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Coronavirus - 17th January 2021

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 10:22

Summary for Sunday, 17th January

  • UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the government's aim is to vaccinate the adult population of the UK by September
  • It aims to get the first priority groups - 15 million people - a dose by 15 February
  • Lifting England's lockdown will not be a "big bang" but will see the reintroduction of the tiers system, Dominic Raab says
  • There will be increased checks on those who must quarantine after arriving in the UK, he says
  • Ten more mass Covid vaccination centres are to open in England from Monday
  • NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens says a 24/7 vaccinations pilot will begin in 10 days' time
  • More than half of the Church of England's 14,000 parishes are not expected to open for Sunday services today
  • Saturday's data for deaths in the UK within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test took the total by this measure to 88,590
  • France has begun a nationwide 6pm to 6am curfew, which will be in place for at least 15 days
  • At least 47 tennis players preparing for the Australian Open are in quarantine after positive cases on their flights


Good morning

Welcome to today’s live page. Here is a round-up of the main news stories this morning.


What do the UK papers say?

Several of the Sunday papers report on Covid vaccination plans, with the Telegraph claiming: "All over-18s could have jab by end of June" .

  • Ministers, the Telegraph reports, are "increasingly optimistic" that they will be able to meet this target, with up to five million people vaccinated each week.
  • The Sunday Mirror argues frontline health workers should not have to wait three months for the second booster jab and says teachers, police and firefighters should be prioritised.
  • The Sun on Sunday says the public is “fed up… with Covidiots”. More than half of the people questioned in a YouGov poll for the paper felt the police were not being tough enough on those flouting lockdown measures.
  • The Mail on Sunday reports US claims that workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with coronavirus-like symptoms in autumn 2019, and that the lab's scientists were experimenting with a bat coronavirus similar to the one that causes Covid. It says the Chinese government is under growing pressure to reveal the "true origins" of the pandemic.
  • The Sunday Times splashes with claims officials have been told to prepare for the creation of quarantine hotels for arrivals to the UK, and to use GPS and facial recognition technology to check that people are staying in isolation. It also reports on a Cabinet deal by government to approve a plan to begin lifting lockdown restrictions in early March.


Ten new mass vaccination centres to open in England

Ten new mass Covid vaccination centres are to open in England from Monday, as the government tries to meet its target to give 15 million people in the UK their first jab by 15 February.
Blackburn Cathedral and St Helens Rugby Ground are among the venues chosen to join the seven hubs already in use.
People aged 80 or over, who live up to a 45-minute drive from a centre, are now being offered the choice of arranging a jab at one of the 17 centres, or at a pharmacy site through the national booking service.
Anyone not wanting to travel can wait to be contacted by their GP-led vaccination service or hospital.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, about 45% of those aged 80 and over have been vaccinated.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Health Secretary Matt Hancock calls on the public to commit to three pledges to "help out", "join up" and "stay informed".
Mr Hancock says: "We can see the way out of this pandemic. We are nearly on the home straight."
Where will the new mass vaccination centres be?

  • Bournemouth International Centre, Dorset
  • Taunton Racecourse, Somerset
  • Blackburn Cathedral, Lancashire
  • Salt Hill Activity Centre, Berkshire
  • Norwich Food Court, Norfolk
  • The Lodge in Wickford, Essex
  • Princess Royal Sports Arena, Lincolnshire
  • St Helens Rugby Ground, Merseyside
  • The park-and-ride at Askham Bar, York
  • Olympic Office Centre in Wembley, north London

Read more.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 10:29

Here is a short summary of the latest developments so far today:


  • UK university lecturers will not resume “unsafe” face-to-face teaching this academic year, and any attempt by the government or vice-chancellors to reopen campuses in February will fail, the country’s largest academic union has warned.
  • Indonesian authorities began a vaccination drive in Jakarta on Thursday, aiming to reach 7.9 million people – more than 75% of the population, while India kicked off one of the world’s largest drives, aiming to inoculate 300 million people by July.
  • Joe Biden will sign a raft of executive orders immediately once he’s in office, including several relating to the US Covid-19 epidemic.
  • Brazil recorded 61,567 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and 1,050 further deaths, marking the fifth consecutive day with more than 1,000 fatalities, the health ministry said on Saturday.
  • It took just six weeks for the world to report the most recent 500,000 deaths from Covid-19, after death rates began to rise sharply in November 2020 in both Europe and North America, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
  • Australia is investigating reports Norwegian authorities are concerned about the safety of the Pfizer vaccine after a number of elderly people died after being inoculated.
  • In Australia the health minister is nudging state governments to ease internal border restrictions as he declared the removal of the last Covid-19 hotspot in Australia.
  • The UK government posted the third-highest daily death toll from coronavirus on Saturday, but the number of new infections dropped to its lowest level this year.
  • Denmark has registered its first case of infection with a more transmissible coronavirus variant , first found in South Africa, known as B.1.351/501Y.
  • France on Saturday implemented a 6pm curfew intended to help stem the spread of infections, after the country’s death toll rose to over 70,000, the seventh highest death toll in the world.
Kitkat
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 10:46

Austria extending lockdown until 8 February

Austria will extend its Covid-19 lockdown until 8 February the country’s APA news agency reported, citing sources familiar with negotiations between the federal and regional governments on Saturday.
The curbs on public life were supposed to end on 24 January, but health officials have warned that infection rates remain too high to start easing restrictions at this stage.
The government has scheduled a news conference for 1000 GMT to discuss its latest measures.
Austria, a country of 8.9 million people, is in its third lockdown, with only essential shops open. The country has reported nearly 390,00 coronavirus cases and almost 7,000 Covid-19-linked deaths since the pandemic began last year.

Russia reports 23,586 new infections

Russia has reported 23,586 new coronavirus cases today, including 4,012 in Moscow, which plans to reopen public schools on Monday after an extended New Year break.
Russia’s coronavirus crisis centre confirmed 481 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the national Covid-19 death toll to 65,566.

Switzerland to receive 7.5 million doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine

Moderna will deliver 7.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Switzerland in batches in the months ahead, putting the country among the world leaders in inoculating its population, the head of Moderna’s European business said.
“We are working at full speed to steadily expand our production capacities. If everything goes as planned, just under half the population could be treated with our vaccine by the summer,” Dan Staner told the SonntagsBlick newspaper in an interview.
Staner said Switzerland would not get privileged treatment because it was the first country to chose Moderna as a supplier.
“Every country deserves equal treatment. We refrain from stockpiling vaccines and delivering them only when a country orders them. Every dose that is produced is delivered immediately, according to the contract,” he said.
“People are suffering in the same way all over the world. In times like these no one deserves special treatment.”
Swiss regulators have approved vaccines from Moderna and from Pfizer with partner BioNTech. They are still reviewing a vaccine from AstraZeneca.
Final results from the trials of Moderna’s vaccine against Covid-19 confirm it has 94% efficacy and nobody who was vaccinated with it developed severe disease, the company said in November.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 10:54

Ireland facing its longest lockdown yet

Ireland is facing its longest lockdown yet, with more months of restrictions as the country’s health service struggles to cope with thousands of Covid-19 cases, the Sunday Independent reports.
The Irish government is only expected to allow schools and the construction sector to reopen before March, reports the Dublin-based newspaper, and even this is dependent on the number of new cases and the situation in hospitals.
A senior government source told the paper that there was “50-50” on whether there will be an easing of restrictions on the education and construction sectors next month.
A separate report said more than a hundred people have been handed on-the-spot fines for breaking lockdown travel rules this weekend in County Wicklow, a county neighbouring Dublin which has traditionally drawn weekend day-trippers.
The figure was close to triple the number of fines issued nationwide up to Thursday, according to Breakingnews.ie.
Irish police have been carrying out operations in the uplands of Wicklow to prevent people going there to exercise and view snowfalls, despite a lockdown rule preventing people from travelling 5km from home.

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Icicle formations at Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains, near Dublin, as the cold snap across the UK and Ireland continues.
Photograph: Niall Carson/PA


Covid outbreaks spread through US immigration detention centres

Michael Sainato - The Guardian
Coronavirus outbreaks have spread through US immigration detention centres , with at least 8,000 reported cases.
The impact has been devastating for people like Alvaro Hernandes, who saw his wife and recently born twin daughters for the last time through a video call on 5 January before he was deported from immigration detention in Kansas to Guatemala, after living in the US for 12 years.
Shortly after Hernandes and his wife brought their two newborn daughters from the hospital in June 2020, he was detained for being undocumented and handed over to immigration customs enforcement by a local sheriff after he called 911 when he was unable to get in contact with his wife for a brief period of time and wasn’t aware there was a non-emergency number for the police.
Despite testimonials from family members, friends, his longtime boss and landlord, an immigration court in Kansas City, Missouri, ordered the deportation to proceed, citing a 2008 DUI conviction.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hernandes’s family has only been able to speak with him through expensive video calls and collect phone calls. While imprisoned, Hernandes also contracted coronavirus.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 11:15

Concerns about the start of the general public vaccination campaign

Gilles Rof and Camille Stromboni - Le Monde
While people over 75 living at home will be able to get vaccinated from Monday in France, there are concerns in the field that there are not enough doctors, Le Monde reports today.
Jacques Battistoni, president of MG France, a trade union for general practitioners, said: “We expect tensions and a difficult start to the week.”
France, which crossed 70,000 Covid-19 deaths on the weekend, is set to begin a campaign to inoculate people over 75 from Monday.
But the concerns about staffing come on top of worries about supply as Pfizer tried to ease concerns in Europe about deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine.
Worries have grown that delays in the delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech shots could hamper a European vaccine rollout which has already faced heavy criticism across the continent.
Work is ongoing at the Pfizer plant in Belgium to increase capacity, and the firm and its German partner BioNTech said Saturday it would allow them to “significantly” scale up vaccine production in the second quarter.
Deliveries would be back to the original schedule to the EU from January 25, they pledged.

UK Quarantine rules are 'crystal clear' - Raab

Asked about the new arrangements at UK airports, due to begin tomorrow, Raab says there will be increased checks at the border, and on people who are asked to quarantine on arrival.
“We are increasing the enforcement checks at the border, through the Border Force, but also through PHE - Public Health England - for people in their homes. There are fines for not adhering to these rules, what’s most important is that we’ve got a proportionate but effective system of checks and that is part of what we’re doing this week.”
Asked if the checks were effective enough, he said: “They’re [the checks] to check people are in their home as they should be, if there’s any doubt about that there’ll be follow up, and if people are flouting the rules they’ll be fined. That’s crystal clear.”
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 11:18

Tennis players frustrated by hotel isolation

Several Australian Open tennis players are expressing frustration at being confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks after people on their flights tested positive for coronavirus.
At least three female players say they might not have gone to the tournament if the rules had been made clear to them.
Organisers say the rules were clear, and the event will go ahead as planned.
At least 47 players are now in isolation ahead of the competition in Melbourne, which begins on 8 February.
Read more

More than half of churches ‘will not open’ on Sunday


Coronavirus - 17th January 2021 589fab10

The Church of England has told the BBC more than half of its parishes - including some cathedrals - will not open for communal prayer today.
Many Clergy are shielding and some parishes have decided it is not safe for worshippers and are moving worship online.
During lockdown, places of worship in England and Wales can open - but many are struggling to do so safely.
Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, says: “Clergy who have concerns, and others who are shielding, should take particular care and stay at home."
Most mosques in London remained closed on Friday. The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board has told the BBC that although most mosques in England and Wales did open for Friday prayers, the majority in the capital did not.
However, the Catholic Church in England and Wales says parishes will continue to open where "stringent guidelines" can be followed. Britain's most senior Catholic, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, had criticised previous orders for churches to close.
Places of worship remain closed throughout Scotland, while Northern Ireland's main church denominations are to cease public worship until early February.
Read more.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 12:00

Raab 'confident' about vaccine roll-out

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens have been talking about the vaccination rollout on the Sunday politics shows - so what have we learnt?

  • Sir Simon says vaccinations are happening "four times faster than people are newly catching coronavirus"
  • He says more than half of over-80s have been vaccinated and many of the jabs given in February and March will be people's second doses
  • Mr Raab says there is a "three-point road map" for the vaccination programme
  • Government aim is to deliver 15 million jabs to the four most vulnerable groups by mid-February, and 17 million more doses by spring, encompassing 99% of the most at-risk people
  • By September, all of the adult population should have been offered a first dose of the vaccine
  • 24-hour vaccine centres are due to be piloted in the next 10 days
  • Government remains confident it has "flexibility and latitude" to deliver the vaccine roll-out on schedule - and Mr Raab was not aware of any delays in the supply chain
  • If vaccine roll-out targets are met by mid-February, "we can start to think about a phased transition" out of the national lockdown
  • Sir Simon says every last drop of the vaccine should be used and no excess doses thrown away


How is the NHS coping?

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has revealed a coronavirus patient is admitted to hospital "every 30 seconds" and warned of the "extreme pressure" facing the NHS.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show earlier, Sir Simon said the Covid crisis was a "unique event" in the NHS's history, but was positive about the vaccine roll-out and improving treatments.
Here is a summary of his key points:

  • Since Christmas, patient numbers have risen by 15,000 - the equivalent of 30 full hospitals
  • There are signs the number of infections are stabilising in some areas, but infections in over-60s continue to rise and pressure on the health service "will only get worse" in next few weeks
  • The number of critical care beds has increased by 50% since the first wave of the pandemic but a "very small number" of patients are still being transferred to hospitals in other regions
  • Treatments for Covid are continuing "to evolve and improve" with more patients being treated with oxygen therapy rather than in intensive care
  • Hospitals will open for vaccinations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on a trial basis in the next 10 days
  • The NHS is vaccinating at the rate of 140 jabs a minute, and Sir Simon says he is "confident" the NHS will deliver 1.5 million vaccines this week
  • No one is being asked to throw away excess vaccines: "Every last drop of vaccine should be used," Sir Simon tells Andrew Marr
  • With 53,000 NHS staff currently off work for coronavirus-related reasons, Sir Simon "strongly thinks" NHS and social care staff need to be protected with a second vaccine dose.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 12:10

Oman to close its land borders

Oman is to close its land borders for one week from Monday to curb the spread of Covid-19, state news agency ONA said today.
The measure will come into effect from 6pm local time (1400 GMT) on Monday and can be extended for longer than the initial one week closure, ONA said, citing a decision by the Gulf state’s coronavirus emergency committee.

Strict testing for arrivals at UK Heathrow Airport from Monday

Andrew Anthony - The Guardian
There were no tests at arrivals on Saturday morning at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 – though that changes on Monday as stricter measures finally come into force.
Instead, little dribbles of bleary-eyed passengers from places as far afield as Mumbai, Frankfurt and Kigali slipped quietly through the somnambulant arrivals lounge and out into the soggy grey vista of England in January.
“Just like normal,” said Natalie Fernandes, flying in from India. “No problems at all.”
Serg Tswlnitsky, arriving from Warsaw, echoed much the same sentiment. “No tests or anything,” he said from behind his mask, with what may or may not have been a satisfied smile.
Nor, said a number of passengers, were they given advice on self-isolation or anything to do with Covid. There was an inconspicuous board at the end of the arrivals walk addressed to those who have “just arrived in the UK”. It advised people to stay indoors as much as possible and to stay alert.
But then there was also another board which announced that “One person only to meet arriving passengers”, and almost everyone ignored that, with groups of twos and threes waiting to greet arriving family and friends.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 12:20

Austria extends lockdown

The Austrian government has announced it is extending a current national lockdown - with only essential shops open to the public - until at least 7 February.
The move comes a day after thousands marched in Vienna to protest over restrictions.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tells a news conference he is aware the restrictions are unpopular but the action is necessary because of the new, more infectious strains of coronavirus.
Austria, a nation of 8.9m people, has recorded more than 390,000 cases and 7,000 deaths from the virus.

Canada virus cases surpasses the 700,000 mark this weekend

The Canadian government has urged Pfizer-BioNTech to get the country’s Covid-19 vaccine delivery schedule back on track as quickly as possible as cases of the virus went past the 700,000 mark this weekend, the Globe and Mail report.
Canada reached that mark less than two weeks after recording 600,000 cases of the virus on 3 January. Seven provinces recorded 6,479 cases on Saturday, pushing Canada’s national tally over 702,000.
Anita Anand, the government minister heading up procurement, said on Twitter that she understood concerns about Pfizer’s decision to delay international vaccine shipments for four weeks as it undertakes.
Tweet  Anita Anand:
I understand and share the concerns of Canadians regarding the temporary delivery delay of Pfizer doses. Canada's shipment of Pfizer vaccines for the week of January 18 remains largely unaffected.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 12:27

Cape Town local authority employees denied the right to self-isolate

Local authority employees in Cape Town claim they have been denied the right to self-isolate after experiencing Covid-19 related symptoms, according to a report in the Weekend Argus .
An Independent Municipal Trade Union representative told the Cape Town newspaper that the employees reported for duty but experienced Covid-19 symptoms.
They were said to have informed their superiors but were told they could only self-isolate after producing a Covid-19-positive lab result.

UAE confirms a record number of 3,453 covid infections on Sunday

The UAE reported a record number of Covid-19 cases for the sixth day in a row as health officials confirmed 3,453 infections on Sunday, the National reported.
It brought the total number of infections in the emirates to 253,261. UAE has embarked on a major vaccination drive, with the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine approved for nationwide use on December 9.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was introduced two weeks later.

Ambulance staff in England at "breaking point"

Three out of four ambulance staff in England are at “breaking point”, suffering low morale and calling for better protective equipment, a new study suggests.
The GMB union said almost two out of three of 2,000 of its members surveyed said they believed their PPE should be upgraded.
Three out of four respondents said ambulance workers were at “breaking point”, with the crisis much worse than when the lockdown first started last March. The responses included:
- “We had a taxi pull up in an ambulance bay with a dead male while his wife was shouting for help.- “It’s very scary for us all.”
“In 24 years in the ambulance service I’ve never ever seen staff sat on station at the start of the shift so frightened (almost to tears) to go out on an ambulance.”
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 12:31

Covid an early priority for Biden


Coronavirus - 17th January 2021 892e4e10
Biden has urged Americans to "mask up" in public

With a staggering 23 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 395,000 deaths recorded in the US, president-elect Joe Biden has indicated he will waste no time enacting policies regarding coronavirus after taking office on Wednesday.
Biden's team says he will carry out a flurry of executive orders in his first days in charge - including making mask-wearing mandatory on federal property and on interstate travel.
He also wants to:

  • Oversee a huge federal vaccine drive to get 100 million Covid jabs given out in his first 100 days in charge
  • Extend pandemic-related restrictions on evictions and foreclosures
  • Push forward a huge $1.9tn (£1.4tn) stimulus package for the economy

Read more on his plans
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 12:48

Cyprus cats out in the cold during pandemic

At a cat sanctuary set in picturesque hills near Paphos, on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, volunteers are grappling with a surge in abandonments they blame on the coronavirus pandemic.
“There has been an increase of about 30% of previously owned, loved (and) looked-after cats that have been left behind” as people depart the island, lamented Dawn Foote, 48, who runs the Tala Cats rescue centre.
Some among Cyprus’s large expatriate and dual resident communities have retreated home as the economic squeeze has tightened, she noted.
“People, at the moment, have just got no money, and it’s expensive to get a cat to another country – you’ve got passports to pay for, you’ve got transport carriers to pay,” Foote said.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she told AFP, saying abandonments were rising island-wide, in part also due to locals no longer being able to afford pet food or vet bills.

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Abandoned cats gather at Tala Cats rescue centre in the Cypriot village of Tala near Paphos. Photograph: Etienne Torbey/AFP/Getty Images

The government imposed a nationwide lockdown from January 10, Cyprus’s second since the pandemic began, after Covid-19 infections surged.
The closure of restaurants - choice locations for feline scavengers - has further compounded the misery for many of the island’s feline residents, whose numbers dwarf the human population, according to at least one animal welfare organisation.
Meanwhile, the rehousing of animals, many of whom find their “forever homes” abroad, has become more difficult, a trend confirmed to AFP by a dog sanctuary near the capital Nicosia.
Fewer cargo flights, higher transport costs and the repeated closure of sanctuaries to visitors are making it harder to win would-be owners’ hearts.
As a result, there are now some 800 cats prowling the grounds at Tala Cats, situated on land owned by the nearby Agios Neophytos Monastery.
You can read the full AFP report here.

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Kittens sit atop a shrine in the village of Lazanias, on the south-eastern slopes of the Troodos mountains.
Photograph: Aline Manoukian/AFP/Getty Images
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 12:59

UK lecturers warn of strike over 'unsafe' teaching

In the UK university lecturers will not resume “unsafe” face-to-face teaching this academic year, and any attempt by the government or vice-chancellors to reopen campuses in February will fail, the country’s largest academic union has warned.
The University and College Union will ballot its members to strike against the resumption of in-person teaching, should any university attempt to organise the return of its staff to campuses over the next six months while staff feel it is unsafe.
The move comes as the National Union of Students demands that universities stop charging students fees and offer them rent rebates while they are unable to use their accommodation, with thousands planning rent strikes.
Read more here

Tokyo reports 1,592 new Covid cases

Tokyo reported 1,592 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, its government said.
Japan expanded a state of emergency in the capital area to seven more prefectures on Wednesday to stem a surge in Covid-19 infections.



Covid-19 has killed at least 2,022,740 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by the AFP news agency on Sunday.

At least 94,450,660 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 57,561,300 are now considered recovered.

These figures are based on daily tolls provided by health authorities in each country and excludes later re-evaluations by statistical organisations, as has happened in Russia, Spain and Britain.

On Saturday, 13,870 new deaths and 658,387 new cases were recorded worldwide.

Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were the United States with 3,761 new deaths, followed by United Kingdom with 1,295 and Mexico with 1,219.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 395,851 deaths from 23,758,856 cases.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 13:57

Today is a "crunch day" for Brazil

Tom Phillips - The Guardian

Today is a crunch day for Brazil with its health regulator set to decide whether to approve the emergency use of two vaccines that could help control one of the world’s most deadly coronavirus outbreaks.

Anvisa’s five directors will vote on whether to permit the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and Sinovac’s CoronaVac shot at an extraordinary session starting at 10am local time (1pm GMT). The meeting, which could last up to five hours, will be broadcast live on social media in an indication of its massive political importance.

The decision comes at a critical moment. More than 209,000 Brazilians have died because of Covid-19, the second highest number after the US, and Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is facing growing public anger over his response and failure to begin any kind of vaccination campaign. Latin American neighbours such as Mexico, Chile and Argentina have all started administering shots but Brazil has failed to do so, despite boasting a world-renowned immunisation program.

Last week’s deadly oxygen crisis in the Amazon city of Manaus has sparked renewed calls for Bolsonaro’s impeachment and loud pot-banging protests in major cities.

On Saturday, on the eve of Anvisa’s vote, demonstrators projected Bolsonaro’s image onto the regulator’s headquarters alongside slogans demanding the removal of a president they described as a “genocidal devil”.

Sunday’s decision puts Bolsonaro in a political fix. He had hoped to start vaccination next week using the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot - and had reportedly planned to do so at a ceremony in the presidential palace. But Brazil has failed to import those vaccines from India, despite trying to send a plane there last week. That means Bolsonaro’s only option, if it is approved today, will be to use the CoronaVac shot, which has been championed by his main presidential rival João Doria. Bolsonaro has repeatedly tried to undermine what he calls the “Chinese vaccine” but now may have no choice but to use it.

Joe Biden executive orders will reverse Trump on climate, Iran, Covid and more

Martin Pengelly - The Guardian
Joe Biden will sign a series of executive orders in his first days in office, attempting to roll back damage done at home and abroad by Donald Trump, whom the Democrat will replace as president on Wednesday.
Biden, 78, has already outlined plans to send an immigration bill and a Covid stimulus and relief package to a newly Democratic-controlled Congress. On Friday he said he would shake up the delivery of vaccines against Covid-19, mired in chaos under Trump.
Biden plans to return the US to the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal, overturn Trump’s travel ban against some Muslim-majority countries, restrict evictions and foreclosures under the pandemic and institute a mask mandate on federal property.
In a memo released on Saturday , incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said: “These actions will change the course of Covid-19, combat climate change, promote racial equity and support other underserved communities, and rebuild our economy in ways that strengthen the backbone of this country: the working men and women who built our nation.
“While the policy objectives in these executive actions are bold, I want to be clear: the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the president.”
Read more
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 14:20

Outbreak on Scottish island 'serious and escalating'


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About a tenth of the island's community is currently self-isolating

A Covid outbreak on Barra in the Western Isles of Scotland is "serious, and escalating", health officials have said, after 17 further cases were identified.
There are now more than 110 people in isolation after 27 positive cases, with islanders being urged to stay at home.
The number in isolation represents about a tenth of the island's total population.
Two people have already been taken off the island for further treatment after testing positive.
All close contacts of those who are positive are being offered tests to try and limit the spread of the virus on the island, which has limited medical resources.
Read more
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 14:36

France is considering demanding Covid-19 tests for passengers from Ireland

France is considering demanding Covid-19 tests for passengers from Ireland including truck drivers operating on a logistics route that has become key since Britain’s exit from the European Union, Ireland’s transport minister has said.
“They have indicated that they are looking for... anyone coming into France from Ireland would have to have” a PCR test, Irish Transport Minister Eamon Ryan told RTE radio, referring to a type of Covid-19 test that can take several days.
“They may go further. What they are looking at is the possibility that hauliers... would require an antigen test,” Ryan said, referring to another type of Covid-19 test that can give results in minutes.

Breaking News

Police breaking up anti-lockdown protests in Amsterdam

The Guardian
Police have been breaking up anti-lockdown demonstrations in Amsterdam. Images and video are coming through on Twitter.
There was this from Manya Koetse, a Dutch journalist covering China:
  Tweet  Manya Koetse:

Chaos in Amsterdam right now at #Museumplein , in front of Van Gogh Museum, as people protest against the covid19 measures in the Netherlands and its leadership.
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Coronavirus - 17th January 2021 Er8HmdiWMAELJvr?format=jpg&name=360x360 Coronavirus - 17th January 2021 Er8HmdjXEAI139Z?format=jpg&name=360x360
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 14:52

Police break up demonstration in Amsterdam

Ben Quinn - The Guardian
Water cannon and mounted police have been used to break up a demonstration in Amsterdam against lockdown measures and the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Thousands of people gathered in Museumplein a public space in teh museum’s quarter of Amsterdam.
Dutch police had said they were limiing the number of participants to 500 people and moved the protest to another location, Westerpark, but thousands still turned up.
One of the organisers of the protest - billed as ‘The Netherlands in Resistance’ - told the Dutch broadcaster NH that he did not agree with the decision to restrict the event.
“From day one I consulted with the municipality and the police. I did what they asked. And that was really a lot. I didn’t want to budge on two points, namely that we were allowed to stand on the Museumplein and the number of people,” said Michel Reijinga did not agree with this decision.
The protest comes in the wake of the resignation of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet on Friday over a scandal involving investigations into child welfare payments that wrongly labeled thousands of parents as fraudsters.
In a nationally televised speech, Rutte said he had informed King Willem-Alexander of his decision and pledged that his government would continue work to compensate affected parents as quickly as possible and to battle the coronavirus.
NH, has footage here of events a little earlier in Amsterdam, and their aftermath.

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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 16:50

Hospitals in Northern Ireland prepare for peak of latest surge


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Hospitals in Northern Ireland are preparing for the expected peak of the latest Covid-19 surge this week, a health and social care trust chief has said.
Jennifer Welsh, Northern Trust's chief executive, said there was "huge pressure across the (healthcare) system" with more intensive care admissions expected.
Thirty patients were awaiting admission to Antrim Area Hospital on Sunday morning, she said.
There are 840 patients being treated for Covid- 19 across Northern Ireland.
Sixty-two of those patients are in intensive care and NI hospitals are working at 95% capacity, with some exceeding that, latest figures show.
On Saturday, 22 more Covid-19-related deaths were reported in Northern Ireland , bringing the total number of deaths recorded by the Department of Health since the start of the pandemic to 1,581.
Read more

More on the anti-lockdown protests in Amsterdam

Many held signs about "freedom" and did not wear masks or socially distance, gathering in crowds outlawed by current lockdown rules.
After failing to leave under police orders, water cannon were used to disperse the protest. Some in the crowd had thrown fireworks, according to reports.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 16:55

Israel to start vaccinating prisoners

The Israel Prison Service said on Sunday that it will begin vaccinating all prisoners against Covid-19 amid a political row over a policy not to.
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana had previously said prisoners in Israeli jails should not be inoculated yet until further notice - on the basis other groups should be prioritised first.
The order has faced criticism from human rights groups both inside and outside the country, as well as from senior figures such as Defence Minister Benny Gantz, the country's attorney general and the president.
“Preventing life-saving medical treatment from people in prison - whether due to a sentence imposed on them by the court or due to detention prior to sentencing - is inconsistent with our values, the values ​​of the state, Judaism, and democracy,” President Reuven Rivlin said Thursday.
The prison service confirmation comes days after the Minister of Health said the rollout would start in prisons on Monday or Tuesday.
Israel has vaccinated at least one vaccine to more than two million of its citizens so far - leading the race globally per capita.

'Up to a fifth of staff in some care home groups have refused vaccine'

Up to a fifth of staff in some care home groups have refused a coronavirus vaccine when offered, the PA news agency has been told, with suggestions younger workers are more likely to be resistant.
The majority of care home staff who have been offered the jab are getting vaccinated, but data obtained by PA from a number of providers shows between 5% and 21% of staff offered a vaccine have declined it.
There is currently no regular data from the NHS or government on how many residents and staff have been given the vaccine, and how many have refused a jab.
Care groups have been calling for daily figures so they can check if the government is on track to have offered vaccines to all residents by 24 January and address any take-up issues.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that almost 40% of elderly residents have been vaccinated.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 16:59

Man said he had travelled 100 miles 'for a McDonald's'


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A man told police he had driven from Luton to Devizes to visit a McDonald's, even though the town does not have a branch of the burger chain.
Wiltshire Police pointed out he had driven across "numerous counties", called his actions a "flagrant breach" of lockdown regulations and fined the man £200.
The 34-year-old was stopped on Estcourt Street in Devizes, a distance of more than 100 miles (160km) from Luton.
"The majority of people across Wiltshire continue to act responsibly and we thank you for that, however, it is important to protect the NHS that we all stick to the rules," said police.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 17:06

UK reports 38,598 cases, 671 deaths

There have been a further 38,598 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data. This compares to 54,940 cases registered last Sunday.
A total of 3,395,959 people have tested positive.
A further 671 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported, bringing the total to 89,261. There were 563 last Sunday.
Sunday figures are often lower because of reporting delays over the weekend.



The United Arab Emirates has lowered the minimum age requirement to receive a Covid-19 vaccination to 16, from 18 previously, its ministry of health said.
The UAE, made of up seven emirates, is offering all residents and citizens free of charge a vaccine manufactured by Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm.



Italy reported a further 12,415 coronavirus cases on Sunday, its health ministry said, while the country’s death toll rose by 377.
This compares to 18,625 and 361 fatalities last Sunday.



Greece’s health authorities have announced 237 new infections, taking the country’s total 148,607 confirmed cases. Today’s figure is significantly lower than last Sunday’s, when 445 new cases were reported.
A further 28 people have died bringing the toll to 5,469, compared to 36 last Sunday.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 18:42

Three deaths from Coronavirus at Belgian retirement home and 111 people infected

The UK variant of the coronavirus has killed three residents at a retirement home in northwestern Belgium and infected 111 people including 39 staff members, its director Jurgen Duyck told AFP on Sunday.
The cluster represents two-thirds of the residents of the De Groene Verte home in the western Flanders city of Houthulst near the border with France.
Belgium has suffered one of the worst per capita death rates in the world during the epidemic with its nursing homes representing more than half of overall deaths from the disease, according to the Public Health Institute.
Mayor Joris Hindryckx said the outbreak prompted a halt to “all social and sporting activities” in the town of around 10,000 people.
The source of the contamination is unknown, but the mayor said the infection must have been “indirect” as none of those testing positive was known to have travelled to Britain.

Evening round-up

Here's a round-up of the main stories today.
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 19:15

Honduran migrants clash with Guatemalan soldiers

Guatemalan soldiers have been clashing today with a caravan of as many as 9,000 Honduran migrants at a point not far from where they entered the country seeking to reach the US border.
Most had entered the country on Friday without showing the negative coronavirus test that Guatemala requires.
On Saturday, troops started forming ranks across a highway in Chiquimula, near the Honduras border, to block the migrants.

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Honduran migrants clash with Guatemalan soldiers in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021.
Photograph: Sandra Sebastian/AP
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Post by Kitkat Sun Jan 17 2021, 19:20

South Africa delays school re-openings

Faced with a rapid resurgence of Covid-19 overwhelming the country’s hospitals and driven by a more infectious variant of the virus, South Africa has delayed reopening its schools.
The variant is having far-reaching consequences for Africa’s most developed nation as several countries trying to prevent its spread have stopped or reduced flights with South Africa, AP reports.
South Africa has the highest prevalence of COVID-19 in Africa with a cumulative total of more than 1.3 million confirmed cases, including 36,851 deaths.
In the last 24 hours, the country has recorded 13,973 new infections and 348 deaths.
South Africa’s 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 22 new cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 2 to 26 new cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 16, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“Given the pressure experienced by the health system in the past few weeks, occasioned by increased COVID-19 infections which has led to the second wave, the council of education ministers in conjunction with the national coronavirus command council and Cabinet has taken the decision to delay the reopening of both public and private schools,” said basic education deputy minister Reginah Mhaule.

Portugal's public health system on verge of collapse

Portugal’s public health system is on the verge of collapsing as hospitals in the areas worst-affected by a worrying surge in coronavirus cases are quickly running out of intensive care beds to treat Covid-19 patients.
“Our health system is under a situation of extreme pressure,” Health Minister Marta Temido told reporters on Sunday afternoon after a visit to a struggling hospital. “There is a limit and we are very close to it.”
The health system, which prior to the pandemic had the lowest number of critical care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can accommodate a maximum of 672 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs), acc
The number of people in ICUs with COVID-19 reached 647 on Sunday, according to health authority DGS. The Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators said the number of coronavirus patients needing hospitalisation was likely to dramatically increase over the next week.
Three days into a nationwide lockdown, the country of just 10 million people reported 10,385 new cases and 152 fatalities on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to 549,801, with the death toll increasing to 8,861.
According to ourworldindata.org , supported by Oxford University, Portugal had the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe per capita over the last seven days.
Most new cases were concentrated in Lisbon, where many patients at the city’s public hospitals have already been transferred elsewhere, including to health units in the country’s second biggest city Porto.
ording to health ministry data.

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