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Too early to tell whether Omicron sub******
An Australian senior health official has said that a new COVID-19 sub-variant circulating in Australia is not yet causing concern among health experts.
Michael Kidd, deputy chief medical officer of Australia, on Monday said the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant, which was detected in Australia in December, may become the dominant sub-variant of Omicron based on some reports.
He said they were not seeing more severe disease associated with this sub-variant, and "it's also too early to tell" if there is any significant different impact on the effectiveness of the vaccines against this sub-variant.
"If this BA.2 sub-variant is shown to have more distinct clinical characteristics then the World Health Organization may determine, that it becomes a variant of its own, but it is too early to speculate on that, and we're not seeing indications of that at the moment," Kidd told reporters in Canberra.
Australia on Monday reported more than 30,000 locally-acquired coronavirus infections and 44 deaths – 27 in New South Wales, eight in Victoria, six in South Australia and three in Queensland, according to health department figures from states and territories.
More than four million additional Australians became eligible for booster vaccines on Monday, with the recommended interval between second and third doses being cut from four to three months.
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed that the government is preparing for the possibility of fourth vaccine doses for elderly and vulnerable Australians if needed.
"Most likely advice at this stage is that if there were to be a fourth dose it's more generally going to be focused on older Australians and immuno-compromised Australians, and perhaps those working in- with vulnerable patients," he said in the press conference with Kidd.
"So that's still under active medical consideration, but the supplies and logistics are in place to deliver that if it's required."
Civilian casualties, infrastructure damage continue to increase in Ukraine: UN******
As heavy fighting continues in Ukraine, reports of civilian casualties and civilian infrastructure damage continue to increase, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Tuesday.
In its latest Humanitarian Impact Situation Report issued Tuesday, OCHA said that as of midnight on February 27, it confirmed at least 406 civil casualties, including 102 deaths, with the real figures feared to be much higher.
Across the country, especially in eastern Ukraine, water infrastructure has suffered severe damage, and repair work has been hindered by ongoing shelling, OCHA said.
As thousands of people continue to flee violence, there is a desperate need for food, water and shelter to deal with the massive influx of internally displaced people, OCHA added in the report.
Premier League to meet as Covid wrecks havoc with weekend fixture list******
LONDON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Premier League clubs are expected to meet on Monday to discuss whether or not the competition should continue or take a break after a weekend in which six of the 10 scheduled matches have had to be postponed due to outbreaks of Covid-19 at several clubs.。
Saturday's match between Burnley and Aston Villa was the latest to fall victim to the virus and was cancelled just two and a half hours before the scheduled 15:00 hours kick off after further cases of the virus among the visitors' squad.。
"After reviewing all the new information provided by Aston Villa this morning and receiving separate medical advice, the board approved the request as a result of the club not having enough players to field a team. This decision was based on the number of Covid-19 cases, injuries and illness," explained a statement issued by the Premier League.。
Matches between Manchester United and Brighton, Southampton and Brentford, Watford and Crystal Palace, West Ham and Norwich and Everton and Leicester had all previously fallen by the wayside because of outbreaks at various clubs.。
Meanwhile the matches between Newcastle United and Manchester City, Wolves and Chelsea, as well as Tottenham and Liverpool are still scheduled for Sunday, although with Liverpool and Chelsea also reporting cases of Covid-19, there is still time for that to change.。
"The board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and Covid-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs."
"It will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the Covid-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match. The board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with," said the Premier League, who added that new protocols, which include "more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time," have all introduced.。
In Saturday's surviving game Arsenal piled the pain onto Leeds United with a 4-1 win in Elland Road.。
The game was as good as over at halftime as two goals from Gabriel Martinelli and one from Bukayo Sako put Arsenal 3-0 up and although Raphinha scored a 75th minute penalty for Leeds, Emile Smith Rowe rounded off a good afternoon for Arsenal with five minutes left to play.。
Next weekend is one of the most important of the Premier League, with the traditional Boxing Day games quickly followed by a midweek game and a round of New Year fixtures. Enditem。
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