Live updates: England shortens self-isolation period

Posted 12/22/21

LONDON — England has trimmed the self-isolation period for vaccinated people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to seven days in many cases provided two negative lateral flow tests are …

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Live updates: England shortens self-isolation period


LONDON — England has trimmed the self-isolation period for vaccinated people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to seven days in many cases provided two negative lateral flow tests are taken.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Wednesday the decision to shorten the period from 10 days to seven will help limit the disruption to people’s daily lives.

“I think this is a very sensible, balanced and proportionate take,’’ he told the BBC. “Of course this new variant is spreading very rapidly, it is disrupting many people’s lives. It is great that when people do get infected that they are properly isolating, I think that clearly helps prevent infection.’’

The UK Health Security Agency says that starting Wednesday vaccinated people who receive negative lateral flow tests on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period will no longer have to self-isolate for the full 10 days. The tests must be taken 24 hours apart and the first test must be taken no earlier than day six.

There was no change to the guidance for unvaccinated positive cases or unvaccinated close contacts of people who test positive, who must still self-isolate for 10 days.



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HELSINKI — Finland is tightening existing coronavirus restrictions by taking several measures, including stepping up border checks, restricting restaurant opening hours, as well as boosting its vaccination scheme to slow down the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

The Finnish government led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin decided at its meeting late Tuesday evening that the Nordic nation of 5.5 million would further step up COVID-19 vaccination. While Finland’s active working population is currently gearing up for booster vaccine shots, some 800,000 citizens, or 15% of Finland’s population, haven’t yet received any vaccination shot.

The government said it would, effective Dec. 24, restrict the use of the European Union’s common COVID-19 certificates and passports in “high risk” environments and situations including nightclubs, karaoke restaurants, bars and mass events where there is no seating.

In practice, this means that these venues will either face limited opening hours or be shut down and can no longer just rely on asking for COVID-19 passes.

Effective Dec. 28, Finland will require negative coronavirus tests from passengers arriving from the European Union. In addition visitors will also need to demonstrate that they have been fully vaccinated or recovered from the illness in the past six months. The restriction remains valid until Jan. 16.


VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian Pacific Coast province of British Columbia is closing bars, nightclubs and gyms because of the omicron coronavirus variant.

Starting at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, bars, nightclubs, gyms, fitness centers and dance studios will have to close, and all seated events will be reduced to 50% capacity. Indoor gatherings, including weddings, are being cancelled.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday the risk posed by omicron is “fundamentally different” than other variants and it more easily infects those who are vaccinated or have had COVID-19.

She said the province is seeing “explosive outbreaks,” with a large number of people being exposed at the same time. There’s also been a spike in cases among those aged 18 to 35.

The French-speaking province of Quebec announced Monday that it is closing bars, cinemas, gyms and spas because of a record number of coronavirus cases.


NEW YORK — The NHL will withdraw from the Winter Olympics after the regular-season schedule was disrupted by coronavirus outbreaks, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

As a result, men’s hockey tournament at the Olympics will go on without NHL players for the second consecutive time.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because an announcement had yet to be made on the NHL pulling out of Beijing.

The league informed the players’ association on Tuesday that it was retaining its right to withdraw from Olympic participation because there was a material disruption to the season, and the union was not going to dispute the decision, the person said.

— By John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Amid a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced $100 million in emergency funding Tuesday to ramp up hospital and nursing home staffing and make more testing, treatments and vaccines available.

“As I have been warning for the past few weeks, we are entering another pivotal moment in the fight against COVID-19,” Hogan said.

Hogan said he’s also mobilizing the Maryland National Guard to provide support personnel to expand testing sites and hours.

The emergency funding includes $50 million to stabilize hospital staffing and another $50 million to expand the availability of COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines at hospitals and nursing homes, Hogan said. The state also will provide $30 million for schools to purchase testing resources, he said.

Hogan, who is working from home after testing positive for the coronavirus himself on Monday, made the announcement via video. He said he was only experiencing cold-like symptoms, something he attributes to getting vaccinated. He urged others to do the same.


NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans is shortening parade routes for the upcoming Mardi Gras season because there are fewer police officers, medics and other first responders to handle the crowds, officials said Tuesday.

The city canceled Mardi Gras parades this past February because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2020 parade crowds are considered a big reason that New Orleans was an early pandemic hot spot.

“The big news and the best news is that Mardi Gras is returning to the city of New Orleans and to the world in 2022,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.

Weeks of Carnival season parades lead up to Fat Tuesday, which will be on March 1.

Cantrell also noted that “if things go wrong in our city,” she might have to change its plans for Carnival and Mardi Gras. But she said she is confident the city can make it through the omicron variant, flu season and the holiday season.

With 80% of its residents fully vaccinated, New Orleans is a national leader, she said.


LINCOLN, Neb. — The last Nebraska community still requiring masks is dropping its mandate.

Lincoln Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez said in a news conference Tuesday that a health order requiring indoor masking will expire at the end of the day Thursday.

The county reinstated the mask requirement in August amid the delta surge. No other city or county in the state has required masks in indoor settings over the past four months, the Lincoln Journal-Star reports.

Lopez said the county has made “critical progress” over the past year in battling the virus, helped largely by the vaccine. Even without the requirement, she said masks are “strongly” recommended in schools and at indoor sporting events, theaters, gatherings of groups indoors, including church and faith-based services.


LIMA, Peru — Some Latin American countries are beginning to reimpose coronavirus restrictions to avoid the spread of the omicron variant over the holiday season despite seeing few reported cases so far.

Ecuador and Peru on Tuesday announced some capacity limits at public places, like restaurants and movie theaters. Both countries have more than 60% of their population fully vaccinated.

Peruvian authorities closed land borders to visitors and imposed a curfew from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Anybody over 18 years old will have to show proof of being fully vaccinated to fly or take an intercity bus within the country.

Peru has officially reported 12 cases of the omicron variant.

In neighboring Ecuador, authorities suspended mass events and said anybody over 12 will have to present a vaccination card to enter to enter public offices. Restaurants and movie theaters will limited to 50%. capacity.

Ecuador has reported 22 cases of the omicron variant.


OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma health officials announced Tuesday they have detected the state’s first confirmed case of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health didn’t release any information about where the case originated or whether the person had been vaccinated.

“Oklahoma was among the last states to confirm the presence of omicron. Federal health officials said Monday that omicron is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of infections last week.