COVID-19

Japan Top League on hold

The competition had been due to start this weekend but with 10 positive tests at Kobe Steelers on Thursday taking the total to 67 league-wide, organisers said they were now aiming for a mid-February start.

Last year's season was cancelled entirely because of the pandemic.

"Japan Rugby Football Union and Top League have had discussions and we want to do everything we can to have this year's Top League season," said JRFU Chairman Kensuke Iwabuchi.

WHO team probing origin of virus arrives in China

The long-awaited probe comes after months of negotiations between the WHO and Beijing.

A group of 10 scientists is set to interview people from research institutes, hospitals and the seafood market linked to the initial outbreak.

Covid-19 was first detected in Wuhan in central China in late 2019.

The team's arrival on Thursday morning coincides with a resurgence of new coronavirus cases in the north of the country, while life in Wuhan is relatively back to normal.

Elderly English couple's 'final meeting' in hospital

Gerry and Barbara Jarrett, from Bracknell, Berkshire, are in separate wards at Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey.

Their daughter Chloe, who posted a picture of one reunion on Twitter, said her mother "looked to be at the end".

She said her parents had "precious" extra time together thanks to the hospital's "incredible" efforts.

Mrs Keljarrett said her 79-year-old father and mother, 76, who have been together for 50 years, were admitted to hospital with Covid-19 two weeks ago.

Footballers urged to stop hugging

  The issue of players flouting social distancing rules has been in the news this week after video emerged of teams celebrating in dressing rooms following last weekend's FA Cup third round matches.

The Professional Footballers' Association and Premier League have written to clubs and players asking them to follow social distancing guidelines as Britain continues to battle a fast-spreading new strain of the coronavirus.

Malaysia declares Covid state of emergency amid political challenges

The move was requested by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and allows Mr Muhyiddin to suspend parliament at a time when his government is weakened.

The palace said the emergency would last until 1 August, unless cases were brought under control earlier.

Critics say it allows Mr Muhyiddin's unstable government to cling to power.

The prime minister came to power in March last year with a thin majority, but was facing threats from coalition allies to withdraw support for his government, triggering a snap election.

Australia to begin mass vaccinations in February

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said regulators were now expected to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the end of January.

He announced the plans on Thursday as the cities of Sydney and Melbourne battled to control new clusters.

By March, four million Australians could be vaccinated, he said.

"We are now in a position where believe we will be able to commence vaccinations in mid-to-late February," Mr Morrison said.

Following regulatory approval, the first of the country's order of 10 million Pfizer vaccine doses should be issued in a matter of weeks.

Four new Covid-19 border cases in Fiji

The first case is a 35-year-old man who travelled from the United Kingdom and arrived in Fiji on flight NZ 952 from Auckland on 24 December.

The other two cases are a 25-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman who arrived in Nadi on flight GA 8250 from New Delhi on 21 December.

The fourth case is a 55-year-old man who travelled from Mali and arrived on 31 December on flight NZ952 from Auckland.

Plans for Australian Open quarantine in disarray after hotel deal torn up

Tennis Australia and the state government are now scrambling to find an alternative hotel, as players are due to arrive on January 15 and serve a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Sources familiar with the deal told The Age that the government could be forced to compensate the owners of The Westin Melbourne over the cancellation of the multi-million dollar deal.

Australian F1 Grand Prix could be postponed

Tickets for the March 21 race at Albert Park have yet to go on sale.

A Formula One spokesman, asked on Monday about media reports of a likely postponement, said the sport looked forward to racing again in March.

He did not specify where, with Bahrain's Grand Prix also scheduled for March.

Local organisers in Melbourne were not immediately available for comment but various reports said a postponement, rather than a cancellation for the second year in a row, was likely to be announced later in January.

New lockdown for England amid 'hardest weeks'

All schools and colleges will close to most pupils and switch to remote learning from Tuesday.

Boris Johnson urged people to follow the rules immediately amid surging cases and patient numbers.

He said those in the top four priority groups would receive a first vaccine dose by the middle of next month.

All care home residents and their carers, everyone aged 70 and over, all frontline health and social care workers, and the clinically extremely vulnerable will be offered one dose of a vaccine by mid-February.