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New Covid infections are rising across the US. The problem is especially bad areas with low vaccine rates — disproportionately Republican areas.

But the task of persuading holdouts, skeptics and the merely disinterested to get their shots is being complicated by the further politicization of the pandemic — a trend that will cost lives and exacerbate an already stark tragedy that has deepened the nation’s ideological estrangement.
There are many reasons why some people won’t take a step that seems a no-brainer to most of the 48% of Americans who are fully inoculated. Health professionals bemoan misinformation, cultural suspicion of vaccines and antipathy to government advice. Some people also think the Covid-19 danger has passed or that they don’t need a shot because they survived the disease. Others fear side-effects from the shots.
Many Americans view their individual freedom as absolving them of the idea that getting vaccinated is a public duty. But with data showing that 99% of those claimed by the disease are unvaccinated, making a political statement on the issue seems an absurd waste — and heightens the possibility of fostering even more potent variants that could potentially put even the vaccinated, and the halting return to normalcy, at risk.
There is some hope that efforts on the local level could help. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll released on Tuesday suggested that ending vaccine hesitancy may be best tackled at more personal levels. The study identified a small cohort of respondents who were unvaccinated in January and weren’t sure about going ahead or who didn’t intend to do so but who later changed their minds. Among that group, people often said that family members, friends or personal doctors had persuaded them to get vaccinated.
But consistent efforts to wring political advantage from the pandemic by leaders like ex-President Donald Trump are continuing while he is out of office and are tarnishing the critical late-stage push to beat Covid-19.
The idea that anyone would perish because they listened to a politician playing into Covid-19 skepticism for their own career advancement, or a conservative media host chasing ratings, is nauseating. But it’s happening — as opportunists cite misinformation or play into preexisting US skepticism of authority.
Even the act of publicizing life-saving vaccines can founder on political divides.
Tennessee’s vaccine chief, for instance, says she was fired after she merely shared a memo explaining state law allowing health care providers to decide whether minors have the capacity to consent to a vaccine themselves.
“The people of Tennessee have been sold out for politics,” the official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, told CNN.
Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, condemned the dismissal of Fiscus and warned the move could harm the health of adolescents, a group in which vaccinations trail other age groups.
“Dr. Fiscus’s termination is the most recent example of a concerning trend of politicizing public health expertise,” Beers said in a statement.

Vaccines in the crossfire

Education has long been a political battleground of the pandemic, with Republicans who wanted blanket state reopenings often clashing with teachers unions, a powerful Democratic constituency.
Now, seven Republican-run states have banned public schools from requiring a Covid-19 vaccine — even though entry to educational systems typically requires kids to have their regular round of shots for infectious diseases, like measles or mumps.
The political map is, meanwhile, becoming the pandemic map. New Covid-19 infections are rising in 45 states, as the Delta variant takes hold. The problem is especially acute in those with low vaccine rates, which are disproportionately Republican.
Vaccines are also being caught in the crossfire at a time when partisan politics infects almost every aspect of daily life.
Some politicians seek quick headlines in a way that will likely add to the human misery by giving holdouts political reasons not to get vaccinated. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado misrepresented the Biden administration’s voluntary vaccine outreach effort as akin to Nazism.
Over the weekend, a potential GOP 2024 candidate, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, sought to supercharge her own political hopes by comparing her own hands-off management of the crisis to efforts by other GOP governors who should have shown more “grit.” Her barbs were apparently aiming at Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, rivals for the hearts of the Trump base, whose own efforts to combat Covid-19 have themselves been marked by political expediency.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas over the weekend, a massively pro-Trump crowed cheered when a speaker said the government failed to get 90% of the country (sic) “suckered” into getting a vaccine.
In some cases, hospital workers have themselves stoked the political debate over vaccine mandates by opposing a requirement to be inoculated to protect vulnerable patients — as happened in Houston last month. But Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy backed hospital systems with such requirements.
“That’s part of how we protect patients from infection and patients coming into hospitals are often vulnerable,” Murthy told CNN’s “New Day.” “I think that’s a very reasonable thing for hospitals to do.”

Romney: ‘A huge human cost’

When the last miles of the vaccine drive are difficult enough, complications posed by politics are the last thing the public health officials need as they try to prevent needless deaths.
“This is primarily a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and we need to be very clear about that message,” Dr. Chris Pernell, a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine who is a public health physician and health equity advocate, told CNN.
Some leading Washington politicians expressed disbelief on Tuesday at the failure of many Republican voters to get vaccinated.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said there had been a “huge human cost to have made vaccinations political.”
“After all, President Trump and his supporters take credit for developing the vaccine,” he said. “Why the heck won’t they take advantage of the vaccine that they received plaudits for having developed it?”
The views of Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are shaped by his bout with one of the most feared diseases in children, poliomyelitis, which has since been eradicated by vaccines.
“I’m a huge fan of vaccinations,” McConnell said. “If you’re a football fan, we’re in the red zone but we’re not in the end zone yet, and we need to keep preaching that getting the vaccine is important.”
McConnell would not be drawn, however, on the question of whether the misinformation spouted by colleagues like Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has something to do with suspicion of vaccines among some GOP base voters.
Trump’s ex-Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Biden could help fight Republican vaccine skepticism by lessening his criticism of his predecessor.
“I am calling on President Biden to stop blaming everything that happened in the pandemic on Trump,” Adams told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, defending his former boss’ mishandling of a crisis that the ex-President said would simply “go away” and during which he trashed his own government’s guidance multiple times. Adams was one of those experts who Trump often ignored during his time in office, but the former surgeon general has been a frequent presence in the media in recent months defending his former boss and criticizing Biden and his Covid team for a myriad of reasons.
Adams also called on Trump — who has celebrated his own role in the development of the vaccines but has done little to persuade his supporters to take it — and other Republicans to do more to do more to win over holdouts.
“God has given us a miracle, a true miracle,” he said. “But salvation is only available to those people who accept it.”
Given the hyper politicizing of the pandemic, it’s unlikely that Biden’s pleas to the unvaccinated will have a huge impact, especially since his speeches are rarely covered on conservative media networks.
For many Americans it’s too late, as the Delta variant of coronavirus sweeps through unvaccinated populations, especially in the South. The agony of patients who chose not to get vaccinated but wish too late that they could change their minds is a heavy burden for health care providers.
“Most of the patients I see are regretful that they didn’t get vaccinated,” Missouri emergency physician Dr. Christopher Morrison told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday.
“I’m not there to wag a finger at them at that point, when people are that sick,” Morrison said. But he added: “When people are that sick, they wish they had done anything they could to avoid being that sick.”

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This post originally posted here CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

Undervaccinated areas vulnerable to Covid surges could become breeding grounds for more deadly variants

The analysis by researchers at Georgetown University identified 30 clusters of counties with low vaccination rates and significant population sizes. The five most significant of those clusters are sprawled across large swaths of the southeastern United States and a smaller portion in the Midwest.
The five clusters are largely in parts of eight states, starting in the east in Georgia and stretching west to Texas and north to southern Missouri. The clusters also include parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and are made up of mostly smaller counties but also cities such as Montgomery, Alabama; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Amarillo, Texas.
Most of these states are currently seeing increases in Covid-19 cases.
“Parts of the country are just as vulnerable if not more vulnerable than they were in December, 2020,” said Shweta Bansal, an associate professor of biology at Georgetown University. Bansal heads up the US COVID-19 Vaccination Tracking project, which has been gathering data on the US vaccine rollout since it began in December.
Those vulnerable clusters put all of the United States — and to some extent, the world — at risk for going back to 2020, since high-transmission areas can become breeding grounds for Covid-19 variants that could go on to evade Covid-19 vaccines.
“These clusters of unvaccinated people are what is standing in the way of us putting this virus down permanently,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.

Millions of unvaccinated people in the clusters

About one-third of Americans have not received even a single Covid-19 shot — and the Georgetown analysis shows that these people are not evenly spread around the United States.
Analyzing county vaccination data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments, the Georgetown researchers found 30 clusters of counties throughout the US that have low vaccination rates compared to the national average and also have significant population size.
The five most significant clusters together include more than 15 million people. Of those, only 27.9% are fully vaccinated — far lower than the national rate of 47.6%.
The county data is not without its flaws. When someone gets a shot, their home county is supposed to be noted in state records, but the system doesn’t always work perfectly. In the Georgetown analysis, at least 90% of all vaccinations were recorded with the person’s home county, Bansal said.
In some cases, the Georgetown data differs from CDC data because Bansal and her team were able to obtain additional data directly from state health departments.
While the clusters do encompass some sizable cities, 92% of the counties in the clusters have a population of less than 100,000.
The federal government has been engaging with churches and organizations such as the YMCA to encourage Covid-19 vaccination in areas like these, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN.
“These are extraordinary partners in reaching communities [in rural areas] where health care access isn’t as easy as it is in urban areas,” he said.

Clusters give virus opportunities to mutate

The Delta variant, which now comprises more than half the cases in the United States, is the latest in a long string of Covid-19 variants that have spread more easily and in some cases caused more severe illness.
That’s why the clusters are so worrisome. Each time a virus spreads, it has an opportunity to learn how to mutate.
“We know that if you give the virus the opportunity to circulate and replicate, you give it the opportunity to generate more variants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN.
The Delta variant has learned how to evade Covid-19 vaccines to a small degree, but they still offer excellent protection against severe disease and hospitalization.
The fear is that the next variant might be able to outsmart the vaccine more thoroughly, causing problems even for parts of the country that have high vaccination rates.
“We’ve been lucky with the variants so far that they’ve been relatively susceptible to our vaccine, but the more you roll the dice, the more opportunities there will be for a resistant variant,” Reiner said.

Author: Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield, CNN
Read more here >>> CNN.com – RSS Channel – HP Hero

US continues to co-op with Turkmenistan in number of areas – US Embassy

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 8

By Jeila Aliyeva – Trend:

The US continues to cooperate with Turkmenistan in the sphere of economic development in a range of areas, Stephen Guice, Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Ashgabat told Trend.

Thus, these areas include: promotion of the private sector, the development of entrepreneurs, and increasing commercial ties between the two countries.

“The US also supports multilateral organizations and their wide range of programming in Turkmenistan,” he said.

Turkmenistan is actively promoting growth in the private sector, he noted.

The US is one of the important trade, economic, and foreign policy partners of Turkmenistan, with which cooperation is carried out in the field of regional security, combating serious threats and challenges, as well as in other areas.

In recent years, the US has taken a course towards rapprochement with Turkmenistan. Political consultations have become regular. Cooperation continues in such areas as the supply of agricultural machinery, modernization of the technical fleet of civil aviation in Turkmenistan, and import of electric power equipment.

In addition, the US administration supports regional gas pipeline projects of Turkmenistan, such as Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) and Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.

Diplomatic relations between Turkmenistan and the US were established on February 19, 1992.

Follow the author on Twitter: @JeilaAliyeva

Read more here >>> Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

Italy, US armies give food assistance to communities in AMISOM liberated areas

Italy, US armies give food assistance to communities in AMISOM liberated areas

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The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has received seven tons of relief assistance from the Italian Contingent of the European Union Training Mission in Somalia, EUTM-S, the US Army Civil Affairs Team. The food will be distributed to vulnerable families and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Lower Shabelle region.

The EUTM-S Force Commander, Brig. Gen. Zinzone said essential support to vulnerable communities as part of their mission in Somalia. In addition, they were committed to assisting more communities battling climate shocks and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are a coalition that supports and works with the Somali people. It is fundamental for the Somali people to tell us what they need, and we will always be ready to help in whatever way we can,” said Brig. Gen. Zinzone, during the handover, was attended by various officials, including from the Somalia Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.

During the handover, AMISOM Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Maj Gen. William Kitsao Shume, who represented the Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, commended the collaboration between different partners in supporting communities living within AMISOM’s area of responsibility.

“Your generous donation has allowed AMISOM, in conjunction with the Federal Government of Somalia and the South West State, to help make sure the vulnerable people do not go hungry,” said Maj. Gen. Shume.

“I am glad that you recognize the significant role of AMISOM’s provision of relief assistance in Somalia, and I hope that this constructive partnership with you can continue,” added Maj. Gen. Shume.

Col. Bruce Terry of the US Army Civil Affairs Unit said it is through the support and collaboration of the international partners that Somalia’s challenges will be overcome.

“Let us each take pride in the part played by our organizations in assisting Somalia, and also for the collective action that continues this endeavor that our nations have sent us to fight and win,” said Col. Terry.

In her remarks, the Somalia Federal Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Khadija Diriye, applauded AMISOM and partners for coming to the aid of vulnerable communities.

“AMISOM has on numerous occasions supported the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in responding to various humanitarian needs of our people. All of us very much appreciate these efforts in helping vulnerable communities in your areas of responsibility,” said Minister Khadija.

The Governor of Lower Shabelle, Abdikadir Murshid Sidi, said due to increased community policing and better working relationships between locals and security agencies, Al-Shabaab has now resorted to sabotaging main supply routes in a bid to curtail humanitarian response.

“Since there are no more hiding places for them and there is more collaboration between the security forces and the public, the terrorist group has resorted to targeting civilian populations,” noted governor Abdikadir.

“I would like to commend the international community for standing with the people of Southwest State,” he added.

According to the Federal Government of Somalia, the impact of the flooding, desert locust, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed 2.7 million people across the country towards a major humanitarian emergency.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Mission in Somalia.

Author: Aalto University
Read more here >>> The European Times News

High cholesterol: Warning found in pain felt in two areas indicating levels are too high

Having high levels of cholesterol in the blood doesn’t have obvious symptoms, however, it can increase a person’s risk for conditions that do have symptoms including angina, high blood pressure, stroke or other circulatory ailments.

Webmed said: “Call your doctor about high cholesterol and heart disease if you detect soft, yellowish skin growths on yourself or on your children.

“If you develop symptoms of heart disease, stroke or atherosclerosis in other blood vessels, such as left-sided chest pain, pressure, or fullness, dizziness, unsteady gait, slurred speech or pain in the lower legs.

“Any of these conditions may be associated with high cholesterol and each requires immediate medical intervention.”

READ MORE: How to lose visceral fat: Follow the ‘prudent’ breakfast to prevent harmful belly fat

Author: Jessica Knibbs
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Health
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Delta variant mapped: 25 areas put on watchlist – is your area one? Latest data

Delta variant cases now account for up to 91 percent of all new coronavirus cases in the UK according to the Health Secretary.

Speaking to MPs on Thursday, June 10, Matt Hancock said this figure was ascertained from an assessment he saw “last night”.

The Delta variant was first detected in India and is believed to be around 40 to 60 percent more transmissible than the Kent mutation detected in winter last year.

The rise in cases since February has been attributed to this variant, with more than 7,000 cases reported on both June 9 and 10 this week for the first time in weeks.

PHE medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “Once again we are seeing cases rapidly rise across the country and the Delta variant is now dominant.

“The increase is primarily in younger age groups who are yet to receive the vaccine and we are seeing more hospital admissions.

“The vaccine rollout is a huge success, however, there are many millions who still need one or two doses and protection is not immediate.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

More People Hospitalized in U.S. Areas With Low Vaccine Rates

The coronavirus might be receding in much of the United States, but it continues to spread in communities with low Covid-19 vaccination rates, where highly contagious virus variants pose a threat to those who have not had shots.

In Smith County, Tenn., where only 20 percent of people are fully vaccinated, there has been an almost 700 percent increase in hospitalizations for Covid-19 over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. In Trousdale, Tenn., where only 23 percent of people have had two vaccine doses, hospitalizations have also surged by 700 percent in the same period.

The increase is not a coincidence, said Dr. Ted Delbridge, executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems. People who become ill with Covid-19 now are, “in most age groups, twice as likely to end up hospitalized as people who got the virus earlier in the course of the pandemic,” Dr. Delbridge said.

In Maryland, of those between the ages of 50 and 59 who contracted Covid-19 over the winter, about 8 percent were hospitalized, he said. From the end of April through the beginning of June, the hospitalization rate in that group was 19 percent.

Dangerous virus variants are likely to be to blame, Dr. Delbridge said. The variant first found in Britain, now known as Alpha, is deadlier and more contagious than most others and is now dominant in the United States. Last month, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the variant, also known as B.1.1.7, made up 72 percent of U.S. cases at the time.

But vaccines have proven to be effective against the Alpha variant. A spring surge that scientists had warned of largely failed to materialize in the United States.

“I think we got lucky, to be honest,” Nathan Grubaugh, an epidemiologist at Yale University, told The New York Times last month. “We’re being rescued by the vaccine.”

Through Tuesday, about 172 million Americans had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to a Times database. But vaccine distribution across the country has slowed in recent weeks. About 1 million shots are being administered nationwide each day, down from an April peak of 3 million.

In Michigan, one of the few states that saw a surge in cases this spring, Alpha struck younger people who were returning to schools and playing contact sports.

“Because it’s more transmissible, the virus finds cracks in behavior that normally wouldn’t have been as much of a problem,” said Emily Martin, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan.

At a White House press briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief Covid adviser, said the Delta variant, which was originally identified in India, was emerging as the dominant variant in Britain.

“We cannot let that happen in the United States,” Dr. Fauci said, adding that the Delta variant now accounted for 6 percent of sequenced cases in the United States.

Dr. Fauci urged young people to get vaccinated, citing a study that found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the AstraZeneca vaccine appeared to be effective against the Delta variant.

One way of limiting the spread is for those who are vaccinated to wear masks around those who are not, doctors say. At least one state is making that a rule in some places: When California reopens next week, fully vaccinated colleagues working in a room together will be allowed to work maskless. But if one person is unvaccinated, everyone in the room will need to wear a mask.

“If I’m in close proximity to other people, and I don’t know their vaccination status, I put a mask on,” Dr. Delbridge said. “It’s just too easy.”

Author: Jesus Jiménez
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

South East England areas in urgent Covid test call – new Indian variant cases

However, chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said the number of people in hospital with the variant has not increased “very significantly”.

He also said that many of those currently in hospital in Bolton – which has the highest number of Indian variant cases – were younger than in previous waves.

“The people who came in this time round were actually a lot younger and were a lot less at risk of very serious complication, less at risk of death, and what that means is that they were less demand on critical care,” he explained.

He continued: “What we think we can start to say now, based on that experience, is that it does look as though the vaccines have broken the chain between catching Covid-19 and potentially being very, very seriously ill and potentially dying.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Sturgeon launches UK border restrictions: SNP bans travel to and from English Covid areas

Nicola Sturgeon calls Indian variant ‘April 02’

The First Minister made the announcement as she warned new Covid cases have risen by more than 25 percent across Scotland over the last week. She also said the new travel restrictions to Bedford, Bolton and Blackburn with Darwin were being introduced to help prevent the variant first identified in India from spreading rapidly. These areas in England have seen the biggest surges of the variant over recent weeks.

Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing today, Ms Sturgeon said: “We know that there are particularly serious outbreaks in three specific English local authority areas – Bedford, Bolton and Blackford and Darwen.

“So for that reason, from Monday onwards, we are putting hopefully temporary travel restrictions on travel between Scotland and those three local authority areas in England.

So if you were planning to visit friends or relatives or to stay in those areas you must delay your visit.

”She added it “makes more sense” to then review the new restrictions on a weekly basis, before then announcing Glasgow will be the only area to stay in Level 3 of the nation’s measures.

Sturgeon has imposed a Scotland travel ban to UK Covid hotspots Bedford, Bolton, Blackburn

Sturgeon has imposed a Scotland travel ban to UK Covid hotspots Bedford, Bolton, Blackburn (Image: GETTY)

Ms Sturgeon added authorities are “fairly certain” the increase in cases in Glasgow is due to the Indian variant, which she called April-02 in the briefing.

She added there was still a rise in cases despite “extensive public health measures” brought in over the past 10 days.

It comes as the number of cases per 100,000 people in Glasgow has increased from 71 last week to 122.6 in the seven days to May 18.

Meanwhile, East Renfrewshire had a higher seven-day average rate of cases than Glasgow which earlier this week, will remain in Level 2.

READ MORE: BBC POLL: Should licence fee be scrapped as Bashir report probed?

The temporary ban will start from Monday

The temporary ban will start from Monday (Image: GETTY)

Ms Sturgeon also said improvements in Moray would mean it could join the rest of mainland Scotland in Level 2 from tomorrow.

Infection levels in Moray, in the north-east of Scotland, are down from 98 cases per 100,000 people last week to 37, with test positivity falling from 2.8 percent to 1.3 percent.

In Level 2, people can hug, meet indoors and travel across the UK and overseas.

Hospitality venues can also open later than in Level 3 and serve alcohol indoors.

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Indian variant: Spread of B.1.617.2 virus since March

Ms Sturgeon said the total number of cases in East Renfrewshire is significantly smaller than in Glasgow, with only 17 on Thursday compared to 166 in the city, and could be traced to “specific household clusters”.

When asked whether Glasgow could face restrictions for a longer period because of the numbers, she said: “The reason I’m not saying we’ll come back in three weeks now is I hope the overall duration of these higher level restrictions in Glasgow will be shorter than was the case earlier this year and at the tail end of last year.

“I think it actually makes more sense to review on a weekly basis, because we don’t want to keep Glasgow in higher level restrictions any longer than is necessary… because of the scale of the public health interventions that we have in deployment right now.

“And in determining where to put travel restrictions we just have to be mindful of people’s travel patterns – people might live in the south side of Glasgow but in the city they don’t necessarily stay in the south side of Glasgow all the time because they work elsewhere and vice versa.”

The First Minister said it

The First Minister said it “makes more sense” to review coronavirus restrictions on a weekly basis (Image: EXPRESS)

She also urged fans not to gather in big groups to watch the Scottish Cup final on Saturday and said supporters should not assemble in large numbers either in pubs or in people’s homes.

Elsewhere, the Indian variant of Covid has been described as a “black cloud on the horizon” for Ireland by the country’s chief medical officer.

Around 72 cases of the variant have been confirmed in Ireland to date, up from 59 earlier this week.

Dr Tony Holohan said public health officials are “genuinely concerned” about the variant and its increased transmissibility, despite the situation being “stable” at present.

He said: “The situation is broadly stable for the most part.

Mrs Strugeon added the variant first identified in India was likely to change quickly

Mrs Sturgeon added the variant first identified in India was likely to change quickly (Image: GETTY)

“The public is staying with us in terms of maintaining a high level of behaviour consistent with our public health advice.

“The vaccination programme is continuing at pace and we’re increasing the proportion of people being vaccinated on a daily basis.

“In broad terms you could characterise it that the sky is for the most part blue. But there is a black cloud on the horizon which is the Indian variant.

“We are genuinely concerned about the reports we’re seeing and the credibility we attach to them around the increased transmissibility associated with that particular variant.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

'A tax on poor' Outrage at low council tax bills in England's richest areas – 'A disgrace'

Understandably, the disparity between how much is paid depending on where people live has sparked plenty of debate. The analysis, by money transfer experts Xendpay, examined official Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for the latest house prices and council tax rates, which are calculated based on the value of a property as of April 1, 1991.
It compared more than 300 areas of England, in terms of both average house prices and council tax bills.

The research found that the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea now has the UK’s highest average house price, measured at £1,220,511.49 in February 2021.

However, residents there also enjoy England’s fifth lowest Council Tax bill – an average of just £1,515.

The London boroughs of Westminster and Wandsworth each have an average bill just under £1,000 – at £945 and £966 respectively – the two lowest rates in the country.

But, the story is very different when it comes to house prices though.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak urged to increase Inheritance Tax post-pandemic

The average price of a Westminster property is £1,000,559.73, making it the second highest in the UK.

Average house prices in Wandsworth meanwhile stand at £617,220.48 – the UK’s eighth highest.

Conversely, County Durham has the third lowest (311 out of 313) average house price in England – measured at £112,722.16 in February 2021.

However, its residents receive the eighth-highest average Council Tax bill at £2,503.

In Hartlepool meanwhile, the average house price is £115,437.76, which ranks as 308th out of 313.

Meanwhile, its average council tax bill is £2,528, the sixth-highest in the country.

The analysis found Rutland has the highest average council tax bill in England, at £2,568.

Here, the lowest rate – Band A – is £1,417, only £147 less than Westminster’s highest possible rate – Band H – which is £1,564.

Earlier this week, Express.co.uk compiled a map of the findings, highlighting the top five biggest, and the top five smallest, bills compared to house price.

A reader shared the article on Reddit, with hundreds of people commenting on the findings.

“It’s unfair and ridiculous. I shouldn’t have to pay more because I’m in a worse off area. It’s a tax on the poor,” wrote one person.

If you can’t see the poll below, click here.
Another commented: “I used to live in Westminster for a brief period. The council tax was nothing, we’d have our waste collected twice a week etc.

“I now pay significantly more, waste is collected every two weeks, massive reduction in services etc. Council is constantly selling off public land, and they are eyeing up the allotments. It’s a disgrace.”

Another person had looked into their own council tax bill, to discover how much they were paying more than another property band in Westminster.

“I checked, and my band C property pays more than a band E property in Westminster,” they wrote.

Another person asked: “Shouldn’t council tax be based off the value of the house?”

Not all Reddit users agreed with one another though.

One person penned: “Is that because a wealthier area has less costs for things like social care compared to poorer areas?”

Another posted: “Westminster makes so much money from business rates it can afford low council tax.

“County Durham doesn’t quite have the expensive commercial properties of Oxford Street, Regent Street, Soho, and Covent Garden to add to its coffers.

“I bet they make quite a bit from parking too – I remember it being something like £4 for 20 minutes at a meter.

“Then yes, they generally have less to spend. Though Westminster and K&C etc. certainly do have some very deprived areas too.”

A spokesperson for Xendpay, the money transfer experts who carried out the analysis, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the findings, and the reaction.

“It’s clear from the comments that council tax provokes strong reactions, no matter where you live,” they said.

“The UK’s gross average wage is around £31,500, so a council tax bill of £2,000 takes up six percent of it, which is obviously a considerable amount.

“And with many council tax bills across the country set to increase, the debate is not likely to stop anytime soon.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed