The CCP virus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself, threatening to undo the progress made so far to control the pandemic.
On Friday, the World Health Organization urged more effort to detect new variants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new version first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the United States by March. Although it doesn’t cause more severe illness, it will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths just because it spreads much more easily, said the CDC, warning of “a new phase of exponential growth.”
California Becomes First State to Top 3 Million Infections
The grim milestone, as tallied by Johns Hopkins University, was hit with stunning speed, as California reached 2 million reported cases on Dec. 24. The first CCP virus case in California was confirmed last Jan. 25. It then took 292 days to get to 1 million infections on Nov. 11 and 44 days to top 2 million. It took 25 days to reach 3 million.
California’s caseload is also far ahead of other large states, with Texas at over 2 million and Florida topping 1.5 million.
Sri Lanka to Open for Tourists as Cases Wane
Sri Lankan authorities say they will fully reopen the country for tourists beginning Thursday, in a bid to revive the island nation’s lucrative tourism industry that has been badly hit by the pandemic.
Authorities say the country’s two international airports will be fully operational from Thursday. Under the new program, tourists must be tested at home within 72 hours of their flight. They are then tested when they arrive at their hotel and again seven days later. They will be allowed to travel in 14 tourism zones in a “travel bubble,” without mixing with the local population. About 180 hotels have been earmarked to provide accommodation for the tourists.
Companies Dangle Incentives to Spur Employees to Get Vaccine
Workers at several companies are being offered money if they get vaccinated against the CCP virus, amid reluctance from some to get one of the vaccines.
Dollar General is giving hourly workers who get a COVID-19 vaccine the equivalent of four hours of pay. Instacart, the grocery delivery platform, is doling out a $25 payment to workers if they get a vaccine, and Trader Joe’s will pay employees the equivalent of two hours of work for each dose of a vaccine they get. Few companies or other entities have so far required vaccinations.
China Blames Third-Party Lab for Falsifying Data
Chinese authorities punished a CCP virus testing agency employee who allegedly falsified virus data in the virus-embattled Hebei Province.
The employee, only identified by his surname Di, works for Jinan Huaxi Medical Laboratory Co., the laboratory outsourced to process virus tests in Longyao county of Hebei. Di allegedly provided false virus figures from the second round of nucleic acid testing between Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 before the full lab results came out. On Jan. 14, he told authorities that the company handled testing for around 314,000 people. They all tested negative, Di said, but he revised his claims two days later upon identifying a positive case, county officials said at a Jan. 17 news conference.
Authorities said they found two additional virus carriers after further investigation, including one asymptomatic patient. Local police have put Di under “criminal compulsory measures” as they probe the case, according to the news conference. So far, authorities haven’t discovered issues with other testing agencies, the officials said.
More Cases Linked to Australian Open Arrivals
Two players are among the three latest CCP virus cases that have emerged from testing conducted on passengers who arrived on charter flights bringing people to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said the players weren’t considered to be contagious, though, and hadn’t been taken out of the regular quarantine hotels. The first six positive tests were reported over the weekend and connected to flights from Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, Qatar.
Swiss Hunts Down Variant
Swiss authorities have started mass testing residents and visitors in St. Moritz after a new variant of the CCP virus was detected in the upscale skiing resort. People were asked to register online and come in for free tests to a local gym and a beverage store on Tuesday, after two luxury hotels were put under quarantine Monday. All schools, kindergartens, and skiing schools were closed.
Officials said at least two dozen cases were detected in the two hotels, which local media identified as the Palace and the Kempinski hotel. The hotel announced late Monday that health authorities had confirmed cases of the mutated CCP virus among the hotel’s employees.
Tom Ozimek, Eva Fu, Zachary Stieber, The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times