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| 5 minutes read

ICYMI: Let's catch up on how the pandemic is affecting global mobility

New coronavirus cases around the world reached a new weekly record according to the World Health Organization. This is what global mobility programs are facing. The reality is that the global number of cases per week has roughly doubled over the last two months and shows no signs of slowing. While countries continue to race to get citizens vaccinated, according to Bloomberg, only 5% of the global population has been administered a vaccine. And rollout has been very lopsided, as countries with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated 25 times faster than those with the lowest. With so many countries continuing to see surges, this gives the virus the chance to mutate into a new variant strain that can pose new threats.

In fact, increasingly it is looking like an extra dose of vaccine will likely be needed (a second one for Johnson & Johnson or a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna) within a 12-month period and booster shots are being researched for protecting against new variants that arise. For more on this try, "What's the deal with third doses?" from Time Magazine.

Next, let's peek at a snapshot of what's happening in various locations around the world in case you missed it:

  1.  United States: The United States has extended the non-essential travel ban with both Mexico and Canada. The restrictions will remain in place through May 21. The restrictions do not apply to air or sea travel, but do apply to passenger rail, passenger ferry and pleasure boat travel. Then, as reported by the New York Times, while Michigan struggles, New York is ending its requirement to quarantine international travelers. Michigan is being referred to as a "hot spot" with an alarming increase in infections (four times the number from mid-February) and hospitalizations. People are fearing that what is happening here could happen across other locations in the U.S. The state is considering — but has avoided so far — a shutdown and is begging for more vaccine doses. Maine and Oregon are also facing alarming new waves of infections. To grab a look across the country, try this tracker update from the CDC. According to The Points Guy, the U.S. State Department will put about 80 percent of the world’s countries on its highest advisory, "Level 4: Do Not Travel," because of current health situations.
  2. Brazil: Sky News reports that hundreds of hospitals are on the verge of collapse (particularly in Sao Paulo) and that there is a severe shortage of medicine to treat those with COVID-19. The country has become the epicenter of the pandemic, with daily deaths averaging around 3,000 a day and oxygen supplies for intensive care patients at a breaking point. Patients are younger and getting sicker. Leadership there still seems to believe that lockdown is worse than infection. In fact, the state of Sao Paulo entered a more relaxed transitional phase beginning April 18.
  3. Chile: Chile has probably had the most successful vaccination campaign across Latin America and reached 40% of its 19 million people with first doses. A huge study has shown the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac to have reduced hospitalizations by 85%, intensive care visits by 89% and deaths by 80%. However, CNN reports that despite this success, Chile recorded new record increases of cases for two days in a row last week. This has prompted authorities to close the borders to both foreigners and Chilean nationals to try to limit the contagion.
  4. Peru: Peru called for a total lockdown last week, allowing only one person per household to leave home for essential business, to limit the impact of a third wave of the virus. On top of that, its vaccination rates would take it more than 10 years to reach herd mentality. With an upcoming election, mass gatherings are expected, which most predict will lead to even higher infection rates across the country. (CNN)
  5. India: According to Relo Network Asia, India has gone from bad to worse. Having seen it's worst day of the pandemic, reporting over 312,731 new cases in a single day  — the most any country has experienced in a single day — new lockdowns have emerged in New Delhi and Mumbai. The country is reporting shortages of oxygen, beds and drugs. For 37 straight days, Maharashtra has registered a steady volume of infections, and while that number is high, because it has been steady, it may be peaking there. Restrictions differ between states of India, depending on the level of COVID-19 infection, but for general requirements for entry into India, try this information from World Nomads
  6.  Portugal: Portugal lifted its ban on flights to and from Britain and Brazil for work and studies but not for tourism, while restrictions on travel by land and sea to Spain will stay in place for another 15 days. (Reuters) As so many EU countries grapple with new surges of COVID-19 cases and bring back restrictions on what people can do, Portugal is currently going in the other direction. This week most regions within the country will enter Phase 3 of easing lockdown, indicating continued improvement from January when it was experiencing the world's worst COVID-19 surge.
  7.  Italy: Italy will be starting to ease restrictions starting April 26. Students will be able to attend classes at school in person in all "yellow" and "orange" zones, while students in "red" zones will partially follow classes online. Outdoor activities will be allowed to operate, such as restaurants and outdoor theaters. BAL shared that Italian authorities have updated their COVID-19 entry restrictions — including quarantine and testing procedures and rules on entry for travelers from Brazil — but there were so many updates that if you have someone needing to go to Italy from Brazil, you should connect with your immigration partner!
  8.  Canada: The region of Ontario is experiencing a record-breaking third wave of the pandemic due to the variants that is pushing hospitals to the limit. A "stay-at-home" order is in place there until May 20, where people can only leave for essential reasons such as getting groceries, obtaining health care and for exercise. The area has put in police checkpoints to stop cars and question people about the essential nature of their current travel. Schools have moved to online learning and restaurants are only open for delivery or takeout. In Western Ontario, there is a curfew in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. (CBC)

In a recent Time Health article, it was reported that a group of otters in Atlanta's Georgia Aquarium tested positive for COVID-19. There have been other animals that have been infected including dogs, cats and minks. The otters are expected to make a full recovery.

The link below provides access to recent GBTA flash polls. The most recent one for April shares some key highlights. I found it interesting that it showed an increasing willingness to travel internationally. We will have to watch and see how this potentially changes with the variety of surges we are seeing in numerous locations. Are you willing to travel internationally at this point?

Then, as of this past Monday, April 19, every American age 16 or above became eligible for a vaccination, regardless of their location, employment status, occupation or any other qualifier. With 26% of the country fully vaccinated and more than half of American adults 18 or older having received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to the CDC, let's hope the future holds a reduction in the numbers of new cases and deaths. Stay safe, everyone!

A benchmark for the industry, GBTA’s coronavirus poll receives responses from over 1,000 companies and is widely read by media outlets, industry leaders, policymakers, trade associations, and government agencies including the Department of Commerce. Download the results and discover key findings.


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