Are we still in a global pandemic? It's debatable if "pandemic" is still the word to use, although it's hard to disagree that Covid-19 is still around, forcing us to live with it. As reported by the Washington Post, world coronavirus cases have fallen 24% in the past week. Covid deaths fell 6% but were still higher in parts of Asia, according to a report from the World Health Organization. In just this past week however, there were 15,000 deaths due to Covid-19. Omicron remains the dominant variant, with the BA.5 sub-variant representing more than 90& of sequences shared in the last month.
Let's looks around the world to see how Covid-19 could still potentially impact your global mobility program:
- United States: Since our last update two weeks ago, the CDC relaxed COVID-19 guidelines, dropping quarantine and social distancing recommendations. Unvaccinated Americans additionally don’t have to quarantine anymore if they’ve been exposed. Those who do test positive can end isolation sooner if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms improve quickly. As for new cases over the past 14 days, most states in the U.S. are steady or falling. Only Florida (+29%) and Michigan (+15%) are seeing cases rise currently. That's good because now we can spend more time worrying about recent cases of monkeypox and polio. California, Texas and Florida led the country with the most new coronavirus cases over the last 7 days.
- Japan: As of August 19, Japan posted more than 260,000 daily coronavirus infections, renewing the highest level on record for a second straight day - a 42% increase. Tokyo, Osaka and Kanagawa lead the way in total numbers of infections. At the same time, there are no movement restrictions and Japan has further eased its border restrictions, allowing people arriving from 98 countries where coronavirus cases are low to be exempt from testing at airports and quarantine.
- South Korea: Reporting a 25% rise compared to the week before, new Covid-19 cases hit a 4 month high last week. South Korea on Wednesday reported 180,803 new Covid-19 infections, the highest figure in four months amid a new wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant.
- China: Covid cases are at a three month high as even fish get tested according to Bloomberg. The surge has been driven by a worsening outbreak in the tropical Hainan province (known as the Hawaii of China) that has become the country’s biggest response since Shanghai was shut down in the spring. Per the NYT, tens of thousands of domestic travelers were stuck at their summer vacation destinations after local outbreaks forced them into quarantine. There was also a spontaneous lockdown of an Ikea store in Shanghai, China, due to Covid-19 over the weekend sparked panicked customers to flee in fear, according to a viral video purportedly showing the incident.
- Israel: While seeing lower numbers of new infections, some of the lowest since last December, there are big concerns around what is coming. Health officials in Israel are sounding the alarm and predicting a potentially dangerous winter with a combined wave of Covid and flu cases that are being predicted for October and November.
- India: Mumbai reports 1,201 Covid-19 cases, highest since June-end per the Hindustan Times. While across India there were 12,608 new cases in the last 24 hours, (Aug 18), active cases are actually continuing to fall going with the overall global trend.
- Nepal: While there are many countries rated as High Risk Level 3 by the CDC, Nepal was recently added to this list. Traveler to Nepal should review this information. While daily cases have risen slightly, it is nothing near peak levels seen at the beginning of 2022.
- The Philippines: Another country now rated as High Risk Level 3 by the CDC
- French Caribbean Islands: Per Crisis24, as of Aug. 16, authorities in the French Caribbean Islands have lifted all Covid-19-related travel restrictions. There are no requirements for travelers to undergo pre-travel testing, present proof of vaccination, or quarantine, regardless of the country of origin.
- United Kingdom: In the UK, things seem to be moving in a better direction in that infections are at the lowest level for two months.
Lastly, I saw this recent article from CNBC regarding perception of travel in the Asia-Pacific region. "Travel confidence is “diverse and nuanced” in the region, according to a new survey commissioned by the travel website Booking.com." The survey results were published in Booking.com’s inaugural “Travel Confidence Index,” which ranked the places in order of most to least confident. As you can see in the above, Indians have the highest level of travel confidence. Japanese travelers were found to be the least confident travelers in Asia-Pacific this year, according to the poll.
COVID-19 COVID-19 has infected almost 93.27 million people and has killed almost 1.04 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been more than 593.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.4 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Byron Manley, Sean O’Key, and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN. A map and analysis of the vaccine rollout across the U.S. is available at the New York Times. A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times. U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.