News World What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Vaccination programme moves to more groups in England

England will launch the next phase of its vaccination programme on Monday, offering doses to people aged 70 and above, as well as those seen as extremely vulnerable clinically.

Europe‘s biggest vaccination programme so far had focused on people aged 80 and older as well as frontline healthcare workers.

The government wanted all adults to have been offered a first vaccination by September, health minister Matt Hancock said. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the four most at-risk categories, making up about 14 million people, by mid-February.

Tennis causes tension with Australians

As top tennis stars descended on Melbourne for the Grand Slam, many Australians questioned the decision to host the tournament when thousands of citizens are stranded overseas by the pandemic.

Australia has halved the number of those who can return each week as positive cases in hotel quarantine rise, prompting airline Emirates to indefinitely suspend flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Australians criticised the government on social media, questioning how it could make room for 1,200 tennis players and their entourages for next month’s Australian Open, but not its own citizens.

Fuelling frustration for stranded Australians, the health department chief warned on Monday that international borders may not be fully reopened this year.

Only 6,000 athletes expected at Tokyo Olympic opening event

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) expects only 6,000 athletes at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Summer Games, just over half of initial estimates, as organisers enforce precautions.

The IOC plans to scale back the ceremony because athletes will not be allowed to arrive at the Olympic Village, which can accommodate 18,000 people, more than five days before their events and must depart within two days after they end, media said, citing unidentified sources.

About 11,000 athletes from 200 countries had initially been expected, the Yomiuri newspaper said. The latest surge in infections in Japan and elsewhere has cast fresh doubts over the future of the Tokyo Olympics, delayed from last year.

Any cancellation or scaleback could cost the IOC, which relies on income from selling television rights.

Thousands protest Amsterdam lockdown

Dutch riot police used water cannon on Sunday to disperse about 2,000 people at an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

None wore masks, which are not mandatory outdoors, and few obeyed social distancing rules, fuelling health concerns that prompted the effort to disperse them, city authorities said in a statement.

The government closed schools and most shops in December to try to stem a surge in infections, and extended the lockdown this week by at least three more weeks.

(Reuters)

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