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Singapore plans to vaccinate children below 12 from January 2022, Health News, ET HealthWorld

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Covid-19: Singapore plans to vaccinate children below 12 from January 2022SINGAPORE: Singapore hopes to extend the Covid-19 national vaccination programme to children below the age of 12 in January next year, the health ministry said on Saturday.

Director of medical services at the ministry of health’s (MOH) Kenneth Mak, speaking at a multi-ministry task force press conference here, said that children below the age of 12 made up about 11.2 per cent of all Covid-19 cases.

Four weeks ago, it was 6.7 per cent, he said, noting that Singapore is seeing a rising “slow trend” for cases in this age group.

The proportion of cases of those between 12 and 20 years has not changed “in the same way”, Mak said, adding that it “continues to hover” between 4 and 5 per cent.

“These children remain vulnerable because they are not yet eligible for vaccination to protect them from infection. And it’s generally harder to get them to comply with disciplined mask-wearing and safe separation and measures,” Channel News Asia quoted Mak as saying.

Many of these children have “mild infections”, but Singapore has seen a “small number” of children who need paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for more severe infections or complications from the infection.

There were also a few cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) reported to the MOH, he said.

Earlier, four such cases had emerged among the more than 8,000 paediatric Covid-19 cases in Singapore since the start of the pandemic.

All four children were admitted to hospital between October and November, and these cases are “considered rare”, the ministry had said.

Health authorities are working with the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccines to extend the national vaccination programme to cover children aged between five and 11 to reduce their risk of getting infected, said Mak.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) will also work with Pfizer on the necessary regulatory approvals, he said.

“We remain hopeful that we may be able to launch the extended national vaccination programme following these approvals for children less than 12 years of age, hopefully sometime in January 2022,” he said.

Separately, the MOH said that eligible individuals will be able to receive their Covid-19 booster jabs five months after completing their second dose, instead of six months.

“It is evident that waning of antibodies can clearly occur by around six months after the second dose and occur earlier for older groups,” the ministry said.

The expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination therefore recommends that the interval for booster jabs be standardised to five months for all eligible age groups.

“This would be an appropriate interval to pre-empt waning of antibodies for all,” it said, adding that the change will take effect on November 24.

Currently, the health ministry is administering booster shots six months after the second dose for people aged 30 to 59, and five months for those aged 60 and above.

Singapore reported 1,734 cases on Friday, down from 2,038 on Thursday.

There were 16 people aged between 52 and 93 who died of complications linked to Covid-19, the MOH said.

All of them, except for an unvaccinated case, had various underlying medical conditions, it said.

The latest deaths take the total number of fatalities in Singapore to 641.

The new infections on Friday comprised 1,633 cases in the community, 97 in migrant worker dormitories and four that were imported.

The total number of cases in Singapore now stands at 248,587.

There are 1,346 patients in hospital and 202 require oxygen supplementation in general hospital wards while 46 are unstable and being closely monitored.

There are also 64 who are critically ill and intubated in the ICU, which means they need ventilators to help them breathe.

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One year on from Biden’s election

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Ex-defense secretary sues over withheld material from Trump era memoir | Trump administration

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The former US defense secretary Mark Esper claims in a lawsuit against the defense department that material is being improperly withheld from him as he seeks to publish an “unvarnished and candid memoir” of his time in Donald Trump’s cabinet.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Sunday in the US district court in Washington, describes the memoir, A Sacred Oath, as an account of Esper’s tenure as army secretary from 2017 to 2019 and his 18 months as defense secretary, which ended when Trump fired him in a tweet just days after the president lost his reelection bid.

The period in which Esper was Pentagon chief was “an unprecedented time of civil unrest, public health crises, growing threats abroad, Pentagon transformation, and a White House seemingly bent on circumventing the Constitution”, the lawsuit says.

Esper and Trump were sharply divided over the use of the military during civil unrest in June 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. Other issues led the president to believe Esper was not sufficiently loyal while Esper believed he was trying to keep the department apolitical. Firing a defense secretary after an election loss was unprecedented, but the opening allowed Trump to install loyalists in top Pentagon positions as he continued to dispute his election loss.

The lawsuit contends that “significant text” in the memoir, scheduled for publication by William Morrow in May, is being improperly held under the guise of classification and that Esper maintains it contains no classified information. The suit notes that Esper is restricted by his secrecy agreements from authorising publication without Pentagon approval, or face possible civil and criminal liability.

The lawsuit quotes from a letter Esper sent to the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, criticising the review process. He wrote that he had been asked not to quote Trump and others in meetings, not to describe conversations he had with Trump, and not to use certain verbs or nouns when describing historical events.

The letter describes other problematic subjects and says about 60 pages of the manuscript contained redactions at one point. Agreeing to all of those redactions would result in “a serious injustice to important moments in history that the American people need to know and understand”, Esper wrote.

The suit itself says some accounts Esper relates in the manuscript under consideration appeared to have been leaked to some mainstream media “possibly to undermine the impact” it would have had in his book.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the department was aware of Esper’s concerns. “As with all such reviews, the department takes seriously its obligation to balance national security with an author’s narrative desire. Given that this matter is now under litigation, we will refrain from commenting further,” he said in a statement.

Esper, 57, a West Point graduate and Gulf war veteran, said in a statement that he had waited for six months for the review process to play out but found “my unclassified manuscript arbitrarily redacted without clearly being told why”.

“I am more than disappointed the current administration is infringing on my first amendment constitutional rights. And it is with regret that legal recourse is the only path now available for me to tell my full story to the American people,” he said.

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Covid: 12 more test positive at Thane old age home in Thane, tally touches 67 | Mumbai news

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Twelve more people tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at an old age home in Maharashtra’s Thane district.

With this, the total figure of infected patients in Matoshree old age home in the district’s Bhiwandi taluka climbed to 67, a report by news agency ANI said.

“Around 67 people, including five staff members, were found Covid-19 positive at an old age home in the Bhiwandi area of Thane district,” said Dr Kailash Pawar, civil surgeon of Thane Civil Hospital, adding that of them 59 had been fully vaccinated against virus.

On Sunday, officials said that 55 people were found to be infected at the old age home. The district administration has already declared Sorgaon village in Bhiwandi Taluka, where the facility is located, as a containment zone.

Among the patients, 41 were found to be suffering from co-morbidities, the district administration said in a statement on Sunday.

Thane has so far recorded nearly 5,70,000 cases and 11,581 deaths due to the coronavirus disease. On Sunday, 108 cases were reported while there was no report of fatality.

Besides the Covid-19 cluster in the old age home in the Bhiwandi area, Thane is also staring at a possible outbreak of the omicron variant.

A resident of the Dombivali area in the district, who came back from South Africa on November 24, has tested positive for Covid-19. An official said it is not yet confirmed whether the man was carrying the variant.

The man didn’t come in contact with anyone after returning from South Africa, Dr Pratiba Panpatil, medical officer of the Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC), told reporters on Sunday.

Dr Panpatil said the patient has been admitted to the Art Gallery isolation centre of the KDMC.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government is likely to impose a seven-day institutional quarantine for passengers arriving directly from South Africa or transiting through the country.

(With agency inputs)

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