In the UK, the market for student rentals is as active as ever, regardless of Covid restrictions on campuses. “It may be more difficult for students this year but it’s busier than we would have thought,” says Martin Blakey, chief executive at the student housing charity Unipol. “Students are really determined to have as close as possible to a traditional uni experience, and are planning their future as they normally would.”

But finding a flatmate in a pandemic isn’t easy. Drama student Daisy Widdess*, who found a flat last week, says she is one of the lucky ones. “A lot of people have absolutely no idea who they’re going to live with. We haven’t had the chance to meet many people and the friends we have made don’t know each other. It’s a whole palaver.”

If you are feeling worried about who to live with or how to find a house, here’s what to do next:









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The governor of American Samoa has denied US air force planes permission to land on the US territory over concerns over Covid-19.

Over the weekend, a group of 31 US officials on three planes en route to an American base in Antarctica sought permission to land at Pago Pago and stay overnight in the territory.

But American Samoa governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga denied the request at the weekend saying he could not, in good conscience, risk exposing his people to the novel coronavirus.

American Samoa is the only US jurisdiction still free of Covid-19. Neighbouring Samoa, an independent nation, recorded its first two cases last month, both imported on a repatriation flight, after nine months keeping the virus from its shores.

Lolo wrote: “Please know that we fully understand and are very much sensitive to the importance and significance of this mission to the United States’ continued presence in the Antarctic.”

“[But] American Samoa remains the only US Jurisdiction which has not been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic and we have made great sacrifices to maintain and to continue our ‘Free Coronavirus Bubble’.”

Lolo said the protocols proposed – where the Americans would stay in a quarantine centre overnight before flying out – could not guarantee the virus would be kept contained.

“Accordingly, I regret to inform you that this mission cannot come through American Samoa because I cannot in good conscience subject our people to this deadly virus. We are a small island with very limited resources, limited healthcare facilities and finite options if the virus does enter our shores. Our population is very vulnerable because of the high incidence of diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, and many other underlying medical conditions.”









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Australia’s airports are calling for aviation workers to be among the first Australians to receive Covid-19 vaccines “due to their exposure to a high number of passengers”.

The calls follow comments from Scott Morrison earlier this morning explaining how coronavirus vaccines will be rolled out across Australia, in response to news out of the UK that a Covid-19 vaccine has been given final approval and its citizens could begin receiving vaccinations next week.

James Goodwin, chief executive of the Australian Airports Association, said the prime minister must also “make it clear whether a vaccine will be mandatory for those wanting to travel overseas and how it will be proven and recognised”.

Goodwin said:


We acknowledge health, emergency services workers and the vulnerable should be at the front of the queue but aviation workers must not be forgotten in the rollout of Australia’s vaccination program.

Airports are critical infrastructure and have been keeping international terminals open to help the government bring Australians home from overseas, highlighting the need for aviation workers to be prioritised for the vaccine.

As vaccines begin to rollout across the globe, the appetite for international travel will increase and aviation workers will need to be protected.”

Goodwin also said the government should consider making vaccine doses available for people to purchase if they need to go overseas before the vaccine program has been fully rolled out to the public.













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California farmworkers contracted Covid at almost three times the rate of other residents

California’s agricultural workers have contracted Covid-19 at nearly three times the rate of other residents in the state, a new study has found, laying bare the risks facing those who keep a $50bn industry afloat.

Farmworkers have been deemed “essential” and thus continued to work throughout the duration of the pandemic. Epidemiologists already knew that this primarily Latino workforce was disproportionately affected by the virus, with Latino individuals experiencing five to seven times the risk of Covid-19 mortality relative to white individuals in the US.

But a study from the University of California, Berkeley, published Wednesday, is the first to explore the prevalence of infection rates among the workforce putting food on tables across America.

The study surveyed 1,091 farmworkers from mid-July through the end of November in the Salinas Valley, home to more than 50,000 agricultural workers. Key findings include that 13% of these workers tested over this five-month period tested positive. Comparatively, just 5% of all Californians tested came back positive. The study also found that one in five of the workers tested were antibody positive, meaning they had been infected some time before.

Of the positive cases among the farmworkers, 45% of those cases were asymptomatic. The study found that 57% of workers who reported experiencing symptoms and 58% who had symptoms and later tested positive had continued working when they had symptoms:

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