Central California overwhelmed by Covid surge ahead of Thanksgiving

2 días 8 horas ago

Statewide infection rate is one of country’s lowest but in region resistant to masks and vaccines, hospitals are over capacity

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holidays, California officials are raising the alarm about a winter Covid surge as hospitals in some parts of the state remain overwhelmed with patients, despite overall progress.

California’s coronavirus infection rate is one of the lowest in the country but the burden of infection remains unevenly distributed. In central California, a region that struggled with resistance to masks and vaccines throughout the pandemic, the strained public health system has been pushed to the brink. Hospitals this week are over-capacity and officials are seeking to transfer more patients out of the region for treatment in Los Angeles.

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Maanvi Singh in San Francisco

Rising Covid vaccination rates reduce need for mandates, new human rights commissioner says

2 días 10 horas ago

Lorraine Finlay says Australia should prepare for a ‘future emergency’ by ensuring human rights are ‘at the core’ of its response

Rising vaccination rates reduce the need for jab mandates, and “broad-based, blanket” public health orders that raise “human rights issues”, the incoming human rights commissioner has said.

Lorraine Finlay made the comments to Guardian Australia in an interview defending governments’ ability to require vaccinations in the interests of public health but arguing Australia should prepare for a “future emergency” by ensuring human rights are “at the core” of its response.

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Paul Karp

Italy to tighten Covid rules for unvaccinated with ‘super green pass’

2 días 12 horas ago

Unjabbed people face ban from range of activities, as countries in Europe scramble to impose stricter rules

Italy is to bar unvaccinated people from popular social and sports activities, as governments across Europe scramble to tighten Covid-19 restrictions amid record-breaking numbers of infections in parts of the continent.

The Italian “super green pass” will take effect from 6 December and require people to prove they are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid to access cinemas, theatres, gyms, nightclubs, ski lifts and stadiums, as well as to be served indoors at bars and restaurants.

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Angela Giuffrida in Rome and Jon Henley in Paris

Scientists warn of new Covid variant with high number of mutations

2 días 13 horas ago

The B.1.1.529 variant was first spotted in Botswana and six cases have been found in South Africa

Scientists have said a new Covid variant that carries an “extremely high number” of mutations may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defences.

Only 10 cases in three countries have been confirmed by genomic sequencing, but the variant has sparked serious concern among some researchers because a number of the mutations may help the virus evade immunity.

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Ian Sample Science editor

From Madonna to Nina Simone: lockdown taught me how to really listen to music

2 días 15 horas ago

For a few months, Brigid Delaney devoted each weekday to one artist only – exploring their full back-catalogue, and making some discoveries

All the jigsaws, craft projects and home-based hobbies of lockdown are now gathering dust, forgotten; a product of a cursed time that we don’t want to think about again.

But there was one pandemic pastime that I was really fond of, and hope to continue through: listening to music. Like properly, deeply listening to it.

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Brigid Delaney

Australian government ‘trying to have it both ways’ on Covid vaccine IP waiver

2 días 15 horas ago

Trade minister Dan Tehan pessimistic about a deal as he prepares to fly to Geneva for crucial World Trade Organization talks

The Australian trade minister is pessimistic about an imminent deal to waive intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines, as he prepares to fly to Geneva for crucial World Trade Organization talks next week.

Dan Tehan’s planned travel comes amid accusations the Australian government has been “trying to have it both ways” by backing the proposed waiver but not co-sponsoring it at the WTO.

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Daniel Hurst Foreign affairs and defence correspondent

Call Cobra meeting over England’s ambulance crisis, urge Lib Dems

2 días 15 horas ago

Push for action comes as it emerges all regional services moved to top alert level in September and October

Boris Johnson should convene an emergency Cobra meeting to draw up a rescue plan for England’s overstretched ambulance services, the Liberal Democrats are demanding.

Their plea comes amid worsening delays in ambulances answering 999 calls and large numbers of crews having to wait outside hospitals because A&E staff are overwhelmed and the hospitals have run out of beds.

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Denis Campbell Health policy editor

Guadeloupe curfew extended as Covid unrest spreads to Martinique

2 días 15 horas ago

Gunshots fired at police on both French Caribbean islands amid anger at vaccine mandate

Authorities in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe have extended a nightly curfew until Sunday as police attempt to restore calm after several nights of protests and violent clashes that were triggered by Covid-19 regulations but are rooted in long-running concerns over the high cost of living, low wages, youth unemployment and mistrust of the Paris government.

Gunfire has targeted police over the past few days, a general strike has entered its second week and many stores remained closed after night-time looting. The curfew requires people to be inside between 6pm and 5am.

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Angelique Chrisafisin Paris

South Korea: cult whose leader ‘heals’ by poking eyes at centre of Covid outbreak

2 días 16 horas ago

At least 241 people linked to religious community test positive for virus

A little known sect led by a pastor who pokes eyes to heal is at the centre of a Covid outbreak in South Korea, as the country reported a new daily record of 4,116 cases and battles a rise in serious cases straining hospitals.

In a tiny, rural church in a town of 427 residents in Cheonan city, south of Seoul, at least 241 people linked to the religious community tested positive for coronavirus, a city official told Reuters on Wednesday.

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Reuters in Seoul

Novavax expected to be approved as fourth Covid vaccine in UK

2 días 17 horas ago

Trials show the protein-based jab causes fewer side-effects – and hundreds of British jobs depend on it

Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna. Britons have become so accustomed to the three Covid vaccines available in the UK that most have forgotten about another jab, Novavax – even though the government has ordered 60m doses and hundreds of British jobs depend on it.

Late last month the US company, with a factory on Teesside primed to manufacture doses, submitted final data to UK regulators and a positive decision is anticipated within days or weeks. It will bring to an end what feels like a long wait compared with the speedy development and approval of the other jabs, including for those who took part in trials.

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Linda Geddes and Mark Brown

Here’s what the UK can learn from other countries’ responses to Covid-19 | Siva Anandaciva

2 días 17 horas ago

The NHS has much to be proud of, but it was stymied by lack of funding and a staffing crisis that other health systems avoided

Looking at how health services in different countries have responded to Covid, we can see some common ground. Many countries are increasing funding for health services, expanding the number of frontline clinical staff, providing separate areas to care for patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, and using digital technology to deliver virtual rather than face-to-face appointments.

But there are some distinctions: peer a bit closer and it is clear that we have something to teach and something to learn from every healthcare system. The UK has its achievements to share, from a nationalised (and devolved) system that can pool surgical resources in local areas and support mass trials to test new treatments, to a historically strong primary care model that played a key role in delivering the largest vaccination programme in British history while continuing to deliver daily care to patients.

Siva Anandaciva is chief analyst of policy at the King’s Fund, an independent charitable organisation working to improve health and care in England

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Siva Anandaciva

UK Covid scheme indirectly discriminated against maternity leave takers, court rules

2 días 18 horas ago

But ruling will not allow self-employed women whose income support was hit during pandemic to claim rebates

Tens of thousands of self-employed women who took maternity leave were indirectly discriminated against by the UK government during the pandemic but will be unable to claim rebates from a government Covid scheme, the court of appeal has ruled.

The speed at which civil servants had to create a safety net for workers justified the way they they set out calculations for payments, three judges found.

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Alexandra Topping

Boris Johnson accused of flouting request to wear mask at theatre

2 días 19 horas ago

Exclusive: Audience member at Almeida theatre says PM was not wearing mask during Macbeth performance

Boris Johnson once again flouted official requests to wear a mask as he watched a performance of Macbeth at a busy theatre in north London on Tuesday night, witnesses say.

The prime minister was in the audience to see the Shakespearean tragedy at the Almeida theatre in Islington, after a torrid few days in which backbench Tories have accused him of losing the plot.

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Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

Has living through Covid made me a hypochondriac? I asked some experts | Maeve Higgins

2 días 20 horas ago

I’m doing my best to act normal, but I’ve become incredibly aware of other people’s snuffling, coughing and wheezing. Am I vigilant – or paranoid?

Like the unnamed woman Drake sings about in his 2015 hit Hotline Bling, I’ve been wearing less – at least metaphorically – and going out more. Apparently she started to behave that way ever since Drake left the city. Before that, he laments, she “used to always stay at home, be a good girl”. I started to behave that way ever since Covid-19 left the city – except, of course, it didn’t.

The pandemic is very much with us, and on top of that, it’s cold and flu season. Of course, most New Yorkers are vaccinated and masked, and restrictions on our work and social lives have eased massively. I need to go to work, and I need to live my life. So I’m trying to take the train, meet friends, eat in restaurants and see shows. I should enjoy this moment while I can – but I can’t.

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Maeve Higgins

Anarchy in the UK? The transformative power of mutual aid | Rachel Shabi

2 días 20 horas ago

Hyper-local organisations set up during the pandemic were political – but they weren’t intended to supplant state support

Ask members of one Covid mutual aid group in Whalley Range, south Manchester, about what they feel most proud of and two things crop up: the hardship fund and the epic street clean. It’s not hard to see why. Transforming the once rubbish-strewn alleyways that run between the neighbourhood’s back-to-back terraces was an act of collective power. Meanwhile the fund, which relies on everyone chipping in, allows any member to access £50 cash each month, no questions asked. Both of these projects have forged trust and a sense of responsibility among this group of 100 neighbours.

Spread across just three streets in south Manchester, this group is as hyper-local a version of mutual aid as you can get. Members are all from different backgrounds: renters and owners, ranging from their early 20s to late 70s. The area is home to a Pakistani community and a Sudanese family also belong to the group. Its flyers are translated into Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and Gujarati, while members use online translation to participate in the group WhatsApp chat.

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Rachel Shabi