Britain, which has one of the world’s highest death tolls from Covid-19, is facing a new wave of cases, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is lifting most restrictions in England in what some have dubbed “Freedom Day”.
Epidemiologists are generally sceptical that lifting restrictions is the right thing to do, but many young British people have had enough of more than 1 1/2 years of lockdowns and say they crave a party.
“I have not been allowed to dance for like what seems like forever,” said Georgia Pike, 31, at the Oval Space in Hackney, east London. “I want to dance, I want to hear live music, I want the vibe of being at a gig, of being around other people.”
All of Scotland drops to the lowest level of its five-tier system from today but restrictions are being “eased, not abandoned”.
Face coverings in shops and public transport will remain mandatory for “some time to come”, while social distancing will reduce to one metre inside public places as the shift to Level 0 kicks in, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Ms Sturgeon has also warned so-called “freedom day” applies to England only, tweeting: “As this chart shows, cases in (Scotland) are falling, but still too high.
“To talk of tomorrow as ‘freedom day’ (England only remember) is not sensible IMO, given current situation.
“Vaccines going well and do offer route through – but as we vaccinate, we must ease up gradually.”
Waiting among hundreds of fellow travelers to catch a ferry out of Bangladesh’s capital, unemployed construction worker Mohammed Nijam knew he was risking catching the coronavirus, but he felt it was even riskier to stay in Dhaka with another lockdown looming.
“I have to pay rent every month even though I have no work,” he said, adding that his landlord had been bothering him for money even as he was struggling just to feed himself. “I’d rather go to my village home and lead life as God lets me.”
Nijam is among the tens of millions of Bangladeshis shopping and traveling this week during a controversial eight-day pause in the country’s strict coronavirus lockdown that the government is allowing for the Islamic festival Eid-al Adha.
The suspension has been panned by health experts who warn it could exacerbate an ongoing surge fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, which was first detected in neighboring India.
Australian authorities on Monday said Victoria state will extend a Covid-19 lockdown beyond Tuesday despite a slight drop in new infections, as the country’s two biggest cities fight to stop the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.
Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said lockdown rules would not be lifted as cases were still being detected in the community and he wanted to avoid going back into lockdown after “a few days of sunshine”.
Victoria, the country’s second most populous state which includes Melbourne, on Monday reported 13 locally acquired cases, down from 16 a day earlier. All new local cases are linked.
Almost half Australia’s 25 million people have been confined to their homes with Sydney, the country’s largest city, in a five-week lockdown, and all of Victoria state under stay at home rules, after the fast-moving Delta strain triggered the country’s worst outbreak for this year.
With hospitals in junta-run Myanmar empty of pro-democracy medical staff and coronavirus cases surging nationwide, volunteers are going house-to-house to collect the fast-rising number of victims dying in their homes.
Early each morning, Than Than Soe’s phone starts ringing with requests from family members of those who have died in the commercial capital Yangon.
She writes the name, address and contact number of the victim in a ledger and dispatches a team to their home.
“We are running our service without resting,” she said at the bustling office of her volunteer group. Every day “my team is collecting between 30-40 dead bodies… I think other teams will be the same like us”.
Australia to deport Katie Hopkins for quarantine breach
Australia has cancelled far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins’ visa after she boasted about flouting the country’s strict hotel quarantine rules, a senior official said on Monday.
Hopkins had flown into Sydney to appear on a reality television show when she posted a video on Instagram talking about answering the door naked and maskless to workers delivering meals to her hotel room, local media reported.
Most international arrivals to Australia are required to complete 14 days in mandatory isolation in a hotel, under rules designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australia’s border agency “acted quickly to make sure that the visa on which she entered was cancelled” after the footage appeared.
“We will be getting her out of the country as soon as we can possibly arrange that,” she said.
Singapore’s health ministry on Sunday “strongly” advised unvaccinated individuals, especially the elderly, to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks, citing heightened concerns about the risk of community spread of Covid-19.
The country reported 88 new locally-transmitted coronavirus cases on Sunday, the highest daily toll since August last year, driven by growing clusters of infections linked to karaoke bars and a fishery port.
Though Singapore’s daily cases are only a fraction of the number being reported among its Southeast Asian neighbours, the jump in infections is a setback for the Asian business hub, which has successfully contained its earlier outbreaks. On July 10, it had reported no new cases.
As a precaution, authorities on Sunday shut fresh fish and seafood stalls in markets across the city-state as it tested fishmongers for Covid-19.
As the remaining restrictions are lifted across England, it is hoped the app will help people return to the workplace, attend large-scale events and clubs, and travel abroad.
Since the launch of the Covid Pass feature on May 17, which allows people to easily show proof of vaccination, the app has gained over six million new users, the DHSC said.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “As we cautiously reopen, the NHS Covid Pass will enable people to prove their vaccination status when travelling abroad and support venues and businesses to reopen safely, while protecting staff and the public.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval ratings fell to the lowest level in more than a year, according to a poll published on Monday, as a sluggish vaccine rollout dented voters’ confidence in his conservative government.
A Newspoll conducted for The Australian newspaper showed Mr Morrison’s public support dropped two points to 51 percent over the past three weeks, the lowest level since he faced criticism early last year over his response to devastating bushfires.
The Prime Minister has come under increasing pressure as a slow national vaccine rollout leaves Australia exposed to a deadly new wave of coronavirus. Sydney and Melbourne, the country’s biggest two cities, are in lockdown in a bid to stem a fast-moving outbreak of the Delta variant.
Morrison’s Liberal-National Party coalition government also slumped to its lowest electoral position this term, the Newspoll showed, trailing the opposition Labor Party 47-53 on a two-party preferred basis, indicating “a significant defeat” if an election were held.
Frontline workers may be able to skip self-isolation
Frontline health and social care workers in England may be able to carry on working even if they are exposed to someone with Covid-19, the government said on Monday as minister seek to ease pressure on the health service caused by rising infections.
Cases of Covid-19 are surging in Britain, causing hundreds of thousands of workers to be told they need to spend 10 days at home because they have been identified as a close contact of someone with the disease.
That has caused staff shortages in schools, businesses and the healthcare system.
To ease the burden on the healthcare system, where the rise in cases is also causing increased workload, the government announced an exemption for fully-vaccinated staff in exceptional circumstances.
Boris Johnson is under pressure to end the “mad” system of self-isolation as he and two other top ministers were forced into quarantine on “Freedom Day”.
When Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were identified as close contacts of Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, who recently tested positive for Covid, most people were expecting that they would go into self-isolation for 10 days.