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Homeland Security

US Teacher Source of COVID-19 Outbreak at School, CDC Says

By VOA News August 29, 2021

A U.S. teacher who read aloud to her students while not wearing a mask is serving as a cautionary tale as schools across the country begin to open for the new school year.

Last May, an unvaccinated teacher in an elementary school in California's Marin County, read aloud to her students after removing her mask despite a school mandate requiring everyone to wear a mask while indoors.

The teacher became symptomatic on May 19, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. She continued to work for two days before taking a COVID-19 test on May 21. The teacher tested positive for the delta variant.

On May 23, the school began receiving reports of COVID-19 cases from students, parents, teachers and staff associated with the school. Marin County Public Health conducted contact tracing that included whole genome sequencing.

The CDC report says 26 cases were found to be connected with the teacher, including 12 of her students. In her classroom, "the attack rate" in the two rows of students closest to her was 80%, the report said, and 28% in the three back rows.

Students in another classroom also tested positive for the coronavirus. All the students in both classes were too young to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Meanwhile, England's Office for National Statistics says coronavirus infections in the country are 26 times higher this year than they were last year at this time. Officials are warning that the imminent opening of schools and universities could cause the caseload to grow.

In Myanmar, the military-installed government says it will provide COVID-19 vaccines for country's persecuted Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority. The Rohingya face vast discrimination in Myanmar where they are not considered citizens, even though many have lived their entire lives there. In 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh, following a Myanmar military operation against the Rohingya that the United Nations described as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday that the country may face new restrictions Monday to curtail the spread of the coronavirus after the announcement Sunday of 83 new locally acquired cases of the highly contagious delta variant. All but one of the cases were in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. One case was in Wellington, the capital.

Also Sunday, Ardern announced additional funding for mental health services for people affected by the COVID lockdowns. "Having positive cases in our communities, along with the impact of lockdowns I know can be hugely unsettling, and that uncertainty can impact everyone's mental health," Ardern said. "So, it's OK to feel overwhelmed, to feel upset, or even to feel frustrated because this situation is often all of those things."

A German region is considering taking more restrictive steps against people who are unvaccinated. The social ministry of the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has proposed banning unvaccinated adults from restaurants and concerts, and restricting their contacts.

People in Germany are currently required to be vaccinated, test negative or have a recovery certificate in order to engage in indoor sports, attend parties or events and to visit hospitals and nursing homes.

"It would be wrong to hold everyone jointly liable, including the vaccinated," Thomas Strobl, Baden-Wuerttemberg's deputy leader, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "That's why there will be different rules for the unvaccinated than for the vaccinated."

Germany reported 8,416 new cases Sunday.

India's health ministry reported 45,083 new COVID-19 cases Sunday. India has more than 32 million COVID cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Only the U.S. has more, with 38.7 million, Johns Hopkins reports, and the U.S. reported 49,712 new cases in the past 24 hours.

(Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.)

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