Summary updates from The Guardian:
Here are the major developments from the last few hours:
- The United States has recorded its highest daily increase in coronavirus cases , with 290,000 cases and 3,676 deaths reported in 24 hours.
- Mexico has reported 14,362 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,038 deaths.
- In Australia, New South Wales has recorded one new case of Covid-19 in connection to the Berala cluster and five in hotel quarantine ; Victoria has recorded no new locally acquired cases and one in hotel quarantine ; and Queensland has recorded no new cases on the first day of a three-day lockdown of greater Brisbane.
- Health officials in Australia have changed the rules for releasing people who test positive to Covid-19 from hotel quarantine. It comes as a Queensland woman, who completed quarantine in Victoria and caught a domestic flight to Brisbane, was revealed to have the UK variant of the virus and to still be returning a positive test. States will now do rapid genomic testing of everyone who tests positive to Covid-19, extend the isolation period to 14 days, and require exit testing of positive cases.
- In the UK, all NHS health and social care staff will be offered a Covid vaccine as an “immediate” and “critical” priority, with most to receive their first jab by early February.
- The US Food and Drug Administration has said genetic variants of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, including the one first detected in the UK, could lead to false negative coronavirus test results.
- Spain has recorded its biggest one-day jump in new coronavirus cases since October.
- China has reported 33 new cases of Covid-19 , mainly in Hebei province where authorities have suspended the subway service and announced tight new restrictions ahead of Lunar New year.
- And the World Health Organization director general director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has warned richer nations against hoarding Covid-19 vaccines, saying there is a “clear problem” that low- and middle-income countries are not yet receiving supplies of Covid-19 vaccines.
is reportedly planning to start vaccinations in the contested province of West Papua
Most of you reading this would have been in a Covid-19 enforced lockdown
at some point in the past year. But did you have to wear a mask while driving alone in your own car?
That’s the advice in Brisbane, Australia, which just started a snap three-day lockdown
. This was sent earlier today by the state’s health minister:
Yvette D'Ath MP:If anyone in the Greater Brisbane area is leaving their home they must wear a mask throughout the entire period they are out until they get home. This includes while driving.
Chinese city closes subwayChina
has reported 33 new cases of Covid-19
, mainly in Hebei province where authorities have suspended the subway service and announced tight new restrictions ahead of Lunar New year.
This report from Reuters
:Mainland China reported 33 new Covid-19 cases on 8 January, down from 53 reported a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Saturday.The National Health Commission said in a statement that 14 of the 17 locally transmitted infections were in Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing which entered a “wartime mode” this week as it battles a new cluster of coronavirus infections.Shijiazhuang, Hebei’s capital, announced on Saturday it would suspend service on its subway. Earlier this week, authorities banned people from leaving the city in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.Shijiazhuang is launching mass testing across its population of 11 million. On 8 January municipal authorities told residents they must stay home for at least seven days even after they complete a nucleic acid test.The commission also reported 38 new asymptomatic cases, down from 57 a day earlier. China does not classify these patients, who have been infected by the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease but are not yet showing any Covid-19 symptoms, as confirmed cases.
Australians stranded overseas say slashing arrival caps makes returning home 'near impossible'
There has been a further tightening of the arrival cap for Australians
stranded overseas, as the government seeks to control the spread of UK and South Africa variant Covid cases.Read more here
Britain set for bitterly cold weekend with temperatures down to -9C
Forecasts of temperatures down to -9c
. Good weather to be locked down in, if such a thing exists.Read more
State of emergency could be extended to Japan's western cities
There are calls to expand the state of emergency in Japan
to contain a fresh Covid-19 outbreak.
This report just in from Reuters:Osaka and its surrounding prefectures asked Japan to expand a state of emergency to the western cities in an effort to contain the latest Covid-19 outbreak, while Tokyo’s new daily infections keep above 2,000 cases on Saturday.Yasutoshi Nishimura, the country’s economy minister, told media the situation in the western cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo was severe and the declaration of a wider state of emergency was being considered after a request from the cities’ governors.Japan declared a limited state of emergency in Tokyo and three prefectures neighbouring the capital on Thursday to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections, resisting calls from some medics for wider curbs due to the economic damage they would cause.Tokyo reported 2,268 new daily coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to the public broadcaster NHK, the third straight day above 2,000.
has reported 23,309 new Covid-19 cases
and 470 deaths
in the past 24 hours (it was 23,652 and 454 the previous day), according to Reuters.
Fraudsters are targeting elderly and vulnerable people with a fake vaccine, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCAA), has said.
Officers warned that the scammers are demanding bank details or cash payments for access to a jab – something the NHS would not do when administering a legitimate dose.
The National Economic Crime Centre is working with government and law enforcement to urge people to remain vigilant and follow basic advice in relation to the NHS Covid vaccination programme, which will always be free.
The NHS will never ask for payment for vaccines or bank details.
In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the NHS in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. At the appropriate time, people will be contacted directly by the NHS, their employer, a GP surgery or local pharmacy to receive the vaccine.
The vaccine is free of charge and at no point will people be asked to pay.Graeme Biggar, the director general of the National Economic Crime Centre at the NCA, said:
“The current level of reported fraud in relation to the vaccine remains very low but is increasing. The advice is very simple. The vaccine is only available on the NHS, and you will never be asked to pay for it or to provide your bank details. Anything that suggests otherwise is a fraud.”Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez said:
“I am sad to say that throughout the pandemic, we have seen fraudsters adapt their methods to take advantage of covid support schemes and exploit the fears of vulnerable people when they feel at their most anxious. This latest scam, which plays on people’s hopes for a vaccine, is one of the most callous and despicable so far, which is why we want to arm everyone with the knowledge that the NHS will never ask for cash or financial details to pay for the vaccine or verify a patient’s identity.”Security minister James Brokenshire said:
“It’s a sad reality that scammers and fraudsters are using the pandemic to fleece innocent people out of their hard-earned cash. If you receive an email, text message or phone call claiming to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, or pay for the vaccine, this is a scam.”
The public are asked to remember that the NHS will never:
· Ask for bank account or card details;
· Ask for a PIN or banking password;
· Arrive unannounced at someone’s home to administer the vaccine;
· Demand proof of identity by sending copies of personal documents such as a passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.
Iran’s president has characterised a ban on vaccine imports from the US and Britain, imposed by the country’s’ supreme leader, as an effort to prevent foreign companies testing jabs on the Iranian people. Hassan Rouhani
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Foreign companies wanted to give us vaccines so they would be tested on the Iranian people but the health ministry prevented it. Our people will not be a testing device for vaccine manufacturing companies. We shall purchase safe foreign vaccines.
, Iran’s highest authority, said on Friday the US and Britain were “untrustworthy” and possibly sought to spread the infection to other countries.
Iran could obtain vaccines from other reliable places, he added, without giving details. China and Russia are both allies of Iran.
Khamenei repeated the accusations in a tweet that was removed by Twitter, along with a message saying it violated the platform’s rules against misinformation.
Iran launched human trials of its first domestic vaccine candidate late last month, saying it could help the country defeat the pandemic despite US sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise since 2018, when the US president Donald Trump
abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions.
, the wife of the French president, tested positive towards the end of December, but resumed normal activities after a second test came back negative, French media have reported.
The Europe 1 radio station said she tested positive on 24 December. It reported that she presented no major symptoms and then had two further tests on 30 and 31 December that yielded negative results.
The president Emmanuel Macron
tested positive on 17 December and was in self-isolation until his office said on 24 December that he was no longer showing symptoms and was eligible to end his quarantine period.
is to extend its Covid-19 curfew to a further eight departments, Prime Minister Jean Castex
said on Saturday, citing a “tough and necessary” response as some opposed the restrictions in several cities.
France has been ramping up its anti-virus restrictions in the face of rising cases and imposed a post-New Year curfew on 15 of its 101 departments, Agence France-Presse reports.
Those 15 are deemed to be where the virus is spreading the most in a country which has seen some 67,000 deaths to date from some 2.7m cases and with a reproduction rate escalating.
The new departments likely to be subject to an earlier curfew are primarily in the east of the country, including Bas-Rhin
and Côte d’Or
, as well as the central one of Cher
Castex highlighted the southern port of Marseille
, France’s second largest city, where local politicians of all stripes have voiced opposition to extending the partial lockdown, questioning its effectiveness.
“In reality we are applying the same criteria to Marseille as we apply elsewhere,” Castex said, confirming the earlier lockdown would be extended to eight departments including the Bouches-du-Rhone
, which includes Marseille.
“Everybody is conscious of the epidemic not weakening or that on the contrary it is growing stronger in some areas,” Castex said.
He also defended the government’s vaccine rollout strategy, criticised in some quarters for its slow start. “The objective is to go quickly, [but] do it in absolutely irreproachable security conditions.”
Opinion polls show around half the French population are sceptical about having the jab, opposition notably higher than in neighbouring countries.
confirmed 11,749 new cases on Friday, including 1,291 asymptomatic patients, taking the tally of infections to 2.3 million.
186 further deaths were recorded, bringing the country’s total to 22,450, the Andalou Agency reported.
The figures represent a significant drop in the countrywide number of coronavirus cases from the 32,102 new infections reported on 15 December.
Health minister Fahrettin Koca
announced on Twitter that there had been a 40% drop in the caseload of both Istanbul
and the Aegean province Izmir
, as well as a reduction of roughly 60% both in the capital Ankara
and the northwestern Bursa
Koca added that discussions with public health authorities in four of Turkey’s biggest cities on preparations to start Turkey’s vaccination campaign were ongoing.