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COVID-19 Around the World

Police in Netherlands clash with rioters in Eindhoven over coronavirus lockdown measures

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Rioters set fires in the centre of the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven and pelted police with rocks at a banned demonstration against coronavirus lockdown measures, while officers responded with tear gas and water cannons, arresting at least 30 people.

It was the worst violence to hit the Netherlands since the pandemic began and the second straight Sunday that police clashed with protesters in Amsterdam.

The country has been in a tough lockdown since mid-December that is due to continue at least until February 9.

The crowd of hundreds of demonstrators was believed to include supporters of the anti-immigrant group PEGIDA, which had sought to demonstrate in the city.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The violence came a day after anti-curfew rioters torched a coronavirus testing facility in the Dutch fishing village of Urk.

Video from Urk, 80 kilometres north-east of Amsterdam, showed youths breaking into the coronavirus testing facility near the village’s harbour before it was set ablaze Saturday night.

The lockdown was imposed by the Dutch Government to rein in the spread of the more transmissible variant of the coronavirus.

Police said they fined more than 3,600 people nationwide for breaching the curfew that ran from 9:00pm, Saturday until 4:30am Sunday and arrested 25 people for breaching the curfew or for violence.

“This is not only unacceptable but also a slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test centre to help people from Urk,” the local authorities said, adding that the curfew would be strictly enforced for the rest of the week.

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COVID-19 Around the World

Israel starts vaccinating recovered COVID patients

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The Health Ministry on Monday informed healthcare providers that they can begin to vaccinate Israelis who have recovered from COVID-19.

The ministry’s recommendation calls for vaccinating patients with a single dose three months after recovery. Only recovered patients over 16 can receive a shot, in keeping with the ministry’s guidelines not to vaccinate anyone younger than that.

Over 323,000 Israelis who were infected with COVID-19 recovered at least 90 days ago, according to Health Ministry figures. The ministry’s website does not provide a breakdown on how many of those are under 16.

 

 

Monday’s announcement follows the recommendation last month by the Health Ministry’s Priority Committee to vaccinate the recovered.

There have been nearly 780,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel since the start of the pandemic and 5,760 people have died. As of Monday, over 4.7 million Israelis — half the country’s population — have received the first dose of the vaccine; close to 3.4 million have received both doses.

New national data showed that just one in 1,500 fully vaccinated Israelis has tested positive for COVID-19, providing the strongest sign yet that widespread inoculation can significantly reduce serious illness from the coronavirus and prevent hospitalization.

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COVID-19 Around the World

FDA approves single-shot J&J coronavirus vaccine

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US regulators have formally approved the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) coronavirus vaccine, the third jab to be authorised in the country.

The vaccine is set to be a cost-effective alternative to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and can be stored in a refrigerator instead of a freezer.

Trials found it prevented serious illness but was 66% effective overall when moderate cases were included.

The vaccine was developed mainly by J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutica division.

The company has agreed to provide the US with 100 million doses by the end of June. The first doses could be available to the US public as early as next week.

The UK, EU and Canada have also ordered doses, and 500 million doses have also been ordered through the Covax scheme to supply poorer nations.

The European Medicines Agency could approve the drug for the EU in early March, with a speedy rollout to follow, French Industry Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said on Sunday.

The J&J authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came after an external committee of experts unanimously backed the vaccine on Friday.

Results from trials conducted in the US, South Africa and Brazil showed it was more than 85% effective at preventing serious illness, and 66% effective overall when moderate cases were included.

The efficacy rate was lower than two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, but the trials were organised differently and the J&J tests came at a time when new variants were in circulation, making comparisons difficult.

Notably, there were no deaths among participants who had received the J&J vaccine and no hospital admissions after 28 days post-vaccine.

Overall protection was lower in South Africa and Brazil, where virus variants have become dominant, but defence against severe or critical illness was “similarly high”.

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COVID-19 Around the World

UK homeless deaths rise by more than a third in a year, study finds

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Deaths among homeless people have risen by more than a third in a year, according to an analysis by a social justice group that found that almost 1,000 unhoused people had died across the UK in 2020.

 

The Museum of Homelessness (MoH), a community-driven organisation which runs the Dying Homeless Project, called for action to prevent a repeat of such “terrible loss of life”. Among cases where a cause of death was confirmed, 36% were related to drug and alcohol use and 15% were suicide.

 

Jess Tuttle, the organisation’s co-founder, said the findings demonstrated how the pandemic had hit a system “already cut to the bone from 10 years of austerity”. The MoH is now calling for a national confidential inquiry into homeless deaths.

 

A total of 976 deaths were recorded across the four nations in 2020: 693 in England and Wales, 176 in Scotland, and 107 in Northern Ireland. There were 710 deaths registered in the 2019 study.

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