Home » Covid Live: Boris Johnson Broke The Law, Says Keir Starmer; Novak Djokovic Deported From Australia

Covid Live: Boris Johnson Broke The Law, Says Keir Starmer; Novak Djokovic Deported From Australia

15:07

A sign on a tractor reads ‘Back to normal now’ as thousands of people march through Amsterdam in protest against the Dutch government’s coronavirus lockdown measures. Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP

Thousands of people have demonstrated in Amsterdam city centre in opposition to Covid-19 measures and the vaccination programme.

Infections in the Netherlands have hit new heights in recent days, 36,000 cases were confirmed on Sunday, as protesters turned out and marched with banners and yellow umbrellas.

The country has seen protests in other cities – and Sunday’s demonstration saw farmers join the march in the capital, parking tractors along the central Museum Square.

The crowd played music, chanted anti-government slogans and then marched along thoroughfares, blocking traffic, Reuters reports.

The Dutch have faced some of the strictest lockdown measures in Europe. A new lockdown was introduced in mid-December as the health system came under pressure.

Amid growing public opposition, prime minister Mark Rutte on Friday announced the reopening of stores, hairdressers and gyms. Bars, restaurants and cultural venues will stay closed until 25 January.

14:15

Novak Djokovic’s family has spoken after the tennis star was deported from Australia on Sunday.

In a statement they said they were disappointed.

“Despite the scandalous behaviour towards Novak, we believed that the sport would win,” they said.

They claimed the court ruling was related to “politics and all (other) interests”.

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14:04

Italian police have arrested a nurse in Palermo for allegedly pretending to give Covid vaccines to anti-vaxxer activists so they could benefit from official health certificates to travel and access bars, restaurants and public transport in the country.

Investigators used a hidden camera to film the nurse, a 58-year-old woman working at a major inoculation centre in the Sicilian capital. The clip, released on Saturday on Twitter, shows the health worker apparently loading up a dose of Covid-19 vaccine and then emptying the syringe into a tissue before injecting it into the arms of anti-vaxxers.

Police said the woman’s own booster dose was fake and arrested her on charges of forgery and embezzlement.

13:53

The number of patients in hospital in Ireland has fallen week-on-week for the first time since the Omicron variant triggered a sharp rise in cases.

Ministers have said they are increasingly hopeful they will be able to end restrictions around hospitality and entertainment, and it will depend on whether pressure on hospitals eases.

According to official figures, there were 965 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Sunday, down from 984 a week before and a peak of 1,063 the previous Monday.

The number peaked a year ago, when more than 2,000 people were receiving hospital care.

The number of patients needing intensive care treatment is 88, down from a peak of 221 a year ago.

“I’m very keen to see the reopening happen at an ambitious pace over the next few weeks,” deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar told the national broadcaster RTÉ.

Curbs introduced in December include the closure of nightclubs and a cut to the capacity of indoor events, with closing times for bars and restaurants at 8pm, Reuters reports.

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13:22

There are fresh protests in Malta against Covid rules on Sunday – and they’re the biggest yet, according to Reuters.

Hundreds of people were marching in the capital Valletta against new measures requiring a Covid certificate to enter entry most venues including restaurants, gyms and bars.

Malta’s take-up of the Covid jabs has been one of the best in the EU. Almost three-quarters of adults would have taken the additional booster jab by Sunday, according to health ministry data.

But a health minister said the new rules, which come into force on Monday, are needed to defend against the Omicron variant of the virus, now accounting for well over 90% of new cases.

Sunday’s protest was organised by a group of small political parties, but the main opposition Nationalist party has also criticised the new rules, saying they do not strike the right balance between public health and people’s freedoms especially when there has been a high take-up of the vaccine.

Since the start of the pandemic, 502 people have died with Covid in Malta. The island has recorded a vaccination rate of some 95%.

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13:03

The former UK prime minister Tony Blair has said he could understand how rule-breaking parties in No 10 could happen, but that they were still inexcusable.

Blair said he did not want to “get into questions of resignation or not” when asked whether Boris Johnson should resign over the “partygate” allegations.

PA Media reports that the former Labour leader told Times Radio he could “understand people feeling enraged and very angry” about the claims of lockdown-contravening events, but that he could also see it “from the perspective of Downing Street”.

He added: “The people in Downing Street would have been working under the most enormous pressure, enormous difficulty. I understand how it happened.

“But the trouble is, you can give an explanation but you can’t really excuse it. People were obeying restrictions, often with massive personal cost and anguish and grief, and it just shouldn’t be allowed to happen, frankly.

“But I guess he (Boris Johnson) knows that.”

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12:51

Supporters of Novak Djokovic had gathered to hear the court’s decision about the tennis player’s Australian visa.

Some of them expressed their dismay at the decision not to overrule the Australian government. See what they had to say:

Novak Djokovic fans dismayed after court upholds visa cancellation – video

12:31

The Austrian government has proposed setting the minimum age for Covid-19 vaccinations at 18, and rolling out the latest restrictions from 1 February, Reuters reports.

The conservative-led government in Vienna said it intended the rule to apply to all people aged 14 and above, making it the first European Union country to make vaccinations compulsory for the general population at large.

Thousands have marched against the plans, but chancellor Karl Nehammer said: “This is not a fight between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.”

People who remain unvaccinated will not be able to access services and face fines. Nehammer said the measure was to avoid future lockdowns.

Nearly 72% of Austria’s population has a valid vaccine certificate, but far right parties in the country have sought to exploit any scepticism.

12:17

Elsewhere in the UK Sunday morning media rounds, the former head of the vaccines taskforce said a new long-term inoculation strategy is needed for Covid.

Dr Clive Dix told radio station LBC that “to just keep vaccinating people” to protect the population is a “waste of time”.

He said: “We need a focused approach for the vulnerable people. So, I think we’ve got something like 2% of the over-60s still not vaccinated.

“We should have a highly-focused approach to get those people vaccinated and anybody else who’s vulnerable.”

He added that he wasn’t convinced of the case for vaccinating younger, non-vulnerable people: “We’ve seen that because we’ve seen these huge, huge levels of infection but what they (boosters) do do, and it’s absolutely clear, they stop people getting seriously ill and dying. 85% of the people who get seriously and dying are the vulnerable and the elderly, so they’re the ones we should focus on.”

11:59

The billionth Covid-19 vaccine as part of the global Covax scheme was delivered in Rwanda on Saturday night.

The body, co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organization (WHO) and Cepi (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) has sent vaccines to 144 countries across the globe in a push to get vaccines distributed to poorer countries.

Joanna Rea, director of advocacy from UNICEF which works with Covax, said: “This is a remarkable milestone in the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. Yet, with so many people still waiting to be offered a single dose, more needs to be done urgently.

“The need for a predictable and steady supply of vaccines remains, as well as the vital funds to deliver vaccines into the arms of the people who need them the most.”

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11:50

Novak Djokovic’s plane leaves Australia hours after court upholds visa cancellation

Novak Djokovic has now left Australia hours after the full federal court dismissed the world No 1’s bid to restore his visa.

The Serbian tennis player was seen boarding an Emirates flight from Melbourne to Dubai after the court rejected his challenge to the decision of Australian immigration minister, Alex Hawke, to cancel the visa. The flight left shortly after 10.30pm local time (11.30am GMT).

Here’s our full story:

11:45

Restrictions in England could be lifted by the end of January, according to a government minister.

Oliver Dowden told Trevor Phillips on Sunday that current indications are “encouraging”, ahead of Plan B rules being reviewed in 10 days.

“I’m under no doubt the kind of burdens this puts hospitality, wider business, schools and so on under, and I want us to get rid of those if we possibly can,” he said.

“The signs are encouraging but, clearly, we will wait to see the data ahead of that final decision.”

11:36

Amnesty International has urged Italy to change its strict anti Covid-19 restrictions to avoid discriminating against unvaccinated people.

A recent decree by Italian prime minister Mario Draghi made vaccination compulsory for people over 50, and for anyone to be able to use public transport and some other services.

The human rights charity asked for alternatives to be considered, including mask wearing and Covid testing to allow unvaccinated people to go to work and use public transport.

Current rules are in place until 15 June.

“The government must continue to ensure that the entire population can enjoy its fundamental rights, such as the right to education, work and medial treatment, with particular regard to non-Covid patients who need urgent surgery,” it said, according to Reuters.

11:05

Djokovic boards plane to leave Australia

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic walks through Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight to Dubai. Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters

World tennis No 1 Novak Djokovic has boarded a plane to leave Australia after a court cancelled his visa on Sunday.

The player got on to an Emirates flight from Melbourne heading for Dubai, hours after the Australian federal court upheld the government’s cancellation of his visa over his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 – bringing an end to a saga that has run on since 5 January.

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10:52

Thailand reports first Omicron death

Authorities in Thailand have reported the country’s first death from the Omicron variant.

An 86-year-old woman from the southern province of Songkhla died a month after the government brought in travel restrictions for foreign visitors as Omicron spread.

“The woman is a bed-ridden, Alzheimer patient,” health ministry spokesman Rungrueng Kitphati told Reuters.

The country reported 8,077 new infections and nine deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to more than 2.3 million cases. Nearly 22,000 people have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic.

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