Germany Ends Mask Rule for Long-Distance Transport, China’s Covid Peak to Last 2 to 3 MonthsFrequent Business Traveler

January 14, 2023
January 14, 2023

A Lufthansa aircraft taking off from Newark Liberty International Airport

Good morning. This is Jonathan Spira reporting. Here now the news of the pandemic from across the globe on the 1,008th day of the pandemic.

In news we cover today, Americans are failing to have their kindergarteners vaccinated against childhood diseases, Germany will end its mask mandate on long-distance transport, and China’s Covid peak could last two to three months.


The death toll in Los Angeles county hit a new winter high this year.  The county recorded 164 deaths in the period ending this past Wednesday, a new high that exceeds the summer peak of 122 deaths for the week that ended August 6. The rolling average death toll for the week was down slightly, however, at 163, for the period ending Thursday.

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati affirmed on Thursday a lower court ruling that upheld the vaccine mandate for workers who contract with the federal government.  A federal judge in Kentucky originally blocked the rule in that state and two other, namely Tennessee and Ohio. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is not enforcing the rule while legal battles play out around the country.

Finally, vaccination rates for kindergarteners fell again last year.  The vaccines, which combat the measles, tetanus, and certain other diseases, fell below the standard 94% in the period 2020-2021.  The following year they fell to 93%.  The typical rate has been 94% to 95% of kindergarteners.


Germany will end one of its last remaining coronavirus rules, namely the mask mandate on long-distance flights. Gesundheitsminister Karl Lauterbach said on Friday that, as of February 2, passengers will no longer be required to don face masks on long-distance transport.

China’s current Covid-19 peak could last two to three months and will soon hit rural areas, according to a leading epidemiologist there, Zeng Guang, the former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical resources in rural areas are scarce to non-existent, which could result in a significantly higher than expected death toll there in the coming months.

Frustration is rising in mainland China over a shortage of Covid anti-viral pills.  As a result, online purchasers there are paying as much as 4,800 Hong Kong dollars ($614.55) for a five-day course of SARS-CoV-2 antiviral medication.  The existence of a Hong Kong second-hands goods platform which allows the sale of the pills is encouraging patients to illegally resell their medication, the South China Morning Post reported.

Finally, in Manitoba, the Church of God (Restoration) that repeatedly flouted pandemic limits on the number of people permitted to gather together has been fined 30,000 Canadian dollars ($22,392).   The church admitted to two counts of violating the Public Health Act in a Winnipeg provincial court hearing on Thursday. The church violated the act on six occasions between November 22, 2020, and May 23, 2021.


Now here are the daily statistics for Friday, January 13.

As of Friday morning, the world has recorded 670.6 million Covid-19 cases, an increase of 0.5 million cases, and 6.73 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, 641.6 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus, an increase of 0.4 million.

The reader should note that infrequent reporting from some sources may appear as spikes in new case figures or death tolls.

Worldwide, the number of active coronavirus cases as of Friday at press time is 22,229,610, an increase of 77,000. Out of that figure, 99.8%, or 22,181,253, are considered mild, and 0.2%, or 48,357, are listed as critical. The percentage of cases considered critical has not changed over the past 24 hours.

The United States reported 97,230 new coronavirus infections on Friday for the previous day, compared to 44,472 on Thursday, 34,774 on Wednesday, 43,918 on Tuesday, 6,100 on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 7-day incidence rate is now 66,060.  Figures for the weekend (reported the following day) are typically 30% to 60% of those posted on weekdays due to a lower number of tests being conducted.

The average daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States over the past 14 days is 60,610, an increase of 4% averaged over the past 14 days, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services, among other sources.  The average daily death toll over the same period is 564, an increase of 64% over the same period, while the average number of hospitalizations for the period was 45,600, an increase of 9%. In addition, the number of patients in ICUs was 5,521, an increase of 8% and the test positivity rate is now 15%, a 7% increase.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic the United States has, as of Friday, recorded 103.4 million cases, a higher figure than any other country, and a death toll of 1.12 million. India has the world’s second highest number of officially recorded cases, just under 44.7 million, and a reported death toll of 530,722.

The newest data from Russia’s Rosstat state statistics service showed that, at the end of July, the number of Covid or Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic there in April 2020 is now 823,623, giving the country the world’s second highest pandemic-related death toll, behind the United States.  Rosstat reported that 3,284 people died from the coronavirus or related causes in July, down from 5,023 in June, 7,008 in May and 11,583 in April.

Meanwhile, France is the country with the third highest number of cases, with 39.4 million, and Germany is in the number four slot, with 37.6 million total cases.

Brazil, which has recorded the third highest number of deaths as a result of the virus, 695,255, has recorded 36.6 million cases, placing it in the number five slot.

The other five countries with total case figures over the 20 million mark are Japan, with 31.2 million cases, South Korea, with 29.7 million cases, placing it in the number seven slot, and Italy, with 25.3 million, as number eight, as well as the United Kingdom, with 24.2 million, and Russia, with over 21.8 million.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Thursday, 268.6 million people in the United States – or 80.9% – have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Of that population, 69.1%, or 229.4 million people, have received two doses of vaccine, and the total number of doses that have been dispensed in the United States is now 666.5 million. Breaking this down further, 91.8% of the population over the age of 18 – or 237.1 million people – has received at least a first inoculation and 78.8% of the same group – or 203.5 million people – is fully vaccinated.  In addition, 18.2% of the same population, or over 46.9 million people, has already received an updated or bivalent booster dose of vaccine.

Starting on June 13, 2022, the CDC began to update vaccine data on a weekly basis and publish the updated information on Thursdays by 8 p.m. EDT, a statement on the agency’s website said.

Some 69.1% of the world population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday, according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that tracks such information.  So far, 13.21 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered on a global basis and 2.53 million doses are now administered each day.

Meanwhile, only 25.9% of people in low-income countries have received one dose, while in countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at least 75% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

Only a handful of the world’s poorest countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal – have reached the 70% mark in vaccinations. Many countries, however, are under 20% and, in countries such as Haiti, Senegal, and Tanzania, for example, vaccination rates remain at or below 10%.

In addition, with the start of vaccinations in North Korea in late September, Eritrea remains the only country in the world that has not administered vaccines.

Anna Breuer contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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