UK to quarantine visitors from nations with high COVID-19 risk, Daily Mail says - REUTERS
(Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnsonâ€™s government is preparing to force travelers from countries where there is a high risk of COVID-19 to go into quarantine for 10 days after arriving in Britain, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday.
Travelers from Brazil and South Africa, and neighbouring countries, will be met on arrival and escorted to hotels to quarantine, under plans being discussed by UK ministers, the Daily Mail said. dailym.ai/363vU7C
Johnson favoured a more targeted approach than making all air passengers go into quarantine, said the report, which added that the quarantine decision would be taken on Monday.
Britain has recorded more than 3.5 million COVID-19 infections - the fifth-highest in the world - and nearly 96,000 deaths.
Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Paul Simao
Huge Covid Restrictions Coming Up on International Air Travel - THE STREET
The CDC is set to require a negative test on inbound international flights to the US.
Proof of Negative Test
New CDC Guidelines Require Proof of Negative Test on inbound international flights.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ordered that all travelers flying to the U.S. from abroad will have to show proof of negative Covid-19 tests before boarding their flight starting Jan. 26. The CDC said preflight testing is necessary as Covid-19 cases continue to soar and more-contagious strains of the virus emerge around the world. President Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 21 affirming the new testing requirements and directing agencies to consider additional travel-safety measures.
- Who It Affects: The order applies to everyone traveling to the U.S. on international flights, including U.S. citizens. You will need to show negative test results even if you are flying on a private jet or charter flight. There are exceptions for children under age 2, airline crews and federal law-enforcement agents and members of the military traveling for duty.
- Countries Covered: Every country except U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico.
- When: This starts January 26. People arriving from the United Kingdom already have been subject to similar testing requirements that went into effect in December, following the emergence of a new coronavirus strain there.
- Procedure: U.S.-bound air travelers must get tested no more than three days before flying and bring written or electronic proof of the results. Airlines can accept both PCR and rapid antigen tests. The CDC has said home diagnostic kits that are analyzed in a lab should qualify, if the kits have been approved by national health authorities.
- Vaccinations Don't Count: A vaccination does not negate the need for a test.
- Those Who Had Covid: If you have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past three months but no longer have symptoms, the CDC doesnâ€™t recommend getting tested again. If you are in this group and have met the criteria to end isolation, the CDC says you can travel as long as you have written permission from a health-care provider or public-health official. Bring your positive test result and the doctorâ€™s letter to show the airline in lieu of a negative test result.
- CDC Recommendations: The CDC recommends people get a second test three to five days after travel and stay home for seven days (or 10 days without a second test). Testing on its own isnâ€™t a substitute for social distancing and wearing face masks, CDC officials said.
Biden to impose travel restrictions on South Africa, U.K. and Brazil to mitigate new Covid strains - CNBC
by Emma Newburger and Leslie Josephs
- Biden will also reinstate travel restrictions on the entry of non-U.S. citizens from the U.K., Ireland and much of Europe as well as Brazil.
- Former President Donald Trump rescinded those restrictions before Biden took office.
- More contagious Covid strains have emerged in South Africa, the U.K. and Brazil.
US President Joe Biden signs executive orders for economic relief to Covid-hit families and businesses in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 22, 2021. Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will sign a travel ban Monday on most non-U.S. citizens entering the country who were recently in South Africa, where a new strain of Covid-19 has been identified, a person familiar with the situation told CNBC.
Biden will also reinstate travel restrictions on the entry of non-U.S. citizens from the U.K. and Brazil, where new Covid strains have emerged. The restrictions will also apply to Ireland and much of Europe. Former President Donald Trump had rescinded the restrictions just before Biden took office.
Reuters first reported news of the travel restrictions on Sunday.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the outlet that the agency was â€œputting in place this suite of measures to protect Americans and also to reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic.â€
Before Biden took office, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized Trumpâ€™s move to lift international travel restrictions even as more contagious variants emerged across the world.
â€œWe plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19,â€ Psaki wrote in a tweet.
Trump, through a proclamation last Monday, ordered a removal of travel restrictions that his administration had implemented early in the pandemic on most non-U.S. citizens who had been in much of Europe, the U.K. and Brazil, starting Jan. 26.
That is when the U.S. government will start mandating U.S.-bound air travelers, including U.S. citizens, to show recent, negative Covid-19 test results before boarding flights.
White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that available vaccines appear to be less effective against new, more contagious strains of Covid-19, but that theyâ€™ll still likely provide enough protection to be worth getting.
The CDC also announced on Sunday that it will remove the option for airlines with flights from countries that lack Covid-19 testing to apply for temporary waivers for some travelers. The agency will implement the order on Tuesday.
The virus has infected more than 25 million people and killed at least 417,000 people in the U.S. since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. has not yet detected any cases of the South African variant, but several states have detected the U.K. variant.
Qatar Air Adds Africa Flights as Saudi Ban Lift Shortens Trips - BLOOMBERG
By Layan Odeh
Qatar Airways increased the number of flights to African destinations after the lifting of a ban from using some other Gulf statesâ€™ air space shaved hours off journey times.
The Doha-based airline added flights to Casablanca, Tunis, Cape Town and Johannesburg, according to a Monday statement. The carrierâ€™s network currently stands at 120 destinations, with plans to reach 130 routes by the end of March.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt agreed earlier this month to fully restore ties with neighboring Qatar, ending a three-year dispute that divided the energy-producing region. The airspace ban had forced Qatar Airways to abandon plans to add new routes and make lengthy diversions, ballooning its fuel bill.
California lifts virus stay-at-home order and curfew - ASSOCIATED PRESS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted stay-at-home orders across the state Monday in response to improving coronavirus conditions, a surprising move hailed by beleaguered businesses but that prompted caution from local health officials concerned the public may let down its guard.
â€œWeâ€™re seeing a flattening of the curve — everything that should be up is up, everything that should be down is down — case rates, positivity rates, hospitalizations, ICUs," Newsom said at a virtual news conference.
The turnaround puts California in a starkly different place than it was last month, when some Southern California hospitals overwhelmed by virus patients were crafting emergency plans for rationing care.
Newsom crafted the stay-at-home order in December as coronavirus cases worsened and in anticipation of surges from holiday gatherings. He divided the state into five regions and ultimately four of them had the order imposed because their ICU capacity fellow the stat mandated 15%. Only rural far Northern California stayed above the threshold.
Southern California, which accounts for more than half the state population of nearly 40 million, still has an ICU capacity of 0%, according to state data. But Newsom said based on state modeling for the next four weeks, as cases fall ICU capacity is projected to rise to 33%, the highest of any of the state's regions.
The lifting of the stay-at-home order allows restaurants to serve diners outdoors and places of worship to offer services outside. Hair and nail salons and other businesses may reopen and retailers can have more shoppers in their stores.
The state also is lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, but San Francisco is keeping it in place.
California's latest and worst surge of the pandemic started in mid-October. In a little more than two months the state recorded more than 2 million cases and hospitalizations grew nearly 10 fold to almost 22,000.
As the sickest patients die, the death toll has exploded. The state is averaging 504 deaths a day and its total now tops 37,000 second only to New York.
About 23,000 people are now testing positive for the virus per day, down more than 7,000 from a week ago, with a test positivity rate that has fallen steadily to 8% from a high of nearly 20% at the height of the surge.
In Los Angeles County, home to 10 million people, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer stressed the need for residents to continue to abide by social distancing and mask recommendations otherwise â€œweâ€™ll be in the horrible position of needing to once again backtrack.â€
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma Countyâ€™s Health Officer Sundari Mase noted that case rates and positivity rates remain high.
â€œWe must remain vigilant and take all necessary mitigation measures until the vaccine is distributed widely,â€ Mase said.
Most California counties are now returning to the most restrictive tier of a four-level, colour -coded system for determining what businesses can open. It allows up to three households to gather outside, the resumption of low-contact recreation sports like golf and skiing, and the reopening of outdoor gyms. Bars and wineries that don't serve food can't open.
The state had refused to make public the data used to project ICU rates but late Monday released a table showing the regional per capita cases and transmission rates that were used.
The state predicted the following regional ICU capacity in four weeks: 25% for the San Francisco Bay Area; 27.3% in Greater Sacramento and 22.3% in the San Joaquin Valley. The 18.9% in Northern California. is a significant dip in capacity, which now sits above 40%. State officials didn't explain the drop.
Public health experts had mixed views on the state's decision to lift the order.
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, Los Angeles, said little evidence exists to show that outdoor dining or personal care services are major sources of coronavirus spread and that the stateâ€™s overall metrics are improving.
He said lifting the orders based on ICU capacity is consistent with the stateâ€™s goal of imposing stay-at-home orders to decompress the health system.
â€œI think it does make sense to allow people to get back to work and get back to their lives somewhat, and to also continue to emphasize the issue of masking and physical distancing indoorsâ€ and vaccinations, he said.
But, he said, the state should be providing the public with more data on whatâ€™s causing coronavirus transmission and how they are modeling hospital capacity.
Joshua Salomon, a professor of medicine with the Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research at Stanford University, said it is a concern that the state is lifting its stay-home order despite the continued coronavirus spread.
â€œAt this point we really are still in a very dangerous situation and we need to be quite careful not to reopen too broadly and too quickly,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Newsom's political opponents and even members of his own party criticized the decision. Republicans said Newsom was relaxing the rules in response to political pressure and the threat of a recall election. Republican organizers have until mid-March to gather 1.5 million signatures to force a recall vote against Newsom, who is halfway through his first term.
â€œThe most valuable resource in a crisis is trust, but thatâ€™s in even shorter supply than vaccines under Gavin Newsom. How many lives have been ruined, jobs lost, students disenfranchised and businesses shuttered by his random and confusing decrees? This is absurd, and we deserve better,â€ said Kevin Faulconer, the former Republican mayor of San Diego who is exploring challenging Newsom in the next governorâ€™s race.
Several Democratic legislators, meanwhile, said they'd been kept out of the loop on the state's changing rules.
â€œIf you think state legislators were blindsided by, and confused about, the shifting & confusing public health directives, youâ€™d be correct," Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman of Glendale tweeted. â€œIf you think we have been quiet about it in Sacramento, youâ€™d be wrong."
Newsom said the appropriate people had been notified in advance and said the state's goal was to not delay an announcement that could give a sense of optimism to businesses and families.
â€œDo we delay that for a long protracted comprehensive outreach? Or do we just move forward, based upon the criteria that has been well established?" he said.
He called suggestions he was lifting the order due to political pressure â€œnonsense."
Associated Press journalists Janie Har and Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco, Amy Taxin in Orange County, Stefanie Dazio and John Antczak in Los Angeles, and Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed.
Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
Air Peace announces new domestic routes - NAN
The airline says it will also reactivate suspended routes.
Nigeriaâ€™s top carrier, Air Peace, has announced the launch of new domestic routes and resumption of suspended ones.
In a statement Monday, the airlineâ€™s Chief Operating Officer, Oluwatoyin Olajide, said the airline would be receiving all its aircraft on overseas maintenance in February, hence the decision to launch the new routes as well as reactivate suspended ones.
The airline has taken steps to reposition after the 2020 hit on the global travel industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In August 2020, the carrier agreed to re-employ pilots fired earlier that month, after the intervention of the aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.
The airline fired 69 pilots and cut pay by as much as 40 per cent in a bid to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
Mrs Olajide said, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, that the planned launch of the new routes was an effort to underscore the airlineâ€™s â€œstrong resolve to meet the air transportation needs of Nigerians, as well as to drive economic development and foster unity amongst various parts of the country.â€
â€œAs you know, most of our aircraft are on maintenance in different parts of the world but they are all returning in February. For us, it is great news as this means the launch of new routes and the resumption of routes suspended consequent upon the COVID-19 outbreak,â€ she said.
Mrs Olajide emphasised that the new connections were also a testimony to Air Peaceâ€™s â€˜no-city-left-behindâ€™ initiative and unbridled determination to provide affordable access to safe and seamless connectivity across Nigeria and beyond.
She said the airline was constantly reviewing its route network, to reflect the air travel needs of the flying public. It currently operates 16 domestic routes, five regional routes and two international destinations, one of which is South Africa, launched in December 2020.
â€œThe airline also boasts of a fleet size of 26 aircraft and is steadily expanding its fleet as it expects to take delivery of its first Embraer 195-E2 aircraft this month,â€ she said.
â€œThe new routes to be launched in February are: Enugu-Kano-Enugu, Enugu-Asaba-Enugu, PHC-Kano-PHC, PHC-Kaduna-PHC, Ilorin-Lagos-Ilorin, Ilorin-Abuja-Ilorin and Ibadan-Abuja-Ibadan.
â€The suspended routes to be resumed are Kano-Owerri-Kano, Kano-Asaba-Kano, Lagos-Yola-Lagos and Abuja-Yola-Abuja,â€ she added.
AirAsia expects to resume flying to most routes by the end of 2021, CEO Tony Fernandes says - CNBC
- AirAsia expects to resume flying to "a large part" of its routes by the end of 2021 but passenger capacity is not expected to return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels until 2023, according to Fernandes.
- In November, the budget airline reported a fifth straight quarterly loss between July and September and is in the process of raising funds through loans and investors.
- The AirAsia stock is down almost 22% so far this year.
Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia Bhd., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview on the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.
Wei Leng Tay | Bloomberg via Getty Images
SINGAPORE — The outlook for the global aviation industry is improving as more countries begin rolling out mass immunization programs against Covid-19, AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes said Tuesday.
As one of Asia's top budget airlines, AirAsia expects to resume flying to "a large part" of its routes by the end of 2021 but passenger capacity is not expected to return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels until 2023, according to Fernandes.
"It's been the toughest challenge," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia," as part of the network's coverage of the Davos Agenda. "But I think the outlook's getting better."
"The most important thing is there's a huge amount of demand out there and we just have to wait for borders to open and I think we're one of the first kind of businesses that will recover, from an airline perspective, because we're very strong in domestic and regional," he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the global travel and tourism sector. It's sent many airlines into survival mode as they undertake mass layoffs, cancel orders, retire some of their existing fleet and cut down routes.
In December, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said airlines will suffer a net loss of $118.5 billion for 2020 and an expected net loss of $38.7 billion in 2021.
AirAsia is also struggling. In November, the company reported a fifth straight quarterly loss between July and September and is in the process of raising funds through loans and investors. Fernandes said the company is looking at raising up to 2.5 billion Malaysian ringgit ($618 million) for the whole group. That includes AirAsia's digital business and the logistics unit — both of which are performing well, according to Fernandes.
"We're a little bit behind schedule than we wanted to be but the amount's exactly where we want to be. We are very confident that this capital that we'll raise will take us well into 2023," he said, adding that the company will emerge with a better cost structure, a strong digital business and good demand for the airline.
The AirAsia stock is down almost 22% so far this year.
Fernandes also said AirAsia is in talks with Airbus and that the airline's long-term order book remains. "We're going to have to defer some of it to a later date," he said, adding, "We don't want to change that for short-term decisions."
AirAsia is one of Airbus' largest customers since the airline made a switch from Boeing years ago. Reuters reported that since then, AirAsia has ordered a total of more than 660 Airbus jets including planes yet to be delivered.
The CEO explained the competitive landscape for airlines has changed due to the pandemic. Some carriers have either reduced capacity or left the market altogether. Cost-cutting measures from AirAsia are expected to improve the company's margins, he said.
Budget airlines that fly shorter routes and sell on-demand services are expected to recover quicker than carriers that fly to intercontinental destinations and rely on first and business class travel, according to Fernandes.
He said business travel will take a longer time to recover as more people would opt to conduct business meetings virtually. "Time is a great healer. Eventually, business travel will come back but there'll be an element that will say 'well I can do it from Zoom,'" Fernandes added.
Nigeria to benefit from US travel ban reversal â€“ LCCI - PUNCH
BY Femi Asu
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said the removal by the United States of immigrant visa ban placed on Nigerians will improve diaspora remittances inflows to Nigeria.
The President, LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, said this on Tuesday during the chamberâ€™s quarterly press briefing on the state of the economy.
The chamber congratulated Mr Joe Biden Jr. on his assumption of office as the 46th elected President of the US.
Mabogunje said, â€œWe believe the Biden administration will usher in a new dispensation for the global economy from trade, investment, foreign policy, international cooperation, environmental protection, and security.
â€œWe commend the Biden administration for lifting the immigrant visa ban placed on Nigerians.â€
According to her, the reversal is positive for the Nigerian economy as it creates an avenue for many Nigerians to explore the diverse business, educational and employment opportunities in the US.
She said, â€œThis gesture is expected to boost US Nigeria trade relations. It would also positively impact on diaspora remittances inflows to the Nigerian economy in the medium term, given that the US is a major source of remittances proceeds to Nigeria.
â€œAs a multilateralist, we expect the Biden-led administration to foster international cooperation across the globe.â€
The chamber also expects the new administration to recalibrate the global trade system, which it said had been marred by rising protectionism, trade wars and pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions.
Mabogunje said, â€œWe also seek the support of the Biden-led administration for the candidacy of Dr [Mrs] Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the Director-General position at the World Trade Organization.
â€œThis is even important as the global economy needs to improve trade volume to quicken economic recovery.â€
First Israeli Flight Lands In Nigeria To Evacuate 4 Israelis With Covid-19 â€“ Chabad of Nigeria Leads The Way - LUBAVITCH
From the moment they were informed that their test came back positive for Covid-19, Chabad of Nigeria escorted the family all the way to the airport 10 days later.
Chabad Nigeria verified that the flight plans and registrations were in order to ensure that the flight would take off early enough so that it would land before the onset of the Tel Aviv airport lockdown.
NCAA (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) requested that the Chabad Rabbi in Lagos board the plane to assure that proper documentation protocols and signatures were in place.
The Rabbi and his wife also provided fresh Kosher food for the 15 medical and flight teams.
Chabad of Nigeria was established in 2013 by Rabbi Israel Uzan, and last November announced their newest permanent center in Lagos â€“ led by Rabbi Mendy & Mazal Sternbach.
Students protest illegal detention of Nigerians in Bangladesh - PUNCH
Some of the Nigerians detained in Bangladesh
BY Adelani Adepegba, Abuja
The National Association of University Students on Tuesday protested alleged illegal detention of Nigerians in Bangladesh.
The student, who stormed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, accused the government of failing to stand up for the hapless citizens incarcerated in various Bangladeshi detention centres.
The protesters while chanting solidarity songs wielded placards with such transcriptions as, â€˜Stop dehumanizing Nigerians in Bangladesh,â€™ â€˜Dehumanization of Nigerians in Bangladesh must stop,â€™ â€˜Nigerians in Bangladesh must enjoy the same privileged Bangladeshis enjoy in Nigeria,â€™ among others.
The youths had earlier protested at the Bangladeshi high commission in Asokoro.
Addressing ministry officials, the NAUS President, Ijeh Felix, said he had earlier written to the Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama on the plight of Nigerians in the Asian country but lamented that no action was taken on the issue.
Felix alleged that many Nigerians were being detained without trial by the Bangladeshi authorities.
â€œMany Bangladeshis are living in Nigeria and nobody has stopped them from staying here. I know many of them farming in Kano and doing business in Lagos and Abuja, no one is intimidating them. But Nigerians are being intimidated all over the world. In Ghana, Nigerian traders are being harassed and their shops locked; we canâ€™t forget the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa,â€ he stated.
Felix presented a petition to the officials while demanding a speedy intervention in the plight of the citizens in Bangladesh.
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But the spokesman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abdul-Rahman Balogun, said he was not aware of the detention of Nigerians in Bangladesh.
The MFA spokesman, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, equally said he has no information on the Nigerians facing maltreatment in Bangladesh.