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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 25th Sep 2020

News Highlights

UK students could be banned from returning home for Christmas to prevent Covid-19 spread

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that UK students in universities could possibly be banned from returning home during the Christmas holidays to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Several university-based outbreaks have been reported over the past few weeks, with 120 students at Glasgow university testing positive and 600 students self-isolating there.

Third wave of Covid-19 possible in Iran as deaths rise sharply

Covid-19 has now claimed the lives of more than 25,000 people in Iran, the highest number in the Middle East. A spokeswoman from the health ministry reported 175 deaths on Thursday, and more than 3,500 new cases, and stated that a 'third wave' could strike Iran sooner rather than later. The country has seen a sharp rise in cases recently since a two-month low in May, and health experts have warned that a potential third wave of infection could be deadlier than the first two.

Sniffer dogs deployed to detect Covid-19 at Helsinki airport

The Finnish government has deployed four sniffer dogs at Helsinki airport that, according to researchers, can detect the presence of the coronavirus within seconds, providing a faster and cheaper alternative to test people for the virus. According to a researcher at the University of Helsinki, the trial is promising and may provide a good screening method that can also be used at hospitals, care homes and stadiums.

UK may infect healthy volunteers with Covid-19 to test experimental vaccines

As companies around the world race to find a vaccine to combat the coronavirus, the UK could become the fist country in the world to conduct 'human challenge trials,' where volunteers are delberately infected with Covid-19 after injecting them first with an experimental vaccine. The studies are expected to be conducted in January in London.

Lockdown Exit
Asia Pacific hardest hit by COVID-19, climate-related disasters
At least 51.6 million people worldwide have been doubly hit by COVID-19 and climate-related disasters, including floods, droughts or storms, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). In a new analysis published on Thursday, the IFRC said the Asia Pacific was the region hardest hit by the “double jeopardy” of disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.
Iran anticipates ‘third wave’ as COVID-19 deaths pass 25,000
The death toll from COVID-19 in Iran has surpassed 25,000, the highest total in the Middle East, as cases continue to surge. The healthy ministry reported 175 deaths on Thursday and 3,521 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total confirmed cases to 436,319. In the past 30 days, 5,000 people infected with the coronavirus have died and 80,000 new infections have been registered, resulting in a total of 25,015 deaths and 436,319 recorded cases, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Lari told state television. The ministry said it was only a matter of time before a “third wave” of infections would hit Iran, which according to health experts could be worse than the first two, with bottlenecks in medical care for those infected. Iran has been battling a resurgence of COVID-19, with figures showing a rise in new infections and deaths since a two-month low in May.
France to raise Covid-19 alert to highest level in Paris and other big cities
Health Minister Olivier Véran will announce new measures later on Wednesday as he holds his weekly press conference to chart the outbreak's progression, the source said. France has reported a surge in daily cases, prompting officials to urge people to limit social gatherings and wear masks in public at all times. In the larger Paris Ile-de-France area, the incidence rate of infection has risen to 204 per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than in other hard-hit cities such as Lyon and Marseille, which have already tightened measures to curb virus transmission.
100 N.Y.C. School Buildings Have Already Reported a Positive Case
At least one coronavirus case had been reported in more than 100 school buildings and early childhood centers in the New York City school system by the first day of in-person instruction on Monday, according to the Department of Education. Nearly all the buildings remained open, though six were closed temporarily, in accordance with city guidelines that only those schools that report at least two cases in different classrooms will be shut.
How Is Italy Avoiding a Second Pandemic Wave?
Italy was a symbol of the first wave of the pandemic. It was the first country in the world to go into a national lockdown, as its hospitals — especially in cities such as Bergamo and Cremona in the north — struggled to cope with the spike of cases and there was a sharp increase in deaths. As fear of a second wave grips Europe, Italy appears to be coping much better than other countries such as France, Spain and the U.K. This is hardly a time for complacency; as Britain can attest, this virus can return with a vengeance. But over the last two weeks, Italy recorded slightly fewer than 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants — compared to nearly 315 in Spain, almost 200 in France and 76.5 in the U.K. The number of average deaths stood at 0.3 per 100,000, a third of the French rate and nearly a tenth of Spain’s. Italy’s figures are only marginally worse than Germany’s, which has been praised as a model of sound pandemic management.
Trump says safety checks for coronavirus vaccine will cost lives
President Trump has attacked a plan to impose tough new standards on approval of a coronavirus vaccine, saying it “sounds like a political move”. Mr Trump, who has repeatedly raised hopes that a vaccine might be approved before election day on November 3, said he had “tremendous trust in these massive companies” developing vaccines, and said they were best-placed to decide when they were ready, rather than regulators. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is introducing higher hurdles than usual for emergency authorisation of a vaccine, which would allow it to be released to the public rapidly.
Exit Strategies
This Is Why NHS Covid-19 App Privacy Concerns Are Massively Overblown
The long-awaited NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 app has finally arrived and although the technology is not a “silver bullet” in the fight against the pandemic, it is at least a positive step to aid contact tracing efforts. For it to work it will need at least seven million people to download and use it but already it’s clear not everyone is on board.
Users report issues as Covid-19 app launches in England and Wales
The launch of the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales has exposed problems with the programme, some of which were known about in advance, and some of which will come as a surprise to both the government and users. Although there were hundreds of thousands of downloads of the app in the first few hours on iPhones from the App Store and Android from the Google Play Store, simply accessing it caused a problem for many. Some Android users reported accidentally downloading the trial version that had been made available in Newham, east London, and the Isle of Wight. That then led to a rash of one-star reviews on the Google Play Store, giving the app an average rating of just 1.5 stars.
NHS Covid-19 app: One million downloads of contact tracer for England and Wales
NHS Covid-19 instructs users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were nearby someone who has the virus. It also has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue they have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot.
GPs raise concerns about patients paying privately for 'extortionate' Covid-19 tests
GPs have raised concerns about anxious patients paying ‘extortionate’ prices for private coronavirus tests after being unable to access the government Test and Trace system. Online pharmacies and private GPs are among those charging between £140 and £250 to carry out an antigen test for Covid-19. It comes after Pulse reported that GPs were being inundated by patients unable to get a test as as NHS Test and Trace continued to struggle to meet demand. Those paying for tests include parents whose children have been sent home from school or nursery but who cannot get a test through the Government online booking system and need to get back to work.
'Close to 100% accuracy': Helsinki airport uses sniffer dogs to detect Covid
Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that Finnish researchers hope will provide a cheap, fast and effective alternative method of testing people for the virus. A dog is capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus within 10 seconds and the entire process takes less than a minute to complete, according to Anna Hielm-Björkman of the University of Helsinki, who is overseeing the trial. “It’s very promising,” said Hielm-Björkman. “If it works, it could prove a good screening method in other places” such as hospitals, care homes and at sporting and cultural events.
Hancock refuses to rule out Christmas student lockdown
Matt Hancock has refused to rule out banning students from returning home at Christmas, to limit the spread of coronavirus outbreaks. The health secretary was responding to a question about concerns that students could be spreading Covid-19, amid numerous university-based outbreaks. At Glasgow University 120 students have tested positive for Covid-19 and are among 600 self-isolating there. Academics had warned against the mass movement of the UK's million students. The University and College Union had called for students to be taught wholly online, from home until Christmas, ahead of the start of term, but ministers advised some face-to-face learning was key to students' mental health.
Hospitality jobs have taken a hammering. Opening Australia's state borders will not be enough | Greg Jericho
The goodish news of last week’s unemployment figures have been quickly tempered by the release of the latest payroll job numbers. The figures were released on the day the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank described the recovery as “a slow grind” and they highlight the problems a service-driven economy such as ours faces in the midst of a pandemic. The latest payroll job numbers by the Bureau of Statistics give us the most current view of the labor force. It is a view that is becoming increasingly bleak. Where May, June and July saw a nice recovery of jobs as the lockdowns around the country were mostly relaxed, since then the number of jobs has fallen:
Partisan Exits
Boris Johnson took advice from Sweden's no-lockdown scientist before rejecting tougher coronavirus restriction
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was advised by the architect of Sweden's no-lockdown policy, Andres Tegnell, before announcing his new coronavirus restrictions this weel. The new restrictions, which include a curfew on bars and restaurants, fell short of much tougher measures reportedly being pushed by his own scientific advisers. Current data suggests the Nordic country is not experiencing a second wave, unlike the UK
Opposition leaders fume at ‘insane’ virus lockdown
The heads of several opposition parties lashed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government for what they described as the policy failures that led to the harsh new lockdown restrictions set to go into effect on Friday. The full cabinet voted early Thursday to dramatically tighten the lockdown amid fears that the infection rate was spiraling out of control. The new restrictions come a week after the current lockdown began and as new daily confirmed infections neared 7,000 on Wednesday for the second day in a row.
Coronavirus: Students protest against China university lockdowns citing lack of virus cases, lack of cons
For example, at Shanxi University in central China, students have been put on strict lockdown and security guards were sent to attend the school gates at all times to ensure no students left the campus without approval from school administrators, according to student Zhang Li.
Public not to blame for second wave of Covid-19, says Keir Starmer
The public are not to blame for a resurgence of coronavirus and have been let down by the government, Keir Starmer has said in a televised address following the prime minister’s broadcast on Tuesday night. The Labour leader’s remarks pointing the finger at government incompetence come in stark contrast to Boris Johnson’s address, where he appeared to suggest that “freedom-loving” Britons would be to blame if more draconian restrictions were applied. “The British people have done everything asked of them. But I’m afraid the government has not,” Starmer said.
Continued Lockdown
Lives of hundreds of homeless people saved when UK went into lockdown
The lives of hundreds of homeless people may have been saved by emergency accommodation during the lockdown. Rough sleepers were rapidly brought into hotels at the start of the outbreak, while dormitory-style communal shelters were closed, and infection control measures were ramped up in hostels. It’s now thought the measures could have prevented 266 deaths linked to Covid-19, according to a study by University College London (UCL). Data from charities and hostels suggests around 4% of homeless people caught coronavirus during the first wave of the virus.
Australia's Victoria state reports 12 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths
Australia’s Victoria state, the epicentre of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, said on Thursday the number of new daily infections was close to a three-month low, buoying hopes that restrictions will be eased sooner than expected. The Victorian government said 12 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, near a three-month low of 11 cases reported earlier this week. Australia’s second-most-populous state is on an extended hard lockdown until Sept. 27, although some restrictions may be eased earlier if new infections continue to trend lower.
Three-quarters of temporary migrants reporting domestic violence during coronavirus lockdown fear for their lives
An Australian-first analysis of case files from a domestic and family service provider in Victoria has revealed the impact of coronavirus on temporary migrants living with violence.
Scientific Viewpoint
UK could become first country in world to deliberately infect volunteers with Covid-19 for vaccine test
The UK could host the world's first Covid-19 "human challenge trials" in which healthy volunteers are infected with coronavirus to test the effectiveness of experimental vaccines. The studies are expected to begin in January at a secure quarantine facility in east London, according to a Financial Times report. Those taking part will be inoculated with a vaccine before receiving a “challenge” dose of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, under controlled conditions a month or so later.
UK's Integumen unveils prototype COVID-19 breath test
Integumen, a British company that developed a system to detect the COVID-19 virus in waste water, said the same technology could be deployed in a personalised breath test that could become an effective tool in fighting the pandemic. AIM-listed Integumen has formed a consortium with water contamination monitoring company Modern Water and Avacta and Aptamer Group, which will supply COVID-19 binding agents for the tests, to adapt its technology to the new uses. U.S. group Dell Technologies has also joined to provide data services, Integumen said at its annual meeting on Thursday.
Swedish researchers say they've created a 'fast, cheap' COVID-19 test
Researchers in Sweden say they have developed a "fast, cheap, yet accurate" COVID-19 test good for situations in which frequent rescreening is needed and resources are limited.
BAME: Genetic variation 'unlikely to influence Covid-19 mortality'
Black, Asian, minority ethnic people are 2-3 times more likely to die from virus Researchers say environmental factors and healthcare disparities are to blame They analysed databases for 7 genes associated with viral entry of SARS-CoV-2 But they found no significant differences across populations and ethnic groups
As 21 states report a rise in new Covid-19 cases, CDC chief says more than 90% of Americans remain susceptible
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that even an effective Covid-19 vaccine won't replace the need for other public health measures, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the vaccine will not be 100% effective and taken by 100% of the population -- which means there still will be room for Covid-19 to spread. Fauci said he's being "practical" when he says, "I think if we can get 75 to 80% of the population vaccinated, I think that would be a really good accomplishment." "It is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures," he said in a Facebook Live conversation with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
Senior pharmacist appointed to COVID-19 clinical trial team
Oxford University has recruited Professor Mahendra Patel as national black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and pharmacy lead for its Principle COVID-19 clinical trial. Principle – platform randomised trial of interventions against COVID-19 in older people – is a UK-wide clinical trial run by Oxford University that aims to find medicines those aged over 50 can take at home to help ease COVID-19 symptoms, reducing the need for hospital admissions. Professor Patel – a pharmacist and member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy board and C+D’s clinical advisory board – has been appointed as the trial’s national BAME community and pharmacy lead, it was announced last week (September 18) His role will involve increasing participation from these groups into the study.
Coronavirus: The 'what ifs' that could have prevented the UK COVID-19 crisis
What could we have done, practically, to have controlled COVID-19 better in the UK - if we had no restraints? Dr Julian Tang, a professor of respiratory sciences at Leicester University, explains what he would have done regarding lockdowns, restrictions and fines if he did not have the political and economic constraints our government has.
Could a COVID-19 breath test help UK out of lockdown?
A potential COVID-19 breath test has been unveiled in the UK, as the country desperately searches for alternatives to crippling lockdown measures to prevent the disease from spreading. The breath test has been developed by Integumen in collaboration with Modern Water, Avacta and Aptamer Group, which had been working on test that identifies the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in waste water. Based on that technology the companies have designed, built and tested a prototype, Microtox BT, which can analyse the breath and detect the spike protein of the coronavirus in real time. Microtox BT will now be tested at a containment laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, followed by a joint trial of up to 5,000 participants, where results will be compared with standard lab antigen tests.
'Totally awakened': how tragedy has left Italians alert to deadly virus
Morena Colombi, from Truccazzano, a small town near Milan, was among the first people in Italy to test positive for Covid-19 and knows only too well the impact of the virus. The 59-year-old suffered a mild initial illness, but months after being declared recovered she is among Italy’s post-Covid ‘long-haulers’ – struggling daily with muscle pain, chronic tiredness and occasional memory loss.
Six months since lockdown: Strides in testing, vaccine devt but COVID crisis far from over, say scientists
The number of cases could start coming down in the next month or two as India approaches some sense of population immunity claims The Hindu.
Fourth large-scale COVID-19 vaccine trial begins in the United States Trial evaluating investigational Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
A fourth Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun enrolling adult volunteers. The trial is designed to evaluate if the investigational Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (JNJ-78436725) can prevent symptomatic COVID-19 after a single dose regimen. Up to 60,000 volunteers will be enrolled in the trial at up to nearly 215 clinical research sites in the United States and internationally.
China has almost eliminated Covid-19. What can the world learn?
In May 2020, Xi Chen, an associate professor of public health at the University of Yale, published a study explaining how China’s prompt and decisive reaction – including “quarantines, city lockdowns, and local public health measures” – in the face of the first outbreak of Covid-19 resulted in the avoidance of what he and his coauthors estimated to be 1.4 million infections and 56,000 deaths.
Spain 'deserves' to go back into full national lockdown after relaxing measures caused a second wave of Covid, leading epidemiologist says
Spain has seen coronavirus infections soar in recent weeks to over 11,000 a day Deaths are also increasing, though are nowhere near those seen in first wave Parts of Madrid and Ibiza have been hit by local lockdowns to contain spread But state epidemiologist says the country 'deserves' another national lockdown
Chinese Vaccine Maker to Offer Shots First to Testing Nations
Chinese vaccine developer Sinovac Biotech Ltd. said that countries running its final-stage clinical trials like Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey will get its coronavirus shots at the same time as China, underscoring how vaccine supply agreements could cement diplomatic ties in the Covid-19 era. One of three Chinese companies with vaccines in the last stages of testing, Beijing-based Sinovac will prioritize nations conducting its Phase III trials, and then offer doses to regions hard hit by the coronavirus, Chief Executive Officer Yin Weidong said during a government-organized media tour of the company’s facilities on Thursday.
UK to host ‘human challenge’ trials for COVID-19 vaccines
Britain is planning to host clinical trials where volunteers are deliberately infected with the new coronavirus to test the effectiveness of vaccine candidates, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people involved in the project. So-called “challenge trials” are expected to begin in January at a quarantine facility in London, the report said, adding that about 2,000 participants had signed up through a US-based advocacy group, 1Day Sooner.
Pfizer partner BioNTech sees no role for its vaccine in UK challenge trial
Pfizer's German development partner BioNTech on Thursday joined other leading COVID-19 vaccine developers in ruling out participation in British plans to test experimental inoculations by deliberately infecting trial volunteers. "BioNTech's vaccine candidate is not part of this study," a spokeswoman said. Britain is planning to host so-called "challenge trials", the Financial Times cited people involved in the project as saying. Britain said it was working with partners on the potential for human challenge trials without commenting on a specific plan.
Houston study: More contagious coronavirus strain now dominates
The first study to analyze the structure of the novel coronavirus from two waves of infection in a major city found that a more contagious strain dominates recent samples, researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital said on Wednesday. They examined more than 5,000 genomes from viruses recovered in the earliest phase of the pandemic in Houston, an ethnically diverse city of 7 million, and from an ongoing more recent wave of infections. The study, which has not yet been reviewed by outside experts, found that nearly all strains in the second wave had a mutation, known as D614G, which has been shown to increase the number of “spikes” on the crown-shaped virus.
Cuomo says New York to review any COVID-19 vaccine authorized by federal government
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said the state will carry out its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government due to concerns of politicization of the approval process. Cuomo, a Democrat who has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump and his Republican administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters at a briefing he was going to form a review committee to advise the state on the safety of a vaccine. “Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” Cuomo said. “New York state will have its own review when the federal government is finished with their review and says it’s safe.”
Novavax starts late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial in UK
Novavax Inc on Thursday started a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce. The trial is expected to enroll and test the vaccine on up to 10,000 individuals aged between 18 and 84 years over the next four to six weeks.
Mymetics Starts Preclinical Studies with Baylor College of Medicine for Virosome-based Covid-19 Vaccine
Mymetics has started a Covid-19 vaccine development project based on Mymetics' virosome vaccine carrier platform, which will evaluate different rationally designed SARS-CoV-2 antigens for an effective and safe virosome-based Covid-19 vaccine. In May 2020 Mymetics and Baylor College of Medicine in Texas signed a Research Agreement to preclinically produce and test virosomes incorporating SARS-CoV-2 recombinant proteins. As part of the Research Agreement, Mymetics has successfully produced several virosome vaccine formulations that will now be tested in a preclinical model at Baylor College of Medicine.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Will Europe's second wave of Covid-19 cases mean a second huge death toll?
At first glance, the outlook doesn't seem too grim. While reported coronavirus cases are reaching record highs as Europe endures a "second wave," deaths are still well below their peak in April. But experts warn the signs point to more tragedy ahead this winter. Europe's hospitals are now better equipped for treating Covid-19. Measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing have become the norm and the latest spread of infection has been primarily among younger people, who are less likely to die if they contract the virus. Yet colder weather is beginning to set in and the flu season is approaching. The infection is spreading to older populations, and there are signs that people are growing tired of adhering to the restrictions.
London facing lockdown as UK coronavirus cases reach 6000
New coronavirus cases rose above 6,000 yesterday, with London facing a local lockdown if social distancing measures announced this week fail to curb numbers. Nationally, confirmed cases rose by a quarter yesterday to 6,178, the third highest daily total recorded during the pandemic. In the capital there is concern that infection rates are catching up with the northeast, where people were banned from visiting each other’s houses last week.
Coronavirus: London could go into lockdown as UK COVID-19 cases soar
London could be placed under lockdown if measures which Boris Johnson introduced this week do not prove effective in curbing the rapid rise of coronavirus infections in the capital. Health officials recorded 6,178 new Covid-19 cases across the UK on Wednesday, up by 1,252 on Tuesday's figures. Scientists who advise the government on their coronavirus response have warned that new measures introduced by Boris Johnson this week will not be enough to contain the virus. One London council leader present at a meeting with government health officials this week said: “Our epidemic is as developed as the north. There’s a consensus a lockdown [in London] is coming.”
Sweden shifts towards lockdown measures: Chief scientist says he is now considering short 'chain-breaking' localised restrictions, amid spike of cases in Stockholm
Anders Tegnell said he's thinking of 'fairly short restrictions' to break up spread. Architect of Sweden's 'herd immunity' strategy signalled shift in policy this week. It comes after a spike in cases in Stockholm - but the overall rate remains low Tegnell said that any restrictions would be 'extremely local' for a matter of weeks
There’s a Simple Reason Spain Has Been Hit Hard by Coronavirus
Politicians here seem to be mystified as to why Spain is, once again, the European country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. They have blamed the recklessness of youth, our Latin inability to keep our distance, and even immigration. And yet all this time the answer has been right under their noses: Nothing has eased the spread of the virus as much as their own incompetence. Spaniards patiently accepted the toughest confinement in Europe during the first wave of the virus in March, enduring serious economic losses in exchange for protecting the lives of their elders and the most vulnerable. We have been among the most disciplined in adhering to regulations like wearing masks, which are used by more than 84 percent of the population.
EU urges new measures to head off virus second wave
The European Commission has urged EU member states to better explain and enforce social distancing and hygiene rules to halt a dangerous new wave of coronavirus infections. Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: "In some member states, the situation is now even worse than during the peak in March. This is a real cause for concern. "All member states need to roll out measures immediately and at the right time at the very first sign of potential new outbreaks."
Business morale brightens in Germany, France despite coronavirus resurgence
Business morale in Germany and France improved for the fifth month in a row in September, boosting hopes that the euro zone’s two biggest economies had enjoyed a solid recovery from the coronavirus shock suffered in the first half of the year. The surveys, published on Thursday by Germany’s Ifo institute and France’s statistics office, suggested that both countries are set for strong growth in the third quarter, though the outlook is clouded by rising infections and new restrictions to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Europe is facing a double-dip recession as coronavirus second wave arrives
Economists predicted a rebound in the second half of 2020 but they are now questioning those forecasts. Many governments are announcing new lockdown restrictions, or a slowing of reopenings, as they deal with a significant uptick in cases. The warnings are similar for the U.K., where the government announced Tuesday that pubs and restaurants needed to close early and workers needed to stay at home, if possible, rather than commuting to the office.
As Coronavirus Cases Surge in Europe, Hospitalizations Lag
In Munich, normally brimming with boisterous crowds for Oktoberfest this month, the authorities just banned gatherings of more than five people. In Marseille, France, all bars and restaurants will be closed next Monday. And in London, where the government spent weeks urging workers to return to the city’s empty skyscrapers, it is now asking them to work from home. Summer ended in Europe this week with a heavy thud amid ominous signs that a spike in coronavirus cases may send another wave of patients into hospitals. Officials across the continent fear a repeat of the harrowing scenes from last spring, when the virus swamped intensive care units in countries like Italy and Spain. Already in Spain, some hospitals are struggling with an influx of virus patients.
Coronavirus: How are other countries dealing with Covid-19 second waves?
France - Aiming to avoid a new national lockdown, the French government moved in July to make face masks compulsory in enclosed public spaces. In Paris, anyone aged 11 and older must wear a mask in public. Other cities have followed that lead, including Lille, Nice and Toulouse. Masks must also be worn in most workplaces. Spain - The Spanish government has also cracked down on the use of masks, with face coverings mandatory for anyone older than six on all forms of public transport and in most indoor areas. Most parts of Spain have enforced the wearing of masks outside as well. Children are also being asked to wear masks at school.
Steeply rising pandemic activity led by India, surges elsewhere
The pace of global COVID-19 cases showed no letup today, with an ongoing surge in India, some Middle East countries logging record numbers, and some European hot spots reporting more worrying developments. In other developments today, global health officials warned that false information about COVID-19 is hampering the response and urged countries to do more to counter it with accurate messaging. The pandemic total today climbed to 31,728,021 cases, and 973,176 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.
Rethink short lockdowns, tracing is key: PM Modi to states
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked the Chief Ministers of seven states worst hit by the Covid-19 crisis to make a critical assessment of the 1-2-day lockdowns that several states have been imposing, and the adverse impact these have on economic activity. The Prime Minister stressed on the need for states to strengthen their tracing- tracking strategy to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. “The lockdown brought benefits. Globally too, it has been appreciated. However, now we have to focus on micro containment zones, which will ensure that the spread is contained… States have to make an assessment on how effective are the lockdowns that are being imposed for 1-2 days. Because of this, economic activity should not face problems. My suggestion to the states is to take up this issue very seriously. We have to increase our focus on effective testing, treating and surveillance, and clear messaging,” the Prime Minister said.
East Lancashire's winter coronavirus warning from Australia
Blackburn with Darwen public health director Dominic Harrison writes his weekly coronavirus column for the Lancashire Telegraph... The chief medical officer has warned us this week that if we continue at national level with the same Covid-19 control measures that we have had in place over the summer, we could get 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October and 200 deaths a day by mid-November. Prime Minister Boris Johnson subsequently announced a raft of new control measures - which are in effect a partial national social lockdown.
Covid-19: Israel tightens lockdown as Poland and Indonesia report record daily increases
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet decided on Thursday to tighten Israel’s coronavirus lockdown after he voiced alarm that a surge in infections was pushing the nation to “the edge of the abyss”, the YNet news site said. Israel went back into lockdown, its second during the pandemic, on September 18th. But over the past week, the number of daily new cases has reached nearly 7,000 among a population of 9 million, severely straining the resources of some hospitals. Revised edicts that take effect on Friday allow fewer businesses to operate and impose further curbs on travel, YNet said, after cabinet discussions that stretched from Wednesday to end early on Thursday.
France tightens virus measures, unveils new 'danger zones' map
France’s health minister unveiled a map of coronavirus “danger zones” around the country on Wednesday and gave the hardest-hit local authorities, including that of Marseille, days to tighten restrictions or risk having a state of health emergency declared there. Olivier Veran told a news conference the country would be divided into zones by alert level with Marseille, the second-largest city, and the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe for now the only two areas put on the “maximum” alert level. Paris and its suburbs but also the northern city of Lille, the southwestern town of Toulouse and six other cities were declared “reinforced danger zones”, Veran added.
French business confidence grew in September despite COVID resurgence
French business confidence rose in September to its highest level since just before the coronavirus outbreak, despite a resurgence of new cases in recent weeks, a monthly survey showed on Thursday. The official statistics agency, INSEE, said its business confidence index rose to 92 from August’s 90, reaching its highest level since February, before France went into a two- month lockdown to contain the outbreak, plunging the economy deep into recession.
Spain tops 700,000 coronavirus cases, Madrid surge in spotlight
Spain’s cumulative tally of confirmed coronavirus infections passed 700,000 on Thursday and authorities warned of tougher times ahead in the densely-populated virus hotspot region of Madrid, which accounts for over a third of hospital admissions. The number of confirmed cases has spiked since the end of a nationwide lockdown in late June, adding 200,000 in less than a month, and now stands at 704,209, the highest in Western Europe. The total number of COVID-19 fatalities rose by 84 to 31,118, including 13 deaths registered in the past 24 hours. Daily deaths are now around their highest levels since early May, but below the late March record of nearly 900.
Poland reports new record daily increase in coronavirus cases
Poland was hit by a record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Thursday attributable to increased direct contact between people after a lifting of restrictions, the health ministry said. It reported 1,136 new COVID-19 infections, the biggest daily number since the start of the pandemic in March. In total the nation of 38 million people has registered 82,809 infections, including 2,369 deaths. Health ministry data showed the biggest rise in new cases in the southeast, though other regions also saw notable hikes.
France reports over 1,000 people in ICU due to coronavirus
The French health ministry reported on Thursday that number of people in intensive care due to the coronavirus jumped over 1,000 for the first time since June 8. The ministry also said that the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital was up by 136 to 5,932.
New Lockdown
The British government tightens covid-19 restrictions
The churchillian rhetoric is back. “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour,” Boris Johnson, the prime minister, warns. So are new nationwide restrictions. From September 24th, bars and restaurants will have to close at 10pm. More people will be required to wear masks; working from home will be encouraged. All rules will be strictly enforced. Barring a vaccine or testing breakthrough, Mr Johnson said, these new restrictions will last for six months. Merry Christmas indeed.
Coronavirus lockdown in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon calls for urgent UK talks to tighten restrictions
Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for urgent four-nation talks to tighten lockdown restrictions to tackle the spread of coronavirus. The First Minister has pointed to scientific opinion that bringing the virus back under control will require measures beyond those announced so far. She also highlighted that devolved administrations' ability to take action is curtailed by a lack of financial levers to deliver economic support.
The evidence that local lockdown in Caerphilly is working
On Tuesday, September 8 at 6pm, Caerphilly became the first local authority in Wales to be placed under a local lockdown. It was announced by Health Minister Vaughan Gething following a steep rise in coronavirus cases in the region over the previous seven days.
Coronavirus UK: Traffic-light system being considered for lockdowns
Ministers have reportedly approved the plan which would see local authority areas ranked red, orange or green – depending on the severity of the pandemic locally. The system would work in tandem with the new NHS app and users would receive automatic alerts on their phone when further restrictions are coming in. The meaning of each category is still being discussed. But it’s thought if a place is marked green then no further restrictions would be needed, beyond the rules that already apply to the whole country.
UK supermarkets urge shoppers not to panic over lockdown fears
Supermarket bosses have urged shoppers not to start panic buying, while Asda is bringing in 1,000 safety marshals, as the industry braces for a potential change in shopping habits ahead of new lockdown restrictions. Tesco boss Dave Lewis said stockpiling was “unnecessary” as there was no disruption to product supply chains as a result of new government measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infection. Giles Hurley, the boss of discounter chain Aldi in the UK, wrote to customers saying: “There is no need to buy more than you usually would. I would like to reassure you that our stores remain fully stocked and ask that you continue to shop considerately. “We have remained open for our customers throughout the pandemic and will continue to have daily deliveries, often multiple times a day, across all of our products.”
Coronavirus: Israel heads into 'hermetic' lockdown after infection figures surge
Israel's government has voted to tighten a week-old national lockdown as figures reveal the extraordinary extent of the country's coronavirus challenge. The cabinet met late into Wednesday night and concluded, not without huge disagreement, that a "hermetic" lockdown must be implemented by Friday. The country's infection rate is by far the highest among known rates globally.
ALL bars in France's second city of Marseille are closed and others around the country told to shut at 10pm after new Covid spike
Closures in Marseille - which start on Monday - were announced by Olivier Véran They are as part of a nationwide series of tough new measures after Covid spike They include bars in Paris, Lille and Grenoble having to shut 10pm from Monday Mr Véran said an even earlier closure of bars can be sanctioned by local prefects
France tightens coronavirus rules as government unveil map of ‘danger zones’
France faces further lockdown restrictions as the government unveiled a map of coronavirus "danger zones" around the country. The nation's health minister gave the hardest-hit local authorities, including that of Marseille, days to tighten measures or risk having a state of health emergency declared there. Olivier Veran told a news conference the country would be divided into zones by alert level. Marseille, the second-largest city, and the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe are for now the only two areas put on the "maximum" alert level.
Israel toughens second lockdown as virus cases surge
Israel toughened its coronavirus measures on Thursday as a second nationwide lockdown failed to bring down the world's highest infection rate a week after it was imposed. The new rules will close the vast majority of workplaces, shutter markets and further limit prayers and demonstrations. "Over the past two days, we've heard from experts that if we don't take immediate and harsh measures, we'll reach an abyss," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Wednesday, at the start of a cabinet meeting to thrash out the new measures.
Coronavirus: Why Scotland's new 'lockdown lite' might struggle to deliver the same results
If you experienced a strange sense of déjà vu on Tuesday, you probably weren't alone. Nearly six months to the day since Boris Johnson took to our screens to tell Britain to "stay at home", we find ourselves once again facing tightened restrictions - albeit this time couched in terms of avoiding a second lockdown.
Coronavirus: Marseille 'astonished' by new French lockdown rules
France is set to close all restaurants and bars in its second city Marseille, prompting anger from local officials. The move, which will come into effect from Saturday, follows a recent upsurge in coronavirus cases nationwide. France recorded more than 13,000 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a record since restrictions were eased. But Marseille Mayor Michèle Rubirola said she was not consulted about the decision and had been left feeling "astonished and angry". "The Marseille town hall was not consulted. Nothing in the health situation justifies these announcements," she wrote on Twitter. "I won't allow the people of Marseille to become the victims of political decisions that no-one understands," she added.
Coronavirus: Israel tightens second lockdown to avoid 'abyss'
Israel is set to tighten its second nationwide coronavirus lockdown, with the prime minister warning that the country is at "the edge of the abyss". The new measures, which parliament must approve, would see more workplaces close and movement restricted further. Synagogues would only be able to open for small groups next week for Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day, and the size of protests would be limited. The move came after the daily number of new Covid-19 cases exceeded 8,000. That is one of the world's highest rates of infection relative to population size.
‘Lockdown Lite’: nations test new strategy to fight coronavirus outbreaks
Fresh off a summer of relative freedom after harsh lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic, Europe is trying a new strategy to halt next coronavirus surge: Lockdown Lite. This comes as the European Union’s disease control agency warned that seven EU countries are of “high concern” because of rising virus death rates. Unlike the blanket stay-at-home orders that characterised responses to Covid-19’s first wave, a partial lockdown isn’t designed to stop transmission completely. Instead, the idea is to home in on hotspots – certain neighbourhoods, nightclubs or private parties, for example – while leaving large parts of the economy open for business.
Europe tries Lockdown Lite
Trump says White House could veto FDA’s vaccine rules. China’s retail recovery still rests on the richest consumers. U.K. to spend more to protect jobs, businesses amid outbreak
Israeli cabinet tightens coronavirus lockdown as infections climb
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet decided on Thursday to tighten Israel’s coronavirus lockdown after he said a surge in infections was pushing the nation to “the edge of the abyss”. Israel went back into lockdown, its second during the pandemic, on Sept. 18. But over the past week, the number of daily new cases has reached nearly 7,000 among a population of 9 million, severely straining the resources of some hospitals. “If we don’t take immediate and difficult steps, we will reach the edge of the abyss,” Netanyahu said in public remarks to the cabinet, which met for about eight hours. The new restrictions require all businesses and workplaces, except for those designated essential, to shut down for at least two weeks starting on Friday. A list will be released later in the day, an official statement said.
Cardiff is 'on the verge of coronavirus restrictions' warns council leader Huw Thomas as infection rates soar
Cardiff is on the verge of entering the Welsh Government's coronavirus "red zone", the city's council leader has warned. The number of cases per 100,000 population now stands at 38.2, while 3.8 per cent of tests are positive. Hospital emergency department attendance has also risen sharply in the last week. Evidence from contact tracers suggests the virus in Cardiff is mostly spreading within households - where family bubble rules are being breached and where people are mixing inside homes. Huw Thomas, leader of Cardiff council, said: “As we have seen over the past week, the situation can change quickly. “If case numbers continue to rise over the weekend there is a very real possibility that Cardiff will enter into the Welsh Government's ‘red zone.'