Covid Surging In Places Never Hard Hit Or Had It Controlled
American Samoa was one of the final few places on the planet that largely avoided covid but is now experiencing rapid rises in infections. Elsewhere, China is reacting to new surges with strict lockdowns — including an entire province. And as restrictions fall in Europe, cases go up.
The New York Times:
American Samoa, Which Had Largely Avoided The Coronavirus, Sees A Surge In Cases.
Until recently, American Samoa, an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, was one of the world’s last holdouts from the coronavirus. But in recent weeks, infections have spread quickly. Weekly cases jumped from around two dozen in mid-February to more than a hundred by the end of the month, according to the World Health Organization. (May and Meheut, 3/15)
A Surge In COVID-19 Spurs New Lockdowns In China's Cities
The entire Chinese province of Jilin is under lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge across the country. Jilin's daily case counts topped 4,067 on Monday alone, leaving health officials scrambling to catch up to the highly transmissible omicron variant. China is combatting the highest level of COVID-19 cases ever, with more than 10,000 cases since scattered across 27 provinces and municipalities since the start of this month. (Feng and Cao, 3/15)
Covid Cases Climb In Europe As Restrictions Ease And BA.2 Subvariant Spreads
Nearly half of all European countries have recorded increases in new Covid-19 cases in the past week, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Among the countries with the biggest recent surges are Finland, where new cases jumped by 84 percent in its weekly case total, to nearly 62,500 weekly cases; Switzerland, whose weekly total rose by 45 percent, to 182,190; and the United Kingdom, which had a 31 percent increase, to a weekly total of 414,480 new cases. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy have also recorded double-digit percentage increases in their weekly tallies. (Ortiz, 3/14)
Is Omicron Subvariant BA.2 To Blame For Rising Covid Cases?
Covid cases are rising in Europe, with an increasing number being attributed to the prevalence of a “stealth” subvariant of the omicron strain. Covid cases have risen dramatically in the U.K. in recent weeks, while Germany continues to mark record high daily infections with over 250,000 new cases a day. Elsewhere, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands are also seeing Covid infections start to rise again, aided and abetted by the relaxation of Covid measures and the spread of a new subvariant of omicron, known as BA.2. Public health officials and scientists are closely monitoring BA.2, which has been described as a “stealth” variant because it has genetic mutations that could make it harder to distinguish from the delta variant using PCR tests, compared to the original omicron variant, BA.1. (Ellyatt, 3/15)
In other health news from around the world —
The Washington Post:
Chernobyl Power Line Again Damaged By Russia, Ukraine’s Nuclear Agency Says
A high-voltage power line at the former Chernobyl nuclear plant has once again been damaged by Russian forces, Ukraine’s nuclear agency said Monday, just one day after Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko announced that power had been restored following a Russian attack last week that disconnected the site from the electricity grid. (Hassan and Simon, 3/14)
Why Potassium Iodide Pills Are Suddenly In High Demand
As Russia's assault in Ukraine intensifies, fear of radioactive fallout from accidental or intentional attacks on Ukraine's nuclear plants, or from the use of a nuclear bomb, has triggered surging demand for potassium iodide pills. In such an event, there's the frightening risk of large amounts of radioactive iodine (or radioiodine) being released into the atmosphere which can be breathed into lungs as well as contaminate water, soil, plants and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although potassium iodide itself isn't harmful and is an important chemical that's needed by the human body, the CDC says radioactive iodide can harm the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that produces many of the hormones that regulate the body. (Kavilanz, 3/14)
Suicides By Women Up In Japan For Second Year
The number of women who died by suicide in Japan rose for a second straight year in 2021 although the overall number of people who took their own lives in the country edged down, police said on Tuesday. Suicide has a long history in Japan as a way of avoiding shame or dishonour, and its suicide rate had long topped the Group of Seven nations, but a concerted national effort brought numbers down by roughly 40 percent over 15 years - although they rose in 2020 due to stresses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the Health Ministry said. (3/15)