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Covid live: England reports another record rise in cases; UAE to ban non-vaccinated from travelling abroad | World news

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Incoming New York mayor calls for defiance against Covid















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Mask wearing on public transport in France extended

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England reports record level of new Covid cases

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Summary of key events

Below are the latest news stories on Covid-19 from around the world:

  • The United Arab Emirates will ban unvaccinated citizens from travelling abroad from 10 January, the state news agency WAM reported on Saturday, citing the foreign ministry and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.
  • In the UK the NHS Confederation’s chief executive, Matthew Taylor, agreed with the health secretary that the record-breaking Omicron wave of infection will “test the limits of finite NHS capacity even more than a typical winter”, with reports suggesting that a requirement to work from home in England could be in place for most of January.
  • Leading figures of UK science and medicine during the coronavirus pandemic have been feted in the Queen’s new year honours list, including the chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, who is to receive a knighthood for his role in battling Covid-19.
  • The Omicron coronavirus variant dampened new year festivities around much of the world, with Paris cancelling its fireworks show, London relegating its show to television, and New York City scaling down its famous ball-drop celebration in Times Square.
  • China ended its final week of 2021 with its biggest tally of local coronavirus cases for any seven-day period since subduing the country’s first epidemic nearly two years ago, despite an arsenal of some of the world’s toughest Covid-19 measures.
  • India reported 22,775 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, health ministry data shows, adding to concerns among authorities around the country about the rising number of cases.
  • Restrictions on freedom “must be an absolute last resort” and the UK must “live alongside” coronavirus in 2022, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, has said.

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A health boss has said the “next few days are crucial” in the fight to reduce the impact of the Omicron variant, and that the government “must be ready to introduce new restrictions at pace if they’re needed”.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents health trusts in England, said staff were working “flat out” and that the NHS was under “arguably more pressure” compared with this time last year.

It came after Sajid Javid, the health secretary, warned restrictions on freedom “must be an absolute last resort”. Figures showed that hospital admissions in England have risen to their highest level since January 2021, while the number of NHS hospital staff absent as a result of the the virus nearly doubled in a month.

A further 189,846 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were registered in the UK on Friday, another new daily record, as the British Medical Association called for further public health measures “urgently to prevent the health service being completely overwhelmed”.

Hopson wrote on Twitter: “NHS preparing for worst & hoping for best.

“Staff flat out, esp. given level of staff absences. We will need to ask them to perform flexible heroics again if hospital Covid numbers continue to rise. We can’t keep doing this. Long term NHS capacity issues must be addressed.”

Chris Hopson
(@ChrisCEOHopson)

Another, new, update thread on where the NHS is up to, given fast moving situation. Draws on latest performance and covid data and recent intelligence from trust CEOs. Also looks at staff absences, access to tests and NHS work to create extra surge capacity. Happy New Year! 1/25


January 1, 2022

Hopson said the latest infection data showed a “rapid increase in community infections” that is leading to rising hospital admissions.

He added that if growth rates go back up again after the socialising that will have taken place at Christmas, then hospital trusts will have to “start standing up extra surge capacity late next week”. Hopson said this would put pressure “on less-urgent elective activity”.

Hopson said there were fewer severely unwell elderly people needing intensive care treatment, so the problem was “less one of patient acuity” and more “one of sheer volume of patient numbers” needing general and acute beds.

Chris Hopson
(@ChrisCEOHopson)

SUMMARY. Pressure and trust leader concern mounting as hospitalisations increase. Next few days crucial. London hospitalisation rates could plateau echoing community infection rates as we hit Xmas. Or they could rise on the back of intergenerational Xmas mixing…23/25


January 1, 2022

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Solar storms may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in a given year

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In an approximate 11-year cycle, the sun blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field, which may disrupt our body clock and ultimately affect our heart



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17 June 2022

A solar storm

Jurik Peter/Shutterstock

Solar storms that disrupt Earth’s magnetic field may cause up to 5500 heart-related deaths in the US in a given year.

The sun goes through cycles of high and low activity that repeat approximately every 11 years. During periods of high activity, it blasts out charged particles and magnetised plasma that can distort Earth’s magnetic field.

These so-called solar storms can cause glitches in our power grids and bring down Earth-orbiting satellites. A handful of studies have also hinted that they increase the risk of …

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UK Covid infection rate rising, with more than a million cases in England | Coronavirus

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Coronavirus infections are rising in the UK, figures have revealed, with experts noting the increase is probably down to the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on swabs collected from randomly selected households, reveal that in the week ending 11 June an estimated one in 50 people in the community in England are thought to have had Covid – around 1.13 million people.

The figure is even higher, at one in 45, in both Wales and Northern Ireland, while it was highest in Scotland where, in the week ending 10 June, one in 30 people are thought to have been infected.

While the figures remain below the peak levels of infection seen earlier this year, when around one in 13 people in England had Covid, the findings are a rise on the previous week where one in 70 people in England were thought to be infected. Furthermore, the data reveals increases in all regions of England, except the north-east, and across all age groups.

Experts say that a key factor in the increase is probably the rise of the Covid variants of concern BA.4 and BA.5.

“Infections have increased across all four UK nations, driven by rising numbers of people infected with the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants,” said Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey.

While Steel said it remained too early to say if this was the start of another wave, others have warned it may already have begun, with increased mixing and travelling among other factors fuelling a rise in cases.

Among concerns scientists have raised are that BA.4, BA.5 and another variant on the rise, BA.2.12.1, replicate more efficiently in human lung cells than BA.2.

Prof Azra Ghani, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said the latest figures were not surprising, and might rise further.

“This increase in infection prevalence is likely due to the growth of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which as we have seen elsewhere in Europe, appear to be able to escape immunity generated from previous Omicron subvariants,” she said.

“It is therefore possible that we will continue to see some growth in infection prevalence in the coming weeks and consequently an increase in hospitalisations, although these subvariants do not currently appear to result in any significantly changed severity profile. This does however serve as a reminder that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over.”

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NHS to offer women in England drug that cuts recurrence of breast cancer | Breast cancer

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Thousands of women in England with breast cancer are to benefit from a new pill on the NHS which reduces the risk of the disease coming back.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has given the green light to abemaciclib, which cuts the chance of breast cancer returning after a patient has had surgery to remove a tumour.

Trials showed that patients who had the drug with hormone therapy had a more than 30% improved chance of their cancer not coming back after surgery, compared with hormone therapy alone.

“It’s fantastic thousands of women with this type of primary breast cancer will now have an additional treatment option available on the NHS to help further reduce the risk of the disease coming back,” said Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Now.

“The fear of breast cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body and becoming incurable can cause considerable anxiety for so many women and their loved ones.

“New effective treatments such as abemaciclib, which can offer more women the chance to further reduce the risk of the disease recurring, are therefore extremely welcome and this is an important step change in the drug options available for this group of patients.”

The twice-a-day pill is suitable for women with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-positive early breast cancer at high risk of recurrence who have had surgery. About 4,000 women will benefit initially, Nice said.

Helen Knight, the interim director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said the draft recommendation came less than a month after abemaciclib received its licence.

“The fact that we have been able to produce draft recommendations so quickly is testament to the success of our ambition to support patient access to clinically and cost effective treatments as early as possible,” said Knight. “Until now there have been no targeted treatments for people with this type of breast cancer.

“Abemaciclib with hormone therapy represents a significant improvement in how it is treated because being able to have a targeted treatment earlier after surgery will increase the chance of curing the disease and reduce the likelihood of developing incurable advanced disease.”

Abemaciclib works by targeting and inhibiting proteins in cancer cells which allow the cancer to divide and grow. It normally costs £2,950 for a packet of 56 150mg-tablets, but the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, has agreed an undisclosed discounted price for NHS England.

“Thanks in part to this latest deal struck by NHS England, NHS patients will be able to access another new targeted drug for a common and aggressive form of breast cancer,” said Prof Peter Johnson, the cancer director of NHS England.

“Abemaciclib, when used alongside a hormone therapy, offers a new, doubly targeted, treatment option, helping to increase the chances of beating the cancer for good, as well as meeting the NHS’s commitment to delivering improved cancer care under our long-term plan.”

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