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Novak Djokovic caught in visa bungle on arrival into Melbourne amid Australian Open controversy

Novak Djokovic has arrived in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, but a reported visa bungle raised questions about his participation at the season-opening grand slam.

Tournament organizers announced on Tuesday that Djokovic had been granted a medical exemption — a decision which has provoked a backlash among Australians.
However, according to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Border Force contacted the state Victoria government after learning of an issue with the visa submitted by Djokovic’s team while the Serb was on his way to Australia.
The 20-time grand slam champion reportedly traveled to Australia on a visa that does not permit medical exemptions for being unvaccinated, Australian news outlets reported.
Acting Victoria Sports Minister Jaala Pulford confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday that the government would not support Djokovic’s visa application.
“The Federal Government has asked if we will support Novak Djokovic’s visa application to enter Australia. We will not be providing Novak Djokovic with individual visa application support to participate in the 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam,” wrote Pulford.
“We’ve always been clear on two points: visa approvals are a olukai shoes matter for the Federal Government, and medical exemptions are a matter for doctors,” she added.
Australian news outlets reported that the Australian Border Force subsequently sought support from the Victorian government to facilitate Djokovic’s entry because Victoria partners with Tennis Australia in running the Australian Open.
Both The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Djokovic would likely be allowed off the plane and into Melbourne, but the situation was still ongoing at midnight local time.
Neither Tennis Australia nor Djokovic’s team was immediately available for comment when contacted by CNN.
Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, posted a photo to social media from what appears to be the Melbourne Airport, where the men’s tennis world No. 1 is reportedly being held due to the visa mix-up.
Ivanisevic posted the photo of him and others with the caption, “Not the most usual trip Down Under,” on Instagram on Wednesday.
Australians have responded with anger and skepticism to the news that men’s tennis No. 1 has been granted an exemption to compete.
There had been uncertainty over Djokovic’s participation after players were told they would have to be fully vaccinated in order to participate or have a medical exemption granted by an independent panel of experts. The exemption from the vaccine mandate means he will defend his 2021 title in Melbourne.
Djokovic, who is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles, has not publicly revealed his vaccination status but voiced opposition to Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates in April 2020.
“Personally, I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” he said in a Facebook live chat, according to Reuters.
But in May of last year, Djokovic said vaccination was a matter of personal choice: “I will keep the decision as to whether I’m going to get vaccinated or not to myself. It’s an intimate decision, and I don’t want to go into this game of pro and against vaccines, which the media is unfortunately creating these days.”
Australian Open organizers said in a statement on Tuesday Djokovic’s exemption was “granted following a rigorous review process involving two separate independent panels of medical experts.”
But the vaccine exemption has sparked backlash in Australia.
Deputy Victorian Liberal Leader David Southwick called the decision to allow Djokovic to take part in this year’s tournament “a disgrace,” describing it as a “kick in the guts to every Victorian” who endured months of lockdowns and suffered personal setbacks during the pandemic.
Djokovic celebrates winning the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 21, 2021.

Calls for a boycott

One of Melbourne’s most famous former Australian Football League (AFL) stars Kevin Bartlett tweeted that Australians had been “taken for fools.” While one of the city’s prominent emergency physicians and former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Stephen Parnis, said the decision sent “an appalling message” to the public.
Across Melbourne, one of the world’s most locked-down cities in 2021, tennis fans took to social media posting calls for an Australian Open “boycott.”
The CEO of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, defended the impartiality of the medical exemption review process on Wednesday, telling reporters during a press conference that “no one knew who the applicant was.”
“There were 26 applicants through the process — there’s a handful which were provided with an exemption and that information only gets disclosed by those individuals on the grounds of which they were provided an exemption,” Tiley said.
“The process has been very clear and we completely understand and empathize with, first of all, some people being upset about the fact that Novak has come in because of his statements in the past around vaccination,” he said.
Australian Open organizers confirm medical exemption process
“However, it’s ultimately up to him to discuss with the public his condition if he chooses to do that and the reason why he received his exemption.”
Acting Victorian Sports Minister Jaala Pulford told reporters “nobody has had special treatment.”
“The process is incredibly robust. It’s de-identified and we are where we are, and so the tennis can begin,” she said, according to Reuters.
Djokovic’s exemption comes two weeks after Russian tennis player Nata Vikhlyantseva revealed she would be unable to travel to the tournament because her vaccine is not recognized by local health authorities.
The Sputnik V is not on the list of vaccines currently approved by the Australian government, leaving world No.195 Vikhlyantseva ineligible to play.
Under the Australian Technical Advisory Group on hey dude Immunisation’s (ATAGI) current guidelines, a medical exemption is granted to individuals who have an “acute major medical condition (e.g. undergoing major surgery or hospital admission for a serious illness.”
The other remaining grounds for a medical exemption concern people who have suffered a “serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, without another cause identified” and a vaccinee who “is a risk to themselves or others during the vaccination process,” due to an “underlying developmental or mental health disorder.”
Lastly, exemptions may be given to anyone with a “PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, where vaccination can be deferred until six months,” and in cases where individuals have received “anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma therapy.”
In June 2020, Djokovic tested positive for coronavirus following an exhibition event he organized in Croatia, but since then there have been no reports of him being re-infected with the virus.
Australia's vaccine mandate is not to 'blackmail' Djokovic says Victoria sports minister
The backlash against the exemption comes after Melbourne residents spent more than 260 days confined to their homes, forbidden to leave except to buy groceries or other essential items, mostly in two long stretches from July to October, 2020 and August to October, 2021.
Australia has started 2022 with a record number of new Covid-19 cases due to a growing outbreak centered in the eastern states.
New South Wales, the most populous state, and Victoria — home to Melbourne — both posted daily record case numbers on Saturday, health department figures showed.
Many commented on social media that thousands of Australians had been stranded abroad, unable to return to their home country even to visit sick or dying relatives, due to Australia’s strict border controls and quotas on arrivals.
On Tuesday, Djokovic posted a picture of red wing boots himself at an airport with a caption stating he was “heading Down Under.”
“Happy New Year, everybody! Wishing you all health, love, and happiness in every present moment and may you feel love & respect towards all beings on this wonderful planet,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022.”
Six-time grand slam champion and Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker says the Serbian is not intending to break any laws and should have personal choice over taking the vaccine.
“I think it would be in his best interests to openly speak about it […] and maybe let everyone in a little bit about what he went through to get this special exemption. I think it will help his cause,” Becker told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies.
“Whether you like him or not, you need to respect his achievements.”
When asked about how players will respond to Djokovic’s exemption, Becker added: “The difference will be nothing from before because he’s been beating most of these players he’s been seeing in the locker room, so he’s not the most popular guy but for various different reasons.”
The Australian Open is the first grand slam of the year and is set to run from January 17-30.

Russian rocket stage makes uncontrolled entry into Earth’s atmosphere

This photo shows preparation to test launch heavy-lift carrier rocket Angara-A5 at Russia's Plesetsk launch facility in the northwestern region of Arkhangelsk, December 14, 2020.

Biggest investigation in FBI history still has Merrick Garland in the hot seat

A year after the January 6 insurrection, the Justice Department continues to press forward on the biggest investigation in FBI history, with 700 people already arrested and hundreds more offenders still at large and several more years of prosecutions ahead.

But the expansive investigation has yet to shed light on how vigorously the former President and political allies could be investigated for inciting rioters by spreading a lie that the election was stolen and asking them to march to the Capitol.
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After opening aggressively, with prosecutors raising the prospect of using a rarely used seditious conspiracy law to charge some Capitol attackers, the Justice Department since Attorney General Merrick Garland took office in March 2021 has settled into a less headline-grabbing approach that Justice officials say is intended to keep the probe away from the political maelstrom.
Garland, a former appeals court judge, has made restoring institutional norms a top focus of his tenure, after a Trump era that regularly injected politics at the department. That includes a reminder to prosecutors that they should only speak in indictments and other court proceedings.
“The Justice Department remains red wing boots committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” Garland said in a speech Wednesday. “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
His quiet approach has not satisfied Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans who openly discuss their interest in identifying crimes they believe the Justice Department should prosecute. It’s also opened Garland to criticism that he hasn’t been as publicly dynamic or aggressive as the nation needs to counter a threat to democracy.
“I think Merrick Garland has been extremely weak and I think there should be a lot more of the organizers of January 6 that should be arrested by now,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, said on CNN this week.
Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley defended the agency’s efforts. “We are proud of the men and women of the Justice Department, who are undertaking the largest investigation in the department’s history,” Coley said in a statement. “They are following the facts and the law and the Constitution while working at impressive speed and scale to hold accountable all those responsible for the attack on the Capitol, and will continue to do so.”
For the FBI, which came under criticism for failing to do more to prevent the attack, the January 6 anniversary is also a moment to urge the public to help with more tips to solve notable unsolved crimes, including the police assaults and the pipe bombs found that day near the offices of the Democratic and Republican parties just steps from the Capitol.
Steven D’Antuono, assistant director for the FBI’s Washington field office, said those inquiries are priorities as part of the broader complex investigation.
In the year since the US Capitol attack, judges remind us what it means to be American
“In this area where the bombs were placed, if they did go off they could have caused some serious harm or death,” D’Antuono said in an interview with CNN.
“On that day, over 100 police officers were assaulted that day multiple times,” D’Antuono said. “And we’re not just talking about one assault, multiple assaults and by multiple people. We’re still looking for about 250 people individuals that assaulted police officers that day.”
The Justice Department hired a contractor to help it process hundreds of thousands of hours of video in order to do the painstaking work to identify assailants, CNN previously reported. “We’re going to be at this as long as it takes,” he said.

Accountability beyond the rioters

The January 6 attack reframed the face of a domestic terrorism threat that the FBI, Homeland Security Department and other agencies say has grown rapidly. And the January 6 investigation has led to several arrests of what appear to be political extremists on the far right, and extensive investigations into militarized organizations that affiliated themselves with Trump and had members participating in the Capitol violence.
But in many ways, the role of the former President, whose rhetoric fueled the mob and continues to animate supporters, is the elephant in the room that Justice Department officials try to not talk about.
In one of the first moves under Garland, the Justice Department turned over thousands of pages of internal documents to congressional committees investigating the Capitol attack.

Incredible photo of a shark shows mysterious bite mark on its side

shark-bite-crop

Photographer Jalil Najafov’s first thought when he saw the great white was: “Is that real?”
It was August 2019 and Najafov, a shark enthusiast, conservationist and filmmaker, was exploring the coast of Mexico with some friends. The group spotted a great white shark swimming close to their boat.
This was already exciting. Then the group realized the shark had a mysterious bite mark on its side.
“I was really surprised since I never saw hoka shoes for women something like this in my life,” Najafov tells CNN Travel today. “The bite mark was so huge on a huge shark.”
The Azerbaijan-born shark conservationist and filmmaker dove into the waters below, armed with his GoPro7 waterproof camera, to capture a shot of the big fish with the bite.
He shared one of the resulting photographs on his Instagram account for the first time in late December 2021.
He’d mislaid his memory card after the Mexico trip, Najafov explains, and only recently rediscovered the photos.
Najafov knew the image was exciting.
“I have been working with sharks and shark content for many years, I have a lot of experience in this niche,” says Najafov. “I know for sure when I see something rare, I have never seen such a huge shark scar.”

Scar origins

Najafov's photo of the great white shark has attracted widespread attention.
Najafov’s photo of the great white shark has attracted widespread attention.
The photo, which Najafov posted to Instagram in video form — focusing in on the mysterious bite — blew up.
The response, in Najafov’s words, was “crazy,” as people theorized on the origins of the scar.
Before posting, Najafov had enlisted friends and fellow shark experts for their perspective.
Scientist Dr Tristan Guttridge, who runs marine nonprofit Saving the Blue and has presented on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, ruled out the theory that the shark had sustained the bite in a mating act.
“I’d rule out mating probably due to position as the wound looks like it’s healed a fair bit and although mating scars can be nasty they are more superficial than that,” was Guttridge’s contribution, according to Najafov.
Najafov says Guttridge concluded that the shark was most likely attacked by another shark.
Najafov says Michael Domeier, another friend and Shark Week alum, who is also head of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, said he was “confident this is competitive aggression” and added that the scar would have hoka shoes since healed, becoming indistinguishable.
Importance of sharks
Najafov worked for several years for the Azerbaijan government before his passion for sharks prompted him to switch directions.
His goal is to shine a spotlight on sharks and highlight their important role in the planet’s ecosystem.
“There is no ocean without sharks, and no oxygen without the ocean. So by saving sharks, we save the planet,” says Najafov, who is concerned by the threat posed by fin trading.
For some, Najafov’s image of the great white with the alarming bite has a fear factor appeal. But Najafov insists he’s never been scared of diving alongside the creatures.
“I love sharks and I absolutely enjoy them while diving,” he says. “Sharks are not monsters!”
There’s a misconception, according to Najafov, of the danger of sharks.
“The oceans are home to about 500 different shark species, but about a dozen of them are known to be potentially dangerous to humans,” he says.
Najafov’s Instagram account includes incredible photos of other shark species taken across the world and the photographer promises he has “tons of amazing shark content that I didn’t post yet.”
He also has upcoming trips to Mexico and Maldives planned for 2022.
“I can’t wait to get underwater and share my experience,” he says.

Prince Andrew accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s 2009 settlement with Jeffrey Epstein released

A 2009 settlement agreement between sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Roberts Giuffre — the woman who accused him of sexual abuse and of trafficking her to Prince Andrew and other men — was unsealed Monday.

It shows that Epstein paid Giuffre $500,000 to drop the case without any admission of liability or fault.
The document was unsealed red wing boots as part of Giuffre’s separate lawsuit against Prince Andrew. She alleges that Epstein trafficked her and forced her to have sex with his friends — including the prince — and that Andrew was aware she was underage (17) in the US. Prince Andrew has denied the allegations.
Attorneys for Andrew argued in his motion to dismiss Giuffre’s case against him in October that her lawsuit violates the terms of the settlement agreement with Epstein, in which she agreed to a “general release” of claims against Epstein and others.
In the copy unsealed Monday, Andrew’s name does not explicitly appear as a party. The agreement says it serves to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge” parties and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant” but does not explicitly name any others in the document viewed by CNN.
Two other documents were filed along with the settlement agreement, including a “Stipulation of Dismissal” and a complaint from Epstein — both of which are still under seal.
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The agreement states that it is a “final resolution” of a disputed claim filed in Florida and is intended to avoid litigation but “shall not be construed to be an admission of liability or fault by any party.” The agreement states that it is not to be used in civil or criminal proceedings against Epstein. It was signed by Giuffre and Epstein on different dates in November 2009.
Giuffre’s attorney David Boies issued a statement saying the settlement is “irrelevant” to her claim against the prince.
“The release does not mention Prince Andrew. He did not even know about it,” Boies said. “He could not have been a ‘potential defendant’ in the settled case against Jeffrey Epstein both because he was not subject to jurisdiction in Florida and because the Florida case involved federal claims to which he was not a part. The actual parties to the release have made clear that Prince Andrew was not covered by it.
“Lastly, the reason we sought to have the release made public was to refute the claims being made about it by Prince Andrew’s PR campaign.”
Andrew Brettler, an attorney for Prince Andrew, had no comment.
Oral arguments in the civil suit against Andrew are set for Tuesday. If his lawyers are unsuccessful, or the case is not settled, the royal could face a trial date between September and December 2022. The long-running allegations hoka shoes for women facing Andrew have already dramatically tarnished his public standing, and he stepped back from royal duties in late 2019.
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 and died by suicide in prison a month later.
Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested a year afterward and accused of facilitating Epstein’s abuse scheme. A jury convicted her last week on five federal counts, including sex trafficking a minor and conspiracy.
Giuffre was not one of the four women who testified in the trial that they had been abused.

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An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2021.

Elizabeth Holmes Trial: Jury says it is deadlocked on three counts

The jury tasked with determining the fate of Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO and founder of failed blood testing startup Theranos in her criminal trial, said that it remains unable to come to a unanimous verdict on three of the 11 counts.

Earlier Monday, the jury of eight men and four women, which had deliberated for 45 hours at that time, returned a note indicating they were at a standstill and could not reach a unanimous verdict on all counts. The jury did not indicate on which counts they were unable to reach a verdict.
In response, Judge Edward Davila, who is presiding over the case, issued what is known as an Allen charge, instructing them to continue deliberating to try to reach a verdict.
Hours later, the jury returned another note that indicated it hoka shoes for women remains unable to reach a verdict on those counts.
Before jurors were brought in to be read the additional instructions, Judge Davila raised the possibility of a partial verdict should the jurors remain conflicted on returning verdicts for any of the counts. In addition to reading the instruction to continue deliberations, the judge also read aloud a portion of the original jury instructions pertaining to Holmes’ presumed innocence “unless or until the government proves her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
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“The jury can render a verdict on counts they are unanimous on and then the government will determine whether to retry the case on the counts they are deadlocked on,” said George Demos, a former Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutor and adjunct law professor at the UC Davis School of Law.
The note is only the third the jury has sent since getting the case. Their first note inquired about taking home jury instructions, which was not permitted. Their second note requested to have replayed audio recordings of a call where Holmes could be heard pitching investors on the company for a new round of financing.
Holmes, once hailed as a visionary and the next Steve Jobs, faces nine counts of federal wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud over allegations she lied to investors, doctors and patients about her company’s blood testing capabilities for financial gain.
Holmes, who pleaded not guilty, faces up to 20 years in prison as well as a fine of $250,000 plus restitution for each count of wire fraud and each conspiracy count.
The jury update comes after a trial that spanned over three months at a federal courthouse in San Jose. First indicted more than three years ago — the trial was delayed by the pandemic and the birth of Holmes’ child — her case marks a rare criminal fraud trial of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Jury in Elizabeth Holmes trial will resume deliberations Monday
Holmes, now 37, is a Stanford dropout who founded Theranos in 2003 at age 19 with the aim of revolutionizing blood testing. She raised $945 million from high-profile individuals including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Walmart’s Walton family and the billionaire family of former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. At its peak, Theranos was valued at $9 billion, making Holmes, for a time, a billionaire. Then, the dominoes started to fall after a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2015.
Federal prosecutors called 29 witnesses to testify, including ex-Theranos employees, retail executives and a former US Defense Secretary. Through their testimony, the government attempted to unravel the complicated web of alleged deception that it claims misled investors and patients into believing the company was accurately, reliably, and efficiently performing a range of blood tests using just a few drops of blood taken from a finger prick with its proprietary technology.
The defense called three witnesses, culminating with lengthy testimony from Holmes herself.
Over the course of roughly 24 hours on the stand, spread out across seven court days, Holmes acknowledged some of the government’s points but maintained that she never intended to deceive anyone. At times, she expressed some hoka shoes contrition. She also deflected blame onto others — most notably, her ex-boyfriend, Theranos’ former president and chief operating officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. (Balwani faces the same charges as Holmes and is set to be tried early next year. He has pleaded not guilty.)
Holmes alleged that she was the victim of a decade-long abusive relationship with Balwani, who she testified sought to control nearly every aspect of her life, claiming it would help her succeed in the business world. Balwani previously denied the abuse allegations in court filings.
Near the end of her time on the stand, Holmes testified that while she wasn’t aware of everything that happened at Theranos, she herself “never” took any steps to try to mislead people who invested in the company.
“They were people who were long-term investors, and I wanted to talk about what this company could do a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now,” she testified. “They weren’t interested in today or tomorrow or next month. They were interested in what kind of change we could make.”

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Do you have a cold, the flu or Covid-19? Experts explain how to tell the difference

Do you have a sore throat, a runny nose and muscle aches? It could be a common cold, a case of the flu — or Covid-19.

The illnesses all share similar symptoms, sometimes making it hard to distinguish which is putting you under the weather.
Case rates of Covid-19 have been on the rise as the Omicron variant has spread, but hospitalization numbers appear to be staying relatively low. For vaccinated people, evidence suggests that infection with this variant seems less likely to be severe, epidemiologist and former Detroit Health Department executive director, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed said.
Daily Covid-19 case rates have now surpassed Delta's surge. Hospitalizations so far have yet to match
“The important thing to remember is a vaccine is like giving a ‘be on the lookout’ call to your immune system. So its capacity to identify, target and destroy viruses is so much higher every time we take another boost of the vaccine,” El-Sayed said. “It makes sense that the symptoms you would experience are milder if you have been vaccinated.”
That does not mean, however, that infections shouldn’t be taken seriously, he added, especially when considering the risk of overwhelming health care systems.
“Just because the per-individual risk of severe illness may be lower, that doesn’t mean on a societal level Omicron doesn’t pose a real risk,” he said. “Even a small proportion of a relatively large number can be a relatively large number.”
Many Covid-19 infections may look like a cold or flu. The best way to know is to get a test, said Dr. Sarah Ash Combs, attending physician at Children’s National Hospital.
“Short of getting a test, I would say it’s really tricky to distinguish right now,” Combs said. “We need to just treat cold-ish symptoms in pretty much the same bucket” as Covid-19.

What symptoms to look for

Early signs of cold, flu and Covid-19 tend to be similar, El-Sayed said.
Both Covid-19 and the flu often cause symptoms such as fever, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, shortness of breath and vomiting or diarrhea, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Covid-19 infection can be distinguished, however, by the headache and dry cough that often go along with it. The loss of taste and smell that has been the biggest warning sign of a Covid-19 infection is still a possible symptom, though it is less prevalent now than it has been with other variants, El-Sayed said.
Between Christmas and New Year's, doctors expect the US Omicron surge to grow
“For people who are feeling serious chest pain, particularly with a dry cough that has gotten worse, that’s when you really ought to seek medical attention,” he warned.
The most important factor to consider is exposure.
“If you are starting to feel any of these symptoms, it’s worth asking: Has anybody with whom I’ve come into contact been infected with Covid? It’s also worth isolating and taking a rapid test,” he advised.
Even if you’re not feeling symptoms yet, it may be best to exercise caution if you have been around someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
“I do think it is worth keeping a high suspicion that it could be Covid considering that we have the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire,” El-Sayed added.
At this point, it is safest to treat all cold symptoms carefully, Combs said.

When to test for Covid-19

It is often good to address your suspicions of Covid-19 by taking a test, although when you do it makes a difference.
If you are feeling symptoms, now is the time to take a test, El-Sayed said.
For those who have been exposed but aren’t feeling symptoms, there is a possibility that the virus hasn’t developed enough to show up on a rapid test, he explained. In those cases, it is best to wait five days after exposure before testing and to remain on the lookout, according to the CDC.
“Just because you get a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not Covid,” El-Sayed said. “The best approach is to test and then maybe test again in 12 to 24 hours, and if you get two negatives, you can be more certain that it’s not.”
Whether it is Covid-19 or the common cold, it has always been a good idea to isolate while you fight a viral illness, he said. It has become even more important with the risk of spread increasing with Covid-19.

What to do if your child starts sniffling

Looking ahead to the return to school after the winter break, the US is at a point where people need to treat cold or flu symptoms the same as Covid-19, Combs said.
When a family comes into her emergency room with a child that has sniffles and a sore throat and asks what it is, she is honest: She can’t know for sure without a test, said Combs.
Children are experiencing Omicron much in the same way adults are in that the symptoms are much more wide-ranging and often milder, like a cold, she said.
Getting a flu shot for your child is important to reduce the chance of adding another virus to the mix, Combs said. Children under 5-years-old are still waiting on Covid-19 vaccine approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, but those older can get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spread and serious disease.
As they go back to a school environment, testing is going to be essential to protecting against outbreaks, Combs said.
The latest on coronavirus pandemic and Omicron variant
“If you’re looking to be really careful, if you’re looking at a child going back to a school environment is to spread to other people, I would say really the only way to know is taking that test,” Combs said.
The good news is we know how to manage infections when children return to school, Combs said. When it isn’t clear if your child was exposed or if their test is still pending, protocols like masking, sanitizing, distancing and reducing indoor gatherings are still believed to be effective in reducing spread, she added.
And know that advice may evolve as time goes on, El-Sayed cautioned.
“It’s changing quickly. We’re learning a lot more,” he said. “Omicorn is a variant we’ve really only known for about a month.”

874 cars were torched in France on New Year’s Eve — fewer than in previous years

Burnt-out cars are collected in Strasbourg on January 1, 2022.