Liverpool’s council leaders have called for another national lockdown to contain the new strain of Covid-19 and prevent a “catastrophe”.
The city’s acting mayor, councillor Wendy Simon, and the Labour-run city council’s cabinet say the speed of the rise in coronavirus cases, driven by the virulent new strain, have reached “alarming levels” and urgent action is now required to save lives and the NHS.
The new strain of Covid-19 transmits faster and is most prevalent in London and the South East, where hospitals have become stretched.
It is believed the strain is spreading from south to north, leading to increasing pressure on the NHS.
Cases in Liverpool have almost trebled in the past two weeks to 350 per 100,000, despite the city successfully leading on the national pilot for community testing which led to it being the first city to be taken out of Tier 3 and into Tier 2.
How to boost your immunity in 28 days
We all want to stay safe in these challenging times and it’s not too late to make a real difference to our immune system and increase our chances of surviving the potentially fatal Covid-19 pandemic – or other infections or viruses. And it’s easier than you think.
While we are only too aware that the terrible coronavirus can hit anyone at any age, we are continually reminded that those most at risk from coronavirus are people who are overweight or obese.
Others at higher risk are those suffering from asthma, heart disease and diabetes or who have compromised immune systems.
Thailand holds off on nationwide business shutdown
Thailand’s government held off from ordering new nationwide business shutdowns on Sunday amid a new wave of coronavirus cases but empowered some provincial governors to set their own restrictions and pleaded with the public not to travel.
On Sunday, Thailand confirmed 315 new coronavirus cases, the majority of which are from local transmission, bringing its total to 7,694 cases and 64 deaths since its first case last January.
The government Covid-19 taskforce had earlier designated 28 provinces, including Bangkok, as high risk zones and recommended suspension of some businesses and crowded activities in those area that pose infection risks to the public.
The measures, which still need final approval from Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, will empower provincial governors to suspend businesses and other activities if there is a risk of infection, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for Thailand’s Covid-19 taskforce said.
Head teachers call for exams to be scrapped
A large group of head teachers has called for the scrapping of GCSE and A-level exams this summer amid chaos over plans for reopening schools this month due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Most primary schools in England are scheduled to open on Monday, followed by a staggered start for secondary schools a week later, with GCSE and A-level pupils set to return first.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is insisting the summer national exams must still go ahead.
But more than 2,000 head teachers, from the campaign group Worthless?, say pupils, parents and teachers should not be put at risk of contracting Covid for the sake of protecting exam timetables.
“Wider public health, pupil and staff safety should be prioritised ahead of examinations,” the head teachers from WorthLess? were quoted as saying in The Sunday Times. “Public safety should not be risked or driven by an inflexible pursuit of GCSE and A-levels.”
India approves two vaccines for emergency use
India has authorised the emergency use of two coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and by local pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech, the country’s drug regulator said on Sunday.
“The… vaccines of Serum Institute (AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine) and Bharat Biotech are being approved for restricted use in emergency situations,” the Drugs Controller General of India, V.G. Somani, said at a briefing.
The approval is expected to kick off one of the world’s biggest vaccination drives in coming days in the country of 1.3 billion people.
India is the world’s second most-infected nation with more than 10.3 million cases and almost 150,000 deaths.
Australia’s virus cluster expands
Australia’s most-populous state of New South Wales on Sunday reported eight new cases as new social distancing restrictions and mandatory mask wearing kicked in while neighbouring Victoria had three new cases.
The New South Wales outbreak now totals 148. There are also smaller clusters in Sydney’s west and south, which authorities fear could rise in coming days.
NSW will enforce mask wearing from midnight in indoor venues like gaming rooms, hair salons, nail salons and retail shops.
Victoria’s three cases on Sunday were all linked to the same Melbourne restaurant, though the source of the infection is still under investigation.
Lockdowns, curfews, alcohol bans as nations fight resurgent virus
Countries across the world tightened restrictions on their populations on Saturday to fight a resurgence in the coronavirus.
- The French government lengthened an overnight curfew by two hours in parts of the country to help combat the virus.
- In Bangkok, the city’s nightlife shut down following a ban on bars, nightclubs and restaurant alcohol sales. Public schools in the Thai capital are to close for two weeks.
- In Tokyo, the city’s governor on Saturday asked Japan‘s government to declare a new state of emergency as the country battles a third wave.
- South Korea extended its anti-virus curbs until January 17 in the greater Seoul area, including a ban on gatherings of more than four people, which will be widened to cover the whole country.
- The tiny British enclave of Gibraltar, off Spain, went into a 14-day lockdown on Saturday. Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the virus was spreading “more quickly than we can control it”.
- Greece has extended until January 10 its strict two-month lockdown measures, ending an easing of restrictions over the holiday period.
Read more: School terms delayed across Europe
Talk show host Larry King reportedly has Covid
Veteran talk show host Larry King has been hospitalised with Covid-19, US media reported on Saturday.
Citing a “source close to the family”, CNN reported that King, one of the network’s biggest stars, has been hospitalised for more than a week at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
King, 87, has Type 2 diabetes and has had a long history of medical issues, including several heart attacks, lung cancer and angina, a condition caused by reduced blood flow to the heart.
The legendary host is one of the most recognisable figures on US television, known for his signature rolled-up shirtsleeves, multi-colored ties, suspenders and big glasses.
US records 277,000 cases in a day
The United States on Saturday saw its highest number yet of cases recorded in one day, with more than 277,000 infections.
The hardest-hit country in the world by the pandemic, the United States has marked 20.4 million cases overall and just under 350,000 deaths.
Infections have been surging in recent months, with top US government scientist Anthony Fauci warning just days after Christmas that the worst of the pandemic may be yet to come, driving the country to a “critical point” as holiday travel spreads the virus.
Jeremy Clarkson battled virus over festive season
Jeremy Clarkson has revealed he had a “scary” experience fighting coronavirus over Christmas.
The Grand Tour host, 60, still does not know if he has fully recovered.
He wrote in his column for The Sunday Times: “Four days before Christmas, I woke in the night to find my sheets were soggy. And that I had a constant dry cough.”
After his test came back positive, “the doctor was very clear – I’d feel under the weather for between five and 14 days and then I’d either get better or I’d have to go to hospital.
“Because I am 60 and fat, and because I’ve smoked half a million cigarettes and had double pneumonia, I’d probably die, on my own, in a lonely plastic tent.”
The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host wrote: “I also had to self-isolate. … I took myself off to bed with the new Don Winslow book and a bag of kale to wait for the Grim Reaper to pop his head round the door.
“I’m not going to lie – it was quite scary.”