Parents who refused ‘vaccinated blood’ transfusion speak out after court places Baby W in care

New Zealand parents say they will focus on supporting their son, now in the guardianship of his doctors, through life-saving operation

The family of a baby who has been placed in his doctors’ care because his parents refused to consent to a transfusion of “vaccinated blood” in a life-saving operation have said they will prioritise time with their son before the surgery.

The parents’ lawyer, Sue Grey, said in a Facebook post on Thursday morning that the family would be prioritising “a peaceful time with their baby until the operation, and to support him through the operation”.

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Vaccines are key to China’s zero-Covid exit but scepticism poses challenge

Backing down from existing policies remains a political problem of the first order

China’s government looks to be starting to roll back its zero-Covid policy. But after three years of saying the resource-intensive, economically damaging elimination strategy is the only way to go, experts say it will be a medical and political challenge to end it.

Much of China’s exit strategy is riding on vaccinations, but this is where Beijing has great challenges. China’s elderly population is disproportionately unvaccinated, leaving tens of millions of vulnerable people at far greater risk from the ravages of Covid-19. About 90% of China’s population is vaccinated, but among those over 60 only about 69% have had at least three doses. Above 80 years of age, the figure drops to about 40%.

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Parents refuse use of vaccinated blood in life-saving surgery on baby

New Zealand’s health services go to court over guardianship of four-month-old boy whose parents have not let heart operation go ahead

New Zealand’s health service has made a court application over the guardianship of a four-month-old baby whose parents are refusing to allow his life-saving heart surgery to go ahead unless non-vaccinated blood is used.

The parents of the baby discussed their son’s health situation and their medical preferences in an interview with an anti-vaccination campaigner.

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China sends students home amid calls for crackdown on protests

Authorities flood streets with police as top security body urges action against ‘hostile forces’

China has sent university students home and flooded streets with police in an attempt to disperse the most widespread anti-government protests in decades, as the country’s top security body called for a crackdown on “hostile forces”.

In an apparent effort to tackle anger at the zero-Covid policies that originally sparked the protests, authorities also announced plans to step up vaccination of older people.

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First Covid, now monkeypox – India’s role is key in the scramble for jabs

As the west buys early doses, India’s vaccine preparedness matters not just at home but for other developing nations dependent on its shots

Rishabh Kumar woke up in his California bedroom in a cold sweat. In the space of three weeks, the 37-year-old finance executive had lost his mother, best friend, brother-in-law and two cousins. They all died of Covid back home in India in April and May last year. The experience left him shattered and experiencing nightmares that continue to this day.

On this particular night last month, it was not thoughts of Covid tormenting him, but monkeypox, which had just been declared a health emergency in the US. Like many Indians at home and abroad, Kumar was worried for his country and the rest of his family.

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Polio outbreak in Pakistan worsens as eighth child reported paralysed

Investigation launched as first cases in a year blamed on vaccine refusal fuelled by clerics and falsification of records by parents

Pakistan’s polio eradication campaign is in disarray after an alarming jump in cases last week. Eight polio cases have now been reported in children over the past month in North Waziristan district, bordering Afghanistan. They are the first cases in more than a year.

This new outbreak, officials believe, is due to parents falsely marking themselves and their children as vaccinated, and the government has launched an investigation into the outbreak.

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‘It’s scary work, but I’m determined. We will make Pakistan polio-free’

As the virus returns, one frontline worker tells of her daily trials and triumphs in the fight to eradicate it for ever

Saima Hanif, 32, is one of Pakistan’s frontline health workers, part of a network of volunteers and low-paid women who are key in the country’s fight against polio. After 15 months of no reported cases, last week it was revealed that a 15-month-old boy had been paralysed by the polio virus in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, where Hanif works. Here, she tells her story …

I was very happy that Pakistan reported no polio cases for more than a year, and I was hoping it would be among the countries that have eradicated polio completely. In Bangash colony, Rawalpindi, where I work, no virus was detected where it is measured – in sewage water for a year.

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Spectre of polio returns to haunt Pakistan as baby boy is left paralysed

First case in a year sparks fears of new outbreak despite success of national programme to wipe out the disease

Pakistan has confirmed its first case of polio after more than a year, damaging the country’s hopes of eradicating the virus. Health officials have announced that a baby boy in North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, is paralysed after contracting polio.

Dr Shahzad Baig, a coordinator with the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, confirmed the “deeply saddening” case.

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With 37 million in lockdown and Covid plans under fire, Chinese ask: what comes next?

Elderly residents are wary of the jab even as Omicron spreads, and critics say zero-Covid policy is not sustainable

When nearby neighbourhoods went into lockdown, Liu Li started stocking up. The 42-year-old Chinese magazine worker bought vegetables, fruit, medicine and other supplies, adding to stores of basics she had maintained since the pandemic began. Last Sunday a resident in the community where Liu lives with her mother, in Changchun city, Jilin, tested positive. Everyone was ordered inside.

The fresh lockdown has, so far, been OK. “I live a normal life,” she says. “I work when there are tasks for me. If there aren’t any, I talk to my mother, watch TV, or play with my cat.”

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Anti-Covid vaccine mandate protesters chase New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern outside school

Incident comes a month after prime minister’s vehicle was chased and forced on to a curb by demonstrators

A group of shouting protesters have chased the New Zealand prime minister’s van down a driveway as she visited a Christchurch primary school, amid tensions over increasingly volatile anti-vaccine mandate protests.

Jacinda Ardern, who was visiting a primary school in Christchurch, was met by a crowd of people shouting “shame on you” and “traitor”. Some held signs saying that the prime minister would be “put on trial” and “held responsible”, and one man brandished a fabricated arrest warrant – references to conspiracy theories that a cohort of world leaders and powerful people are secretly using vaccines to commit a genocide, and would soon be put on trial and hanged for treason.

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New Zealand border will open in stages from end of February, Jacinda Ardern announces

Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers from Australia will be the first people able to enter the country

New Zealand has announced it will reopen its border to visitors in stages, starting at the end of February, after its earlier plans to do so were derailed by Omicron. It will be the first time the country has opened up since prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced its snap closure in the first month of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The country’s borders have been closed, apart from a short-lived travel bubble with Australia, for nearly two years.

“With Omicron’s arrival, we pushed that change in border settings out – to give ourselves the chance to roll out boosters – a chance most other countries never had,” Ardern said in a speech on Thursday.

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Omicron: what do we know about ‘stealth’ subvariant BA.2?

Omicron’s ‘close cousin’ has mutations that could alter how it behaves and has begun to surpass Covid’s most common variety in parts of Europe and Asia

The highly transmissible Omicron variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus – the most common form of which is known as BA.1 – now accounts for nearly all of the coronavirus infections globally.

Though Covid cases have already peaked in some countries, scientists are now tracking a rise in cases caused by a close cousin of Omicron known as BA.2, which is starting to outcompete BA.1 in parts of Europe and Asia. The following is what we know so far about the new subvariant.

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Jacinda Ardern cancels wedding as New Zealand prepares for Omicron surge

Prime minister says variant is now circulating in the community but ‘we’ll do everything that we can to slow the spread’

Omicron has breached New Zealand’s borders and started spreading in the community, Jacinda Ardern has said, meaning the entire country will be placed on the highest level of restrictions.

The outbreak has also forced the prime minister to cancel her wedding to Clarke Gayford, which was due to take place in the coming weeks at Gisborne on the North Island’s eastern coast.

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