germany-to-begin-rollout-of-novavax’s-jab;-new-zealand-to-end-vaccine-mandates-after-omicron-peak

Germany to begin roll-out of Novavax’s Covid-19 jab this week

Our Berlin bureau chief, Philip Oltermann, reports on the rollout of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine in Germany:

Germany will offer its population a new protein-based Covid-19 vaccine comparable to conventional flu jabs this week, in the hope of swaying a sizeable minority that remains sceptical of the novel mRNA technology used in the most commonly used vaccines.

About 1.4m doses of the Nuvaxovid vaccine developed by the US biotech company Novavax are to arrive in Germany this week, the country’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, confirmed last Friday. A further 1m doses are to arrive the week after, with the German government’s total order for the year 2022 amounting to 34m doses.

Novavax’s product has until now only been used in Indonesia and the Philippines, but was permitted for use in the EU last December. It is still awaiting authorisation in the US, as some concerns about the company’s production capacity persist.

Unlike the novel mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna or viral vector made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, Nuvaxovid is a protein subunit vaccine. It contains a non-infectious component on the surface of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which induces a protective immune response when the body’s immune cells come into contact with it.

Novavax announced last Junethat its vaccine had proven more than 90% effective against symptomatic infections with the Alpha variant, in trials including nearly 30,000 volunteers in the US and Mexico.

The company says its product is similarly effective against the Delta and Omicron variants, especially after a booster shot administered six months after the second jab. Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute notes that the data proving the vaccine’s efficacy against more infectious variants remains limited.

Surveys in Germany suggest a considerable interest in the Novavax jab among the 19.8 million people in the country who have so far declined to take a jab against Covid-19. Out of 4,000 unvaccinated hospital workers surveyed in Berlin, 1,800 expressed an interest in the protein-based vaccine.

In the northern states of Lower Saxony, the health ministry said 6,000 people had put their name on a waiting list for Nuvaxovid by early February.

Some scientists question whether the new vaccine will prove a game changer in a country whose overall vaccination rate has been flatlining around 75% for months. Lars Korn, co-author of a current survey of anti-vaxxer attitudes conducted by the University of Erfurt, told public broadcaster ZDF that two-thirds of respondents would continue to completely reject any form of vaccination.

People walk on a pedestrian shopping street in the city centre of Cologne, Germany.
People walk on a pedestrian shopping street in the city centre of Cologne, Germany. Photograph: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

Mexico reported 98 deaths from Covid-19 and 4,832 new infections, the health ministry said.

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This brings the overall death toll to 315,786 and the number of cases to 5,418,257.

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More reactions to the lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions in England, as reported by PA Media.

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Charities have warned the ending of mandatory coronavirus rules will cause “huge anxiety” to immunocompromised and disabled people, leaving them feeling “abandoned” and “forgotten”.

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The scrapping of free universal testing has been described as “not only reckless but dangerous”, with one charity saying that vulnerable people may be forced back into isolation.

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People who test positive for coronavirus will no longer be legally required to isolate from Thursday, and free universal testing will be massively scaled back from 1 April.

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Phillip Anderson, head of policy at the MS Society said:

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Throughout the pandemic, universal free testing has been a crucial tool, helping many vulnerable people to continue living normal lives by providing reassurance that those they are meeting do not have Covid.

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Taking this away is not only reckless but dangerous, and instead of ‘restoring freedom’ may force vulnerable people back into isolation, with no support from the government whatsoever.

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If we are to truly move forward and live with Covid, the government must ensure that friends and family of vulnerable people can get free tests, and they must improve access to antiviral treatments for those at risk.

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Helen Rowntree, director of research, services and engagement for Blood Cancer UK, said:

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The Government is lifting restrictions without a plan to protect immunocompromised people, for whom the vaccines are proving less effective.

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The prime minister may want the country to get its confidence back, but this will cause huge anxiety among immunocompromised people and leave many of them feeling abandoned.

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This will lead to people finding it more difficult to live their daily lives and, sadly, some people dying from Covid.

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James Taylor, director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said:

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Disabled people having to rely on the personal choices of others and having no control over their own freedom and safety isn’t ‘living with Covid’, it’s living with fear.

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The prime minister claims that we are moving towards protecting ourselves without losing our liberties, but what he fails to consider are the liberties of disabled people, Many will be feeling forgotten by this announcement.

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Ending self-isolation and phasing out testing will leave some disabled people ‘rolling the dice’ every time they leave the house, go to work or meet friends.

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Even going to the supermarket could be a life-threatening situation.

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Free tests have meant that anyone can access them whenever they need to, allowing people to test before visiting disabled relatives in care homes or carers to test before working with disabled adults and children.

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Putting a cost on Covid tests will create a barrier for some people, especially those struggling with their finances during a cost of living crisis.

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Lynda Thomas, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

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It is promising to see that extra Covid-19 jabs will be offered to people who are immunosuppressed, including many people living with cancer.

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But it’s implausible that two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the Government is still making significant changes to guidance and plans which affect half a million people, without consulting with them or the organisations which represent them.

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It is critical that the Government urgently identifies who will be included in the at-risk groups and who will be eligible for free testing to enable them to quickly access the antibody treatments they need. It is unfair and unacceptable to make these people wait.

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Iran has returned 820,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines donated by Poland because they were manufactured in the United States, state TV has reported.

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Mohammad Hashemi, an official in the country’s Health Ministry, was quoted as saying that Poland donated about a million doses of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine to Iran.

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However, he added that when the vaccines arrived in Iran:

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…we found out that 820,000 doses of them which were imported from Poland were from the United States.

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The Associated Press reports that Hashemi said:

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…after coordination with the Polish ambassador to Iran, it was decided that the vaccines would be returned.

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In 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has the final say on all state matters, rejected any possibility of American or British vaccines entering the country, calling them “forbidden.”

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Iran now only imports Western vaccines that are not produced in the US or Britain.

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This reported rejection of the vaccines comes as Iran struggles with its sixth wave of coronavirus infections as authorities say the aggressive Omicron variant is now dominant in the country.

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According to official figures, Iran has had more than 135,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the highest national death toll in the Middle East.

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It says it has vaccinated around 90% of its population above age 18 with two shots, although only 37% of that group has had a third shot.

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The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has said emergency powers are still needed despite the progress police made in bringing an end to weeks-long protests by truckers and others angry over Canada’s Covid-19 restrictions.

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Lawmakers in parliament will vote on Monday night whether to allow police to continue to use emergency powers.

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Trudeau said there were some truckers just outside Ottawa that may be planning further blockades.

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His public safety minister noted there was an effort to block a border crossing in British Columbia on the weekend, the Associated Press reports.

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Trudeau said:

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n

The situation is still fragile, the state of emergency is still there.

n

Even though the blockades are lifted across border openings right now, even though things seem to be resolving very well in Ottawa, this state of emergency is not over.

n

There continues to be real concerns about the coming days.

n

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The prime minister said he was confident lawmakers would vote to continue to allow police to use the emergencies act, which allows authorities to declare certain areas as no go zones following the protests by the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’.

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It also allows police to freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts and compels tow truck companies to tow away vehicles.

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Italy has reported 201 Covid-19 daily deaths compared with 141 on Sunday, the health ministry has said.

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A further 24,408 cases were recorded compared with 42,081 on Sunday.

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Free Covid testing will end for the general public in England from 1 April and positive cases will no longer legally have to isolate from this Thursday, Boris Johnson has announced.

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Unveiling his “living with Covid” strategy, the prime minister told the House of Commons it was time for the pandemic response to be wound down.

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The strategy will end the availability of free PCR and lateral flow tests for the vast majority of people, apart from some symptomatic vulnerable and very elderly people.

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For more live updates from the UK, head over to our politics blog.

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The UK recorded 38,409 new Covid cases and 15 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test on Monday, government data showed.

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That is compared to 25,696 cases and 74 deaths reported on Sunday.

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Hello! I’m Léonie Chao-Fong with you on the live blog today. Thanks for following along for all the latest coronavirus developments. If you’ve just joined us, here is a quick snapshot of all the most recent news stories.

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  • Over-75s and people with suppressed immune systems in the UK are to be offered another Covid-19 booster vaccination in the coming weeks to increase potentially waning protection, after advice from the government’s vaccines watchdog.
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  • Germany expects vaccinations with Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine to begin across the country over the course of this week, the health ministry said. The government hopes the new protein-based Nuvaxovid will help sway a sizeable minority that remains sceptical of the novel mRNA technology used in the most commonly used vaccines.
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  • Britons can now only order a free box of lateral flow Covid-19 tests every 72 hours, according to the government’s website. It comes ahead of Boris Johnson’s announcement later today that all remaining Covid restrictions in England will be lifted this week as he unveils the government’s long-term strategy for living with the virus.
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  • South Africa’s health department says it is changing Covid vaccination rules to try to increase uptake, as inoculations have slowed and the country has ample vaccine stocks.
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  • International tourists and business travellers began arriving in Australia with few restrictions today. Australia closed its borders to tourists in March 2020 in an effort to reduce the local spread of Covid, but on Monday removed its final travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers.
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  • New Zealand will lift Covid vaccine mandates and social distancing measures after the Omicron peak has passed, its prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said on Monday.
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  • Nurseries in England continue to be severely affected by the pandemic, with latest official data showing record numbers of early years and childcare settings reporting Covid cases at the end of last month.
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  • Jordan’s prime minister, Bisher al-Khasawneh, has tested positive for Covid-19 during an official visit to Egypt, state news agency Petra news agency reports. All other official meetings have been cancelled, Jordan’s information minister said, including a scheduled meeting with Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
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Over-75s and people with suppressed immune systems in the UK are to be offered another Covid-19 booster vaccination in the coming weeks to increase potentially waning protection, after advice from the government’s vaccines watchdog.

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The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has formally advised a rollout of an additional booster this spring for groups of people seen as most vulnerable to severe coronavirus.

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The recommendation is that additional boosters should be offered to people aged 75 or over, and residents in older people’s care homes, and anyone aged 12 or above who is immunosuppressed.

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The announcement came just before Boris Johnson’s formal unveiling of plans to end all domestic coronavirus restrictions across England including mandatory self-isolation.

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A decision on the precise plan was delayed at the last minute amid tensions between the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the health secretary, Sajid Javid, over funds for free Covid-19 testing.

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Groups seen as being at the greatest risk of severe coronavirus are also likely to be offered a further booster jab this autumn, before an expected rise in infections over winter, the JCVI added.

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Our Berlin bureau chief, Philip Oltermann, reports on the rollout of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine in Germany:

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Germany will offer its population a new protein-based Covid-19 vaccine comparable to conventional flu jabs this week, in the hope of swaying a sizeable minority that remains sceptical of the novel mRNA technology used in the most commonly used vaccines.

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About 1.4m doses of the Nuvaxovid vaccine developed by the US biotech company Novavax are to arrive in Germany this week, the country’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, confirmed last Friday. A further 1m doses are to arrive the week after, with the German government’s total order for the year 2022 amounting to 34m doses.

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Novavax’s product has until now only been used in Indonesia and the Philippines, but was permitted for use in the EU last December. It is still awaiting authorisation in the US, as some concerns about the company’s production capacity persist.

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Unlike the novel mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna or viral vector made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, Nuvaxovid is a protein subunit vaccine. It contains a non-infectious component on the surface of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which induces a protective immune response when the body’s immune cells come into contact with it.

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Novavax announced last Junethat its vaccine had proven more than 90% effective against symptomatic infections with the Alpha variant, in trials including nearly 30,000 volunteers in the US and Mexico.

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The company says its product is similarly effective against the Delta and Omicron variants, especially after a booster shot administered six months after the second jab. Germany’s Paul Ehrlich Institute notes that the data proving the vaccine’s efficacy against more infectious variants remains limited.

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Surveys in Germany suggest a considerable interest in the Novavax jab among the 19.8 million people in the country who have so far declined to take a jab against Covid-19. Out of 4,000 unvaccinated hospital workers surveyed in Berlin, 1,800 expressed an interest in the protein-based vaccine.

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In the northern states of Lower Saxony, the health ministry said 6,000 people had put their name on a waiting list for Nuvaxovid by early February.

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Some scientists question whether the new vaccine will prove a game changer in a country whose overall vaccination rate has been flatlining around 75% for months. Lars Korn, co-author of a current survey of anti-vaxxer attitudes conducted by the University of Erfurt, told public broadcaster ZDF that two-thirds of respondents would continue to completely reject any form of vaccination.

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to begin roll-out of Novavax’s Covid-19 jab this week”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 22 Feb 2022 00.07 GMT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Mon 21 Feb 2022 07.18 GMT”},{“id”:”62136c218f08e922113e1547″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Here is a round-up of the day’s top Covid news stories so far:

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    n

  • South Africa’s health department says it is changing Covid vaccination rules to try to increase uptake, as inoculations have slowed and the country has ample vaccine stocks.
  • n

  • Hong Kong confirmed on Monday that its vaccine bubble will be expanded to include shopping malls and supermarkets, but said exemptions and random inspections would happen at some sites.
  • n

  • International tourists and business travellers began arriving in Australia with few restrictions today.Australia closed its borders to tourists in March 2020 in a bid to reduce the local spread of Covid, but on Monday removed its final travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers.
  • n

  • New Zealand will lift Covid vaccine mandates and social distancing measures after the Omicron peak has passed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
  • n

  • In the UK, anti-vaxxers will be banned from “harmful and disruptive” protests outside schools and vaccination clinics after Priti Patel accepted an amendment to a bill due to be debated in parliament this week.
  • n

  • Boris Johnson will proclaim that the lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions in England this week marks a “moment of pride” when he unveils the government’s long-term strategy for living with the virus, despite concerns from scientists, health experts and Labour that the move is premature.
  • n

  • Companies will have to pay for testing and decide policies on self-isolation for staff, a business minister has said in advance of Boris Johnson’s formal announcement that all remaining domestic Covid restrictions in England will end.
  • n

  • A vast majority of Japanese people think the rollout of booster shots against Covid is too slow and give mixed reviews to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s handling of the pandemic, polls show.
  • n

“,”elementId”:”051d6625-afd9-4e99-9189-afa185c338b6″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose. I’ll be back tomorrow but, for now, I’m handing over to my colleague, Léonie Chao-Fong, who will be along shortly to continue bringing you all the latest coronavirus news from around the world.

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International tourists and business travellers began arriving in Australia with few restrictions today.

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Australia closed its borders to tourists in March 2020 in a bid to reduce the local spread of Covid, but on Monday removed its final travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers.

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Tearful British tourist Sue Witton hugged her adult son Simon Witton when he greeted her at Melbourne’s airport, the Associated Press reported.

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“Seven hundred and twenty-four (days) apart and he’s my only son, and I’m alone, so this means the world to me,” she told reporters.

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Travellers were greeted at Sydney’s airport by jubilant well-wishers waving toy koalas and favourite Australian foods including Tim Tams chocolate cookies and jars of Vegemite spread.

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Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan was on hand to welcome the first arrivals on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles which landed at 6.20am local time.

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“I think there’ll be a very strong rebound in our tourism market. Our wonderful experiences haven’t gone away,” Tehan said.

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Danielle Vogl, who lives in Canberra, and her Florida-based partner Eric Lochner have been separated since October 2019 by the travel restrictions.

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She said she burst into tears when she heard about the lifting of the restrictions, which will allow them to reunite in April.

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“I actually woke him up to tell him, because I thought it was big enough news to do that,” Vogl told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

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“He couldn’t believe it. He was like ‘Are you sure, is this true?’ and I’m like ‘Yes, it’s happening. This is over now; we can be together again’,” she added.

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Lochner was not eligible for an exemption from the travel ban because the couple weren’t married or living together.

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“It’s been a very long and very cruel process for us,” Vogl said.

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Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said she expected tourist numbers would take two years to rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

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“This is a really great start,” Harrison said. “This is what the industry had been asking us for, you know, just give us our international guests back and we will take it from there.”

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Boris Johnson will proclaim that the lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions in England this week marks a “moment of pride” when he unveils the government’s long-term strategy for living with the virus, despite concerns from scientists, health experts and Labour that the move is premature.

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The legal requirement for anyone with Covid to isolate will be ditched a month earlier than planned, while free PCR and lateral flow tests for everyone will be axed to rein in public spending and attempt to restore people’s confidence that life can return to normality. The tests will reportedly be kept for the over-80s.

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The national contact tracing service is expected to be wound down and schoolchildren will no longer be told to get tested twice a week.

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Fresh guidance is expected to be issued, similar to that already published about seasonal flu, designed to let individuals make their own judgments about the risk of catching or transmitting Covid.

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Following meetings over the weekend the cabinet will be assembled to rubber stamp the plans on Monday before a Commons statement by the prime minister and a press conference in the evening, likely to feature the government’s two leading pandemic advisers, Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

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The changes will be announced on Monday and start to come into effect from later in the week.

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Key events:

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We are bringing today’s blog to a close now. Here is a summary of developments:

Mexico reports 98 Covid deaths and 4,832 new cases

Mexico reported 98 deaths from Covid-19 and 4,832 new infections, the health ministry said.

This brings the overall death toll to 315,786 and the number of cases to 5,418,257.

Charities warn of ‘huge anxiety’ over lifting of Covid restrictions in England

More reactions to the lifting of all remaining Covid restrictions in England, as reported by PA Media.

Charities have warned the ending of mandatory coronavirus rules will cause “huge anxiety” to immunocompromised and disabled people, leaving them feeling “abandoned” and “forgotten”.

The scrapping of free universal testing has been described as “not only reckless but dangerous”, with one charity saying that vulnerable people may be forced back into isolation.

People who test positive for coronavirus will no longer be legally required to isolate from Thursday, and free universal testing will be massively scaled back from 1 April.

Phillip Anderson, head of policy at the MS Society said:

Throughout the pandemic, universal free testing has been a crucial tool, helping many vulnerable people to continue living normal lives by providing reassurance that those they are meeting do not have Covid.

Taking this away is not only reckless but dangerous, and instead of ‘restoring freedom’ may force vulnerable people back into isolation, with no support from the government whatsoever.

If we are to truly move forward and live with Covid, the government must ensure that friends and family of vulnerable people can get free tests, and they must improve access to antiviral treatments for those at risk.

Helen Rowntree, director of research, services and engagement for Blood Cancer UK, said:

The Government is lifting restrictions without a plan to protect immunocompromised people, for whom the vaccines are proving less effective.

The prime minister may want the country to get its confidence back, but this will cause huge anxiety among immunocompromised people and leave many of them feeling abandoned.

This will lead to people finding it more difficult to live their daily lives and, sadly, some people dying from Covid.

James Taylor, director of strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said:

Disabled people having to rely on the personal choices of others and having no control over their own freedom and safety isn’t ‘living with Covid’, it’s living with fear.

The prime minister claims that we are moving towards protecting ourselves without losing our liberties, but what he fails to consider are the liberties of disabled people, Many will be feeling forgotten by this announcement.

Ending self-isolation and phasing out testing will leave some disabled people ‘rolling the dice’ every time they leave the house, go to work or meet friends.

Even going to the supermarket could be a life-threatening situation.

Free tests have meant that anyone can access them whenever they need to, allowing people to test before visiting disabled relatives in care homes or carers to test before working with disabled adults and children.

Putting a cost on Covid tests will create a barrier for some people, especially those struggling with their finances during a cost of living crisis.

Lynda Thomas, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

It is promising to see that extra Covid-19 jabs will be offered to people who are immunosuppressed, including many people living with cancer.

But it’s implausible that two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the Government is still making significant changes to guidance and plans which affect half a million people, without consulting with them or the organisations which represent them.

It is critical that the Government urgently identifies who will be included in the at-risk groups and who will be eligible for free testing to enable them to quickly access the antibody treatments they need. It is unfair and unacceptable to make these people wait.

Matthew Weaver

Matthew Weaver

Jennifer Gonzales fears that Boris Johnson’s decision to lift all remaining Covid restrictions will end in “disaster”. The 56-old-year home educator says: “Covid is still here so we should carry on self-isolating if we get it. It is too soon to be changing that now.”

Her view is typical of much of the nervousness in Horsham on Monday afternoon as the prime minister set out plans to lift restrictions. The West Sussex market town has the highest rate of Covid in England at 930 cases per 100,000 people.

Speaking in Horsham’s Swan Walk shopping mall, Gonzales says she is also worried about the end of free testing. “Even with free testing, a lot of people haven’t been using it and if you have to pay for it even fewer will. We will be mingling with people with no restrictions who may not know they’ve got it. I think that will be a disaster.”

You can read the full report here.

Charley Piringi in Honiara reports:

Frontline health workers in Solomon Islands have warned that its health system is on the brink of collapse as the country struggles to deal with a devastating outbreak of Covid-19.

A senior doctor and two nurses at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in the capital of Honiara have told of how there are no beds for Covid patients – leading to people dying on the floor of the wards – as well as a lack of facilities and staff shortages that have led to Covid-positive nurses being recalled to work and probationary nurses tending to critically ill patients solo, when they should be supervised by a more senior nurse.

People are dying on the floor, the hospital is overcrowded … Sick people and dead bodies were all over,” a senior doctor at NRH said. “The morgue is full. It’s a sad experience. I have never seen this before.”

Read more here.

Boris Johnson’s ‘living with Covid’ strategy “fails to protect those at highest risk of harm from Covid-19, and neglects some of the most vulnerable people in society”, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.

PA Media reports that Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:

We recognise the need, after two years of the pandemic, to begin thinking about how we adjust our lives to manage living alongside Covid-19, but as the BMA has persistently said the decision to bring forward the removal of all protective measures while cases, deaths and the number of people seriously ill remain so high is premature.

Living with Covid-19 must not mean ignoring the virus all together – which in many respects the Government’s plan in England seems to do.

On the one hand the Government says it will keep monitoring the spread of the virus, and asks individuals to take greater responsibility for their own decisions, but by removing free testing for the vast majority of the population on the other, ministers are taking away the central tool to allow both of these to happen.

Far from giving people more freedom, today’s announcement is likely to cause more uncertainty and anxiety.

Crucially, it will create a two-tier system, where those who can afford to pay for testing – and indeed to self-isolate – will do so, while others will be forced to gamble on the health of themselves and others.

Ian Sample

Ian Sample

After a bruising two years in which the UK failed to prove its resilience to a pandemic, the government hopes to re-cast the nation as a scientific superpower: a country that has built on the lessons of the crisis to deliver better research, more precision healthcare, and a more streamlined pathway to new drugs and vaccines.

But the government’s decision to substantially cut back on free Covid testing, as part of Boris Johnson’s “living with Covid” strategy, already threatens to undermine pioneering trials and coronavirus surveillance that are the envy of other nations. Together, they are crucial for understanding how drugs keep patients out of hospital, how immunity is holding up in vulnerable care homes and hospitals and how the epidemic is unfolding around us.

Read more here.

Iran returns 820,000 donated coronavirus vaccines

Iran has returned 820,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines donated by Poland because they were manufactured in the United States, state TV has reported.

Mohammad Hashemi, an official in the country’s Health Ministry, was quoted as saying that Poland donated about a million doses of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine to Iran.

However, he added that when the vaccines arrived in Iran:

…we found out that 820,000 doses of them which were imported from Poland were from the United States.

The Associated Press reports that Hashemi said:

…after coordination with the Polish ambassador to Iran, it was decided that the vaccines would be returned.

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccination in Tehran, Iran, earlier this month.
A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccination in Tehran, Iran, earlier this month. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

In 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has the final say on all state matters, rejected any possibility of American or British vaccines entering the country, calling them “forbidden.”

Iran now only imports Western vaccines that are not produced in the US or Britain.

This reported rejection of the vaccines comes as Iran struggles with its sixth wave of coronavirus infections as authorities say the aggressive Omicron variant is now dominant in the country.

According to official figures, Iran has had more than 135,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the highest national death toll in the Middle East.

It says it has vaccinated around 90% of its population above age 18 with two shots, although only 37% of that group has had a third shot.

Brazil has reported 318 Covid-19 deaths and 37,339 new cases, the health ministry said.

This compares with 406 deaths and 40,625 cases reported on Sunday.

The South American country has now registered 28,245,551 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 644,604, according to ministry data.

Here is a round-up of some of the Covid developments around the world from Agence France-Presse:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defends his use of emergency powers to end weeks-long trucker-led protests over Covid restrictions, warning; “This state of emergency is not over.”

Hong Kong will launch a vaccine pass scheme this week, officials say, as hospitals struggle under an Omicron-fuelled outbreak and the finance hub sees record-high departures.

Novak Djokovic’s season, derailed in January when the world number one was deported from Australia before the Open, starts in Dubai.

Coronavirus has killed at least 5,884,689 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an Agence France-Presse tally, compiled from official sources on Monday.

The United States has recorded the most Covid deaths with 935,335, followed by Brazil with 644,286 and India with 512,109.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organization estimates the true death toll could be two to three times higher.

France has reported 17,195 new daily Coronavirus cases, Reuters reports.

This compares with 59,003 on Sunday.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Health and the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic are a significant drag on the coalition vote, with one in three Australians less likely to vote for the Morrison government due to the level of public hospital funding, according to new polling.

An Essential poll, commissioned by the Australian Medical Association, found voters who had traditionally supported the Coalition on health and hospital funding were now deserting them. Support in this key area had dropped, with 34% now questioning the government’s record.

Only the Morrison government’s handling of the climate crisis and cost of living pressures registered greater levels of disapproval. Of those polled, 37% were less likely to vote for the government on climate, while 38% were not supportive of Morrison on cost of living.

You can read the full report here.

Trudeau says emergency powers are still needed

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on Monday.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on Monday. Photograph: Dave Chan/AFP/Getty Images

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has said emergency powers are still needed despite the progress police made in bringing an end to weeks-long protests by truckers and others angry over Canada’s Covid-19 restrictions.

Lawmakers in parliament will vote on Monday night whether to allow police to continue to use emergency powers.

Trudeau said there were some truckers just outside Ottawa that may be planning further blockades.

His public safety minister noted there was an effort to block a border crossing in British Columbia on the weekend, the Associated Press reports.

Trudeau said:

The situation is still fragile, the state of emergency is still there.

Even though the blockades are lifted across border openings right now, even though things seem to be resolving very well in Ottawa, this state of emergency is not over.

There continues to be real concerns about the coming days.

The prime minister said he was confident lawmakers would vote to continue to allow police to use the emergencies act, which allows authorities to declare certain areas as no go zones following the protests by the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’.

It also allows police to freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts and compels tow truck companies to tow away vehicles.

Peter Walker

Peter Walker

Peter Walker outlines what the end of Covid restrictions means for people in England.

France has 2,905 people in intensive care units for Covid-19 which is down by 18, Reuters reports.

Italy reports 201 coronavirus daily deaths and 24,408 cases

Italy has reported 201 Covid-19 daily deaths compared with 141 on Sunday, the health ministry has said.

A further 24,408 cases were recorded compared with 42,081 on Sunday.

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