No spectators at the Melbourne Cup
In Australia, the Victoria Racing Club has announced there will be no spectators allowed at this year’s Melbourne Cup “in light of the ongoing situation around government restrictions”.
“While we are very disappointed not to be able to welcome our members and racegoers to Cup Week, we understand the government’s commitment to keeping our community safe. We also recognise the need for certainty and clarity for our patrons, being only six days out from Derby Day,” said VRC chair Amanda Elliott.
“We are still in discussions regarding the potential return to the track for a small number of owners, as is currently permitted in regional Victoria,” Mrs Elliott said.
“We will play our part in supporting Victoria’s emergence from this pandemic as Melbourne moves closer to a normal environment over summer.”
The VRC will run an interactive Cup website for people still wanting to enjoy the festivities of Australia’s famous race day.
The testing of entire cities whenever there is a new outbreak in China is overkill, the country’s chief epidemiologist has said.
About 11 million people were recently tested in just five days in Qingdao, after 12 new cases were linked to a hospital. But the testing regime found no new cases, and Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist with China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told China Newsweek the transmission would have been confined to the hospital.
“Qingdao has the determination to [test everyone], but it’s overkill,” Wu said.
Mainland China has avoided seeing more massive outbreaks since it got control of the original Wuhan epidemic, even as new clusters have emerged in cities and provinces as populous as Beijing, Qingdao, and Jilin. As well as swift lockdowns, strict contact tracing, and travel restrictions, authorities in each case also embarked on ambitious drives to test every single resident.
Wu said while citywide testing may be reassuring to officials and residents, “the social cost was too big and unnecessary”.
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More than 100 inmates at Bali's Kerobokan prison test positive
More than 100 inmates have tested positive for covid-19 at Indonesia’s Kerobokan prison, on the island of Bali.
The Jakarta Post reports today on a growing cluster inside the notorious prison, detected after complaints of symptoms by some inmates prompted mass testing earlier this week.
Of 106 positive test results so far, 84 are men, the Post reported. They have been moved to an isolated block of the prison, it said.
“[The number of confirmed cases] might still be increasing because we are still waiting for more test results,” said I Putu Surya Dharma, spokesman for the law and human rights ministry’s Bali office.
The prison is under lockdown and receiving no visitors or new prisoners.
Bali has recorded more than 11,000 cases of Covid-19 during the pandemic, which has also devastated the island’s economy which depends almost entirely on tourism.
Indonesia has recorded more than 380,000 cases.
From the wire services in Europe: Italy saw a second night of street protests against curfews as it reported another daily record on Saturday.
After clashes in the southern city of Naples on Friday night, police again faced off against dozens of masked protestors in the centre of Rome after the far-right Forza Nuova group called for a protest against the curfews.
Some 200 masked militants belonging to the neo-fascist group hurled projectiles at police and set rubbish bins alight in the second night of street protests.
Police arrested seven protesters and reported two officers injured, according to the Repubblica daily.
The government is planning further restrictions to contain a resurgence of the pandemic, and prime minister Giuseppe Conte has said he wants to avoid a repeat of the blanket lockdown earlier in the year. But a number of regions - including Campania, the area around Naples, Lazio around Rome, and Lombardy - have imposed overnight curfews.
The northern region of Piedmont and Sicily in the south will follow next week and other regions are expected to match them. The central government is expected to announce more measures soon.
Earlier, health ministry data showed 19,644 new Covid cases and 151 dead as the disease surged in areas like Lombardy, Milan, Campania and Lazio.
Conte pledged to speed up help for businesses suffering in the crisis but said the weeks ahead would be very difficult. “We cannot lower our guard,” he added.
According to a draft decree circulated on Saturday, public gyms and swimming pools may be closed and bars and restaurants told to shut from 6 p.m., while people will be encouraged not to travel outside their home districts.
Like many authorities across Europe, the Italian government is desperate not to close down the economy completely but is facing growing public anger at renewed restrictions being imposed to limit public gatherings.
With public health services coming under strain, authorities have reopened temporary intensive care facilities built during the first phase.
Despite this, Italy’s top public health body warned on Friday services were approaching crisis point.
China reports 15 new cases
Mainland China reported 15 new cases on Saturday, all imported from other countries. There are 405 asymptomatic patients currently under observation, including a teenage girl in Kashgar.
The city has imposed travel restrictions while health authorities test the population. The South China Morning Post cited an unnamed official, saying residents are allowed to leave the city if they have a negative test result.
Overnight there was a bit of confusion among Kashgar residents and visitors, as flights in and out of the Xinjiang region city were suddenly cancelled, and police authorities posted and then deleted a social media message reminding people to wear masks.
“Everyone wear your masks properly and pay attention to personal safety. Don’t believe or spread rumours to avoid unnecessary panic. All is subject to official notification,” the Weibo post said. Videos shared online also appeared to show traffic banking up at checkpoints.
Xinjiang health authorities announced on Saturday night that an asymptomatic case had been found during a routine screening in Shufu county, and the patient - a 17-year-old woman - had been transferred to hospital.
The case would be the first inside Xinjiang since mid-August, when an outbreak sparked a “wartime state” of lockdown in the capital Urumqi.
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UK plans to vaccinate NHS staff by Christmas – report
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is preparing to provide vaccinations for frontline staff to start before Christmas, the Mail on Sunday has reported.
Citing an email from a NHS Trust chief to his staff, the report said a national vaccination program rollout was being accelerated, with healthcare workers prioritised.
Writing to staff earlier this month, the head of a hospital NHS Trust in Warwickshire said they and other NHS organisations nationally had been told “to be prepared to start a Covid-19 vaccine program in early December”.
“The latest intelligence states a coronavirus vaccine should be available this year with NHS staff priorities prior to Christmas,” the email said, adding that the vaccine was expected to be given in two doses 28 days apart.
The Mail also reported the UK government has pushed through new laws allowing the UK to bypass European medicines approvals and fast track production if a vaccine is ready before the end of December.