Offshoot of Delta designated a variant under investigation in UK; Pfizer says child-size doses effective at stopping infections in five- to 11-year-olds.

Ukraine’s coronavirus infections and deaths reached all-time highs for a second straight day Friday, Associated Press reports.

Health authorities reported 23,785 new confirmed infections and 614 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Authorities in the capital, Kiev, shut schools for two weeks starting Friday, and similar measures were ordered in other areas with high contagion levels.

The UK government has been accused of promoting companies offering Covid lateral flow tests for holidaymakers at misleading prices.

From Sunday, double-jabbed people arriving in England from countries not on the government’s “red list” can take a lateral flow test instead of the more expensive PCR version.

But concerns were raised when the government published a list of firms providing tests on Friday as companies were accused of advertising “clickbait” prices but then charging more and “gaming” the website to appear first.

Trade union leaders representing 3 million frontline workers in the UK have warned that the government risks “another winter of chaos” if urgent action is not taken to curb the spread of Covid, including mandatory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport.

In a joint statement, unions including Usdaw, Unison, Unite, the GMB and Aslef attacked the government’s “laissez-faire approach to managing the pandemic” after the prime minister insisted it was not yet time to impose fresh restrictions .

“We all want to beat Covid once for all and to avoid further lockdowns. But without decisive action now, we risk sleepwalking into another winter of chaos,” the union leaders said, in a joint statement also signed by the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady.

The UK government’s vaccines watchdog is understood to have approved the idea of second Covid vaccinations for teenagers aged 16 and 17, putting in place another element of plans to boost protection from the virus into the winter.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided in favour of first jabs for the age group in early August, saying at the time that it was likely that second shots would begin 12 weeks after the first dose.

However, it is now nearly 12 weeks since the initial decision, with some parents reporting that GPs were telling teenagers they would need to wait until they were 18 for their second dose.

While the department of health said it had no information about an imminent announcement on second vaccinations for the age group, it is understood that news could come on it next week.

Fewer than half of eligible residents in older age care homes in England have received a coronavirus booster jab, latest available NHS data suggests.

Out of around 250,000 eligible residents in care homes for adults aged 65 and over, around 112,000 had received a booster as of midnight on Thursday, NHS England said.

This works out at around 45% of eligible residents having been given their booster vaccine since the programme launched roughly a month ago.

Eligible residents are those who had their second Covid-19 vaccine more than six months ago and do not currently have coronavirus or norovirus. Summary

Here is a round-up of today’s top Covid stories from the UK and around the world: Russia recorded a fourth straight daily record of Covid deaths this morning, with 1,064 more people reported to have died from the virus.

The UK Health Security Agency today announced the offshoot of Delta , known as AY.4.2 has been designated a variant under investigation due to it becoming increasingly common in the UK.

Pfizer has said that child-size doses of its Covid vaccine are safe and nearly 91% effective at preventing infections in primary school children.

Amnesty International has urged the Italian parliament to launch an independent inquiry into coronavirus deaths in care homes and reports of retaliation against nursing staff who criticised unsafe conditions.

In the US , Biden administration officials have urged eligible Americans to get booster shots and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head said it may update its definition of what constitutes full vaccination.

Norway will hold off giving children aged 12-15 a second dose of a vaccine against Covid until it has gathered more research, partly due to a rare side effect involving inflammation of the heart, health authorities said today.

India seems unlikely to meet its goal of vaccinating 944 million adults by December.

Canada has scrapped an official advisory urging its citizens to avoid non-essential foreign travel, dropping a warning that was issued in March 2020 when the Covid pandemic erupted. The percentage of people testing positive for Covid is estimated to have increased in all regions of England except south-east England and the West Midlands. In Belarus , authorities abolished mask mandates, less than two weeks after their introduction for the first time during the pandemic, on Friday. England’s Covid weekly reproduction “R” number was estimated to have risen to between 1.0 and 1.2, the UK Health Security Agency said on Friday, and the epidemic is estimated to be growing. Italy reported 39 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday compared to 36 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 3,882 from 3,794. Malaysia will reopen to foreign workers and allow fully vaccinated tourists to visit the northern resort island of Langkawi next month without quarantine. Belgium’s daily Covid cases have jumped to the highest level in almost a year, prompting health experts to say that a fourth wave of infections has begun. In Iran , mass Friday prayers resumed in Tehran after a 20-month hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, state TV reported. Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered frontline workers and tourism staff to be given a third booster shot of Covid vaccine by next month. Ukraine shut schools in coronavirus hotspots and announced a requirement for vaccine certificates or negative tests to use public transport in the capital, after Covid deaths hit a record high. Hong Kong authorities prevented a Royal Caribbean cruise ship from departing the city’s terminal late on Thursday as […]

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