On Jan. 30, Maryland state officials confirmed the South African variant’s existence via their Department of Health after consulting the CDC.
The virus strain is still being investigated and appears to be more transmissible than other variants. But so far, there hasn’t been conclusive evidence to shown that it causes more severity in the illness or risk of death.
The case implicates an adult residing in the Baltimore metro region who has not traveled outside the country. Authorities are tracing his potential contacts to test and quarantine.
“State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” Gov. Hogan said in a release. “We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant.
As Cases in California Fall, More People Than Ever Dying
An average of 544 Californians died every day in the last week from the CCP virus, with on Saturday, the state reaching a grim milestone of 40,000 deaths overall, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In barely a year since the virus was first detected in the state, 1 in 1,000 Californians have died from it. The death toll has climbed rapidly since the worst surge of the pandemic started in mid-October. New cases and hospitalizations surged to record highs but have declined in the last two weeks. Deaths remain staggeringly high, however, with more than 3,800 in the last week.
Taiwan Reports First Death in 8 Months
Taiwan’s government on Saturday reported the island’s first death from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus since May, as it battles a small and unusual outbreak of locally transmitted cases.
A woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions died after being infected with the CCP virus as part of a domestic cluster connected to a hospital, said Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung.
Austria Finds 96 Foreigners in Breach of Lockdown Rules at Top Ski Resort
Austrian police have found 96 foreigners from across Europe at the ski resort of St Anton am Arlberg in breach of pandemic-related rules on entering the country and the national lockdown.
The mayor of St Anton, one of Austria’s top resorts, said this week that dozens of young tourists from across Europe had recently come to his town and circumvented lockdown rules under which ski lifts are open but hotels are closed to tourists.
California Surpasses 40,000 Deaths
California surpassed 40,000 COVID-19 deaths as the state’s steepest surge of cases begins to taper. The tally by Johns Hopkins University shows the state passed the milestone Saturday with 40,240 deaths. The deaths are surging at a record pace after recent declines in cases and hospitalizations.
It took six months for California to record its first 10,000 deaths, then four months to double to 20,000. In just five weeks, the state reached 30,000 and needed only 20 days to get to 40,000.
Vaccinated Congressman Tests Positive
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) tested positive for COVID-19 after receiving two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.
Pfizer has said its vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in those without prior infection 7 days or more after the second dose. Drug regulators said last month in issuing emergency use authorization that data is not available to show how long the vaccine would provide protection, “nor is there evidence that the vaccine prevents transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from person to person.”
Norway to Gradually Ease Capital’s Lockdown From Feb. 3
The Norwegian government will gradually loosen the capital region’s CCP virus lockdown, allowing some shops and recreational activities to reopen from Feb. 3 onwards, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Saturday.
The outbreak of a more contagious variant of COVID-19, first identified in Britain, had prompted the introduction of stricter measures on Jan. 23, including the closure of all non-essential stores in and around Oslo for the first time in the pandemic. The situation in the capital region remains uncertain and the easing will therefore be gradual, he added.
No Plans to Develop Database for Post-Vaccination Deaths: FDA
Federal health officials have no plans to develop a database for adverse events to people who receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told The Epoch Times.
If a link between an adverse event or death to a vaccination were verified, the health officials would communicate the findings and consider if additional regulatory actions were warranted, such as product labeling.
California’s Coachella Music Festival Canceled for Third Time
The Coachella music festival due to be held in southern California in April 2021 was canceled on Friday by local health officials because of the ongoing CCP virus pandemic.
It was the third time the outdoor event, one of the largest music festivals in the world, had been canceled or postponed because of the pandemic.
EU Move to Block Vaccine Worries Australia
Australia is on track to receive COVID-19 vaccine supplies in order to begin immunization in late February despite the European Union (EU) threatening to block shipments to some countries.
The EU has made new export restrictions on vaccinations produced by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca to a list of countries including Australia after supply shortages were reported.
Zachary Stieber, AAP, and Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times