Coronavirus live news: Merkel will receive AstraZeneca vaccine; Northern Ireland lockdown easing to be unveiled | World news

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Scotland’s first minister receives first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine

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A senior member of Japan’s ruling party has said that cancelling the Tokyo Olympics “remains an option” if the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen.

“If it seems impossible to do it any more, then we have to stop, decisively,” Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary general of the Liberal Democratic party, said in a TV interview that has yet to be aired.

While Nikai did not call for the Games to be called off, his comments are at odds with the united front presented by the Japanese government, Tokyo 2020 organisers and the International Olympic Committee [IOC] – all of which insist that the delayed event will open as planned on 23 July.

The pandemic shows no signs of slowing in several parts of the world, while experts in Japan have warned that the country has entered a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections driven by mutant strains of the virus.

Nikai, a powerful party faction leader who was instrumental in electing Yoshihide Suga as prime minister last year, said cancellation was “of course” an option, telling the TBS network: “If the Olympics were to spread infections, then what are the Olympics for?”

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The Brazilian government’s negligent response to Covid-19 has plunged the South American country into a snowballing “humanitarian catastrophe” that is likely to intensify in the coming weeks, the medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières has warned.

“I have to be very clear in this: the Brazilian authorities’ negligence is costing lives,” the group’s international president, Christos Christou, told reporters on Thursday after Brazil’s official death toll rose to more than 362,000, second only to the US.

Meinie Nicolai, MSF’s general director, said the actions of the Brazilian government – which under its far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, has downplayed the epidemic, shunned containment measures and promoted treatments with no scientific basis – had made it “a threat to its own population”.

Nicolai said:


There is no coordination in the response. There is no real acknowledgment of the severity of the disease. Science is put aside.

Fake news is being distributed and healthcare workers are left on their own.

The government is failing the Brazilian people … All Brazilians can tell you that they have people around them that have been buried or intubated [in places] where there are no drugs and no oxygen. This is unacceptable.

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