But some scientists say it is increasingly clear that the Sinopharm vaccine does not offer a clear path toward herd immunity, particularly when considering the multiple variants appearing around the world.

Governments using the Sinopharm vaccine “have to assume a significant failure rate and have to plan accordingly,” said John Moore, a vaccine expert at Cornell University. “You have to alert the public that you will still have a decent chance of getting infected.”

Many in Seychelles say the government has not been forthcoming.

“My question is: Why did they push everyone to take it?” said Diana Lucas, a 27-year-old waitress who tested positive on May 10. She said she received her second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine on Feb. 10.

Emmanuelle Hoareau, 22, a government lawyer, tested positive on May 6 after getting the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine in March. “It doesn’t make sense,” she said. She said the government had failed to give the public enough information about the vaccines.

“They are not explaining to the people about the real situation,” she said. “It’s a big deal — a lot of people are getting infected.”

Ms. Hoareau’s mother, Jacqueline Pillay, is a nurse in a private clinic in Victoria, the capital. She said she believes there is a new variant in Seychelles because of an influx of foreigners who have arrived in recent months. The tourism-dependent country opened its borders on March 25 to most travelers without any quarantine.

“People are very scared now,” said Ms. Pillay, 58. “When you give people the right information, then people would not speculate.”

Health officials have recently appeared on television to encourage those who have only taken the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine to return for the second shot. But Ms. Pillay said she is frustrated that the public health commissioner has not addressed why the vaccines don’t appear to be working as well as they should.

“I think a lot of people aren’t coming back,” said Ms. Pillay.

Marietta Labrosse, Elsie Chen and Claire Fu contributed research.

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China will partition Mount Everest’s summit to reduce coronavirus risk.

variant of concern. Scientists still don’t know much about the variant yet, but they are worried that it may be helping to fuel the rise in the nation’s coronavirus infections, which experts say are likely undercounted.

“There is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies” of the variant, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the W.H.O.’s coronavirus response.

Dr. Van Kerkhove also said that a study of a limited number of patients, which had not yet been peer reviewed, suggested that antibodies from vaccines or infections with other variants might not be quite as effective against B.1.617. However, the agency said that vaccines will likely remain potent enough to provide protection against B.1.617.

More details will be released in a report on Tuesday, Dr. Van Kerkhove said.

The variant was first detected in India at the end of 2020 but became more common in the country starting in March. It has since been found in 32 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. The W.H.O.’s announcement comes as growing numbers of medical experts are adding their voices to a chorus of condemnation of the Indian government’s response and calling for nationwide restrictions to try to limit the horrifying death toll.

Although the official figures are already staggering — more than 350,000 new infections daily this month and nearly 250,000 total deaths — some experts say that the numbers are a vast undercount and estimate that India is on pace to suffer more than one million deaths by August.

Initially, the W.H.O. classified B.1.617 as a “variant of interest,” because it had certain mutations that have been linked to higher transmission and the potential to evade vaccines. At a news conference on Monday, agency officials announced they were elevated it to a higher level.

Other variants of concern include B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, and P.1., which was originally detected in Brazil.

But experts caution that it’s not yet clear just how much of a factor B.1.617 has played in the catastrophic rise in cases in India. They point to a perfect storm of public health blunders, such as permitting massive political rallies and religious festivals in recent months.

“I am concerned about 617 — I think we have to keep a very close eye on it,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But he cautioned that relatively few variant samples are being analyzed in India, making it hard to know just how dangerous B.1.617 is. “We really, really need better data out of India,” he said.

Over the weekend, the Indian Medical Association said in a statement it was time for a “complete, well-planned, pre-announced” lockdown to replace the scattershot regional restrictions currently in place across the nation of 1.4 billion.

The association said it was “astonished to see the extreme lethargy and inappropriate actions from the Ministry of Health in combating the agonizing crisis born out of the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Much of the criticism has been directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, which allowed hundreds of thousands to gather at a large religious festival and held campaign rallies even as the virus surged.

An editorial published on Saturday in The Lancet, a medical journal, said that Mr. Modi “seemed more intent on removing criticism” on social media than “trying to control the pandemic.”

“India squandered its early successes in controlling Covid-19,” the editorial said.

The medical journal also cited an estimate by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that projected that India would witness a total of more than a million coronavirus deaths by August — far higher than government figures would suggest.

On May 2, for example, the institute said that total deaths were actually about 642,000, about three times higher than the government’s own number for that date, just over 217,000.

Referring to the possibility that there may actually be a million victims by August, the Lancet editorial said, “If that outcome were to happen, Modi’s government would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe.”

On Monday, India recorded more than 365,000 new cases and 3,754 deaths, according to data from the Health Ministry.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, wrote in a tweet on Sunday that it was likely that between two to five million people were being infected every day and that India’s “true” coronavirus death toll was “closer to 25,000 deaths” each day.

He based his own calculations, he wrote, on the number of cremations taking place in the country.

Commuters exited the West 4 St. subway station in New York, in February.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Officials in New York are trying to boost a flagging vaccination campaign by setting up temporary walk-in vaccination sites at eight subway and train stations this week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday.

From May 12 to May 16, the walk-in sites will be open at various times at subway stations including the ones at 179th Street in Jamaica, Queens, and at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sites at the Long Island Rail Road station in Hempstead and a Metro-North Railroad station in Ossining will be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A site will be open at Penn Station in Manhattan from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at Grand Central Terminal from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

People vaccinated at the rail and subway locations can get a free seven-day MetroCard or two free one-way tickets for the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North. Officials will use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the stations, Mr. Cuomo said. The program is a pilot and may be extended, he said.

“You are walking into the subway station anyway, you are walking past the vaccination site, it’s a one-shot vaccination, stop, take a few minutes, get the vaccine,” he said.

The pop-up sites at the stations — and the free tickets — are part of a broader, nationwide push to offer creative incentives to get people vaccinated. New Jersey, for example, is offering a “shot and a beer” for residents who get their first vaccine dose in May and visit participating breweries in the state.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday a plan to give free tickets to events and attractions like the New York Aquarium, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or professional soccer games to people who get vaccinated.

Vaccinations so far have helped drive down positivity rates and hospitalizations across New York State, Mr. Cuomo said. He said on Monday that the number of hospitalizations statewide was 2,016, the lowest since Nov. 15. The statewide seven-day average rate of positive test results announced by the state on Sunday — 1.45 percent — was the lowest since Oct. 28.

Still, Mr. Cuomo said the pace of vaccinations was tapering off, both in New York and nationwide, potentially allowing the coronavirus to linger. Younger people and people who question the vaccine’s safety and doubt the trustworthiness of the government in particular were not getting vaccines, he said.

Mr. Cuomo also said on Monday that the State University of New York and the City University of New York planned to require that students returning for in-person instruction in the fall be fully vaccinated. He said the requirement would be contingent on the federal government granting full approval to the Covid-19 vaccines being used now. The three in use are only authorized for emergency use.

Pfizer and the German company BioNTech said on Friday that the companies had applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval of their vaccine for use in people 16 and older, but the process could take months. Moderna plans to apply for full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine this month, the company said last week.

Mr. Cuomo said that half the seats at home games for the New York Islanders during the National Hockey League playoffs, which begin this month, will be reserved for people who are vaccinated. They will have to stay three feet apart, he said. The other half will be available to unvaccinated people who must remain six feet apart, he said. Everyone will be required to wear a mask.

In New York City, officials said they were making plans to provide the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12 to 15, once it is authorized as is expected this week.

“We want to immediately get to work vaccinating young people,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference on Monday.

The health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said the city would begin administering the vaccine to those adolescents at its existing network of vaccination sites. The city has also been working with pediatricians to prepare them to answer questions about the vaccine and eventually administer it in their offices, and it would distribute information about vaccination at city schools to try and reach a broad audience of eligible teenagers.

Michael Gold contributed reporting.

Health care workers administered coronavirus tests in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday.
Credit…Ishara S. Kodikara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Early in the pandemic, there was hope that the world would one day achieve herd immunity, the point when the coronavirus lacks enough hosts to spread easily. But over a year later, the virus is crushing India with a fearsome second wave and surging in countries from Asia to Latin America.

Experts now say it is changing too quickly, new more contagious variants are spreading too easily and vaccinations are happening too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon.

That means if the virus continues to run rampant through much of the world, it is well on its way to becoming endemic, an ever-present threat.

Virus variants are tearing through places where people gather in large numbers with few or no pandemic protocols, like wearing masks and distancing, according to Dr. David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

While the outbreak in India is capturing the most attention, Dr. Heymann said the pervasive reach of the virus means that the likelihood is growing that it will persist in most parts of the world.

As more people contract the virus, developing some level of immunity, and the pace of vaccinations accelerates, future outbreaks won’t be on the scale of those devastating India and Brazil, Dr. Heymann said. Smaller outbreaks that are less deadly but a constant threat should be expected, Dr. Heymann said.

“This is the natural progression of many infections we have in humans, whether it is tuberculosis or H.I.V.,” said Dr. Heymann, a former member of the Epidemiology Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a former senior official at the World Health Organization. “They have become endemic and we have learned to live with them and we learn how to do risk assessments and how to protect those we want to protect.”

Vaccines that are highly effective against Covid were developed rapidly, but global distribution has been plodding and unequal. As rich countries hoard vaccine doses, poorer countries face big logistical challenges to distributing the doses they manage to get and vaccine hesitancy is an issue everywhere. And experts warn the world is getting vaccinated too slowly for there to be much hope of ever eliminating the virus.

Only two countries have fully vaccinated more than half of their populations, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. They are Israel and the East African nation of the Seychelles, an archipelago with a population of fewer than 100,000. And just a handful of other countries have at least partially vaccinated nearly 50 percent or more, including Britain, tiny Bhutan, and the United States.

Less than 10 percent of India’s vast population is at least partly vaccinated, offering little check to its onslaught of infections.

In Africa, the figure is slightly more than 1 percent.

Still, public health experts say a relatively small number of countries, mostly island nations, have largely kept the virus under control and could continue keeping it at bay after vaccinating enough people.

New Zealand, through stringent lockdowns and border closures, has all but eliminated the virus. Dr. Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago who helped devise the country’s coronavirus response, said New Zealand would likely achieve herd immunity by immunizing its population, but it has a long way to go with only about 4.4 percent of New Zealanders at least partially vaccinated.

“All of the surveys show there is a degree of vaccine hesitancy in New Zealand, but also a lot of people are very enthusiastic,” Dr. Baker said. “So I think we will probably get there in the end.”

While new daily cases have remained at near-world record levels, the number of deaths has dropped from a peak in February, going against the normal pattern of high cases followed eventually by high deaths. If that trendline continues, it could offer a glimmer of hope for a future scenario that scientists are rooting for: Even as the virus spreads and seems to be hurtling toward becoming endemic, it could become a less lethal threat that can be managed with vaccines that are updated periodically to protect against variants.

“It may be endemic, but not in a life-threatening way,” Dr. Michael Merson, a professor of global health at Duke University and New York University, and a former director of the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS, said. “It may be more like what we see with young kids, a common cold like disease.”

Madeleine Ngo contributed reporting.

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England Eases More Coronavirus Restrictions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that England would move into its next reopening phase May 17, loosening limits on businesses and gatherings, and allowing people to make their own decisions about close contact, like hugging.

The data now support moving to Step 3 in England from next Monday, the 17th of May. This means the Rule of 6 for two households that is applied outdoors will now apply indoors, and the limit for outdoor meetings will increase to 30 from next Monday. You’ll be able to sit inside a pub and inside a restaurant. You’ll be able to go to the cinema and children will be able to use indoor play areas. We’re reopening hostels, hotels, B&Bs; we’ll reopen the doors to our theaters, concert halls and business conference centers. We’ll, unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia, subject to capacity limits, and from next week, everyone will be able to travel within Britain and stay overnight. We’re updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices. This doesn’t mean, we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all know that close contact, such as hugging, is a direct way of transmitting this disease. So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones, whether they’ve had a vaccine, one or two doses, and whether there has been time for that vaccine to take effect. Remember, outdoors is always safer than indoors, and if you’re meeting indoors, remember to open a window and let in the fresh air.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that England would move into its next reopening phase May 17, loosening limits on businesses and gatherings, and allowing people to make their own decisions about close contact, like hugging.CreditCredit…Dylan Martinez/Reuters

One-armed, two-armed, side-armed: once an unceremonious greeting, hugging became a far from casual move during the deadly coronavirus pandemic — replaced by waves, nods and the fist or elbow bump.

But in England, hugging friends and family will be government-approved starting next Monday as the government loosens more restrictions, part of a gradual reopening of society and the economy that began this spring after months of national restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes Monday evening.

Mr. Johnson said that England was taking “the single biggest step” on its road out of lockdown, adding that the public should “protect these gains” by being cautious and using common sense. On Monday, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland reported zero coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period. There were four deaths in Wales.

In this new stage, outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people will be allowed and indoor gatherings will be allowed for up to six people or two households. Indoor dining, movie theaters and museums will also be able to resume operations, among other places. Hostels, hotels and bed and breakfasts will reopen. Mr. Johnson said people would be allowed to make their own decisions about close contact — such as hugs — with family and friends, though he urged social distancing in places like offices, pubs, restaurants and other settings.

After a year where many people abstained from physical contact for fear of infecting themselves or others, news the embrace would be legal was welcomed, though with some mirth. Some joked that they had forgotten entirely how to execute the move. Others took issue with the fact that the government had tried to stop people from hugging at all, or worried that it was too soon to allow such close contact.

“I’m a hugger ,” said the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to reporters on Monday, adding that many Londoners were looking forward to relaxation of the ban. “I enjoy people’s company and I know people are ready for me to be hugging again. The first person I’m going to hug is my mum.”

And there were hints that hugs, among other types of physical touch, had already made a comeback.

Still, some experts warned that those wanting to hug their friends with wild abandon should save those arms for their favorite friends.

“It would worry me if we were advocating we can hug all of our friends every time we meet them again,” said Catherine Noakes, a professor from the University of Leeds and member of a government advisory body, to the BBC. Hugging should not be “too frequently,” she advised. “Keep it short, try and avoid being face to face, so perhaps turn your face away slightly, and even wearing a mask could help.”

Mr. Johnson seemed to agree, saying, “I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones.”

That impulse control may be too much for writer and actor Stephen Fry, who joked on Twitter that while he had largely abided by the rules this past year, he may have a hard time showing restraint. “If you see me in the street — run for it,” he wrote.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Saying evening prayers around the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday.
Credit…Abdulghani Essa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that it would hold the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that in normal times draws millions of Muslims to the kingdom, but did not say how many pilgrims would be allowed to come, which countries would be allowed to send them or what coronavirus precautions they would have to take.

The hajj, the ritual all Muslims are supposed to complete at least once, was also held last summer, but under tightly controlled conditions. Only about 1,000 Muslims from Saudi Arabia, including Saudis and foreign nationals living in the kingdom, were able to take part, down from about 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019; the rituals were performed at social distance, with masks, and the pilgrims were not allowed to kiss the Kaaba, the holy shrine at the center of Mecca that pilgrims are supposed to circle as they complete the hajj.

For the first time in living memory — the hajj had not been canceled since Saudi Arabia’s founding in 1932, though it has been restricted at various points in history during plagues, wars and political disputes — the holiest mosque in Islam was nearly empty, with a few carefully spaced circles of pilgrims dressed in white rather than the throngs who normally crowd the Grand Mosque.

The near-cancellation came as a spiritual and emotional blow to Muslims who had been hoping (and saving up) to participate, in many cases for years. Because of the demand, it is normally difficult to secure a hajj visa even in normal times.

It is unclear whether Saudi Arabia, which is balancing the much-needed tourism revenue it stands to gain from the hajj with the public health requirements of the coronavirus pandemic, will again restrict the hajj so tightly.

Fahad Nazer, a spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said only that details would “be announced at a later date,” though he noted on Twitter that there would be “preventative & precautionary measures that ensure the health & safety of pilgrims.”

In other news from around the world:

  • Doctors in India are concerned about an increasing number of potentially fatal fungal infections affecting either people who have Covid-19 or those who have recently recovered from the disease. The condition, known as mucormycosis, has a high mortality rate and was present in India before the pandemic.

  • European soccer’s governing body is holding talks with Britain’s government on Monday to discuss moving this month’s Champions League final to London or another city because of travel restrictions. Those rules have made it almost impossible for English fans of the finalists — the Premier League rivals Manchester City and Chelsea — to attend the match, set for May 29 in Istanbul. A decision will most likely be announced within 48 hours.

  • China said on Sunday that it had taken steps to prevent coronavirus cases from entering the country — over the top of the world’s tallest mountain — including the installation of a dividing line on the summit to prevent climbers from the Chinese side and the Nepal side from coming into contact.

  • President Biden’s chief medical adviser for the pandemic said on Sunday that he was open to relaxing indoor masking rules in the United States as more Americans are vaccinated against the virus. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that as vaccinations climb, “we do need to start being more liberal” in terms of rules for wearing masks indoors.

Mujib Mashal, Abby Goodnough, Austin Ramzy and Tariq Panja contributed reporting.

A helicopter over the Khumbu glacier, en route to the Everest base camps this month.
Credit…Prakash Mathema/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China said on Sunday that it had taken steps to prevent coronavirus cases from entering the country — over the top of the world’s tallest mountain.

Nyima Tsering, head of the Tibet Sports Bureau, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that control measures would be put in place on Mount Everest, including the installation of a dividing line on the summit to prevent climbers from the Chinese side and the Nepal side from coming into contact.

Last week, a team of Sherpa guides affixed a rope to the summit of Mount Everest from the Nepal side, allowing expeditions to resume for the first time since the pandemic forced a cancellation of attempts last year.

Nepal has this year approved a record 408 permits to climb Everest, even as coronavirus cases have surged in the country and several climbers have been flown from base camp with symptoms of Covid-19.

China, which has approved just 21 permits to climb the mountain from its side this year, has expressed concern about the risk of coronavirus transmission on the mountain. Since the coronavirus first emerged in China in 2019, the country has carried out strict measures to prevent its spread internally and reintroduction from abroad.

The border between Nepal and China crosses the peak of Everest, a small area where a handful of climbers can stand after making a successful ascent. At the summit, 29,031.7 feet above sea level, most climbers already wear masks to supply oxygen and protect themselves from the cold. But China will implement additional steps to reduce the risk of transmission.

In addition to restrictions on the summit, a checkpoint has been installed outside the Chinese base camp. People returning from the Chinese side will have to undergo disinfection, temperature checks and potentially isolation, Xinhua reported.

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UK’s Labour Party Reels After Panicked Response to Election Loss

LONDON — Sober, cerebral and with the poise of the top-shelf lawyer he once was, Keir Starmer promised competence rather than charisma when he became leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party last year, following its crushing general election defeat in 2019.

But his panicky response to last week’s poor local election results and a clumsy reshuffle of his top team have left his party in turmoil, diminishing his authority and raising doubts about whether Labour has a credible path back to power.

Mr. Starmer found himself embroiled in fierce recriminations over local election results that, with smoother communication, could have been explained away as disappointing, but instead pointed to a deeper crisis.

“The one thing Keir Starmer was supposed to be was competent,” said Steven Fielding, professor of political history at the University of Nottingham. “The election results were not good but they weren’t as bad as some people liked to present them. He completely messed up his reaction, and that highlights concerns about his ability to communicate.”

under its last leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Twitter.

claims Mr. Johnson broke electoral rules over the financing of a pricey refurbishment of his apartment.

But Britons apparently ignored those goings on in Westminster, and with the country now emerging from Covid-19 restrictions seemed to reward politicians who controlled health policies. The ruling Scottish National Party in Scotland performed strongly, as did the governing Labour Party in Wales.

In England, Mr. Johnson was forgiven for his chaotic early handling of the pandemic and rewarded for the country’s highly successful vaccination roll out.

Not all is lost for Mr. Starmer, particularly when the entirety of last week’s results are taken into account. According to a BBC analysis projecting the local voting into a national vote share, Labour was seven points behind the Conservatives, hardly a good result but progress on the 12-point deficit recorded in the 2019 general election.

With no credible challenger waiting in the wings, Mr. Starmer is unlikely to face any immediate threat to his leadership. Nonetheless, the speed with which critics attacked his reshuffle raises pressure on Mr. Starmer to at least identify a message that can appeal to two very different groups of Britons — the old working class stalwarts and the more youthful, liberal and better educated city dwellers.

“Under Starmer it has been two steps forward and one step back,” said Mr. Fielding, “and he hasn’t addressed the problem of how you win back the red wall without losing metropolitan liberal voters.”

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Here We Go Again: Another Covid Case Brings More Uncertainty

The Australia Letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australia bureau. Sign up to get it by email.

I’ve spent the past 24 hours jumping at phone alerts and periodically Googling “NSW covid” and “Victoria border restrictions.”

I’m in Sydney for the week and was planning to stay until Sunday. But after the discovery of a mystery coronavirus case in the community, I’m trying to work out whether I need to head back to Melbourne sooner to get ahead of a possible border closure.

It’s not a life-or-death decision, but I’m loath to give up the weekend I was supposed to spend with my parents (the guilt trip I’ll get for missing Mother’s Day will be subtle but significant). However, I’ve got work commitments in Melbourne next week that I can’t miss.

There are no clear metrics for when and how states decide to enforce border restrictions. As the authorities keep stressing, every outbreak is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

I do the calculations in my head: New South Wales recorded no new infections on Friday. Queensland and Western Australia have only enacted border measures for New South Wales travelers who’ve visited hot spots. All of the mystery case’s close contacts have tested negative, sans one.

But on the other hand, the list of exposure sites keeps growing. We still haven’t found the missing link between the infected man and the originating case in hotel quarantine. New Zealand has paused the trans-Tasman bubble with New South Wales for 48 hours.

If there’s an announcement, will I have enough time to book a flight? Will there still be flights left to book?

It adds up to a whole lot of uncertainty. And following closely on its heels, annoyance.

This is a regular occurrence by now. The coronavirus escapes hotel quarantine, the state locks down or puts restrictions in place, and other states enforce border restrictions. Travelers scramble, and businesses bemoan the hit to their profits.

There are some differences this time. Unlike the Perth outbreak two weeks ago, most states haven’t enacted hard border closures with New South Wales. But for the most part, it feels like we’re having the same conversations again and again without gaining much ground. How do we stop coronavirus from leaking out of hotel quarantine? Is the virus airborne? Do we need purpose-built facilities? Are state borders closures an overreaction?

These outbreaks should be getting less significant as more Australians get vaccinated. But that is also a slow and ungainly process, according to experts, in part because we’ve gotten complacent. We’ve dealt so well with the virus that there’s no urgency about inoculating the population.

Some people I’ve spoken to who became eligible for the vaccine this week as part of phase 2A have expressed exactly that sentiment: We might as well wait a bit longer, just in case. It won’t make a big difference to us, here, either way.

Some days, it feels like the pandemic, at least in Australia, is a thing of the past. In Melbourne, I’d noticed more and more people forgoing their mandated masks on public transport. Even I’ve been getting slack about checking in at venues. But the past few days have been another reminder that things we used to take for granted, like free movement between states, still aren’t guaranteed.

Now for this week’s stories:


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Covid-19 Live Updates: Vaccines Protect Against Some Variants, Studies Show

vaccine was extraordinarily effective against severe disease caused by two variants, including the dominant one in the United States. And the results of an early-stage trial of the Moderna vaccine — though not published or vetted by scientists — suggested that a single dose given as a booster was effective against variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil, the company said.

The emergence of new variants, and whether vaccines are effective against them, is a subject of continued concern as a variant first detected in India, called B.1.617, spreads across the country. There is also a risk that further variants will arise there as the country’s outbreak grows, experts say. Another worrisome variant, P.1, is wreaking havoc across South America.

In the Pfizer studies, which were based on real-world use of the vaccine in Qatar and Israel, the two variants of focus were B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain and now detected in over 100 countries, and B.1.351, first identified in South Africa. The studies showed that the vaccine can prevent some of the most severe outcomes from Covid-19, such as pneumonia and death, caused by those variants.

“At this point in time, we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern,” said Dr. Annelies Wilder-Smith, a researcher in infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

One of the Pfizer studies showed that the vaccine was 87 to 89.5 percent effective at preventing infection with B.1.1.7 among people who were at least two weeks past their second shot. It was 72.1 percent to 75 percent effective at preventing infection with B.1.351. The study was based on information about more than 200,000 people that was pulled from Qatar’s national Covid-19 databases from Feb. 1 to March 31.

Another study, conducted by researchers at Pfizer and at Israel’s Health Ministry, found that the vaccine was more than 95 percent effective at protecting against a coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death among fully vaccinated people 16 and older.

In the United States, experts now believe that attaining herd immunity is unlikely because of the spread of variants and hesitancy among some people in the country to be vaccinated. The variant that has caused the most alarm is B.1.1.7, which is about 60 percent more transmissible than original versions of the virus.

Moderna’s announcement was greeted cautiously, because the results of an early-stage trial have not been published or peer-reviewed. But the company said it was encouraged by results that suggested that a single booster shot of its vaccine would rapidly increase antibodies in vaccinated people, and that those antibodies were effective against the original form of the virus as well as the variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil.

A second booster specifically designed to counter the variant identified in South Africa produced an even stronger immune response, the company said.

A vaccination center at a school in New Delhi on Wednesday. 
Credit…Tauseef Mustafa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As India recorded a single-day high in new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its vaccination campaign has been marred by shortages and states are competing against one another to get doses, limiting the government’s hope that the country can soon emerge from a devastating outbreak.

The Indian health ministry recorded about 410,000 cases in 24 hours, a new global high, and 3,980 deaths, the highest daily death toll in any country outside the United States. Experts believe the number of actual infections and deaths is much higher.

A second wave of infections exploded last month, and some Indian states reintroduced partial lockdowns, but daily vaccination numbers have fallen. The government said it had administered nearly two million vaccine doses on Thursday, far lower than the 3.5 million doses a day it reached in March. Over the past week, 1.6 million people on average were vaccinated daily in the country of 1.4 billion.

India’s pace of vaccinations has become a source of global concern as its outbreak devastates the nation and spreads into neighboring countries, and as a variant first identified there begins to be found around the world. The outbreak has prompted India to keep vaccine doses produced by its large drug manufacturing industry at home instead of exporting them, slowing down vaccination campaigns elsewhere.

In an effort to make doses more widely available within India, the authorities have allowed states and private health care providers to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers. But that has left state governments competing with one another for doses, and experts say it has added more troubles to a sluggish rollout. The authorities in Delhi, the capital, and several states have said they had to delay the expansion of vaccine access to younger age groups because of shortages.

India also lacks enough doses to meet the growing demand. Two domestic drug companies — the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech, which is making its own vaccine — are producing fewer than 100 million doses per month.

About 3 percent of India’s population has been fully vaccinated, and 9.2 percent of people have received at least one dose. Experts say that at the current rate the country is unlikely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of inoculating 300 million people by August.

India has recorded 20.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 226,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

India’s government has said it will fast-track approvals of foreign-made vaccines, and on Wednesday the Biden administration said it would support waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to increase supplies for lower-income countries.

But a waiver would need to win unanimous support at the World Trade Organization — and even then, experts say, India’s drug companies would need extensive technological and other support to produced doses.

“The drop in I.P. protections is only one element,” Anant Bhan, a health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India, said of intellectual property. Because of the additional steps required to begin making a vaccine on a huge scale, he said, “it is not going to mean increased access to vaccines in the near future.”

As Mr. Modi has declined to impose a nationwide lockdown like the one he brought in last year, states have adopted their own measures. On Thursday, the southern state of Kerala, which has one of the highest caseloads, announced a near-total lockdown until May 16.

Experts also worry that a crisis may be unfolding in India’s rural areas, where testing capacities are even more limited.

“My main concern is nonavailability of testing and the logistics of not getting people tested in rural areas,” said Gautam Menon, a professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University in northern India. “So we will never get the real numbers for either infection rates or deaths from many such quarters of India.”

The U.S. State Department has approved the departure of family members of U.S. government employees in India and is urging American citizens to take advantage of commercial flights out of the country. It said on Wednesday that it would approve the voluntary departure of nonemergency U.S. government employees.

On Thursday, Sri Lanka became the latest country to bar travelers from India, joining the United States, Britain, Australia and others.

The European Union is one of the world’s largest producers, exporters and consumers of vaccines.
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

The European Union is considering whether to follow the Biden administration’s decision to support a waiver of patent rights for Covid-19 vaccines as many poor and middle-income nations struggle to secure lifesaving doses.

The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, stopped short of outright supporting President Biden in a speech on Thursday morning, but said the European Union was “also ready to discuss any proposals that address the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner.”

“That is why we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for a waiver on intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines could help achieve that objective,” she said, speaking at the Florence European University Institute.

The United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend some intellectual property protections, a move that could allow drugmakers access to the trade secrets of how the viable vaccines have been made. But President Biden had come under increasing pressure to support the proposal, which was drafted by India and South Africa.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Thursday that he welcomed the Biden administration’s support for waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, but that the short-term priority was to donate existing doses to poorer countries rather than helping them produce the vaccines themselves.

“You can transfer the intellectual property to pharmaceutical manufacturers in Africa,” he said while visiting a vaccination center in southern Paris, but “they don’t have the platforms to produce mRNA vaccines.”

The European Union is one of the world’s largest producers, exporters and consumers of vaccines and has so far opposed activism at the W.T.O. level to recognize the pandemic as a huge emergency and remove protections on the vaccines. Doing so would allow them to ultimately be produced in larger volumes by manufacturers around the world.

Shares of some pharmaceutical companies fell on Wednesday after Mr. Biden’s announcement and continued dropping on Thursday. BioNTech shares in Germany were down about 15 percent since news of the administration’s decision. Novavax, which fell 5 percent Wednesday, fell another 3 percent in premarket trading on Wall Street.

The International Olympic Committee is moving to help athletes and officials get vaccinated before traveling to the Summer Games in Tokyo.
Credit…Hiro Komae/Associated Press

Athletes and officials traveling to the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer will be offered doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine before arriving in Japan, the International Olympic Committee said on Thursday, in an effort to reassure the Japanese public about the safety of hosting the event.

The committee said it had struck a deal with the drug makers to send the doses to Olympic and Paralympic Games participants’ home countries, where they will be administered through domestic inoculation programs.

The effort is the latest attempt by Olympic officials and Japanese organizers to assuage the concerns of Japanese people who do not want their country to host the Games during the pandemic. Less than 1 percent of people in Japan have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a New York Times database, and restaurants, bars and nonessential businesses are closed in several areas, including Tokyo.

The initiative was developed “not only to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the residents of Japan,” the committee said in a statement.

Despite the move and an earlier announcement that the committee would buy doses of a Chinese-made vaccine, there is no requirement for athletes, coaches, officials and others attending the Games to be vaccinated.

In March, China said it would provide vaccines for Olympic participants. But China’s vaccines have not been approved in many countries, and several — including Japan — said they would decline the offer.

The I.O.C. president, Thomas Bach, acknowledged that accepting the vaccine was voluntary, even as he urged competitors to be inoculated. “We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible,” he said.

Dining at a restaurant in San Diego last week.
Credit…Ariana Drehsler for The New York Times

After weeks of coronavirus patients flooding emergency rooms in Michigan, hospitalizations are falling. On some recent days, entire states have reported zero new coronavirus deaths. And in New York and Chicago, officials have vowed to fully reopen in the coming weeks, conjuring images of a vibrant summer of concerts, sporting events and packed restaurants.

Americans have entered a new, hopeful phase of the pandemic as the outlook has improved across the nation. The country is recording about 49,000 new cases a day, the lowest number since early October, and hospitalizations have plateaued at about 40,000, a similar level as the early fall.

“We’re in a really good spell and we can act accordingly,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Irvine, who said it made sense to loosen restrictions now, when the risk is lower than it might be this winter.

Yet even as a sense of hope spreads, there remain strong reasons for caution. Deaths are hovering around 700 a day — down from a peak of more than 3,000 in January. The pace of vaccinations in the country is slowing, and experts now believe that herd immunity in the United States may not be attainable. More transmissible variants of the virus are also spreading.

That could leave the coronavirus infecting tens of thousands of Americans and killing hundreds more each day for some time.

Although more than half of adults in the country have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, a new national poll suggests that the American public’s willingness to get a Covid-19 vaccine is reaching a saturation point.

Nine percent of unvaccinated respondents said they intended to get a shot, according to the survey, published in the April edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor. And with federal authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for people age 12 to 15 expected imminently, parents’ eagerness to have their children vaccinated is also limited, the poll found.

Among the parents surveyed, three in 10 said they would have their children vaccinated immediately, and 26 percent said they wanted to wait and see how the vaccines were working. Eighteen percent said they would have their children vaccinated only if a child’s school required it, and 23 percent said they would not have their children vaccinated.

“We’re in a new stage of talking about vaccine demand,” said Mollyann Brodie, the executive vice president of Kaiser’s Public Opinion and Survey Research Program. “There’s not going to be a single strategy to increase demand across everyone who is left.”

Even so, public health experts say that while they still expect significant local and regional surges in the coming weeks, they do not think they will be as widespread or reach past peaks.

Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the health officer in Seattle and King County, said there was no playbook for an endgame to this pandemic, but he urged people to get vaccinated.

“I’m sure all of us want to avoid a long game of Whac-a-Mole with imposing and easing restrictions,” he said. “Vaccination is the cure.”

Global Roundup

A checkpoint in Suva, Fiji, last week, after the Fijian capital entered a 14-day lockdown.
Credit…Leon Lord/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The police and the military in Fiji locked down a major hospital on the island of Viti Levu on Wednesday night, aiming to contain the country’s second coronavirus outbreak.

More than 400 patients and employees are inside the hospital, said Dr. James Fong, the health ministry’s permanent secretary. The lockdown was precipitated by the death of a patient in the intensive-care unit, the third known person to have died from the virus in Fiji. The virus is believed to have passed from the patient to at least two doctors.

Health workers hope to use the lockdown to determine which patients and workers might have come into contact with those infected. Officials said that those inside the hospital would be provided with food and other supplies. Sections of the hospital have been converted into intensive-care units in case other severe infections arise.

With a population of around one million, Fiji has about 50 active cases of the virus, out of 125 total cases reported since the start of the pandemic. Many of the active cases are thought to be of a coronavirus variant first discovered in India.

Recent social restrictions have often been ignored in the South Pacific island nation: The Fijian police have arrested more than 100 people for breaches, with many infractions said to be connected to alcohol or kava, a local intoxicant.

Dr. Fong said at a news conference this week that the country’s containment strategy could take months. “Every Fijian must be ready,” he said.

“We are not up against an identical enemy this time around,” Dr. Fong added. “The chains of transmission are more widespread, and the variant is more transmissible.”

In other news around the world:

A giant squid statue, made at a cost of nearly $230,000, in the town of Noto, Japan.
Credit…Noto Town, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A coastal town in Japan has provoked debate after spending nearly $230,000 in federal Covid-19 relief money on a 43-foot statue of a flying squid.

Noto, a fishing town where the squid is a delicacy, erected the statue in March in a bid to promote tourism after the pandemic subsides. The five-and-a-half-ton pink sea creature sits outside a squid-themed restaurant and tourist center.

Tetsuji Shimoyachi, a town official, said he hoped the statue would be “a driving-force attraction in the post-Covid period.”

But the giant squid’s unveiling provoked questions among some of the 16,000 residents of the town, roughly 180 miles northwest of Tokyo, who wondered whether there weren’t better uses of its emergency relief funds.

One Twitter user asked how the world would view the installation of a giant squid “in a country where vaccines were not provided, P.C.R. testing isn’t increased and the medical system has collapsed.”

Mr. Shimoyachi acknowledged that residents had raised concerns about whether the money should have been spent elsewhere.

He said that of the $6.2 million in coronavirus relief that the town received from the Japanese government last year, it had spent about $2.5 million on infection control measures and $1.3 million to promote local businesses and employment, and still had money left over after purchasing the squid statue. The town has recorded fewer than 30 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

In all, Japan allocated $41 billion in emergency subsidies to municipalities last year to address the pandemic and its economic impact.

Mr. Shimoyachi said that Noto was historically a center of squid fishing in Japan, but that catches had significantly declined because of competition from Chinese and North Korean boats. Tourism has also fallen, which led the town to build the tourist center in a bid to attract visitors — although Mr. Shimoyachi said that it was too soon to start a marketing campaign.

Japan has controlled the virus better than many countries but has faced a recent spike in cases in Tokyo and other municipalities. The surge has prompted a new round of economic restrictions, criticism of Japan’s slow vaccine rollout and questions over whether the country should proceed with the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to begin in July.

The pandemic has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to bathing.
Credit…Elizabeth Cecil for The New York Times

Robin Harper, an administrative assistant at a preschool in Martha’s Vineyard, grew up showering every day. “It’s what you did,” she said.

But when the pandemic forced her indoors and away from the public, she started showering once a week. The new practice felt environmentally virtuous, practical and freeing — and it has stuck.

“Don’t get me wrong — I like showers,” said Ms. Harper, 43, who has returned to work. “But it’s one thing off my plate. I’m a mom, I work full-time, and it’s one less thing I have to do.”

The pandemic has upended the use of zippered pants and changed many people’s eating and drinking habits. And there are now indications that it has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to ablutions.

Parents say that their teenage children are forgoing daily showers. After the British news media reported on a YouGov survey showing that 17 percent of people in Britain had abandoned daily showers during the pandemic, many on Twitter said they had done the same.

Heather Whaley, 49, a writer in Reading, Conn., said that her shower use had dropped 20 percent in the past year. After the pandemic forced her into lockdown, she said, she began considering why she was showering every day.

“Do I need to? Do I want to?” she said. “The act of taking a shower became less a matter of function and more of a matter of doing something for myself that I enjoyed.”

A Covid-19 patient at a hospital in Moradabad, India, on Wednesday.
Credit…Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The calls come at all hours, sometimes 15 a day, from some of India’s most oppressed and severely ill people, buzzing a cellphone that belongs to Dolly Arjun, an Indian-American physician assistant in Boston.

A few years ago, Ms. Arjun founded a telehealth program to provide free health care to members of India’s Indigenous tribes and to Dalits, who are at the lowest rungs of India’s entrenched caste system and have long faced discrimination. Dalits are typically the last to receive assistance in humanitarian disasters and often live in impoverished rural villages with no hospitals, medical care or schools.

Now, with a devastating wave of coronavirus infections surging across India, Dalits are facing a new peril, Ms. Arjun said. She said she was desperate to help, even though she is emotionally exhausted after a year of working with Covid-19 patients in Massachusetts.

“Tons of people are dying,” Ms. Arjun said. “This is just a human to human need.”

Her focus is not just Hippocratic. She is Dalit herself, a rarity among Indian medical professionals in the United States, most of whom come from upper-caste urban families. “The only reason they might know a Dalit person is because it’s their servant at home,” Ms. Arjun said.

Her telemedicine program has health workers in India who can translate for patients in local languages, but finding medical professionals in the United States to join the effort has not been easy, she said. Still, Ms. Arjun has recruited two physicians.

Patients contact the group through WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, and the medical professionals call back on video. Often their first task is to reassure patients who have little understanding of the coronavirus or the appropriate medical treatments, Ms. Arjun said.

“Part of what’s happening now is patients are being told Covid is going to kill you, so they are panicked,” Ms. Arjun said.

She noted that in one Indian state the government has been broadly distributing packets of medications — including 25 days-worth of antibiotics, which cannot treat viruses — to residents, regardless of whether they have tested positive for Covid-19 or show symptoms.

Sometimes, however, the telehealth calls detect life-or-death emergencies. In late April, Ms. Arjun logged onto a WhatsApp video call with a young Dalit man and his 60-year-old father, who was at home with breathing problems in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where it was around midnight.

“They didn’t know what to do,” she said. “They told us there were no hospitals or oxygen available, and they hadn’t seen a doctor.”

After assessing the man, Ms. Arjun urged the family to check to see whether any hospital beds were available instead of assuming that they were full. “It took a lot of convincing,” she said.

The next day, he was admitted and began to improve, but the hospital was running out of oxygen. Ms. Arjun put out a call on several WhatsApp groups for an oxygen cylinder, though the family did not know the name of the hospital and then fell out of contact.

Days later, she learned that the man had died.

There were road blocks, fires and riots in southern Bogotá on Tuesday after a week of protests and strikes over tax reforms proposed by the Colombian government.
Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — A teenager shot to death after kicking a police officer. A young man bleeding out on the street as protesters shout for help. Police officers firing on unarmed demonstrators. Helicopters swarming overhead, tanks rolling through neighborhoods, explosions echoing in the streets. A mother crying for her son.

“We are destroyed,” said Milena Meneses, 39, whose only son, Santiago, 19, was killed in a protest over the weekend.

Colombians demonstrating over the past week against the poverty and inequality that have worsened the lives of millions since the pandemic began have been met with a powerful crackdown by their government, which has responded to the protests with the same militarized police force it often uses against rebel fighters and organized crime.

The clashes have left at least 24 people dead, most of them demonstrators, and at least 87 missing. They have also exacerbated the anger with officials in the capital, Bogotá. Protesters say the government is increasingly out of touch with people’s lives.

Experts say this explosion of frustration could presage unrest across Latin America, where several countries face the combustible mix of an unrelenting pandemic, growing hardship and plummeting government revenue.

“We are all connected,” said León Valencia, a political analyst, noting that past protests had jumped from country to country. “This could spread across the region.”

The marches began last week after Mr. Duque proposed a tax overhaul meant to close a pandemic-related economic shortfall, and since then the crowds have grown. Demonstrators now include teachers, doctors, students, members of major unions, longtime activists and Colombians who have never before taken to the streets.

Latin America was one of the regions hardest hit by the virus last year, with cemeteries filling past capacity, the sick dying while awaiting care in hospital hallways, and family members spending the night in lines to buy medical oxygen in an attempt to keep loved ones alive.

The region’s economies shrank an average of 7 percent. In many places, unemployment, particularly among the young, spiked. And in the first few months of 2021, the Covid-19 situation has worsened.

Travelers at Chicago O’Hare airport last week. With more people vaccinated against Covid, travel is increasing.
Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 106 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated. Airlines are resuming overseas flights. Come summer, fully vaccinated people traveling from America will once again be welcome across Europe.

But the reality is more sobering.

Globally, more new coronavirus cases were reported in recent weeks than at any point since the onset of the pandemic. The numbers are being driven by an uncontrolled outbreak in India, but also account for troubling trends among European destinations popular with Americans, from France and Germany to Italy and Spain.

“My doomsday scenario is a mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in a setting where there is high viral load and high viral transmission,” said Dr. Sarah Fortune, the chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Even if international tourists could travel safely, securely and without risking the well-being of their hosts, visitors may face yet another impediment: The destinations may lack many of their usual draws. In Paris, bars and restaurants have been closed since the end of October, as are museums.

Jordyn Coleman, 11, attending math class from his apartment in Clarksdale, Miss., during a virtual learning day.
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Until the pandemic, Jordyn and his mother, Precious Coleman, lived in Battle Creek, Mich., where he was known among his teachers as a bright but easily distracted student, capable of soaring when he was engaged.

On the day of a standardized test, Jordyn sat in front of his computer, humming to himself and spinning around in his chair. His teacher thought he was goofing off — until the results came in.

When his mother came to pick him up, a school administrator was waiting for her, and she worried Jordyn had gotten into trouble. “That’s when they told me that he had gotten not just the best score in his class but the best score in the entire grade,” she said.

After the pandemic hit, Ms. Coleman struggled to make ends meet. She and her two sons ended up moving to Clarksdale, Miss., one of the poorest corners of the United States. Ms. Coleman works an overnight shift at a casino. Jordyn waits for her to return home in the morning so he can log in to school with her cellphone, and she struggles to stay awake to help him.

Now Jordyn is at risk of becoming one of the lost students of the coronavirus pandemic in the most disrupted American school year since World War II.

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Marriage Records in England and Wales Will Now Include Mothers’ Names

LONDON — Marriage certificates in England and Wales have traditionally left space for the names and professions of just one parent: the fathers of the couple tying the knot.

That changed on Tuesday, with couples now allowed to add mothers’ names to their official marriage record. The change corrects “a historic anomaly” and is part of a larger overhaul of how marriages are registered in the two nations, the British government said. Unions will also now be recorded in a single electronic registry instead of in registry books.

The changes are the biggest to the registration system since the Marriage Act came into effect in 1837, the Home Office said, and they have been in the works for several years. In 2014, David Cameron, then the prime minister, said the system did not reflect “modern Britain” and pledged to make modifications.

But the final stages of legislation to include both parents did not come before Parliament until last month, spurred by a larger bill that passed in 2019. The earlier bill included the changeover to an electronic marriage registry and the extension of the right to civil partnerships to all couples.

witnesses to their marriage to get around the requirements and make sure that they were included on the certificates.

Caroline Criado Perez, a British author and women’s rights activist, said she had refused to get married until the certificates included mothers. “It sat so wrong with me to willingly take part in the erasure of women,” she wrote on Twitter. Others criticized the overhaul as a small and largely meaningless step compared with the other barriers that women face.

reduced the application fee for those looking to legally change their gender in England and Wales from 140 pounds, or about $195, to £5. Activists for L.G.B.T.Q. rights had criticized the cost as a barrier for transgender people looking to officially recognize their gender identity on a certificate.

Almost 6,000 such certificates were granted from 2005 to 2020, though an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 transgender people live in Britain, the Government Equalities Office said, adding that it was also working “at speed” to move the application process online.

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Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar Win Ends Night Highlighted by Diversity

LOS ANGELES — In a break with tradition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to end its Oscars ceremony on Sunday with the prize for best actor instead of the one for best picture.

It was easy to understand why. The late Chadwick Boseman, nominated for his visceral performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was the runaway favorite, and an acceptance speech by his widow was sure to be an emotional moment. Further, the best actor prize had gone to a Black man only four times in 93 years, and celebrating Mr. Boseman at the night’s climax — after a year in which racial justice was at the forefront of the country’s consciousness — would put an exclamation point on the academy’s aggressive diversity and inclusion efforts over the past few years.

It backfired in spectacular fashion.

The film establishment instead went with Anthony Hopkins, rewarding his performance in “The Father” as a man suffering from dementia. Apparently certain that Mr. Boseman would win, Mr. Hopkins had decided not to attend the ceremony. With no one there to accept the award, the Oscars telecast abruptly ended, leaving the academy to face questions about whether it had misjudged its voting body.

“At 83 years old, I did not expect to get this award — I really didn’t,” Mr. Hopkins said in a video speech released Monday morning from his hometown in Wales and during which he paid tribute to Mr. Boseman.

all-white slates of acting nominees in both 2015 and 2016. It has scrambled to enact diversity-focused reforms, most notably inviting about 4,000 artists and executives — with a focus on women and people from underrepresented groups — to become members. The organization now has about 10,000 voters. It says that about 19 percent of its members are from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities, up from 10 percent in 2015.

This year’s ceremony had a chance to be a showcase for those efforts. Going into Sunday night, some awards handicappers predicted that movie history would be made, with all four acting Oscars going to people of color for the first time. Along with Mr. Boseman, Viola Davis was seen as a leading contender for the best actress prize for playing a blues singer in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Best actress instead went to Frances McDormand for playing a dour van dweller in “Nomadland.” It was her third best-actress statuette.

Daniel Kaluuya, who played the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and Yuh-Jung Youn, for her comically cantankerous grandmother in “Minari.” She was the first Korean performer to win an acting Oscar, and only the second Asian woman. Chloé Zhao, who is Chinese, took home the best director prize, only the second woman to do so in Oscar history and the first woman of color.

Two Black women, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, won Oscars for makeup and hairstyling for the first time. Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) was the first woman to take home a solo screenwriting Oscar in 13 years. And the director Travon Free was the first Black man to win in the best live-action short category. He was recognized for “Two Distant Strangers,” a film about police brutality that he made with Martin Desmond Roe.

revealed that he did not accept the academy’s overtures.

Last year, the academy announced a plan that will require films to meet diversity criteria to be eligible for a best-picture nomination, starting with the 2024 awards.

Still, those who have been critical of the way the film industry operates are not ready to heap too much praise on the academy’s efforts.

“What we have to constantly recognize is that an institution like the academy didn’t give anything to Black people,” said Rashad Robinson, president of the racial justice organization Color of Change. “What the academy has done over the years is have a system and a set of rules that has stalled Black careers, which has prevented people from being able to be fully seen, which has had an economic impact on folks. Now that they are working to make some changes, let’s acknowledge those changes but let’s not give them any awards that they haven’t earned.”

resigned from the academy’s board in 2018.

“We have settled on numeric answers to the problem of inclusion, barely recognizing that this is the industry’s problem far, far more than it is the academy’s,” Mr. Mechanic wrote in his resignation letter, which was leaked to the news media. “Instead we react to pressure. One governor even went as far as suggesting we don’t admit a single white male to the academy, regardless of merit!”

At the same time, some people have turned away from the Oscars because of its lack of diversity. Under 10 million viewers tuned into Sunday night’s telecast, according to Nielson, a 58 percent drop compared with last year. One member of the academy’s board of governors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules, said that market research had shown that people of color, upset about the racial disparity of nominees (and tired of seeing many of the same people get nominated over and over), had become less interested in the ceremony. A couple of smaller civil rights groups have called for viewing boycotts.

That was the case for April Reign, the campaign finance lawyer who originated the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag in 2015. Despite the changes at the organization, she said she believed the academy’s efforts to diversify its voting body had fallen short.

“It’s still a popularity contest among all the white men,” she said.

Others see reason for optimism in this year’s Oscars, no matter how they ended.

“To have a film about Fred Hampton that doesn’t demonize him but instead celebrates him, and provides this broader story from a group of Black filmmakers is, you know, kind of hard to believe that it would even be made much less be nominated,” Mr. Boyd said of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” “And we could go through each of these examples. It’s great. It’s wonderful. I just don’t want it to be an isolated incident.”

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Prince Philip’s Death Adds Urgency to Royal Family’s Transition

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II turned 95 last week, four days after burying her husband, Prince Philip, and with him the partnership that guided Britain’s royal family for nearly 70 years. Now, as the queen faces the future alone, her son and heir, Prince Charles, is reshaping the family to carry on after her.

Philip’s death has given new urgency to a transition already underway in the House of Windsor. With the queen’s reign in its twilight, Charles has moved to streamline the royal family and reallocate its duties — a downsizing forced by the loss of stalwart figures like Philip, as well as by the rancorous departure of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, and the messy internal exile of Prince Andrew.

Buckingham Palace is conducting an after-action report on Philip’s funeral ceremony, people with knowledge of the palace said, applying lessons from it to Operation London Bridge, the long-in-the-works, minute-by-minute blueprint for what will transpire in the days and weeks after the queen dies.

By all accounts, Elizabeth is in good health, bothered only by stiffness in her knees, which makes it hard for her to climb stairs. Royal watchers point out that her mother lived until 101. Buckingham Palace is busy planning her platinum jubilee, a four-day celebration in June 2022 to mark the 70 years since her accession to the throne.

poignant image of an aging, isolated queen, grieving alone in a choir stall at St. George’s chapel during the funeral because of social distancing restrictions, drove home to many a sense of her vulnerability and fragility. It also raised questions about how active she will be, even after the pandemic ebbs.

reconciling the family’s workload with its reduced ranks. He has long favored a slimmed-down monarchy, built around him and his wife, Camilla; Prince William and his wife, Kate; and Harry and his wife, Meghan. Princess Anne, his younger sister, also remains a full-time royal.

But the decision of Harry and Meghan to withdraw from their duties and move to California blew a hole in those plans. There was no sign of a change of heart from Harry, or even much hope for a reconciliation with William, when Harry attended his grandfather’s funeral. The brothers chatted briefly as they left the service, but Harry flew home before the queen’s birthday on Wednesday.

There is also little prospect that Andrew will ever return to the fold. If anything, the palace is girding itself for further embarrassing disclosures this July when his friend Ghislaine Maxwell goes on trial in New York on charges that she trafficked underage girls on behalf of her employer, Mr. Epstein. Andrew has been accused of sexual misconduct by one of Mr. Epstein’s victims, an accusation that he denies.

showcased by the troops at Philip’s funeral — and its diplomatic responsibilities, he predicted that the family would scale back its charity work.

But that would raise a separate set of problems. The modern royal family, experts said, has defined itself and justified its taxpayer support largely through its public works. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, maintained ties to hundreds of charities until he retired from official duties at the age of 96.

“The key development of the monarchy in the 20th century is the development of the welfare monarchy, without which it won’t survive,” said Vernon Bogdanor, a professor of government at King’s College London who has written about the role of the monarchy in Britain’s constitutional system.

The short-term fix for the workload problem, people with ties to the palace said, is to elevate another royal couple, Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, also known as the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Edward, 57, the queen’s youngest son, and his wife emerged as prominent figures after Philip’s death, speaking about his legacy and how the family was dealing with its grief.

Super League, which would have pulled in several of the top clubs in Britain.

“There is a difference between the way Charles envisages things and William envisages things,” said Valentine Low, the royal correspondent of The Times of London. But he added, “Charles acknowledges and even welcomes that William should have a role in these conversations.”

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Prince Philip’s Death Adds New Urgency to U.K. Monarchy’s Transition Plans

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II turned 95 last week, four days after burying her husband, Prince Philip, and with him the partnership that guided Britain’s royal family for nearly 70 years. Now, as the queen faces the future alone, her son and heir, Prince Charles, is reshaping the family to carry on after her.

Philip’s death has given new urgency to a transition already underway in the House of Windsor. With the queen’s reign in its twilight, Charles has moved to streamline the royal family and reallocate its duties — a downsizing forced by the loss of stalwart figures like Philip, as well as by the rancorous departure of Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, and the messy internal exile of Prince Andrew.

Buckingham Palace is conducting an after-action report on Philip’s funeral ceremony, people with knowledge of the palace said, applying lessons from it to Operation London Bridge, the long-in-the-works, minute-by-minute blueprint for what will transpire in the days and weeks after the queen dies.

By all accounts, Elizabeth is in good health, bothered only by stiffness in her knees, which makes it hard for her to climb stairs. Royal watchers point out that her mother lived until 101. Buckingham Palace is busy planning her platinum jubilee, a four-day celebration in June 2022 to mark the 70 years since her accession to the throne.

poignant image of an aging, isolated queen, grieving alone in a choir stall at St. George’s chapel during the funeral because of social distancing restrictions, drove home to many a sense of her vulnerability and fragility. It also raised questions about how active she will be, even after the pandemic ebbs.

reconciling the family’s workload with its reduced ranks. He has long favored a slimmed-down monarchy, built around him and his wife, Camilla; Prince William and his wife, Kate; and Harry and his wife, Meghan. Princess Anne, his younger sister, also remains a full-time royal.

But the decision of Harry and Meghan to withdraw from their duties and move to California blew a hole in those plans. There was no sign of a change of heart from Harry, or even much hope for a reconciliation with William, when Harry attended his grandfather’s funeral. The brothers chatted briefly as they left the service, but Harry flew home before the queen’s birthday on Wednesday.

There is also little prospect that Andrew will ever return to the fold. If anything, the palace is girding itself for further embarrassing disclosures this July when his friend Ghislaine Maxwell goes on trial in New York on charges that she trafficked underage girls on behalf of her employer, Mr. Epstein. Andrew has been accused of sexual misconduct by one of Mr. Epstein’s victims, an accusation that he denies.

showcased by the troops at Philip’s funeral — and its diplomatic responsibilities, he predicted that the family would scale back its charity work.

But that would raise a separate set of problems. The modern royal family, experts said, has defined itself and justified its taxpayer support largely through its public works. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, maintained ties to hundreds of charities until he retired from official duties at the age of 96.

“The key development of the monarchy in the 20th century is the development of the welfare monarchy, without which it won’t survive,” said Vernon Bogdanor, a professor of government at King’s College London who has written about the role of the monarchy in Britain’s constitutional system.

The short-term fix for the workload problem, people with ties to the palace said, is to elevate another royal couple, Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, also known as the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Edward, 57, the queen’s youngest son, and his wife emerged as prominent figures after Philip’s death, speaking about his legacy and how the family was dealing with its grief.

Super League, which would have pulled in several of the top clubs in Britain.

“There is a difference between the way Charles envisages things and William envisages things,” said Valentine Low, the royal correspondent of The Times of London. But he added, “Charles acknowledges and even welcomes that William should have a role in these conversations.”

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Covid-19 Live Updates: A Billion Shots, but Global Cases Keep Rising

the devastation in India continues to break daily records and run rampant in much of the world, even as vaccinations steadily ramp up in wealthy countries and more than one billion shots have now been given globally.

On Sunday, the world’s seven-day average of new cases hit 774,404, according to a New York Times database. That is a jump of 15 percent from two weeks earlier, and higher than the peak average of 740,390 during the last global surge in January.

Despite the number of shots given around the world — more than one billion, according to a New York Times tracker — far from enough of the world’s estimated population of nearly eight billion have been vaccinated to slow the virus’s steady spread.

And vaccinations have been highly concentrated in wealthy nations: 82 percent of shots worldwide have been given in high- and upper-middle-income countries, according to data compiled by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. Only 0.2 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.

Israel is far ahead of much of the world in vaccinations: More than half of the population is now fully vaccinated. In Britain, where a highly contagious and deadly variant was discovered, nearly two thirds of the population is at least partly vaccinated and the rate of new cases is now among the lowest in Europe.

The United States has also partly vaccinated about 41 percent of its population and has loosened a ban on the export of raw materials for vaccines to help India control the world’s worst outbreak.

India is recording more than a third of all new global cases each day, averaging more than 260,000 new daily cases over the past week. The country’s sudden surge, driven by the spread of a newer variant, is casting increasing doubt on the official death toll of nearly 200,000, with more than 2,000 people dying every day.

Experts say the official numbers, however staggering, represent just a part of the virus’s spread, with hospitals overwhelmed and lacking critical supplies like oxygen.

India is home to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker. But only about 8.6 percent of India’s population has received at least one shot of a vaccine. Its surge led to the Indian government’s decision to withhold exports of doses that many low- and middle-income countries were relying on. The vaccine rollout in Africa, which was already slower than it is in any other continent, could soon come to a near halt because of the suspension.

Public health experts say the number of global cases is most likely surging because more contagious virus variants are spreading just as people are starting to let their guards down.

In Thailand, where cases were kept at bay for months with strict quarantines and lockdowns, the virus has spread rapidly, in part by unmasked people partying. Daily cases, still low by global standards, have increased from 26 on April 1 to more than 2,000 three weeks later. And in India, many people stopped taking precautions after officials eased a lockdown that was imposed early last year.

“India let their guard down when the numbers fell and they thought they were over their last peak,” said Barry Bloom, a research professor and former dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He added that the United States should “take a lesson from other countries before we become complacent and decide everything’s OK.”

As bad as India’s situation is, the numbers have room to grow worse: Its daily caseloads, adjusted for its huge population, rank well below other countries’.

The rate of new cases in the United States is falling but remains alarmingly high — similar to last summer’s surge.

The rates of new coronavirus cases also remain high across much of South America. In Brazil, reported cases are starting to drop but remain high after a more contagious variant tore through the country and overwhelmed hospitals.

In continental Europe, the pace of vaccinations lags that in the United States and Canada, and the number of new coronavirus cases remains particularly high in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Turkey, at the crossroads between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, is another hot spot.

Dr. Robert Murphy, the executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University, said the United States had a responsibility to send unused vaccine doses to other countries as supplies increase.

“We have to start thinking on a global scale and do what we can to help these other countries,” Dr. Murphy said. “Otherwise we’re never going to put out the whole fire.”

Administering the Astrazeneca vaccine at the Milan military hospital last month.
Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

BRUSSELS — The European Union has filed a lawsuit in Belgium against the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca over what it says is a breach of contract in the company’s delivery of Covid-19 vaccine, the European Commission announced on Monday.

The bloc’s relationship with the company has soured rapidly since AstraZeneca said in January that it would not be able to deliver on its scheduled vaccine doses for the first quarter of the year, setting the region’s vaccination campaign back by weeks.

“The commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement,” said Stefan de Keersmaecker, a spokesman on health issues for the commission, the E.U.’s executive branch. “The reason indeed being that the terms of the contract, or some terms of the contract, have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure the timely delivery of doses.”

Mr. de Keersmaecker said that all 27 E.U. member countries supported the move.

The company, while acknowledging that production problems have caused delays, has said its failure to deliver is not a breach of contract, because the European Union had placed its order after other clients, most notably Britain. A spokesman for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The two parties had been engaged in a dispute arbitration effort, but the European Union decided to move ahead with a legal case. The contract is under Belgian law, and legal proceedings would happen in Belgium.

The European Union’s vaccine contract with AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, was the first it signed, in August last year, and covers 400 million doses. So far, the company has delivered just over 30 million.

In an interview with The Times on Sunday, the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the company had only supplied a quarter of what it had promised to the bloc, and had to deliver 200 million doses of vaccines by the end of this quarter.

She indicated that the European Union would not open talks over future supply. “At the moment, the company has a delay in delivering 200 million doses of vaccine by the end of the second quarter,” she said. “The number speaks for itself.”

A line at the Louvre in Paris last summer. The European Union is allowing fully vaccinated Americans entry into the bloc this summer.
Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

BRUSSELS — American tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the European Union over the summer, the head of the bloc’s executive body said in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday, more than a year after shutting down nonessential travel from most countries to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The fast pace of vaccination in the United States, and advanced talks between the authorities there and the European Union over how to make vaccine certificates acceptable as proof of immunity for visitors, will enable the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to recommend a switch in policy that could see trans-Atlantic leisure travel restored.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Sunday in an interview with The Times in Brussels. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.,” she added. The agency, the bloc’s drugs regulator, has approved all three vaccines being used in the United States, namely the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson shots.

Ms. von der Leyen did not offer a timeline for when exactly tourist travel might open up or details on how it would occur. But her comments are a top-level statement that the current travel restrictions are set to change on the basis of vaccination certificates.

Diplomats from Europe’s tourist destination countries, mostly led by Greece, have argued for weeks that the bloc’s criteria for determining whether a country is a “safe” origin purely based on low coronavirus cases are fast becoming irrelevant given the progress of vaccination campaigns in the United States, Britain and some other countries.

Waiting for hospital beds, Covid-19 patients received oxygen provided by a local Sikh house of worship on a sidewalk in New Delhi on Sunday.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

India’s coronavirus crisis deepened on Monday with the number of new reported cases setting a global record for the fifth consecutive day, as countries, companies and members of the large diaspora pledged to send oxygen and other critical aid.

India’s health ministry reported almost 353,000 new cases and 2,812 deaths on Monday, and enormous funeral pyres continued to burn in the worst-affected cities. Experts say that India’s reported overall toll of more than 195,000 deaths could be a vast undercount.

In New Delhi, where Covid-19 patients have died after hospitals ran out of oxygen, the government extended a lockdown by another week.

India’s Supreme Court last week ordered the government to come up with a “national plan” for distributing oxygen supplies.

The problems in India’s hospitals go beyond oxygen shortages. In the western state of Gujarat, more than a dozen patients were evacuated from a hospital on Sunday night after an air-conditioning unit caught fire, the Press Trust of India reported, the third accident involving virus patients in India in the past seven days.

Last Friday in another western state, Maharashtra, a hospital fire also caused by an air-conditioning unit killed 15 patients. Two days earlier, at least 22 patients died in a hospital in the city of Nashik, also in Maharashtra, after a leak cut off oxygen supplies.

The Biden administration, under pressure to help with the Indian surge as patients and their families make desperate online pleas for aid, said on Sunday that it had partially lifted a ban on the export of raw materials for vaccines and would also supply India with therapeutics, test kits, ventilators and personal protective gear. Other countries, including Britain, have also promised to send medical equipment and raw vaccine materials to India, a key producer of vaccines for lower-income countries.

“Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” President Biden said on Twitter on Sunday.

Two Indian-American businessmen — the Microsoft chief executive, Satya Nadella, and the Google chief, Sundar Pichai — have both said that their companies will provide financial assistance to India.

“Devastated to see the worsening Covid crisis in India,” Mr. Pichai wrote on Twitter, pledging $18 million to aid groups working in the country.

A pub in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday.
Credit…Andy Buchanan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Scotland and Wales reopened restaurants, cafes, and nonessential shops on Monday, marking the next phase of a gradual relaxation of coronavirus restrictions that have been in place for months.

In Scotland, restaurants can serve food but not alcohol indoors until 8 p.m., and they can serve food and alcohol outdoors without restrictions. Stores, beauty salons, museums and galleries also reopened, and people are permitted to book travel in the rest of Britain.

The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said she was hopeful that the country would continue its progress and lift more restrictions by the summer. But she cautioned that the virus was more infectious now than it had been in earlier waves and, therefore, “We must stick to the rules.” Free rapid tests will be available to the public.

In Wales, places of worship and retail stores reopened, and restaurants resumed outdoor service. Outdoor wedding receptions with up to 30 people can take place.

Cases remain low in Britain, with more than 40 percent of the population having received at least one dose of a vaccine. On Sunday, the country reported just over 1,700 new cases and 11 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Hikers at Lion Rock in Hong Kong in January. 
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

The governments of Singapore and Hong Kong said on Monday that a long-delayed travel bubble between the two Asian financial centers would begin next month, allowing travelers on designated flights to bypass quarantine.

The travel arrangement, which was originally supposed to begin last November, was suspended at the last minute when Hong Kong experienced a sudden surge in cases. With both places now reporting relatively few local infections, officials say the travel corridor will begin on May 26.

“Both sides will need to stay very vigilant in the next one month, so that we can launch the first flights smoothly,” Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s minister of transport, said in a statement.

The arrangement, which is open to people of any nationality in Singapore and Hong Kong, will begin with one flight per day in each direction for up to 200 passengers. Travelers to both places must test negative for the coronavirus before departure and again upon arrival. They are also required to download and use government contact-tracing apps.

Travelers from Hong Kong must have received their second dose of a vaccine at least 14 days earlier, with some exceptions. Officials in Hong Kong, where the vaccination campaign has struggled to gain momentum, say they hope that this will give residents an incentive to get vaccinated. (There is no vaccination requirement for travelers from Singapore to Hong Kong.)

Officials said that the bubble would be suspended automatically for two weeks if either city recorded a seven-day average of more than five local cases from an unknown source.

The bubble is seen as an important step toward economic recovery in the two cities, both major travel hubs whose flagship carriers, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, only operate international flights. Similar travel bubbles are already in effect between Australia and New Zealand and between Palau and Taiwan, all places where local transmission of the coronavirus is almost nonexistent.

A small number of guests enjoying the pool at a resort in Phuket, Thailand, this month.
Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

Only a few weeks ago, Phuket seemed poised for a comeback. After a year of practically no foreign tourists arriving in Thailand, the national government decided that Phuket would start welcoming vaccinated visitors in July, without requiring them to go through quarantine. The project was called Phuket Sandbox.

But Thailand is now gripped by its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began, spread in part by the well-heeled Thais who partied in Phuket and Bangkok with no social distancing. The confirmed daily caseload — albeit low by global standards — has increased from 26 on April 1 to more than 2,000 three weeks later, in a country that in early December had about 4,000 cases total.

The opening that Phuket had planned for July 1 now appears unlikely, Thailand’s tourism minister acknowledged this month.

“If you ask me how optimistic I am, I cannot say,” said Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, the director of the tourism authority’s Phuket office. “The situation changes all the time.”

The virus’s resurgence after so many months of economic hardship is devastating for the majority of Phuket’s residents, who depend on foreign tourists for their livelihoods.

Dr. Linda Dahl at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, N.Y.
Credit…Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

Compliance practices at the Academy Awards on Sunday will be closely watched as organizers prepare for the gradual resumption of major events such as the Tonys (to be coordinated with Broadway’s reopening).

Part cop, part coach, Covid compliance officers, or C.C.O.s, have become essential overseers in America’s tentative return to prepandemic life.

“We’re at a tipping point,” said Dr. Blythe Adamson, an infectious disease epidemiologist and economist. “People are going out more, they have pandemic fatigue. They’re vaccinated, but people are still getting Covid with these new strains. It makes the compliance officer role extremely important.”

The budget for Covid compliance on film sets is high: 25 to 30 percent of the total, according to Dr. Linda Dahl, an ear, nose and throat surgeon who has become a C.C.O. Complicating the job, what constitutes Covid compliance can change on a weekly or even daily basis as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention constantly evolve.

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