Indonesia reported 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 – the highest daily increase in three months – the same week the government launched its vaccine booster program for the general public.
A new UK study has said around a third of people infected with the coronavirus could still be contagious after a five-day quarantine.
Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in England also found that one in 10 people could still be infectious after a 10-day quarantine. Some people retained these levels for up to 68 days, the scientists said.
Elsewhere, the United States has revised its guidance for Americans on wearing masks to protect against coronavirus, recommending wearing “the most protective mask possible” while pausing before advocating nationwide use of N95 respirators .
Here are the latest updates for Saturday:
Turkey lifts PCR requirement for unvaccinated in some regions
Turkey will no longer require unvaccinated people to take a PCR test for COVID-19 before using planes, buses or other means of transport, or before attending events such as concerts, plays or movies, state agency Anadolu said.
Quoting the Interior Ministry, Anadolu said unvaccinated civil servants, private sector employees and school staff will also not be required to take a PCR test.
Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi said separately on Twitter that the carrier will not require PCR tests on domestic flights.
In accordance with the decision taken by our competent authorities, the PCR TEST requirement has been removed for all our passengers on DOMESTIC flights.
Submission of the HES code will be sufficient.
— Bilal Ekşi (@BilalExiTHY) January 15, 2022
Translation: In accordance with the decision taken by our competent authorities, the PCR TEST requirement has been removed for all our passengers on domestic flights. Submit HES code [contact tracing system] will be enough.
Beijing city reports first local case of Omicron
The Chinese capital Beijing reported its first locally transmitted infection of the highly transmissible variant of the Omicron coronavirus, according to state media, just weeks before the Winter Olympics were to be held.
Lab tests revealed “Omicron variant-specific mutations” in the person, Pang Xinghuo, an official with the city’s disease control authority, told a press briefing.
Authorities sealed off the infected person’s residential compound and workplace and collected 2,430 samples for testing from people related to the two locations, a Haidian district official said.
Indonesia reports highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in 3 months
Indonesia has reported 1,054 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily increase in three months, as the government braces for a new wave of coronavirus infections driven by the spread of the Omicron variant.
The world’s fourth most populous country grappled with a devastating second wave of infections in July, driven by the spread of the Delta variant.
The number of daily cases fell to around 200 in December, before rising this month amid reports of local transmission of the Omicron variant.
“Local transmission has been discovered and Jakarta has become a cluster of infections,” Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a statement on Saturday. “We need to coordinate with the regional government to tighten mobility and strengthen health protocols, (give) vaccine boosters and strengthen health facilities.”
Palermo nurse arrested for fake vaccinations
A nurse has been arrested in Palermo for allegedly pretending to vaccinate a married couple and allegedly receiving a fake shot from a colleague, Italian police say.
The woman, who worked at the Sicilian town’s “Fiera del Mediterraneo” vaccination center, was placed under house arrest, accused of issuing false certificates and wasting public property.
This followed an investigation which in December led to the arrest of another nurse at the same vaccination centre. The investigation to find out if other nurses gave false vaccines continues.
Saturday’s arrest came just days after a nurse was arrested in the Italian city of Ancona, accused of pretending to inject vaccines into at least 50 people in exchange for a bribe -wine.
Philippines confirms community transmission of Omicron
The Philippine Department of Health has confirmed the local spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant around Manila, as infections hit an all-time high for a third consecutive day.
“We are seeing community transmission of the Omicron variant in the capital region,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a public briefing.
The ministry reported 39,004 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, while active cases also hit a record high of 280,813.
COVID contagiousness can persist beyond five days: study
After a five-day quarantine, about a third of people infected with the coronavirus could still be contagious, according to new data.
PCR tests detect virus particles but cannot tell whether they are infectious remnants or simply inactive.
“After five days, 30% of people still had clinically relevant levels of potentially active virus,” said study leader Lorna Harries, from the University of Exeter Medical School in England.
After a 10-day quarantine, one in 10 people could still be contagious. Some people maintained these levels for up to 68 days, the researchers said.
E-cigarette users at higher risk of COVID symptoms
According to a new study, e-cigarette users infected with the coronavirus may be more likely than infected non-vapers to experience symptoms of COVID-19.
The researchers compared 289 vapers with 1,445 people of similar age and gender who neither vaped nor smoked tobacco, all of whom had tested positive for the coronavirus in PCR tests.
Compared to infected non-vapers and after controlling for participants’ other risk factors, infected vapers experienced higher rates of chest pain or tightness, chills, body aches, headache, smell and taste problems, nausea, diarrhea and dizziness, said the study published in the Journal of Primary Care & Community Health.
Djokovic returns to detention as he fights deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic has returned to custody in Australia after authorities tore up his visa for the second time and said the unvaccinated tennis player posed a threat to the public.
The world’s highest-ranked player had gone to officials in Melbourne for an interview around 8:00 a.m. local time on Saturday (21:00 GMT Friday), following a court ruling on Friday evening.
Learn more here.
Anti-vaccination protesters gather in central Sydney
Hundreds of protesters marched through central Sydney as part of a rally against COVID-19 vaccinations for children.
Protesters waved flags and held up banners as they marched through city streets.
Some have adorned themselves with Serbian flags apparently in support of beleaguered tennis star Novak Djokovic, who faces expulsion from the country as he seeks to compete at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Mexico sees fake versions of COVID-19 drug
Mexico is reportedly seeing black market or fake versions of molnupiravir circulating for sale, just a week after authorities approved the drug to treat people at risk of severe COVID-19, according to the Associated Press news agency.
The news comes as the country recorded a new daily record of 44,293 new cases.
According to official health data, 301,107 people have died from COVID-19 in Mexico.
Omicron expands to a southern Chinese city bordering Macau
The city of Zhuhai in southern China has suspended public bus routes after announcing that it detected at least seven cases of the highly transmissible variant of the Omicron coronavirus there and warned residents not to leave the city.
The coastal city, which borders Macau’s gambling hub, said late Friday that Omicron had been detected in one mildly ill patient and six asymptomatic patients after initiating mass testing due to a case in a nearby town.
China is battling a series of coronavirus outbreaks, including several of the Omicron variant, forcing millions into strict lockdown as the country steps up vigilance against the virus ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month .
The wave of Omicron leads to a shortage of health workers in Brazil
Health centers in Brazil are facing major staff shortages amid the latest wave of coronavirus cases caused by the highly contagious variant of Omicron.
In Sao Joao de Meriti, outside of Rio de Janeiro, authorities are having to adapt with up to 40% of medical staff furloughed due to COVID-19.
Late Friday, Brazil reported 112,286 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 251 deaths from COVID-19, the health ministry said, bringing the total number of cases to nearly 23 million and the number deaths to at least 620,796 since the start of the pandemic.
You can read all of the January 14 updates here.