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Australia’s reopening plans in doubt after Omicron cases

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Australia will review its plans to reopen borders to skilled migrants and students from Dec. 1, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, after the country reported its first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant over the weekend.

Two people who arrived in Australia from southern Africa tested positive on Sunday for the newly identified Omicron variant as officials ordered 14-day quarantines for citizens returning from nine African countries and banned entry from those nations for non-citizens.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

Morrison urged people to remain calm, saying data has not yet fully proven the severity, transmissibility and vaccine resistance of the Omicron strain.

“So we just take this one step at a time, get the best information, make calm, sensible decisions,” Morrison told Nine News on Monday, adding “it is a bit too early” to reinstate the two-week mandatory hotel quarantine rule for foreign travelers.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious than previous variants. Experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities, had begun to allow fully vaccinated citizens entry without quarantine from Nov. 1 after shutting their borders for more than 18 months.

Both cities have tightened their border rules with all international travelers ordered to quarantine for 72 hours. Other states have not opened their borders to foreign travelers yet due to varying vaccination rates.

Morrison said the national security committee will meet later on Monday to assess the government's border reopening relaxations due from Wednesday. A meeting of leaders of all states and territories will be held by Tuesday, he said.

Strict border controls and snap lockdowns have helped Australia to keep its coronavirus numbers far lower than many comparable countries. It has so far recorded about 208,000 cases and 1,994 deaths since the pandemic began.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Read more:

Dutch police arrest couple that fled COVID-19 quarantine

France detects eight possible Omicron cases: Health ministry

WHO says PCR tests detect Omicron, new COVID-19 variant has higher reinfection risk

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Health

Moderna begins testing omicron-matched COVID-19 shots in adults

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Moderna has begun testing an omicron-specific COVID-19 booster in healthy adults.

The company announced Wednesday that the first participant had received a dose. Earlier this week, competitor Pfizer began a similar study of its own reformulated shots.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

It’s not clear whether global health authorities will order a change to the vaccine recipe in the wake of the hugely contagious omicron variant. The original vaccines still offer good protection against death and severe illness. Studies in the US and elsewhere show a booster dose strengthens that protection and improves the chances of avoiding even a milder infection.

Moderna pointed to a small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that showed antibodies able to target omicron persisted for six months after a booster dose, although the levels were dropping.

Moderna’s new study will enroll about 600 people who already have received either two doses of the company’s original shots or two plus a booster dose. All the volunteers will receive a dose of the experimental omicron-matched version.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Read more:

Moderna CEO says working on omicron-specific vaccine: Interview

Pfizer-BioNTech begin omicron COVID-19 vaccine trial: Statement

Valneva COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes omicron in early lab tests

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Health

Abbas rival Dahlan delivers one mln COVID-19 vaccine doses to Gaza

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One million doses of coronavirus vaccine arrived in Gaza from the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, the latest donation facilitated by an exiled rival of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Mohammed Dahlan, a Gaza native now based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, was once a top Palestinian Authority official who served as Abbas’s security chief in the territory before its takeover by the Islamist Hamas movement in 2007.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Mahmud Hammad told journalists that the consignment of one million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine marked the largest single shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the Israeli-blockaded territory.

The vaccines were delivered through Gaza’s Rafah crossing with Egypt, the only one not controlled by Israel.

The same route was used for previous shipments organized by Dahlan, who has increasingly sought to position himself as a benefactor for the Palestinian people.

Dahlan had been expected to emerge as a key player from Palestinian elections scheduled for last year but the polls were postponed indefinitely by Abbas in a move that also infuriated Hamas.

The ministry’s head of preventive medicine, Magdy Duhair, warned that Gaza’s health system was under increased strain due to the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus.

While Gaza’s beleaguered medical system has struggled at times during the pandemic, coronavirus transmission has been limited by the tight controls Israel and Egypt enforce on travel in and out of the coastal enclave.

Gaza, which has a population of roughly 2.3 million, has recorded 196,578 COVID-19 cases and 1,744 deaths. So far, 578,000 residents have received two doses of a vaccine.

Read more:

First omicron variant case detected in Gaza, says Palestinian health ministry

Israel’s president to make first-ever state visit to UAE

Egypt pushes for calm after flare-up in Gaza hostilities

Continue Reading

Health

Saudi Arabia records 4,526 COVID-19 cases, three deaths in 24 hours

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on

Saudi Arabia has recorded another minor dip in COVID-19 transmissions with 4,526 cases and three virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In that time, 5,772 recoveries were also recorded.

There have now been 666,259 COVID-19 infections and 8,927 deaths in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the pandemic.

Case numbers have risen sharply in January amid global reports of the omicron variant spreading.

Saudi Arabia detected its first case of the more transmissible variant in early December.

It was thought to have been transmitted by a traveler from an undisclosed north African country.

Daily case numbers reached an all-time high of 5,928 on January 19.

Read more:

Omicron risk remains very high: WHO

Abu Dhabi says vaccinated tourists need no boosters to enter

Saudi Arabia sees slight increase with 4,838 new COVID-19 cases

Continue Reading

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Health

Australia’s reopening plans in doubt after Omicron cases

Published

on

Australia will review its plans to reopen borders to skilled migrants and students from Dec. 1, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, after the country reported its first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant over the weekend.

Two people who arrived in Australia from southern Africa tested positive on Sunday for the newly identified Omicron variant as officials ordered 14-day quarantines for citizens returning from nine African countries and banned entry from those nations for non-citizens.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

Morrison urged people to remain calm, saying data has not yet fully proven the severity, transmissibility and vaccine resistance of the Omicron strain.

“So we just take this one step at a time, get the best information, make calm, sensible decisions,” Morrison told Nine News on Monday, adding “it is a bit too early” to reinstate the two-week mandatory hotel quarantine rule for foreign travelers.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious than previous variants. Experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's largest cities, had begun to allow fully vaccinated citizens entry without quarantine from Nov. 1 after shutting their borders for more than 18 months.

Both cities have tightened their border rules with all international travelers ordered to quarantine for 72 hours. Other states have not opened their borders to foreign travelers yet due to varying vaccination rates.

Morrison said the national security committee will meet later on Monday to assess the government's border reopening relaxations due from Wednesday. A meeting of leaders of all states and territories will be held by Tuesday, he said.

Strict border controls and snap lockdowns have helped Australia to keep its coronavirus numbers far lower than many comparable countries. It has so far recorded about 208,000 cases and 1,994 deaths since the pandemic began.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Read more:

Dutch police arrest couple that fled COVID-19 quarantine

France detects eight possible Omicron cases: Health ministry

WHO says PCR tests detect Omicron, new COVID-19 variant has higher reinfection risk

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Health

Moderna begins testing omicron-matched COVID-19 shots in adults

Published

on

Moderna has begun testing an omicron-specific COVID-19 booster in healthy adults.

The company announced Wednesday that the first participant had received a dose. Earlier this week, competitor Pfizer began a similar study of its own reformulated shots.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

It’s not clear whether global health authorities will order a change to the vaccine recipe in the wake of the hugely contagious omicron variant. The original vaccines still offer good protection against death and severe illness. Studies in the US and elsewhere show a booster dose strengthens that protection and improves the chances of avoiding even a milder infection.

Moderna pointed to a small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that showed antibodies able to target omicron persisted for six months after a booster dose, although the levels were dropping.

Moderna’s new study will enroll about 600 people who already have received either two doses of the company’s original shots or two plus a booster dose. All the volunteers will receive a dose of the experimental omicron-matched version.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Read more:

Moderna CEO says working on omicron-specific vaccine: Interview

Pfizer-BioNTech begin omicron COVID-19 vaccine trial: Statement

Valneva COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes omicron in early lab tests

Continue Reading

Health

Abbas rival Dahlan delivers one mln COVID-19 vaccine doses to Gaza

Published

on

One million doses of coronavirus vaccine arrived in Gaza from the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, the latest donation facilitated by an exiled rival of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Mohammed Dahlan, a Gaza native now based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, was once a top Palestinian Authority official who served as Abbas’s security chief in the territory before its takeover by the Islamist Hamas movement in 2007.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Mahmud Hammad told journalists that the consignment of one million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine marked the largest single shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the Israeli-blockaded territory.

The vaccines were delivered through Gaza’s Rafah crossing with Egypt, the only one not controlled by Israel.

The same route was used for previous shipments organized by Dahlan, who has increasingly sought to position himself as a benefactor for the Palestinian people.

Dahlan had been expected to emerge as a key player from Palestinian elections scheduled for last year but the polls were postponed indefinitely by Abbas in a move that also infuriated Hamas.

The ministry’s head of preventive medicine, Magdy Duhair, warned that Gaza’s health system was under increased strain due to the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus.

While Gaza’s beleaguered medical system has struggled at times during the pandemic, coronavirus transmission has been limited by the tight controls Israel and Egypt enforce on travel in and out of the coastal enclave.

Gaza, which has a population of roughly 2.3 million, has recorded 196,578 COVID-19 cases and 1,744 deaths. So far, 578,000 residents have received two doses of a vaccine.

Read more:

First omicron variant case detected in Gaza, says Palestinian health ministry

Israel’s president to make first-ever state visit to UAE

Egypt pushes for calm after flare-up in Gaza hostilities

Continue Reading

Health

Saudi Arabia records 4,526 COVID-19 cases, three deaths in 24 hours

Published

on

Saudi Arabia has recorded another minor dip in COVID-19 transmissions with 4,526 cases and three virus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In that time, 5,772 recoveries were also recorded.

There have now been 666,259 COVID-19 infections and 8,927 deaths in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the pandemic.

Case numbers have risen sharply in January amid global reports of the omicron variant spreading.

Saudi Arabia detected its first case of the more transmissible variant in early December.

It was thought to have been transmitted by a traveler from an undisclosed north African country.

Daily case numbers reached an all-time high of 5,928 on January 19.

Read more:

Omicron risk remains very high: WHO

Abu Dhabi says vaccinated tourists need no boosters to enter

Saudi Arabia sees slight increase with 4,838 new COVID-19 cases

Continue Reading

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