Monday to four years in federal prison for fraudulently obtaining more than $5 million in COVID relief loans for three shell companies, the AP reported. Raghavender Reddy Budamala, who was arrested in February while attempting to cross the border into Mexico, was also ordered to pay $5.15 million in compensation, local U.S. Attorneys said in a statement.

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– COVID cases and hospital admissions surge in northern Europe as colder weather sets in, Politico reported. The latest data from Belgium, the United Kingdom and Denmark point to a gradual increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations. The Belgian health authority said its modeling points to a new COVID wave in mid-October.

That’s what the numbers say:

The global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpassed 615.6 million Monday, while the death toll rose to over 6.53 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The US leads the world with 96.1 million cases and 1,056,862 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 224.9 million people in the US are fully vaccinated, which is 67.8% of the total population. Only 109.6 million received a booster, representing 48.7% of the vaccinated population, and 23.1 million of those eligible for a second booster received one, representing 35.5% of those who did got the first refresher.

So far, around 4.4 million people have received a booster dose of the new bivalent vaccine, which targets Omicron’s latest subvariants.

-Ciara Linnane

 

(ENDS) Dow Jones Newswires

09/28/22 0804ET

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