St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the midst of rising cases; a world leader tests positive for COVID, and more virus news

Take a look at COVID news for today, March 17.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are back

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across the country are back after a two-year hiatus, including the nation’s largest in New York City, in a sign of growing hope that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over.

The holiday served as a key marker in the outbreak’s progression, with parades celebrating Irish heritage among the first big public events to be called off in 2020. An ominous acceleration in infections quickly cascaded into broad shutdowns.

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Irish prime minister comes to D.C., tests positive for COVID

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin learned he had tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday evening while attending an event with U.S. leaders, including President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a senior administration official.

Martin — also referred to as Ireland’s taoiseach — was attending the Ireland Funds 30th National Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington when he tested positive, ahead of planned St. Patrick’s Day celebrations Thursday with U.S. leaders.

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Countries around the world are dropping restrictions, despite rising case numbers

The German government on Thursday defended its decision to let many pandemic restrictions expire at the weekend, even as the country hit a new record high for newly confirmed cases.

Germany’s disease control agency reported 294,931 new cases in the past 24 hours. The Robert Koch Institute said there have been a further 278 COVID-related deaths, taking the overall toll since the start of the pandemic to 126,420.

Canada announced it will lift its Covid-19 pre-entry test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers beginning April 1, saying Thursday that the pandemic was entering a “transition phase.”

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How bad will a new COVID wave hit us?

With a new version of the Omicron coronavirus variant picking up steam in the United States, as many as 28 million seniors remain at risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19, either because they are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, or because it has been more than five months since their second or third dose of a vaccine, according to a CNN analysis of federal data.

As America casts a wary eye on rising cases caused by the BA.2 subvariant in Europe, the immune status of adults over the age of 65 will be a key indicator of how future variants will affect the US because the risk of severe outcomes rises dramatically with age.

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