Covid briefing: 5 things to know as rugby fans celebrate news from Ireland

Here are the coronavirus headlines for Saturday, January 22, as Welsh rugby fans welcome the news that Ireland has lifted most of its coronavirus restrictions.

The far-reaching relaxations announced by the government on Friday evening came into effect on Saturday at 6 a.m.

The move, which is great news for Welsh rugby fans heading to Dublin for the opening of the Six Nations match on February 5, will mean an 8pm curfew in the hospitality industry, with pubs and restaurants opening free of trade restrictions. to trade.

Read more: ‘Pray for me to wake up from this and come home to my kids’: Latest message from mom whose five kids never got a chance to say goodbye

Covid certification passes are no longer required to access hospitality, entertainment and leisure stores.

Live events and sporting events can return to full audience capacity and the advisory restrictions on home visits have been removed. Read Mark Drakeford’s advice for Six Nations fans here.

Read more about coronavirus cases in your area:

Workers across Ireland will return to their offices in a staggered manner from Monday.

Only a small number of restrictions remain in place, including the continued obligation to wear masks in environments such as shops, schools and on public transport; self-isolation rules; and the use of Covid passes for international travel.

In a televised address on Friday, Prime Minister Michael Martin told the nation it was “time to be ourselves again”.

The easing has come faster than many expected.

They were made possible after health experts from Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) told the government there was no longer any public health reason to enforce the measures, as the country had weathered the Omicron storm.

In primary and secondary education, protective measures will in any case remain in force until the end of February. At that time they will be assessed. By this time, all children aged five to 11 have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Taoiseach, Mr Martin warned that the coronavirus pandemic was not over yet.

But he added: “Spring is coming. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked forward to it as much as this one.

“People are social creatures and we Irish are more sociable than most. If we look forward to this spring, we need to see each other again. We need to see each other smile. We need to sing again. As we navigate this new phase of Covid, it is time to be ourselves again.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed that Wales was on track to return to Alert Level Zero Covid restrictions by January 28. Read more about what he had to say here.

Read more:All the latest corona news here.

Passengers on first flight to Covid-free island infected with virus

After remaining Covid-free throughout the pandemic, two-thirds of passengers on the first international flight to the island of Kiribati in 10 months tested positive for the coronavirus.

Officials now plan to impose a four-day lockdown from Monday after the virus was found to have spread in the community.

All 54 passengers, 36 of whom were diagnosed with Covid after arriving from Fiji last Friday, have now been quarantined and are recovering well, authorities said.

But after a guard at the quarantine center also tested positive on Tuesday, the island nation introduced a two-week curfew and other public health measures, such as requiring masks to be worn, social distancing and vaccine passes for travel outside the capital Tarawa.

The guard and two of his close contacts were also quarantined while his home village was placed under a two-week lockdown.

Two more positive cases were discovered in the community on Thursday, prompting the government to announce a full lockdown would begin on Monday, with schools closed and people allowed to leave their homes only for essential services.

The news of the Covid positive arrivals and the guard caused panic among locals, especially as it was leaked to the public rather than officially announced.

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Senior Tory MP to meet with police to discuss No10 ‘blackmail’ claims

The senior Tory backseat who accused No. 10 of “blackmailing” MPs seeking to impeach Boris Johnson is to meet with police to discuss his allegations.

William Wragg said he would meet with a Scotland Yard detective in the House of Commons early next week to raise the prospect of police opening an investigation.

The revelation came after Downing Street said it would not launch its own investigation into the allegations, despite calls to do so from both Conservative and opposition MPs.

A spokesman for No. 10 said it would only open an investigation if it were given evidence to substantiate Mr Wragg’s claims.

However, the MP, who chairs the committee on public administration and constitutional affairs, said he believed an investigation should be for the “experts” of the police.

He told The Daily Telegraph that he would outline “several” examples of bullying and harassment, in some cases involving public money.

“I stand by what I said. No amount of gas lighting will change that,” he told the newspaper.

“Number 10’s offer to investigate is nice, but I’ll leave it to the experts. I have an appointment with the police early next week.”

Former Tory MP Jerry Hayes backed Mr Wragg and said the allegations should be investigated.

Mr Hayes told the BBC: “We have William Wragg who is actually a serious figure, he’s not a snowflake, he’s not someone to be bullied easily. Something happened and he went all the way to the Metropolitan Police. I I just hope we have an investigation. If he’s gone to the Metropolitan Police, there must be something there or his career will be ruined, won’t he?”

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “As with such allegations, it would be considered if a criminal offense is reported to the Met.”

Mr Wragg’s latest intervention comes as No. 10 braces itself for the expected delivery next week of the report from Sue Gray, the senior official investigating lockdown celebrations in Downing St and elsewhere in Whitehall.

It is likely to lead to renewed calls from opposition parties for a police investigation if there is any evidence that Covid rules have been broken – including over a drinks reception in May 2020 attended by Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson is expected to spend the weekend at Checkers, his official country retreat, where he will call potential rebels to urge them not to use the dagger.

The Times reported that the prime minister had reassembled the ministerial team that helped him build his successful leadership opportunity in 2019 as he sought to bolster support.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is reportedly playing a key role in the operation, along with three former whips and other loyalists.

Studies show the importance of the booster against Omicron

Three released studies have provided more evidence that Covid-19 vaccines are resistant to the Omicron variant, at least in people who have received booster shots.

They are the first major US trials of vaccine protection against Omicron, health officials said.

The papers tie in with previous research – including studies in Germany, South Africa and the UK – indicating that available vaccines are less effective against Omicron than previous versions of the coronavirus, but also that boosters significantly improve protection.

The first study looked at hospital admissions and visits to emergency rooms and emergency care centers in 10 states, from August to this month.

It found that vaccine efficacy was best after three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in preventing Covid-associated emergency rooms and emergency care visits.

Protection decreased from 94% during the Delta wave to 82% during the Omicron wave. Protection against only two doses was lower, especially if six months had passed since the second dose.

The second study focused on Covid-19 cases and death rates in 25 states from early April through Christmas. People who received a boost had the highest protection against coronavirus infection, both during the time Delta was dominant and when Omicron took over.

Those two articles were published online by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published the third study, also led by CDC researchers. It looked at people who tested positive for Covid-19 at more than 4,600 test sites across the US from December 10 to January 1.

Three injections of the vaccines were approximately 67% effective against Omicron-related symptomatic disease compared to unvaccinated humans. However, two doses did not provide significant protection against Omicron, the researchers found.

“It really shows the importance of getting a booster dose,” said Emma Accorsi of the CDC, one of the authors of the study.

Russia blames Omicron as infections hit all-time high

Daily new coronavirus infections in Russia have reached an all-time high.

Authorities blame the emergence for the highly contagious Omicron variant, which they expect will soon dominate the country’s outbreak.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova noted the “intensive spread of the Omicron variant” and said authorities “expect it to become the dominant” variant causing the outbreak.

The state’s coronavirus task force, headed by Ms. Golikova, reported 49,513 new infections on Friday — the highest so far in the pandemic.

Record numbers of 15,987 new cases and 5,922 cases, respectively, were reported in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city. In light of the rise, health officials in St. Petersburg have limited elective outpatient care.

Ms Golikova urged Russians who have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus more than six months ago to “go back to a vaccination point to protect yourself from the virus” with a booster.

Also on Friday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered cabinet members to hold online meetings and allow their staff to work remotely “where possible”.

About half of Russia’s 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, despite Russia being one of the first in the world to approve and roll out a Covid-19 vaccine.

In Russia, since July everyone who received their basic vaccination more than six months ago has been eligible for a booster vaccination.

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