The UK’s National Health Service has contacted Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to let them know they’ve been around someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Downing Street said in a statement on Sunday that the men will participate in a daily contact testing pilot, which will allow them to continue working from Downing Street but put themselves in self-isolation when out of the office.
The announcement came after UK Health Minister Sajid Javid, who leads the country’s coronavirus response, said on Saturday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in self-isolation.
The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing in the US and around the world, largely driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus. Regions are starting to return to measures such as wearing masks to reduce casualties.
Los Angeles County, California, has reintroduced a mask-wearing mandate that went into effect Saturday, but a county sheriff said the Department of Health’s action was “not supported by science” and that his department will not enforce the measure.
“Forcing vaccinated individuals and those who have already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is unsupported by science and contradicts US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Sheriff Alex wrote. Villanueva in a statement on the department’s website.
“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not spend our limited resources and will instead ask for voluntary compliance. We encourage the DPH to work with the Board of Trustees and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”
It was not immediately clear what ramifications the sheriff’s office will face for the statement and refusal to enforce the mandate.
Meanwhile, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, an advocacy group based in Washington and London, has issued a report identifying a dozen pandemic profiteers “who have enriched themselves by spreading misinformation” about the COVID vaccines.
The group said the 12 entities “operate in plain sight and publicly undermine our collective trust in doctors, governments and medical science. Their confidence in openly promoting lies and false cures stems from years of impunity during which they were hosted on popular social media platforms, driving traffic and advertising dollars to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, while taking advantage of the vast reach that those platforms were happy to offer them.”
Last week, US President Joe Biden and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy misinformation about COVID that has spread through social media.
In Sydney, Australia, stricter COVID-19 containment measures were imposed on Saturday as infections continued to climb into the third week of a citywide lockdown.
New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Saturday that the new restrictions will remain in place until the end of July.
Officials ordered the closure of building sites and non-essential retail businesses, restrictions that also apply to the surrounding communities of Sydney in New South Wales.
Residents of the Sydney suburbs of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool are not allowed to travel outside their communities unless they are health professionals or social workers.
Vietnam is also reportedly imposing new restrictions as it grapples with its worst COVID-19 outbreak to date.
The government announced on Saturday that it would impose two-week travel restrictions in 16 southern provinces starting Monday, Reuters said.
“The curbs are intended to protect people’s health,” the government said in a statement.
In the UK, every adult received a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the country’s reopening on Monday. So far, 87.8% of adults have received at least one injection.
Johnson said the reopening will continue, even though new infections are at their highest levels since January, driven by the delta variant.
A UK COVID-19 restriction that will not be lifted on Monday will apply to travelers from France, amid concerns about the beta variant first identified in South Africa.
Travelers from France must remain in isolation for up to 10 days upon entry into Britain, even if they are fully vaccinated. However, fully vaccinated travelers from most of the rest of Europe can waive the quarantine as planned from Monday.
In the United States, three Texas state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus even though they had been vaccinated, the Texas State House Democratic Caucus said Saturday.
The lawmakers left their state and flew to Washington to block the passage of new restrictive voting laws in their state.
Two of the lawmakers met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday. In a statement Saturday, Harris spokesman Symone Sanders said Harris and her associates have been fully vaccinated and “were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive.”
“We take these positive affirmations very seriously,” Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds told MSNBC. “We’re following all CDC guidelines and… we’re going to make sure we don’t expose anyone.”
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said on Sunday that more than 4 million global COVID-19 deaths have been reported and more than 190 million infections have been confirmed.
Some of the information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.