US Missouri Task Force 'Disappointed' Over Governor Not Extending Power to Fight Omicron
Japanese government not considering new restrictions despite omicron detection
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Thursday that the government would not be amending its current COVID-19 protocols despite the fact that local transmission of the omicron variant has been detected in the country, Reuters reported.The first cases of the omicron variant were detected on Wednesday in Osaka among a family of three. An additional case of the variant was discovered on Thursday in a woman in her 20s in the Kyoto prefecture, the wire service noted.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force expressed disappointment after Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced his coronavirus emergency order would end on Friday.
Despite rising case numbers in Missouri state and across the country due to the Omicron variant, Parson, a Republican, said on Thursday that he would let the order, which was in effect for almost two years, expire.
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Several airlines say they have been forced to cancel hundreds of Christmas Eve flights as the rapidly spreading omicron variant impacted employees and crew.A growing number of airlines have been forced into cancellations as the new variant surging across the globe brings thousands of people's hopeful holiday travel plans to a halt.
According to the task force's statement, which was posted on social media, the emergency order allowed for the ability to go over licensed bed capacity in medical centers when demand required it, expanded telehealth services, and more.
TASK FORCE STATEMENT: The St. Louis Pandemic Task Force released this statement below, as @GovParsonMO allows the #COVID state of emergency to expire today. pic.twitter.com/LkcALLcUXF— Justina Coronel (@JustinaCoronel) December 31, 2021
"As health care providers, we will continue to do all we can to meet the burgeoning health care needs of COVID and non-COVID patients, but those efforts are made more difficult with the expiration of the emergency order," the statement read. "While we all want the pandemic emergency to end, the sad fact is that the number of people newly infected with COVID each day now exceeds past surges."
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According to early lab results, 92 percent of positive samples collected in Puerto Rico over the past week show characteristics of the Omicron variant. Omicron has taken the globe by storm since it was first detected in South Africa in early November. Now, the latest variant has been detected in every U.S. state, and has surpassed Delta in becoming the dominant strain in the country. The U.S. is now reporting an average of more than 200,000 cases per day, but some health-care experts have warned that number could soon reach as high as 1 million as infections continue to soar.
Statistics from the Mayo Clinic show the average positive COVID-19 test rate in Missouri has been steadily climbing over the past two months, increasing from 6.3 percent at the end of October to 15.5 percent as of December 29.
Meanwhile, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data show the state is currently averaging 3,127 new cases and four virus-related deaths per day.
The task force also reported that new hospital admissions had risen to 169 on Thursday, a record-breaking number for the state, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With the rise of the Omicron variant, many health experts around the world are worrying about the potential effects of another wave of the pandemic.
However, in the newspaper's report, Parson said Thursday there is "no longer a need for a state of emergency," adding that letting the order expire on New Year's Eve would be the "final step" to "move forward as a state."
Arkansas' Republican governor thanked President Joe Biden for depoliticizing the federal COVID-19 response
GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson made the comments during a Monday call between Biden and several governors to discuss the national response to Omicron.The Republican leader made the comments during a conference call held by the Biden administration with the governors of several states to discuss the national response to the worrisome Omicron variant, which has sparked a spike in cases across the country in recent days and prompted testing shortages and delays.
The task force said that while it was disappointed over the expiration of the order, it would continue to work with the state's health department to try to curb the pandemic's spread. It also said it would recommend with the state's Republican-dominated legislature to "reinstate many of the provisions that are essential to providing health care services during this pandemic."
"For the greater good and the health and well-being of our families, neighbors and state, as a collective medical community, we implore the legislature to work with us," the statement continued. "The health of our communities and sustainability of our health systems across Missouri depend on it."
At least 9 African countries set to produce COVID vaccines, Africa’s CDC chief says .
Despite Africa's low vaccination rates, the continent's early, robust response has helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the continent so far, says Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And he predicts many more vaccines will be available in 2022, with a strong emphasis on distribution.A man gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at a site near Johannesburg, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.