Covid: Djokovic lands in Serbia and Covid shortages hit train serviceson January 17, 2022 at 5:13 pm

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday evening.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday evening. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow.

1. Djokovic lands in Serbia

Top men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic has arrived in Serbia after being deported from Australia following a visa battle centred on the fact he is unvaccinated against Covid. Supporters gathered at the airport in Belgrade, waving the national flag and chanting “we love Novak”. This year’s Australian Open tournament, which has been overshadowed by the player’s visa troubles, began in Melbourne on Monday. Under Australia’s immigration laws, Djokovic, 34, cannot be granted another visa for three years but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he may be allowed entry sooner under the “right circumstances”.

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2. PM not in danger over parties – Zahawi

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has denied the prime minister is in danger over his handling of No 10 parties, amid reports of moves to protect him. Tory MPs are returning to Westminster after a weekend canvassing public opinion, with some reporting widespread anger with Boris Johnson. But Mr Zahawi told the BBC Mr Johnson would remain in place, adding that “he’s human and we make mistakes”. One Conservative backbencher, Steve Baker, said his constituents are “about 60 to one against the prime minister”, but he said Tory MPs are waiting for Sue Gray’s report into Downing Street parties before deciding what they were doing.

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3. Train services cut due to Covid staff shortages

Further cuts to train timetables have been made in response to Covid-related staff shortages. South Western Railway (SWR) said it was running 28% fewer weekday trains from Monday, compared with pre-pandemic levels, due to staff absences caused largely by the Omicron Covid variant, while Avanti West Coast, c2c and East Midlands Railway have also reduced services. The Rail Delivery Group’s latest figure for rail staff absences is at 11%. Rising Covid case numbers have led to large numbers of people self-isolating and being unable to go to work, while rail passenger numbers have also dropped because more people have been working from home, which has resulted in operators cutting the number of services on offer.

South Western Railway

Image source, Getty Images

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4. Stop ordering things from abroad, Beijing officials warn

People are being recommended to stop ordering items to be delivered from overseas by Beijing city officials, after they said a local woman may have been infected by Omicron after opening a parcel. They repeated the theory that Covid-19 could be spread internationally on imports of frozen food, something many scientists have questioned. Officials said the woman who tested positive had no history of travel but traces of the virus were found on a package she received. The infection comes less than three weeks before Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics, with China announcing it would not sell tickets to the public as part of virus control measures.

Parents with their children wearing face masks stand next to a countdown display showing days left for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, on a shopping street in Beijing, China, on 17 January 2022

Image source, EPA

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5. ‘Why I broke Covid rules to hug bereaved woman’

A retired GP says he has been “humbled” by the response to a social media post on why he broke Covid rules to hug a bereaved woman at a vaccine clinic. Dr Prit Buttar’s Twitter thread has generated hundreds of responses. He says he embraced a woman while volunteering in a vaccine clinic after she opened up to him about her husband’s recent death. “This poor person just dissolved into tears and as she sobbed, she told me that I was the first person who had embraced her since her husband had died,” he told BBC Radio Scotland.

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And there’s more…

Self-isolation rules have changed in England today, so here’s a reminder of when you need to take a test across the UK.

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