Covid live news: 40% of Israel could be infected in current wave; Germany to study rapid antigen-test reliability for Omicron

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Covid live news: 40% of Israel could be infected in current wave; Germany to study rapid antigen-test reliability for Omicron” was written by Samantha Lock, for theguardian.com on Monday 10th January 2022 02.29 UTC

Tennis number one Novak Djokovic is currently appealing in court against the cancellation of his Australian visa ahead of the Australian Open.

The hearing kicked off at 10am AEST in Melbourne, which was 11pm GMT or 6pm EST. The 34-year-old is being held at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne.

Judge Anthony Kelly has noted that the ONLY ground the delegate relied on when deciding to cancel Djokovic’s visa is that: “the presence of its holder in Australia is or may be, or would or might be, a risk to: (i) the health, safety or good order of the Australian community or a segment of the Australian community”.

Djokovic’s counsel Nicholas Wood notes in the request for declaration of vaccination, Djokovic claimed he cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds.

When prompted to provide proof, Djokovic uploaded the medical exemption document from the CMO at Tennis Australia.

Supporters of Novak Djokovic gather outside the Federal Court building in Melbourne on 10 January where the tennis player is currently appealing in court against the cancellation of his Australian visa.
Supporters of Novak Djokovic gather outside the Federal Court building in Melbourne on 10 January where the tennis player is currently appealing in court against the cancellation of his Australian visa.
Photograph: Alex Murray/AFP/Getty Images

Kelly said a “matter that has really preoccupied me” is the status attached to the Tennis Australia document, and questions why it was not accepted by the delegate making the decision on the visa:

Here, a professor and an eminently qualified physician have produced and provided to the applicant a medical exemption. Further to that, that medical exemption and the basis on which it was given was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel established by the Victorian state government and that document was in the hands of the delegate.

The point I am agitated about is ‘what more could this man have done?’

Wood also accused the Australian government’s delegate of an “utter paucity of evidence” in the section of the notice in which they were required to explain why grounds to cancel the visa exist.

Wood argued it is “manifestly incorrect” that the biosecurity determination requires both a declaration of an exemption and evidence of the exemption – only the former is required, Djokovic’s team argues.

He also said the Department of Home Affairs, before [Djokovic] left, said Djokovic met the requirements for quarantine-free travel.

He’s made the declaration, provided the evidence even though it was not required, and then he received [notice] from the Department of Home Affairs … saying the application has been assessed and meets the required for quarantine-free travel.”

Wood says any reasonable person would have considered he ticked every box.

Updated

US Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced she tested positive for Covid-19.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the office of the New York progressive said she was “experiencing symptoms and recovering at home”.

“The congresswoman received her booster shot this fall and encourages everyone to get their booster and follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance”.

US Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced she tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.
US Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced she tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.
Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP

UK government urges all pregnant women to get immediate Covid jab

The UK government is warning that almost all pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid symptoms were unvaccinated in one analysis over several months last year, as it kicks off an advertising campaign encouraging expectant mothers to get boosted.

The campaign is calling on pregnant women not to wait to get either their first, second or booster jab. It will highlight the risks of Covid-19 to mothers and babies, with testimonies of pregnant women who have had the vaccine to be broadcast on radio and social media.

The government says it has been clear, along with medical experts and institutions, that Covid-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women and have no impact on fertility.

The Department of Health and Social Care cited statistics from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System which showed 96.3% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 symptoms between May and October were unvaccinated, a third of whom required respiratory support.

About 20% of women admitted to hospital with the virus need to be delivered pre-term to help them recover, and 20% of their babies need care in the neonatal unit, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Read the full story here.

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Germany to study rapid antigen-test reliability for Omicron

Germany will study how reliable rapid antigen tests are in detecting the Omicron variant of Covid-19, health minister Karl Lauterbach said on Sunday.

“We do not know exactly how well these tests work for Omicron,” Lauterbach said on public broadcasting channel ARD, adding the results of the assessment would become available within the next few weeks.

It was clear, however, that “the alternative not to test at all … would be far too dangerous,” said Lauterbach, a scientist and physician.

People with mandatory face masks line up to enter the Cathedral in Cologne as health minister Karl Lauterbach announces Germany will study how reliable rapid antigen tests are in detecting the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
People with mandatory face masks line up to enter the Cathedral in Cologne as health minister Karl Lauterbach announces Germany will study how reliable rapid antigen tests are in detecting the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP

Omicron now accounts for 44% of coronavirus infections in Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease said. On Sunday, RKI registered 36,552 newly reported Covid infections within 24 hours, three times the number a week earlier.

Late last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also released a statement saying rapid antigen tests appear less sensitive to Omicron than previous variants.

“Early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the Omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity,” the FDA said at the time.

40% of Israel could be infected in current wave, PM says

Israel could see up to nearly 40% of its population infected by Covid during the current wave, prime minister Naftali Bennett has said.

Bennett described the Omicron variant as a “storm that is sweeping the world” in a series of tweets on Sunday:

Information presented at the cabinet meeting indicates that here, in Israel, between two to four million citizens in total will be infected during this current wave.

When standing in line it is difficult to see the successes and evaluation steps we have made, extremely important steps that will save lives. I understand the frustration, but ask you to be aware of that as well.

A country of just 9.4 million, Israel has seen infections nearly quadruple over the past week compared to the previous week. The health ministry reported 17,518 new infections on Saturday.

Hello it’s Samantha Lock back with you on the blog, ready to take you through all the Covid news this Monday.

Let’s dive right in with the news that Israel could see up to nearly 40% of its population infected by Covid during the current wave, according to the latest data.

“Information presented at the cabinet meeting indicates that here, in Israel, between two to four million citizens in total will be infected during this current wave,” prime minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday in a series of tweets.

A country of just 9.4 million, Israel has seen infections nearly quadruple over the past week compared to the previous week. The health ministry reported 17,518 new infections on Saturday.

Germany has said it will launch a study into how reliable rapid antigen tests are in detecting the Omicron variant, health minister Karl Lauterbach announced on Sunday.

“We do not know exactly how well these tests work for Omicron,” Lauterbach said in an interview with public broadcasting channel ARD, adding the results of the study would become available within the next few weeks.

Late last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also released a statement saying rapid antigen tests appear less sensitive to Omicron than previous variants.

“Early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the Omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity,” the FDA said at the time.

Here is a recap of some of the main developments so far today.

Europe:

  • Greece sets 1 February deadline for booster jabs. Those who have not received their coronavirus booster jabs will be barred from most indoor venues.
  • France should not impose mandatory vaccination and would not be the most efficient way to encourage people to get vaccinated, a government spokesperson said. More than 105,000 people took to the streets on Saturday in protest.
  • Downing Street is facing calls to ensure that Boris Johnson will be personally interviewed by the Sue Gray inquiry about alleged No 10 gatherings during the first lockdown, after it emerged he may have been present at a “bring your own booze” party that month.
  • Boris Johnson has been warned by a Conservative rebel ringleader he faces a massive revolt from his own MPs if he does not end all coronavirus restrictions this month.
  • Germany will study how reliable rapid antigen tests are in detecting the fast-spreading Omicron variant, the health minister, Karl Lauterbach, said on Sunday.
  • More than 150,000 people have died in the UK from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
  • Covid should be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and ministers should end mass vaccination after the booster campaign, the former chairman of the UK’s vaccine taskforce has said.
  • Lateral flow tests in the UK will remain free, education secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted amid reports they could be scaled back despite soaring Covid cases.
  • London’s public health chief said the Omicron variant “may have passed its peak” in the UK capital.
  • The boss of one of London’s busiest hospitals has said he is worried about losing staff when new rules come in requiring them to be vaccinated, BBC News reports.

Asia:

  • The US and Japan have reached an agreement to keep American troops within their bases amid concerns over a surge in Covid cases that has been linked to US military bases.
  • Three people were arrested for breaking India’s Covid measures after police raided a dog’s lavish birthday party in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city.
  • The Philippines reported a record number of daily infections with 28,707 new cases, up from 26,458 cases the previous day.
  • Tianjin, a major Chinese port city near the capital Beijing, has begun mass-testing its 14 million residents after a cluster of 20 children and adults tested positive for Covid-19, including at least two with the Omicron variant.

Africa:

  • Africa has registered a total of more than 10m cases since the start of the pandemic, according to figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control.
  • South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Libya are among the countries with the highest number of cases on the continent.

Middle East:

  • The dissident Iranian poet and filmmaker Baktash Abtin, 48, died after contracting Covid-19 in a hospital in Tehran after being released on a furlough from prison. Abtin was serving a six-year sentence for “anti-government propaganda” and “actions against national security”.
  • Kuwait and Qatar reported record daily Covid cases over the weekend. Kuwait reported 2,999 new cases on Sunday and Qatar on Saturday reported 3,487 new cases.

Americas:

  • Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa asked president Jair Bolsonaro to retract statements he made criticising the Covid vaccination for children.

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