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U.S. seeks to send expert team to China to combat coronavirus outbreak; Xi defends response

Scientists have identified certain parts of the world as hot spots for emerging diseases. (Video: The Washington Post)

BEIJING — A top U.S. health official said Tuesday that he offered to send a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to China to help with the coronavirus outbreak. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar did not describe the Chinese health minister’s response but said he hopes that Beijing will accept the offer.

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that China had agreed to allow global health experts into the country. Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Tuesday that his country is being “open, transparent, responsible” in its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, as the number of cases continues to increase. Here’s what we know:

The death toll has risen to 132 in China, with more than 5,974 confirmed cases of infection as of Wednesday morning local time — a day-over-day increase of more than 1,000. Other countries in the region also are reporting more people infected — nearly all of them tourists from China.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant. Here’s some guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

Variants: Instead of a single new Greek letter variant, a group of immune-evading omicron spinoffs are popping up all over the world. Any dominant variant will likely knock out monoclonal antibodies, targeted drugs that can be used as a treatment or to protect immunocompromised people.

Tripledemic: Hospitals are overwhelmed by a combination of respiratory illnesses, staffing shortages and nursing home closures. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months. Here’s how to tell the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people. Nearly nine out of 10 covid deaths are people over the age 65.

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