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Coronavirus live news: WHO cautions against relaxing restrictions; Australian state of Victoria begins lockdown | World news


Hello, Matilda Boseley here to take you through all the coronavirus news for today.

If you see anything that you think I should be aware of or should be in the blog, send me a message on Twitter on @MatildaBoseley or email me on matilda.boseley@theguardian.com.

Here is what’s been happening across the world to get you up to speed:

  • WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called the drop in confirmed Covid-19 cases across the globe encouraging, but cautions against relaxing the restrictions that have allowed us to reach this point.
  • France reported 20,701 new confirmed cases on Friday. This is down from 21,063 on Thursday and 22,139 last Friday.
  • Serbia has been approved to produce the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Serbia’s minister for innovations Nenad Popovic said in a statement on Friday.
  • Mexico city’s Covid-19 threat level has officially been lowered after two months of strict lockdown measures.
  • As the Czech Republic continues to deal with a new, highly contagious coronavirus variant, the lower house of the Czech parliament has refused to extend a state of emergency.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that schools can restart in-school learning without the need for all teachers to receive a vaccine.

The biggest news coming out of Australia today is, of course, the state of Victoria going into a five-day snap lockdown as health authorities fight to contain a small outbreak caused by the “hyper-infectious” UK variant of Covid-19.

As of midnight local time, Victorians can only leave their homes for four reasons – shopping for essentials, exercising within 5kms from home for a maximum of two hours a day, accessing healthcare and caregiving, or working if this cannot be done from home.

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Schools and universities have been closed and all hospitality businesses can only provide takeaway and delivery options.

This comes after a small UK variant cluster, originating in a hotel quarantine facility, made its way into the broader community. There are now 13 people associated with the outbreak, including a close contact of a hotel quarantine worker who worked an eight-hour shift at a popular Melbourne airport cafe while unknowingly infectious.

Australians are now bracing for more cases today, including worries there could be infections across the country given a large number of close contact boarded planes after interacting with the infected cafe worker.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said the UK variant of the disease was spreading at “a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country”, and the current contact tracing was not equipped to deal with the new version of the virus.

The snap lockdown is intended to buy contact tracers time, and ensure all close contacts of the cafe worker can be isolated and tested.





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