Covid-19 wrap | Vaccine hesitancy stirs in Singapore, UK PM Johnson mulls stricter lockdown

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  • Singapore is preparing to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations, but the city state’s striking success in controlling the virus is making some question its necessity. 
  • The British government will review its Covid-19 restrictions to decide if it needs to impose stricter measures on more parts of England after a highly infectious mutated variant.
  • Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on people on Wednesday to keep calm after the island confirmed its first locally transmitted case of Covid-19 since 12 April.


Vaccine hesitancy stirs in nearly Covid-free Singapore       

Singapore is preparing to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations, but the city state’s striking success in controlling the virus is making some question whether they should take the jabs.

In a country where compliance with the authorities is generally high, some Singaporeans fear the potential side effects – even if minimal – are not worth the risk when daily cases are almost zero and fatalities are among the world’s lowest.

A poll by local newspaper The Straits Times in early December found that 48 percent of respondents said they will get a vaccine when it is available and 34 percent will wait six to 12 months.

But the government is keen to open more of the economy with the help of the vaccine in a country dependent on travel and trade.

To show the vaccine is safe, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 68, said he and his colleagues would be among the early recipients of the shots.

Aljazeera

As mutated variant spreads, PM Johnson mulls stricter lockdown             

The British government will review its Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday to decide if it needs to impose stricter measures on more parts of England after a highly infectious mutated variant swept across the country, a minister said.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the rules were unlikely to change before Christmas but he said the government's committee would meet on Wednesday to decide what further action needed to be taken.

"We don't have an immediate plan to take action but the number of cases is rising and the variant is spreading to other parts of the country so we will see if it's necessary to do more," he told BBC TV.

Reuters

Keep calm, Taiwan says after first local Covid-19 case in 8 months

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on people on Wednesday to keep calm after the island confirmed its first locally transmitted case of Covid-19 since 12 April, as the government announced negative tests so far for the person's contacts.

Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention methods and widespread mask wearing, with all new cases for more than the last 250 days being among travellers arriving on the island.

But the government has been jolted by Tuesday's announcement of the domestic infection, a lady who is a friend of a New Zealand pilot who was confirmed to have been infected earlier this week.

Tsai called on people to remain calm, follow official health guidance and not spread fake news.

"This case has a confirmed source of infection," she told reporters. "Please don't panic excessively."

The government has so far not decided to cancel New Year's Eve celebrations, which include fireworks in Taipei, but says it will monitor the situation.

Reuters

Covid-19 is not under control in France, says Paris hospital official

The coronavirus pandemic is not under control in France and a new lockdown must remain an option, Karine Lacombe, the head of the infectious diseases unit at Paris' Saint-Antoine hospital, said on Wednesday.

"On the epidemiological front, the epidemic is by no means under control," Lacombe told BFM TV.

Medical experts have voiced concerns that the Christmas holidays could result in a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in France and Europe. Data published on Tuesday showed that France had reported a further 802 related deaths in the last 24 hours, and another 11,795 confirmed cases.

Reuters

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