Hong Kong police arrest two Cathay flight attendants accused of Covid rule breach
Hong Kong police have arrested and charged two former Cathay Pacific flight attendants over allegations they broke the cityâ€™s coronavirus rules.
The statement did not name the airline but the two â€“ reportedly men aged 44 and 45 â€“ were later confirmed by leader Carrie Lam as being former staff of the airline. Lam alleged on Tuesday â€œthere is evidence showing they have violated [epidemic regulations]â€.
The announcement comes after Cathay Pacific said in January it had fired two aircrew who were suspected of breaching Covid-19 protocols.
Police said the pair had returned to Hong Kong from the US on 24 December and 25 December and then â€œconducted unnecessary activitiesâ€ during their home isolation period. They both later tested positive for the fast-spreading Omicron strain.
They have been released on bail with their case to be heard in separate courts on 9 February. If convicted, they could face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to HK$5,000 ($642). They were discharged from hospital after treatment, according to local media.
Read the full story here.
Almost two thirds of British adults feel the government should share coronavirus vaccines with the world rather than deliver additional boosters domestically, polling suggests.
Most adults understand that â€œwe need to vaccinate the world to end the pandemic at homeâ€, according to a survey for the ONE Campaign, which works to end global poverty and disease.
They also feel that the disparity in vaccination levels between rich and poor countries is both â€œunwise and unfairâ€.
Some 2,186 UK adults were surveyed by Savanta ComRes online between January 7 and 9. The results, as reported by PA Media are below:
- 63% said that, if new variants were likely in countries with poor vaccine access, the UK should prioritise ensuring the vaccine is available everywhere over giving people a second booster.
- 65% said it is unfair that significantly fewer people in low-income countries are fully vaccinated than those in high-income countries.
- 53% said they would be willing to forgo a fourth dose so a vulnerable person or frontline worker in another country could receive their first.
- 72% say the UK should make ending the global pandemic its top priority, with a similar proportion agreeing that the UK economy will continue to suffer unless the virus is beaten everywhere.
Respondents also agreed that uneven access to the vaccine is a â€œmoral failureâ€ (66%); that the UK should rapidly speed up delivery of doses it has promised to share (70%); and that the UK should stop buying more doses than it needs (64%).
The UK delivered more than 30 million vaccines internationally last year. It has committed to donate 100 million doses around the world.
While we are in the Asia region, South Korea has confirmed another 4,072 coronavirus cases and 45 daily deaths in the past 24 hours, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are 543 people in critical condition, with an average of 463 new admissions per day. The intensive care bed utilisation rate stands at 28%.
Thailand is reporting a daily rise of 6,397 confirmed coronavirus cases and 18 deaths, according to recently released government data.
The government is also considering reviving a scheme that allows tourists to visit with only minimal quarantine.
The â€œTest and Goâ€ scheme, which was introduced late last year, was suspended when the Omicron variant emerged.
Omicron lays waste to Indiaâ€™s huge wedding season
With Indiaâ€™s Omicron-driven third wave firmly under way, the New Delhi government has, along with other restrictions, limited wedding guests to 20, dealing a huge blow to Indiaâ€™s traditional wedding season, which runs from November to March.
Thousands of families are in the agony of uncertainty, with most of the arrangements paid for, either in full or in part.
In pre-pandemic times, some December weekends could see more than 20,000 weddings taking place in the capital in a single day, choking the roads with traffic. It is in this November-March period that the industry makes the bulk of its money because the weather is more temperate.
Read the full story from our reporter in Delhi, Amrit Dhillon, here.
China has reported another 171 new confirmed Covid-19 cases for Monday, 17 January, according to a recently released statement by the National Health Commission.
The figure is down from 223 a day earlier, according to government data.
Of the new infections, 127 were locally transmitted, down from 163 a day earlier. The other new cases were imported.
The new locally transmitted cases were in Henan, Tianjin, Guangdong, Beijing and Shaanxi, the NHC said.
The country also reported 33 new asymptomatic cases, which it classifies separately from confirmed cases, up from 28 infections a day earlier. There were no new deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,636.
Poland enters fifth Covid wave
Poland is experiencing a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections, the health minister said on Monday, warning that the spread of the Omicron variant could send daily case numbers soaring to levels not yet seen in the country.
While daily case numbers have fallen since early December, the European Unionâ€™s largest eastern member has had little respite since the fourth wave, regularly reporting over 10,000 new infections per day amid low vaccine take-up and limited restrictions on public life.
â€œWe predict that the peak of infections will be in mid-February and that peak is about 60,000 cases a day,â€ Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.
The highest number of daily cases reported since the pandemic began was 35,251 on 1 April, 2021.
Niedzielski said that he expected figures released on Tuesday to show in excess of 20,000 daily cases.
On Friday, 13 of the 17 members of Polandâ€™s Medical Council advising the prime minister on Covid-19 resigned, condemning what they said was a lack of scientific influence on policy.
One of the members who resigned, Dr Konstanty Szuldrzynski, told TVN24 on Monday that the death rate in countries where stricter restrictions had been enforced had been lower than in Poland, and that the fifth wave would put the health service under enormous strain.
â€œWe are going into the next wave of Omicron completely unprepared,â€ he said. â€œPlease remember that the huge death rate in Poland is not just related to the low percentage of vaccinated people but also to the fact that we have a very outdated health system.â€
The country of around 38 million has so far reported 4,323,482 cases of the coronavirus and 102,309 deaths.
Hello itâ€™s Samantha Lock with you on the blog today as we unpack all the latest Covid developments from across the world.
Iâ€™ll be reporting to you from Sydney and my colleagues from London will take over a little later in the day.
Case numbers are just coming in across Australia this morning, confirming the country has hit a new bleak pandemic milestone. A record 74 deaths have been reported from the countryâ€™s two most populous states of NSW and Victoria with 36 deaths and 22 deaths respectively. Itâ€™s the highest daily toll of the pandemic for Australia to date.
The Omicron outbreak has continued to push up hospitalisation rates to record levels with more people in hospitals and intensive care than at any other time during the pandemic even as daily infections eased slightly.
On the other side of the world in Poland, the European Unionâ€™s largest eastern member says it is currently battling a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections, with cases expected to hit record levels in coming weeks.
Health minister Adam Niedzielski warned that the spread of the Omicron variant could send daily case numbers soaring to levels not yet seen in the country.
â€œWe predict that the peak of infections will be in mid-February and that peak is about 60,000 cases a day,â€ he told a news conference on Monday.
Hereâ€™s a comprehensive run-down of all the latest global developments:
- Covid booster shots will be offered to children in England aged 12 to 15 who are most at risk from coronavirus, NHS England has said. People in England are also now able to end their coronavirus isolation after five full days in the latest change to self-isolation guidance.
- Greece has imposed a vaccination mandate for people over age 60.
- The EU should continue to suspend strict fiscal rules to help debt-mired countries such as Italy until the pandemic is over, the new chairman of the German parliamentâ€™s powerful EU affairs committee has said.
- A return to global pre-pandemic employment levels could take years, a UN report revealed.
- French teachersâ€™ unions have called for a second major strike this week to protest the governmentâ€™s Covid testing and isolation protocols, which they say are severely disrupting classes.
- Franceâ€™s parliament has given final approval to the governmentâ€™s latest measures to tackle Covid-19, including a vaccine pass contested by anti-vaccine protesters.
- Uzbekistan has reported 1,037 new daily Covid cases, the highest number on record.
- Kazakhstan reported a record 13,523 cases on Sunday, and the Kazakh government has announced middle and high school students in the countryâ€™s three largest cities would study remotely until the end of March.
- The chairman of Credit Suisse, AntÃ³nio Horta-OsÃ³rio, has resigned after the Swiss bank reportedly found that he had broken Covid-19 quarantine laws.
- The number of Covid-19 cases across China reached the highest level since March 2020 on Monday, as the country reported a daily rise of 223 new infections.
- Several cities in China are now on a high Covid alert in preparation for the lunar new year holiday travel season when hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel around the country. Cities such as Luoyang in central China and Jieyang in the south now require residents to report details of their trips in advance.
- Chinese authorities are urging citizens not to order goods from overseas, claiming a recent Omicron infection detected in Beijing came from an international package sent from Canada. There is not a strong scientific basis to the claim, according to experts.
- Beijing Winter Olympics tickets will not be sold to general public in latest Covid setback.
- Japan will bring forward its Covid vaccination booster shots by as much as two months while also considering placing 11 prefectures, including Tokyo and its surrounding area, under a quasi-state of emergency to curb a rapidly accelerating sixth wave of infections.
- Hong Kong police have arrested and charged two Cathay Pacific flight attendants for allegedly contravening Covid regulations.
- Thailand is considering bringing back a quarantine waiver for vaccinated visitors, its health minister said on Monday, as part of a proposed easing of some Covid measures later this week.
- Travellers to Hawaii may soon need to have supplemented their vaccinations with a booster does in order to visit the islands without having to quarantine.
- Israel cuts Covid isolation to five days for asymptomatic people.
- The chief executive of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, has said that while the coronavirus will continue to circulate for many years to come, this current wave should be the last to have to lead to restrictions.
- Moderna is aiming to launch a single booster vaccination that will protect against both Covid-19 and flu within two years, its chief executive said.
- A fourth shot of Covid vaccine raises antibodies to even higher levels than the third jab but it is not enough to prevent Omicron infections, according to a preliminary study in Israel.
- Moderna CEO says data for Omicron-specific jab likely available in March.
Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have a story or tips to share. Your thoughts are always welcome.