UK PM faces more COVID lockdown party revelations

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing yet more allegations of his office holding “boozy parties” while everyone else in the country was unable to mix because of strict rules on social distancing.

The latest revelations – reported in the Daily Telegraph late on Thursday – say there were two separate leaving parties held on the night of April 16 last year.

Johnson was forced to apologise on Wednesday after it emerged he attended a gathering at his office during the May 2020 lockdown, but he insisted he thought it was a work event.

The police have said they will not investigate unless an internal inquiry finds evidence of potential criminal offences.

A summary of other recent COVID-19 developments:

  • United States President Joe Biden says his administration will procure 500 million more rapid COVID-19 tests to better tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.
  • French teachers have gone on strike over their government’s “chaotic” virus strategy for schools.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering whether to extend a global public health emergency it declared over the coronavirus nearly two years ago.

Here are the latest updates:

Philippines to extend COVID curbs until January 31

The Philippines’ coronavirus task force plans to extend coronavirus curbs in the area around Manila and other provinces until the end of January, according to acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

The Southeast Asian nation is battling its biggest-ever surge in COVID-19 cases.

Online and physical classes at all public and private schools in Manila began a one-week suspension on Friday.


Australia’s NSW reports record deaths, says hospital admissions to peak next week

The Australian state of New South Wales has reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for a third day.

The state reported 29 of the 56 deaths announced in Australia on Friday.

The surge in Omicron cases is putting pressure on hospitals, but health officials say they expect admissions to reach their peak next week.

The state’s health deputy secretary, Susan Pearce, told the media the number of patients in hospital was better than the best-case scenario in official modelling and plateauing “but that plateauing is obviously still at a relatively high level of COVID patients in our hospitals and in our (intensive care).”


More party revelations for UK PM Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing new allegations of his office partying while citizens were being told not to gather for social events because of COVID-19.

The right-wing Daily Telegraph says the latest gatherings took place on April 16 last year – the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral – despite rules limiting the size of gatherings both indoors and out.

The paper’s political correspondent Tony Diver tweeted the report, saying “Number 10 held two boozy parties before the Queen mourned Prince Philip alone. Staff drank and at points danced until the early hours.”

Johnson is already under pressure, with some in his party calling for his resignation after he admitted on Wednesday that he attended a staff drinks gathering during the May 2020 lockdown. He told parliament that he thought it was a work event.


Djokovic practises as clock ticks down on Australia visa decision

Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been out practising in Melbourne this morning as the Australian government prepares to announce its decision on his visa status.

Immigration officials cancelled his visa when he arrived in the country last week ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament, citing insufficient evidence of a medical exemption to COVID-19 vaccination.

That decision was reversed by a court.

The top men’s tennis player is awaiting a decision on his visa from Immigration Minister Alex Hawk.

Novak Djokovic in blue shorts, t-shorts and shoes plays a shot during practise at Melbourne ParkNovak Djokovic practises at Melbourne Park as Australia’s Immigration Minister considers whether to revoke the player’s visa [Diego Fedele/AAP Image via Reuters]

WHO approves new COVID-19 treatments

A WHO expert panel has added two more drugs to its guidelines for recommended treatments for COVID-19.

The drug baricitinib, which is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is “strongly recommended” for patients with severe or critical COVID-19, in combination with corticosteroids. Sotrovimab, an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment, has been given a “conditional recommendation” for those with non-severe COVID-19 but at the very highest risk of hospital admission.

You can read more on that story here.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

You can read all the updates from January 13 here.