The Australian opposition has blasted the decision to allow British pop star Rita Ora – who has made headlines for hosting a lockdown-violating party in London – to enter Australia and quarantine ahead of the almost 40,000 Australians stranded overseas.
Ora arrived at a Sydney hotel for two weeks of forced quarantine on Monday ahead of filming for her role as a coach on Channel Seven’s The Voice. The opposition home affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, said Ora’s hotel spot meant her quarantine was at the expense of Australians desperately seeking to return home.
“It’s another example of Scott Morrison leaving Australians behind,” Keneally told the Guardian.
“There are still 40,000 Australians stranded overseas. Every celebrity who takes up a place in quarantine is a place denied to a stranded Australian,” she said.
Reports of celebrities, including Matt Damon and Miranda Kerr, being granted permission to isolate in self-organised private residences to avoid Australia’s strict hotel quarantine regime have generated backlash within Australia:
Celebrations for Waitangi Day are pressing ahead, with the Labour party’s Māori caucus arriving on Tuesday afternoon, after New Zealand logged the fifth consecutive day with no new Covid-19 cases in the community.
Labour members were greeted by a small number of protesters calling on Crown institutions such as local councils and courts to better honour their Treaty of Waitangi obligations and uphold more treaty claims.
Four cases of coronavirus were reported on Tuesday but all were in managed isolation. Two were travellers from the UK, one from India and a fourth case from the US was deemed historical.
The Ministry of Health said 347 of the 349 people at the Pullman Hotel – the isolation facility closed down for investigation after three cases emerged last week – had tested negative. Results of the remaining two were awaited:
Biden and Republicans agree to further Covid relief talks but deep divisions remain
Ten Republican senators have agreed to carry on talks with the White House in an attempt to negotiate a bi-partisan coronavirus relief package, after a two-hour meeting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Monday night ended short of a breakthrough.
The meeting lasted much longer than expected, providing a visible statement of the president’s stated ambition to reach across the aisle. But the group of senators who emerged from the Oval Office shortly after 7pm did so empty-handed.
The leader of the Republican pack, Susan Collins of Maine, described the meeting with the president and the vice-president as “excellent”, and “frank and very useful”. But she was clear about the huge gulf that still exists between Biden’s proposed $1.9tn package and the alternative posed by the 10 senators, which is less than a third in size:
Black Americans make up only 5.4% of Covid-19 vaccine recipients, CDC finds
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found only 5.4% of coronavirus vaccine recipients were black, in its first analysis of how vaccines were given out among different demographic groups in the first month of US distribution.
That is lower than the proportion of black people who are either residents of long-term care homes in the US (14%) or who work in the healthcare field (16%). Both were in the highest priority groups for immunisation.
However, the federal health agency emphasized its analysis was hampered by lack of data. While the 64 states and territories and five federal jurisdictions that undertook vaccination reported age and gender in nearly all cases, just over half of records included data on race or ethnicity.
“More complete reporting of race and ethnicity data at the provider and jurisdictional levels is critical to ensure rapid detection of and response to potential disparities in Covid-19 vaccination,” researchers wrote.
More than 97% of the data the CDC received contained information about age and 99.9% contained information on gender. However, just over half, 51.9%, of data contained an entry for race or ethnicity:
Many places in China to suspend religious gatherings
EU steps up guidance on non-essential travel from outside bloc
First Covid vaccines arrive in South Africa