While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 19

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California hospitals overrun even as vaccine is rolled out

Even as high profile figures like US Vice-President Mike Pence rolled up their sleeves for Covid-19 vaccinations, patients already ill with the disease crowded emergency rooms and overran intensive care units in California, now a worldwide epicentre.

Another 41,000 people tested positive in the most populous US state on Thursday, and 300 died, state public health officials said.

In a state with 40 million residents, only about 1,200 intensive care beds remained available by Friday - just 2.1 per cent of the total, the California Department of Public Health said.

Hospitals are strained under the press of patients, with some facilities serving the sick in tents set up outside in chilly weather, and people awaiting care in hallways.


Severe Covid-19 variant detected in South Africa, says minister

A severe variant of the coronavirus has been detected in South Africa which could explain the rapid spread of a second wave that affects younger people, the health minister said on Friday.

Known as the 501.V2 Variant, it was identified by South African researchers and details have been sent to the World Health Organisation, Zwelini Mkhize said in a statement.

South African doctors have remarked that more patients are younger, and do not always have other conditions that amplify the virus' effect, but are nonetheless suffering from more severe forms of Covid-19.


Biden team says Defence Department officials halted cooperation

Aides to President-elect Joe Biden who are trying to arrange a smooth transition of power from the Trump administration have met resistance to their requests for information from some Pentagon officials, an official on Biden's team said on Friday.

After Biden beat President Donald Trump in the Nov 3 election, the Democrat's team only began meeting with administration officials in late November to coordinate the handover.

But some of Trump's political appointees in the defence department have recently stopped cooperating, Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of Biden's transition team, told reporters in a call.


Naked handcuffing of innocent black woman sparks outrage

The authorities in the US city of Chicago are coming under fire after a video was released of police handcuffing a naked black woman after raiding her home in a case of mistaken identity.

The police raid took place on Feb 21, 2019, but the disturbing video was only released recently.

Police body cameras show officers using a battering ram to break down the door of the home of Anjanette Young and putting the 50-year-old social worker in handcuffs while she stands naked in her living room.


'Brutal' coronavirus leaves Newcastle players struggling to walk

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce says some of the club's coronavirus victims are battling extreme exhaustion as they attempt to fight their way back to fitness.

The Magpies will once again be without a number of unnamed players for Saturday's home match against Fulham as a result of the lingering effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, which prompted the club to close their training ground at the end of last month.

"We've had the full range," said Bruce. "We've had vomiting, sores, mouth ulcers, no smell, no taste... They go for a walk for half an hour and then they want to go back to bed."


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