Airlines cancel another 1,600 flights, citing worker Covid cases

1 week ago 10
16 min ago

Airlines cancel another 1,600 flights, citing worker coronavirus cases

From CNN's Pete Muntean

Unclaimed baggage starts to pile up outside the Southwest Airlines baggage claim at Denver International Airport on Monday, January 3.Unclaimed baggage starts to pile up outside the Southwest Airlines baggage claim at Denver International Airport on Monday, January 3. (RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

Airlines continue to cancel and delay flights by the thousands as their operations struggle with workers calling out sick with coronavirus.

Carriers have canceled more than 1,620 flights by Thursday afternoon and delayed more than 1,350 nationwide, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

On Wednesday, US airlines canceled a total 1,790 flights and delayed another 6,097 flights.

Southwest Airlines has canceled 562 flights, 18 percent of its total schedule, as of noon Thursday, more than any US carrier. 

United Airlines has canceled 227 flights, 11 percent of its Thursday schedule. United is now offering pilots who pick up extra trips up to three times their normal pay through the end of the month.

12 min ago

Israel will remove all countries from its "red" no-fly list

From CNN's Elliott Gotkine and Michael Schwartz

Planes sit on the tarmac at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, east of Tel Aviv, on December 21, 2021.Planes sit on the tarmac at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, east of Tel Aviv, on December 21, 2021. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel plans to remove all countries – including the US, UK and the United Arab Emirates – from its "red" no-fly list as domestic Covid-19 infections hit a new record. 

Starting at midnight local time, Israelis will be free to travel to these countries without special permission. Vaccinated or recovering returnees will only need to self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR test or 24 hours have passed. Unvaccinated returnees will need to take a PCR test when they arrive and then present a second negative result after a week of self-isolation. Starting on Sunday, non-Israelis will again be allowed to enter the country as long as they're vaccinated. 

"The government takes the economic consideration into account in every action. In order to reduce the infection rate, there needs to be very tough steps which there is no certainty that the government and the public are able to take," Israel's Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash told Israel radio Kan 11.

On Wednesday, the country had a record 16,115 new Covid-19 cases. On Monday, Israel began its rollout of a fourth vaccine dose, or second booster, to all medical workers and people over 60.

29 min ago

Global Covid-19 cases "increased sharply," WHO says in weekly update

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Cars line up at a COVID-19 testing site at the South Orange Youth Sports Complex on December 30, 2021, in Orlando.Cars line up at a COVID-19 testing site at the South Orange Youth Sports Complex on December 30, 2021, in Orlando. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Global Covid-19 cases “increased sharply by 71%,” from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2 compared with the week before, the World Health Organization said in its weekly epidemiological update published on Thursday.

This sharp increase follows gradual increases since October. 

Just under 9.5 million new cases were reported, WHO said, with increases in all regions. 

Here's what the data shows:

The Americas region was highest with a 100% increase. A 78% increase was reported in the Southeast Asia region, 65% in the European region, 40% in the Eastern Mediterranean, 38% in the Western Pacific and 7% in the African region.

The United States reported the highest number of new cases, followed by the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Italy. 

As of Jan. 2, there have been nearly 289 million cases reported globally. 

There was a 10% decrease in the number of new deaths compared with the week before, with over 41,000 deaths being reported. 

Only one region, the African region, reported an increase of 22% in the number of new deaths. Decreases of 18% in the Americas, 10% in the Western Pacific region, 9% in the Southeast Asia region, 7% in the Eastern Mediterranean region and 6% in the European region were reported. 

Just over 5.4 million deaths have been reported across the world as of Jan. 2. 

47 min ago

Djokovic's family speaks out after Australia refuses tennis champ entry over Covid-19 rules

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy 

The family of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic attend a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly on Thursday, January 6, in Belgrade, Serbia.The family of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic attend a rally in front of Serbia's National Assembly on Thursday, January 6, in Belgrade, Serbia. (Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

The family of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic claim the Australian authorities took away all his belongings after revoking his visa to enter the country on Wednesday. 

The tennis player's brother Drodje Djokovic told journalists during a news conference in Belgrade Thursday that the athlete "hasn't broken a single rule or law of the federal government of Australia." 

Djokovic's brother claimed that other tennis players had the "same document" as him, yet "he's the only one detained at the border and denied entry."

He went on to describe the Australian authority's treatment of his brother as a "serious diplomatic breach," recounting how communication was abruptly severed between the player and his family.  

"In the first 45 minutes I think, he was communicating to the family and team, and that abruptly stopped. He had no contact whatsoever as his phone had been taken away from him for three and a half hours," according to Drodje Djokovic.

Djokovic's phone was eventually returned and he was taken into another isolation room, he added. 

After his visa was revoked, the tennis player was taken through Melbourne Airport's metal detectors and all his belongings and suitcases were taken away from, according to his brother. 

"His wallet and change of clothes were taken away from him. He was taken to the migrant hotel, to a dirty room and was told that all his belongings will be given back to him on his departure to Europe," he said.

The latest update Djokovic's family received stated that if Djokovic returns to Europe immediately, he will be banned from entering Australia for three years. "The court's response to Novak's complaint was that the Australian authorities mustn't deport Novak before Monday," his brother added. 

The family believe the tennis player wishes to stay in Australia and "seek justice" after "being treated like a criminal," his brother continued.

His lawyers continue to work on the case to "set him free as he deserves to be," his brother underlined.

Some background: Djokovic's visa to enter Australia was canceled following an outcry over his controversial "medical exemption" from the country's coronavirus vaccination rules.

Djokovic, the men's tennis world no.1, hasn't publicly revealed his vaccination status — but in a news conference on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he "didn't have a valid medical exemption" to the vaccination requirement for all arrivals.

"Entry with a visa requires double vaccination or a medical exemption," Morrison said. "I am advised that such an exemption was not in place, and as a result, he is subject to the same rules as everyone else."

"There are many visas granted, if you have a visa and you're double vaccinated, you're very welcome to come here," he added. "But if you're not double vaccinated and you're not an Australian resident or citizen, well, you can't come."

59 min ago

Austria imposes tougher Covid-19 measures to curb the spread of Omicron 

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer presents the new COVID19- regulations at a press conference after a meeting of the federal government in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. The new regulations will come into force on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer presents the new COVID19- regulations at a press conference after a meeting of the federal government in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. The new regulations will come into force on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. (Lisa Leutner/AP)

Austria will impose tougher Covid-19 restrictions on its citizens and businesses in order to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer announced Thursday.

''Omicron represents a very new challenge for us all here in Austria,” Nehammer said following a meeting between the Austrian government and its main advisory body on the pandemic, the COVID-Crisis-Coordination (GECKO). "We need to do everything we can possibly do together to prevent another lockdown.”

Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein outlined the stricter rules that will be enforced starting Saturday. They include:

  • A compulsory wearing of European standard FFP2 (filtering face piece) masks outdoors if a distance of more than two meters is not possible.
  • Whenever possible, people should work from home.
  • Proof of vaccination or recovery to enter trade businesses, restaurants and cafes – supermarkets excluded – will apply upon entering these facilities. If businesses are not adhering to those control measures, they will be closed down.
  • Austria will also shorten quarantine times to five days, require people to wear masks outdoors when in crowds and limit the validity of vaccine certificates to six months.  

Some background: Omicron became the dominant variant in Austria on Monday, which has led to a sharp increase in infection rates. On Thursday, Austria reported 8,263 new Covid-19 cases – nearly three times above the daily average number of infections last week – according to data from the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES).

The Austrian chancellor said that he expects infections rates to rise sharply in the next few days and weeks, with 17,000 new cases per day by next week and over 20,000 new daily cases forecast for the week after next.

1 hr 23 min ago

How Novak Djokovic's mother reacted after his visa was canceled after outcry over Covid-19 rule exemption

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

A general view of the Park Hotel in Carlton on January 06, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. It is believed the Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic was asked to quarantine in the Hotel over night. Djokovic arrived in Melbourne to play in the upcoming Australian Open and was denied entry to Australia due to his inability to meet Australian entry requirements. A general view of the Park Hotel in Carlton on January 06, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. It is believed the Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic was asked to quarantine in the Hotel over night. Djokovic arrived in Melbourne to play in the upcoming Australian Open and was denied entry to Australia due to his inability to meet Australian entry requirements. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic's mother told reporters her son is being “treated like a prisoner” by Australian authorities after the country canceled his visa following an outcry over his controversial "medical exemption" from the country's coronavirus vaccination rules.

In a news conference, Dijana Djokovic said she had spoken briefly with her son on Thursday, adding that he told her he couldn't sleep.

“They are keeping him as a prisoner. It's just not fair. It's not human,” she said.

The tennis player is thought to have been transferred to the Park Hotel in Melbourne after having his visa to enter the country blocked, according to CNN affiliates Seven Network and Nine News.

The hotel — previously used by the Australian government as a Covid-19 quarantine facility — is now being used as an Alternative Place of Detention (APOD) for refugees and asylum seekers.

“[The authorities] don't want to give him any chance to move on to some better hotel or house that he already rented,” his mother continued. 

1 hr 30 min ago

Belgium's head of viral diseases says fifth wave of Covid-19 has started

From CNN’s James Frater and Allegra Goodwin

Chairman of the scientific committee on Covid-19, Steven Van Gucht pictured at a press conference after a meeting of the consultative committee with ministers of the Federal government, the regional governments and the community governments, Thursday 06 January 2022 in Brussels. The nombers of patients in hospital continue to decrease from the fourth waves but contaminations seems to rise again with Omicron variant. Chairman of the scientific committee on Covid-19, Steven Van Gucht pictured at a press conference after a meeting of the consultative committee with ministers of the Federal government, the regional governments and the community governments, Thursday 06 January 2022 in Brussels. The nombers of patients in hospital continue to decrease from the fourth waves but contaminations seems to rise again with Omicron variant. (Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/Sipa/AP)

A fifth wave of Covid-19 has started in Belgium with up to 125,000 cases a day predicted by mid-January, according to the country’s Head of Viral Diseases Steven Van Gucht. 

“I think we can say that the fifth wave has started,” Van Gucht said at a government news conference in Brussels on Thursday. “If we look at the infection figures, the weekly average of the number of infections has increased by 82% in a week. A week ago we were at 6,500 infections per day on average, now there are almost 12,000.”

“On Tuesday we will probably reach on somewhere between 28,0000 and 29,000 registered infections which is unprecedented in this pandemic,” he concluded.

Van Gucht said there were “two phenomena at play” – the effect of parties and gatherings held over the festive period, and “the Omicron variant that can spread very quickly, which can also cause infections in people who already have an immunity or a partial immunity.”

He went on to say 80% to 90% of Belgium’s current Covid-19 infections were caused by Omicron. 

“We expect that the peak will be reached somewhere in mid-January,” he said. “My fairly wide range is going to be somewhere between 30,000 to 125,000 infections per day.”

“You can clearly see from the projected figure that the upward trend has started and that it will continue quickly,” he concluded.

1 hr 33 min ago

Majority of passengers on plane flying from Italy to India test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Swati Gupta and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Passengers arriving from Italy wait to undergo a Covid-19 coronavirus screening at at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport on the outskirts of Amritsar on January 6, 2022. Passengers arriving from Italy wait to undergo a Covid-19 coronavirus screening at at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport on the outskirts of Amritsar on January 6, 2022. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images) 

At least 125 out of 179 passengers on a chartered flight from Italy to India tested positive for Covid-19, V.K. Seth, Director of Amritsar airport, said Thursday. 

The flight was scheduled to arrive in Amritsar, a city in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab, on Thursday from Rome. 

On arrival, according to Indian procedure, 160 of the passengers on the plane were tested. Nineteen were exempted since they were under five years of age.

"We followed all the guidelines, and we did not allow any of the passengers to leave till they were tested. After the results, the state government is responsible for overseeing the quarantine and treatment," Seth said.

More on India's requirements: India enforced fresh guidelines for most international arrivals into India last month as the Omicron variant began to spread.

The country requires every passenger to submit a negative RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to their departure, and for certain "at risk" countries, including Italy, a compulsory test on arrival.

India has registered a huge surge in cases this week. On Thursday, it reported 90,928 new Covid-19 cases, the highest number since June 7 and a 56.5% increase on the 58,097 cases it reported Wednesday.

2 hr 44 min ago

Tennis champ Novak Djokovic's visa to Australia canceled after outcry over exemption from Covid-19 rules

From CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton and Jessie Yeung

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the Davis Cup Finals 2021, Semifinal 1, tennis match played between Croatia and Serbia at Madrid Arena on December 03, 2021, in Madrid, Spain. Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the Davis Cup Finals 2021, Semifinal 1, tennis match played between Croatia and Serbia at Madrid Arena on December 03, 2021, in Madrid, Spain. (Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press/Getty Images)

Nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic may not be able to defend his 2021 title after his visa to enter Australia was canceled following an outcry over his controversial "medical exemption" from the country's coronavirus vaccination rules.

Djokovic, the men's tennis world no.1, hasn't publicly revealed his vaccination status — but in a news conference on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he "didn't have a valid medical exemption" to the vaccination requirement for all arrivals.

"Entry with a visa requires double vaccination or a medical exemption," Morrison said. "I am advised that such an exemption was not in place, and as a result, he is subject to the same rules as everyone else."

"There are many visas granted, if you have a visa and you're double vaccinated you're very welcome to come here," he added. "But if you're not double vaccinated and you're not an Australian resident or citizen, well, you can't come."

The 34-year-old traveled to Melbourne after tournament organizers, in conjunction with the Victoria Department of Health, said he had been granted a medical exemption to play but he was blocked at the border and told he had not met the required entry rules. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Thursday it was up to Djokovic whether he wanted to appeal the decision– "but if a visa is canceled, somebody will have to leave the country."

Djokovic's legal team sought an urgent injunction against the Australian Border Forces' decision to revoke his visa. The country's Federal Court has adjourned the decision until Monday on whether he will be allowed to remain in Australia or be deported, according to Reuters and public broadcaster ABC.

Djokovic will be staying in Australia overnight as the injunction goes through the courts, ABC reported.

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