Britain’s National Health Service has contacted Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his finance minister, Rishi Sunak, to let them know that they have been close to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Downing Street said Sunday in a statement the men will participate in a daily contact testing pilot that will allow them to continue to work from Downing Street but self-isolate when not in their offices.
The announcement came after UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who leads the country’s coronavirus response said Saturday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.
COVID-19 cases are rising in the U.S. and around the world, largely driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus. Regions are beginning to return to measures such as mask-wearing to reduce the number of victims.
Los Angeles County, in the U.S. state of California, reimposed a mask-wearing mandate that went into effect Saturday, but a county sheriff said the Public Health Department’s move was “not backed by science” and his department will not enforce the measure.
“Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva wrote in a statement on the department’s website.
“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance. We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”
It was not immediately clear what, if any repercussions, the sheriff’s office will face for the statement and its refusal to enforce the mandate.
Meanwhile, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, an advocacy group based in Washington and London, has produced a report that identifies a dozen pandemic profiteers “who have enriched themselves by spreading misinformation” about the COVID vaccines.
The group said the 12 entities operate “in plain sight, publicly undermining our collective confidence in doctors, governments and medical science. Their confidence in openly promoting lies and false cures comes from years of impunity in which they were hosted on popular social media platforms, driving traffic and advertising dollars to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, while benefiting from the enormous reach those platforms gladly afforded them.”
Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy decried the COVID misinformation that has spread across social media.
More stringent COVID-19 containment measures were imposed in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, as cases of infections continued to rise in the third week of a citywide lockdown.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters Saturday the new restrictions would remain in effect until the end of July.
Officials ordered the shutdown of building sites and nonessential retail businesses, restrictions that also apply to Sydney’s surrounding communities in New South Wales.
Residents in the Sydney suburbs of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool are prohibited from traveling outside their communities unless they are health care workers or emergency responders.
Vietnam also is reportedly imposing new restrictions as it grapples with its worst COVID-19 outbreak to date.
The government announced Saturday that it would impose two-week travel restrictions in 16 southern provinces beginning Monday, according to Reuters.
"The curbs are to protect people's health," the government reportedly said in a statement.
In the United Kingdom, every adult has been offered a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the country’s reopening Monday. So far 87.8% of adults have received at least one shot.
Johnson said the reopening will go forward even though new infections are at their highest level since January, driven by the delta variant.
One U.K. COVID-19 restriction that will not be lifted Monday is on travelers from France, because of concerns about the beta variant first identified in South Africa.
Travelers from France must isolate for up to 10 days on entering Britain, even if they are fully vaccinated. However, fully vaccinated travelers from most of the rest of Europe can forgo quarantining as of Monday as planned.
In the United States, three Texas state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, even though they had been vaccinated, the Texas State House Democratic Caucus said on Saturday.
The lawmakers left their state and flew to Washington to block passage of new, restrictive voting legislation in their state.
Two of the lawmakers met Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris. In a statement Saturday, Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders said Harris and her staff are fully vaccinated and “were not at risk of exposure because they were not in close contact with those who tested positive.”
"We are taking these positive confirmations very seriously," Texas state Representative Ron Reynolds, told MSNBC. "We're following all CDC guidelines and ... we are going to make sure that we don't expose anyone."
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Sunday that there have been more than 4 million global COVID-19 deaths and over 190 million infections have been confirmed.
Some information for this report came from Associated Press and Reuters.