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More cases of Omicron sub-variant BA.2 found in California – follow live

More cases of Omicron sub-variant BA.2 found in California - follow live
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Santa Clara health officials on Tuesday confirmed two cases of the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, taking the total confirmed cases in California to 11.

It remains unclear whether the newer sub-variant, which is being monitored by the WHO, will behave differently to the more common BA.1 lineage that has spread widely across the world, said the county’s deputy health officer Dr George Han.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that Covid infections appear to be flatlining at worryingly high levels in England.

Although rates are falling among adults, the prevalence of the virus in children is growing, according to the latest data from the UK’s React survey, run by Imperial College London.

It comes as the number of deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has climbed to its highest level for 10 months.

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Father dying of Covid regrets not getting vaccine in heartbreaking texts

Shortly before dying of Covid-19, a father in Los Angeles texted family members to express his regret over not getting vaccinated.

Christian Cabrera, 40, tested positive for the coronavirus around Christmas. Not long afterward, he was in an emergency room with pneumonia in both lungs.

“I can’t breathe again,” he texted his brother, according to KTLA. “I really regret not getting my vaccine. If I can do it all over again I would do it in a heartbeat to save my life. I’m fighting for my life here and I wish I [had] gotten vaccinated.”

On 22 January, Mr Cabrera died. His family shared the tragic news on a GoFundMe raising money for his three-year-old son, Noel.

Nathan Place has the full story here:

Father dying of Covid regrets not getting vaccine in final texts

‘I can’t breathe again. I really regret not getting my vaccine,’ Christian Cabrera, 40, texted his brother before his death

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 07:15
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ICYMI: FDA revokes approval for Covid antibody drugs that don’t work against Omicron

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revoked its approval for Covid-19 antibody drugs that don’t work against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Omicron now makes up almost all new infections in the US, with the FDA announcing on Monday that they were pulling their emergency authorization for the antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly.

The drugs have been bought by the US government and been given to millions of Americans with Covid-19.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

FDA revokes approval for Covid antibody drugs that don’t work against Omicron

Florida governor pushes back against decision, calling it ‘sudden and reckless’

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 06:45
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Partygate report expected to be released on Wednesday

The explosive findings of a report into parties at Downing Street are set for publication as early as Wednesday after police launched a criminal investigation into possible breaches of Covid regulations.

With his future as prime minister hanging in the balance, Boris Johnson will mount his fightback in an address to the House of Commons within 24 hours of receiving Whitehall mandarin Sue Gray’s findings.

But Conservative critics of the PM told The Independent they expect the report to be “damning” enough to trigger the 54 letters of no confidence from MPs needed to force a vote on his position within days.

Follow all the latest updates here.

Partygate report could be published within 24 hours, after police launch inquiry

Rebel Tories expect findings to trigger wave of demands for PM’s removal

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 06:15
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Bulgaria posts new record of 12,399 daily Covid infections

Bulgaria reported a record 12,399 coronavirus infections in a single day on Wednesday, official data showed, with most of the cases caused by the more contagious Omicron variant.

The European Union country, where less than 30 per cent of the population of 7 million has been vaccinated, also recorded another 73 deaths.

Bulgaria’s tally of infections exceeds 903,000, with 32,869 deaths since the pandemic began.

The new centrist government has repeatedly appealed to vaccine-sceptical Bulgarians to get inoculated to avoid pressure on hospitals that could force tougher curbs.

About 5,300 people were admitted to hospital on Wednesday, with 692 of them in intensive care.

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 05:45
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South Korea’s daily new Covid count exceeds 13,000 for first time

South Korea’s daily new coronavirus cases exceeded 13,000 for the first time, data showed on Wednesday, while the government sought to revise its Covid-19 response to focus on the highly contagious but less-lethal Omicron variant.

The record of 13,012 comes just a day after the tally topped 8,000 for the first time amid a rapid spread of Omicron despite the extension of tough social distancing rules.

Omicron is likely to account for more than 90 per cent of new infections over the next few weeks, with the daily numbers surging to 20,000 to 30,000 or more, health officials said. The variant became dominant in South Korea last week.

“Going forward, our top priority is to reduce critically ill patients and deaths,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told an inter-ministry meeting on Wednesday.

A new testing policy has taken effect in four designated cities on a pilot basis, under which only priority groups can take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test while others should get a rapid antigen test first at a local clinic.

The programme will be expanded on 29 January to include some 256 state-run testing stations nationwide, and then hundreds of local clinics starting 3 February, Mr Kim said.

The government has also cut mandatory isolation for people who have been vaccinated but tested positive to seven days from 10, as part of efforts to free up resources for serious cases.

The ongoing surge has fuelled worries about chances of a new wave of infections ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday which begins on Saturday when tens of millions travel nationwide to meet families.

South Korea, with a population of 52 million, has a tally of 762,983 infections and a death toll of 6,620.

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 05:15
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Beijing Olympics organiser says 13 new Covic cases found among Games-related personnel

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Organising Committee said on Wednesday that a total of 13 new Covid-19 cases were detected among Games-related personnel on Tuesday.

Nine of the cases were found among new airport arrivals, according to a notice on the Beijing 2022 official website. While four others were among those already in the “closed-loop” bubble that separates all event personnel from the public, the notice said.

None of the new cases found on Tuesday were athletes or team officials.

This comes after 15 cases were reported a day before for Monday despite relaxed rules for Games-related personnel.

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 04:49
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Two new cases of Omicron sub-variant confirmed in California

Santa Clara health officials on Tuesday confirmed two cases of the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, taking the total confirmed cases in California to 11, writes Namita Singh.

It remains unclear whether the newer sub-variant, which is being monitored by the WHO, will behave differently to the more common BA.1 lineage that has spread widely across the world, said the county’s deputy health officer Dr George Han.

“Early indications say that it probably behaves just like the BA.1 Omicron lineage, but again it’s probably too early to tell, because of the small number of cases that have occurred so far,” he said.

Health officials have released no information about the two people who tested positive for the new sub-variant, reported ABC News.

So far the WHO has identified four lineages of the Omicron variant — B.1.1.529, BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3. While BA.1 is reported to be the more common variant, around 40 countries have now detected BA.2, which is now a variant under investigation.

Two new cases of Omicron sub-variant confirmed in California

Omicron sub-variant BA.2 has been detected in 40 countries so far

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 04:18
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Covid cases starting to flatline at high levels, scientists warn

Covid infections appear to be flatlining at worryingly high levels in England, experts have said.

Although rates are falling among adults, the prevalence of the virus in children is growing, according to the latest data from the UK’s React survey, run by Imperial College London.

Two-thirds of recent cases were also among those who said they had previously caught Covid, although scientists cautioned that it was hard to determine whether these were true reinfections, or a result of people still testing positive from lingering infections.

Our science correspondent Samuel Lovett has more:

Covid cases starting to flatline at high levels, scientists warn

Infections rising among children and ‘might now spill over back’ into adults, keeping case rates high for weeks to come, says expert behind major UK study

Stuti Mishra26 January 2022 03:32
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Covid liveblog paused

We are pausing live updates on the Covid blog for this evening.

Joe Middleton25 January 2022 18:47
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Sir Elton John tests positive for Covid

Sir Elton John has tested positive for Covid-19 and expressed “disappointment” at having to reschedule some of his shows in the US.

On his Instagram story, the musician, 74, said: “Hi everyone, wanted to send a message to let you know that I have contracted COVID and so have had to reschedule my shows in Dallas.

“If you have tickets, you’ll be contacted with the new dates really soon.

“It’s always a massive disappointment to move shows and I’m so sorry to anyone who’s been inconvenienced by this but I want to keep myself and my team safe.

“Fortunately, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted and my symptoms are mild so I’m fully expecting to be able to make the Arkansas shows this weekend.

“As always, thank you for all your love and support and I can’t wait to see you all soon!”

Joe Middleton25 January 2022 18:25