After two years of separation from his wife in mainland China, Hong Kong resident Cheung Seng-bun made sure he was among the first to cross the border following the reopening of crossing points Sunday. The ability of residents of the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city to cross over is one of the most visible signs of China’s easing of border restrictions, with travelers arriving from abroad also no longer required to undergo quarantine. “I’m hurrying to get back to her,” Cheung, lugging a heavy suitcase, told The Associated Press as he prepared to cross at Lok Ma Chau station. Travelers crossing between Hong Kong and mainland China, however, are still required to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 48 hours — a measure China has protested when imposed by other countries. Read more: China suspends social media accounts of over 1,000 critics of govt’s Covid-19 policies Hong Kong has been hard-hit by the virus, and its land and sea border checkpoints with the mainland have been largely closed for almost three years. Despite the risk of new infections, the reopening that will allow tens of thousands of people to cross each day is expected to provide a much-needed boost to Hong Kong’s tourism and retail sectors. China's borders remain largely sealed, however, with only a fraction of the previous number of international flights arriving at major airports. That number is expected now to tick upward, with Beijing's main airport preparing to reopen arrival halls that have been quiet for most of the past three years. China is now facing a surge in cases and hospitalizations in major cities and is bracing for a further spread into less developed areas with the start of the Lunar New Year travel rush, set to get underway in coming days. While international flights are still reduced, authorities say they expect domestic rail and air journeys will double over the same period last year, bringing overall numbers close to those of the 2019 holiday period before the pandemic hit. China has said the testing requirements being imposed on its travelers by foreign governments — most recently Germany and Sweden — aren’t science-based and has threatened unspecified countermeasures. Chinese health authorities publish a daily count of new cases, severe cases and deaths, but those numbers include only officially confirmed cases and use a very narrow definition of COVID-19-related deaths. Authorities say that since the government ended compulsory testing and permitted people with mild symptoms to test themselves and convalesce at home, it can no longer provide a full picture of the state of the latest outbreak. Read more: WHO 'continues to urge' China to share more data amid Covid surge Government spokespeople have said the situation is under control and reject accusations from the World Health Organization and others that it is not being transparent about the number of cases and deaths or providing other crucial information on the nature of the current outbreak that could lead to the emergence of new variants. Despite such assertions, the Health Commission on Saturday rolled out regulations for strengthened monitoring of viral mutations, including testing of urban wastewater. The lengthy rules called for increased data gathering from hospitals and local government health departments and stepped-up checks on “pneumonia of unknown causes.” Criticism has largely focused on heavy-handed enforcement of regulations, including open-ended travel restrictions that saw people confined to their homes for weeks, sometimes sealed inside without adequate food or medical care. Anger was also vented over the requirement that anyone who potentially tested positive or had been in contact with such a person be confined for observation in a field hospital, where overcrowding, poor food and hygiene were commonly cited. The social and economic costs eventually prompted rare street protests in Beijing and other cities, possibly influencing the Communist Party’s decision to swiftly ease the strictest measures and reprioritize growth. As part of the latest changes, China will also no longer bring criminal charges against people accused of violating border quarantine regulations, according to a notice issued by five government departments on Saturday. Individuals currently in custody will be released and seized assets returned, the notice said. The Transportation Ministry on Friday called on travelers to reduce trips and gatherings, particularly if they involve elderly people, pregnant women, small children and those with underlying conditions.
The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international travelers test negative for COVID-19 within a day before boarding a flight to the United States, ending one of the last remaining government mandates designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that the requirement will end early Sunday morning. The health agency said it will continue to monitor state of the pandemic and will reassess the need for a testing requirement if the situation changes. “This step is possible because of the progress we’ve made in our fight against COVID-19,” said U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra. Airline and tourism groups have been pressing the administration for months to eliminate the testing requirement, saying it discourages people from booking international trips because they could be stranded overseas if they contract the virus on their trip. Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, called lifting the testing rule “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.” Airlines argued that the rule was put into effect when few Americans were vaccinated — now 71% of those 5 and older are fully vaccinated, according to CDC figures. They also complained that people entering the U.S. at land borders are not required to test negative for COVID-19, although they must show proof of vaccination. While domestic U.S. travel has returned nearly to pre-pandemic levels, international travel — which is very lucrative for the airlines — has continued to lag. In May, U.S. international air travel remained 24% below 2019 levels, with declines among both U.S. and foreign citizens, according to trade group Airlines for America. Also read: India records 7,240 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths Many other countries have lifted their testing requirements for fully vaccinated and boosted travelers in a bid to increase tourism. Some infectious-disease experts said they were comfortable with the CDC’s decision, and that lifting the restriction is unlikely to cause further spread of the virus in the U.S. Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University said the rule was designed to prevent importing the virus, “but we’ve got plenty of COVID here. It’s like telling someone not to pour a bucket of water in their swimming pool.” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong at the University of California, San Francisco, said travel restrictions demonstrate that officials are trying to keep variants out, “but they haven’t really shown to be beneficial, ever.” However, he said, requiring foreign visitors to be vaccinated makes sense to avoid straining the U.S. health-care system with people who could develop severe disease. The requirement for a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the U.S. dates to January 2021 and is the most visible remaining U.S. travel restriction of the pandemic era. Also read: Budget FY23: Tourism sector gets incentive of Tk 1,000 cr to recover from Covid losses In April, a federal judge in Florida struck down a requirement that passengers wear masks on planes and public transportation, saying that the CDC had exceeded its authority. The Biden administration is appealing that ruling, saying it aims to protect the CDC’s ability to respond to future health emergencies. The Biden administration put the testing requirement in place as it moved away from rules that banned nonessential travel from dozens of countries — most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran — and focused instead on classifying individuals by the risk they pose to others. It was coupled with a requirement that foreign, non-immigrant adults traveling to the United States need to be fully vaccinated, with only limited exceptions. The initial mandate allowed those who were fully vaccinated to show proof of a negative test within three days of travel, while unvaccinated people had to present a test taken within one day of travel. In November, as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept the world, the Biden administration toughened the requirement and required all travelers — regardless of vaccination status — to test negative within a day of travel to the U.S. In February, travel groups argued that the testing requirement was obsolete because of the high number of omicron cases already in every state, higher vaccinations rates and new treatments for the virus. Meanwhile, travelers found creative ways around the rule. This spring, several Canadian teams in the National Hockey League flew to cities near the border, then took buses into the U.S. to avoid the risk of losing players who tested positive. U.S. airlines estimate that dropping the test requirement will mean 4.3 million more passengers in one year. It is unclear, however, whether airlines can boost flights quickly enough to handle that kind of increase. Airlines facing a shortage of pilots have already scaled back their original schedules for the peak summer vacation season. Brett Snyder, a travel adviser who writes about the industry at CrankyFlier.com, said the requirement has caused some people to postpone international travel. “It’s not that they are afraid of getting sick, they don’t want to get stuck,” Snyder said. He thinks there will now be a surge in booking those trips, “which, if anything, will lead to higher fares.” Hotels, theme parks and other travel businesses also lobbied the administration to drop the rule. “The whole industry has been waiting for this announcement,” said Martin Ferguson, a spokesman for American Express Global Business Travel, which advises companies on travel policy. He said there are few remaining pandemic policies that cause so much consternation for the travel sector, with China’s “zero-COVID” restrictions being another. Despite ending the testing requirement, the CDC said it still recommends COVID-19 testing prior to air travel of any kind as a safety precaution.
A man who returned from India to Bangladesh on Thursday tested positive for coronavirus, said officer-in-charge of Benapole check-post immigration, Raju Ahmed. The patient is Polash Chandra Das, 36, a resident of Narkelbaria village of Bagharpara Upazila in Jashore. He went to India last month for treatment. Also raed: BNP leader Harris Chy dies of Covid He returned to Bangladesh along the Benapole border on Thursday noon. It is not confirmed whether the patient was carrying the Omicron variant of coronavirus. It will be known after the test, said health official of Sharsha Upazila Dr Yusuf Ali. The patient is currently admitted at the isolation centre of Jashore General Hospital, said Raju Ahmed.Also read: Dhaka division logs highest 43.68% of Covid-linked deaths: DGHS
After waiting for about one and a half weeks, the Bangladesh team is finally out for preparation ahead of the two-match Test series against New Zealand starting from January 1. In the latest Covid-19 Test, all the members of the Bangladesh team returned negative which allowed them to come out from the quarantine and start preparation ahead of the series. Read:New Zealand vs Bangladesh: Head-to-Head Record, Stats in Test Cricket This series is part of the ICC World Test Championship. Bangladesh played their first series of this event against Pakistan at home before flying for New Zealand. Bangladesh lost both the matches they played against Pakistan at home. Bangladesh team left Dhaka on December 9 for New Zealand, and since then, they had been maintaining a strict quarantine. In the first Covid-19 test after arriving there, all the players and support staff returned negative. But in the second test, Bangladesh’s spin bowling coach Rangana Herath returned positive which prevented the Tigers to take the field after completing three days of in-room quarantine. “It’s Great to be out,” Russell Domingo, Bangladesh’s head coach, said. “Eleven days in our rooms been pretty challenging for the boys after a long year. So, boys are happy to be out in bright sunshine and blue sky.” Bangladesh team will continue to be practising for two days to get themselves accustomed to batting and bowling once again, and by the time they will get to Tauranga for a six-day preparation camp before the first Test of the series. The strict quarantine measures had cast doubts over the fate of this series. Had not everybody of the Bangladesh team returned negative in the last Covid-19 test, the period of quarantine might have been extended more which could force both the boards to reschedule the series in a later date. After the New Zealand series, Bangladesh players will need to maintain another quarantine period when they will play the new season of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) which is yet to be scheduled. And after that, Afghanistan will visit Bangladesh, and the players will have to maintain another tight bio-secured environment. Bangladesh have been suffering in the field for a while now. They won two T20I series against Australia and New Zealand ahead of the T20 World Cup. But in the World Cup, they failed in every way—which was started with the defeat against Scotland. Read: Akram Khan set to resign from his BCB post, reveals family After the shocking defeat in the first match, Bangladesh won against Oman and Papua New Guinea and qualified to the next phase of the event which was full of disappointment for the Tigers where they failed to win any match. After the World Cup, Bangladesh lost two consecutive Tests against Pakistan. Now, they are taking the challenge of New Zealand at their home ground. Before this series, Bangladesh played 15 Tests against New Zealand and failed to win any of them. In this tough series, Bangladesh are set to miss the service of Shakib Al Hasan who is currently on leave due to family commitments. The allrounder has great records against the Blackcaps. Along with him, Bangladesh’s most successful opener, Tamim Iqbal, is also out of this series. The opener is currently going through a rehabilitation program to come out from injuries that prevented him to take part in the Pakistan series.
Parents held children born while they were stuck abroad. Long-separated couples kissed, and grandparents embraced grandchildren who had doubled in age. The U.S. fully reopened to many vaccinated international travelers Monday, allowing families and friends to reunite for the first time since the coronavirus emerged and offering a boost to the travel industry decimated by the pandemic. The restrictions closed the U.S. to millions of people for 20 months. Octavio Alvarez and his 14-year-old daughter zipped through a pedestrian crossing in San Diego in less than 15 minutes on their way to visit his mother-in-law in California. “It’s a big feeling,” said Alvarez, 43, who lives in Ensenada, Mexico, a two-hour drive from San Diego. Prior to the pandemic, his family would visit California twice a month. The emotional cost of the border restrictions were “very high,” he added. American citizens and permanent residents were always allowed to enter the U.S., but the travel bans grounded tourists, thwarted business travelers and often keep families far apart. Travelers must have proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. “I think a lot of people have been waiting for this day,” said Eileen Bigelow, area port director for Vermont for Customs and Border Protection. “They look at it as a light at the end of the tunnel for some return of normalcy.” There were lots of prolonged hugs at airports from coast to coast. At Newark International Airport in New Jersey, Nirmit Shelat repeatedly embraced his girlfriend, Jolly Dave, after she arrived from India, ending their nine-month separation. She was on the first flight out of the country to the United States. “I can’t even explain in my words how happy I am," Dave said. Gaye Camara, who lives in France, last saw her husband in New York in January 2020, not knowing it would be 21 months before they could hold each other again. “I’m going to jump into his arms, kiss him, touch him,” said Camara, 40, as she wheeled her luggage through Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, where the humming crowds resembled those before the pandemic, except for the face masks. Read:US gives final clearance to COVID-19 shots for kids 5 to 11 On the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada, where traveling back and forth was a way of life before the pandemic, the reopening brought relief. Malls, restaurants and shops in U.S. border towns were devastated by the lack of visitors from Mexico. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, flanked by U.S. and Mexican officials at a celebratory news conference at the San Ysidro crossing, said the economic losses were hefty and the cutting of family ties “immeasurable.” Retail sales in San Ysidro fell about 75% from pre-COVID levels, forcing nearly 300 businesses to close. Edith Aguirre of Tijuana took off work to go shopping in San Diego. Bubbling with laughter, she accepted a gift bag from a duty-free store at the San Diego border crossing. She was a regular at SeaWorld in San Diego and last came to the U.S. to celebrate her 50th birthday at Disneyland in February 2020. “It was very draining,” she said of the interruption to her cross-border life. Sales dropped in half at David’s Western Wear shop in Nogales, Arizona, which manufactures boots popular among Mexicans. Owner David Moore hopes his specialty products lure back customers, but he said it won't happen overnight. Many Mexicans are still trying to get expired visas renewed amid a backlog. Those who do come may be disappointed to find shelves empty because of supply chain problems. “I really don’t think Mexican shoppers are going to come across in hordes because they have now gotten used to buying a lot of products they need in Mexico," he said. David Jerome, president and CEO of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce on Mexico's border in Texas, said: “It won’t come back as quickly as it was shut off.” Still, “we feel like we’re getting our neighbors back and we’re glad to get people going back to work," Jerome said. Along Canada's boundary, cross-border hockey rivalries were upended by the travel restrictions. Churches that had members on both sides of the border were suddenly cut off from each other. But on Monday, border traffic quickly returned. At Vermont’s busiest international crossing with Canada, U.S. border agents said they began to notice the uptick in border crossing shortly after midnight. By mid-morning, traffic appeared steady. Travelers at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, one of the northern border's busiest crossings, found a 2½-hour wait at 2 a.m., officials said, though within a few hours traffic was flowing more freely. The bridge typically handles about 2 million passenger vehicles from Fort Erie, Ontario, yearly, many of them bound for the region’s shopping malls, ski slopes and sporting events. Volume dropped by more than 90% during the pandemic. Read:US details new international COVID-19 travel requirements River Robinson’s American partner wasn’t able to be in Canada for the birth of their baby boy 17 months ago. She was thrilled to hear about the U.S. reopening and planned to take the child to the U.S. for Thanksgiving. It’s “crazy to think he has a whole other side of the family he hasn’t even met yet,” said Robinson, who lives in St. Thomas, Ontario. Airlines are preparing for a surge in activity — especially from Europe — after the pandemic and resulting restrictions caused international travel to plunge. The 28 European countries that were barred made up 37% of overseas visitors in 2019, according to the U.S. Travel Association. As the reopening takes effect, carriers are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the U.S. by 21% this month over last month, according to data from travel and analytics firm Cirium. In a sign of the huge importance of trans-Atlantic travel for airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the reopening by synchronizing the departures of their early morning flights to New York on parallel runways at London’s Heathrow Airport. Maria Giribet, 74, who lives on the Mediterranean isle of Majorca was headed to San Francisco where she planned to “suffocate" her twin grandchildren with hugs after missing half their lives. Gabriel and David are now 3½. The U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the shots approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. That’s a relief for many in Canada, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is widely used. But millions of people around the world who were vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, China’s CanSino or other shots not approved by the WHO will not be able to travel to the U.S. Testing and quarantine requirements remained obstacles for others. A mobile testing truck was parked near the Peace Bridge in New York, promising results in 30 minutes for $225 and next-day results for $160. Marcela Picone, 39, of the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, has been waiting for the day her fiancé and father of her 2- and 3-year-old children can visit from Stoney Creek, Ontario. But his 15-year-old son would have to miss school to quarantine upon their return if they traveled. “He’s a dad to two American kids," she said. "He should have had the right to come into this country the entire 19 months.”
Detectives conducted simultaneous drives in the capital’s Tejgaon area and Jhalakathi district on Tuesday and arrested three ‘fraudsters’ on charge of embezzling money in the name of conducting Covid-19 test. The arrestees are Abdullah Alamin Managing Director of TKS group, its chairman Abul Hasan Tushar and marketing manager Mohammad Shahin Mia. Various types of fake documents including appointment letters, ID cards, visiting cards, tax certificates and computers were recovered from their possessions. Briefing reporters at the DMP’s media centre here on Wednesday, Joint Commissioner of DB (North Division) Mohammad Harun Ur Rashid said the fraudsters formed an organisation named TKS Healthcare Service located on the 2nd floor at Al Razi Complex of Shaheed Sayed Nazrul Islam Sarani in Dhaka city. Then they applied for permission to conduct Covid-19 test to the Health Ministry on July 11. READ: 4 members of teen gang ‘Gazi group’ held in Dhaka In their application, they mentioned that a total of 5,126 health workers are ready to conduct free Covid-19 tests in eight divisions, 64 districts, 492 upazilas and 4,562 unions of Bangladesh, he said. He said as they knew that they would not get permission from the Health Ministry to set up booths, recruit people and set up camps they made fake documents for sample collection, recruitment and setting up of camps. Using the fake documents, the fraudsters embezzled money from people in the name of recruiting various persons as Upazila Co-coordinators and Field Officers of Dhaka and Jhalakathi districts, the DB (North Division) said. They were trying to embezzle a total of Tk 2 crore in the name of giving dealership of each camp. He also urged people to remain aware of fraudulence in the name of conducting Covid-19 test." If anyone sets up camp in the name of free Covid-19 test then inform police and police will take action.” A case has been filed against the arrestees with Shahbagh police station.
Ten more people have died of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours in Chattogram, officials said on Tuesday morning. Read:Dengue alert: CU survey team finds Aedes larvae at 15 spots in Chattogram Of the deceased, four were from the city and the remaining six belonged to different upazilas. During this period, 1,273 more people tested positive for Covid-19 in the district, according to the officials. A total of 3,450 samples were tested at nine public and private labs and various antigen booths in Chattogram. Read: First case of black fungus reported in Chattogram So far, 85,144 people have been identified with Covid-19 of which, 994 people died in the district.
Do I need to get tested for COVID-19 if I’m vaccinated? Yes, if you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19. Read: Should vaccinated people mask up with COVID-19 cases rising? The latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated should get tested three to five days after a potential exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms. That change comes two months after the agency eased its initial testing guidance. In May, the CDC said vaccinated people face very little risk of serious illness and don’t need to be tested in most cases, even if exposed to someone who was sick. The thinking was that vaccinated people also weren’t likely to spread it to others. But the agency says it’s reversing that guidance because of the more contagious delta variant, which now accounts for most COVID-19 infections. The COVID-19 vaccines are still very good at protecting people from getting seriously ill, but the CDC says new data shows vaccinated people infected with the delta variant could spread it to others. Read:Bhutan fully vaccinates 90% of eligible adults within a week Doctors, nurses and other health care workers should consult with their employers, some of whom may require routine testing for their staff. People working in prisons and homeless shelters are also generally subject to stepped-up testing requirements. U.S. citizens returning from abroad still have to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flights home, regardless of their vaccination status. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should still isolate for 10 days, the CDC says.
The district administration of Bagerhat has introduced mobile Covid testing booths for collecting swab samples at the doorsteps of people. Sheikh Sarhan Naser Tonmoy, Bagerhat-2 MP, took the initiative, following a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in the district. Read: Covid cases rising in Thakurgaon; 17 more detected Deputy commissioner Mohammad Azizur Rahman inaugurated the mobile service at Bagerhat Sadar Hospital on Tuesday. Civil Surgeon Dr KM Humayun Kabir said, “Medical teams with three vehicles will collect swab samples for Rapid Antigen test in Bagerhat, Sadar, Kachua, Rampal, Mongla, Morelganj and Sharankhola upazilas of the district. The mobile teams can test upto 300 people in a day.” Read:Thakurgaon seals border areas to contain Covid To avail the opportunity, people have to make a call on the hotline numbers -- 01920-922229 and 01400-305405. According to health officials, some 2,209 people have been found infected with the virus so far. On Tuesday, 102 people tested positive for Covid-19. Read: Thakurgaon: Minor couple ends life after families reject affair A total of 57 people have died of Covid-19 to date. Some 1,563 people have recovered from Covid so far.
India's COVID-19 tally rose to 26,530,132 with 240,842 new cases registered in the past 24 hours, said the federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday. Besides, as many as 3,741 deaths since Saturday morning took the death toll to 299,266. After two days, the number of daily deaths has once again fell below-4,000 mark. There are still 2,805,399 active cases in the country, with a decrease of 118,001 cases in the past 24 hours. The number of daily active cases has been on the decline over the past few days, after a continuous surge since mid-April. Read:Covid-19: Why ‘world’s pharmacy’ India is short on shots A total of 23,425,467 people has been cured and discharged from hospitals so far across the country. In a bid to curb the COVID-19 cases' graph, most of the states in the country have imposed night curfews and partial or complete lockdowns. India's nationwide vaccination drive was kicked off on Jan. 16, and over 195 million vaccination doses (195,004,184) have been administered to the people across the country. A total of 1,604,542 vaccine doses were given on Saturday alone. Presently the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination is going on, covering all people aged 18 years and above. Though, an acute shortage of vaccines is being felt across the country. Read:India suffers double blow as black fungus declared epidemic amid COVID-19 surge Meanwhile, the federal government has ramped up COVID-19 testing facilities across the country, as over 328 million tests have been conducted so far. As many as 328,607,937 tests were conducted till Saturday, out of which 2,123,782 tests were conducted on Saturday alone, said the latest data issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research on Sunday. Three types of vaccines are being administered to the people in India, including the Covishield, the Covaxin, and the Russia-made Sputnik-V.