As expected, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday the end of all domestic COVID-19 restrictions as of November 24, even self-isolation for those testing positive for the infection.
Speaking before Parliament, Johnson said the nation will still encourage those who test positive or experience symptoms to stay home — at least until April 1, when the government will simply encourage people with a positive test or symptoms “to exercise personal responsibility." On that day, the government will also stop paying for COVID-19 testing.
Johnson announced the scrapping of the restrictions even as he wished Queen Elizabeth I well after she tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. The prime minister said the queen’s positive test is a reminder the pandemic is not over.
Scientists, along with some opposition politicians, have warned that ending all testing and tracking will weaken the ability to track the disease and respond to any new surges of infection.
That news comes as a Jordanian government spokesman said Prime Minister Bishr al-Khasawneh tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday while visiting Egypt. They say he has no visible symptoms. The prime minister is in Cairo leading his country’s delegation in cooperation talks with Egyptian officials. He arrived on Thursday.
Jordan’s government spokesman said al-Khasawneh’s meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi was canceled and that the prime minister will be isolated upon his return to Amman.
Elsewhere, in Australia Monday, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrotte said, “Today we rejoined the world,” as the country opened to nonessential international travelers for the first time in nearly two years after lifting COVID-19 restrictions.
On Sunday, Israel said it will allow unvaccinated tourists to enter the country beginning March 1. Tourists will be required to pass two PCR tests — one before departure and one upon landing in Israel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the health and mortality of health care workers around the world. The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization have published a guide on how to implement stronger occupational health and safety programs for health workers.
James Campbell, director of the WHO Global Health Workforce Aliance, said, “COVID-19 has exposed the cost of this systemic lack of safeguards for the health, safety and well-being of health workers. In the first 18 months of the pandemic, about 115,500 health workers died from COVID-19.”
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Monday that it has recorded more than 425 million global COVID-19 infections and almost 6 million COVID-19 deaths. The center said more than 10 billion vaccines have been administered.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.