Melbourne welcomes first international flight in five months
In Australia, the city of Melbourne has welcomed its first international passenger flight in five months, an arrival that will test the state of Victoria’s revamped hotel quarantine system.
Australia has since March closed its borders to non-citizens, but airports serving Victoria’s capital stopped accepting any arrivals in late June after an outbreak of Covid-19 that began at two hotels where arrivals were quarantining.
More than 20,000 infections were recorded in Victoria when hotel staff contracted the virus from people returning from overseas. The outbreak was chiefly blamed on failures of private contractors to follow protocols.
Under the new quarantine system, arrivals will no longer be allowed to leave their hotel rooms. The system is similar to the model used in Sydney, which has accommodated thousands of people returning without any clusters emerging.
More on the lockdown in California now, from AP:
In California, the first place in the US to enact a statewide lockdown last spring, new stay-at-home orders were set to take effect Sunday night in Southern California, much of the San Francisco Bay area and other areas.
The new rules in the state of 40 million people prohibit residents from gathering with those outside their household. Retailers including supermarkets and shopping centers can operate with just 20% capacity, while restaurant dining, hair salons, movie theaters, museums and playgrounds must shut down.
Hospitals in California are seeing space in intensive care units dwindle amid a surge in infections. California health authorities imposed the order after ICU capacity fell below a 15% threshold in some regions.
Some law enforcement officials, though, said they don’t plan to enforce the rules, and some business owners are warning that they could go under after a year of on-and-off closings and other restrictions.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said he hopes the new lockdown order is the last one he has to issue, declaring the vaccine offers “light at the end of the tunnel.
Here is the full story on Biden’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary:
Biden picks California Attorney General Becerra to lead pandemic response
President-elect Joe Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response, AP reports.
If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1-trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.
As California’s attorney general, Becerra has led the coalition of Democratic states defending “Obamacare” from the Trump administration’s latest effort to overturn it, a legal case awaiting a Supreme Court decision next year.
A former senior House Democrat, Becerra played a role in steering the Obama health law through Congress in 2009 and 2010. At the time he would tell reporters that one of the primary motivations for him was having tens of thousands of uninsured people in his Southern California district.
Overseeing the coronavirus response will be the most complicated task Becerra has ever contemplated. By next year, the US will be engaged in a mass vaccination campaign, the groundwork for which has been laid under the Trump administration.
Crowded scenes on the first weekend of Christmas shopping after the easing of lockdown in England have prompted fears about a lack of social distancing and the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Despite overall footfall being down on the same period last year, images emerged on Sunday of busy high streets with shoppers standing close together, and a Christmas market in Nottingham had to be shut for good within 24 hours of opening. In addition four people were arrested as a crowd tried enter Harrods in the West End in London:
Doctors are stepping up a legal effort to force a public inquiry into Covid-19 deaths among NHS staff and care workers because of a lack of personal protective equipment.
Doctors Association UK (DAUK), a union that represents frontline medics, has escalated its threat of judicial review against the government.
At least 126 health and care workers died of Covid between April and October in cases where their employers believe they had contracted the virus as a result of their work, official reports to the Health and Safety Executive show.
One of the first was Dr Peter Tun, who died on 13 April. He had warned Royal Berkshire hospital three weeks before his death that unless it supplied the vital kit he and his colleagues needed to avoid infection “it will be too little and too late”:
Giuliani in hospital – reports
Multiple news outlets are reporting that Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to Donald Trump, has been admitted to hospital following the announcement by Trump on Twitter that Giuliani had tested positive for coronavirus.
CNN, the New York Times and the ABC, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, report that Giuliani has been admitted to Georgetown University Hospital. The Guardian has not been able to verify this independently.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coronavirus news with me, Helen Sullivan.
I’ll be bringing you the latest updates for the next few hours. As always, you can get in touch with me on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has been admitted Georgetown University Hospital with coronavirus, according to CNN, which cited a source familiar with the situation – though the Guardian has not been able to confirm this. Late on Sunday, Trump tweeted that Giuliani had the virus, though it is unclear what his condition is.
Meanwhile more than 23 million people in Southern California were preparing on Sunday for the harshest lockdowns in the United States as Covid-19 cases spiked to record levels in the country’s most populous state.
The restrictions in California, ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom to take effect on a region-by-region basis as hospital intensive care unit beds are filled almost to capacity, call for bars, hair and nail salons and tattoo shops to close again.
As of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, the affected regions were also required to shut down even outdoor restaurant dining.
Here are the other key developments from the last few hours:
- Tunisia has extended a night-time curfew until the end of the year in a bid to tackle rising coronavirus cases, amid growing discontent and anti-government protests in the North African country.
- France has recorded 11,022 new coronavirus infections and 174 deaths over the last 24 hours. The figures compare to 9,784 cases and 198 fatalities announced last Sunday.
- Pfizer Inc has applied for emergency use authorisation of its coronavirus vaccine in India, a top government health adviser has said, the first company to do so in the country with the world’s second-highest number of infections.
- Turkey recorded 30,402 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, the health ministry has announced. The Covid-19 death toll rose by 195 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 14,900, the ministry data also showed.
- The South African government has urged school students who attended a series of end-of-year “Rage” parties to quarantine for 10 days after identifying four such parties as coronavirus “super-spreader events”.
- There have been a further 17,272 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, according to government data. This compares to 12,155 cases registered last Sunday.
- Italy has reported 18,887 new coronavirus cases, compared with 20,646 last Sunday. A total of 1.728 million cases have been registered to date.
- Indonesia has received its first shipment of vaccine from China, its president, Joko Widodo, has said, as the government prepares a mass inoculation programme.
- Bavaria, which has so far recorded the Germany’s highest death toll, has announced it will impose a tougher lockdown from Wednesday until 5 January.