CDC Issues Mask, Distancing Guidance for Students

When schools in the United States open this fall, students from kindergarten through 12th grade should wear masks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday, as it refines its guidance against the coronavirus.

Because not every student will not be fully vaccinated, the CDC says masks should be worn while riding buses and while inside schools. It also urges students and teachers to remain 2 meters of social distancing.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved earlier this month for children, ages 12 and older.

Just days ago, on Thursday, the agency announced that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear a mask, for the most part.

Surge sweeps rural India

India reported its smallest daily gain in COVID-19 cases in nearly three weeks Saturday, continuing a trend that began last week as the government warns of an overwhelming surge sweeping across rural areas.

India’s health ministry reported 326,098 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24-hour period and 3,890 COVID deaths.

Federal health officials in India said at a briefing the overall rate of infections fell to 19.8% this week from 21.9% the week before.

But the virus continues to spread aggressively to rural areas, where two-thirds of the country’s 1.4 billion people live.

Amid news reports of sick people in rural areas being rushed to towns and cities for treatment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered his government to mobilize all resources to distribute oxygen supplies and other medical aid to hard-hit rural areas.

Virus flares in Taiwan

In Taiwan, Taipei and New Taipei City are on a Level 3 alert, one level short of a full lockdown, following a surge of 180 COVID-19 cases. The new infections bring Taiwan’s total cases to just under 1,500. The Level 3 alert requires mandatory mask wearing outdoors and restricts the size of social gatherings.

Taiwan has been hailed as a pandemic success story because it had not had any new cases in months. So, when the number of new cases took a triple digit jump Saturday, mostly in the two cities, officials acted.

“The epidemic is gaining intensity,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters at a briefing Saturday.

Lockdown in Caribbean

A surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths is prompting a state of emergency and curfew beginning early Sunday in Trinidad and Tobago. According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the twin island state has seen 2,659 new cases of COVID-19 and 69 new deaths in the past week. Both are records.

Health officials say the variant first found in Brazil, which is highly transmissible, is partly to blame. More than 61,000 shots have gone into arms in Trinidad and Tobago, but only 1,179 people are fully vaccinated.

Only the U.S. has recorded more total COVID-19 cases than India. According to Johns Hopkins, the U.S. has more than 32.9 million infections, while India has nearly 24.4 million. Public health officials, however, believe that India has undercounted its cases. Johns Hopkins reports the global count of COVID-19 cases is more than 162,000,000.

Source: Voice of America