Categories
Entertainment Canada

Christmas carols records in the charts

Christmas carols have never been more popular than in 2020 in the United States. At least, according to the magazine Billboard, which has a record number of titles associated with the holiday season in two of its charts for December 19.

Nine of the ten songs that have accumulated the most plays on online platforms are Christmas carols, one more than the previous mark from last January.

Most listened to? We give it to you in a thousand: the timeless All I Want For Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey, with 31.4 million plays.

That’s not all. The good old Hot 100, this ranking of the most listened to songs online, on the radio and sold of the last week, contains 29 Christmas songs. Unsurprisingly, it is also All I Want For Christmas Is You who dominates.

Categories
Canada

New records for COVID-19 cases in Ontario

Ontario reported a record number of daily COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with as many as 2,275 new infections in addition to 20 deaths.

• Read also: COVID-19 in Quebec: 1,741 new cases and 39 additional deaths

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

This was reported by public health officials in that province, who were able to test 39,600 people.

This new peak exceeds the previous record recorded five days ago (1983 cases). To explain this increase, the Ontario authorities have pointed out a change in the way the data is compiled. In this case, the reports will now include data counted up to 1 p.m. the day before, not 10:30 a.m., as before.

Of the 2,275 new infections, Toronto has the most (711). The regions of Peel (586), Windsor-Essex (185) and York (154) are the other outbreak sites in Ontario.

In addition, there are 921 people who are hospitalized in Ontario, including 249 in intensive care.

In total, the province has 144,396 cases and 3,993 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations on the rise

In Quebec, authorities said Tuesday that 1,741 new cases have increased the toll, which now stands at 167,276 people infected since the start of the health crisis.

In addition, 7,571 patients lost their battle with the disease, including 39 new deaths.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise in Quebec with 69 more people for a total of 959. There are also 125 people in intensive care, three more than the day before.

Across the country, the Chief Administrator of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, has also noted an increase in hospitalizations.

As of Monday, there were 6,731 new cases counted across the country. As of late afternoon Tuesday, authorities were reporting more than 4,400 new infections.

Manitoba (272), Saskatchewan (194), among others, added to the toll.

In total, Canada had 473,353 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 13,627 deaths.

The situation in Canada:

Quebec: 167,276 cases (7,571 deaths)

Ontario: 144,396 (3,993 deaths)

Alberta: 81,986 cases (733 deaths)

British Columbia: 42,943 cases (647 deaths)

Manitoba: 21,535 cases (508 deaths)

Saskatchewan: 12,432 cases (98 deaths)

Nova Scotia: 1,426 cases (65 deaths)

New Brunswick: 559 cases (8 deaths)

Newfoundland and Labrador: 359 cases (4 deaths)

Nunavut: 258 cases

Prince Edward Island: 89 cases

Yukon: 59 cases (1 death)

Northwest Territories: 22 cases

Canadian returnees: 13 cases

Total: 473,353 cases (13,627 deaths)

Categories
Bollywood

Kaagaz: Pankaj Tripathi to play alive man who was declared dead in official records in Zee5 film


Pankaj Tripathi will play a character inspired by Lal Bihari Mritak, a man who struggled to prove that he is alive after he was declared dead in the land revenue records of Uttar Pradesh, in a new film titled Kaagaz. Directed by Satish Kaushik, it will release on Zee5 on January 7.

The satirical comedy, which will be a commentary on the flawed system of land resources, will also star Monal Gajjar, Mita Vashisht, Amar Upadhyay and Satish Kaushik in pivotal roles.

In a statement, Pankaj called Kaagaz a ‘brilliantly written’ film. “It is quirky, black comedy and depicts a common man’s humorous journey on identity crisis. My character will be quite different from some of my recent ventures and I am excited to be a part of such an inspiring story. This story needs to be heard and I am definite that Zee5 will give it the reach that it deserves,” he said.

 

Director Satish Kaushik, who also plays a pivotal role in Kaagaz, said, “I remember reading about the story of Lal Bihari Mritak in the news for the first time, I was intrigued and inspired with his journey, so I did a lot of research on the events that took place in his life. Eventually, it felt to me like this story deserved to be told to the world.”

Also read: Christopher Nolan says Tom Hardy’s ‘extraordinary, amazing’ performance as Bane hasn’t been fully appreciated

Lal Bihari Mritak fought a long and hard battle for nearly two decades to prove himself alive, after he was declared dead in the records of the Uttar Pradesh government’s revenue department in 1976. He founded the Mritak Sangh upon realising that there were many others in the state suffering a similar fate.

Kaagaz is presented by Salman Khan Films with Satish Kaushik Entertainment Production and produced by Salma Khan, Nishant Kaushik and Vikas Malu. Apart from an online release, the film will also release in select theatres in Uttar Pradesh.

Follow @htshowbiz for more





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Headlines UK

UK records another 18,447 Covid cases – 1,175 MORE than last Sunday

UK records another 18,447 Covid cases – 1,175 MORE than last Sunday – with 144 new daily deaths taking the total to 64,169

  • The government has announced 144 deaths recorded across the country today
  • At the same time, UK has recorded another 18,447 coronavirus cases today 
  • The cases are a 6.8 per cent rise on last week – though deaths fell 37.7 per cent 
  • Today’s figures come as Oxford vaccine chief said jab could be rolled out soon
  • Sarah Gilbert says chances vaccine could be available before 2021 are high 

The UK has recorded another 18,447 coronavirus cases today – 1,175 more than last Sunday.

The government also announced another 144 new deaths, a 37 per cent drop on last week’s 231.  

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 80,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.  

It comes as Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, said the chances of its vaccine being released before the end of the year are ‘pretty high’.  

She emphasised that multiple vaccines – made using different technologies – will be needed to tackle the pandemic.

The jab from Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is yet to be approved for use in the UK, with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) still reviewing trial data.

When asked about the chances of receiving the jab by the end of the year, Prof Gilbert told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘It depends on the age group you’re in and the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) prioritisations.

‘I think the chances are pretty high. But we do need multiple vaccines, all countries need multiple vaccines, the world needs multiple vaccines and we need vaccines made using different technologies, if that’s possible.’

She said this was due to companies potentially encountering problems with the supply of raw materials as doses are produced, which could slow down vaccine rollout if other jabs are not available.

‘So having multiple shots on goal, multiple irons in the fire, is what we really need,’ she added.

AstraZeneca has joined a trial exploring whether a combination of its vaccine candidate and the Russian Sputnik V jab can offer improved protection from the virus.

Sputnik V, currently being made available to Russians in high-risk groups, was given regulatory approval by the Russian government in early August amid criticism after only being tested on several dozen people.

Prof Gilbert said there was a ‘possibility’ that the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab could give better protection if combined with other candidates, but added there would be ‘much more consideration’ before it is used on a larger scale.

The jab from Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is yet to be approved for use in the UK - but could be rolled out before the end of the year

The jab from Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is yet to be approved for use in the UK – but could be rolled out before the end of the year

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, said the chances of its vaccine being released before the end of the year are 'pretty high'

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, said the chances of its vaccine being released before the end of the year are ‘pretty high’

‘Well this is just going to be a small trial to start with, to look at what can be achieved by using those two vaccines together,’ she told the Andrew Marr Show.

‘There’ll obviously be much more consideration given to whether it should be used on a wide scale.

‘So I don’t think anybody has anything to worry about.’

Data indicates the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has 62% efficacy when one full dose is given followed by another full dose, but when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose at least a month later, its efficacy rose to 90%.

The combined analysis from both dosing regimes resulted in an average efficacy of 70%.

Meanwhile, the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech, which is currently being rolled out across the UK, has been shown in studies to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.

The UK has secured 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and 40 million of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

On concerns over the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, Prof Gilbert said: ‘What’s important is vaccinating population, not vaccinating people and thinking about efficacy on an individual level.

‘And if we don’t have enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate everybody, then we’ll be much worse off than being able to vaccinate large numbers of people with other vaccines.’

Categories
Canada

COVID-19: Quebec records 1,898 additional cases and 40 new deaths

Quebec reports 1,898 additional cases and 40 deaths, bringing the total to 161,921 infected people and 7,475 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

• Read also: [EN DIRECT 12 DÉCEMBRE 2020] All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

• Read also: Nearly 1.6 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide

The number of hospitalizations decreased by 11 from the previous day, to a cumulative 860. Of these, the number of people in intensive care increased by 6, for a total of 129.

THE SITUATION IN QUEBEC AS OF DECEMBER 12, 2020

  • 161,921 people infected (+1898)
  • 7475 deaths (+40)
  • 860 people hospitalized (-11)
  • 129 people in intensive care (+6)

The withdrawals made on December 10 amount to 39,415, for a total of 4,276,497

“We are registering a new record for withdrawals. I take this opportunity to thank the teams who work tirelessly in the field and in our laboratories. It is also for them that we must continue to limit our contacts, “Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé said on Twitter.

CASE REPORT BY REGION

  • Bas-Saint-Laurent: 1085 (+19)
  • Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean: 6208 (+ 56)
  • Capitale-Nationale: 13 972 (+210)
  • Mauricie-et-Center-du-Québec: 7954 (+92)
  • Estrie: 5930 (+119)
  • Montreal: 57,073 (+653)
  • Outaouais: 3946 (+38)
  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue: 298 (-)
  • North Shore: 236 (+9)
  • Nord-du-Quebec: 56 (-1)
  • Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine: 1471 (+7)
  • Chaudière-Appalaches: 6351 (+86)
  • Laval: 13 068 (+197)
  • Lanaudière: 12 671 (+138)
  • Laurentians: 8761 (+78)
  • Montérégie: 22 660 (+195)
  • Nunavik: 30 (+2)
  • Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James: 17 (-)
  • Outside Quebec: 131 (-)
  • Region to be determined: 3 (-)

Total: 161,921 confirmed cases

REPORT OF DEATHS BY REGION

  • Bas-Saint-Laurent: 24
  • Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean: 169
  • Capitale-Nationale: 516
  • Mauricie-et-Center-du-Quebec: 306
  • Estrie: 92
  • Montreal: 3707
  • Outaouais: 92
  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue: 4
  • North Shore: 2
  • Northern Quebec: 0
  • Gaspé Peninsula – Magdalen Islands: 42
  • Chaudière-Appalaches: 148
  • Laval: 733
  • Lanaudière: 361
  • Laurentians: 343
  • Montérégie: 935
  • Nunavik: 0
  • Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James: 1
  • Outside Quebec: 0
  • Region to be determined: 0

Total: 7,475 deaths

ELSEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY

As of Saturday afternoon, Canada had 452,612 cases (+3771) and 13,308 deaths (+57).

Ontario reported 1,873 more infections and 17 deaths. This marks the fourth day in a row that the number of cases has surpassed 1,800 in the country’s most populous province. The hottest areas are Toronto (522 cases) and its suburbs of Peel (436 cases) and York (185 cases). To date, the province has 138,504 cases and 3,933 deaths.

The situation in Canada:

  • Quebec: 161,921 cases (7,475 deaths)
  • Ontario: 138,504 cases (3,933 deaths)
  • Alberta: 76,792 cases (685 deaths)
  • British Columbia: 40,797 cases (598 deaths)
  • Manitoba: 20,392 cases (465 deaths)
  • Saskatchewan: 11,475 cases (75 deaths)
  • Nova Scotia: 1,402 cases (65 deaths)
  • New Brunswick: 554 cases (8 deaths)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 355 cases (4 deaths)
  • Nunavut: 245 cases
  • Prince Edward Island: 84 cases
  • Yukon: 58 cases (1 death)
  • Northwest Territories: 20 cases
  • Canadian returnees: 13 cases

Categories
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US records ONE MILLION new coronavirus cases in just five days

The United States recorded one million new coronavirus cases in just five days as White House coronavirus task force coordinator, Dr Deborah Birx, expressed frustration on Sunday over the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration that are reflected in some Americans’ perception about masks, social distancing and superspreader events.

Between Tuesday and Saturday, the US reported 1,000,882 new COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. 

To put that in perspective, it took 100 days to reach one million infections after the first cases of the virus were reported on January 20. The US total now sits at more than 14.5 million cases and at least 281,199 deaths from the virus. 

Individual US states scrambled on Sunday to impose lockdowns to stem coronavirus spikes amid a lack of national leadership on how to curb infections until vaccines are widely available in the spring.

‘Right now, across the Sun Belt, we have governors and mayors who have cases equivalent to what they had in the summertime yet aren’t putting in the same policies and mitigations that they put in the summer, that they know changed the course of this pandemic across the South,’ Birx said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

‘So it is frustrating because not only do we know what works, governors and mayors used those tools to stem the tide in the spring and the summer,’ Birx said.

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The United States recorded one million new coronavirus cases in just five days as White House coronavirus task force coordinator, Dr Deborah Birx (pictured), expressed frustration on Sunday over the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration that are reflected in some Americans’ perception about masks, social distancing and superspreader events

'Right now, across the Sun Belt, we have governors and mayors who have cases equivalent to what they had in the summertime yet aren't putting in the same policies and mitigations that they put in the summer, that they know changed the course of this pandemic across the South,' Birx said

‘Right now, across the Sun Belt, we have governors and mayors who have cases equivalent to what they had in the summertime yet aren’t putting in the same policies and mitigations that they put in the summer, that they know changed the course of this pandemic across the South,’ Birx said

Only about half of the 50 US states have enacted new restrictions in the last month as cases, deaths and hospitalizations hit record levels nationwide. Fourteen states do not mandate masks.

President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Donald Trump in the November election, has said that upon taking office on January 20 he will enact mask mandates where he has authority, such as federal buildings and for interstate travel. 

As cases continue to surge, the race to acquire a vaccine for distribution has picked up with officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) possibly approving a drug from Pfizer as early as Thursday. 

Pfizer’s vaccine has already been approved in the UK – the first country to formally grant the green light. The Queen, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, will be among the first to get the vaccine in the UK given their age, with their vaccination expected in the next few weeks.  

Top Trump medical adviser, Moncef Slaoui, said Sunday that he’s confident the FDA will approve the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer this week.

‘Based on the data I know I expect the FDA to make a positive decision, but of course, it’s their decision,’ said Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed told CBS Face the Nation.

Top 'Operation Warp Speed' medical adviser, Moncef Slaoui (pictured), said Sunday that he's confident the FDA will approve the vaccine from Pfizer this week

Top ‘Operation Warp Speed’ medical adviser, Moncef Slaoui (pictured), said Sunday that he’s confident the FDA will approve the vaccine from Pfizer this week

In a separate interview on CNN's State of the Union, Slaoui (pictured) said that in his opinion, the vaccine's effectiveness could last for 'many, many years,' with older people and others who are more vulnerable requiring a booster every three to five years Slaoui said that once 70 to 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, 'the virus will go down'

In a separate interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Slaoui (pictured) said that in his opinion, the vaccine’s effectiveness could last for ‘many, many years,’ with older people and others who are more vulnerable requiring a booster every three to five years Slaoui said that once 70 to 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, ‘the virus will go down’ 

But White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx warned Americans not to let their guard down even so.

Birx, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, noted that more than 100 million Americans suffer preexisting heath conditions that put them at high risk if they contract the virus. The vast majority of those won’t have access to the vaccine for months still.

‘I want to be very frank with the American people,’ Birx said. ‘The vaccine’s critical, but it’s not going to save us from this current surge. Only we can save us from this current surge, and we know precisely what to do.’

In a separate interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Slaoui said that in his opinion, the vaccine’s effectiveness could last for ‘many, many years,’ with older people and others who are more vulnerable requiring a booster every three to five years.

He said that one of the hallmarks of immune systems is memory, so the body’s response to the coronavirus will be much faster once vaccinated.

Still, Slaoui said it’s not known whether vaccinated persons could spread the virus to others even if protected themselves. He said there may be an initial indication on that sometime in February or March.

Slaoui stressed that the continuing unknowns make it important for people to remain cautious and take safeguards to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.

Between Tuesday and Saturday, the US reported 1,000,882 new COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. To put that in perspective, it took 100 days to reach one million infections after the first cases of the virus were reported on January 20

Between Tuesday and Saturday, the US reported 1,000,882 new COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data. To put that in perspective, it took 100 days to reach one million infections after the first cases of the virus were reported on January 20

The US total now sits at more than 14.5 million cases and at least 281,199 deaths from the virus

The US total now sits at more than 14.5 million cases and at least 281,199 deaths from the virus

He said that once 70 to 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, ‘the virus will go down’. 

On Saturday night the Covid Tracking Project reported 211,000 cases, and 2,445 deaths and there are 101,190 people currently hospitalized with the virus in the US. 

Dr Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the FDA, predicted on Sunday that the US could reach nearly 4,000 deaths per day in January.

‘As bad as things are right now, they’re going to get a lot worse,’ Gottlieb said told CBS’ Face the Nation.

‘I think by the end of the year we’ll be at about 300,000 deaths and by the end of January we could be pushing 400,000 deaths. We’re going to see consistently probably 2,000 deaths per day and as we get into January toward the peak, we’re going to see over 3,000 deaths per day unfortunately, and maybe get close to 4,000 deaths per day. So this is going to get a lot worse before it starts to resolve,’ he said.  

New data suggests that a smaller percentage of patients with COVID-19 are being admitted to hospitals because the nation’s healthcare systems are being overwhelmed by the staggering number of new infections. 

‘Every single day, thousands more people are getting this virus, and we know that means that in a few days, in a week, hundreds of people are going to be coming to the hospital and hundreds of people are going to die,’ Dr Shirlee Xie, an associate director of hospital medicine for Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, told CNN. 

Two sets of data show that the percentage of those who are admitted to the hospital once testing positive is decreasing. 

Hospitals are being forced to tighten their restrictions on who is admitted, suggesting that some patients who may have been hospitalized for treatment during the spring and summer wave are now being turned away as deaths from the virus also increase.

The seven-day average for reported COVID-19 deaths rose to 2,123, the researchers found – surpassing the previous high of 2,116 recorded on April 21.

‘Given data drops and spikes on and after Thanksgiving, the seven-day-average is an especially useful metric to watch right now,’ their analysts warned. 

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top public health expert, has refrained from criticizing the FDA, but warned on Friday night that the situation was precarious

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top public health expert, has refrained from criticizing the FDA, but warned on Friday night that the situation was precarious

A professor at Johns Hopkins slammed the FDA for continuing to hold off their approval of the COVID-19 vaccine – dubbing the agency’s progress ‘Operation Turtle Speed’.

In an op-ed for The Dispatch, professor Marty Makary said there needed to be more urgency in approving the vaccine.

‘FDA regulators are wasting precious time in greenlighting a COVID vaccine as more than 2,000 Americans are dying each day and the pandemic continues to starve American society,’ Makary wrote in the scathing op-ed.

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top public health expert, has refrained from criticizing the FDA, but warned on Friday night that the situation was precarious.

He said Thanksgiving travel had made it more likely that the country would require temporary ‘drastic’ and ‘draconian’ measures – such as shutdowns or the suspension of elective procedures – to protect the nation’s health care system.

He said that the US was facing a ‘surge upon a surge’ of cases that will likely continue to mount.

The extent of the Thanksgiving-related surge won’t fully be known until almost Christmas – when yet another surge of cases may again start, said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

President Donald Trump, who has been glaringly absent from the COVID-19 discussion, preferring instead to tweet about how the election was ‘stolen’ from him, on Saturday night told a rally in Georgia that the US was ’rounding the turn on the pandemic’.

He urged the country to resume business as usual, declaring: ‘They need to open up.’

Trump has planned 20 White House Christmas gatherings, and photos on social media from parties already held show crowds of maskless attendees in close proximity.

On Friday, President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration over their response to the coronavirus. He said that ‘there’s no detailed plan that we’ve seen’ for how to get vaccines out of a container, into syringes and into people’s arms.

Just days after making that statement, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hit back at Biden. 

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Azar said: ‘With all respect, that’s just nonsense.’ Azar said the process is ‘micromanaged and controlled by the United States military,’ and leverages state and local governments, retail pharmacies and national shipping chains.

The Trump administration has said that the first immunizations should follow within 24-36 hours of the vaccination’s approval.

'FDA regulators are wasting precious time in greenlighting a COVID vaccine as more than 2,000 Americans are dying each day and the pandemic continues to starve American society,' Makary declared in the scathing op-ed

‘FDA regulators are wasting precious time in greenlighting a COVID vaccine as more than 2,000 Americans are dying each day and the pandemic continues to starve American society,’ Makary declared in the scathing op-ed

WHY THE FDA IS TAKING SO LONG TO APPROVE PFIZER VACCINE 

FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn said on Wednesday that scientists needed more time to review the raw data from the Pfizer vaccine trial before they’d make a decision. 

Before December 10, when they will all meet to discuss it, this is what happens; 

STEP 1 

Multiple teams examine different data sets 

Hahn said that ordinarily, 150 scientists would look at an application. It’s unclear if more have been added for the Pfizer application or the Moderna application given the urgency of the situation

They will separately look at data for different components of the vaccine including; 

1) EFFICACY 

2) SAFETY 

3) MANUFACTURING 

All the different groups will then come together on the 10th to discuss their findings and if, collaboratively, they can recommend approval 

STEP 2 

The FDA scientists make a recommendation to the advisory council

The advisory council has already started meeting to discuss who would get the vaccine first if it is approved. 

They also have to decide, ultimately, if it is safe for approval. 

If they do that, the doses will start being shipped out on December 15. 

In California, Fauci’s warning was already coming true as officials issued more lockdown guidance, with huge swathes of the 39-million-person state shuttered.

On Saturday 25,068 new cases were reported, according to the Covid Tracking Project – a 10.8 per cent increase in seven days. There are now 10,273 people in the state in hospital.

The California Department of Public Health said Saturday the intensive care unit capacity in Southern California and Central Valley hospitals had fallen below a 15 per cent threshold that triggers the new measures, which include strict closures for businesses and a ban on gathering with anyone outside of your own household. 

The new measures will take effect Sunday evening and remain in place for at least three weeks, meaning the lockdown will cover the Christmas holiday. 

‘We are at a point where surging cases and hospitalizations are not letting up,’ said Dr Salvador Sandoval, public health officer for the Central Valley city of Merced. ‘I can’t emphasize this enough – everyone must take personal steps to protect themselves and protect others.’

On Thursday the Bay Area, home to some 8.5 million people, pre-emptively entered lockdown, closing many of their non-essential businesses before they reached Governor Gavin Newsom’s threshold of 85 per cent capacity in intensive care units in hospitals.

Newsom’s recommendations came on top of existing restrictions already in place in LA County, the most populous in the country with 10 million people, which on November 22 ordered all restaurants to close and all residents to avoid leaving their homes if possible.

On December 2 the city of Los Angeles followed suit, imposing its own lockdown mirroring that of LA County.

‘My message couldn’t be simpler: It’s time to hunker down,’ said Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA, at the time.

‘It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.’

Within the region, frustrations were mounting at perceived inconsistencies. Schools were closed, and yet in-store grocery shopping was allowed; playgrounds were taped shut, and yet tourists were allowed to mingle on Santa Monica pier maskless, in crowds.

Shopping malls remained open, filming could continue, and until recently gyms and nail salons were open too.

Jon Favreau, co-host of the popular political podcast Pod Save America, tweeted that communication about the rules was ‘atrocious – confusing, contradictory and overly officious’.

In California, Fauci's warning was already coming true as officials issued more lockdown guidance, with huge swathes of the 39-million-person state shuttered

In California, Fauci’s warning was already coming true as officials issued more lockdown guidance, with huge swathes of the 39-million-person state shuttered

People lined up on Saturday in North Hollywood to get tested for COVID-19

People lined up on Saturday in North Hollywood to get tested for COVID-19

Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant set up for outdoor dining on Friday in Burbank, California

Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant set up for outdoor dining on Friday in Burbank, California

Yet Los Angeles County has broken single-day coronavirus case records in four of the last five days this week.

On Saturday, at least 9,218 cases were reported, according to preliminary numbers compiled in The LA Times’ tally, exceeding a record set Friday, when 8,562 cases were reported. The single-day record was also broken Thursday, when 7,713 cases were reported.

LA County is now averaging nearly 7,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the last week – more than quadruple the pace from a month ago, when the county averaged about 1,500 new coronavirus cases a day in the week that ended November 5.

With at least 43 new COVID-19 deaths recorded on Saturday, LA County is now averaging 38 deaths a day, a pace not seen since late July, during the region’s previous peak.

COVID fatigue was causing concern not just in California, as exhausted citizens let their guard down in respect to hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing.

Half a million people will likely die of coronavirus in the US by April, according to a disturbing new forecast 

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington believes that 538,893 people will lose their lives by 1 April – an additional 270,000 deaths from 30 November.

If mask mandates are relaxed, that total will rise to 770,000 by 1 April.

In an update on Friday, they announced that calculations show the peak of deaths will be in mid January, with 3,000 people dying a day.

Vaccinations will help, but will only save 9,000 lives by 1 April. The IHME concluded that a further 14,000 lives can be saved with more rapid vaccine scale-up targeting high-risk individuals.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington believes that 538,893 people will lose their lives by 1 April ¿ an additional 270,000 deaths from 30 November

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington believes that 538,893 people will lose their lives by 1 April – an additional 270,000 deaths from 30 November

The IHME researchers found that state governors play the most important role in avoiding mass casualties.

If they order the wearing of masks, increasing their use to 95 per cent, 66,000 lives will be saved by 1 April.

At present, 71 per cent of people always wear a mask when leaving their home, but it varied by state.

In South Dakota and Wyoming the researchers found that mask use was lower than 50 per cent. California has the most stringent restrictions at present, while Florida currently has none.

In Oklahoma, Alaska, South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho and Missouri only the minimal restrictions – closures of schools – are in place.

The IHME team use a hybrid modelling approach, incorporating elements of statistical and disease transmission models, to inform governments and policy advisors about the probable impact of their decisions.

The team uses data from local and national governments, hospital networks and associations, the World Health Organization, and third-party aggregators, among other sources.

They found that Covid-19 was the number one cause of death in the US over the past week – overtaking heart disease, all cancers, strokes and kidney disease.

By the end of the year, the IHME expects Covid to be second only to heart disease as the major causes of death, with 348,311 predicted to die, versus 557,600 from heart disease.

Children’s hospitals are now treating adults in Missouri as the health care system across the US begins to cripple due to the coronavirus surge  

In St Louis, Missouri, children’s hospitals have started treating adult patients as area hospitals struggle to keep up with rising coronavirus cases.

Dr Marya Strand, chief medical officer for SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that the hospital is treating adults who don’t have COVID-19 to take some of the pressure off other hospitals. 

St Louis Children’s Hospital also has opened its doors to adults.

About 1,054 people were hospitalized in the St Louis area Wednesday for COVID-19, including 221 patients in intensive care units. St Louis-area hospitals are at about 82 per cent capacity for in-patient beds and 81 per cent capacity for ICU beds.

Staff at SSM Health and BJC Healthcare children’s hospitals have also started volunteering to work at other overwhelmed hospitals.

People wear protective face masks while shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday in New York City

People wear protective face masks while shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday in New York City 

In Arizona, health officials used a blunt tone Saturday as the state reported 6,799 coronavirus cases, the second-highest daily increase.

The Department of Health Services said on Twitter that people should wear masks ‘around anyone who isn’t a member of your household, even those you know and trust’.

Similarly, the department’s director, Dr Cara Christ, says ‘we must act as though anyone we are around may be infected’.

The cases reported Saturday trailed only the record 10,322 cases reported Tuesday. There were four daily reports of more than 5,000 cases this week.

The hospitalizations for coronavirus rose to 2,931 on Friday, five times as many since early October. Republican Gov Doug Ducey has not ordered a statewide mask mandate or curfews.

The state reported 40 deaths on Saturday. Arizona has 358,900 total cases and 6,935 confirmed deaths.

North Carolina reported a record increase in cases of the coronavirus and hospitalizations on Saturday.

The state reported 6,018 cases since Friday and 2,171 people with coronavirus in the hospitals. That’s up 14 from a day earlier.

‘In less than a week, we went from exceeding 5,000 new cases reported in one day to exceeding 6,000,’ said Dr Mandy Cohen, the state’s health secretary. ‘This is very worrisome. This indicates we have even more viral spread across our state right now.’

North Carolina has a record number of people in intensive care, Cohen says. Another 49 people have died, bringing the confirmed total to 5,516, the health department says. 

There were 4,370 newly reported coronavirus cases Saturday in Oklahoma.

The rolling averages of cases rose from 2,843 per day on November  20 to 3,044 on Friday. The daily average of deaths increased from 15 daily to 22 during the same period, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.

The increase is due largely to community spread, according Dr Dale Bratzler of the University Oklahoma medical center. He says, ‘it’s typically places like restaurants, bars, gyms, places of worship’.

Oklahoma has 213,245 total confirmed cases. There were 14 more deaths reported Saturday, bringing the total to 1,874 confirmed deaths. 

In New York City, some public schools in the nation’s largest school district prepared to reopen for daily in-person classes on Monday after a citywide campus shutdown. 

An estimated 190,000 children in programs geared for early childhood, elementary and special needs students will be eligible to return to classrooms, the city said.

New York girds to reopen schools while across the Hudson River neighboring New Jersey over the weekend halted indoor youth sports after at least 28 outbreaks affected 170 people. 

Governor Phil Murphy’s ban targets sports like basketball, ice hockey and swimming, including practice and games, until at least January 2. 

Categories
Headlines UK

Britain records 17,272 new Covid cases with 231 more deaths

Britain has recorded a further 17,272 coronavirus cases today – marking a 42 per cent increase on last Sunday’s total.

The figure – a rise of more than 5,000 cases on the 12,155 positive tests reported last week – comes on the first weekend since England’s nation-wide lockdown was lifted.

From December 4, all non-essential shops reopened and Britons in Tiers Two and One were able to return to cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Official figures also revealed a further 231 people died after testing positive for Covid-19 in a 7.4 per cent rise on the 215 deaths reported last Sunday.

Today’s figures bring the UK death total to 61,245, up from yesterday’s figure of 61,014.

The number of new infections over the last seven days stands at 105,918 – which is a drop of 647 (0.6%) from the seven days before that – November 23 to November 29.  

The figure for deaths over the last seven days is now 3,002, a drop of 221 (6.9%) from the previous week. 

Separate regional figures had revealed a further 1,916 cases of coronavirus in Wales. Public Health Wales reported another 14 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 2,709.

Another 11 people have died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said. A further 419 people tested positive for the virus. 

It comes ahead of the vaccine programme, which starts on Tuesday. 

A further 231 coronavirus deaths have been recorded today with 17,272 new daily cases – a sharp increase on last Sunday’s 12,155 new cases (pictured: training in the Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic at the University Hospital in Coventry)

With 357 million doses ordered by the Government – and 800,000 already being sent by Pfizer – it’s hoped 10 million doses will be here by the year’s end. NHS staff will invite people for jabs by text or phone. 

NHS England said NHS staff were working through the weekend to prepare for the launch of the programme. 

Initially, they will be given at 50 NHS hubs, then by some GP-led primary care networks from December 14.

Over-80s and care home staff will be the first to receive the jab under the vaccination programme – dubbed Operation Courageous.

Hospitals have specialist freezers capable of storing the vaccine, and are able to inject hundreds of people in a short space of time, without having to move doses.

When ready for injection, vials are warmed to room temperature over a two-hour period, diluted and drawn into needles, and then teams have six hours in which to vaccinate patients.

A graphic demonstrates the order of priority in which the vaccine will be rolled out, starting with residents in care homes

A graphic demonstrates the order of priority in which the vaccine will be rolled out, starting with residents in care homes

A graphic shows how patients will get the jab, including who will provide it and how long it will grant immunity from Covid-19

A graphic shows how patients will get the jab, including who will provide it and how long it will grant immunity from Covid-19

A graphic shows where in the country the 50 NHS hubs, special jab centres and GP clinics offering the vaccine next week are located

A graphic shows where in the country the 50 NHS hubs, special jab centres and GP clinics offering the vaccine next week are located

Yesterday the Government said an additional 397 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, falling by 17 per cent.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, showed there have now been 74,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK. 

The worst of Britain’s resurgence of Covid may well be over, as SAGE has revealed the R rate has fallen for the fourth week in a row and could now be as low as 0.8. 

No10’s scientific advisory panel claimed outbreaks were shrinking in every part of the country. 

And Office for National Statistics data showed the number of daily coronavirus infections in England plummeted by almost half last month, from 47,700 per day to 25,700 in the week ending November 28, in more proof that the disease has began to fade away. 

The report estimated that a total of 521,300 people were carrying the virus in England on November 28, down from 665,000 just two weeks earlier. 

Separate infection estimates produced by the Covid Symptom Study say there are just 15,845 people developing symptoms of coronavirus each day in England, down from a peak of 44,000 at the end of October. 

Although the numbers are different to those made by the ONS, they illustrate the same downward trend. 

Categories
UAE

GITEX Technology Week: UAE hospitals, ambulances to share patient records instantly

The Ambulance section at the Smart Dubai pavilion on the first day of Gitex Technology Week on Sunday.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has shed light on its initiative on linking the National Ambulance with hospital emergency departments to have instant and effective access to patients’ data and records and to activate an early warning system.

The new initiative would help reduce waiting times and provide on-time treatment services, with the optimal use of resources. This was reported on Sunday on the sidelines of MoHAP’s participation at GITEX Technology Week, being held Dubai World Trade Centre till Thursday.

The Smart Ambulance model is available at the MoHAP stand, where visitors can learn more about the smart connectivity between the ambulance and emergency departments, as well as the car’s sophisticated equipment and smart devices to facilitate the transportation of patients and their reception in hospitals after providing patient’s vital signs and automating all operations related to locating the patient.

Leveraging digital innovations

Dr Yousef Al Serkal

Dr Yousef Al Serkal, Director-General, Emirates Health Services Corporation, said: “MoHAP has long attached special importance to the use of innovations and proactive solutions, as well as the modern methods that enable the ministry to better serve the society and to leverage innovative technologies, such as the AI and Internet of Things (IoT) in the health care system.”

Positive outcomes

Dr Kalthoum Al Baloushi, director of MoHAP’s Hospitals Administration, said: “As a first stage, the initiative has been implemented at Al Qassimi Hospital and it will be carried out in all hospitals by the end of this year.” She added that the project has produced positive results in terms of speeding up and facilitating the transfer of ambulance-related patient information to the ‘Wareed’ system, and then sending the patient’s vital signs to the emergency department. In this way, the patient arrives at the hospital, with all the procedures required to provide on-time treatment have been carried out.

Categories
UAE

Sharjah records zero road deaths during UAE National Day holidays

The call centre at the Sharjah Police Central Operations Room received 20,282 emergency and non-emergency phone calls during the holiday period between December 1 to December 4.
Image Credit: Sharjah Police

Sharjah: Thanks to a comprehensive traffic management plan, the emirate of Sharjah did not record any deaths on its roads during the 49th UAE National Day holidays, police said.

The call centre at the Sharjah Police Central Operations Room received 20,282 emergency and non-emergency phone calls during the holiday period between December 1 to December 4, Colonel Jassim Bin Hada, Director of Operations Department at Sharjah Police, said.

Col. Bin Hada confirmed the increase in the number of incoming calls to the call centre during this period were classified into criminal, traffic, emergency and non-emergency. All the reports were dealt with and transferred immediately to the competent authorities according to the type and nature of each report.

Round the clock

A total 17,293 phone calls were received on 999, the number allocated for emergency cases, while it received 2,989 non-emergency calls on 901.

Colonel Bin Hada stated that the Operations Department received calls round the clock. The response speed in urgent cases was five minutes from the time of receiving the communication until the arrival to the site of the event. He said that this response rate is one of the best indicators at the national level, despite the demographic diversity, and the diversity of cultures and languages within the emirate.

He also reminded the public to call 999 only in cases of genuine emergency, encouraging non-emergency calls on 901 instead.

Traffic management

On the traffic side, Lt. Col. Muhammad Alai Al Naqbi, Director of the Traffic and Patrols Department, said the administration doubled efforts to enhance traffic safety on the roads. A total of 127 patrols were deployed on the internal roads and highways to ensure the movement of road users during the holiday. Officials, especially at public parks, were deployed to prevent traffic violations that may occur as a result of heavy traffic.

Lack of concentration

The administration dealt with all traffic accidents, which resulted in injuries ranging between serious to medium, and did not result in any deaths, Most of the accidents occurred due to excessive speed, not leaving enough distance between vehicles, and motorists not paying attention. He urged motorists to abide by traffic rules and not drive the vehicle dangerously, in order to maintain public safety.

Categories
Technology US

Leak left 243 million Brazilians’ medical records and personal info ripe for the picking

The personal information of more than 243 million Brazilians was potentially accessible for at least six months thanks to weakly encoded credentials kept in the source code of the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s website (via ZDNet). The security issue was first reported by Brazilian publication Estadão.

The personal data of anyone who had registered with Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), Brazil’s national health system, could be viewed. That data included people’s full names, addresses, and telephone numbers, reported Estadão. The database also includes records of living and dead people as the population of Brazil was more than 211 million in 2019, according to The World Bank, which is about 32 million fewer people than the reported number of records that were potentially accessible.

The Ministry of Health’s website stored the encoded access credentials to the database of personal information in its source code, reports Estadão. However, the login and password were encoded using Base64, a method that can be easily decoded. Given that you can look at any website’s source code with a keyboard shortcut or by accessing it in a menu, potentially anyone could have found these encrypted credentials and, if they were savvy enough, decoded them to then access the personal records of Brazilians.

Health records can be quite valuable on the black market given the amount of personal information they often include. If a bad actor knew of this vulnerability, it’s very possible they could have taken this data to use for their own nefarious purposes or to sell later. The Ministry of Health has corrected the problem, according to Estadão.