Corona Virus, Health

Coronavirus live news: Russia sets new record daily death toll; at least 66 die in Iraq Covid hospital fire

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Coronavirus live news: Russia sets new record daily death toll; at least 66 die in Iraq Covid hospital fire” was written by Mattha Busby (now); Martin Belam and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Tuesday 13th July 2021 11.33 UTC

As greater Sydney prepares for its fourth week of lockdown, a multibillion-dollar Covid assistance package has been announced by the federal and New South Wales governments.

The NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, said the package would provide support for “every worker, for every business, right across the state”.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said the package would serve as a template for other extended lockdowns, and it was in the “national interest” to get the support right.

Germany not planning to mandate jabs, like France, says Merkel

Staying in Germany, chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany is not planning to follow France and other countries in introducing compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for parts of the population,

“We do not intend to go down this road,” Merkel said. “We are at the beginning of the phase in which we are still promoting [vaccination], where we have more vaccines than we have people who want to be vaccinated,” she said.

After a slow start to its vaccination campaign earlier this year, Germany sped up its drive over the summer and had by Tuesday fully vaccinated 42.6% of adults, with 58.5% vaccinated at least once. But demand has slowed over the past two weeks, with the number of jabs given yesterday at its lowest since February, AFP reports.

Wolfram Henn, a genetics specialist at Saarland University and a member of the German Ethics Council, which advises the government on its vaccination strategy, today called for jabs to be made compulsory for teachers.

But Merkel said she did not believe the German government could “gain trust” by following such a path. “I think we can gain trust by advertising vaccination and also by letting as many people as possible in the population (…) become ambassadors for the vaccine from their own experience,” she said.

In the UK, as elsewhere, vaccination has been recommended but not compelled even for healthcare workers, as my colleague Sarah Boseley notes, with many concerned that the jabs have not received full approval due to an absence of long-term data.

Bloomberg columnist Andreas Kluth, who himself got the jab as soon as possible, wrote recently that research suggests that vaccine mandates could send psychological signals that actually hinder overall compliance since people resent being manipulated.

German officials have said coronavirus measures should be maintained until more of the population has been vaccinated, and one called England’s plan to lift most restrictions despite the spread of the Delta variant “a highly risky experiment”.

England will become from 19 July the first part of the UK to lift the legal requirement to wear masks and for people to socially distance.

German economy minister Peter Altmaier said coronavirus restrictions were still necessary to avoid a further lockdown of the economy. “We would all be well advised to take the necessary safety measures,” he told Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper in an interview.

Alena Buyx, the head of the German Ethics Council, said compulsory vaccinations were not necessary in Germany. “We have much better vaccination rates among healthcare staff than France,” she told broadcaster ZDF. “I believe that we do not need to consider this.”

But Reuters reports that she added that restrictions should not be eased as long as not even half the population is fully vaccinated, describing England’s move to lift nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions as a “highly risky experiment”.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said yesterday that coronavirus restrictions had been lifted too soon in the Netherlands, which borders Germany, and he apologised as infections surged to their highest levels of the year.

More than 20,000 French people a minute booked vaccine appointments in the hours after Emmanuel Macron announced that cafés, restaurants, shopping malls and trains would be out of bounds for unvaccinated customers from next month.

India’s Covid vaccination rollout has continued to falter due to supply shortages and vaccine hesitancy, casting doubt on the government’s pledge to vaccinate the entire population by December.

A number of states, including the capital, Delhi, said they had run out of vaccine stocks this week while others including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra said vaccine supplies were running critically low in many areas, particularly for those aged between 18 and 45.

Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, tweeted that “vaccines have run out in Delhi again. The central government gives vaccines for a day or two, then we have to keep the vaccine centres closed for several days.”

The central government has disputed the claims of shortages and said all states were informed weeks in advance how many vaccines would be sent to them each month.

In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia was lauded by news outlets around the world as a model of how to handle the virus. The country recorded few cases and when there were outbreaks, authorities brought them under control.

A year later, Australia’s management of the pandemic is hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

“One day a rooster, the next a feather duster”, the Financial Times wrote in an editorial lamenting the glacial pace of the country’s vaccine rollout.

“Sydney in lockdown, borders shut and hardly anyone vaccinated. How long can Australia go on like this?” CNN said. The network has also reported on the backlash to Sydney’s graphic vaccine ad, which depicts a young woman – she looks younger than 40, the age limit to be eligible for a vaccine – gasping for air, alone in hospital.

Meanwhile, my colleague Calla Wahlquist reports that concerns about the spread of the Delta variant in apartment buildings has prompted a hard lockdown of two residential complexes in Sydney and Melbourne.

An apartment building in Bondi Junction in Sydney’s east remains under police guard after eight cases of Covid were detected across five of the 29 apartments, while residents of an apartment building in Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs have been ordered to isolate after a removalist with Covid worked there last week.

Iraq Covid hospital fire death toll at least 66

The death toll in a fire that spread through a coronavirus hospital in southern Iraq rose to 66, health officials have said, as an angry crowd blaming local authorities for negligence gathered near the city’s morgue.

Reuters reports that more than 100 others were injured in last night’s fire in the city of Nassiriya, which an initial investigation showed began when sparks from faulty wiring spread to an oxygen tank that then exploded, local police and civil defence authorities said.

In April, a similar explosion at Baghdad Covid-19 hospital killed at least 82 and injured 110. The head of Iraq’s semi-official Human Rights Commission said the blast showed how ineffective safety measures in a health system crippled by war and sanctions still were.

“To have such a tragic incident repeated few months later means that still no [sufficient] measures have been taken to prevent them,” Ali Bayati said.

Anger spread among people gathered at Nassiriya’s morgue as they waited to receive relatives’ bodies. “No quick response to the fire, not enough firefighters. Sick people burned to death. It’s a disaster,” said Mohammed Fadhil, who was waiting there to receive his bother’s body.

Two health officials said the dead from the fire included 21 charred bodies that were still unidentified, according to Reuters. The blaze trapped many patients inside the hospital’s coronavirus ward, who rescue teams struggled to reach, a health worker said before entering the burning building.

Prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had ordered the suspension and arrest of health and civil defence managers in Nassiriya, as well as the al-Hussain hospital’s manager, his office said.

People gather near a firefighting truck as a massive fire engulfs the coronavirus isolation ward of Al-Hussein hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, late on 12 July.
People gather near a firefighting truck as a massive fire engulfs the coronavirus isolation ward of Al-Hussein hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, late on 12 July.
Photograph: Asaad Niazi/AFP/Getty Images

Hello and greetings to everyone reading, wherever you are the in the world. Mattha Busby here to take you through the next few hours of global Covid developments. Thanks to my colleague Martin Belam for covering the blog up until now. Please feel free to drop me a line on Twitter or message me via email (mattha.busby.freelance@guardian.co.uk) with any tips or thoughts on our coverage.

Updated

That Germany would eventually this year reach a point where supply of vaccines would outstrip demand has long been anticipated by scientists and politicians. That this point would be reached in July is coming as a surprise to many.

Several vaccination centres across Germany have in recent days voiced concern that they are running below capacity, with spare appointments going unbooked. “The last time we administered as few first doses of vaccine as yesterday was in February”, health minister Jens Spahn tweeted on Monday. “But unlike in February there’s plenty of vaccines around now”.

France’s decision to make the jab mandatory for care workers is being followed with intense interest, but the independent German Ethics Council that advises the federal government is split on the issue.

Geneticist and council member Wolfram Henn called for compulsory vaccinations for nursery workers and teachers, telling Rheinische Post newspaper that “those who decide out of free choice to work with a group of vulnerable people carry a special responsibility in their field of work”.

But Ethics Council chair Alena Buyx advised against following the French precedent, saying the rates of vaccinations in comparative fields of work were much higher in Germany.

Several German municipalities are working to increase the incentives to get the jab instead: in the populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia, authorities are from this week starting to offer drop-in vaccinations on shopping miles, at sports venues and inside shopping centres. From 16 to 18 July people in Cologne can be vaccinated without appointment outside the city’s historic cathedral.

Economist Nora Szech, of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, has proposed upping incentives even further by offering a €500 reward for people to get their shot of vaccine. Those who had already been vaccinated would need to be compensated retrospectively, she added: “That way, we will get to 90%”.

Roughly 43% of the entire German population is fully vaccinated as of this Tuesday; 58.7% have had at least one shot. In view of the transmissibility of the Delta variant, Germany’s disease control agency has proposed a target vaccination rate of 85%.

  • Russia has recorded 780 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as registering 24,702 new cases nationwide.
  • A vaccination centre in Malaysia was ordered to close for sanitisation after more than 200 volunteers and workers there tested positive over the weekend, the country’s science minister said.
  • South Korea reported 1,150 new coronavirus cases for Monday, the day it implemented the toughest curbs it can apply on residents and business activity in Seoul as the country battles its worst-ever outbreak.
  • At least 50 people have died after a fire tore through the Covid isolation ward at a hospital in city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. The death toll is expected to rise, as search operations at al-Hussain coronavirus hospital continued after the fire was brought under control. Sixteen people were rescued from the burning building.
  • Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunise their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.
  • The number of Delta variant Covid cases in Turkey has risen to 750 from 284 seven days ago and overall cases climbed 20% at the weekend compared with a week earlier.
  • France’s health minister Olivier Veran said “The virus is doubling every five days.”
  • First minister Nicola Sturgeon will announce to the Scottish parliament at 2pm whether Scotland will drop to Covid precautions level 0 next week.
  • The decision to lift England’s remaining Covid restrictions next Monday – even as cases of the Delta variant surge around the country – is expected to turbocharge the epidemic and push the nation into what one leading scientist called “uncharted territory” in terms of the numbers of people left suffering from long Covid.
  • South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said that days of protests, looting and riots in the country led to the cancellation of coronavirus vaccination efforts in some parts of the country and could lead to further disruption of the programme just when the country was picking up the pace to inoculate its citizens.
  • Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said that a sufficient number of hospitals combined with a speed-up in the vaccination rollout among the elderly meant the city will be able to hold “safe and secure” Olympics in 10 days.
  • Australia will donate 1.5m doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine to Vietnam soon, the Southeast Asian country said in a statement.
  • A Western Australian man has been jailed for at least two months for booking tradespeople to work on his house while he was supposed to be quarantining after returning from interstate.

That’s it from me today. Andrew Sparrow has our UK live blog. Mattha Busby will be here shortly to carry on with the latest coronavirus developments from around the world.

AFP have a look this morning at one of the stranger Covid regulations to come into effect around the globe – South Korea’s decision to limit what can be played in gyms based on the tempo of the songs.

The regulations, aimed at stopping gym-goers breathing too hard or splashing sweat on others, ban gyms from playing music with a faster tempo than 120 beats per minute during group exercises like zumba and spinning.

The musical diktat has prompted ridicule and fury, and a list of “safe” K-pop songs is circulating online. One social media users said “I guess the virus spreads faster depending on the tempo of the music.”

South Korean infection rates remain low by global standards at little more than 1,000 a day, but are at their highest of the pandemic, with new records set on three consecutive days recently. That has alarmed authorities in a country where the vaccine rollout has been slow and convoluted, hampered by a failure to obtain supplies.

Australian man jailed for two months for breaching Covid self-quarantine orders

A Western Australian man has been jailed for at least two months for booking tradespeople to work on his house while he was supposed to be quarantining after returning from interstate.

The 53-year-old man arrived in Perth from Brisbane on 27 June. He was ordered to quarantine for 14 days and said he would quarantine at his home in Scarborough.

In addition to tradespeople, the man also invited members of the public to his home to buy items he had been selling on an online platform.

Police were alerted after the man told someone visiting his home that he was under Covid self-quarantine orders.

“Subsequent to entering self-quarantine the man had tradespeople conducting work and members of the public attend his address to buy items that were listed for sale online,” WA police said.

“A complaint was made to police after the man disclosed to a person attending his address that he was under self-quarantine,” police said.

The number of Delta variant Covid cases in Turkey has risen to 750 from 284 seven days ago and overall cases climbed 20% at the weekend compared with a week earlier, health minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Reuters reminds us that Turkey eased most coronavirus-related restrictions on 1 July after daily cases tumbled from a peak above 60,000 in April to about 5,000, but Koca said latest figures pointed to a rise.

“These increases have emerged more in places where the level of inoculations is low,” Koca told reporters after a cabinet meeting, noting rising cases in provinces of south-east Turkey.

He called on people to get vaccinated and said that about 61% of the adult population had received at least one dose of vaccine. He has set a target level of 70% by the time of the Eid al-Adha holiday next week. The ministry was not proposing new restrictions.

Updated

Russia sets new record daily toll of 780 Covid deaths

Gleb Stolyarov reports for Reuters that Russia has recorded 780 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as 24,702 new cases nationwide.

Russia is in the grips of a surge in cases that authorities have blamed on the contagious Delta variant and the slow rate of vaccinations. Moscow, where the mayor has said the situation is beginning to stabilise, reported 4,991 new Covid cases.

Updated

Andrew Sparrow has launched our UK live blog for the day. He’ll be following the latest Covid and political developments there.

I’ll be continuing here with the latest global coronavirus developments.

Reuters report that official figures showed that China administered around 9m doses of vaccine on 12 July, taking the total to 1.391bn doses.

British Land, owner of shopping centres including Sheffield’s Meadowhall and Broadgate in London, said trading at its out-of-town retail parks was almost back at pre-pandemic levels, as rent collection improved across its portfolio.

The company, one of Britain’s biggest commercial property owners, is betting on open-air retail parks that are accessible by car to lead the recovery, as Covid lockdown measures are eased.

Footfall and sales at its retail parks were at 96% and 99% of pre-pandemic levels between 17 May and 3 July. At covered shopping malls, footfall and sales were 75% and 89% of 2019 levels.

Read more of Julia Kollewe’s report here: Shopping at retail parks near pre-Covid levels, says British Land

Australia to donate 1.5m doses of AstraZeneca shot to Vietnam

Australia will donate 1.5m doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine to Vietnam soon, the Southeast Asian country said in a statement on Tuesday.

The donation of the Australia made vaccines and A$40m (£21m) to help procure vaccines followed a meeting between Vietnam’s deputy minister Pham Binh Minh and Australian minister for trade, tourism and investment Dan Tehan.

The Vietnamese government also said on Tuesday it would receive an additional batch of one million AstraZeneca doses from Japan on July.

Reuters report that vietnam’s domestic inoculation programme, which started in March, has so far relied heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine and authorities have faced calls for a faster rollout.

Only around 3.8m people have received one vaccine dose up to now, while 280,367 have been fully vaccinated in the country of 98m people, according to official data.

Prof Calum Semple, a member of Sage, said the “winter bump” will be a mixture of Covid and all the other “respiratory viruses that we didn’t experience in the last year or so”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “That’s why I’m saying, ‘we’re going to have a miserable winter, I’m sorry, we’re going to have a rough winter’.”

PA media report that asked whether restrictions would come back, he said: “Possibly, and it may just be about reinforcing some common sense. It may be bringing back some mask-wearing in certain environments, but I don’t foresee the lockdowns or the school suspensions that we’ve seen.”

He also said there were some older people in hospital where the vaccine “just can’t help” them “because they’re older, and the immune system doesn’t protect them”.

Prof Semple said he felt the biggest unlocking was 17 May, later saying it was “quite realistic” that there could be up to 2,000 hospital admissions per day.

He added: “My big message to people now is ‘sure we’ve weakened the link between community cases and hospital cases, but that link is not broken and it’s the people that are not vaccinated that are still coming to harm’.”

Professor of public health at Edinburgh University Linda Bauld told BBC radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme this morning ahead of Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement on whether restrictions will be eased: “What I’m expecting to hear from the information I have that’s publicly available, is we will proceed to Level 0 on 19 July.”

The only business sectors that remain closed under Level 0 are nightclubs and adult entertainment, but there are still some restrictions in place on the numbers of people from mixed households allowed to meet up. The full details are here.

PA media report Prof Bauld going on to say:

The situation, although still fragile, does seem to be showing some signs of being certainly sustainable, as in we’re able to cope with it. We may well be past the peak… I’m hoping what we’re seeing is a consistent trend.

What the Scottish government will want to avoid is what is happening in Europe now. The Netherlands has seen an over 700% increase in cases. They’ve had to close nightclubs again, put restrictions on bars and restaurants, they’ve had to cancel mass events.

I think the Scottish Government will want to continue to move forward, but Level 0 is not a huge jump, it’s a relatively modest jump to the next stage.

Sage expert: unless mandated, face masks ‘probably won’t do any good’

An interesting contribution to the face mask “debate” in England this morning from Sage member Prof Graham Medley who says wearing face masks ‘probably won’t do any good’ unless everybody is doing it.

PA media report he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

I personally will wear a mask to protect other people. I think it’s quite a reasonable thing to do; it doesn’t have a huge imposition in terms of economic impact or in terms of freedom, and I think there is evidence to suggest it does good, but only if everybody does it.

So I think that, without the mandation, then we end up with a situation where even if the majority of people, let’s say 70% of people wear a mask, will that actually do any good because of the 30% who don’t? I think that is something which still needs to be determined and discussed.

I understand the government’s reluctance to actually mandate it. On the other hand, if it’s not mandated it probably won’t do any good.

A vaccination centre in Malaysia was ordered to close for sanitisation on Tuesday after more than 200 volunteers and workers there tested positive over the weekend, the country’s science minister said.

Those inoculated from 9-12 July at the centre, about 15.5 miles (25km) outside Kuala Lumpur, are advised to self-isolate for 10 days, minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters.

The facility has a capacity of about 3,000 doses daily. Of the 453 workers and volunteers screened, 204 tested positive, Khairy said.

Rozanna Latiff reports for Reuters that the incident comes as Malaysia struggles to contain its biggest outbreak yet, with record deaths and cases amid a ramping up of its vaccination programme and stricter lockdown measures over the past month.

The centre will resume vaccinations on Wednesday after sanitisation and a change in staffing, Khairy added.

Updated

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said on Tuesday that a sufficient number of hospitals combined with a speed-up in the vaccination rollout among the elderly meant the city will be able to hold “safe and secure” Olympics in 10 days.

But Koike, speaking to Reuters in an interview at the Tokyo government headquarters, which has for the last few weeks doubled as a vaccination site, also warned that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over and the spreading Delta variant remains a risk.

“Very many people will be vaccinated in the coming 10 days and during the Olympics. The biggest change as a result of that will be a substantive fall in the ratio of deaths and severe cases among the elderly,” Koike said.

“Because of that, and because the medical system is ready, I think we can press ahead with a safe Olympics,” said Koike, who has returned to work after a brief break due to fatigue during which she was admitted to hospital.

The Japanese capital entered its fourth state of emergency on Monday causing bars and restaurants to close early, amid a rebound in Covid-19 cases that also pushed the Games organisers last week to ban spectators from nearly all venues.

Spectators from abroad were already banned months ago, and officials are now asking residents to watch the Games on TV to keep the movement of people to a minimum.

“It’s very sad that the Games are being held without spectators,” said Koike. “It’s clear we’ll be able to lower the risks (because of that), but the spectators are also very important for the athletes and give them a big boost. It’s a big shame that we have to hold the Olympics without them.”

Updated

Politico’s London Playbook email has this nugget this morning on what it says is the thinking of some more cautions Conservative MPs on the backbenches of parliament in the UK:

Playbook has detected increasing unease in the Tory Party over the decision to choose now as the time to ditch legal enforcement of Covid measures. One Tory MP said that, given how bad the projected case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths are, Downing Street would lose nothing by staying at Step 3 – which has most restrictions eased anyway – but keeping the legal requirements on masks and other social distancing measures.

They argued it makes “no sense” to open nightclubs while cases are at 30,000 per day and young people aren’t double vaccinated, suggesting the appetite for clubbing will be pretty low. They accepted that a new lockdown was not wanted or justified, but proposed a “slightly less unhappy medium” – keeping Step 3 in place for another month or so until every adult has the chance to be fully vaccinated.

With one-in-three adults still not double jabbed – and that third predominately younger people – the government risks alienating millions of younger voters by creating the impression it doesn’t care if they get Covid, the MP said.

Updated

In England, we seem to be back at this stage of government advice about the pandemic.

Covid infections ‘doubling every five days’ in France – health minister Veran

A very quick Reuters snap here that this morning on BFM TV, France’s health minister Olivier Veran said “The Virus is doubling every five days.”

The statement comes a day after president Emmanuel Macron announced a mandatory vaccination order for health workers.

Our video team have this report just gone up on the dozens of people who have been killed, with scores more injured, in a fire probably caused by an oxygen tank explosion at a coronavirus hospital in Iraq’s southern city of Nassiriya.

One health worker told Reuters that many patients were trapped in the coronavirus ward, with rescue crews struggling to reach them. The hospital fire was a further blow to Iraq’s healthcare system, already struggling with an influx of patients and short supplies in the midst of the global health crisis.

 

Thailand has given the go-ahead for home isolation of coronavirus patients with mild symptoms and use of home self-test kits, as a coronavirus outbreak continues to puts pressure on its capital’s healthcare and testing capacity.

The rapid antigen test kits, the approval of which was announced in the official Royal Gazette on Tuesday, should be available in stores next week.
A Food and Drug Administration official said efforts were being made to keep the price of the kits, which are less accurate than RT-PCR tests, at around 100 baht (£2.20).

Reuters report that authorities also approved home and community isolation for asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic coronavirus cases, as daily infections of more than 9,000 stretch resources.

The outbreak was initially fueled by the Alpha variant but 57% of recent cases in Bangkok have been the highly contagious Delta variant, officials say. Thailand has also reported seven cases of suspected mixed infection with the two variants at a Bangkok construction site.

Bank of England lifts Covid restrictions on banks’ shareholder payouts

The Bank of England has lifted all Covid restrictions on dividends at the UK’s largest lenders, paving the way for a boom in payouts even as the pandemic continues.

Officials said banks were strong enough to weather the remainder of the Covid pandemic, and that interim results from the upcoming stress tests – due in December – showed the banking sector “remains resilient” despite continued uncertainty. “Extraordinary guardrails on shareholder distributions are no longer necessary,” the financial policy committee said.

The announcement will be welcomed by shareholders, who have had their payouts curbed for 16 months.

The regulator forced lenders to scrap roughly £8bn worth of dividends as well as share buybacks in March 2020 in the hope of giving banks an additional cushion to weather an economic downturn sparked by the Covid crisis.

Read more of Kalyeena Makortoff’s report here: Bank of England lifts Covid restrictions on banks’ shareholder payouts

‘Mixed advice’ driving Covid vaccine hesitancy in pregnant UK women

Pregnant women are being given dangerously mixed messaging from health professionals, with figures suggesting a “very high” vaccine hesitancy among the vulnerable group, according to campaigners.

Three-quarters of pregnant women in the UK feel anxious about the easing of coronavirus restrictions with many saying the move is like “another lockdown” for expectant mothers, according to a survey of about 9,000 pregnant women by campaigning group Pregnant Then Screwed.

Its founder, Joeli Brearley, who will give evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on new parents to the parliamentary petitions select committee on Wednesday, said pregnant women were the only vulnerable group not to have been prioritised for the vaccine, and misinformation had “spread like wildfire” with many women refusing to be vaccinated as a result. The survey found that 40% have not had a single dose and only 21% have had two doses.

“The idea of ‘freedom day’ is a complete nonsense for hundreds of thousands of pregnant women,” said Brearley. “As people cast off their masks in wild abandon, the majority of pregnant women are being forced into a lockdown of their own.”

The group said it had been inundated with stories of negative messaging given to pregnant women from healthcare professionals.

Read more of Alexandra Topping’s report: ‘Mixed advice’ driving Covid vaccine hesitancy in pregnant UK women

Talking of case numbers in the UK, the latest data on the government’s own dashboard is that in the last seven days:

  • There have been 228,189 new cases, a week-on-week rise of 28%
  • There have been 200 death, a week-on-week rise of 56%
  • 3,081 people have been admitted to hospital, a week-on-week rise of 56%

As ever, depending on where you stand on the lifting of restrictions, it is likely you will either have an eye on cases or hospitalisations as the one true key metric.

In the UK it is chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay who has been wheeled out today for the media round. Given his brief, he has already stressed the need for businesses to “fire up” as he argued it is a good time to ease coronavirus restrictions, indicating that the government are firmly thinking of the economy rather than caution.

PA report the minister told Sky News: “There’s no perfect time to do this. What we’ve done is deploy the vaccine – an extra seven million – opening when the schools are shut is seen as the optimum time to do so.

“It’s about getting that balance right, people reaching their own judgments, being sensible, following the guidance.

“But we also need to get back to normal, businesses need to fire up, we need to get the economy going, and those are important as well because there are consequences to not doing that, both economically and in terms of people’s health.”

Also worth noting that he began to add some doubt on the government’s previous bullish announcements that any lifting of restrictions in England was irreversible, saying “one never knows” if changes might have to be made again in the future.

As I’ve noted previously in this blog, there’s a school of thought that one of the reasons for dropping the face mask mandate in England from 19 July is that it would be one of the easiest levers for the UK government to reach for if cases numbers continue to rise. “As we promised, we aren’t going back into lockdown but you need to put your masks on once everybody goes back to school for extra protection” is a very plausible future message.

Anne Davies brings us this analysis today of the increasingly difficult position that New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian finds her government in as they try to get to grips with the latest outbreak in Australia:

Only essential workers can leave their homes in greater Sydney to attend work. The rest of us are to remain indoors except for the four reasons to leave, including getting essential supplies.

On Tuesday the rules got tougher for some essential workers. Those living in the Fairfield LGA now should not go to work except “if really essential”. They must have a Covid test every three days. They should carry proof of those tests with them. Presumably the NSW police will be checking.

Other essential workers who live elsewhere and who are travelling outside greater Sydney should get a test every week. That’s after a removalist who later found out he had Covid travelled to Victoria and South Australia. Presumably that means truck-drivers and tradies.

But in a stunning commitment to ideology, the NSW is still stubbornly refusing to define an essential worker – even though there are now likely to be fines associated with breaches.

“To try and define essential work is really very challenging,” said health minister Brad Hazzard. “An employer and their employee would know whether the worker is really essential.”

Asked what an essential worker was, the chief medical officer, Kerry Chant, nominated health workers and aged care but many more are attending work in retail and hospitality venues.

While the Victorian government was prepared to say what it regarded as “essential providers” of services and essential workers, NSW has left a vacuum, with the result that NSW continues to see relatively high numbers of people who are out in the community while infectious.

Read more of Anne Davies’ analysis here: Words fail Berejiklian government as ‘essential’ NSW workers remain a mystery

I worry that if you are reading this blog from outside of England today, some of the political discourse is going to appear very strange indeed following the events that surrounded England’s doomed appearance in the Euro 2020 final at the weekend.

By the way always worth reminding ourselves that the announcements by prime minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Sajid Javid mostly only apply yo England. For the other nations in the UK:

First minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make an announcement today at 2pm on whether Scotland is still on track to lift its restrictions.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said the Welsh government will be reviewing the situation on Wednesday.

Northern Ireland plans to further lift some restrictions on 26 July.

Delta surge in UK ‘could leave hundreds of thousands with long Covid’

The decision to lift England’s remaining Covid restrictions next Monday – even as cases of the Delta variant surge around the country – is expected to turbocharge the epidemic and push the nation into what one leading scientist called “uncharted territory” in terms of the numbers of people left suffering from long Covid.

Ministers have been told to expect at least one to two million coronavirus infections in the coming weeks. And while the mass rollout of vaccines – which started with elderly and vulnerable people – will dramatically reduce the proportion who are hospitalised and die, the wave may leave hundreds of thousands of younger people with long-term health problems, researchers have said.

Also known as post-Covid syndrome, long Covid describes more than a dozen symptoms that can endure for months after testing positive for the virus. Many patients experience debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pains, sleeping difficulties and problems with memory and concentration, often referred to as “brain fog”.

Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College, says evidence from multiple countries now suggests that a significant number of people who get Covid – whether they know they are infected or not – are at risk of developing longer-term illness.

“From every version of Covid we’ve ever seen on the planet, we’ve got a rule of thumb that any case of Covid, whether it’s asymptomatic, mild, severe, or hospitalised, incurs a 10 to 20% risk of developing long Covid, and we haven’t seen any exceptions to that,” he said.

Read more from our science editor Ian Sample: Delta surge ‘could leave hundreds of thousands with long Covid’

Good morning, it is Martin Belam here taking over this leg of the blog in London from my colleague Helen Sullivan. The chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has emphasised “caution is vital” ahead of England’s expected final relaxing of pandemic measures on 19 July.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard said the academy did not generally involve itself in public debate, but “we felt it necessary to say caution is vital”.

“We need everyone to think very carefully and responsibly about what they’re doing personally: Just because the law changes doesn’t mean that what we do as individuals has to change,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme.

“We are strongly encouraging everyone to continue to wear masks in crowded places, keep windows open and use the good weather to ensure good ventilation, and keep washing hands.

PA media report that the GP said the academy felt the standard of hygiene and personal protection needed to be even higher in hospital and social care settings.

“We want everyone to know if you come into a health and care setting you will be asked to wear a mask.”

Prof Stokes-Lampard added that vigilance was required to minimise the current surge in Covid-19 infections, saying: “Just because the law has changed, behaviour does not have to.”

Germany to re-evaluate basing restrictions on case numbers

With Covid cases again on the rise, German officials said on Monday said that authorities need a “broader focus” beyond the country’s infection rate to fully gauge the impact the pandemic is having on the health system and the kind of measures that should be taken.

AP: For much of the past year the incidence rate — how many cases are confirmed per 100,000 people each week — has been key to the government’s decisions over what restrictive measures to impose.

The relevance of that figure is increasingly being called into question by those who argue that a sharp rise in new cases — already seen in other European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands — doesn’t necessarily mean many more seriously ill patients.

“Because the at-risk groups are vaccinated, a high incidence doesn’t automatically mean an equally high burden on intensive care beds,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Twitter. “The incidence is increasingly losing significance, we now need more detailed information on the situation in clinics.”

His ministry said that as of Tuesday, hospitals will need to transmit more data on their Covid patients, including names, the type of treatment and their vaccination status.

The government says 58.5% of the population have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 42.6% are fully vaccinated. The number of shots administered daily has dipped slightly in recent days, raising concerns that “vaccine lethargy”.

Germany’s disease control agency said last week that the country should aim to vaccinate 85% of people ages 12-59 and 90% of people over 60 to prevent the delta variant causing a strong resurgence of coronavirus cases this autumn and winter.

South Korea cases top 1,000 for seventh day

South Korea reported 1,150 new coronavirus cases for Monday, the day it implemented the toughest curbs it can apply on residents and business activity in Seoul as the country battles its worst-ever outbreak, spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) on Tuesday showed the daily tally topped 1,000 for a seventh consecutive day, though it was below last week’s peak at 1,378.

The latest clusters have seen far fewer serious infections than earlier ones, with many older and more vulnerable South Koreans now vaccinated against the virus. The new cases brought South Korea’s total tally to 170,296, with 2,048 deaths, KDCA data showed.

A man walks on a nearly empty street amid tightened social distancing rules in Seoul, South Korea.
A man walks on a nearly empty street amid tightened social distancing rules in Seoul, South Korea.
Photograph: Heo Ran/Reuters

A mass testing system has helped the country suffer lower Covid death rates than other developed countries so far without severe lockdowns.

But the new wave of infections prompted the government to impose the toughest restrictions yet in capital Seoul and neighbouring areas starting Monday, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6pm.

About 11.6% of the country’s 52 million population has completed vaccination, including receiving both shots for products requiring two doses, while 30.4% have received one dose, according to the KDCA.

Updated

WHO appeals for rich countries to donate vaccines rather than using boosters

Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed, the Associated Press reports, as they appealed Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunise their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.

At a press briefing, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world’s grotesque vaccine disparity was driven by “greed” as he called on drugmakers to prioritize supplying their Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries instead of lobbying rich countries to use even more doses. His plea comes just as pharmaceutical companies are seeking authorization for third doses to be used as boosters in some Western countries, including the US.

“We are making conscious choices right now not to protect those in need,” Tedros said, adding the immediate priority must be to vaccinate people who have yet to receive a single dose.

He called on Pfizer and Moderna to “go all out to supply Covax, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and low and middle-income countries with very little coverage,” referring to the UN-backed initiative to distribute vaccines globally.

After a 10-week drop in global coronavirus deaths, Tedros said the number of Covid patients dying daily is again beginning to climb and that the extremely infectious delta variant is “driving catastrophic waves of cases.”

Both Pfizer and Moderna have agreed to supply small amounts of their vaccines to Covax, but the vast majority of their doses have been reserved by rich countries.

The UN-backed effort has faltered badly in recent months, with nearly 60 poor countries stalled in their vaccination efforts and their biggest vaccine supplier unable to share any doses until the end of the year.

Updated

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries who have yet to immunise their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.

More on that story shortly. In the meantime, here are the other key recent developments:

  • France will not allow health workers to go to work and will not pay them if they are not vaccinated against Covid-19 by September 15, the health minister Olivier Veran said.
  • Indonesia reported its highest daily number of infections on Monday, with 40,427 cases logged, data from the country’s Covid-19 task force showed.
  • South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said that days of protests, looting and riots in the country led to the cancellation of coronavirus vaccination efforts in some parts of the country and could lead to further disruption of the programme just when the country was picking up the pace to inoculate its citizens.
  • Vietnam has reported another new record in daily coronavirus infections, with 2,367 cases, its health ministry said.
  • The reopening of schools cannot wait for all pupils and teachers to be vaccinated, or for the number of Covid cases to be reduced to zero, the chiefs of Unicef and Unesco have said in a joint statement.
  • Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte apologised for relaxing coronavirus restrictions too soon as cases surge in the wake of reopening.
  • The number of people who did not have enough food to eat rose steeply during the pandemic to include almost a third of the world, according to a new UN report published on Monday.
  • Valencia’s regional government has succeeded in obtaining a court order to authorise lockdowns in more than 30 towns in eastern Spain as cases surge among unvaccinated young people.
  • Healthcare workers and nursing home staff in Greece will be required to be vaccinated against Covid, prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said as infections rapidly soar again after a sustained decline.

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Corona Virus, Health

Coronavirus live news: Thailand confirms record community cases; Pfizer to ask for third dose approval

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Coronavirus live news: Thailand confirms record community cases; Pfizer to ask for third dose approval” was written by Martin Belam (now) and Helen Sullivan (earlier), for theguardian.com on Friday 9th July 2021 08.34 UTC

My colleague Nicola Slawson is at the helm of the UK Covid and politics live blog today. You can follow the latest UK lines there…

I’ll be continuing here with the latest global coronavirus developments.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps urged people not to ignore the NHS Covid app if they are “pinged” and advised to self-isolate. Shapps said it is important that people continue to use the app.

“You shouldn’t ignore this because it is vital information. People should want to know if they have been in contact with somebody with coronavirus. You don’t want to be spreading it around. It can still harm people,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

PA report he said the app is being kept under review to ensure it is “calibrated in the right way” for the prevailing circumstances.

“The medical experts will advise us on what the level of sensitivity should be relative to where we are, for example, to our vaccination programme overall,” he said.

“We will follow scientific advice, keep this under review and tweak the app to be suitable to the circumstances of the time – double vaccination, for example, being at record highs in this country.”

Covid vaccination to be mandatory for Australia’s aged care workers

Vaccinations will be mandated for aged care workers, and South Australia will be tasked with establishing a home quarantine trial for returned travellers – who will also finally be asked for their vaccination status before entering Australia – in new decisions made in Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

The Morrison government will also roll out a vaccination campaign from Sunday, almost six months after the program began. But the prime minister still can’t answer say just how many Pfizer doses Australia is to receive in the coming weeks as part of the “ramp up” announced on Friday morning, or when under-40s will become eligible to be vaccinated.

Read more of Amy Remeikis’s report here: Covid vaccination to be mandatory for Australia’s aged care workers, Scott Morrison says

Anne Davies brings us this analysis of the situation in New South Wales, Australia:

The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, emerged from her crisis briefing at the Department of Health on Friday looking more stressed – with good reason.

All the signs are that NSW is losing control of this outbreak of the Delta strain of Covid-19, despite the increasingly stringent lockdown rules.

“To 8pm last night there were 44 cases of community transmission. Regrettably, 29 of those were either partially or fully exposed to the community and that is the number that is really concerning us,” Berejiklian said on Friday.

“It tells us that both the case numbers and unfortunately the number of people who may be exposed or have been exposed in the community is going to go up.”

The number that should put fear into everyone is the 14,000 people who are under 14-day isolation orders as close contacts. That’s doubled in 24 hours and is an indicator of how quickly the pool of exposed people can grow.

Not only is Berejiklian battling the most serious outbreak of Covid that NSW has experienced and the added threat of the Delta variant, she is dealing with a new bout of destabilisation from within her own ranks.

The sniping and negative commentary is coming from disgruntled cabinet colleagues who seem intent on seizing on any setback to pour petrol on the fire.

Read more of Anne Davies’s analysis here: Gladys Berejiklian faces instability within as a Covid storm brews outside

Shapps: people need to expect ‘more disruption than usual’ when returning from abroad this summer

There’s a lot of excitement about the prospect of easier international travel to and from the UK as restrictions are eased, but these is a not of caution as well.

On BBC Breakfast, UK transport minister Grant Shapps has said holidaymakers should expect additional queues when they check in for their flights home due to the need for coronavirus checks.

Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast: “Before you board a plane you would need to show you have completed your passenger locator form, that you have carried out a pre-departure test, that you have got your test booked for day two and all of that needs to be checked by the carrier – the airline usually – before you travel.

“So the place to expect queues is the airport you are coming from. Once you get back to the UK all of that is starting to be automated. People should expect more disruption than usual but I know that everyone is working very hard to minimise those queues.”

China’s official vaccination numbers continue to dwarf everybody else. Reuters report that yesterday they administered about 11.85m doses of vaccines, taking the total to 1.35bn doses.

France: Delta variant now represents nearly 50% of new Covid infections

The highly contagious Delta variant of Covid will probably account for most of the new coronavirus cases in France from this weekend, health minister Olivier Veran said on Friday.

The Delta variant now represents nearly 50% of new Covid infections, Reuters report Veran told France Inter radio station.

No decision yet on spectators for the Tokyo Paralympics

Having regular covered both the Olympics and the Paralympics in the past, I’m not saying that people often treat the Paralympics as an afterthought, however, Reuters report that Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said on Friday she aimed to reach an agreement on Paralympic spectators with relevant parties “at the earliest possible” timing after the close of the Tokyo Olympics – without saying when.

Organisers said yesterday that the Olympics would take place without spectators in host city Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, but that a decision on Paralympic spectators would be made after the Olympics, without mentioning specific timing.

The Olympics are scheduled for 23 July to 8 August, with the Paralympics slated to start 24 August.

Talking of face masks, without wanting to sound like a stuck record, this week our video team put together this great little explainer featuring our science correspondent Natalie Grover explaining why masks are more about protecting others than ourselves, and where we still might want to wear them. It’s useful as a refresher, and to share.

 

Also on the airwaves in the UK this morning is Gemma Peters, the chief executive of the Blood Cancer UK charity. She was expressing concern for the group of around half a million people who is immunosuppressed and for whom vaccines are not offering efficacy. She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme:

It’s really important that people understand there are things that they can do, not actually to protect themselves, but to protect others you really need that support. People can continue to wear face masks when they’re in crowded places – that’s certainly what I will be doing and certainly when I’m inside – and to keep your distance from people and to not assume that the people around you are protected. They might well not be. They might be one of the half a million in the group that we’re talking about.

Blood Cancer UK have said they want to see:

  • government and the NHS write to every immunocompromised person to tell them about likely vaccine efficacy in the immunocompromised.
  • government to set out the support it will offer them, particularly what financial support will be available for people who work in busy workplaces and cannot work from home.
  • the general public to keep wearing masks and respecting people’s social distancing – saying the more people do this, the safer the immunocompromised will feel when they are out.

UK transport minister Grant Shapps has been questioned on the vexed matter of whether people should wear face masks on public transport. People who are immunosuppressed or vulnerable have expressed concern that large numbers of people going maskless in public places will restrict their freedom of movement from 19 July. Shapps told Sky News:

We’ve been living with this for a year and a half now, and people know the things to do in order to try to keep themselves safe. It’s still sensible to wear a face covering if you’re on a crowded piece of transport – a crowded tube for example. But clearly, if you’re on a train, perhaps a long distance service, and there’s no one else in the carriage, their not really protecting anyone. We’re able to now shift to people using their own common sense, increasingly, as we get through the 19 July, and asking people to do that. So I think it’s right that we switch these things from the law to guidance, but nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that we’re not guiding people to be sensible and to think about how they can protect themselves and others.

UK economic recovery from pandemic slowed in May – ONS figures

The UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic slowed in May, despite the latest easing of lockdown restrictions boosting hospitality venues.

UK GDP expanded by 0.8% during May, the Office for National Statistics reports, much weaker than the 1.5% growth expected.

That’s the fourth month of growth in a row, but it still leaves the economy 3.1% below its pre-pandemic levels.

And it’s slower than in April — where growth has been revised down from 2.3% to 2.0%.

You can follow reaction to that news with Graeme Wearden on our business live blog

Shapps: UK government ‘actively working’ on plans to let in double-jabbed tourists without quarantine

In the UK it is transport secretary Grant Shapps who is fronting up the morning media round for the government. He is being asked about when people who have been vaccinated in other countries will be able to visit the UK without restrictions. Here’s what he told Sky News:

[This is] something we’re very actively working on at the moment. Of course with the UK vaccination programme, you’re able to demonstrate your vaccine status very easily … That’s the first step. The next thing is to be able to recognise apps from other countries or certification from other countries, easier done from some places like the EU, where they have a digital app coming along, than it is in the United States where they have I think 50 different systems, one for each state, largely paper based, so there’s complexities to work through there. But this is phase one and we hope to follow up quickly with double vaccinated people from other countries coming here.

Pressed on that timescale, he wouldn’t be drawn further than saying there would be an announcement in the next couple of weeks, adding:

First of all this announcement [about people leaving and returning to England] kicks in on 19 July for anyone who’s been vaccinated in the UK. And then secondly we’re actively working on this issue of how to accept vaccinations from other people. Obviously we’re looking at whether they are World Health Organization certified, and I would think in terms of timescale, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be able to come forward and say more about other locations in the world.

Vietnam aims to vaccinate 50% of people aged 18 or older by the end of this year and 70% by the end of March 2022, the health ministry said on Friday, as tighter coronavirus curbs were imposed in more cities including the country’s commercial hub.

After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has since late April faced a more stubborn outbreak that has prompted calls for the government to accelerate its vaccination programme.

Vietnam on Friday began movement restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City after imposing new curbs in the capital Hanoi after the country’s daily infection rates hit record highs above 1,000 four times this month.

Medical workers collecting test samples from residents walk past in Ho Chi Minh City.
Medical workers collecting test samples from residents walk past in Ho Chi Minh City.
Photograph: Huu Khoa/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this week, panic buying broke out in Ho Chi Minh City ahead of the new curbs and state media reports on Friday showed photographs of empty streets in the city of 9 million people.

“Vaccination against COVID-19 is a necessary and important measure to contain the disease and ensure socio-economic development,” the health ministry said in a statement.

Reuters report the government’s latest targets come after it had previously said it aimed to vaccinate 70% to 75% of the country’s 98 million population by the end of this year or early next year.

A quick one from Reuters in Johnannesburg here, that South Africa plans to start vaccinating people aged between 35 and 49 years old against Covid from 1 August, the country’s acting health minister said on Friday.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane added at a news conference that indications were that the number of Covid cases in the most populous province, Gauteng, was peaking. Gauteng has been responsible for the lion’s share of infections during a severe “third wave”.

Good morning, it is Martin Belam here in London. Travel firm Skyscanner said that yesterday, 30 minutes after Grant Shapps’ announcement that fully vaccinated passengers will not need to quarantine upon their return to England from “amber list” countries, the agency saw a 53% increase in traffic from the UK compared to the same time on Wednesday.

PA quote Martin Nolan from the company, who said: “It’s clear that people are aching to be able to travel again within the guidelines, as evidenced by the immediate uptick in searches and bookings we’ve witnessed as destinations have been added to the green list.

“This is a huge moment for the UK travel industry, who have been waiting for measures that will truly help to kickstart travel in a safe, smart and sustainable way.

“This move will reunite families and allow people to finally plan travel to their favourite destinations around the world, many of which will be delighted to finally be able to welcome UK travellers for the first time in a year.”

I’m handing over to my colleague Martin Belam shortly. In the meantime, a short and joyful break from plague news:

South Korea raises Covid restrictions to highest level in Seoul amid ‘maximum crisis’

South Korea will raise coronavirus curbs to their highest level yet in the Seoul metropolitan area, prime minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Friday, warning that a record rise in new cases had reached “maximum crisis level”.

The country had previously been held up as a model of how to combat the pandemic, with the public largely following social distancing and other rules, but it was slow to start its vaccine rollout due to supply shortages.

On Friday it recorded 1,316 cases, its highest daily rise since the pandemic began, with most new infections in the capital of Seoul and its surrounding areas, home to almost half the South Korean population:

Pfizer to ask for third dose approval

Pfizer plans to ask US regulators to authorize a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine within the next month, the drugmaker’s top scientist said on Thursday.

The announcement was based on evidence of greater risk of reinfection six months after inoculation and due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus.

And the US pharmaceutical company and its German partner BioNTech have started designing a version of their vaccine specifically to combat the highly-contagious Delta variant, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, said.

However, the companies do not think they will need to replace the current version of their highly-successful shot:

More on Thailand now: Thai media is reporting that tougher restrictions will come into effect in Bangkok and other high risk areas tomorrow. This is expected to include the closure of shopping malls, a night time curfew and a stay-at-home order. Schools, gyms, bars, and restaurants are already closed.

Thailand is struggling to contain a third wave of the virus, which is its most severe yet and is driven by the Delta variant. Thailand confirmed a record 9,276 community cases on Friday, as well as 73 deaths. There are concerns that the official numbers are an underestimate, due to a lack of testing. Availability is so limited that people have been queuing overnight in the rain at a temple to try to get a free test.

The exact details of the new restrictions will be announced later today.

Updated

Thailand confirms record new cases

Having escaped the worst when the coronavirus pandemic erupted last year, Southeast Asia is now suffering record rises in deaths and cases, while vaccination shortfalls and highly contagious variants have derailed containment efforts, Reuters reports.

As countries like Britain, Germany and France prepare to remove most remaining restrictions after devastating outbreaks, governments in Southeast Asia have been tightening measures, hoping targeted lockdowns will act as circuit-breakers in arresting dramatic spikes after cases started rising in May.

A new terminal at the Thai capital’s airport is being turned into a 5,000-bed field hospital, as the country confirmed a record case rise of nearly 10,000 new infections on Friday.

Thailand confirmed a record 9,276 community cases on Friday, as well as 73 deaths, the Bangkok Post reports. The highest-ever national daily increase in cases was reported on 17 May, when 9,635 cases were confirmed, most of which were inside prisons.

Read more about the spread of the Delta variant in the region here:

Updated

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thailand confirmed a record 9,276 community cases on Friday, as well as 73 deaths, the Bangkok Post reports. The highest-ever national daily increase in cases was reported on 17 May, when 9,635 cases were confirmed, most of which were inside prisons.

Meanwhile Pfizer plans to ask US regulators to authorize a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine within the next month, the drugmaker’s top scientist said on Thursday.

The announcement was based on evidence of greater risk of reinfection six months after inoculation and due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus.

Here are the other key recent developments:

  • Holidaymakers in Portugal will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test, a vaccination certificate or proof of recovery to stay in hotels or other holiday accommodation from Saturday, the government announced.
  • Foreign tourists who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada for some time, with the government unwilling to jeopardise progress made on containing the virus, prime minister Justin Trudeau said.
  • Olympic organisers decided to ban spectators from the Tokyo Games after Japan’s prime minister declared a state of emergency in the host city. Olympic minister, Tamayo Marukawa left open the possibility that some venues outside Tokyo could still have fans.
  • Greece is to unveil plans to mandate vaccination for specific professional groups next week, the government said, after the country’s bio-ethics experts recommended compulsory shots for health workers and staff at elderly care facilities only “as a last resort measure” if efforts to encourage voluntary inoculation proved ineffective.
  • Holidaymakers from England travelling to amber list countries will not have to quarantine on return if they are fully vaccinated, but Britons living overseas will not be able to prove their vaccine status if they have been jabbed abroad.
  • Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel left hospital today after treatment for Covid-19 and will resume work this week, officials said. A statement from Bettel’s government said his condition had improved, allowing him to work from home. He had been admitted to hospital on Sunday.
  • Pharmacies across Indonesia are running out of ivermectin, an oral treatment normally used to parasitic infections, AFP reported, after it was used widely and reportedly with success in India, Mexico, Bolivia, and elsewhere.
  • A case brought by more than 500 families of Covid victims seeking a total of €100m in compensation from the Italian government has reached court, as the first hearing into continental Europe’s deadliest outbreak got under way in Rome.

Updated

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Environment, India

Adani blasted over ‘toxic’ $4bn plan to use Australian coal to make plastic in India

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Adani blasted over ‘toxic’ $4bn plan to use Australian coal to make plastic in India ” was written by Graham Readfearn, for theguardian.com on Friday 18th June 2021 06.56 UTC

The owners of the controversial Carmichael mine in Queensland want to build a US$4bn plant in India that would use Australian coal to make plastic.

Adani Enterprises, which owns the Carmichael coalmine, said in submissions to Indian authorities the plant will use 3.1m tonnes of coal a year at the plant to make PVC.

Critics said the “toxic” project was an attempt to find a second life for thermal coal at a time when the world was moving away from fossil fuels.

The company is seeking environmental clearances to build the massive “coal-to-PVC” plant that will take up almost 3 sq km in Mundra, Gujarat..

Adani, which has rebranded in Australia to Bravus Mining and Resources, has begun construction on its Carmichael thermal coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin. The divisive mine has been one of the most controversial resources projects in Australian history.

In the submission, Adani Enterprises says the “coal to PVC project” will cost US$4bn (AU$5.2bn) and would use 3.1 Mt of coal imported “mainly from Australia, Russia and other countries”.

The plant would use a highly complex process to produce two million tonnes of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) a year.

Supporters of Adani’s Queensland coalmine have argued the exported coal would be used to produce electricity in power plants and would help lift people out of energy poverty in developing countries such as India and Bangladesh.

Until now, there has never been a suggestion that exported coal from the Galilee basin would be used for anything other than power generation.

Guardian asked Bravus about the proposal and if the coal for the project would be sourced from the Carmichael mine.

In a statement, Bravus said: “India will be a foundation customer for the Carmichael project and is the fourth-largest global user of electricity as well as the source of the biggest growth in global energy demand.

“We have already secured the market for the 10 million tonne per annum of coal produced at the Carmichael mine.

“The coal will be sold at index pricing and we will not be engaging in transfer pricing practices, which means that all of our taxes and royalties will be paid here in Australia.”

In a follow-up statement sent on Friday afternoon, three days after its initial response to the Guardian’s questions and 29 hours after this story was first published, Bravus said: “Carmichael coal, like any other traditional thermal coal, is not suitable for use in plastics. It is suitable for use in energy and electricity generation and has always been intended for that use.

“The planning document for the proposed PVC business refers to sourcing suitable thermal, coking, or petcoke from Australia, Russia and other countries. The PVC facility will require a blend of coals of different specifications which are outside the Carmichael mine production plan.”

Pablo Brait, a campaigner at Market Forces that is pushing investors to pull money out of the Carmichael project, said: “The argument that Carmichael was going to help poor people was never valid in the first place.

“Renewable energy is cheaper and if you want to ensure affordability of electricity then you are better using renewables rather than imported coal.

“This is Adani creating new uses for thermal coal instead of transitioning out of thermal coal. That’s important for investors in the Adani group to know.

“This is a company that is not winding down its thermal coal use, but trying to find new ways to use a resource and avoid Carmichael turning into a stranded asset.”

In its submission, Adani enterprises said the coal will go through several stages of processing, creating calcium carbide and then acetylene, which is further processed to eventually produce PVC.

Adani said India’s demand for PVC is outgrowing supply and is dependant on imports.

Simon Nicholas, an energy finance analyst at the pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said there were some projects proposed in China and Pakistan that were looking to find alternative uses for coal, in particular coal-to-diesel and coal-to-fertilisers.

But he said these used cheaper domestic coal, not imported coal, and were government subsidised.

“It’s very expensive to use domestic coal. This does seem to look like a project that’s being proposed to prop up their Carmichael mine.”

Environmental campaign group SumOfUs has launched a petition to pressure Adani’s financial backers to withdraw from the group over the coal-to-plastics project.

The group claimed the coal-to-plastics process was emissions intensive, and described the plans as toxic.

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Corona Virus, Health

Post-Covid work patterns must not be imposed by bosses with an eye on cost

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Post-Covid work patterns must not be imposed by bosses with an eye on cost” was written by , for The Observer on Sunday 20th June 2021 06.00 UTC

The pandemic has triggered more than a few arguments about the future of work. Some employers have made it clear to staff that there is an office desk waiting for them when all the lockdown restrictions have lifted. Goldman Sachs fits this category.

Others have embraced the prospect of new ways of working and invested heavily in the technology needed to overcome the barriers of distance and lack of information for those based remotely.

Among those ahead of the pack is Unilever, maker of consumer goods from Dove soap to Cornettos, which before the pandemic had been trialling flexible working in all its offices, and a four-day week in its New Zealand subsidiary.

Across the UK, town, city and county councillors will be waiting nervously as the debate unfolds over the coming months. Employers are likely to adapt quickly to changing need and as they do, it will become clear to local government how high the stakes are. A widespread switch to home working will alter the dynamics of plans drawn up in a previous era, affecting how high streets, homes and commercial areas are developed.

Until last week, there was the real prospect of ministers telling people to go back to the office as a matter of public policy. Boris Johnson had indicated that he favoured a new normal that looked very much like the old one.

This stance appears to have changed. The government is now considering legislating to make working from home the “default” option, by giving employees the right to request it.

Hybrid working, where workers go into the office for only part of the week, already looks like becoming the norm, at least for those employed by major corporations.

The implications for individuals will be profound and long-lasting. The TUC has identified a growing divide between a privileged elite of professionals who work for large employers and can demand more flexibility, and those in blue-collar jobs who find that the only flexibility on offer is to work a variety of shifts at their employer’s bidding.

In other words, blue-collar jobs and the growing gig economy workforce will be even more tightly tied to shift patterns dictated by their employers, and these shifts will be in the workplace. The flexibility, such as it is, will mostly be for the employer’s benefit.

To make matters worse, the next steps will probably be taken by employers based on little more than gut instinct. Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has announced a flexible working policy for its 22,000 UK staff that it said was a “direct response to soundings from our people”.

Talking to staff will be crucial as employers feel their way towards a new framework, whether it is based on a policy of working in the office with occasional time at home, a default policy that emphasises working from home or something in between.

What is more likely to happen – and would be a further deterioration in Britain’s amateurish industrial relations – is a rash of arbitrary decisions based on no more than the need to cut costs and a short-term drive to increase productivity.

Most businesses operate with profit margins far below those enjoyed by the likes of PwC, and will put staff consultation in the category of “nice to have” rather than “essential”. It is quite possible that office-based workers will be told to work from home – or the opposite – with no account taken of their personal circumstances.

The government could step in and emphasise the need for new employment practices to be developed in discussion with employees, rather than default options dictated from on high. Local government could be given more resources to support employers keen to adapt.

Otherwise there could be a lurch to new working patterns that are misguided, costly – and become a matter of regret to all concerned.

Sale of Channel 4 is an old repeat the Tories shouldn’t be airing

The idea of privatising Channel 4 has been around for a quarter of a century and the policy has never been adopted, so there is no certainty that the government’s latest review will bring about a different result. But the threat of privatisation clearly exists – a decision is due by the end of this year, the Financial Times has reported – and feels more immediate this time.

For example, John Whittingdale, the culture minister with responsibility for broadcast policy, was one of those early advocates of privatisation. Furthermore, the government may now argue that, in the age of Netflix and others, a dose of bracing private ownership would be good for Channel 4 itself.

No one, of course, would deny that C4 is an odd beast. It is state-owned but commercially funded; profits are reinvested and it is told to attract young audiences. It is also true that the rise of streaming services will have hit its valuation: as a business it would be unlikely to attract offers of £1bn, the estimate at the time of the last review in 2016.

But the idea that the channel is some kind of hapless innocent that can only be saved by the private sector should be rejected. After losses in 2019, due partly to the cost of relocating its headquarters to Leeds, a surplus is expected for 2020. A fifth of revenues are coming from its on-demand digital platforms.

The privatisation threat, then, looks driven by ideology. A private-sector owner would, one assumes, demand a freer hand to run the business purely commercially, potentially threatening its costly but important news output. And the wider danger is that Channel 4’s use of independent production houses would be diluted, or lost altogether.

The case for privatisation looks weak. The best solution may be just to give Channel 4 slightly more commercial freedom. A bit of biodiversity in the TV jungle is a good thing.

What future for old-economy sport sponsors?

Every major sports tournament has its discontent over sponsors, particularly at beer and fast food ads jostling to bask in athletes’ healthy glow. The belated Euro 2020 now has its own mild controversy: Cristiano Ronaldo’s preference for water over Coca-Cola.

The Portuguese player’s move spawned imitators: France’s Paul Pogba moved Heineken beer bottles out of sight at a press conference, and Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko and Italy’s Manuel Locatelli joined in too. England expected its men to do their duty, and manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane duly stepped in behind the sponsors. “It’s not something personally I’ve thought too much about,” said Kane, after defending Coca-Cola.

Sponsorship always has risks – ask Nike about Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods. Coca-Cola has sponsored the Euros since 1988, much to campaigners’ ire. With obesity now a global problem, many experts – including, it seems, Ronaldo – view regular consumption of sugary drinks and fatty foods as incompatible with a healthy lifestyle.

The Euros’ full sponsor list is telling. The 2020 brands fall into two broad categories. There are old-economy carbon emitters such as Volkswagen – which is moving gradually away from fossil fuels – long-haul airlines like Qatar Airways, and inveterate Russian gas producer Gazprom. Then there are the tech arrivistes, such as food-ordering app Just Eat Takeaway, Chinese payments company Alipay, and video-sharing app TikTok.

The presence of the latter suggests even a superstar of Ronaldo’s heft is highly unlikely to trigger a reassessment of sports sponsorship. Live sport still draws droves of younger viewers, and they are advertising’s holy grail.

That doesn’t mean regularly assessing sponsors’ suitability isn’t useful. Brands don’t necessarily want to be the focus; they want to be just in view, part of the furniture, noticed only semi-consciously. We mustn’t let them get too comfortable.

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World

The Observer view on China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “The Observer view on China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong” was written by Observer editorial, for The Observer on Sunday 20th June 2021 05.30 UTC

China did not wait long to demonstrate its contempt for last weekend’s criticism by G7 countries of human rights abuses in Hong Kong. By ordering the arrest of the editor-in-chief and four senior executives of the Apple Daily newspaper for allegedly conspiring with “foreign forces”, Xi Jinping and the Communist party sent a crude message of defiance to the west.

That China’s president and his Beijing apparatchiks were responsible for this provocatively timed injustice is not in serious doubt. Hong Kong’s 2019-20 pro-democracy protests, which Apple Daily supported, shook the CCP’s power monopoly and amour propre in ways not seen since Tiananmen Square. It has been punishing the ex-British colony ever since.

China’s assumption of direct control over Hong Kong affairs, contravening binding undertakings made at the 1997 handover, is increasingly blatant. The CCP’s imposition of a made-in-Beijing security law last year and the exclusion from the legislative assembly of “unpatriotic” opposition members has fatally eroded Hong Kong’s legally guaranteed autonomy.

The assault on press freedom and free speech form part of this wider crackdown on democratic freedoms that are routinely denied to people in mainland China. Apple Daily’s true offence is to have opposed Beijing’s illegitimate takeover through the exercise of principled, informed, critical journalism. Xi and his censorious commissars just can’t bear it.

The fact that citizens rallied to support the newspaper last week, buying copies in huge numbers, is a cheering sign that Beijing’s bullying has not crushed Hong Kong’s independent spirit. The brave stand taken by Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily’s owner, who is already in jail on trumped up charges, and editor-in-chief Ryan Law, deserves deep respect.

The shameful antics of their persecutors provide, in contrast, an insight into the insecure mindset of party apparatchiks who live in ultimate fear of Xi’s wrath. Hong Kong security chief John Lee claimed those arrested had used their journalism “as a tool to endanger national security”. How fragile and feeble is the Chinese state that mere words cause it to tremble so.

Those arrested last week must be released immediately and all charges dropped. The same applies to more than 100 individuals, including politicians and activists, held under the security law since last year. If they have any ethical scruples at all, journalists working in Chinese state media should back their colleagues at Apple Daily.

That China has again dishonoured itself by shirking its responsibility to abide by the Sino-British joint declaration, uphold international law, and support universal values as defined by the UN, is sadly no surprise, given its conduct since Xi took power. Its serial misdeeds speak to a sense of impunity that is now having a wider, negative influence around the world.

In neighbouring Myanmar, for example, the murderous behaviour of the military junta that seized power in February reflects a similar belief that the international community can be ignored, and that hard-won global civil and human rights may be overturned at will. These cowardly generals continue to be sustained by the support of Beijing.

Stirred into action by the sheer egregiousness of the Myanmar crisis, the usually divided UN General Assembly voted on Friday for an arms embargo. No fewer than 119 countries called on the junta to release political detainees, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and respect the result of last year’s election. Guess what? China abstained.

Chinese disdain for international norms is now habitual, ranging from abuses in Xinjiang to its refusal to help establish Covid-19’s exact origin. The failure to apologise for last month’s random, chaotic descent to Earth of debris from a Chinese rocket, which could have proven disastrous for many below, aptly symbolises the arrogant, insouciant exceptionalism of the Xi era.

Western leaders last week demanded China start respecting “fundamental freedoms” in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Tougher, concrete action to achieve that aim is going to be needed.

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Human Rights, Judiciary, Opinion, Society

The ‘human rights’ sex trade case that will harm women

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “The ‘human rights’ sex trade case that will harm women” was written by Julie Bindel, for The Observer on Saturday 19th June 2021 18.26 UTC

A case to be heard in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg this week could have disastrous consequences for those campaigning to eradicate prostitution.

The hearing is the first step in determining whether France’s laws on prostitution – which criminalise paying for sex – are constitutional, or whether they contravene the human rights of self-titled “sex workers”.

France introduced the legislation, known as the abolitionist model, in 2016, joining a growing list of countries (Sweden, Norway, Canada, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Israel) where it is illegal to buy sex, shifting the criminal responsibility to the buyer, who is fined if caught.

It was controversial from the start, with sex workers’ rights campaigners arguing that a better solution would be to decriminalise the entire sex trade, including pimping, brothel owning and kerb crawling.

But prostitution is dangerous and degrading for the vast majority of women involved. Removing laws pertaining to pimping and brothel owning, and legitimising men paying for sex, results in a further entrenchment of the view that prostitution is an inevitability, and, as has been said to me countless times, “the oldest profession”. I prefer to use the phrase “the oldest oppression”.

In December 2019, a challenge to the law in France was lodged before the French constitutional court, but the law was upheld. In its ruling the judges said that the law helped protect women “by depriving pimps of their profits” and that it “fights against this activity and against the sexual exploitation of human beings, criminal activities founded on coercion and enslavement”.

The claimants – 250 individuals involved in prostitution, supported by 19 French NGOs – are now taking the case to the ECHR.

The fact that the applicants are using human rights legislation to argue for the “right” of men to pay for sex is staggering. Prostitution is a human rights violation of the women involved, and men have no right to pay for sex. In this case, the so-called “human right” of women to sell sex is being used as a smokescreen to protect the men and their right to sexual access to the most vulnerable women.

The applicants claim that the law contravenes three articles in the European convention on human rights: the right to life; prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment; right to a private life. One of the arguments is that the law puts women’s lives in danger by driving prostitution underground; that they are more likely to face violence from sex buyers because only “bad” punters will take the risk; and that women have the right to make autonomous decisions to sell sex.

There is no evidence for these claims – on the contrary, research in those countries that have adopted the abolitionist model has shown that rates of violence and homicide perpetrated on women by pimps and punters is far lower than in decriminalised regimes.

The implications are huge – if the plaintiffs win, all the other countries with a similar law will doubtless be challenged by pro-prostitution lobbyists. If, however, they lose, this will further entrench the legality and highlight the successes of the abolitionist model. A lot is hanging on this case in terms of the direction that other countries take when dealing with its own sex trade.

What are the alternatives to curbing the demand? Blanket decriminalisation or legalisation, as adopted by Holland, Germany, and Switzerland.

But legalisation has failed miserably. Under this regime, demand for sexual services, trafficking of women and girls, and illegal brothels have increased. There is no evidence of a decrease in violence, HIV rates or murders of women in legal sex trades, but there is evidence that the rights and freedoms promised by lobbyists for legalisation and decriminalisation were transferred to the brothel owners and sex buyers.

Space International, a feminist NGO founded by sex trade survivors that campaigns for the abolitionist model, has applied to intervene in the case and will submit evidence about the benefits of the law. For example, that the law includes provision for exiting services for women who wish to leave prostitution, and protection from pimps and other exploiters.

If the applicants are successful, the judgment will become case law to be relied upon in the future and could lead to pimps funding big campaigns to repeal sex buyer laws in other countries to protect profits.

Let’s hope that the judges see sense and understand that a repeal of the abolitionist model will lead to more misery for women, and amnesty on sexual exploiters.

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Sport

India hold on to draw women’s Test match against England – as it happened

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “India hold on to draw women’s Test match against England – as it happened” was written by Will Unwin (now) and Simon Burnton (earlier), for theguardian.com on Saturday 19th June 2021 17.29 UTC

Player of the match.

Rana and Bhatia did superbly well to ensure India came out of the match with a draw. They were certainly in deep trouble when they came together but they put on more than 100 for the ninth wicket.

MATCH DRAWN

121st over: India 344-8 (Rana 80, Bhatia 44) Rana takes a single first ball. That is not speeding up the century process. Knight seems to be telling the India bench to call it a day as Bhatia is gifted a single to keep the strike but it is a no ball, so we go again. Rana decides to speed the matter up and hits a four. Knight asks to call it a day once more at the end of the over and we are done.

120th over: India 337-8 (Rana 75, Bhatia 43) England put everyone on the boundary. India are going to drag this out until Rana gets her ton, aren’t they? Bhatia gets four down fine leg and another to square leg. This partnership is now worth 97.

119th over: India 327-8 (Rana 74, Bhatia 34) India have earned this draw, which will be the inevitable result. For now, however, we are going through the motions.

118th over: India 326-8 (Rana 74, Bhatia 33) Bhatia edges Cross but it whacks Jones into the knee, causing her to yelp in pain. I think it missed her padding and hit bone. You could hear the impact.

117th over: India 325-8 (Rana 74, Bhatia 32) Elwiss is bowling for the first time in the match, which might be a sign this Test is going nowhere. Line and length from Elwiss all the way. The only runs of the over come from leg byes down to fine leg.

116th over: India 323-8 (Rana 74, Bhatia 32) Cross is certainly keeping it tight here. Bhatia edges her down to third man for a couple. We are now into the final hour.

115th over: India 321-8 (Rana 74, Bhatia 30) When do they consider shaking hands on this? Knight has decided to change the angle by going round the wicket to bring some life back into the attack. It almost works as Rana prods at one and it beats the edge. The next delivery is a dreadful full toss but Rana can only hit it for a single.

114th over: India 319-8 (Rana 73, Bhatia 29) Cross is very much hitting back of a length. She tries to tempt Bhatia with a fuller one but a textbook forward defence is the response. Cross completes a second consecutive maiden.

113th over: India 319-8 (Rana 73, Bhatia 29) Bhatia hits one from Knight down to the cover boundary for a walked single. India are rightly in little rush to do much here.

112th over: India 318-8 (Rana 73, Bhatia 28) Cross is brought on to replace Ecclestone. She beats Rana first up, going past her outside edge. Cross hits the pads but it is going down leg and the umpire has zero interest in the appeal. A maiden for Cross on her return to the attack.

111th over: India 318-8 (Rana 73, Bhatia 28) Rana knocks one through cover for an easy single, which was the only time either bothered with any backlift in the over. India lead by 153.

110th over: India 317-8 (Rana 72, Bhatia 28) Farrant makes a cracking stop at backward point, bringing much joy to her teammates. The next ball from Ecclestone is, however, cracked past Farrant for four. Ecclestone drops one very short and is pulled to midwicket for another boundary. I do not think we will see much more from Ecclestone today.

While it is drinks … I should point out I am not Simon Burnton, he has had to depart.

109th over: India 309-8 (Rana 72, Bhatia 20) Knight deceives Rana and the wicketkeeper, conceding four byes in the process. Rana blocks out to drinks.

108th over: India 305-8 (Rana 72, Bhatia 20) The 300 comes up thanks to a fine sweep from Rana. She follows it up with a vicious cut to the point boundary.

107th over: India 296-8 (Rana 63, Bhatia 20) Knight tries to yorks Rana but he she keeps it out. The next ball flies off the outside edge but very wide of slip and trickles down to the third man boundary but it is just held up. There are cries for a catch from England after Rana clips one out to deep square leg but it bounces a couple of times on its way to Dunkley.

India lead by 131.

106th over: India 293-8 (Rana 60, Bhatia 20) Rana fails to beat the field with a couple of shots but then cuts for a single to the cover boundary. Bhatia chops the next ball down but it bounces up and over her stumps.

105th over: India 292-8 (Rana 59, Bhatia 20) Knight brings herself on. Bhatia takes a quick single but gets herself back on strike to whack a cover drive to the boundary

Updated

104th over: India 286-8 (Rana 58, Bhatia 15) Ecclestone knows that all Bhatia wants to do is cut, so offers her no width to do so. Bhatia gets a run off the final ball to midwicket.

103rd over: India 285-8 (Rana 58, Bhatia 14) Rana cuts Sciver behind point and to the boundary on the first ball. She is looking incredibly confident at the crease. The rest of the over passes without another run scored thanks to Sciver keeping it tight.

Some high praise.

Updated

102nd over: India 281-8 (Rana 54, Bhatia 14) Fifty for Smeh Rana! It’s taken her 91 balls and every one has been precious. It has been a pretty classy knock, and absolutely invaluable for her team.

101st over: India 274-8 (Rana 49, Bhatia 12) Three singles off Sciver’s over, and a sense of stasis hangs over the game. Can England wrestle their way back into the ascendancy?

100th over: India 271-8 (Rana 47, Bhatia 11) Ecclestone is back after a change of ends, and Bhatia chips the last in the air but just short of the fielder at short leg, who dives to her left but to no avail.

India extend their lead beyond 100

99th over: India 267-8 (Rana 45, Bhatia 9) Sciver replaces Ecclestone and Bhatia now hits a lovely shot through the covers, and India have been excellent since tea, every boundary a dagger to the heart of England’s victory hopes. They’re also taking long enough between deliveries for the umpires to warn them about timewasting. India lead by 102.

98th over: India 262-8 (Rana 45, Bhatia 4) Four more for Rana, who gets it through the covers again for four.

Updated

97th over: India 257-8 (Rana 41, Bhatia 4) Lovely shot from Rana here, through the covers for four.

96th over: India 253-8 (Rana 36, Bhatia 4) Just a single. Sneh Rana, on her Test debut and batting very impressively, seems to be enjoying this.

95th over: India 252-8 (Rana 35, Bhatia 4) A maiden from Sophie Ecclestone.

94th over: India 252-8 (Rana 35, Bhatia 4) Runs! Rana edges, but it’s always safe and runs away for four. Sophia Dunckley chases gamely, and when she realises she won’t catch it dives anyway, for reasons unknown, not coming within two yards of the ball at any point. Rana then hits the last more cleanly for four more. These are big runs for India.

Updated

The players are back out. There’s a match to decide. Katherine Brunt has the ball.

England have kept plugging away, and been admirably composed when they might have grown desperate and a bit ragged, helped by India giftwrapping a few wickets. Going into the last session, with 40 overs remaining – less, presumably, a couple for change of innings – we could end up with a super-fun finale. My advice would be, don’t go anywhere.

TEA: India 243-8, lead by 78

93rd over: India 242-8 (Rana 27, Bhatia 2) England bring in the close fielders, but when Bhatia edges one in the air it goes between the two slips. The over and indeed the session ends with an lbw appeal – England don’t have any reviews left, and that was heading well down leg anyway.

92nd over: India 242-8 (Rana 27, Bhatia 2) England’s seamers haven’t cleaned up the tail with the new ball, so after this Brunt over Sophie Ecclestone is going to get a chance to complete a five-fer.

91st over: India 241-8 (Rana 27, Bhatia 1) There was rain forecast for the late afternoon, but latest projections are that it won’t arrive until after 7pm, so this game should be played to a conclusion. India lead by 76 with 43 overs remaining.

WICKEET! Pandey c Jones b Sciver 18 (India 240-8)

Breakthrough! The partnership is broken after adding 41 inconvenient runs, Pandey tickling the ball on its way down the leg side, and Amy Jones takes a good low catch.

90th over: India 240-7 (Rana 26, Pandey 17) Rana leaves Brunt’s first delivery, which misses off stump by no distance at all, and the batter immediately retakes her guard. You don’t leave those.

89th over: India 238-7 (Rana 26, Pandey 17) Sciver ends with an inswinging yorker that Rana gets the inside edge of the toe of her bat to, the ball squirting away towards fine leg.

88th over: India 236-7 (Rana 25, Pandey 16) Runs! Pandey hits Shrubsole’s first delivery through the covers and her third past point, both times for four. Then two snorters to end the over, one that flies just past the edge and the other just past off stump.

87th over: India 227-7 (Rana 25, Pandey 7) Sciver comes back. Her first 10 overs of the innings went for a combined total of one run, and this one goes for five thanks to a last-ball slash by Rana which sent the ball flying wide of the slips and away for four.

86th over: India 222-7 (Rana 21, Pandey 6) Shrubsole is getting quite a lot of inswing here, but the batters are handling the new ball very nicely and precious time keeps passing.

NOT OUT! Not a whisper on Ultra Edge, and England’s last review has gone.

ENGLAND REVIEW! They think Rana was caught behind. Even Anya Shrubsole didn’t see an edge, and the umpire certainly didn’t, but Amy Jones was convinced, so England roll the dice.

85th over: India 222-7 (Rana 21, Pandey 6) Another maiden from Brunt, who still looks a bit bothered by that ankle.

84th over: India 222-7 (Rana 21, Pandey 6) Rana flicks Shrubsole away through midwicket for four, nice shot. And then a few cracking deliveries, a couple of big inswingers followed by one that moves away off the seam and just beats Rana’s edge. There are 49 overs remaining, and India lead by 57.

Updated

83rd over: India 218-7 (Rana 17, Pandey 6) Katherine Brunt doesn’t look very happy, and at the end of her over she kneels down to give her left ankle a bit of a rub, potentially a futile-attempt-at-boundary-prevention injury. She still bowls a maiden, mind.

82nd over: India 218-7 (Rana 17, Pandey 6) Shrubsole bowls, and Rana hits through the covers, all timing. Brunt chases it all the way, throws herself at it to try to keep it from the rope, and fails. Then she hits just wide of the fielder at short leg for a couple. India’s lead is now 53.

81st over: India 212-7 (Rana 11, Pandey 6) England turn to Brunt, and after a couple of deliveries with the old ball she calls for the new nugget and two balls later produces a ripper, which somehow misses both Rana’s bat and off stump by millimetres.

80th over: India 211-7 (Rana 10, Pandey 6) Ecclestone’s 29th over of the innings, and there’s a drop at silly point! It was, as they often are, an outlandishly difficult chance, coming at pace at ankle height. Now for some drinks, presumably with a new ball and a new challenge to come.

79th over: India 211-7 (Rana 10, Pandey 6) Another nice cut, this time from Rana for a couple.

Updated

78th over: India 209-7 (Rana 8, Pandey 6) Ecclestone’s first ball is dinked just wide of the fielder at silly mid-off, who was busy thinking she had to get out of the way and couldn’t react in time to the idea of trying to get closer to the ball rather than trying to get further away. Pandey celebrates that let-off (of sorts) with a nice cut for four.

Updated

77th over: India 205-7 (Rana 8, Pandey 2) A run off the first ball, an lbw appeal off the last.

Updated

NOT OUT! The impact was well outside the line, so not out it remains.

REVIEW! England have a couple of reviews up their sleeve so they’re going to throw one at this appeal against Rana. The question is whether the ball was doing too much, and going wide of leg stump.

76th over: India 204-7 (Rana 8, Pandey 1) Rana chops the ball into the ground, and it seems to be heading towards the stumps only for some reason to decide to turn left after bouncing. She celebrates this lifeline by hitting the last for four.

75th over: India 200-7 (Rana 4, Pandey 1) A maiden from Heather Knight.

74th over: India 200-7 (Rana 4, Pandey 1) I can only think that Kaur was trying to the guilt being felt by Pooja Vastrakar, and give captain and coach someone else to shout at. In that context, her dismissal was really quite noble. India lead by 35.

WICKET! Kaur c Jones b Ecclestone 8 (India 199-7)!

Kaur wants to score big and fast, but gets a thick top-edge and sends the ball steepling into the Bristol sky. When it comes down, Amy Jones is underneath it.

England players celebrate wicket of India’s Kaur Harmanpreet.
England players celebrate wicket of India’s Kaur Harmanpreet. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Action Images/Reuters

Updated

73rd over: India 199-6 (Kaur 8, Rana 4) Knight starts her over with a full toss, which is duly despatched by Kaur.

72nd over: India 194-6 (Kaur 3, Rana 4) The last ball of Ecclestone’s over was off-stump bound until, inches from its target, Rana got her bat to it and cut it away for four.

71st over: India 189-6 (Kaur 1, Rana 0) That was an absolutely shocking shot from Vastrakar, worse in the context of the match and the situation India are in. Pure trash.

WICKET! Vastrakar b Knight 12 (India 189-6)

Another one! An absolutely wild shot from Vastrakar, who loses shape and control, gets none of the ball with a massive heave, and loses her off stump!

India’s Pooja Vastrakar bowled out by England’s Heather Knight.
India’s Pooja Vastrakar bowled out by England’s Heather Knight. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Action Images/Reuters

Updated

70th over: India 188-5 (Kaur 1, Vastrakar 12) Better from Ecclestone, with no easy hits and consequently no runs conceded.

Updated

69th over: India 188-5 (Kaur 1, Vastrakar 12) Another Sciver maiden. This is getting silly now.

Updated

68th over: India 188-5 (Kaur 1, Vastrakar 12) Four runs! Ecclestone drops one short and Vastrakar has plenty of time to lean back, size the ball up, and send it through midwicket. And then four more! This one goes wide of mid-on, who dives despairingly but can’t reach it. And another! This one is even sweeter, and mid-on doesn’t bother diving. In the first innings Vastrakar came in at No10, scored three fours and was out for 12.

Updated

67th over: India 176-5 (Kaur 1, Vastrakar 0) Another Sciver maiden.

66rd over: India 176-5 (Kaur 1, Vastrakar 0) Ecclestone continues, and Kaur gets off the mark with a single to midwicket.

Updated

65rd over: India 175-5 (Kaur 0, Vastrakar 0) So Sciver has the wicket she deserves. She’s an absolute metronome at the moment, not a wayward delivery. It’s another maiden, obviously. Her figures now: 8-7-1-1

Updated

WICKET! Raut c Ecclestone b Sciver 39 (India 175-5)

Raut pulls the ball straight to the fielder at square leg, and India have lost three wickets for four runs, lead by 10, have two new batsmen at the crease and are creaking!

England’s Nat Sciver celebrate after taking a wicket from India’s Punam Raut.
England’s Nat Sciver celebrate after taking a wicket from India’s Punam Raut. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Updated

64th over: India 175-4 (Raut 39, Kaur 0) And another maiden, from Ecclestone. There has been just one scoring shot in 6.1 overs since lunch. It did go for four, though.

63rd over: India 175-4 (Raut 39, Kaur 0) Yet another Sciver maiden. Figures of 7-6-1-0 now, building the pressure. “Just curious,” writes Da Beej. “Since 2000, what proportion of women’s test matches have finished in draws? I’m scared this one is headed that way too.” According to Cricinfo there have been 28 draws, 16 wins/defeats and no ties since the start of 2000.

62nd over: India 175-4 (Raut 39, Kaur 0) Raj edges into her pad, and the ball flies low just wide of the fielder at silly point. It’s only a temporary reprieve.

WICKET! Raj b Ecclestone 4 (India 175-4)

BIG WICKET! For the second time in the match Mithali Raj is out cheaply to Ecclestone! This time the ball zips off the surface and just clips the very outermost of off stump!

England’s Sophie Ecclestone celebrates taking the wicket of India’s Mithali Raj with teammates.
England’s Sophie Ecclestone celebrates taking the wicket of India’s Mithali Raj with teammates. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Action Images/Reuters

Updated

61st over: India 175-3 (Raut 39, Raj 4) Sciver’s sixth over, her fifth maiden, and she’s leaked just a single run so far.

Updated

60th over: India 175-3 (Raut 39, Raj 4) Ecclestone drops one a bit short, and Raj gets off the mark with a back-foot cover drive for four.

59th over: India 171-3 (Raut 39, Raj 0) Nat Sciver’s fifth over of the innings goes the way of three of the four previous ones, being as it was a maiden.

Updated

58th over: India 171-3 (Raut 39, Raj 0) Sophie Ecclestone completes her 18th over, without drama.

Updated

Right then. The players are on their way back out. Meanwhile, an update from Raf Nicholson. “Wicket Women did indeed exist,” she confirms. “It was produced by the Women’s Cricket Association and then the ECB when they took over the women’s game in 1998; unfortunately the ECB discontinued it in 2003. There are some copies online here.” Do tell Self Esteem/Rebecca Lucy Taylor if you get the chance, she might be quite excited.

I’m off for a breather. I leave you with this really quite excellent track from Self Esteem as performed in last night’s Later with Jools Holland on ye BBC.

And here’s an interview with her from a couple of years back which explains why she’s worth a plug on this liveblog. Specifically, this bit:

Look at those reactions – that’s my cricketing! Did you know that about me? I got into South Yorkshire when I was younger – that was going to be my career. I was a spin bowler but they changed the ball from a wind ball to a real ball when I was 15 so I gave it up. I haven’t been down the nets for a while. So there used to be a magazine called Wicket Women. I can’t find any evidence of this online, but I used to subscribe to it monthly, I swear. It was definitely around in the ’90s.

LUNCH: India 171-3 (lead by six)

57.5 overs: India 171-3 (Raut 39) Sharma heaves to midwicket for four, but then tries to do it again when the ball is a little too full for that kind of treatment, and pays for it. Lunch is promptly taken, with India holding a narrow lead and England hoping to knock over a few more in short order to bring the win back into play.

WICKET! Sharma b Ecclestone 54 (India 171-3)

Just before lunch, a breakthrough! Sharma swings across the line and edges into her stumps!

India’s Deepti Sharma is bowled.
India’s Deepti Sharma is bowled. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Updated

57th over: India 166-2 (Sharma 50, Raut 38) Another Sciver maiden. She’s going at 0.25 an over. In other cricket news, here’s the England men’s squad for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, which starts in 10 days’ time. Sussex’s George Garton gets his first call-up:

Eoin Morgan (Middlesex) Captain
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire)
Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Sam Billings (Kent)
Jos Buttler (Lancashire)
Sam Curran (Surrey)
Tom Curran (Surrey)
Liam Dawson (Hampshire)
George Garton (Sussex)
Liam Livingstone (Lancashire)
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
Joe Root (Yorkshire)
Jason Roy (Surrey)
David Willey (Yorkshire)
Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)
Mark Wood (Durham)

India lead by one

56th over: India 166-2 (Sharma 50, Raut 38) An excellent back-foot cover-drive from Raut brings her four runs, and takes India level with England. A leg bye next ball puts them in the lead.

Frustration for England’s Heather Knight.
Frustration for England’s Heather Knight. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Action Images/Reuters

Updated

55th over: India 159-2 (Sharma 50, Raut 32) Sky boot the women’s Test off their Main Event channel, meaning that I can no longer get it in HD, which on my screen makes an extraordinary amount of difference. So I watch a strangely diffuse Deepti Sharma score the single she needs to complete her half-century, off 157 balls with seven fours. Sciver has now conceded a run. Just the one, mind.

54th over: India 158-2 (Sharma 49, Raut 32) Run out chance! Raut hits to mid-on, and gets back just before the ball, which doesn’t hit the stumps anyway.

53rd over: India 156-2 (Sharma 48, Raut 31) Three maidens and two runs in the last four overs, Sciver’s figures reading 2-2-0-0.

52nd over: India 156-2 (Sharma 48, Raut 31) Sophie Ecclestone is back. All sorts of close fielders. No sort of chance.

Updated

51st over: India 154-2 (Sharma 48, Raut 29) And another maiden, Nat Sciver’s first over of the innings.

50th over: India 154-2 (Sharma 48, Raut 29) Every time you think India might have decided to accelerate in the hope of provoking England into a nasty little run chase, they bat out a maiden.

49th over: India 154-2 (Sharma 48, Raut 29) Another Sharma sweep, no edge this time, goes for four, and she sends the next through cover but it’s stopped on the rope.

48th over: India 148-2 (Sharma 42, Raut 29) Cross bowls, and Raut heaves over mid-on for four. India trail by 17.

47th over: India 144-2 (Sharma 42, Raut 25) India are motoring pretty handily here. Sharma top-edges a sweep from the last ball of Knight’s over, but it bounces away safely for four.

46th over: India 140-2 (Sharma 38, Raut 25) A Kate Cross maiden.

45th over: India 140-2 (Sharma 38, Raut 25) Sharma leans back and heaves Knight’s final delivery, a bit too wide, through the covers for four.

Updated

44th over: India 127-2 (Sharma 33, Raut 19) What a remarkable stat this is: Shafali Verma, who made her debut in this match and is 17 years old, already holds the all-time record for most sixes hit in women’s Test cricket with three. There is some uncertainty, because we don’t know all the numbers, but still. Here’s Cricinfo’s list of every woman to have hit a Test six.

43rd over: India 131-2 (Sharma 34, Raut 24) Heather Knight bowls for the first time this innings. Her first-innings figures of 11-8-7-2 were pretty extraordinary, but this time she starts with a full toss, which Raut tucks away for four.

Updated

42nd over: India 127-2 (Sharma 33, Raut 19) Kate Cross replaces Ecclestone and bowls a maiden, after which the players will have some drinks. Just the one wicket for England this morning and not a whole lot of other chances, while their lead has shrunk to 38, and they need to accelerate things.

41st over: India 127-2 (Sharma 33, Raut 19) A nice over from Brunt, but without reward. Then Raut flicks the last through midwicket for a couple, and the bowler returns to the outfield with her cap covering her face, apparently rather disappointed.

NOT OUT! There was a fairly hefty inside edge off Raut’s bat, so she bats on.

WICKET! But Raut reviews! Is she out lbw here? She took it upstairs pretty quickly, so maybe there’s some bat on it…

40th over: India 125-2 (Sharma 33, Raut 17) Ecclestone slides one down the leg side, and Sharma gets a tiny tickle on it to add four to her total.

39th over: India 121-2 (Sharma 29, Raut 17) Raut ducks under the last ball of the over, which doesn’t bounce anything like as sharply as she expects and zips past her shoulder.

38th over: India 120-2 (Sharma 28, Raut 17) Ecclestone bowls to Raut. Two slips, a leg slip, short leg and silly point, a crowd of players around the bat. She inside-edges one and gets away with it, and then drives through the covers for four off the back foot, nice shot.

37th over: India 114-2 (Sharma 28, Raut 11) Brunt prepares to deliver her final ball of the over, but Sharma isn’t ready so she turns back, starts her run-up again, but Sharma still isn’t ready so she turns back again. “Oh my god!” she complains.

36th over: India 112-2 (Sharma 27, Raut 10) An Ecclestone maiden.

Updated

35th over: India 112-2 (Sharma 27, Raut 10) Three singles and three dots from Brunt’s over, and England’s lead is now 53.

34th over: India 109-2 (Sharma 26, Raut 8) Ecclestone motors through a maiden over.

33rd over: India 109-2 (Sharma 26, Raut 8) Katherine Brunt comes on. Good idea, I think, to give her the ball while she’s still buzzing from that catch. An interesting over, plump with opportunity: again Amy Jones, standing up, doesn’t catch the ball when there was a brief stumping opportunity, and there are a couple of edges, but no instant reward.

32nd over: India 107-2 (Sharma 26, Raut 6) Sharma doesn’t quite control a sweep, but the ball lands well short of the fielder. Raut, with a short leg and a silly point crowding the bat, hits just past one of them and through the covers for four and then, after that review, deals well with one that bounces wildly off the pitch. Encouraging unpredictability, that, for England and Sophie Ecclestone.

NOT OUT! The ball was missing leg stump by the slenderest of margins, so Raut survives and England lose one of their three reviews.

REVIEW! England reckon Raut might be lbw here, though the umpire disagrees. Upstairs they go.

England appeal for LBW on India’s Punam Raut.
India’s Punam Raut looks sheepish as England’s players appeal for LBW. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Updated

31st over: India 101-2 (Sharma 25, Raut 1) A couple of singles take India into triple figures. They trail by 64.

Updated

30th over: India 99-2 (Sharma 24) Six! Verma heaves Ecclestone straight down the ground! Then she tries to repeat the trick off the last ball of the over, a bit of a rank full toss, and doesn’t.

WICKET! Verma c Brunt b Ecclestone 63 (India 99-2)

WHAT A CATCH THAT IS! Katherine Brunt sprints round from long-on to take a low, diving catch as Verma attempts to take on Ecclestone!

England’s players celebrate Katherine Brunt’s catch.
England’s players celebrate Katherine Brunt’s catch. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Updated

29th over: India 93-1 (Verma 57, Sharma 24) A brief appeal for lbw from Anya Shrubsole, but the ball clipped the edge of Sharma’s bat on its way into the pad. The Indian left-hander clobbers the next through the covers for four.

28th over: India 89-1 (Verma 57, Sharma 20) A bit of a wild swing from Verma, but the ball loops over cover and land safely.

27th over: India 86-1 (Verma 56, Sharma 19) Amy Jones, standing up to the stumps as Anya Shrubsole bowls, lets slip a stumping half-chance, failing to gather the ball with Sharma out of her crease. A single each, and I have been informed that commentary in the UK is on Radio 4 Long Wave (online here).

That Shafali Verma action.
That Shafali Verma action. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Action Images/Reuters

Updated

26th over: India 85-1 (Verma 55, Sharma 18) A couple of leg byes off Sophie Ecclestone’s over, and a couple of edges from Verma, albeit completely unthreatening ones, one into her pads and the other sending the ball rolling to mid-off.

25th over: India 83-1 (Verma 55, Sharma 18) A two-day maiden from Cross, Deepti Sharma in no hurry to start scoring.

The players are out and play is about to get under way with the second half of a rain-interrupted Kate Cross over.

“Do you know where I might listen to this on the radio?” wonders Tim Bartlett. “The BBC seems to have abandoned it in favour of the test championship – men’s – but it’s irksome that I’ve been listening to 3 days of women’s cricket and will miss the finale!” No need for that – it sounds like there will be BBC commentary somewhere. 5 Live Sports Extra is as you see men-focused, and I’m not sure where you can find it on the radio, but on an interweb browserbox you can find it here.

If one cricket liveblog isn’t enough for you, the World Test Championship final has just got under way in Southampton, and India are 5-0.

The ubiquitous Adam Collins is in Bristol on Sky broadcasting duties and sounds optimistic. It’s grey, but no rain is forecast until late afternoon, maybe 5pm or so.

Hello world!

The rain that fell on the third day of England’s only Test of the summer has really messed things up a bit. It started at lunch, then after a little under 14 more overs it fell again, then they played another six, and then they were off for the rest of the day, with no play possible in the final session. It made it hard for England’s bowlers to build up rhythm or momentum, and though they made an early breakthrough, dismissing Smriti Mandhana with the score on 29, at 83-1 at stumps and with rain forecast for the late afternoon, wickets will have to fall in a hurry if there is to be a positive result. So, here’s hoping!

Here’s yesterday’s match report from Raf Nicholson in Bristol:

On day three at Bristol, Sophie Ecclestone proved why she is considered the No 1 bowler in the world, taking three for 27 in a 10-over spell that included four maidens and helped bowl India out for 231, 165 runs behind on first innings – enabling Heather Knight to enforce the follow-on.

“I’ve not played a Test match for a while, so it was just about getting back into it,” Ecclestone said at the close. “It’s a weird situation that I’m not used to. It helped this morning getting that first wicket with my first ball, made me a bit more relaxed.

“After a mad hour last night, it was just about getting into the battle again and making sure we stayed one up on India. It was about being patient, and bowling my best ball over and over again.”

Though 17-year-old Shafali Verma (55 not out) battled her way to a second half-century in the match, becoming the first Indian woman to score two fifties on Test debut, India finished the day on 83 for one, still 82 in arrears. A frustrating afternoon interspersed with rain breaks, and an evening session entirely wiped out by rain, prevented England from making further inroads.

Much more here:

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US NEWS, World

Biden threatened with communion ban over position on abortion

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Biden threatened with communion ban over position on abortion ” was written by Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, for The Observer on Saturday 19th June 2021 17.36 UTC

Roman Catholic bishops in the US have voted to press ahead with moves that could result in Joe Biden being banned from receiving communion because of his stance on abortion, and that risks increasing tensions in a divided church.

After three days of online debate, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted by three to one to draft new guidance on the eucharist. The unexpected strength of support for the move among the bishops was a rebuff to the Vatican, which had signalled its opposition.

Biden, a devout Catholic who attends Mass every weekend and carries a rosary that belonged to his late son, said in response to the vote that the matter was private: “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Conservative bishops are behind the push to draw up a new teaching document expected to say that Catholics who diverge from the church’s standpoint on abortion should be denied holy communion.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who proposed the motion, said: “We need to accept the discipline that those who obstinately persist in grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading conservative and critic of Pope Francis, has previously said that politicians who “publicly and obstinately” support abortion are “apostates” who should not only be barred from receiving communion but deserve excommunication.

But some US bishops warned against the “weaponisation” of the eucharist. Speaking at the USCCB meeting, Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, said most priests would be “puzzled to hear that bishops now want to talk about excluding people at a time when the real challenge before them is welcoming people back to the regular practice of the faith and rebuilding their communities”.

The new teaching document, to be drafted by the doctrine committee of US bishops, will not be binding on individual bishops, who have the right to decide whether a parishioner should be denied communion.

Wilton Gregory of Washington and Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware – the dioceses where Biden usually attends mass – have both made it clear that the president is welcome to receive communion at their churches.

Biden, only the second Catholic to occupy the White House after John Kennedy, has said his faith shapes “all that I do” and it will “serve as my anchor” through his term in office.

On abortion, Biden has said he personally believes life begins at conception, but recognises others do not share his view. “What I’m not prepared to do is impose a precise view that is borne out of my faith on other people,” he said in 2015.

The Biden administration has lifted restrictions on federal funding for research involving human foetal tissue, rescinded a Trump policy barring organisations that refer women for abortions from receiving federal grants, and allowed women to remotely obtain a prescription for an abortion pill during the pandemic.

The Catholic church says that Catholics in public life should uphold principles consistent with its doctrine. But in a survey carried out by the Pew Research Center in March, more than two-thirds of US Catholics said Biden’s views on abortion should not disqualify him from receiving communion.

According to exit polls taken during last November’s presidential election, just over half of US Catholics (51%) voted for Biden and 47% voted for Trump.

 

Catholics for Choice, an abortion rights group, said it was profoundly saddened by the bishops’ vote. Jamie Manson, the group’s president, said: “In a country and church already riven with tension and division, today the bishops chose to be partisan instead of pastoral, cruel rather than Christ-like.”

The bishops will hold a debate on the teaching document in November, when it will require a two-thirds majority for it to proceed.

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Corona Virus, Health, India, World

Coronavirus live news: Brazil records more than 500,000 deaths from Covid; US has given more than 317,100,000 jabs – as it happened

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Coronavirus live news: Brazil records more than 500,000 deaths from Covid; US has given more than 317,100,000 jabs – as it happened ” was written by Nadeem Badshah (now) and Kevin Rawlinson and Jedidajah Otte (earlier), for theguardian.com on Saturday 19th June 2021 23.00 UTC

A summary of today’s developments

  • Brazil surpassed 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, the Health Ministry said, registering 2,301 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.
  • Belgium will ban entry to non-EU travellers from Britain in order to limit the spread of the Delta variant. Britain is on a list of 27 nations that will also face the order which will take effect by June 27 at the latest, Jan Eyckmans, the spokesman for health minister Frank Vandenbroucke, told AFP.
  • Thousands took to the streets across Brazil to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response, including his not acquiring vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need for mask-wearing, Reuters reports.
  • The UK has recorded 10,321 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, compared to 10,476 on Friday, bringing the total to 4,620,968. A further 14 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 127,970.
  • Mexico City schools that had just gone back to in-person classes will be closed again starting on Monday as the capital climbs into a higher tier of coronavirus risk, education authorities said. Mexico City officials had loosened restrictions on gatherings in schools, hotels, stores and restaurants just two weeks ago as the dense urban zone moved into the lowest risk tier of the government’s four-level “traffic light” model, Reuters said. But the federal health ministry put Mexico City a step higher on the scale for 21 June to 4 July.
  • Cambodia reported 20 deaths – its worst one-day death toll. The southeast Asian nation detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant. Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths.
  • A third wave “is definitely under way” in the UK, according to a government scientific adviser. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.”
  • Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.
  • Several English football grounds were being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium and Stamford Bridge. Long queues formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs.

Mexico’s health ministry reported 3,964 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 192 more fatalities, bringing the total figures to 2,475,705 infections and 231,151 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published in March suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure, Reuters reports.

Protest against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration in Rio de Janeiro.
Protest against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Pilar Olivares/Reuters

Belgium to ban non-EU travellers from Britain

Belgium will ban entry to non-EU travellers from Britain in order to limit the spread of the Delta variant.
Britain is on a list of 27 nations that will also face the order which will take effect by June 27 at the latest, Jan Eyckmans, the spokesman for health minister Frank Vandenbroucke, told AFP. With Belgium’s restrictions, which already apply to South Africa, India and Brazil, only EU citizens or residents of Belgium will be able to enter the country. Those travellers will still have to meet tight quarantine rules as well as take Covid tests before being free to move in Europe. The only exceptions for British or other non-EU travellers coming from a banned country will be diplomats on essential work and transport personnel, the government said.

Experts see the death toll in Brazil, already the highest in Latin America, climbing far higher, Reuters reports.

“I think we are going to reach 700,000 or 800,000 deaths before we get to see the effects of vaccination,” said Gonzalo Vecina, former head of Brazilian health regulator Anvisa, predicting a near-term acceleration in fatalities.

“We are experiencing the arrival of these new variants and the Indian variant will send us for a loop.”

Raphael Guimaraes, a researcher at Brazilian biomedical center Fiocruz, said delays in the vaccination program in Latin America’s most populous nation meant its full effects would not be felt until September or later.

Guimaraes warned Brazil could revisit scenes from the worst of its March-April peak, when the country averaged 3,000 deaths per day.

“We are still in an extremely critical situation, with very high transmission rates and hospital bed occupancy that is still critical in many places,” he said.

Brazil surpasses half a million Covid-19 deaths

Brazil surpassed 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday, the Health Ministry said, registering 2,301 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.

The country recorded an additional 82,288 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, with nearly 17.9 million cases of the disease registered since the pandemic began, Reuters reports.

When the panic set in at the start of the pandemic, Australians rushed out and bought a whole lot of carbs, new food sales data reveals.

Sales of cereals – which include pasta, rice and flour – spiked by 40% in March 2020 compared with the month prior as people stocked up for the first of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the figures show.

The total amount of food scanned at supermarket checkouts rose by 4.5% that month compared with the year before. The year-on-year spike was even higher in Victoria at 8.4% in March 2020 and it jumped to more than 14% in September as the lockdowns dragged on.

The new research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that cereals, as well as other long-life categories of foods, were especially popular at the start of the pandemic. The purchase of condiments, spreads and pantry staples like oils, coffee and tea also surged.

Dubai’s supreme committee of crisis and disaster management said it would allow travellers from South Africa who have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine to enter Dubai starting from 23 June, Reuters reports.

Travellers from India who have valid residence visas and have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine will also be allowed into the emirate.

Meanwhile, travellers from Nigeria must only present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departure and will also undergo another PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

Updated

A summary of today’s developments

  • Thousands took to the streets across Brazil to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response, including his not acquiring vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need for mask-wearing, Reuters reports. Brazil is expected to surpass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 when official figures are released later on Saturday, the world’s highest death toll after the US.
  • The UK has recorded 10,321 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, compared to 10,476 on Friday, bringing the total to 4,620,968. A further 14 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 127,970.
  • Mexico City schools that had just gone back to in-person classes will be closed again starting on Monday as the capital climbs into a higher tier of coronavirus risk, education authorities said. Mexico City officials had loosened restrictions on gatherings in schools, hotels, stores and restaurants just two weeks ago as the dense urban zone moved into the lowest risk tier of the government’s four-level “traffic light” model, Reuters said. But the federal health ministry put Mexico City a step higher on the scale for 21 June to 4 July.
  • Cambodia reported 20 deaths – its worst one-day death toll. The southeast Asian nation detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant. Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths.
  • A third wave “is definitely under way” in the UK, according to a government scientific adviser. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.”
  • Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.
  • Several English football grounds were being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium and Stamford Bridge. Long queues formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will suspend travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Namibia from entering the country on national and foreign flights, effective from 23.59 on 21 June, Reuters reports.

Restrictions would also include transit passengers, with the exception of transit flights travelling to the UAE and bound for those countries.

Cargo flights between those countries and the UAE will continue, as usual, a statement added.

It said the restrictions were being introduced to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Updated

The joint covid-19 supervisory officer makes an appeal to residents who gathered and places of culinary business around the Duren Sawit area, East Jakarta, Indonesia. It was carried out due to the case of the transmission of Covid-19 increased and tightened all activities were limited to 9pm.
Joint Covid-19 supervisory officers patrolling Duren Sawit area, East Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph: Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

Thousands took to the streets across Brazil on Saturday to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response, including his not acquiring vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need for mask-wearing, Reuters reports.

Brazil is expected to surpass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 when official figures are released later on Saturday, the world’s highest death toll after the US.

“We are protesting against the genocidal Bolsonaro government that did not buy vaccines and has done nothing to take care of its people in the last year,” said 36-year-old Aline Rabelo, while protesting on the national mall in Brasilia.

Only 11% of Brazilians are fully vaccinated and 29% have received a first dose, health ministry data shows.

The country’s largest broadcaster, Globo, reported that by early afternoon, protests had been held in at least 44 cities in 20 states.

Here is more on today’s rallies:

Updated

More than 75% of Canadians aged 12 and older have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine and more than 20% have received both doses, broadcaster CBC News reported.

Updated

The US administered 317,117,797 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 379,003,410 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Those figures are up from the 316,048,776 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by 18 June out of 377,935,390 doses delivered.

The agency said 176,737,141 people had received at least one dose while 149,125,164 people are fully vaccinated as of Saturday.

Updated

Mexico City schools to be closed again from Monday

Mexico City schools that had just gone back to in-person classes will be closed again starting on Monday as the capital climbs into a higher tier of coronavirus risk, education authorities said.

Mexico City officials had loosened restrictions on gatherings in schools, hotels, stores and restaurants just two weeks ago as the dense urban zone moved into the lowest risk tier of the government’s four-level “traffic light” model, Reuters said.

But the federal health ministry put Mexico City a step higher on the scale for 21 June to 4 July.

Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the city’s Epidemiological Traffic Light, a calculation of risk factors, has climbed to nine points from eight points, putting the capital into the more restrictive tier.

Mexico City’s Federal Educational Authority said in a statement the suspension of classes applied to both private and public schools.

Mexico reported more than 230,959 deaths from the coronavirus and 2,471,741 confirmed infections.

Updated

Women hold up placards with a message that reads in Portuguese; “500K deaths! His fault!” during a demonstration against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and economic policies protesters say harm the interests of the poor and working class, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil is approaching an official COVID-19 death toll of 500,000 — second-highest in the world.
Women hold up placards with a message that reads in Portuguese ‘500K deaths! His fault!’ during a demonstration against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Bruna Prado/AP

Updated

Israel’s health ministry insisted a shipment of Covid-19 vaccine doses the Palestinians rejected as about to expire were “completely valid”.

The Palestinian Authority on Friday called off a deal that would have seen Israel provide it with one million jabs in exchange for doses from Pfizer that the Palestinians are scheduled to receive later this year.

PA spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said an initial delivery of some 90,000 Pfizer doses failed to conform “to the specifications contained in the agreement, and accordingly prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh instructed the minister of health to cancel the agreement”.

“The government refuses to receive vaccines that are about to expire,” Melhem said, in a statement carried by the official WAFA news agency.

The Israeli health ministry said the vaccines it delivered were “completely valid”, although the prime minister’s office acknowledged Friday that they were “about to expire”, without specifying the use-by date.

“The Palestinian health ministry received Pfizer vaccines that were valid, with expiration dates that were known, agreed on and that matched the agreement between the two sides,” the ministry said.

Updated

Five police officers were injured overnight in western France as they broke up a 1,500-strong illegal rave, authorities said on Saturday, with one party-goer losing a hand in the clashes.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd, who defied an 11pm coronavirus curfew on Friday and stayed on into Saturday afternoon at a racecourse near Redon in Brittany, AFP reports.

There were “very violent clashes” when 400 police intervened, local prefect Emmanuel Berthier said, adding the violence lasted more than seven hours through the night.

Police detained five men on Saturday and opened an inquiry into violence against people in positions of public authority.

Two of the five injured police officers had to be taken to the hospital in Redon, Berthier said.

Updated

This year’s World Refugee Day offers a chance to reflect on the uncertainty faced by those forced to flee their homes, actor Cate Blanchett said as the world grapples with the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Oscar winner and UNHCR goodwill ambassador said the annual 20 June event came during a time of “challenge and reflection”.

“We’ve been forced to confront what uncertainty feels like and of course that is the situation that the majority of refugees live with, year in, year out,” Blanchett told Reuters.

“There’s a kind of an opportunity … to think about how we have dealt with uncertainty and perhaps place ourselves in the shoes of mothers and fathers and doctors and lawyers who have been, through no fault of their own, displaced and have been living with, often for upwards of 18, 19 years, in that state that we have been dealing with for 18 months.”

Updated

Turkey has received five million more doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac, Reuters reports.

Turkey’s vaccination programme has accelerated this week, with more than one million injections a day being administered since Monday.

Turkey’s tourism sector is facing a second summer in the doldrums because of international travel restrictions, but could get a late boost if the vaccination pace continues and Covid-19 cases, now around 6,000 a day, are contained.

The president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, told members of his ruling AK party in the summer resort of Antalya on Saturday that an easing of restrictions in countries like Germany and Russia could provide a major boost.

“Countries that are critical for our tourism sector have started easing travel restrictions. As of Tuesday, God willing, Russia is lifting the ban,” Erdoğan said, referring to Russia’s decision to resume flights to Turkey.

Updated

People hold a banner during a demonstration against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic and to impeach him, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,. The banner reads: “Take Bolsonaro down in fights and on the streets”.
People demonstrating against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic and calling for his impeachment in Rio de Janeiro. The banner reads: ‘Take Bolsonaro down in fights and on the streets’. Photograph: Pilar Olivares/Reuters

Updated

Delays in coronavirus vaccine shipments to Malawi have caused health facilities to run out of doses as hundreds are due to receive a second shot, the health minister said.

The southern African country has so far received 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Nations, 102,000 from the African Union and 50,000 donated by India.

Inoculations started in April and the country was expecting a second UN shipment of 900,000 by the end of May, four weeks before the first vaccinated Malawians would be due a second dose.
But health minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said that batch had been delayed by a recent surge in coronavirus cases in India, the world’s main AstraZeneca supplier, which forced the country to temporarily halt major vaccine exports to meet local demand.

“The situation in India has delayed the supply,” Kandodo told AFP, adding the vaccines would arrive in July or August.

Updated

Afghanistan is ramping up supplies of oxygen as a deadly third surge of Covid-19 worsens, a senior health official told the Associated Press.

The government is installing oxygen supply plants in 10 provinces where up to 65% of those tested in some areas are Covid positive, health ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigir Nazari said.

By WHO recommendations, anything higher than 5% shows officials are not testing widely enough, allowing the virus to spread unchecked.

Updated

Italy reported 28 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections was up to 1,197 from 1,147.

Italy has registered 127,253 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world.

The country has reported 4.25 million cases to date, Reuters reports.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – at 2,504 on Saturday, down from 2,680 a day earlier.

There were 10 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 11 on Friday. The total number of intensive care patients fell to 394 from 416.

Updated

In the UK, 218,636 first doses were given yesterday and 188,858 second jabs. It was the second day in a row more first doses were administered than second.

Government data up to 18 June shows that of the 73,766,593 jabs administered so far, 42,679,268 were first doses and 31,087,325 were second doses.

Updated

The US will ship 2.5m Covid-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan on Saturday, a senior administration official told Reuters, more than tripling Washington’s previous allocation of shots for the island.
Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called “vaccine diplomacy,” had initially promised to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan but is increasing that number as President Joe Biden’s administration advances its pledge to send 80m US-made shots around the world. China has repeatedly offered to send coronavirus vaccines to the island, which has been battling a spike in domestic infections. Taipei has expressed concern about the safety of Chinese doses.

Updated

Queues have formed at pop-up vaccination centres at football grounds in London.

Giant jab clinics have been set up at the Olympic Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre.

Smaller events are also taking place in local community venues in a drive to vaccinate as many people in the capital as possible.

Chelsea FC had 6,000 Pfizer vaccines to administer on Saturday, with the jab being offered to all adults over the age of 18 yet to receive a first dose, as well as those awaiting a second Pfizer dose.

UK death toll rises by 14

The UK has recorded 10,321 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, compared to 10,476 on Friday, bringing the total to 4,620,968.

A further 14 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 127,970.

Summary

Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:

  • Cambodia reported 20 deaths – its worst one-day death toll. The southeast Asian nation detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant. Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths.
  • A third wave “is definitely under way” in the UK, according to a government scientific adviser. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said: “It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way.”
  • Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.
  • Several English football grounds were being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium and Stamford Bridge. Long queues formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs.

I’m now handing over to my colleague, Nadeem Badshah.

Brazil’s death toll is expected to pass 500,000 on Saturday, Reuters reports, as experts warn that the world’s second-deadliest outbreak may worsen due to delayed vaccinations and the government’s refusal to back social distancing measures.

Only 11% of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated and epidemiologists warn that, with winter arriving in the southern hemisphere and new variants of the coronavirus circulating, deaths will continue to mount even if immunisations gain steam.

Brazil has registered 498,499 deaths from 17,801,462 confirmed cases, according to health ministry data on Friday, the worst official death toll outside the United States. Over the past week, Brazil has averaged 2,000 deaths per day.

Updated

Music fans attend day 2 of Download PILOT at Donington Park
Music fans attend day 2 of Download PILOT at Donington Park Photograph: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images

Thousands of heavy metal fans are camping, singing and even moshing in the rain at Britain’s first full music festival since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The Associated Press reports:

The three-day Download Festival, taking place at Donington Park in central England, is one of a series of test events to see whether mass gatherings can resume without triggering outbreaks.

About 10,000 fans, a tenth of the festival’s pre-pandemic attendance, have tickets to watch more than 40 bands including Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Bullet for My Valentine.

Attendees all took Covid tests before the event, and don’t have to wear masks or follow social distancing rules during the festival.

Promoter Andy Copping said there was a “real sense of euphoria” at the event, which runs through Sunday, despite the wet weather. He said: “It wouldn’t be Download unless there was a bit of rain.”

Britain has recorded almost 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. The government has delayed the planned lifting of remaining social and economic restrictions until 19 July amid a rise in cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

Updated

The former business secretary Andrea Leadsom has warned that some people are reluctant to return to work because furlough has been “great” for them while others were “terrified” of going back to the office, sparking criticism from workers and business-owners.

The Conservative MP said some businesses in her South Northamptonshire constituency were struggling to get employees to go back to work because “people have, to be perfectly frank, become used to being on furlough”.

Vaccination queues form at football grounds

Several English football grounds are being used as vaccination centres, including the London Stadium, where long queues have formed as the UK government pushes everyone aged 18 or older to start getting jabs:

Updated

We reported earlier that a government scientific adviser had said a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is “definitely under way” as the vaccine programme races to outpace the Delta variant’s spread across the UK. Here’s the full story from my colleague Miranda Bryant:

On Friday morning, Leyla Çelik woke up with butterflies in her stomach. For weeks, the 22-year-old student at the Free University of Berlin had tried in vain to get an appointment for her first Covid-19 vaccine shot so she could volunteer as a polling station administrator at federal elections in September. “I’d basically given up hope.”

But last week her university got in touch via email, offering her a chance to get a first dose of Moderna vaccine on campus within a few days. By 9am on Friday, the anxiety had turned into euphoria. “It’s such a relief,” said the native Berliner, nursing her achey shoulder at the university’s biology institute, which was converted into a vaccine delivery point this week. “At last I can catch a train or a bus without feeling anxious.”

Millions of continental Europeans are currently experiencing similar thrills at the end of an emotional rollercoaster journey. In the spring, they had stared enviously at countries such as Britain and the US, where officials were administering vaccines at remarkable speed, while their own governments couldn’t shift out of first gear. Foreign Policy magazine wrote of “Europe’s vaccine disaster”.

But since then, EU member states have done a remarkable job of catching up. Since the start of this month, Germany, France and Italy have all administered more doses of vaccine on a seven-day average than Britain, Philip Oltermann, Angela Giuffrida and Kim Willsher write.

Updated

This year’s World Refugee Day offers a chance to reflect on the uncertainty faced by those forced to flee their homes, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett says as the world grapples with the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Australian actor, a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said the annual 20 June event came during a time of “challenge and reflection”.

She told Reuters:

We’ve been forced to confront what uncertainty feels like and of course that is the situation that the majority of refugees live with, year in, year out.

There’s a kind of an opportunity … to think about how we have dealt with uncertainty and perhaps place ourselves in the shoes of mothers and fathers and doctors and lawyers who have been, through no fault of their own, displaced and have been living with, for often for upwards of 18, 19 years, in that state that we have been dealing with for 18 months.

World Refugee Day honours those who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution. This year’s theme calls for greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, education and sport.

Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, said in the joint interview:

Sadly, even in Covid [times], conflicts have continued around the world.

What we’re trying to talk about … is to support the host countries to enable people to be included in access to education, children to school, family members to work, but of course, most particularly in this time of Covid, access to health and to vaccines.

In its annual report released on Friday, UNHCR said the number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and human rights abuses had doubled in the past decade to reach 82.4 million at the end of 2020.

In her UNHCR role, Blanchett has travelled to Lebanon, Jordan and Bangladesh, and has addressed the UN security council on the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Updated

After a pandemic-induced break, Warsaw is set to hold the largest gay pride parade in the region on Saturday amid an intensifying campaign in Poland and Hungary against LGBT rights.

Euronews reports:

What is usually a joyful celebration is also tinged with fear of what the future holds for the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people after setbacks first in Russia and Poland, now in Hungary.

“On the one hand we are united and we stand in solidarity with each other, and we get much joy and happiness in knowing we are strong,” said Ola Kaczorek, a co-president of the LGBT rights group Love Does Not Exclude. “Yet we are afraid of what could happen next.”

The parade comes days after Hungary’s parliament — with an election planned next year — passed a law that makes it illegal to show any materials about LGBT issues to people under 18.

Kaczorek said some participants Saturday would show gestures of solidarity with the LGBT community in Hungary.

“We are scared that this will happen in Poland,” Kaczorek said.

Participants of the Equality Jog hold rainbow flags while running on 19 June, 2021 in Warsaw, Poland.
Participants of the Equality Jog hold rainbow flags while running on 19 June 2021 in Warsaw, Poland. Photograph: Aleksander Kalka/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

The Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, on Saturday cancelled all public viewing sites for the summer Olympics, diverting some venues to be Covid-19 vaccinations centres instead.

Reuters reports:

Foreign spectators are banned from attended the Games, delayed by a year due to the pandemic, but the government and Tokyo 2020 organisers have for months held off on deciding whether to allow Japanese spectators into the stadiums.

The ban on public viewing follows the metropolitan government’s decision this month to scrap plans for a public viewing site in Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo, converting the venue to a vaccination centre.

“I believe these are necessary measures, when looking from various perspectives, for a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Koike told reporters after meeting with the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga.

They are to talk on Monday with the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.

Japanese medical experts said on Friday that banning spectators at the Olympics was the least risky option for going ahead with the event, while floating the possibility that venues could hold up to 10,000 fans in areas where “quasi-emergency” measures, such as shorter restaurant hours, have been lifted.

Demonstrators protest against hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Demonstrators protest against hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Updated

Covid restrictions in German schools must remain in place for some time to come, according to the health minister, Jens Spahn.

“We will not be able to go back to school completely without protective measures,” he said on Saturday at an online conference of the Evangelical Academy in Tutzing about the time after the summer holidays.

He suggested that measures such as compulsory face masks in classrooms or rotational teaching will probably still be necessary in autumn and winter, despite the currently very low incidences of the virus in Germany.

“We should make better use of the summer time this time,” Spahn added.

Updated

Plans to vaccinate teenagers in Japan have prompted an angry backlash from the public.

The Japan Times reports:

As municipalities prepare to inoculate adolescents against Covid-19, some have been inundated with calls and emails from irate people opposed to the young people getting the shots.

Officials say many of those opposed to the move seem averse to the coronavirus vaccine, and are particularly sensitive about the prospect of teenagers being vaccinated. The high volume of calls and emails as part of the anti-vaccination campaign have almost crippled service lines, and in some cases have included death threats, prompting some municipalities to dial back their commitment to getting youngsters in full-time education vaccinated.

Pediatricians have recommended Covid-19 shots for teens, although they say they need to be conducted with caution.

According to municipalities, it wasn’t until they announced their plans to vaccinate schoolchildren — following the central government’s decision last month to approve Pfizer Inc shots for those as young as 12 — that they became the target of a flurry of calls from across the nation.

One such municipality is the city of Komaki, in Aichi Prefecture. Earlier this month, the city said it was considering prioritizing middle and high school students for vaccinations so they could get the shots during their upcoming summer vacations, which typically start in late July.

The idea was to help restore normalcy as soon as possible so that schools could go ahead with a series of “once-in-a-lifetime” school trips and other events, many of which have been downsized or cancelled due to the pandemic, said a Komaki city official who asked not to be named.

But soon after, the city faced a barrage of phone calls and emails urging it to rethink the decision.

“Many of them were voicing concerns about long-term side-effects the vaccine could have on children. Others also said children shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs and that their future shouldn’t be ruined,” the official said. The city took about 100 such calls and emails, which at one point hampered its ability to accommodate other vaccine-related inquiries and reservation requests, he said.

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, announced on Thursday the country’s state of emergency would be lifted on Sunday except in Okinawa prefecture, as cases continue to decline nationwide and the fourth wave of the pandemic appears to have ebbed.

Japan has to date recorded 14,352 deaths from Covid-19.

I’m Jedidajah Otte and will be taking over for a bit. If you have anything you’d like to flag, you can get in touch on Twitter @JedySays.

Updated

Milkha Singh, one of India’s first sport superstars, has died of Covid-related complications at the age of 91.

Singh, who was popularly known as the Flying Sikh, died late on Friday in a hospital in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, his family said. He tested positive for Covid on 20 May. His wife, Nirmal Kaur, a former volleyball captain, had died of the virus days earlier. She was 85.

“He fought hard, but God has his ways,” Singh’s family said.

JCR had been a cook for 15 years, never struggling to find a job in New York city, where his friends would always find a place for him in a restaurant’s kitchen, writes Aldana Vales of Documented.

But when Covid-19 hit the city in March last year, work that immigrants had relied on vanished seemingly overnight, especially jobs in hospitality, events and cleaning.

While the restaurant industry in the city is now in recovery and struggling to re-employ workers it had laid off, jobs were extremely hard to find last year, JCR says.

After he lost his job he could not find another one in the food industry as the city became the global centre of the disease. “Only essential or very experienced workers were being hired,” he realized.

Many of his friends in the restaurant industry moved to construction, and there he finally got a part-time gig after months of searching.

JCR’s experiences are similar to thousands of immigrants from Latin America – and one that Documented, a local newsroom that covers immigration in the area, was able to quickly identify via its WhatsApp service, a Spanish-language channel that provides undocumented New Yorkers with valuable information.

Updated

The airport in China’s southern city of Shenzhen has cancelled hundreds of flights and tightened entry controls after a restaurant employee tested positive for the Delta variant. Agence France-Presse reports:

Anyone entering the facility must show a negative virus test from the last 48 hours, Shenzhen Airport Group said in a statement on its official WeChat social media account.

City health officials said a 21-year-old waitress at Shenzhen Baoan international airport had been infected with the Delta variant of the virus.

The woman tested positive during a routine test for airport staff conducted Thursday, they said.

Shenzhen, a mainland Chinese city neighbouring Hong Kong, is home to some of Asia’s biggest tech companies including telecoms equipment maker Huawei and gaming giant Tencent.

China reported 30 new cases on Friday, including six local transmissions in the southern province of Guangdong where Shenzhen is located.

The airport entry restrictions came into effect from 1pm local time on Saturday (5am GMT).

Nearly 400 flights to and from the airport were cancelled on Friday, data from flight tracker VariFlight showed. Dozens of flights scheduled for Saturday morning were also dropped.

Passengers would receive refunds on their tickets without penalty, the airport authority said.

Millions of Shenzhen residents have been tested for the virus in recent weeks after a small outbreak at the city’s port earlier this month.

Updated

Surge testing to begin in Cumbria and south London

Surge testing is to begin in two parts of England, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has said. The county of Cumbria, in the north-west, and the south London borough of Lambeth will see intensive testing and genomic sequencing from Saturday.

Everyone who lives or works in Clapham, Brixton or Stockwell, as well as West Norwood or Vauxhall in the capital is strongly encouraged to take a PCR test, whether they are showing symptoms of not. At the same time, everyone aged between 12 and 30 years who lives, works or studies in Cumbria is being encouraged to get tested.

The NHS said that, in all of the areas, adults over the age of 18 should also come forward for a vaccine if they haven’t already.

Updated

Russia has reported 17,906 new cases, including a record 9,120 in Moscow, pushing the national infection tally up to 5,299,215 since the pandemic began.

Reuters reports that the government taskforce confirmed 466 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 128,911. The state statistics agency, which keeps separate figures, has said Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths in the year to April.

Updated

Australia’s largest state, New South Wales (NSW), has recorded two locally acquired cases on Saturday, as concerns grow over the further spread of infections amid an increase in exposure sites, Reuters reports

The agency says the point of transmission of the new infections hasn’t been determined, but authorities believed they are linked to the first case of the Sydney cluster of the highly-infectious coronavirus Delta variant, which now stands at six cases.

“This Delta virus would appear to be a near and present danger to anybody who is in the vicinity,” NSW’s health minister, Brad Hazzard, said. The list of exposure sites has been updated to now include 20 venues across Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The latest cluster in NSW, which is home to more than 8 million people, is the state’s first in more than a month. It was traced back to a driver who occasionally used to transport overseas airline crew.

Updated

In Germany, the number of confirmed cases has increased by 1,108 to 3,721,139, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases shows. The reported death toll rose by 99 to 90,369, the tally shows.

China has reported 30 new confirmed cases in the mainland for Friday 18 June; up from 23 infections a day earlier, the country’s health authority have said.

Of the new cases, six were local infections in southern Guangdong province, while the rest were imported cases, Reuters reports, citing the National Health Commission.

The number of new asymptomatic infections rose to 42 from 25 a day earlier. China does not classify these as confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases in mainland China stood at 91,564 at the end of 18 June, with the death toll unchanged at 4,636.

Updated

Authorities in the Mexican border state of Baja California say they will include migrants in the new vaccination plan for border cities, which is aimed at accelerating the reopening of the shared land border with the United States. Reuters reports:

The state, which lies just across from California, began vaccinating adults over the age of 18 this week as part of a new mass vaccination push across northern Mexico, which relies on more than 1m Johnson & Johnson doses donated by the United States.

Baja California’s health secretary, Alonso Óscar Pérez, told Reuters on Friday that the agency had a plan to vaccinate migrants as part of this new border vaccination initiative. He added that the agency had allocated specific days for migrants, without providing additional details.

Mexico is rolling out its border initiative first in Baja California, home to one of the busiest land border crossings in the world, then plans to move west state-by-state until reaching Mexico’s eastern seaboard.

The decision to include migrants in Baja California may mean migrants will be included across Mexico’s border, where thousands of mostly Central American migrants wait, often for months, in hopes of being able to cross into the United States.

Migrant advocates have been pushing the state for information about how this vaccination drive will include the estimated 4,000 migrants living in Baja California, according to data provided by local shelters.

At least 1,000 migrants are camped at the base of an international bridge in the city of Tijuana.

Mexico has also reported 4,098 new confirmed cases and an additional 167 deaths, according to health ministry data, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,471,741 and the overall death toll to 230,959.

Updated

In Argentina, the laboratory Richmond has said it has produced almost half a million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine – the first to be made in the South American country.

The vaccines await approval from the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute for their release, Richmond said in a tweet.

We appreciate the hard work it took our staff to achieve this first objective, and continue with our commitment to have local vaccine production.

Reuters reports that Argentina has had a slow rollout of its inoculation programme with about 18m doses applied so far. But only a little more than 3.5m people have had both doses. The vaccines being applied in Argentina are Sputnik V, AstraZeneca , Sinopharm and previously CoviShield.

To date, Argentina has had 88,247 deaths. “Today we celebrate this new milestone in the production of Sputnik V,” Reuters quoted the Argentine production minister Matias Kulfas as saying.

Updated

Prof Finn was also asked if he feels confident the UK will outpace the Delta variant with the current rate of vaccination. He told Times Radio:

No, I don’t feel confident. But I think there’s some grounds for optimism.

The latest ONS figures continue to show a rise, but that rise has not accelerated quite as much as I’d feared over the last week.

So, the race is on. The sooner we can get, particularly second doses, into older people, the less of a hospitalisation wave we’ll see this time around.

That’s the critical thing, that’s what’s grounded us all in the past, and if we’ve managed to protect enough older people that we can avoid a great big surge of hospitalisations and deaths, then things will be able to move back towards normal.

We reported earlier that the prospect of people who have had two jabs no longer needing to adhere to self-isolation rules had been raised. Prof Finn of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), called it an “interesting” proposal. He has told Times Radio:

We know that the vaccine, particularly after two doses, is highly effective at stopping you from getting seriously ill. [You are] 20 times less likely to end up in hospital.

We also know that it will reduce your chances of getting milder illness and infecting other people. But it’s probably less good at doing that than it is preventing you getting seriously ill, so it’s a kind of balance of risk thing.

Asked if it would be safer to properly support people as they self-isolate rather than reduce the quarantine time, he said:

Yeah, difficult calculation because I think in practice, for whatever reason, that doesn’t happen reliably, so that people are being penalised by self-isolating and that probably results in some people not self-isolating and others suffering financial hardship as a result.

This is one way to avoid that, and presumably at somewhat lower risk than just letting everybody circulate when they potentially may have been exposed.

Updated

Dr Tildesley said those being hospitalised in the UK at the moment tend to be slightly younger and “slightly less sick” than in previous waves. He told BBC Breakfast:

Currently, we’re seeing slightly younger people are becoming infected and, actually, the people going to hospital tend to be slightly younger and, therefore, also slightly less sick, which is again quite a good sign that, even if we’re starting to see more people going into hospital, they tend to be younger people who have higher likelihood of recovering successfully.

I realise I’m being slightly cautious here. All of these are cautiously good signs. But, of course, we do need to keep an eye on this over the next couple of weeks so that we can give as much information as we can to the government prior to the 19 July reopening.

Dr Mike Tildesley, an epidemiologist and a member of the UK’s SPI-M modelling group, said he was “cautiously hopeful” the number of hospital admissions over the next few weeks would not be on the same scale as what happened in January. He has told BBC Breakfast:

We are now in a situation where if we sort of wind back a month ago we were starting to see signs of cases creeping up, and they have been creeping steadily for the last four weeks, but we haven’t yet seen that reflected in hospital admissions and deaths, which makes me sort of cautiously optimistic about the situation.

Hospital admissions are starting to rise a little bit, and of course there’s always a lag when cases rise that we see any signal in hospital admissions, but of course the vaccination campaign is doing very, very well, and so we’re not in the same situation we were back in October when cases were rising, we then got a big wave of hospital admissions and deaths.

There’s still a little bit of work to do for us over the next couple of weeks to really firm up the link between cases and hospital admissions, but I’m, I suppose at the moment, cautiously hopeful that whilst we probably will expect some sort of wave of hospital admissions over the next few weeks, it won’t be the same scale that we saw back in January.

Updated

Asked if double-vaccinated people would take other variants from abroad to the UK, Prof Bauld told Times Radio:

I think the chances of that are not zero, but they’re greatly reduced.

What we see from some well-conducted studies, including one in Scotland here where they looked at people who had both doses of the vaccine, they were healthcare workers, and then did they infect other people in their household? That was greatly reduced amongst those with both doses of the vaccine.

So, I think we can also say that people who are fully protected with vaccines are less likely to transmit, but the risk is not zero. That’s why I think we’re going have to continue to monitor this.

But, certainly, more evidence will come out on that, and it’s good news for the vaccines because, as I said, transmission was an area we were just very uncertain about.

Updated

Prof Bauld said countries need to reach agreement on rules about vaccinated people being allowed entry. She told Times Radio that having both doses of the vaccine is “not a free pass to everything”.

But we have to make these changes because in order to get back to some kind of normal life – or more normal than we have now – vaccines are going to be that protection.

And that means that showing, particularly for international travel, evidence of a vaccine. And I think that you know that’s uncontroversial compared to, remember, those discussions about vaccine passports to go to the pub, which are just not a runner. But, for travel, I think all countries need to reach agreement on this.

We need to have a common standard the way we do for yellow fever and that will really help with international travel in the future.

Prof Bauld said there would be discussions on moving away from large numbers of children self-isolating and instead carrying out regular testing.

She had been asked if she thinks any move away from 10 days of self-isolation for people who are double vaccinated could be the government’s way of getting out of properly supporting those who are self-isolating. She told Times Radio:

I hadn’t actually thought of it that way, to be perfectly frank. Is this a sort of a reason not to support self-isolation? That may be part of it.

I think it’s more that, as we move ahead and learn to live alongside this virus, we have to recognise – not just for adults actually around self-isolation – but there will also be a debate about school pupils and whether we could offer regular testing as an alternative to large groups of children having to stay at home and not have face-to-face education, which of course has been happening quite a bit as infection rates rise and it’s really unfortunate and should be avoidable.

Updated

People in the UK who have had two jabs and come into contact with someone infected with the virus may soon be spared 10 days of self-isolating, according to Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh. She told Times Radio:

It’s already in place in the US. The Centres for Disease Control changed their guidance a while ago to say that people who had had both doses of the vaccine and about 10 to 14 days after the second dose didn’t have to self-isolate, so I think we are moving in that direction.

As we’ve heard repeatedly from Chris Whitty and others, this virus isn’t going to disappear.

We’re going to have to live alongside it, means we are going to have infections in future, so being a contact of someone infected will always be a possibility.

Updated

Cambodia suffers worst day and UK ‘in third wave’

The south-east Asian nation reported 20 deaths on Saturday – its worst one-day death toll, as it detected its first Delta variant cases and authorities urged people to be vigilant.

According to Reuters, Cambodia has recorded one of the world’s smallest caseloads thus far, but the outbreak that was first detected in late February has caused infections to climb to 42,052 cases with 414 deaths. Its Communicable Disease Control Department said:

Please continue to be vigilant by practising hygiene, social distancing and not leaving your homes unnecessarily. Our country and the world continue to be plagued by the Covid 19 pandemic.

The ministry of health also reported seven cases of the Delta variant among travellers by land from neighbouring Thailand. “Every one must continue to be vigilant,” said Or Vandine, secretary of state and health ministry spokeswoman.

In the UK, a government scientific adviser has said a “third wave” of infections “is definitely under way”. Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

It’s going up, perhaps we can be a little bit optimistic it’s not going up any faster, but nevertheless it’s going up, so this third wave is definitely under way. We can conclude that the race is firmly on between the vaccine programme, particularly getting older people’s second doses done, and the Delta variant third wave.

The University of Bristol academic said the JCVI is still working to decide whether children should be vaccinated but said that effort would not be the immediate priority if it was approved.

Even if some decision were made to immunise children it wouldn’t be appropriate right now, either here or anywhere else in Europe, to give our doses predominantly to children because it’s adults that get sick, so vaccinating adults is clearly the priority right now.

Updated

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Corona Virus, Health

Get ready to scroll: three graphs to help you make sense of the AstraZeneca vaccine risk

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Get ready to scroll: three graphs to help you make sense of the AstraZeneca vaccine risk” was written by Hassan Vally for the Conversation, for theguardian.com on Sunday 20th June 2021 02.09 UTC

Last week’s announcement that the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine would now only be recommended for Australians over 60 has highlighted the many ways we think about risk.

The decision reflects a greater understanding of the real, but extremely low, risk of the clotting disorder called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia for people aged 50 to 59, who are now recommended to have the Pfizer vaccine.

But errors in the way we perceive these extremely small risks, called cognitive biases, reflect the fact that when our brains evolved we did not have to grapple with risks this small. So we struggle to make sense of them and perceive these events as being much more likely than they actually are.

This can lead us to make decisions, such as not having a vaccine that could potentially save our life. And the misperception of the likelihood of TTS is one of the main reasons many are hesitant about receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

So let’s start with what we know about the risk of dying from TTS associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, expressed the traditional way, with words and numbers. Then we’ll present the same numbers graphically.

What’s the risk of dying from TTS?

Initially, we thought about 25% of people with TTS associated with the vaccine would die. But as we learnt more about how to recognise and treat these rare blood clots, the risk of dying from it has changed. In Australia mortality is now down to about 4%.

This is a low risk of dying from a syndrome with a small likelihood of occurring. So we can express TTS risk in another way.

Two people in Australia have died from TTS after 3.8m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine delivered. This makes the likelihood of dying from this syndrome about 0.5 in a million, or if you prefer whole numbers, about 1 in 2m.

And now, with graphics

Here’s one way of representing 1 in 2m visually. This figure shows just how small this risk is. Are you ready for some scrolling?

As you can see, the risk of TTS is so small it is almost too small to communicate effectively in this format.

Perhaps even more visually powerful is to compare the risk of dying from TTS to other risks we face in our lives, using a risk scale. This allows you to compare a range of risks and put them into perspective.

As the risk of TTS is a one-off risk normally associated with the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, one interesting comparison is with other one-off risks, such as adventure sports.

As you can see, the risk of dying from TTS is far lower than many activities some of us get up to at the weekend.

But not all of us spend our weekends scuba diving or rock climbing. So let’s look at the more common risks we take in our everyday lives but do not pay much attention to.

This is not a perfect comparison, as the risks are averaged across the whole population, across the entire year. But it’s useful nevertheless.

So the risk of dying from TTS after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is similar to the risk of being killed by lightning in a year in Australia. And this pales in comparison when compared with other risks, such as the risk of dying in a car accident.

So what happens next?

One of the challenges for public health has always been putting the risks and benefits of our health choices into perspective. This task is even harder when the risks involved are so small.

Using visualisations like these is one way to effectively communicate just how small the risk of TTS is and also put this risk into perspective by comparing it with other risks we incur in our lives.

When you fully appreciate how small the risk of TTS is, the decision to have the AstraZeneca vaccine to protect yourself and others becomes a much easier one to make.

  • This article is republished from the Conversation. Hassan Vally as an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University

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