Covid news live: Australia to offer jabs to children aged five to 11; US Omicron cases mostly mild, CDC chief says

 Samantha Lock 1 hour agoElon Musk says civilisation will ‘crumble’ if people don’t have more kidsTop Kenyan singer hailed for coming out as gayChildren play cricket in Sydney, Australia, as prime minister Scott Morrison announces children aged five to 11 will receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from 10 January.© Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images Children play cricket in Sydney, Australia, as prime minister Scott Morrison announces children aged five to 11 will receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from 10 January.

LIVE – Updated at 03:16

Australia will begin administering vaccines for children from January; nearly all of the 40 people in the US infected with Omicron were mildly ill.

 

03:16

Germany has just released some new Covid numbers.

The European nation reported another 61,288 new daily coronavirus cases for the past 24 hours and 484 deaths, the Robert Koch Institute reports.

 

02:53

Asian shares slipped and the US dollar held firm on Friday as traders edged away from riskier assets amid renewed concerns about Covid-19 and ahead of key US inflation data that could set direction on Federal Reserve rates, Reuters reports.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.4% and Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.5%.

Overnight the S&P 500 lost 0.72% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.71%. S&P 500 futures rose 0.14% in Asian hours.

Shares and risk-friendly currencies had performed well earlier in the week, with MSCI’s regional benchmark posting its best day in two months on Tuesday, helped by indications the Omicron strain of the new coronavirus might not be as economically disruptive as first feared.

“Then, as we got towards the end of the week the fact that Europe was much more clearly moving into a sort of lockdown light and cases are going up, and Covid-19 case numbers in the US are starting to ratchet up flipped things a little bit,” said Rob Carnell, head of research Asia Pacific at ING.

“Also there is a slight sense of ‘let’s not have too much risk on the table for the weekend’. Of course, there is CPI out in the US – but I think we’ve all woken up to the fact that there is inflation in the US now,” he added.

 

02:42

Speaking of the United States, here is a detailed state-by-state map showing the number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 Americans.

Map numbers shown below are from Johns Hopkins University.Number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 Americans as of 9 December. Photograph: Johns Hopkins / the Guardian© Provided by The Guardian Number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 Americans as of 9 December. Photograph: Johns Hopkins / the Guardian

 

02:17

Some disturbing news has just emerged from California in the United States.

The president of California’s medical board, which issues medical licenses and disciplines doctors, says a group of anti-vaccine activists stalked her at home and followed her to her office, the Associated Press reports.

Kristina Lawson, a former mayor of Walnut Creek who was appointed to the board by former Governor Jerry Brown, was reportedly confronted by four men in a dark parking garage in what she described as a terrifying experience.

Lawson tweeted:

On Monday, I was followed and confronted by a group that peddles medical disinformation, promotes fake Covid-19 treatments, and is under investigation by Congress for stealing millions of dollars from consumers. It was a terrifying experience.”

“They watched my daughter drive herself to school and watched me walk out of my house, get in my car, and take my two kids to school.”

The medical board president said she grew concerned on Monday after she noticed the people in a white SUV parked near her home and saw someone flying a drone over her house.

The white SUV then followed her to work and parked “head-to-head” with her car in a parking garage and when she left the office building and entered the parking garage later that evening, four men jumped out of the SUV with cameras and recording equipment and confronted her, Lawson alleged.

“Instead, they ambushed me in a dark parking garage when they suspected I would be alone,” she added.

Lawson said the people identified themselves as representing America’s Frontline Doctors, led by Simone Gold, a Beverly Hills doctor who was arrested during the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol. The group criticises the Covid-19 vaccine and has been widely discredited for spreading disinformation about the coronavirus and unproven treatments.

Lawson contacted Walnut Creek Police. “Like other Californians who believe in both science and fair play, I will not be intimidated,” she said.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1468637025590906880&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fworld%2Flive%2F2021%2Fdec%2F10%2Fcovid-news-live-australia-to-offer-jabs-to-children-aged-five-to-11-us-omicron-cases-mostly-mild-cdc-chief-says&sessionId=25fd5826123cd4627773369e3cc89b3c3f69c842&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9fd78d5%3A1638479056965&width=550px

Singapore reports first locally transmitted Omicron case

01:59

Singapore has detected its first locally transmitted case of the Omicron variant in a member of staff at the city state’s airport, authorities said late on Thursday, warning that more Omicron cases are likely to be detected.

The 24-year-old Singaporean woman, who works in a service role in the airport, “may have interacted with transit passengers from Omicron-affected countries,” the health ministry said in a statement, Reuters reports.

She tested preliminarily positive for Omicron as a part of the routine testing for frontline workers, it said, noting she was fully vaccinated and asymptomatic.

A second Omicron case reported on Tuesday was a traveller from Germany. Both of individuals had received vaccine booster shots, the health ministry said.

The cases are currently pending further genome sequencing to confirm the variant. Singapore had previously detected three Omicron cases, all found in overseas travellers.

The health ministry said:

Given its high transmissibility and spread to many parts of the world, we should expect to find more Omicron cases at our borders and also within our community.”

Singapore has vaccinated 96% of its eligible population and authorities are urging the public to get booster shots amid concerns over the Omicron variant.People cross a road in Singapore as the city state detected its first locally transmitted case of the Omicron variant, warning more cases are likely. Photograph: Caroline Chia/Reuters© Provided by The Guardian People cross a road in Singapore as the city state detected its first locally transmitted case of the Omicron variant, warning more cases are likely. Photograph: Caroline Chia/Reuters

 

01:39

Some Covid stats from South Korea has just landed.

The south Asian country recorded 7,022 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours.

A further 53 deaths were also reported, taking the nationwide cumulative death toll to 4,130.

A total of 83.5 % of the population has received at least one Covid vaccination dose and 81 % are fully vaccinated.

Thailand has also reported another 4,193 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours.

A further 28 deaths were also reported, taking the nationwide cumulative death toll to 4,130.

 

01:23

The latest Covid numbers from France are in.

An additional 56,854 new coronavirus cases have been reported over the past 24 hours.

Another 136 deaths were also recorded for 9 December.

 

01:12

 

00:56

Hello and welcome back to our Covid blog this Friday. I’m Samantha Lock and I will be taking you through all the key developments from around the world.

Let’s dive right in with some positive news out of Australia where children aged five to 11 will receive the Pfizer Covid vaccine from 10 January, after the federal government accepted a recommendation for its use from immunisation experts. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said: “In one month from today, about 2.27 million Aussie kids aged five to 11 years will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated against Covid-19.”

In the US, more than 40 people have been found to be infected with the Omicron variant so far, and more than three-quarters of them had been vaccinated, said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, she told the Associated Press “the disease is mild” in almost all of the cases seen so far, with reported symptoms mainly coughing, congestion and fatigue.

Here’s a snapshot of some key stories:

  • Cases of the Omicron variant could be spreading even faster in England than in South Africa, according to a senior scientific adviser, who warned that the variant was a “very severe setback” to hopes of bringing the pandemic under control.
  • European Union countries are expected to agree to limit to nine months the duration of Covid-19 certificates for travel around the bloc, three EU sources told Reuters, but some states are concerned that such a limit could hinder travel.
  • Slovakia is to give cash handouts to people over 60 who get vaccinated or have their booster shot.
  • Austria’s planned vaccine mandate has a minimum age of 14, the health minister has said. The government also said holdouts face fines of up to €3,600 every three months.
  • Malta will return to mandatory mask-wearing in outdoor and indoor spaces from Saturday, the health minister Chris Fearne said.
  • The United States rushed millions of vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11, but demand for inoculations for younger children has been low, more than a dozen state public health officials and physicians have said.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration has authorised booster shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for those aged 16 and 17.
  • Early hospital data from South Africa shows less than a third of patients admitted for Covid-19 during the latest wave linked to the Omicron variant are suffering severe illness, compared with two-thirds in the early stages of the last two waves.
  • Covid cases in South Africa surged by 255% in the past seven days (the Omicron variant produced a record 22,391 new cases) but there is mounting anecdotal evidence that infections with the Omicron variant are provoking milder symptoms than in previous waves (only 22 deaths were recorded).
  • Germany’s vaccination advisory commission has recommended the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine be given to children aged five to 11 with pre-existing conditions.
  • The World Health Organization has warned wealthy countries against hoarding vaccines for booster shots as they try to fight off the new Omicron variant, threatening supplies to poorer countries where inoculation rates are low.
  • The European Union’s drugs regulator has said it could make sense to administer vaccine boosters as early as three months after the initial two-shot regimen.
  • Brazil will require international travellers who aren’t vaccinated against coronavirus to quarantine for five days in the city where they arrive by plane.
  • Australian children aged five to 11 will receive the Pfizer Covid vaccine from 10 January, after the federal government accepted the recommendation of immunisation experts.
  • Russia’s president Vladimir Putin says that Russia will dispatch virus specialists to South Africa to establish a Covid-19 lab there after the discovery of Omicron.
  • Lebanon confirmed the country’s first two cases of the Omicron variant in passengers from Africa tested upon arrival at the airport, the health ministry said.

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