It’s Too Soon To Know If Omicron Causes Less Severe Illness, Fauci Says

It’s Too Soon To Know If Omicron Causes Less Severe Illness, Fauci Says

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16 min agoIndia’s Maharashtra state reintroduces mandatory quarantine as new travel rules come into effectFrom CNN’s Manveena Suri in New Delhi

The Indian state of Maharashtra has reimposed mandatory quarantine for all international passengers arriving from “at risk” countries in response to the Omicron coronavirus variant.

According to a government statement Tuesday, travelers arriving from countries determined to be “at risk” by India’s Health Ministry must quarantine for seven days at their own cost at designated hotels.

As of November 30, “at risk” countries and territories include South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

These passengers will also be required to take RT-PCR tests on the second, fourth and seventh day after their arrival.

In recent days, four passengers from South Africa and two from Nigeria have tested positive for Covid-19 after landing in Maharashtra. Their samples, as with all tests that now come back positive, have been sent for genome sequencing with contact tracing underway.

Maharashtra’s revised guidelines are effective immediately and coincide with new national travel rules coming into place.

India’s new rules: From Wednesday, all international passengers arriving in India must submit a self-declaration form to an online government portal that includes a 14-day travel history and a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to their departure.

Travelers from countries deemed “at risk” will also now face further testing and surveillance, including a PCR test on arrival and must wait for the results before leaving or catching a connecting flight, according to guidelines issued by the Health Ministry on Sunday.

They will then have to quarantine at home for seven days and take another test on the eighth day.

26 min agoOmicron is a “somewhat different animal,” and there’s a lot more scientists need to learn, NIH director saysFrom CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins (CNN)It is still “very early days” with much more to learn about the Omicron variant of coronavirus, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said Tuesday.

“This is a somewhat different animal,” Collins told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. 

Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said Tuesday there is “already room for optimism” that people who are vaccinated will be protected from the Omicron variant. Collins urged caution, though, and warned there is still a lot more that scientists need to know about how much protection the vaccines offer and how much severe disease this variant will cause.

“I would not want anybody to look at that announcement from Israel and say, ‘well, now we know the answer,” Collins said. “We are going to take several more days, look at lots more cases, try to really size up how much protection is coming from the vaccine and how much could come from the boosters.”Collins said there is a lot to learn about Omicron from South Africa. 

“We just learned about this Omicron variant one week ago and already South Africa has been on the Zoom calls with me at least three times in the last three days, telling us everything they know about what is going on. But they’re still collecting the data,” Collins said. 

Collins said he guesses, based on what scientists have seen from the protection the vaccines provided against the Delta variant, that immunization should help, especially if someone has been given a booster. Other studies have shown vaccines elicit strong immunity — with enough extra immunity to protect against variants.

“Your immune system is very clever. It not only boosts the level of antibodies, but it boosts the breadth of coverage that they have of spike proteins that your system hasn’t even seen before but is now ready for,” Collins said. “It is that phenomenon that I think is going to help us here.”  Collins said it is one reason so many public health officials are pushing people to get boosted now.

“If Americans are tired of this and want to do something about it, as we are all tired of it, this is what you can do,” Collins said. “If you are not vaccinated yet, start tomorrow.” 

2 hr 26 min agoCDC is working to revise testing requirements for travelers to the USFrom CNN’s Kaitlan Collins

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to revise testing requirements for inbound international travelers because of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, the agency confirmed in a statement Tuesday.

“A revised order would shorten the timeline for required testing for all international air travelers to one day before departure to the United States,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“This strengthens already robust protocols in place for international travel, including requirements for foreign travelers to be fully vaccinated.” The CDC currently requires fully vaccinated travelers to be tested three days before their flight’s departure from a foreign country.

The CDC continues to recommend, but not require, that travelers get tested three to five days upon return and those who are unvaccinated should quarantine. The CDC did not offer a timeline for when any updated protocols could go into place.  

Officials across multiple government agencies huddled Tuesday night to discuss the potential changes, CNN reported earlier.

31 min agoSouth Korea reports record number of daily Covid-19 casesFrom CNN’s Gawon Bae in Seoul, South Korea

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