The new omicron subvariant has become dominant in the United States, reaching approximately 41% of cases compared to 1.3% in early December

XBB.1.5 accounted for 40.5% of all cases in the week to December 31, surpassing the two former dominant strains, BQ.1.1 and BQ.1. The former accounted for 26.9% of cases, while the latter accounted for 18.3%.

The XBB.1.5 subvariant spread rapidly. It accounted for just 1.3% of new cases in the first week of December and has more than doubled its share every week since then.

In the New York area, which includes New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, it accounted for 72.2% of new cases over the past week.

Although the subvariant appears to be more contagious than the previous ones, the data does not suggest that it is riskier. But experts are urging Americans to follow vaccine boosters, which remain the best protection against serious illness and death.

Overall in the United States, the seven-day average of new COVID cases continued to decline and stood at 58,928 on Monday, according to a New York Times tracker. That’s down 11% from two weeks ago and below the recent peak of 70,508 cases recorded on Christmas Eve.

The average daily hospitalization rose 8% to 44,841. The average death was 317, down 23% from two weeks ago.

The New York Times tracker notes that there is reason to believe the official number of cases and deaths is artificially low, as many of those tracking the numbers take time off during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Hospitalization data, however, is generally not affected by vacation reporting breaks.

The number of COVID patients in intensive care units has increased by 11% in two weeks to 5,350. Meanwhile, the test positivity rate has climbed to 15% and increased by 23% over the past few weeks. last two weeks. Higher positivity rates suggest that many new COVID cases are going unreported, as home test results may not be reported to case trackers.

Cases are currently climbing in 15 states, led by South Carolina, where they are up 52% ​​from two weeks ago. Measured per capita, infection rates are worst in New Jersey and New York, as well as South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.

In China, the government has lambasted other countries for imposing COVID testing requirements on passengers arriving from China and is threatening countermeasures against those countries, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

“We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said in a briefing on Tuesday. daily.

“We strongly oppose attempts to manipulate COVID measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity,” she added.

Australia and Canada this week joined a growing list of countries that are asking travelers from China to take a COVID test before boarding a flight, a move taken in response to the current wave of cases that have begun. after the Chinese government eased some of the toughest pandemic restrictions in the world.

The US, UK, India, Japan and a number of European countries have announced mandatory testing, fearing the current wave could produce new variants that may prove resistant to existing vaccines.

As China reopens after nearly three years of isolation, the United States and several other countries will require travelers to present a negative COVID test. The Wall Street Journal explains why some pandemic restrictions are back and what they mean for people traveling to and from China. Photo: Nicola Marfisi/Avalon via ZUMA Press

Sweden, which has taken over the rotating EU presidency, convened a meeting of the EU’s crisis management mechanism in Brussels on Wednesday, during which travel restrictions will be discussed in a bid to agree a common policy.

Chinese health officials said last week they had submitted data to GISAID, a global database for sharing coronavirus data.

The versions of the virus fueling infections in China “look very similar” to those seen in different parts of the world between July and December, GISAID said on Monday.

The EU has offered to help China deal with its outbreak, including donating vaccines, according to a separate AP report. The European Commission said on Tuesday that over the past few days the bloc had reached out to Beijing to offer help, including by providing expertise, medical information and vaccine donations. No specific information was immediately available. The Financial Times first reported the news.

Catching the flu can increase your risk of getting a secondary infection, such as strep throat. The Wall Street Journal’s Daniela Hernandez explains the science behind this, as well as what it means for the rest of winter and how we can protect ourselves from the ‘triple epidemic’. Illustration: David Croc

Coronavirus update: CNET’s daily roundup curates and reports all the latest developments each weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Other COVID-19 news you should know:

• A German doctor was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison on Monday for illegally issuing mask waivers to more than 4,000 people during the pandemic, the AP reported. A regional court in the southwestern town of Weinheim confirmed on Tuesday that the doctor had been found guilty of “issuing incorrect health certificates” to people across Germany, most of whom had never been encountered or examined. In addition to the prison sentence, she received a three-year work ban and was ordered to pay 28,000 euros ($29,550), the sum she had received for issuing the medical certificates.

• Minnesota health officials closed their COVID-19 vaccination site at the Mall of America, the state’s largest vaccination site, the AP reported. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that health officials shut down the site Friday night following a visit by Governor Tim Walz. More than 236,000 doses of vaccines had been administered there since it opened in February 2021.

Here’s what the numbers say:

The global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 666.12 million on Tuesday, while the death toll topped 6.69 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world with 100.7 million cases and 1,092,679 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows that 229.1 million people living in the United States, or 69% of the total population, are fully immunized, meaning they have received their first shots.

So far, only 47 million Americans have had the updated COVID booster that targets the original virus and omicron variants, or 15.1% of the overall population.

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