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The nation’s top public health agency is relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines and dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said Thursday that people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others. The changes come more than 2 1/2 years after the start of the pandemic. They are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister says he suffered a fever while guiding the country to victory over the coronavirus. In a striking speech before thousands of North Koreans, she blamed rival South Korea for the country's outbreak and vowed “deadly” retaliation. Kim Yo Jong, a powerful official in charge of inter-Korean relations, glorified her brother’s leadership during the outbreak, as he jubilantly described the country’s widely disputed success over the virus as an “amazing miracle” in global public health. Experts believe the victory announcement signals Kim Jong Un's intention to move to other priorities and are concerned his sister’s remarks portend a possible nuclear or missile provocation.

Cycling is growing in popularity in China as a sport, not just a way to get to work. A coronavirus outbreak that shut down indoor sports facilities in Beijing earlier this year encouraged people to try outdoor sports including cycling. Organized rides in the Chinese capital take cyclists to outlying suburbs or city landmarks. Bicycles once outnumbered cars on China's city streets. Now cycling is increasingly seen as a sport by a newly affluent urban middle class. The sport's rising popularity has boosted sales of bicycles and signals growing public awareness of environmental protection and low-carbon lifestyles. At least 20 million people are participating in the sport nationwide.

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Spain is struggling to curtail Europe's leading monkeypox outbreak since the disease spread beyond Africa. The southern European nation counts 4,942 cases and two men have died from the disease. Authorities and groups in the LGBTQ community are honing their campaigns to get vaccines to the most needy members of the most affected demographic so far. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of monkeypox infections have happened in men who have sex with men. But experts warn that if the cases continue to rise they will inevitably spread to other groups like happened with AIDS/HIV. Given the dearth of vaccines, the focus is now on getting out the message that reducing sexual partners is critical.

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North Korea has reported no new fever cases for the first time since it abruptly admitted to its first domestic COVID-19 outbreak and placed its 26 million people under more draconian restrictions in May. The North’s state emergency anti-epidemic center said Saturday it had found zero fever patients in the latest 24-hour period. The country’s death count remains at 74, a mortality rate of 0.0016% that would be the world’s lowest if true. There have been widespread outside doubts about North Korean statistics on the outbreak. Some experts say North Korea has likely manipulated the scale of illness and deaths to help leader Kim Jong Un maintain absolute control.

Hard-won progress against HIV has stalled, putting millions of lives at risk. That's according to an alarming report Wednesday on how the collision with the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises set back efforts to end AIDS. Declines in new infections are leveling off. Cases are rising in some spots. COVID disrupted HIV care and widened inequalities that left already vulnerable people at more risk. Experts are calling for fast efforts to start getting back on track. The report, from UNAIDS, was released at the International AIDS Conference in Montreal.

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FILE - People visit the 21,000 panel Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in Washington on Saturday, Oct. 10, 1992. The Washington Monument is seen in the background. Hard-won progress against HIV has stalled, putting millions of lives at risk, according to an alarming report Wednesday, July 27, 2022 on how the collision with the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises is jeopardizing efforts to end AIDS. The report from UNAIDS is being released ahead of the start of the International AIDS Conference later this week. (AP Photo/Shayna Brennan, File)

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President Joe Biden has emerged from five days of isolation after contracting the coronavirus, telling Americans that “COVID isn’t gone” but saying serious illness can be avoided with vaccines, booster shots and treatments. Biden spoke after testing negative for the virus Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning. Biden's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, says the president has completed his course of treatment with the drug Paxlovid and remains free of fever. O'Connor says that given those factors and the pair of negative tests, Biden will discontinue his “strict isolation” measures. The 79-year-old president tested positive last week and had mild symptoms.

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Two new studies provide more evidence that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a Wuhan, China market where live animals were sold. This further bolsters the theory that the virus emerged from the wild rather than escaping from a Chinese lab. The research was published online Tuesday by the journal Science. It shows that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was likely the early epicenter of the scourge that has now killed nearly 6.4 million people around the world. Scientists also conclude that the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, likely spilled from animals into people two separate times.

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COVID-19 infections are again on the rise and filling families with dread as a new school year approaches. They fear the return of the pandemic scourge of outbreaks that sideline large numbers of teachers, close school buildings and force students back into remote learning. Some school systems around the country have moved to bolster staffing to minimize disruptions. But many are hoping for the best without doing much else differently compared with last year. Even some of the districts that had the most disruptions to in-person schooling amid the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant point to few specific changes in their prevention efforts.