Experts fear post-holiday surge in cases – Health News Today

“We’ve just seen these amplification events, and that’s what’s happened at the end of this year in the US,” said Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“We had Thanksgiving, we had Labor Day, we had Halloween, and each one of these events brought lots of people together and just gave the virus more fuel to move through the population,” Bromage said. “Christmas is going to do a similar thing.”

Nearly 1.2 million people were screened at airports on Wednesday alone, an air travel record for the pandemic. While the number of travelers screened on Christmas Day — 616,469 people — represents just 23% of the total screened on the same day a year ago, the figure remains worrying for officials because it doesn’t signal the end of the holiday travel rush, but a lull before travelers begin to return home.

For weeks, health experts and officials have urged Americans to be safe this holiday season, and that guidance extends to New Year’s Eve, with the CDC urging revelers to celebrate at home or virtually. If they host an in-person celebration, the agency suggests staying outside, limiting the numbers of guests, making extra masks available and keeping background music low to avoid shouting.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory University’s School of Medicine, said if people get together they should keep gatherings below 10 people and get tested at least once, maybe twice.

“Your level of protection is as strong as your weakest link, and if there’s a weak link, then the virus is going to spread,” he told CNN. “We’ve learned how quickly this virus and how easily this virus spreads, so we have to take all the precautions possible.”

The fears of a holiday surge come as the US met yet another grim milestone for the pandemic: On Saturday afternoon, the US death toll surpassed 330,747, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — meaning 1 in 1,000 Americans have died of Covid-19.

“People can still save the lives of their loved ones by practicing that social distancing and masks,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.

UK travelers face new US testing requirement Monday

Officials fear the surge even as the US plans to require a negative Covid-19 test for all travelers from the UK, following the emergence of a new coronavirus variant that is potentially more transmissible and said to have originated in the UK.

The CDC announced Thursday passengers will need a negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of boarding a flight from the UK to the US, along with documentation of their laboratory results. Airlines will be required to confirm the test prior to the flight.

The order goes into effect Monday.

Two cases of the new variant have been found in Ontario, Canada, according to a press release from the Ontario government issued Saturday. Ontario is the first province in Canada to detect cases of the variant.

A couple from Durham with no known travel…

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