An interesting article by Eric Berger in St Louis, US. He writes about parents and doctors who think children under five are being left behind in the Covid vaccine race.
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has gone into self-isolation until Tuesday after being deemed a close contact of a person who tested positive for Covid-19, the government said.
The exposure took place on 22 January during a flight to Auckland from the town of Kerikeri, the government said on Saturday, adding that the result of whole genome sequencing was expected the following day. That would show if the infection was caused by the Omicron variant, it said.
Ardern was asymptomatic and feeling well, the statement added. She will be tested again on Sunday and is in isolation in line with the health ministry’s directives. The governor-general and members of her staff who were also on the flight are following the same isolation procedure.
In the UK, a heavily redacted report by the senior civil servant Sue Gray on parties at Downing Street will be published imminently, the Guardian understands.
It comes after Scotland Yard provoked fury and confusion by revealing it had demanded key details of the worst offending be removed. MPs labelled the Metropolitan police a broken organisation after the force admitted it had asked Gray to make “minimal reference” in her inquiry report to matters its officers were now investigating.
The Met, battered by criticism, insisted it needed to protect the integrity of its investigation.
Ukraine registered a record daily high of 37,351 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Saturday. The previous high of 34,408 cases was a day earlier. Ministry data showed 149 new related deaths, putting the total above 100,000. Ukraine’s tally of infections in the pandemic stands at 4.02 million, with 100,031 deaths.
Russia’s daily coronavirus cases exceeded 100,000 on Saturday for the first time since the pandemic began, the coronavirus taskforce said. The country confirmed 113,122 new daily infections, setting a record high for a ninth consecutive day, which the authorities blame on the spread of the Omicron variant.
Russia’s coronavirus task force said 668 deaths had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, after Russia’s coronavirus death toll exceeded 700,000 on Friday.
Indonesia is bracing for a third wave of Covid-19 infections as the Omicron variant drives a surge in new cases, health authorities and experts said on Saturday.
The country reported 9,905 new infections and seven deaths on Friday in the latest 24-hour period. It was the highest daily caseload since August last year when the country was struggling to contain a Delta-driven wave.
Indonesia had recovered from last year’s spike in cases and deaths that was among the worst in the region, and daily infections had fallen to about 200 by December. But cases are rising again just weeks after the country reported its first local Omicron case.
The health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said the next few months would be critical because Omicron was spreading “rapidly and massively”.
“Its upsurge will be extremely fast … We will see a sharp rise in the near future,” he told a news conference on Friday, adding that the current wave would probably peak at the end of February or in early March.
Daily Covid-19 infections among athletes and team officials at the Beijing Winter Olympics athletes jumped to 19 on Friday from two a day earlier, as Games organisers warned of more cases in coming days.
Including the athletes and officials, 36 Games-related personnel were found to be infected – 29 when they arrived at the Beijing airport and seven already in the “closed loop” bubble that separates event personnel from the public, the organising committee said in a statement on Saturday.
“We are now just going through the peak period of people arriving in China and therefore we expect to see the highest numbers at this stage,” the Games’ medical chief, Brian McCloskey, told a news conference. Organisers were confident in their system of Covid prevention and infections were unlikely to leak out into the public, McCloskey said.
Cases among athletes and team officials exceeded those for “other stakeholders”, including media, sponsors and staff, for the first time since China started releasing daily numbers of Olympics-related coronavirus cases on 23 January, according to a Reuters tally of previous statements.
“It’s annoying that every morning you need to get up a little earlier specially to get a PCR test. I think that in a few days it will be like brushing your teeth,” the Russian hockey player Anton Slepyshev told RIA news agency. “Everyone is concerned that the test result will suddenly turn out to be positive. But the reality is such that we are living with Covid. We accept all the risks and fears,” he said.
The Games are to run from Friday to 20 February, its bubble sealed off from the rest of China, where the government’s zero-tolerance Covid policy has all but shut the country’s border to international arrivals.
The Argentinian singer-songwriter Diego Verdaguer, whose romantic hits such as Corazón de papel, Yo te amo and Volveré sold almost 50m copies, has died of complications from Covid-19, his family said. He was 70.
The naturalized Mexican-Argentinian musician, who was married to the singer Amanda Miguel, died on Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles, his daughter Ana Victoria said in a statement released by Diam Music, Verdaguer’s record company.
“With absolute sadness, I regret to inform his fans and friends that today my father left his beautiful body to continue his path and creativity in another form of eternal life,” said his daughter. “My mother, I and the whole family are immersed in this pain, so we appreciate your understanding in these difficult times.”
The statement was also published on the Twitter account of Amanda Miguel, with the hashtag #restinpeace along with emojis of a pair of her hands palm to palm and a white heart.
The Tory MP Adam Holloway defended Boris Johnson over lockdown-breaking party allegations.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is a really remarkable guy who got an 80-seat majority and I believed him when he said he didn’t know it was a party.
“He’s the PM of a nuclear-armed state, operating in a Downing Street that at the time was [on] a war footing, with 300-plus passholders virtually working, you know, 24/7.
“I mean, he’s not the office manager. And if he’s asked to go outside and thank some staff, I’m not sure what the crime is there. I mean, if I’d gone out and I’d seen people with glasses of wine, yeah, I would have sent them packing back inside. That was a mistake.”
Researchers have discovered abnormalities in the lungs of long Covid patients who have breathlessness that cannot be detected with routine tests.
The Explain study uses xenon, an odourless, colourless, tasteless and chemically non-reactive gas, to investigate possible lung damage in the patients who have not been admitted to hospital but continue to experience the symptom.
The initial results of the study suggest there is significantly impaired gas transfer from the lungs to the bloodstream in the long Covid patients despite other tests – including CT scans – coming back as normal.
The study’s chief investigator, Fergus Gleeson, a professor of radiology at the University of Oxford and consultant radiologist at Oxford university hospitals NHS foundation trust, said: “We knew from our post-hospital Covid study that xenon could detect abnormalities when the CT scan and other lung function tests are normal.”
In China, a total of 36 new Covid-19 infected were detected among Olympic Games-related personnel on 28 January, the organising committee of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games said on Saturday.
Nineteen were either athletes or team officials who tested positive after arriving at the airport on Friday. A notice on the Games’ official website said 29 were found among new airport arrivals, while seven were among those already in the “closed loop” bubble that separates event personnel from the public.