Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have come under fire from GB News host Dan Wootton for their recent appearances in New York. The couple have embarked on a three-day post royal excursion, where they have conducted a number of engagements, including visiting a primary school in Harlem and attending a photocall at One World Trade Centre. Dan Wootton questioned why the Sussexes did not remain in the Royal Family if they wished to be “treated like royals”.
Speaking to royal expert Robert Jobson on GB News, Mr Wootton said: “They’re acting as if this was a royal tour, but they’re not royal.
“They’ve wanted to go to the US to live a normal life as private citizens.
“I just don’t understand this, if they wanted to do tours internationally and be treated like royals, then why did they not stay in the Royal Family?”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in New York on Wednesday, and have spent the last three days undertaking a number of official engagements, similar to those carried out by working members of the Royal Family.
READ MORE: Meghan and Harry’s vaccine campaign questioned: ‘Who would be influenced?’
Prince Harry and Meghan began their tour with a visit to the One World Trade Centre on Thursday morning, where they were joined by Bill de Blasio, the New York City Mayor, and Kathy Hochul, the New York State Governor.
Dozens of security guards and NYPD officers with sniffer dogs accompanied the couple, with members of the press invited for the photocall.
One World Trade Centre was built on the site of the original Twin Towers, which were destroyed after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Meghan and Harry’s visit to the site comes two weeks after New York commemorated the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
In a statement released afterwards, the Sussexes said: “In this room, we had a number of the foremost leaders on public health, pandemic preparedness, scientific progress, and community building. Today’s meeting was a much-appreciated opportunity to learn from some of the most respected experts who are working tirelessly to end this pandemic.
“Building on ongoing conversations we’ve had with global leaders over the past 18 months, today further reinforced our commitment to vaccine equity.”
On Friday, the couple joined primary school children at PS 123, Mahalia Jackson, in Harlem, where Meghan recited her children’s book, The Bench.
The event was designed to promote literacy amongst economically disadvantaged children.
Prince Harry and Meghan are also due to take part in the Global Citizen Live, an event organised to encourage world leaders to develop a vaccine equity policy to help end the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their New York visit marks the couple’s first official outing since leaving the Royal Family in 2020.
As the Delta variant rips through conservative swaths of the country, some elected Republicans are facing growing pressure from public health advocates to speak out — not only in favor of their constituents being inoculated against the coronavirus but also against media figures and elected officials who are questioning the vaccines.
“We don’t control conservative media figures so far as I know — at least I don’t,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said in an interview on Wednesday. “That being said, I think it’s an enormous error for anyone to suggest that we shouldn’t be taking vaccines. Look, the politicization of vaccination is an outrage and frankly moronic.”
Republican senators who favor vaccination are still taking pains not to mention the names of colleagues, such as Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have given voice to vaccine skepticism, or media personalities like Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, who expresses such skepticism almost nightly.
Vaccines are indeed effective against the Delta variant, and nationwide, the numbers remain at some of the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.
Still, with cases ticking upward, driven by localized outbreaks in places with low vaccination rates — Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Nevada — Republican leaders are talking.
“As a polio victim myself when I was young, I’ve studied that disease,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, said on Tuesday. “It took 70 years — 70 years — to come up with two vaccines that finally ended the polio threat. As a result of Operation Warp Speed, we have not one, not two, but three highly effective vaccines, so I’m perplexed by the difficulty we have finishing the job.”
“If you’re a football fan,” Mr. McConnell said, “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.”
Still, when asked about his conversations with vaccine skeptics in the Senate Republican Conference, Mr. McConnell demurred. “I can only speak for myself, and I just did,” he said.
Senior Republicans are clearly walking a fine line. They cannot afford to see a resurgent coronavirus disproportionately hurt conservative voters, who have been fed a diet of misinformation about vaccines by right-leaning news outlets and commentators. But they cannot afford to alienate them either.
Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said on Wednesday that much of the skepticism surrounding vaccines “is based on conspiracy theories, unfortunately.”
“I do acknowledge the right of an individual to decide whether they’re going to get the vaccine,” he said, “but what I’ve tried to do is encourage everybody to get the vaccine.”
On Wednesday, a group of Republican senators and House members introduced legislation to repeal mask mandates on public transport, dismissing the spread of the virus.
“The viral spread is collapsing and our normal lives are returning,” declared Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona.
Mr. Cornyn drew a distinction between densely populated urban areas like Houston and Dallas, where he said mass vaccination is vital, and smaller, spread out cities like Odessa and Midland where “social distancing is not a problem, let me say.”
The virus has not drawn that distinction. Some of the fastest growth is happening in smaller cities and rural regions, like parts of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.
Mr. Romney tried to appeal to supporters of former President Donald J. Trump in those areas.
“People who support him applaud the fact that he moved heaven and earth to get vaccines developed on a timely basis,” Mr. Romney said. “He accomplished that, and not taking advantage of that would be an insult to the accomplishment.”
As to his message to vaccine skeptics in his conference, Mr. Romney said, “They know where I stand.”
Even as many Americans celebrate the apparent waning of the pandemic, the thrum of concern over the so-called Delta variant grows steadily louder.
The variant, the most contagious version yet of the coronavirus, accounts for more than half of new infections in the United States, federal health officials reported this month. The spread of the variant has prompted a vigorous new vaccination push from the Biden administration, and federal officials are planning to send medical teams to communities facing outbreaks that now seem inevitable.
Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are rising swiftly in some states with low vaccination rates like Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Nevada, and are beginning to show small upticks in all of the others. The curves have also begun shifting upward in New York City, and the percentage of positive tests in the city has doubled in the past few weeks to just over 1 percent.
Nationwide, the numbers remain at some of the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, but are once again slowly trending upward, prompting a debate about when booster shots might be needed to protect Americans.
The virus has also set off large outbreaks across the globe, from Japan and Australia to Indonesia and South Africa, forcing many countries to reimpose stringent restrictions on social activity. Even in places like Britain, where wide swaths of the population are immunized, the Delta variant has outpaced vaccination efforts, pushing the goal of herd immunity further out of reach and postponing an end to the pandemic.
But scientists say that even if the numbers continue to rise through the fall, Americans are unlikely to revisit the horrors of last winter, or to require booster shots in the foreseeable future.
If Britain’s experience is a harbinger of what’s to come, the overall number of infections may rise as the Delta variant spreads through the United States. But hospitalizations and deaths are likely to be much lower than they were following the arrival of previous variants, because the average age of those infected has shifted downward and young people tend to have mild symptoms.
As important, vaccines are effective against the Delta variant and already provide a bulwark against its spread.
“I think the United States has vaccinated itself out of a national coordinated surge, even though we do expect cases pretty much everywhere,” said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Delta is creating a huge amount of noise, but I don’t think that it’s right to be ringing a huge alarm bell.”
Still, there are likely to be isolated outbreaks in pockets of low vaccination, he and other scientists predicted. The reason is simple: The pattern of the protection against the coronavirus in the United States is wildly uneven.
Broadly speaking, the West and Northeast have relatively high rates of vaccination, while the South has the least. The vaccinated and unvaccinated “two Americas” — as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the administration’s leading adviser on the pandemic, has called them — also are divided along political lines.
Counties that voted for Mr. Biden average higher vaccination levels than those that voted for Donald Trump. Conservatives tend to decline vaccination far more often than Democrats.
“I don’t expect that we will get close to the kind of mayhem we saw earlier,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. “There are going to be clusters, and they’re going to be in states where you have low vaccination rates.”
In a country that should be able to end its pandemic in short order with widespread vaccination, the Delta variant is well designed to take advantage of the cultural divide. The virus seems to combine the worst features of previous variants, Dr. Andersen noted.
For more than a year since the coronavirus outbreak, New York State officials have stuck with an approach that has allowed the state to report a lower and incomplete death toll.
The number of deaths reported on the state’s online dashboard, and during Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus briefings, includes only people who died at hospitals, nursing homes and adult-care facilities, but not, for example, at home or in prisons. The toll also includes only deaths that were confirmed with a coronavirus test by a lab.
New York’s methodology differs from that of many other states, as well as the federal government’s National Center for Health Statistics, which uses more precise criteria to assemble state-by-state death tolls, relying on death certificates submitted by state health departments.
Now, the effect of New York’s more constrained count has begun to show: The state’s official virus death toll as of Wednesday was about 43,000, compared with the death toll of more than 54,000 compiled by the N.C.H.S., which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New York is not alone: At least half the states, including California and Texas, have publicly reported a lower number of deaths than the N.C.H.S.
But other states with lower death tolls were below the N.C.H.S. number by about 3,000 or fewer; nowhere is the gap between the reported deaths larger than the 11,000-death discrepancy in New York, according to a New York Times analysis.
The disparity in the death tolls underscores the lasting and painful difficulties of accounting for the full scope of coronavirus fatalities, even as much of the government’s response has turned toward expanding the vaccine rollout and the nation’s reopening and recovery.
The wide variance in New York also comes as Mr. Cuomo is facing a series of state and federal investigations into his administration’s efforts to obscure the toll of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
Indonesia reported more than 54,500 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its third record daily rise in a row as the country has surpassed India’s current daily caseload.
A seven-day rolling average of daily cases in the two countries showed them running neck and neck, but India’s caseload has been steadily declining while Indonesia’s has been skyrocketing, according to data collected by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Over the past few weeks, hospitals on Java island have overflowed with patients and residents have scrambled to buy medical oxygen to treat family members at home. Hundreds of people have been reported to have died of the virus at home because of a lack of oxygen and as a result of an overwhelmed health care system.
“Based on the last three days’ data, I can say clearly that Indonesia has become the new epicenter in the world,” said Dicky Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia, who has long urged the Indonesian authorities to implement firmer measures to control the spread of the virus.
Over the past two weeks, the daily numbers of infections have nearly doubled, and on Wednesday, Indonesia reported 991 new deaths.
Experts believe that the Delta variant is behind the surge in cases in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populated country. By contrast, India’s daily case count, which peaked at more than 414,000 in early May, has fallen to about 40,000.
The outbreak in Indonesia is the latest example of the widening gap between Western countries and other nations during the pandemic. Countries like Britain and the United States have reopened their economies and so far have been able to absorb a surge in cases with limited hospitalizations and deaths thanks to successful vaccine rollouts. Others, like India and now Indonesia, have lagged behind in vaccinations and face devastating consequences from Delta’s spread.
Studies suggest that vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant, but only 13 percent of Indonesia’s population of 270 million has received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while less than 6 percent has been fully vaccinated, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.
By comparison, nearly half of the U.S. population has been fully inoculated, and on Wednesday Britain passed the threshold of having vaccinated two thirds of its population.
In Indonesia, most injections came from the Sinovac Biotech vaccine; at least 20 Indonesian doctors who were fully vaccinated with Sinovac have died from the virus.
The neighboring Philippines, which also has struggled to contain the virus, has banned arrivals from Indonesia, and other countries, including Japan and Saudi Arabia, have begun evacuating their citizens from Indonesia.
On Sunday, Indonesia received three million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States. Indonesian officials said that the first priority for these doses would be to give booster shots to nearly 1.5 million health workers.
The continuing political unrest in Haiti and the recent wave of street protests in Cuba risk making already tenuous efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic even more difficult, officials from the World Health Organization warned.
“We are concerned about Haiti, which, in the midst of considerable political turmoil, has seen thousands of people displaced by ongoing violence and instability,” Carissa Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, which is part of the W.H.O., said, warning that “crowded shelters could become active hot spots for Covid transmission.”
A shortage of medical supplies across the country and the violence sparked by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti last week are also hindering the ability “to safely care for patients in need,” Dr. Etienne said, adding that “in some cases, patients may be avoiding seeking care due to safety concerns.”
Haiti is one of the few countries in the world that has yet to administer any Covid vaccines. On Wednesday, Haiti received 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States through the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative, the first doses to reach the country, PAHO said.
Cuba is the latest country in the region, after others including Brazil and Colombia, to experience “waves of protests due in part to the impact of this pandemic,” Dr. Etienne said.
Protesters in Cuba took to the streets in droves this past weekend in demonstrations that have been described as the largest in decades, leading to a stringent crackdown.
“Covid-19 has not just ravaged our health systems, it has fractured social protection programs and destabilized our economies,” Dr. Etienne said.
More than a third of people in the Latin American and Caribbean region are living in poverty and countries must “continue prioritizing health and social safety nets as part of their Covid response,” she added.
In Cuba, which recently reported its highest number of weekly cases since the start of the pandemic, the protests are raising fears that they will exacerbate exposure to the virus.
“The agglomeration of people due to protests for political, religious, cultural or sporting reasons increases the risk of transmission, particularly if, as is the case in Cuba, there is active transmission in many parts of the country,” Ciro Ugarte, PAHO’s director of health emergencies, said.
Throughout Cuba, “all the municipalities are in community transmission” and health authorities have confirmed the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant in several locations across the island, Dr. Ugarte said.
Cuba reported that 27 percent of its population had received at least one dose of either of its two homegrown vaccines as of July 10.
Cases of Covid-19 have also spiked in other Caribbean nations, including the British Virgin Islands, which has seen cases triple weeks after it opened the country to cruise ships.
The region accounts for more than a third of Covid-19 cases and more than 40 percent of deaths reported worldwide this past week, Dr. Etienne said.
The region continues to suffer from a lack of vaccines and only one in seven people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated.
“Money, more than public health, has determined how quickly countries can secure the tools that they need to combat this virus,” Dr. Etienne said.
Face masks will continue to be mandatory on London’s subways and buses even after the government lifts the legal requirement to wear them on July 19, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said on Wednesday.
Mr. Khan’s announcement puts the London rules at odds with those announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is pushing ahead with a plan to lift almost all Covid restrictions in England, even as coronavirus infections surge and hospital admissions begin to mount.
Adding to the messaging confusion, Mr. Johnson has encouraged people to continue wearing masks in crowded and confined places even though, under the relaxed rules he announced, it will no longer be a legal requirement.
Mr. Khan, who is in the opposition Labour Party, said that wearing a face mask would be a condition of using London’s sprawling public transportation system, which includes the Tube, buses, overground trains, and light rail networks. Passengers who refuse to put one on will be ordered to leave the system.
“The wearing of face coverings helps reduce the spread of Covid, and crucially gives Londoners confidence to travel — vital to our economic recovery,” Mr. Khan said on Twitter. “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”
Mr. Khan said that masks would also remain mandatory in taxis and ride-hailing services.
Mr. Khan expressed optimism in television interviews that people would abide by the rules. Most riders on the subway and buses wear masks, but some public-health officials worry that behavior could change quickly if they were no longer compulsory.
Officials in other cities have expressed fears that the government’s relaxed rules will contribute to a further surge in infection rates. In Manchester, the city’s Labour mayor, Andy Burnham, is also weighing a legal requirement to continue wearing masks on the public transportation system.
Mr. Johnson has argued that, with vaccines widely deployed in the adult population, England must stick with plans to reopen its economy fully and shift the emphasis from legal restrictions to personal responsibility.
Nonetheless, the British health minister, Sajid Javid, acknowledged that infections could soar to more than 100,000 a day later in the summer. On Tuesday, Britain reported 36,660 new cases, a 27 percent increase over the same day last week.
Nixon and Elvis. Trump and Kanye. Biden and Olivia.
On Wednesday, Olivia Rodrigo, the 18-year-old pop star with the No. 1 album in the country, visited the White House and joined the Biden administration’s efforts to use the young and influential to reach the young and unvaccinated.
“It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members,” Ms. Rodrigo said, reading from prepared remarks during a short appearance in the White House briefing room, “and actually get to a vaccination site, which you can do more easily than ever before.”
The White House could not have scripted it better. (In fact, White House officials helped her craft her remarks, according to an administration official.) The “Good 4 U” singer has millions of followers on social media who hang on her every word, and she is part of a growing list of creators, celebrities and influential people who are interested in working with the White House to deliver a pro-vaccine message directly to their respective communities.
Rob Flaherty, the White House director of digital strategy, has been organizing an effort to reach out to people like Ms. Rodrigo and invite them to Washington to create content. The plans for bringing her to the White House, Mr. Flaherty said in an interview, began in June. After she arrived, Ms. Rodrigo wandered the halls of the West Wing with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, stopping by desks and chatting with officials before it was time to film a series of educational videos with President Biden.
“Not every 18-year-old uses their time to come do this,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said from the lectern.
Administration officials are hoping the time investment pays off. In recent weeks, as the federal strategy has shifted to more personalized efforts to reach unvaccinated people, the White House has recruited YouTube stars, social media influencers and celebrities who can send the messaging to their own channels. It has also highlighted efforts by popular dating apps to encourage young singles to promote their vaccination status.
Healthy young adults — or “young invincibles” — are historically hard to reach, and the White House has been upfront about the difficulties that officials have faced in convincing them to receive a vaccine. Those hurdles can include an overlapping mix of inertia, fear, busy schedules and misinformation.
Young people under the age of 27 are vaccinated at a lower rate than older people, according to the White House, and were part of the reason the administration said it fell short of reaching Mr. Biden’s goal of partly vaccinating 70 percent of American adults by July 4. Younger people became eligible for immunization later in the vaccine rollout after other high-priority risk groups. Those aged 12 to 15 only became eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in mid-May.
Across the country overall, providers were administering about 0.55 million doses per day on average, as of Wednesday, about an 84 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported on April 13. its from here and they updated for the day.
The White House is still facing significant barriers to reaching reluctant Americans, particularly in conservative states where officials say they face pressure against evangelizing for a vaccine.
After Ms. Rodrigo left the podium, Ms. Psaki was asked about Dr. Michelle Fiscus, a pediatrician who was Tennessee’s top vaccination official until recently.
Dr. Fiscus has said she was fired from her job after she distributed a memo that suggested some teenagers might be eligible for vaccinations without their parents’ consent. The memo repeated information that had been publicly available on the health department’s website for years.
“And we’ve been crystal clear that we stand against any effort that would politicize our country’s pandemic response and recovery from Covid-19,” Ms. Psaki said.
Fueled by the Delta variant, daily coronavirus case counts in New York City have climbed in recent days, even as the city seems determined to turn the page on the pandemic.
Just a few weeks ago, there were only 200 new cases a day across the city on average, the lowest level since the early days of the pandemic. But in the past week, the city had a stretch of several days of 400 or more cases. And the test positivity rate has doubled: from below 0.6 percent on average to about 1.3 percent.
Those numbers are still low, but the increase has been swift, surprising some epidemiologists and public health officials who had not expected to see cases jump so quickly after remaining level through June.
With some 64 percent of adults in the city fully vaccinated, epidemiologists say it remains unlikely that the Delta variant will create conditions as devastating as the past two waves of Covid-19. Still, Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, calls the recent uptick “concerning.”
The Delta variant is far more contagious than the original form of the virus that swept across the city in March 2020. It was detected in a few cases in New York City in February during the second wave, but it really made inroads over the past two months. By the end of May, it accounted for about 8 percent of the cases sequenced by the city, and by mid-June, more than 40 percent.
Countries around the world — and many U.S. states — are experiencing a surge as a result of the spread of the Delta variant. In Britain, where vaccinations surpass the U.S. rate, cases have soared but hospitalizations have risen more slowly.
“The metrics to keep a close eye on are hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.
Those numbers have remained stable in New York City. The seven-day average number of daily hospitalizations this week has stayed under 20. The city has recently seen four or five Covid-related deaths a day on average.
Other U.S. cities areas have seen similar surges in infections. On Tuesday, Los Angeles County recorded its fifth day in a row with more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, with health officials attributing the rise to the Delta variant’s spread among the unvaccinated.
Health officials in New York City have tended to focus on Staten Island, where vaccination rates are below the city average, wearing masks is unpopular and positivity rates tend to exceed the city average. Four ZIP codes in Staten Island have had more than 100 cases combined in the past week.
But case counts have climbed significantly in every borough. In Brooklyn, average daily case counts nearly doubled in recent weeks from under 60 to more than 100. On Tuesday, the ZIP code that had the highest average positive test rate in the city was in Harlem.
Health officials have said that the vast majority of those testing positive have not been fully vaccinated.
So far, the Delta variant has not led the city to drastically change its public health guidance or virus-related restrictions. Nor has it affected the plans of many large companies to get workers back to their desks in Manhattan, according to Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a leading business association.
Vaccines offered powerful protection against the coronavirus in New York City, blunting the second wave of the virus and saving an estimated 8,300 lives between December of last year and July of this year, according to a new study by Yale University epidemiologists released by the city on Wednesday.
The study underscored that the real-world performance of the vaccines can meet and even exceed trial results in preventing virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the city said. Only 1.1 percent of the 500,300 virus cases during the first six months of this year were among people who were fully vaccinated, according to data from the city’s health department also released Wednesday in support of the study.
Yet the data was also a reminder the protection was not perfect. A total of 94 fully vaccinated New Yorkers died from the virus between January and mid-June, compared with 8,069 deaths among the unvaccinated, the city reported, though it did not include specific demographic information.
“Vaccines are safe and astonishingly effective at protecting you and your loved ones,” said the city’s health commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, in a statement accompanying the release of the study. “The stakes are so high, and we simply cannot emphasize enough how urgent it is for New Yorkers to get vaccinated.”
One important caveat is that most of the period of the study was before the Delta variant became the predominant variant in the city, according to the limited amount of genetic analysis of cases being done by the city each week. Studies suggest that vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant, though cases among those who are vaccinated tend to be mild or asymptomatic, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said this week. Because of vaccines, health experts don’t expect the recent increase in cases to reach the levels seen in New York City’s first and second waves.
The protection of vaccines remains powerful. A Public Health England analysis, which has not yet been peer reviewed, showed that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease and 96 percent effective against hospitalization from Delta, just slightly lower than against older variants. Moderna also reported on early studies showing only a “modest reduction” of antibody protection against the Delta variant.
The data released Wednesday represented the most comprehensive look yet at breakthrough infections in New York City. In all, the city reported that about 5,300 fully vaccinated people were infected and 583 fully vaccinated people were hospitalized in New York with Covid-19 between January and June.
The picture is more complete than what is being released nationally, as it included mild cases, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is only tracking serious breakthrough infections that result in hospitalizations or deaths.
Far more vaccinated people, however, avoided the illness. The Yale study, which was done independently of the city’s researchers, used statistical modeling to estimate that the city’s vaccination campaign prevented about 250,000 cases in New York City, and 44,000 people from being hospitalized. The study is not yet published, and has just been submitted for peer review, the city said.
New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands skyrocketed by more than 500 percent last week, according to the health authorities, a surge in cases that forced the country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, to publicly apologize on Monday for having lifted restrictions too hastily.
As new daily cases increased from 500 on June 25, a day before restrictions were dropped, to over 10,000 on Saturday, Mr. Rutte’s government reimposed several measures, including ordering clubs and bars to close at midnight and reinstating a policy to serve only seated and spaced customers.
On Monday, Mr. Rutte said he was sorry about the previous lifting of the measures. “We thought it was possible, but it wasn’t,” he said.
Mr. Rutte’s government had reopened most of the country’s economy on June 26, pushing forward a projected date for easing restrictions by three weeks. Clubs, bars and restaurants reopened under a government-sponsored testing plan that in many cases failed to work because some bouncers and other staff members had not been properly trained. Mask mandates were also lifted except on public transport, in high schools and airports.
In the weeks that followed, the health authorities reported more than 100 superspreader events, including in clubs, on party boats and in student societies. More than 1,000 people were infected at a festival that gathered 20,000 people in the city of Utrecht this month.
As of Wednesday, around 65 percent of the population in the Netherlands has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 39 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times tracker.
In other news from around the world:
In Australia, the authorities in Sydney said that the city’s strict lockdown would be extended until at least the end of the month after another 97 infections were reported on Wednesday. The restrictions had been scheduled to end on Friday, but an outbreak driven by the Delta variant has yet to subside, leading to an extension of stay-at-home orders and remote schooling for the city of five million people and nearby areas. Gladys Berejiklian, the top official for the state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, said that at least 24 of the 97 cases were infectious and still circulating in the community. Until that number gets close to zero, she said, the restrictions would have to remain in place.
A cruise ship returned to Singapore on Wednesday after a 40-year-old passenger tested positive for the virus, The Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, reported. Nearly 3,000 passengers and crew members were isolating in their cabins as the health authorities conducted contact tracing. The infected passenger, who was fully vaccinated, was identified as a close contact of a coronavirus case in Singapore and tested positive during the four-day “cruise to nowhere,” which had departed on Sunday, the newspaper reported.
Spain’s health ministry has decided to allow pharmacies to sell self-testing kits for coronavirus to individuals without clearance from health clinics, in a bid to better trace the spread of the disease as the country’s virus infection rate has soared in recent weeks.The authorization follows a long political battle over whether pharmacies should be enlisted into Spain’s testing efforts. The central government had opposed the idea until recently, arguing that pharmacists were ill-equipped to handle tests and that encouraging sick people to go to stores to buy test kits might create new infection clusters.The main doctors’ associations of Spain had also long rejected demands that tests be offered outside health clinics or carried out at home.
A Covid vaccination center in Malaysia was closed on Tuesday after nearly half of its health workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
The center is in the western state of Selangor, north of the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister of science, technology and innovation, said on Tuesday that 204 of the clinic’s 453 workers had tested positive after taking tests over the weekend, according to the Singaporean news outlet Channel News Asia. He said that 400 of the workers had been vaccinated.
The center was scheduled to reopen on Wednesday after closing for a day of deep cleaning, and its regular staff members were isolating, The Associated Press reported. Local news reports did not say whether any of the workers who tested positive had displayed symptoms or needed to be hospitalized.
The government’s Covid-19 immunization program said in a Twitter thread on Tuesday that it was difficult to tell whether the infections had occurred at the center and noted that the risk of the workers infecting others was low based on the viral loads of their test samples.
Even though vaccines are good at preventing serious disease and death from Covid-19, it is less clear how well they prevent vaccinated people from transmitting the virus to others.
Malaysia is reporting about 9,000 coronavirus cases per day, and its per capita rate of new infections — 28 people per 100,000 — was the highest in Southeast Asia as of Wednesday. It is one of several countries in the Asia-Pacific region where the pace of vaccination has been too slow to contain outbreaks driven by the highly infectious Delta variant.
Selangor and other parts of Malaysia have been under punishing lockdowns for months, and the restrictions were tightened further across several regions in early July.
Malaysia has approved several Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use, and more than 400,000 doses were administered on Tuesday. Yet only about a quarter of the country’s nearly 33 million people had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker, and only 12 percent have been fully vaccinated.
It’s bad enough making eye contact with someone during a soak, let alone accidentally touching a neighbour’s slippery leg or even worse, their feet. And it’s not just a weird thing to do with strangers in a communal jacuzzi. A friend once described the hot tub she shared with a group of pals during a cottage stay as resembling ‘human soup’. The mental image has haunted me ever since.
You’ve also got the logistics of getting in and out. Has anyone in the history of hot tubs ever managed to do so in a dignified manner? Between scuttling in the cold in your cossie, navigating slippery floors, and exiting the hot tub without shoving your rear end in someone’s face, it’s a minefield of potential bloopers.
It’s also prime territory for such gag reflex-inducing sights as floating plasters, and strands of hair, and that’s just the stuff you can see…
In badly maintained tubs, the warm, swirling water makes the perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria, putting people at risk of all sorts of nasty illnesses, including Legionnaires’ disease.
According to the NHS website, it’s caused by breathing in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria, so something to think about when you’re inhaling that ‘spa fresh air’ during your next dip.
Other delights can include folliculitis that gets into hair follicles and causes a rash, E.coli which can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea, crypto, which is caused by a microscopic parasite, and even the herpes virus.
And just because you’re on top of your personal hygiene and shower before you hit the bubble jets, doesn’t mean your fellow bathers are. They can be bringing all sorts with them in the way of sweat, flaky skin and other bodily ‘matter’.
As for the toasty temperature, it’s supposed to ease weary muscles and reduce stress, but it generally just leaves you feeling woozy, lethargic and in need of a sit down on dry land and a cool shower.
(Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images)
I do concede that having your own personal hot tub means you may minimise the general ick factor of shared spa pools, but then you’ve got the bother of cleaning and maintaining the thing – making sure you don’t strip your skin off by using the wrong chemicals or not measuring the right ones correctly, and then there’s the huge expense involved. It’s pretty difficult to lie back and zone out if all you can think about is how much each minute’s costing you.
It’s not for me to burst your hot tub bubble, so, please, you go and enjoy your dip, and whatever horror lies within, but if it’s all the same, I’ll continue to give them a very wide berth and stick to my bath.
Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic has reacted to comments from rival Rafael Nadal about his “obsession” with winning Grand Slams and setting new records, countering that he has never had problems with “verbalizing” his targets.
The world number one said that he doesn’t think he is obsessed with anything in life, adding that he feels only “passion and huge desire” to conquer new heights in tennis.
“Of course, I want to win more Slams, yes,” world number three Nadal told Metro. “No doubt about that. But I never get – I mean, Novak is more obsessed about this, more focused,”
“Not in a negative way. No, he’s more focused on just these things and it means a lot to him, all of this stuff. He’s always saying and talking about these records, and well done for him. But it’s not my approach to my tennis career.”
Novak Djokovic: “On Rafa Nadal attacking Novak’s ambition … Ever since I was a young player, I did not fear voicing my goals: I wanted to be number one and to win Slams. It is my path and it is unique, just like Rafa’s.” pic.twitter.com/BJ1bhdSiXR
— Thuso ➐ (@djokertennis) April 20, 2021
The latest anti DJOKOVIC trend : When Federer and Nadal break records, it is a good thing, no?When Djokovic breaks records , it is not good.Why ?!
Responding to the comments made by his rival, the 18-time Grand Slam winner said that he sees nothing bad in expressing the ambitions he sets for himself.
“I do not know why would that be a bad thing – not just in terms of records, but anything: politics in tennis, for instance,” Djokovic said during a press conference in Belgrade before the start of the Serbia Open.
“I am going towards achieving my goals and I have never had a problem verbalizing it. Maybe someone cannot say something and then stick to it, but I never found it hard to say: ‘I want to break that record or reach a certain goal.’
Because as you know Djokovic is not a Anglo-American puppet like Federer and Nadal are. He is different, he fights for all players, he is not an establishment Yes man. He is a proud individual and the GOAT of tennis and the Western powers cant stand him.
As usual tennis media completely misinterprets Nadal’s benign statement, and twists it into a ‘jab’ at Novak Djokovic. The two have different approaches and absolutely no conflict with each other, or their respective goals and ideas.
UFC superstar Dustin Poirier has proved that a near 250lbs weight difference doesn’t mean much on the mats, working four-time World’s Strongest Man Brian Shaw in front of a chuckling gym audience in a recent grappling session.
Poirier, who it was confirmed on Saturday will fight Conor McGregor for a third time at UFC 264 on July 10, is well-known for the concussive style of striking that he used so effectively to hand his rival the first TKO defeat of his career in January.
The Louisiana native has more than a few submissions skills up his sleeve, too, boasting seven career submission wins to become the UFC’s top-ranked lightweight.
Now Poirier has shown once again that when two opposing forces meet on the mats, the bigger they come, the harder they will fall.
In footage showing the former interim UFC lightweight champion rolling with world-renowned strongman Shaw, Poirier can be seen putting the 400lb Shaw through his paces before taking his back and sinking in a rear-naked choke submission which quickly coaxes a tap from the American behemoth.
The 27-6 mixed martial artist didn’t have it all his own way, though. Another video released from the session portrays him struggling to escape from underneath the colossal muscleman.
This isn’t the first time that a prominent MMA fighter has tried his hand against one of the world’s strongest men.
Why didn’t he do that to Khabib?
— UFC احيانًا بالعربي (@UFC_ARA) April 3, 2021
Shaw is a monster if this wasn’t all fun and games dustin wouldn’t be able to do anything with that guy this doesn’t prove the whole size doesn’t matter saying this Brian shaw we’re talking about
— Viking Bear (@VikingBear8) April 2, 2021
Dustin literally looks like a child on his back. Why are some people made THAT different
— Hunter Fuse 🍜 (@hunterfuse_) April 3, 2021
Similar footage of McGregor once showed the Irishman sparring with Thor Bjornsson, better known to many for his role as ‘The Mountain’ in HBO’s hit series ‘Game of Thrones’.
Reacting to the clip, some fans questioned why Poirier didn’t use the style of grappling in his world title fight with former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov during their main event scrap at UFC 242 back in September 2019.
“Why didn’t he do that to Khabib?” one fan cheekily asked, while another warned: “If this wasn’t all fun and games, Dustin wouldn’t be able to do anything with that guy”.
A third remarked that Poirier “literally looks like a child on his back“, such was the extreme weight difference in the scene featuring two wholly contrasting athletes.
Poirier won’t have to contend with such an extreme weight handicap in his next fight against McGregor this summer.
But the Irishman will know that he will likely be in for a short evening if Poirier finds himself in a similar position come July 10.
Also on rt.com‘Adjust and absolutely f**king destroy’: Conor McGregor fires warning to Dustin Poirier as he confirms July 10 UFC rematch is ON