US CDC urges use of ‘most protective mask you can’: COVID updates

The United States has revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus, recommending donning “the most protective mask you can” while stopping short of advocating nationwide usage of N95 respirators.

In a statement published on its website, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “people can choose respirators such as N95s and KN95s, including removing concerns related to supply shortages for N95s”.

The US reported a daily tally of about 1,800 new deaths and 780,000 new infections of COVID-19 on Friday, the most in the world. But official health data from New York and other major cities also showed that the Omicron wave is starting to recede.

Other developments:

  • Canada expects the Omicron surge in coming weeks to strain the healthcare system, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.
  • The UK Health Security Agency has said it was increasingly confident that the Omicron coronavirus variant was less severe for adults.

Here are the latest updates for Saturday:

36 mins ago (04:16 GMT)

Mexico sees fake versions of COVID-19 drug

Mexico is reportedly seeing black-market or fake versions of molnupiravir circulating for sale, just one week after authorities approved the drug to treat those at risk of severe COVID-19, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The news comes as the country posted fresh daily record of 44,293 new cases, breaking last Wednesday’s previous record of 4,302,069.

According to the official health data there have been 301,107 people who died of the pandemic in Mexico.

2 hours ago (03:15 GMT)

Omicron spreads to southern China city bordering Macau

The southern Chinese city of Zhuhai suspended public bus routes on Saturday after announcing it had detected at least seven cases of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant there and warning residents not to leave the city.

The coastal city, which borders the gambling hub Macau, said late Friday Omicron had been detected in one mildly ill and six asymptomatic patients after launching mass testing due to a case in a neighbouring city.

China is battling a spate of coronavirus outbreaks, including several from the Omicron variant, forcing millions of people under strict lockdown as the country steps up vigilance against the virus ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games next month.

3 hours ago (02:00 GMT)

Omicron wave drives Brazil health worker shortage

Health centres in Brazil are facing substantial staff shortages amid the latest wave of coronavirus cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

In Sao Joao de Meriti, outside Rio de Janeiro, authorities are having to adapt with as many as 40 percent of medical personnel on leave due to COVID-19.

Late on Friday, Brazil reported 112,286 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 251 COVID-19 deaths, the Health Ministry said, raising the total number of cases to almost 23 million and the death toll to at least 620,796 since the start of the pandemic.

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