Countries worldwide ease restrictions as global COVID-19 cases decrease 11% over week
ASTANA. KAZINFORM - Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, countries are still reeling from the consequences. Some countries are easing restrictions, while others are making them tougher. More about the epidemiological situation with COVID-19 in the world and in Kazakhstan is in the latest article of Kazinform.
In the latest epidemiological update published on September 28, the number of new weekly cases decreased by 11 percent during the week of September 19 to September 25, as compared to the previous week, with over 3 million new cases reported. The number of new weekly deaths decreased by 18 percent, as compared to the previous week, with over 8,900 deaths reported.
There are now at least 612 million confirmed cases and 6.5 million deaths globally.
On September 23, the senior United Nations officials, including Secretary-General António Guterres, noted the encouraging progress that has been made towards ending the COVID-19 pandemic, but said the work still needs to be done to ensure the most vulnerable are protected. He also commended the rising vaccination rates but emphasized the remaining gaps in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the international community has «never been in a better position to end COVID-19 as a global health emergency.»
At the regional level, the number of newly reported weekly cases decreased or remained stable across all six WHO regions.
At the country level, the highest numbers of new weekly cases were observed in Japan, the United States, Russia, China, and Germany. The highest numbers of new weekly deaths were reported in the United States of America, Russia, Japan, China, and Brazil.
Canada has announced it will drop all COVID-19 restrictions for travelers from October 1, including vaccination and masking requirements for flights and trains. Canadian officials explain the decision with the relatively high vaccination rate (83.1 percent fully vaccinated), as well as the availability of newer vaccines and treatments.
«We will continue to follow the latest available science and do whatever is necessary to protect your health,» Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter.
On September 18 during a televised interview, United States President Joe Biden declared the pandemic «is over.»
«The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with Covid. We are still doing a lot of work on it. It is – but the pandemic is over,» Biden said.
Experts, however, warn against making early conclusions in the country that witnessed 354 new daily deaths and 50,397 new cases, according to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
After two and half years, Japan also will lift restrictions on foreign tourists from October 11. This will mean tourists will be able to visit the country without a visa, and a cap on daily arrivals will also be lifted.
It is at the same time that Taiwan and Hong Kong also announced they would lift entry rules for visitors.
Taiwan will lift quarantine requirements for international arrivals by mid-October, and Hong Kong will no longer require a three-day hotel quarantine followed by a four-day period of medical surveillance. From September 26, there was only a stay-at-home requirement.
Starting October 1, Thailand will also lift its final COVID-19-related restrictions. It will no longer require travelers to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test to enter, announced the Tourism Authority of Thailand after the country reclassified COVID-19 from a dangerous communicable disease to a communicable disease under surveillance.
From September 19, the Netherlands also lifted all restrictions for incoming travelers.
«Given the current epidemiological situation in the Netherlands, the government feels that for entry to the Netherlands, the EU entry ban is no longer proportional,» the statement reads,» reads the statement from the Dutch government. Previously, travelers arriving not from the EU or Schengen area were required to present a vaccination or recovery certificate.
Elsewhere in Europe, restrictions have been lifted steadily as the epidemiological situation stabilized. The European Commission, however, warns countries to prepare for the autumn and winter season, usually associated with an increased number of infections.
«The past two years have prepared the EU to face another COVID-19 wave this autumn and winter. Our actions now will greatly determine the future of the pandemic and the level of immunity that can be built up in the population. Member States should continue coordination of preparedness efforts across the EU, ahead of the next wave and further rollout of vaccination programs. Taking action now will limit the pressure on healthcare systems, disruptions of the economies, and challenges for the society,» said Vice-President for Promoting European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas.
Written by Assel Satubaldina