Another Premier League match has been postponed due to Covid-19 issues
From CNN's Homero De La Fuente
The English Premier League has postponed Tuesday’s match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton due to a mix of Covid-19 issues and injuries on the Wolves squad.
In a statement, the Premier League said it “accepted the postponement application as Wolverhampton Wanderers does not have the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper) as a result of a number of Covid-19 cases and injuries at the club.”
The fixture is the second the Wolves have had postponed after their Boxing Day tilt with Watford was also postponed due to the virus. The match has yet to be rescheduled.
Earlier Sunday: The Premier League announced that Tuesday’s Leeds versus Aston Villa match was also postponed.
With this latest match being called off, the Premier League has now postponed a total of 15 matches this season due to Covid-19 issues.
The United Kingdom has seen a sharp rise in Covid-19, reporting a record 122,186 cases on Friday, the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic, according to government data.
2:19 p.m. ET, December 26, 2021
More than 6,000 flights canceled during Christmas weekend
Almost 700 US flights were canceled and another 1,300 were delayed Sunday, according to FlightAware. Globally, there were over 2,000 cancellations. Delta and JetBlue each saw over 100 cancellations Sunday.
Globally, airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights on Christmas Eve, Christmas and the day after Christmas, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States.
Operational snags at airlines are coming as millions are still flying in spite of rising coronavirus cases. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million passengers at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago.
1:32 p.m. ET, December 26, 2021
2 college football bowl games canceled over Covid-19 concerns
From CNN's Wayne Sterling
Two college football bowl games have been canceled due to Covid-19 concerns within the Boston College Eagles and Virginia Cavaliers programs.
Monday's Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland, and Wednesday's inaugural Fenway Bowl in Boston will not be played, officials from both bowls confirmed.
Boston College was scheduled to face the East Carolina Panthers, while Virginia was set to play the Southern Methodist University Mustangs.
“This is a terrible situation obviously,” Military Bowl president and executive director Steve Beck said in a statement. “We appreciate everyone who worked so hard to try to make the game happen. Of course, the health and safety of the players and coaches is top priority. The decision not to play is understandable, but disappointing.”
Boston College Director of Athletics Pat Kraft added, “Unfortunately, due to cases of Covid-19 rising within our program since our arrival, along with season-ending injuries, opt-outs and transfers, we just do not have enough players to field a team. We are disappointed not to be able to finish the season together as a team, but the health and safety of our program is our highest priority."
The Military Bowl Parade and the Military Bowl Tailgate Festival, scheduled for Monday morning, also are canceled.
All activities associated with the Fenway Bowl will no longer take place.
Some context: In total, four bowl games have been impacted by the virus.
The Hawaii Bowl scheduled for Christmas Eve was canceled. On Thursday, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors withdrew from the bowl because of Covid-19 issues. Hawaii was scheduled to face the Memphis Tigers.
On Wednesday, the Texas A&M Aggies announced that they would not be able to participate in the Gator Bowl against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on New Year’s Eve. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will replace Texas A&M in the game.
1:01 p.m. ET, December 26, 2021
Increase in Covid-19 vaccine shots recorded in England ahead of Christmas
From CNN’s Zeena Saifi and Arnaud Siad
England saw a surge in the number of people receiving Covid-19 vaccine shots ahead of Christmas, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said Sunday, with the largest increase seen in people 30 and under.
According to government data, 221,564 first doses were administered between 15 and 21 December in England, marking a 46% increase from the previous week, while 279,112 second doses were administered — up by 39%.
England also saw an 85% increase in first doses being administered for people aged between 18 and 24, and a 71% increase in first doses among people aged 25 to 30.
In a statement on Sunday, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it has been “excellent” to see the recent surge in people getting their first and second shots.
“Millions of people have rolled up their sleeves, so let’s build on that momentum and ensure we have the protection we need this winter,” he added.
With the UK seeing a record-breaking surge in new Covid-19 cases across the country, the government has been encouraging people to get a third ‘booster’ shot of the vaccine.
Some context: According to the latest available data — published Friday — more than 32 million people in the UK have now received a third dose of the vaccine.
In a statement on Sunday, UK Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said the government has “turbocharged” its booster program to make it “easier than ever” for people to get vaccinated.
“Two doses are not enough against Omicron. I urge everyone eligible to take advantage of our accelerated program and get their booster booked in as soon as possible, to top up your protection for the New Year,” Throup said.
10:44 a.m. ET, December 26, 2021
Christmas Day air travel falls more than 900,000 short of pre-pandemic levels, TSA numbers show
From Sonnet Swire
Saturday air travel failed to meet pre-pandemic levels with more than 1.53 million people passing through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints, versus nearly 2.47 million people passing through US airports in 2019 amid last-minute flight cancellations due to the Omicron surge.
“JUST IN: @TSA officers screened 1,533,398 people at airport security checkpoints nationwide yesterday, Christmas day,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted Sunday.
That number is higher than the 1,128,773 people the agency says it screened on Saturday of Christmas week of last year, but it is more than 900,000 fewer than the 2,470,786 people TSA screened on the same day in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
Some context: This comes after figures earlier in the week were approaching, and at one point exceeding 2019 numbers.
On Dec. 22, there were more people traveling through US airports than in 2019. The TSA says it screened 2.19 million people at airports across the country on Thursday, December 23 – the highest figure of the week.
But airlines have canceled thousands of flights going into the Christmas weekend, including over a thousand US domestic flights, as staff and crew call out sick during the Omicron surge.
CNN previously reported that, globally, airlines have canceled about 5,700 flights on Christmas Eve day, Christmas and the day after Christmas, according to FlightAware. That includes about 1,700 flights within, into or out of the United States.
10:35 a.m. ET, December 26, 2021
South Africa relaxes Covid-19 restrictions
From CNN’s Zeena Saifi and Eleni Giokos
South Africa will no longer require those who have been exposed to a positive coronavirus case to quarantine or test unless symptoms develop, according to a statement issued by the director general for the South African National Department of Health, Dr. Sandile Buthelezi.
According to the statement, all contact tracing will be stopped with immediate effect, except in cluster outbreaks or self-contained settings. The new regulations will also apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, with applicable rules to be based on the severity of the illness.
Those who have been exposed to a positive case, but remain asymptomatic, will be asked to practice “self-observation” for five to seven days to monitor for the development of symptoms. However, enhanced precautions will still be required, including mask-wearing, social distancing and the avoidance of closed spaces.
Those experiencing “mild disease” after exposure will still be required to isolate for eight days, and must wear a mask at all times for the duration of their self-isolation period. However, Covid-19 testing will no longer be required after the isolation period has ended.
According to the health ministry, mild disease refers to persons who have symptoms and have tested positive, but who do not require hospitalization.
In the case of “severe disease,” a self-isolation period of 10 days will be required, rather than eight days.
Some context: The revision of the country’s Covid-19 protocols was driven by early studies which suggest that infection caused by the Omicron variant may be less severe than other variants, with hospitalization rates in South Africa proving to be significantly lower than the last wave of the pandemic, when Delta was the dominant variant in the country.
On Wednesday, one of the country's top scientific researchers declared South Africa had passed the peak of its Omicron outbreak.
The government has also expressed its belief that containment strategies are “no longer appropriate,” with mitigation seen to be the “only viable strategy” for tackling the virus.
“Quarantine has been costly to essential services and society as many people stay away from their work, and thus lose their income and children miss on their schooling,” the health ministry added.
The announcement was made by the health ministry on Dec. 23, with immediate effect.
10:39 a.m. ET, December 26, 2021
France records over 100,000 new daily Covid-19 cases for the first time
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad
France reported a record-breaking 104,611 Covid-19 cases on Saturday — the highest daily number since the pandemic began and the first-time numbers have broken the 100,000 threshold, according to health ministry data.
On Friday, the French government announced that President Emmanuel Macron will host a virtual meeting with ministers on Monday to discuss the coronavirus crisis.