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Covid infections on the rise in England and Northern Ireland | Coronavirus

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The UK may be entering its third wave of coronavirus this year, researchers warn, as official figures show infections are on the rise again in England and Northern Ireland.

The Office for National Statistics said its latest analysis of swabs from households across Britain revealed a mixed picture with a “small increase” in positive tests in England and Northern Ireland, while the trend in Wales and Scotland remained unclear.

The ONS data, which give the most reliable picture of the state of the UK outbreak, suggest that the steady fall in infections over recent months may have gone into reverse as cases are driven up by the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

According to the ONS survey, an estimated 797,500 people in England and 27,700 in Northern Ireland would have tested positive for Covid in the week ending 2 June, up from 784,100 and 24,300 respectively in the week before.

The emergence in November last year of the first Omicron variant, BA.1, sparked waves of Covid around the world. This spring, a second UK wave was fuelled by a more contagious relative known as BA.2. While BA.2 is now in decline, it has two more transmissible descendants, namely BA.4 and BA.5, both of which are on the rise.

Public health officials are particularly concerned about BA.5 which is spreading faster than BA.4 and responsible for fresh spikes in cases in Europe, particularly in Portugal and Germany. At the end of May, BA.5 made up nearly 14% of Covid virus genomes analysed in England, nearly double that for BA.4.

The latest ONS report shows that the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus increased in London, the south-east and the north-wwest, but fell in the east Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber. While infections had been falling in all age groups, rates have now either levelled out or started to rise, with clear increases evident in 35- to 49-year-olds.

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs on the ONS Covid Infection Survey, said: “Today’s data shows a mixed picture for infection rates across the UK, with small increases in England and Northern Ireland, likely driven by increasing trends in Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants.”

Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said Jubilee celebrations might have contributed to the rise, but were only part of the large increase in “mixing, travelling and interactions between large groups” that continue unmitigated in the UK since all protections were dropped earlier this year.

He said a particular concern was the recent rise in Covid hospitalisations. This may be driven solely by a greater number of infections, but mutations in the newest Omicron variants could also play a role.

“It is important to emphasise that we are better placed immunologically to counter much of the potential for severe disease than we were in 2020 or 2021 due to widespread vaccinations,” Griffin said. “As we enter, astonishingly, our third wave of 2022, a complex pattern of immunity exists induced by vaccines, boosters and prior infection.”

The spring booster programme and further shots in the autumn should prevent much of the severe disease seen in earlier waves of Covid, but Griffin said concerns remain about the situation in schools, since less than 10% of under-12s are vaccinated. “Given the lack of protections in schools, this will likely prompt further infections in children and staff, with predictable disruption across the board and further increases in long Covid,” he said.

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China’s failure to vaccinate makes giving up on zero covid a huge risk

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Widespread protests against China’s zero-covid policy have led the country to ease some restrictions, but its failure to vaccinate older people means this could lead to millions of deaths



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| Analysis

1 December 2022

There have been protests against China’s strict covid-19 restrictions in cities including Beijing and Shanghai

JEROME FAVRE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In response to protests in many parts of the country, China is easing some of the draconian measures it imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But the government’s failure to vaccinate the most vulnerable people means that the relaxation of restrictions risks causing a vast number of deaths.

A big wave of infections in the country could lead to between 1.3 million and 2.1 million deaths, according to UK science analytics company Airfinity. …

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How Blacks and Jews can come together again – New York Daily News

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We have just finished an election that underscored sharp division in our country. Among those divisions have been race-based attacks on both Blacks and Jews. We have all received an earful of the controversy concerning the ignorant statements made by Kanye West and the misguided social media post of Kyrie Irving. Both are emblematic of what is wrong with the discourse surrounding Blacks and Jews. Both controversies center around a divisive, distorted and flat-out incorrect characterization of history. We believe our nation will be served by setting the record straight and healing those divisions.

One of us, Markus Green, is Black, the other, Victor Schwartz, is Jewish. We have worked together on challenging civil justice problems for over a decade. We devote most of our professional time toward prevention of unjust liability claims. More important than our professional link is our friendship based on unyielding mutual respect. It cannot be broken.

Our experience in life and our study of history strongly suggests that Blacks and Jews in general should foster such feelings. They have had both adversity and success.

Both Blacks and Jews have suffered the ignominy of slavery. For nearly 400 years, millions of Africans were forcibly placed on slave ships and sent to America. The Bible tells us that the Jews were slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. Each Passover holiday, Jews relive that history and celebrate their liberation. That story was a powerful one for enslaved African-Americans, who sung the spiritual, “Go Down Moses.” Harriet Tubman is said to have used that song to announce her arrival when she helped people escape on the Underground Railroad. Tubman herself is referred to as the “the Moses of her people.”

Blacks and Jews have a shared history of being attacked because they are considered different. For a long time, the United States ignored its founding premise of “Equal Justice for All.” But even after the Civil War ended slavery, for generations, Blacks had essentially no civil rights. Jews can relate to the horrors of post-Civil War Black experience in America. Jews fled other countries to escape death from Nazi concentration camps only to experience continued anti-Semitism in America.

Fortunately, many of these barriers have been overcome. Joint efforts by Blacks and Jews have been part of those accomplishments. Jews were allies with Blacks in the fight for civil rights. Several Jewish people were among the founders of the NAACP and Jewish lawyers helped successfully battle Jim Crow legislation.

Martin Luther King Jr. recognized the mutual interest of Blacks and Jews.

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“My people were brought to America in chains,” King said in a 1958 speech to the American Jewish Congress. “Your people were driven here to escape the chains fashioned for them in Europe. Our unity is born of our common struggle for centuries, not only to rid ourselves of bondage, but to make oppression of any people by others an impossibility.”

In 1965, the Civil Rights Act outlawed many forms of discrimination in public places and in employment, but racism and anti-Semitism persist. Both Blacks and Jews understand that prohibiting blatant discrimination is only a partial victory. Today, racism toward Blacks and Jews takes place in many more subtle ways.

Blacks and Jews have seen so-called spokespersons utter remarks against each group. But such folks are a minority in a minority. Without a doubt, both of us as lawyers know that legal battles won for Blacks have helped Jews, and legal battles won for Jews have helped Blacks.

Finally, and often overlooked, is the fact that Black and Jewish culture can be a bond between the two groups — one that includes humor, emotion and love of family.

So at a time where many are planting and growing seeds of division, we ask that Black and Jewish leaders, and ordinary men and women in each group, build a united wall of mutual respect. After all, racism and anti-Semitism racism are two ugly cousins. Anti-Semitism is racism and racism is anti-Semitism. Jews and Blacks must be united against hate and bigotry.

Jews and Blacks have far more in common than we will ever have differences. Both have suffered and survived monumental atrocities and the aftershock is still being felt. We both understand survival and perseverance. But most of all, we both understand the power of love in the face of hate. We are one people. Unity, not divisiveness, is our path forward.

Green is vice president and assistant general counsel at Pfizer. Schwartz is a former law professor and law school dean, and current co-chair of the public policy group of the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P.

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I have taken a ‘vow of silence’ around my husband – Chicago Tribune

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Dear Amy: I have a marriage question.

I have taken a sort of “vow of silence” around my husband of 40 years.

I am not giving him “the silent treatment.” I respond to questions, provide the occasional benign observation, and try to make statements of support.

He finds a way to contradict virtually anything I say.

I could observe trees swaying gently in the wind, say, “It seems breezy today,” and he would reply, “No, it isn’t. The wind velocity must be such and such degrees for it to be breezy.”

I would like to be able to communicate openly about that issue and other issues in our marriage. I’d like to be able to discuss my hopes and dreams.

I’d like to be able to share silly, fun thoughts and creative ideas.

But if I say almost anything, he replies “No, it isn’t…” or, “No, you don’t…” or “That’s not the right way to look at it.”

So, if I brought up my feeling that my husband often contradicts me, he most certainly would reply “No, I don’t!”

I feel that I live in a world of “NOs.”

It would be self-sabotage to leave the marriage after 40 years.

How can I encourage the same care and security internally?

I would like to break my vow of silence, feeling secure that I won’t immediately be contradicted, but I’m at a loss for how to do that.

– Wife With No Words Left

Dear No Words: If your husband’s contradictory reactions are confined mainly to his interactions with you, then it would seem that his entrenched negativity is expressing hostility toward you.

If he tends to be “Mr. No” with everyone, then I’d say his hostility is directed toward himself. He seems quite unhappy.

Avoidance is a natural response to being continuously shut down, and so actually – you are giving him the “silent treatment,” but it is important for you to recognize that you do have a voice and have a right to use it.

I hope you will try to start a conversation about the effect this is having on you. If you use “I” statements, such as, “I feel sad when you respond to me with such negativity,” he can shoot back, “No, you don’t” – which will bring the whole process into the realm of the absurd, and might catch his attention.

There are many books and resources offering ways to communicate better. Therapy could help you two to make great strides. One book you might read is, “Dealing with the Elephant in the Room: Moving from Tough Conversations to Healthy Communication,” by Mike Bechtle (2017, Revell).

Dear Amy: Since my husband retired, he has stopped taking daily showers.

In fact, if he showers once a week, I am lucky.

He walks five miles every day for exercise and perspires a great deal, but he doesn’t change his shirt.

I have tried humor: “Gee, honey, you’re kind of fragrant.”

I’ve also reassured him that washing many shirts is no problem. I have requested directly that he change his shirt, and even handed him a clean shirt.

We live in an open-plan condo, and I’ve taken to burning candles and incense to improve the air.

Can you think of something more effective?

– Distressed Wife

Dear Distressed: Don’t you wonder why your husband has stopped showering? Have you asked him? Ignoring hygiene is sometimes a sign of depression, but he sounds like someone who is trying hard to take good care of himself.

So why is he neglecting his hygiene – a vital component of his own self-care?

When your body and clothing stink so much that your partner is burning incense to try to mitigate the stench, it starts to smell like a deliberate and hostile gesture.

You’ve been responding to your husband as if he is an unpredictable bull, waving clean shirts in his direction. Ole!

Stop hinting around. You have the right to cohabit with someone who demonstrates the willingness to bathe – for your sake, if not for his own.

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You might tell him, “Honey, I’m not merely asking you to shower. I’m telling you that it’s a requirement for us to live together.”

Dear Amy: Thank you for running the letter from “A,” who described her challenges after meeting and getting to know her birth family (she had been adopted).

I’m adopted, too, and this dream of meeting my perfect biological family persisted for me – until I met them.

– Grateful for Adoption

Dear Grateful: Dreams sometimes need to be dashed before they can be fulfilled.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson.

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