Covid Omicron BA.2 latest news
The first minister Mark Drakeford confirmed that the rule of six requirement in pubs and restaurants will also be lifted.
There were “encouraging signs that cases of coronavirus may be starting to stabilise,” said Mr Drakeford. “We all need to continue taking steps to stay safe – unfortunately the pandemic is not over yet,” he added.
Covid passes will still be required for entry to larger outdoor events attended by more than 4,000 people, if unseated, or 10,000 people when seated. It will also be required in all cinemas, theatres and concert halls which are currently open.
Meanwhile, scientists have warned the government that allowing poorer countries to remain unvaccinated is a “reckless approach to public health”.
In a letter signed by more than 300 experts, including 13 members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, they said vaccinating the world’s population is “the best way to prevent coronavirus mutations”.
EU regulator recommends authorisation of Pfizer’s Covid pill
The European Medicines Agency has recommended the authorisation of Pfizer’s coronavirus antiviral drug for use in 27 European Union nations.
The EU drug regulator said the approval of Pfizer’s Paxlovoid could help people infected with Covid-19 avoid more serious disease and hospitalisation.
The agency suggested the prescription of the pill to those adults who don’t require oxygen and are at a higher risk of severe disease.
Covid hits one of last untouched nations
Days after Kiribati opened its borders to allow a flight with 54 of its citizens to come home, more than half of the passengers on board have tested positive. It brings Covid-19 to one of the last places on the planet previously untouched by the infection.
The remote country had managed to successfully avoid coronavirus outbreaks for nearly two full years, as it completely closed its borders.
It began reopening earlier this month as it allowed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to bring home the citizens.
While officials tested each of the returning passengers three times in nearby Fiji, and required that they be vaccinated and quarantined with additional testing, it was not enough.
Initially, 36 tested positive from the flight, but cases have now slipped to the community taking the total reported infections to 181 on Friday.
Paris hospital chief questions universal health coverage for unvaccinated
The head of Paris’s hospital system has sparked controversy after he questioned the availability of universal health coverage to those refusing vaccination against Covid.
Under France’s public healthcare system, Covid-19 patients ending up in intensive care are fully covered for their treatment, costing the taxpayer around €3,000 a day and typically lasting for about a week.
“When free and efficient drugs are available, should people be able to renounce it without consequences … while we struggle to take care of other patients?” head of public hospitals Martin Hirsch said on French television on Wednesday.
Truck convoy protesting vaccine mandate receives support in Ontario
A convoy of truckers headed for Ottawa to protest the Canadian government’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border drivers received support from crowds in Ontario on Thursday.
In a packed mall parking lot north of Toronto, supporters threw cash and food up to truckers in their vehicles, while others held up signs protesting the government.
Thousands are expected to join the convoy in Ottawa on Friday, demanding the end of vaccine mandates.
The road in front of Parliament Hill will be closed to general traffic on Friday and buildings in the Parliamentary district locked.
Australia approves booster dose for 16 and 17-year-olds
Australia’s drug regulator on Friday approved the first Covid booster dose for under-18s with Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) giving a go-ahead for Pfizer to be used as a booster shot for 16 to 17- year-olds.
According to the official data, so far 93 per cent of Australia’s adult population has received two doses of coronavirus vaccine while 35 per cent have received the booster dose.
The country began administering vaccines to children between 5 to 11 years earlier this month.
Scientists urge UK to help boost vaccine manufacturing in poorer countries
Scientists have warned the government that allowing poorer countries to remain unvaccinated is a “reckless approach to public health” as they urged the UK to expand domestic vaccine manufacturing and distribution capacity within low and middle-income countries.
In a letter signed by more than 300 experts, including 13 members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), they said that vaccinating the world’s population is the “best way” to prevent coronavirus mutations.
“Thanks to remarkable scientific innovations, we have a number of vaccines that remain highly effective against all known Covid-19 variants.
“Yet, unless we share this technology with the world and increase global vaccination coverage, vaccines will not be effective at stopping new variants of concern,” they warned.
Night clubs to reopen in Wales
Nightclubs are to reopen and social distancing and rule-of-six requirements will end in Wales, the first minister has confirmed.
Mark Drakeford said Wales will complete the move to alert level zero on 28 January, relaxing alert level two measures which have been in place since Boxing Day.
However, Covid passes will still be required in large outdoor events, plus cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
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Wales will now complete move to alert level zero on 28 January
Welcome to The Independent’s live blog covering the Covid-19 pandemic for Friday 28 January.