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Coronavirus - 27th December


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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 27 2020, 20:16

Summary for Sunday, 27th December

Here’s a roundup of the main developments so far today.

  • The official EU programme to vaccinate up to 450 million people across Europe got under way today. Italy, France, Austria, Portugal, Croatia, Finland, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Malta and Spain all started vaccinating people on Sunday morning. Germany, Hungary and Slovakia administered their first shots on Saturday.
  • The Czech prime minister became the first European leader to get the jab. Andrej Babiš was given the Pfizer vaccine at a military hospital in Prague. Soon afterwards the president of the neighbouring Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová, also received the vaccine. Both the Greek prime minister and president also got the vaccine today.
  • Those getting the first jabs in their countries varied widely from prominent figures to ordinary elderly people. They included a retired archbishop in Slovenia, a 96-year-old care home resident in Spain, a 29-year-old nurse in Italy and the head of infectious diseases at a hospital in Porto.
  • Canada has become the latest country to detect cases of the new strain of the virus first identified in the UK. Dr Barbara Yaffe, the associate chief medical officer of Ontario province, said the first two confirmed cases were a couple from the country’s Durham region with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts. The new strain was also detected on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
  • Plans have been drawn up to roll out the Oxford coronavirus vaccine across the UK on 4 January, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be stored in ordinary fridges, is expected to be approved by regulators this week.
  • The head of the firm behind the Oxford vaccine has said researchers believe the jab will remain effective against the new variant. But the AstraZeneca chief executive, Pascal Soriot, told the Sunday Times more tests were needed to be sure, while he hailed the discovery of what he called a “winning formula” to improve the jab’s efficacy.
  • A private Thai hospital has been banned from advertising Covid vaccinations for sale on the grounds that no vaccine is yet approved in Thailand. Vibhavadi hospital said its online offer for 1,000 initial reservations for the two-dose Moderna vaccine had been the result of a misunderstanding.

Greek president and PM among first to get vaccine

Helena Smith - The  Guardian
Greece has also rolled out its vaccination programme with the country’s head of state, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, among the first to get the shot.
In a nation where conspiracy theories over the merits of any vaccine have been rife, Athens’ political elite have gone out of their way to lead by example.
Sakellaropoulou, the nation’s first female president, urged all Greeks to participate in the immunisation campaign.
“It is important that as many as possible are vaccinated,” she said after her own vaccination at Athens’ Evangelismos hospital was broadcast live on TV. “The time has come to emerge victorious, to put this ordeal behind us, to take back our lives, to gain our freedom and to meet again.”
Five hospitals in the Greek capital will be administering jabs in a mass vaccination programme dubbed Operation Freedom by the centre-right government. Nationwide more than 1,000 clinics will be handing out the vaccine.
Receiving the Covid-19 jab in Athens’ Attikon hospital shortly after the president, Mitsotakis hailed the moment as “a great day for science”.
“And a great day for the European Union which succeeded in delivering the vaccine on the same day to all countries in Europe displaying in practice the message of European solidarity.”
Efstathia Kampisiouli, a nurse in a Covid-19 intensive care ward at Evangelismos, the capital’s largest state-run hospital, was the first citizen in Greece to receive the shot.
“In my person today the entire nursing profession and family of public health are being honoured,” she said.
Greece has struggled to contain a second wave of the pandemic after faring relatively well compared with other EU member states during the first wave. Public health officials have confirmed 135,114 coronavirus cases and 4,553 Covid-19 deaths to date.

Cold-chain concerns delay vaccine in Germany

Germany’s coronavirus vaccination campaign faced delays in several cities on Sunday after medical staff found potential irregularities in the cooling of the Pfizer shot, according to Reuters.
“When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements,” the district office of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany’s largest state, Bavaria, said in a statement.
The Pfizer vaccine, which uses new so-called mRNA technology, must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of about -70C (-94F) to remain effective before being shipped to distribution centres.
Pfizer has designed special shipping containers filled with dry ice to keep the vaccine from spoiling in transit. Shots can be kept in an ultra-low temperature freezer for up to six months, or for five days at 2-8C, a type of refrigeration commonly available at hospitals.
Besides Lichtenfels, the northern Bavarian cities of Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach, Hof, Bayreuth and Wunsiedel also held off from inoculating people after uncertainty arose about whether the cold chain had been maintained.
“Vaccination against the coronavirus is not about who vaccinates the fastest or who does the most doses. Safety and conscientious work for the benefit of the population has the highest priority,” said Oliver Bär, district administrator of Hof.
Similar problems also delayed the vaccination campaign in the southern Bavarian city of Augsburg, the daily Merkur reported.

Trump continues to block pandemic relief package as millions lose benefits

Miranda Bryant - The Guardian
As unemployment benefits expired for millions of Americans on Saturday, Donald Trump, who spent Christmas playing golf in Florida, continued to block a $900bn pandemic relief bill that would extend them.
The US package, which Congress passed with bipartisan support on Monday after months of negotiations, would keep unemployment benefits in place until March and expand state benefits by $300 a week – as well as extending an evictions moratorium, providing federal loans to small businesses and $600 direct payments to many Americans.
But without Trump’s signature, the entire package – set to be the second biggest in US history – is stalled and the US government now faces a shutdown on Tuesday.
“I simply want to get our great people $2,000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill. Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork’,” he tweeted on Saturday morning.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 27 2020, 20:28

Police issue £1,000 fines for breach of Covid legislation in Manchester

Police in Manchester said officers issued two £1,000 fines and arrested a man today after around 100 people were found gathering in empty flats in the Shudehill area of the city.
Officers were called at around 4.20am on Sunday to reports of a large gathering and loud music at the flats.
Two teenage boys – aged 17 and 18 – were each issued £1,000 fixed penalty notices. A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and remained in custody for questioning.
He had also been issued with a £200 fine.
Chief Inspector Colin MacDiarmid said:
There is no denying the blatant breach of Covid legislation that took place here last night, and inquiries are ongoing to ensure the organisers of this gathering are held accountable for their unacceptable actions.
It is clear that the people at this gathering weren’t just people from Manchester but from across the north-west, and it not only disregards the rules there to protect public health but also undermines the whole spirit of us all needing to be in this together to battle the ongoing risk of coronavirus.

EU launches mass Covid-19 vaccination as new variant spreads

Here’s a news roundup of the vaccination rollout in Europe:
The EU has officially launched its programme of mass vaccination against Covid-19, with the goal of making shots available to all its adult population by the end of 2021.
Meanwhile cases of the new coronavirus variant first detected in the UK were confirmed in at least eight European countries, piling further pressure on the vaccine campaign to help get the pandemic under control.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 27 2020, 20:34

Another 254 people have died in Turkey from coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 19,878.
Its government has introduced full weekend lockdowns and curfews on weekdays in an attempt to stop cases rising.

Norway’s institute of public health has confirmed that two people in the country have been found to have the new variant of coronavirus first detected in the UK. According to Reuters they arrived in the country from the UK earlier in December.
The country imposed travel restrictions on passengers from Britain earlier this month, amid concerns about the new variant which is thought to be more contagious.

Italy’s health ministry has confirmed another 298 people have died from Covid-19, bringing the total to 71,925, the highest in Europe and fifth highest in the world.
The number of new cases has fallen to 8,913, down from 10,407 on Saturday. More than 2 million people in the country have had the virus since the outbreak started in February.

Jordan is the latest country to report cases of the new coronavirus variant first detected in Britain.
Health minister Nazir Obeidat said a Jordanian couple who travelled to the country from the UK on 19 December were found to have the variant after being tested. They are now in quarantine and being monitored by doctors, but Obeidat said they were in “excellent health”.

Another 316 people have died in the UK from coronavirus. The figure’s higher than Saturday, as more areas went into stricter restrictions on movement and gatherings. 30,501 new cases were confirmed on Sunday.
A total of 70,752 people have now died from the virus. The figures are likely to grow further on Tuesday as Scotland and Northern Ireland are not releasing data over the Christmas period.

Hospitals in England have been told to free up beds, due to the growing number of coronavirus patients.
NHS England has said the entire health service will have to stay on the highest level of alert until at least the end of March. It comes as NHS trust bosses in England said the intense pressures they were facing were “extremely challenging” and that hospitals had almost as many Covid patients now as in April.
In a letter, NHS Improvement bosses told hospitals that where possible they should send patients needing surgery to local private health facilities, discharge as many inpatients as possible and prepare for the Nightingale field hospitals to open.
Read more here

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 27 2020, 21:00

South Africa's president calls emergency meeting amid 1 million case milestone

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, called an emergency meeting of the country’s national coronavirus command council, amid a rise that has taken the country to 1 million confirmed cases. He is expected to announce new restrictions to try and curb its spread. A total of 26,521 people have died from the virus.
Like the UK, it has detected a new coronavirus variant which is thought to be more contagious and has become one of the reasons behind another wave of infections.
Some of the country’s hospitals are near capacity, according to the Associated Press, and there is little sign that the current surge has reached a peak. A vaccine hasn’t been rolled out yet, with Ramaphosa saying he expected 10% of the population to get the jab in the first months of 2021.

Turkey's vaccine delivery delayed

The first delivery of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine to Turkey has been delayed because of a coronavirus outbreak in Beijing customs, the country’s health minister has said.
Fahrettin Koca said the shipment would be a day or two late, after a member of staff was confirmed as having the virus. Turkey has agreed to buy 50 million doses of the firm’s vaccine, and 3 million were due to arrive on Monday.

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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 27 2020, 21:10

Hundreds of UK tourists flee Covid quarantine in Swiss ski resort

Coronavirus - 27th December 3977_w10
Skiers wearing face masks in Verbier, Switzerland in November. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Bott/EPA

Hundreds of British tourists quarantining in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier fled in the night, rather than finishing their period of self isolation.
About 200 of the 420 tourists in the luxury Alpine resort left under the cover of darkness, according to the country’s SonntagsZeitung newspaper.
The Swiss government introduced a 10-day retrospective quarantine for anyone who arrived from Britain since 14 December, after the detection of a new potentially more contagious Covid-19 variant. Two cases have been detected in the country, and one in neighbouring Liechtenstein.
“Many of them stayed in quarantine for a day before they set off unnoticed under the cover of darkness,” Jean-Marc Sandoz, spokesman for the Bagnes municipality, told SZ.
He called the whole situation “the worst week our community has ever experienced”. The situation was given away by untouched breakfasts, left by visitors who had escaped, he said.
The new quarantine rules also applied to hundreds of British tourists who had planned to spend the Christmas break in Verbier, an alpine village located in the municipality of Bagnes in Canton du Valais, nicknamed “Little London” by locals for the British visitors who make up 20% of tourists during a typical winter season.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Dec 27 2020, 21:14

The death toll in France’s hospitals and care homes has risen by 173 since Saturday. A total of 62,746 have now died from the virus in the country.
Confirmed cases have also risen by 8,822 over the last 24 hours, more than 3,000 higher than the rise on Saturday.

Lebanon will get its first delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in February, its health ministry has said.
Lebanon will receive the vaccine in mid-February in instalments,” it said in a statement. “It will cover 15% of the population.”
The ministry said it would later secure “additional vaccines” to cover another 20% of the population. 1,394 people have died in the country since its first cases in February.
Its government allowed nightclubs and bars to reopen ahead of the Christmas holidays, despite criticism from doctors who said bed occupancy in intensive care units was already running critically low. The country is currently grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme will resume on Monday, after a pause on Christmas Day and the weekend.
The latest figures show that a total of 70,572 people in the UK have died from Covid-19. The number is likely to rise further on Tuesday, as authorities in both Scotland and Northern Ireland have not released data over the festive period.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the US’ coronavirus taskforce said that he believes the Covid-19 variant detected in the UK must be taken “very seriously,” but is not likely to cause more serious illness or be resistant to vaccines.
He said: “Does it make someone more ill? Is it more serious virus in the sense of virulence? And the answer is, it doesn’t appear to be that way.”
Fauci backed the decision by US officials for people entering the US to require negative Covid tests. He told CNN’s State of the Union that the worst for the US was still yet to come in the pandemic.

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Post by Kitkat Mon Dec 28 2020, 00:02

Brazil reports 344 new coronavirus-related deaths

The death toll from Covid-19 in Brazil has risen by 344, to 191,139, according to its health ministry.
Officials also reported 18,479 new cases, as nearly 7.5 million people in the country have had the virus.

Saudi Arabia extends ban for another week on people entering by air, sea and land

Saudi Arabia has extended a ban on people entering by air, sea and land for another week, amid fears about new coronavirus variants.
Its interior ministry said it was assessing the current situation, and that non-citizens were still being allowed to leave, and entry is permitted in “exceptional cases”.

    Current date/time is Sat Feb 27 2021, 21:31