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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 2nd Oct 2020

News Highlights

Hundreds of millions of Chinese set to travel with holiday season around the corner

After almost a year of restrictions and confinement, more than 550 million Chinese are set to travel within the country during the National Day holiday, an eight-day public holiday which is usually one of the busiest times to travel in China. Tourist spots are already crowded with visitors and train stations are busy with passengers with people complaining in online forums that hotels and tourist sites are completely booked out.

PM to extend state of emergency to be extended in Italy till end of Jan

As Italy grapples with a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said that he will ask parliament to extend the current state of emergency, which was due to expire in mid-October, to the end of January. The state of emergency would give greater powers to the central government and give more latitude to officials to bypass bureaucratic procedures in Italy.

Cases continue to rise in India; International flights remain suspended till end October

More than 6.3 million cases of Covid-19 have now been reported in India since the pandemic first took hold of the country about 6 months ago. The health ministry reporte 80, 472 new infections on Wednesday and deaths rose by 1,181. International flights continue to remain suspended until October 31 but certain states have been given permission to reopen restaurants, bars and even schools and movie theatres

Confusion and delirium new symptom of Covid-19, scientists say

Coughing, fever, fatigue and a loss of taste and smell have been reported as the most common symptoms of the coronavirus, but scientists have now warned of a feeling of confusion and delirium, especially among the elderly, as a new symptom of the disease. Experts from Kings College who run the Covid Symptom Tracker app have reported that large populations of the elderly are reporting these new symptoms lately

Lockdown Exit
Brazil reports another 728 coronavirus deaths on Thursday
Brazil registered 728 additional coronavirus deaths and 36,157 new cases over the last 24 hours, the nation’s health ministry said on Thursday evening. The South American country has now registered 144,680 total coronavirus deaths and 4,847,092 total confirmed cases. Brazil has the second worst coronavirus death toll in the world outside the United States. Daily deaths and cases have declined significantly in recent weeks, however health professionals are monitoring certain cities for potential second waves.
India's coronavirus infections rise to 6.31 million
India’s coronavirus case tally increased by 86,821 in the last 24 hours to 6.31 million by Thursday morning, data from the health ministry showed, as the country eased more restrictions to combat the economic hit from the pandemic. Deaths from coronavirus infections rose by 1,181 to 98,678, the ministry said. The South Asian nation on Wednesday permitted states to open schools and movie theatres. The country’s richest state Maharashtra, home to financial hub Mumbai, said it would also allow bars and restaurants to operate fully.
No clear link between school opening and COVID surge, study finds
Widespread reopening of schools after lockdowns and vacations is generally not linked to rising COVID-19 rates, a study of 191 countries has found, but lockdown closures will leave a 2020 “pandemic learning debt” of 300 billion missed school days. The analysis, by the Zurich-based independent educational foundation Insights for Education, said 84% of those 300 billion days would be lost by children in poorer countries, and warned that 711 million pupils were still out of school. “It’s been assumed that opening schools will drive infections, and that closing schools will reduce transmission, but the reality is much more complex,” said IfE’s founder and chief executive Randa Grob-Zakhary.
Influx of returning New Zealanders due to Covid-19 'a myth', says experts
Leaving for overseas has been a rite of passage for young New Zealanders for decades, but Covid-19 has prompted thousands of migratory Kiwis to return. However, beyond the raw numbers, little is known about who exactly is coming back and how long they are staying for. At least one economist says claims that there's a big influx of long-term returnees is a myth. Mark is in managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland with his partner and their two children.
China contained Covid-19. Now, hundreds of millions of people there are about to go on vacation at the same time
China is on the move again. As October 1 arrives, hundreds of millions of people are expected to pack highways, trains and planes for the National Day holiday, one of the busiest times for travel in the world's most populous country. The eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival break is China's first major holiday since it emerged from the coronavirus outbreak. While life has largely returned to normal in recent months, the upcoming "Golden Week" holiday will be an ambitious test of China's success in taming the virus -- and a much-awaited boost to its economic recovery.
China promotes 'revenge travel' to boost economy after Covid lockdowns
Millions of Chinese people are travelling across the country in a bout of “revenge tourism” after almost a year of quarantines, lockdowns and restrictions on their movement. China’s ministry of culture and tourism expects around 550 million people will make trips within the country during an eight-day public holiday marking the mid-autumn festival and China’s national day. Photos posted on social media on Tuesday, the first day of the national holiday, showed tourist spots crowded with visitors, and train stations busy with harried passengers. People complained on online forums that hotels and tickets for tourist sites were sold out or that traffic had made it impossible to move. “Congestion is unavoidable,” one commentator said on Weibo. “It’s best to stay home.”
Factories Cut Jobs Despite Bounce From Post-Covid Lockdown
U.S. manufacturing activity continues to rebound from the sharp downturn last spring, when factories closed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A pair of new manufacturing surveys released Thursday shows firms saw solid demand domestically and from abroad in September, leading to backlogs of new orders. The Institute for Supply Management said its purchasing-managers index of manufacturing activity registered 55.4 in September, indicating the fourth straight month of expansion. A reading above 50 indicates that activity is increasing, while a reading below points to a decline in activity. Despite the gains, manufacturing activity in August remained 7.3% below its February level, according to Federal Reserve data released last month.
Exclusive: U.S. traffic deaths fell after coronavirus lockdown, but drivers got riskier
U.S. traffic deaths fell during the coronavirus lockdowns but drivers engaged in riskier behavior as the fatality rate spiked to its highest level in 15 years, according to preliminary data released Thursday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the fatality rate jumped to 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the three months ending June 30, or about 30%, the highest since 2005. At the same time, overall traffic deaths fell by 3.3% to 8,870 while U.S. driving fell by about 26%, or 302 fewer deaths over the same period in 2019, according to the report first reported by Reuters.
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus: Some users of NHS tracing app incorrectly given COVID-19 exposure alerts
Some users of the new NHS contact-tracing app have received notifications saying they'd been near someone with coronavirus, only to discover the alerts were system checks sent by Google and Apple. People who downloaded the COVID-19 app in England and Wales told Sky News they had received a notification which said: "Someone you were near reported having COVID-19." Yet, when they clicked on the message, they found no information explaining whether they should self-isolate.
Italy to extend COVID state of emergency to end of Jan - PM
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday he would ask parliament to extend the country’s COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of January, as the government tries to avoid the surge in cases seen in other European countries. The state of emergency, due to expire in mid-October, gives greater powers to central government, making it easier for officials to bypass the bureaucracy that smothers much decision-making in Italy. “We will propose to parliament to extend the state of emergency, probably to the end of January 2021,” Conte told reporters during a visit to Caserta, in southern Italy.
Everything that changes in Italy in October 2020
From the upcoming review of coronavirus restrictions to the clocks going back, here's what we can expect this October in Italy. Coronavirus rules up for review - One thing we’ll all be watching closely is the revision of Italy’s current set of coronavirus rules, with the government’s emergency decree (DPCM) up for review on October 7th. It’s not known yet what ministers are planning, however as the number of new cases is now rising again here in Italy it’s thought unlikely that any rules will be relaxed.
1st in Europe to be devastated by COVID-19, Italy redoubled its efforts, and they're now paying off
When engineering student Sara Del Giudice returned home to Naples in late August from a short vacation with her boyfriend, instead of embracing her siblings and parents, she shut herself in her room. "We're a close family that hugs and kisses all the time, but I had a slight headache, a cough and achiness, and I just thought, better safe than sorry," said Del Giudice, 23. Several days later, she and her boyfriend tested positive for COVID-19. Despite both having negative antibody tests before their holiday on the island of Ischia, in the Gulf of Naples, her boyfriend was coming from Sardinia, where clusters of partying young people spread the virus with alacrity.
Coronavirus: How Italy has fought back from virus disaster
Through the window of the car in front, there's a short, sharp cry from the toddler - eased with a quick lollipop or a colourful picture: a distraction aid once the swab is finished. And then the next in a long line of vehicles pulls up as Rome's "Baby drive-in" continues apace. The test serves children from newborn to the age of six. A result comes within 30 minutes. If it's negative, they can return to day-care or school, even if there's a positive case in their class.
Unlock 5.0 guidelines live: International flights to remain suspended till October 31
India's Covid tally raced past 62 lakh on Wednesday with 80,472 infections being reported in last 24 hours. While the number of recoveries surged to 51,87,825 pushing the recovery rate to 83.33 per cent, according to the Union health ministry data.
Is Pakistan really handling the pandemic better than its rival?
Whereas India’s burden is still rising by 70,000 new cases a day, Pakistan’s caseload seems to have peaked three months ago. Its daily total of new cases has remained in the mere hundreds since early August. India’s economy has also fared far worse. The Asian Development Bank predicts that its gdp will shrink by fully 9% in the current fiscal year, compared with a contraction of 0.4% for Pakistan.
Australia's hotspot virus state Victoria reports 800th death, other states ease restrictions
Australia’s coronavirus hotspot state Victoria reported its 800th death from the virus on Thursday, but low case numbers raised the prospect of a “COVID-normal” 2021 without lockdowns or social restrictions, said the state premier. “We’re confident we’ll be able to build a COVID-normal Christmas, a COVID-normal summer and a virus at such a low level that we can sustain that over the long term,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne. “That may even be for the majority, or indeed the entirety of 2021.”
Twelve new cases of Covid-19 today, all in managed isolation
Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says all the new cases have been transferred to a dedicated quarantine facility. There are no new cases in the community. Dr McElnay says 10 of the cases came from India on 26 September on flight AI1354, they were sitting between rows 14 and 41, so spread out on their journey. One case arrived from the US on 26 September and tested positive on day three, the other person came to New Zealand from Philippines via Taiwan.
Partisan Exits
'You cannot lock down everybody' Madrid tells Spanish government in COVID spat
Madrid will become the first European capital to go back into lockdown in coming days after the region’s leader reluctantly agreed on Thursday to obey a central government order to ban non-essential travel to and from the Spanish capital. In order to fight a steep surge in COVID-19 cases, Madrid and nine nearby municipalities will see borders closed to outsiders for non-essential visits, with only travel for work, school, doctors’ visits or shopping allowed. A curfew for bars and restaurants moved to 11 p.m. from 1 a.m. However, regional chief Isabel Diaz Aysuo said she will appeal against the lockdown in the courts, meaning the uncertainty and fierce political squabbling that has exasperated the residents of Madrid is far from over. “We are victims of improvisation,” architect Jean-Pierre Moncardo complained, saying politicians had wasted time fighting each other instead of giving medics the funding they needed to fight the pandemic.
Why People Have Had Enough of Lockdowns
France, the U.K. and Spain face a triple threat: A jump in cases, a population exhausted by lockdown-induced recession, and rising resistance to tougher measures. Curfews and closures of restaurants and bars have seen business owners literally throw their keys to the ground in present-day Marseille. In Madrid, protesters have bristled at a targeted local lockdown they view as discriminatory. It’s not just conspiracy theorists on the streets in London and Berlin who are angry. Those protesting shouldn’t be dismissed as the selfish exceptions to the rule. Beyond the vocal minority, there are signs that the silent majority is also losing faith in increasingly bureaucratic strictures. Policymakers need to restore it.
Row erupts after Spain puts Madrid under lockdown
A row has erupted after the Spanish government announced that the entire city of Madrid is to be put under a partial lockdown as it steps up measures to fight the coronavirus. Madrid's regional government reacted furiously to the new restrictions that affect mobility and gatherings, setting the scene for a political battle which could be dragged into the courts. "The situation in Madrid is complex and worrying," Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa told reporters, saying that of 11,016 new cases diagnosed in Spain over the past 24 hours, nearly 44% were in the Madrid region.
Victoria COVID lockdown: Resistance groups unmasked by Channel 7's Denham Hitchcock
7NEWS Spotlight correspondent Denham Hitchcock reports from hotel quarantine in Queensland. One of the most upsetting things about this pandemic has been the divisions it has caused. Australia has always been a united country but it doesn’t feel that way right now.
Tony Abbott says Victoria's coronavirus lockdown is the most severe tried in the world outside Wuhan. Is he correct?
Mr Abbott's claim is wrong. Many governments adopted individual policies similar to Victoria's such as curfews and stay-home orders. Some rules were even stricter. For example, Spain and Argentina banned outdoor exercise entirely while Israel limited walks to within 100 metres of home. Meanwhile, Chile allowed only twice-weekly shop visits, and both South Africa and India banned the sale of alcohol. And whereas New Zealand prohibited takeaway food and drinks, Victorians could at least still visit their local cafe to pick up a coffee.
The U.S. Exported QAnon to Australia and New Zealand. Now It’s Creeping Into COVID-19 Lockdown Protests
Like most people, Jess spent a lot of time online during weeks of lockdown earlier this year. But the 36-year-old Australian wasn’t focused so much on playing Animal Crossing or watching Netflix. Instead, she found herself diving ever deeper into the Internet for information about QAnon. Jess, who asked for her last name not to be used because her employer doesn’t allow her to share views on social media, says she became interested in the complex conspiracy theory in part because it claims to offer answers amid the turbulence of 2020.
Fewer UK workers on furlough as government scales back support
Fewer British workers remained on furlough from their employers last month as the government scaled back its support for businesses hit by COVID-19 before ending the scheme on Oct. 31, two surveys showed on Thursday. The Bank of England said its monthly survey of businesses showed that 7.0% of their staff were on furlough and not working any hours in September, down from 11.8% in August and a peak of 36.2% in April when coronavirus lockdown measures were tightest. A survey by the Office for National Statistics estimated that 11% of staff were partly or fully on furlough between Sept. 7 and Sept. 20. Britain’s furlough scheme supported 8.9 million jobs at its peak, and is forecast to cost around 52 billion pounds ($67 billion) over its eight-month lifespan.
UK seeks to avoid national lockdown to stop unemployment in millions, minister says
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is seeking to avoid a full national lockdown to prevent unemployment soaring into the millions, Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Thursday. “I’ve not seen any projections of 4 million but certainly we know that there are some 700,000 extra people that are already unemployed as a result of this, and yes you know the projections are, that there are going to be economic impacts,” Eustice told Sky. “It’s for precisely that reason that we are trying to avoid full lockdown,” he said.
In crowded Gaza, public embraces mask-wearing to fight COVID-19
The coronavirus may have been slow to reach the sealed-off Gaza Strip, but Palestinians in the densely populated enclave have been quick to embrace mask-wearing to try to contain its spread. Five weeks into an outbreak of COVID-19 among the general population in the territory, restaurants, many shops, schools, mosques and other public facilities remain closed, and a night-time curfew is in effect. It is rare to see anyone without a mask outdoors, with the coronavirus death toll at 20 and nearly 3,000 cases reported since infections spread beyond border quarantine facilities on Aug. 24. Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions along the frontier with Gaza, where two million people live under the rule of the Islamist Hamas group.
Continued Lockdown
Cuba lifts Havana lockdown as coronavirus cases fall
Cuba said on Wednesday it was lifting a curfew and partial lockdown in Havana, in place since Sept. 1. to contain a second wave of the new coronavirus. The governor of Havana Reinaldo García Zapata said cases had dropped to an average of 21 per day over the last week for an infection rate of 0.87 in justifying the decision. Most of the Caribbean nation began returning to a new normal months ago, though there have been minor and quickly contained outbreaks of the virus in a few provinces and a new surge is still to be contained in central Ciego de Avila province.
Supreme Court orders airlines to refund bookings during coronavirus lockdown
India's top court on Friday ordered airlines to refund passengers who were forced to cancel tickets booked during a two-month, nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Supreme Court told airlines to refund the money within three weeks in a decision that will add to the burden on cash-strapped Indian carriers whose revenues have been hit by coronavirus restrictions on air travel. The lockdown, imposed on March 25, banned domestic and international travel, closed factories, schools, offices and all shops other than those supplying essential services. It caused extensive economic disruption and measures were eased from May as the virus was still spreading.
Maharashtra extends Covid-19 lockdown till October 31, Mumbai local to allow dabbawalas
The Maharashtra government on Wednesday said that the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease has been extended till October 31. However, hotels, food courts, restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate from October 5 with 50% capacity, the state government added.
Student potentially unable to return home to family after year abroad says she feels 'forgotten'
After the 22-year-old University of Technology Sydney student arrived in France in January for a 12-month exchange, the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside-down. What followed was eight months of lockdowns and restrictions - and at the end of it all the prospect of returning home to family, friends, boyfriend and, of course, her two dogs Bobbi and Benson. Through weeks of being unable to leave her room at student accommodation due to France's harsh COVID-19 lockdown, Ms Fletcher has kept her sights set firmly on completing her study and returning home in January. But her plans to return were thrown into limbo after receiving an email warning her flight may be pushed back due to ongoing flight caps on international arrivals. "Basically, I was told I could try to guarantee a flight home but I'd have to pay thousands of dollars to upgrade it, which I definitely do not have," she told nine.com.au. "But if I was to keep my economy tickets and my flight gets pushed back, I would have to deal with my visa and my visa is only one year."
Thank you, Victoria – Australia as a whole is healthier and wealthier because of you
Thank you, Victorians. Your determination to crush the second wave of Covid-19 has delivered me, and the rest of Australia, enormous health, social and economic benefits. Your resolve, your patience and your sacrifice, means that the rest of Australia has been able to open up our personal and economic lives. The nation as a whole is healthier, wealthier, and indeed wiser because of you. While nothing can be certain, it’s likely that – absent another Ruby Princess or quarantine hotel debacle – Australia will experience a relatively normal, if socially distant, Christmas this year while North America and most of Europe prepare for the human and economic costs of ongoing deaths and disruption. Since July, the United States has averaged around 50,000 new cases per day and, since opening up their interlinked economies too early, countries such as the UK, France and Italy are all now experiencing thousands of new cases per day as their second wave of infections roll across the continent.
Coronavirus: Israel passes law to ban mass protests during lockdown
Israel's parliament has handed the government the power to ban mass protests during the country's second nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Demonstrators will be confined to groups of up to 20 people and must stay within 1km (0.6 miles) of their homes. The law should have been part of a range of measures passed on Friday. But the government struggled to get the necessary votes after critics accused it of trying to stifle protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For weeks, thousands of people have gathered outside his official residence in Jerusalem to demand he resign over corruption allegations and his handling of the pandemic. Mr Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
German court rules insurer must pay restaurant's lockdown claim
A German court has ruled that a Munich restaurant’s insurer must pay out a claim for losses caused by the state-imposed COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year, the first prominent such case in Germany in which the court found in favour of the plaintiff. There are hundreds of similar lawsuits pending after many insurers in Germany, including Allianz ALVG.DE, refused to pay businesses for lockdown losses, arguing that while effects of other pandemics would have been insured, COVID-19 had not been named specifically in the terms and conditions.
Scientific Viewpoint
Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine unlikely to be ready before U.S. election - FT
Moderna Inc will not be ready to apply for emergency authorization for its potential COVID-19 vaccine before the U.S. presidential election in November, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing the company's chief executive officer. Stéphane Bancel told FT that he did not expect to have full approval to distribute the drug to all sections of the U.S. population until next spring. Moderna did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment. Moderna will not be ready to seek emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration before Nov. 25 at the earliest, the report said, citing Bancel.
Wistar Institute lab tech and immigrant on frontline developing coronavirus vaccine
Inside a laboratory at the prestigious Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Yaya Dia, an immigrant from West Africa, is working tirelessly to create a vaccination for COVID-19. "It's a privilege working with the top scientists at the Weiner laboratory and especially being there and being able to contribute," said 29-year-old Dia. While his drive to help others during such a critical time speaks volumes, so does his personal journey. He came to Philadelphia from Burkina Faso in West Africa at the age of nine speaking no English. "When I continued with high school I had that mentality to be number one," Dia said.
The Biggest Coronavirus Vaccine Winner So Far
Winners are usually easy to spot. In sports, for example, you only have to look at the scoreboard to see which team is winning. But how do you determine which companies are the winners when it comes to developing a coronavirus vaccine? While there's no scoreboard per se, there are objective, quantifiable metrics you can look at to identify winners even in the scramble to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Thus far, there's one hands-down biggest winner in the coronavirus vaccine race: Novavax
Serbia to review COVID-19 death rate after expert's criticism
Serbia will review records since the start of the coronavirus outbreak to check the death rate and rectify any irregularities after its leading epidemiologist questioned the figures. "We will do the audit in the most honest way. I believe in the expertise of our people. We never hid anything, and everything we did, we did transparently," President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on Thursday. Serbia recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus in early March. According to official data, 33,551 people have been infected and 749 have died after falling ill with COVID-19. Predrag Kon, a member of the government-appointed crisis staff tasked with combating the disease, said on Tuesday the official death toll for the capital Belgrade was three times lower than the real figure.
Cats spread Covid-19 and must self-isolate, scientists warn
It’s been known for a while that cats are capable of carrying and spreading the coronavirus to each other. And scientists in the US have now publicly stated that our feline friends should stay inside and self-isolate if they live with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19. What’s more, if the owner has to be admitted to hospital the researchers from Colorado State University in the US say whoever is left looking after the cat should observe social distancing just as if it was a person. ‘Infected pet cats should not be allowed to roam freely outdoors to prevent potential risk of spreading infection to other outdoor cats or wildlife,’ the scientists said.
Israel's Enlivex reports positive results in COVID-19 drug trial
Enlivex Therapeutics Ltd ENLV.TA on Thursday reported positive results in a clinical trial of the immunotherapy firm's Allocetra treatment in COVID-19 patients in severe or critical condition. Shares of Enlivex were up 83% in Tel Aviv after resuming trade. They were halted in Tel Aviv and on Nasdaq pending the announcement. Israel-based Enlivex ENLV.O said the trial, which was conducted along with Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, included five patients -- three in severe condition and two in critical condition. All five had complete recoveries after an average of no more than 8.5 days following administration of Allocetra, while there were no reported severe adverse events.
Covid-19 vaccine 'may not help life return to normal until 2023', scientists warn
A Covid-19 vaccine may not help life return to normal until 2022, scientists have warned. Experts looking at possible rollout concluded it may take up to a year after a jab is possibly approved next Spring to expand it to the general population. A report has been published by the Royal Society looking at challenges developing, evaluating, manufacturing and distributing a vaccine. The verdict from its Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (DELVE) group will come as a shock to families desperate for a jab to save us from the pandemic and has big implications for the economy. The Government has previously suggested a working vaccine could be discovered by the turn of the year.
Black people almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19, study finds
Black people are at almost twice the risk of dying from Covid-19 than white people, a new study commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan has found. Mr Khan is urging the Government to tackle the inequalities which have led to Londoners experiencing a disproportionate impact of Covid-19. His calls came after the independent report highlighted the uneven effect of the pandemic in relation to factors such as ethnicity and gender, showing that black people were 1.9 times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people.
African remedies get WHO testing green light amid COVID-19 fight
New rules for the testing of African herbal remedies to fight COVID-19 have been agreed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The decision will be based upon scientific findings of any traditional remedies and if found safe and effective they will be fast-tracked for large manufacturing. In a statement, the WHO’s Dr Prosper Tumusiime said: “The onset of COVID-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines.”
Coronavirus: Scientists warn of new Covid-19 symptom
Scientists have warned a new symptom could be added to the official list of coronavirus symptoms. They said suddenly feeling confused and delirious is a common symptom of Covid-19 among frail older people. Officials in the UK don't recognise any symptoms other than coughing, fever and a lost sense of taste or smell, but there are many others that people suffer regularly. Experts who run the Covid Symptom Tracker app, from King's College London, have now found that large proportions of elderly people get delirious when they're ill.
NHS Covid disruption could cause tens of thousands of deaths, MPs warn
Tens of thousands of patients could die because the NHS suspended such a large proportion of normal care to focus on tackling Covid-19, MPs have warned. Illnesses that went undetected or untreated included cancer and heart disease, the Commons health and social care committee says in a hard-hitting report. “We’ve heard of severe disruption to services, especially cancer, and here we could be looking at tens of thousands of avoidable deaths within a year”, said the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the cross-party select committee.
Smoking and obesity increase risk of severe COVID-19 and sepsis
Researchers have identified genetic evidence to support a causal link between smoking and obesity and an increased risk of severe COVID-19 and sepsis. The study, led by an international team of scientists from the UK, Norway and the USA, found that both smoking and having a higher body mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity) can increase the risk of severe outcomes with COVID-19.
Q&A: what does the government's latest UK Covid-19 data reveal?
With infections still on the rise, and sharply in some regions, it is clear that the latest restrictions brought in to suppress the virus have either yet to take effect or have not gone far enough. On Wednesday, a further 7,108 new cases were recorded, slightly down on the previous day’s 7,143, but high enough to show that the epidemic continues to grow at pace. There were 71 reported deaths for the second day in a row.
Rethinking Covid-19 Test Sensitivity — A Strategy for Containment
It’s time to change how we think about the sensitivity of testing for Covid-19. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the scientific community are currently almost exclusively focused on test sensitivity, a measure of how well an individual assay can detect viral protein or RNA molecules. Critically, this measure neglects the context of how the test is being used. Yet when it comes to the broad screening the United States so desperately needs, context is fundamental. The key question is not how well molecules can be detected in a single sample but how effectively infections can be detected in a population by the repeated use of a given test as part of an overall testing strategy — the sensitivity of the testing regimen.
'Provocative results' boost hopes of antibody treatment for COVID-19
A second company has now produced strong hints that monoclonal antibodies, synthetically produced versions of proteins made by the immune system, can work as treatments in people who are infected with the pandemic coronavirus but are not yet seriously ill. The biotech Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has developed a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies that attach to the surface protein of that coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and attempt to block it from infecting cells. Yesterday at an investor and media webcast, the firm revealed early results.
COVID-19 and African rheumatology: progress in adversity
The pandemic of COVID-19, the disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), hit Africa later than much of Asia, Europe, and North America. It has led to immense disruption of health-care services, economic hardship, and loss of life in Africa. By Sept 17, 2020, more than 1 million cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection and 33 000 deaths from COVID-19 had been confirmed across Africa.1 However, the cataclysm of COVID-19 has taught us major lessons and incited the potential for rapid growth in African rheumatology after the pandemic subsides.
Covid-19 vaccine alone won't defeat spread of virus, report warns
A successful vaccine for Covid-19 will not conquer the spread of the virus alone, with restrictions on daily life likely to continue for some time, a team of experts have said. Hundreds of teams of researchers around the world are working to produce a vaccine against the coronavirus, with 11 currently in phase three human trials. The UK government has reserved access to six potential vaccines and has raised hopes that a vaccine could be on the cards by spring next year. A report from a multidisciplinary group convened by the Royal Society, called Delve (Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics), says there are serious challenges to producing a vaccine, including hurdles in manufacturing and storage, questions around how well vaccines will work, and problems with public trust.
Coronavirus: Doctors told to plan for vaccination scheme
Doctors in the West Midlands have been told to plan for a mass coronavirus vaccination scheme from as early as November. A leaked document identifies two vaccines which are expected to be available this year. Immunising the entire population could take 10 months and will start with the most vulnerable in care homes. Mass vaccination sites and mobile facilities are being commissioned as part of as a "fairly massive exercise". According to the document, the two vaccines are called Ambush and Triumph. Ambush needs to be stored at -70C (-94F) and kept in hospitals due to regulations set down by the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority.
Coronavirus vaccine trial participants report day-long exhaustion, fever and headaches — but say it's worth it
High fever, body aches, headaches and exhaustion are some of the symptoms participants in Moderna and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trials say they felt after receiving the shots. While the symptoms were uncomfortable, and at times intense, they often went away after a day, sometimes less. The phase three trials are a critical last step needed to get the vaccines cleared for distribution.
Coronavirus vaccine: Why are companies working on developing nasal vaccines? Are they better than injected ones?
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, makers of the homegrown Covaxin was recently in news for striking a deal that would allow it to produce upto a billion doses of a nasal COVID-19 adenovirus vaccine in collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri. While the vaccine is currently in phase I trial in the country, it is expected that expansive trials will also be held in centres across India. Bharat Biotech will also be handling large-scale production of the vaccine at its Hyderabad headquartered base.
COVID-19: UN calls for more support for ‘people’s vaccine’ plan
Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has again called for a “quantum leap in support” for a global vaccine plan to contain the coronavirus pandemic, as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Sweden promised nearly $1bn in funds to support developing nations secure access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX facility – led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance – has received $3bn, but needs a further $35bn, of which $15bn is required by the end of the year.
Nigerian scientists develop Covid-19 vaccine need human trials
The race for a Covid-19 vaccine has so far been a show of vaccine nationalism as countries are securing prospective vaccines for their populations and prioritizing access for their domestic markets. This has left Africa in a disadvantaged position as none of the vaccines being developed are in the continent and a majority of African countries lack the power or funds to secure vaccines for their citizens.
Russia is spreading lies about Covid vaccines, says UK military chief
Russia is seeking to destabilise countries around the world by sowing disinformation about coronavirus vaccines that is shared rapidly across social media, the head of the armed forces has warned. Gen Sir Nick Carter, the chief of defence staff, said the propaganda tactic reflected a strategy of “political warfare” aggressively undertaken by Beijing as well as Moscow “designed to undermine cohesion” across the west. The senior general accused “autocratic rivals” of “manipulating the information environment” to exploit the Covid-19 crisis for strategic gain – including “pro-Russian vaccine politics” – in a speech at the Policy Exchange thinktank. Their “disinformation narratives” were designed to permeate anti-vaccination social media groups, Carter added, pointing to an example uncovered earlier this summer by Australian researchers that spread rapidly from Ukraine. In July, a fake press release was posted to websites of the pro-Russian self-declared state in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. It falsely claimed that the US had conducted vaccine trials on Ukrainian volunteers, some of whom had died.
Covid-19: Dr Anthony Fauci 'cautiously optimistic' of coronavirus vaccine by year's end – but will New Zealand have access?
The United States’ leading Covid-19 expert is “cautiously optimistic” a safe and effective vaccine may arrive sooner than many predicted. “We project that we will know whether we have a safe and effective vaccine likely by the end of this calendar year,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told former prime minister Helen Clark. “I would predict November and December. It could possibly be earlier, I think that's unlikely but not impossible.” But ensuring equitable distribution and access around the world will present one of the greatest challenges. Fauci told Clark and journalist Linda Clark during a virtual discussion hosted by the Aspen Institute of New Zealand – which is available to view above – that the financial risks associated with preparations were worth taking.
32% of people would not take Covid-19 vaccine - poll
Almost a third of people in Ireland (32%) would not take the first publicly available EU approved Covid-19 vaccine, according to a new national poll commissioned by RTÉ. The survey examined how people across the country have adapted since the start of the coronavirus crisis. It asked people aged 12 and over about their outlook in areas such as mental and physical health, the economy, finances, family and going back to work and school.
Coronavirus updates: Cornell study calls Donald Trump biggest source of misinformation; Moderna vaccine won't come before spring 2021
Despite President Donald Trump repeatedly assuring the nation that a coronavirus vaccine would be approved before Election Day, a key vaccine developer said Thursday its product won't be released to the public until March 2021 at the earliest. Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci rebutted some of the president's claims during Tuesday's debate with former vice president Joe Biden, telling ABC News his views on masks were "taken out of context." A new study out of Cornell found that Trump is the "single largest" transmitter of misinformation surrounding COVID-19, touting false "miracle cures" and giving credence to dubious claims about the origins of the virus. "Saturday Night Live," which is set to come back this week, may be in some hot water with the state of New York. The show's producers announced that it would welcome a live audience for the recording despite regulations prohibiting most live audiences. A spokesman for the state's health department said "that restriction has not changed."
Phase I trial of intranasal COVID-19 vaccine spray approved in China
According to a new report, a Phase I clinical trial to test an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine spray has received approval in China. The report from Globaldata, says that the vaccine is being co-developed by Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise with researchers from Xiamen University and Hong Kong University. Furthermore, it is the first of its kind to receive clinical trial authorisation from the China National Medical Products Administration.
FDA widens U.S. safety inquiry into AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine - sources
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has broadened its investigation of a serious illness in AstraZeneca Plc's AZN.L COVID-19 vaccine study and will look at data from earlier trials of similar vaccines developed by the same scientists, three sources familiar with the details told Reuters. AstraZeneca’s large, late-stage U.S. trial has remained on hold since Sept. 6, after a study participant in Britain fell ill with what was believed to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis. The widened scope of the FDA probe raises the likelihood of additional delays for what has been one of the most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development. The requested data was expected to arrive this week, after which the FDA would need time to analyze it, two of the sources said.
GlaxoSmithKline CEO optimistic COVID-19 vaccine widely available in 2021
The chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, said she was optimistic the industry will be able to make an immunisation against COVID-19 widely available next year. “I share the optimism that we will have solutions next year. The challenge here is getting to the scale that is required,” GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said at an online event of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on Tuesday.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Coronavirus: NI Executive to consider further restrictions
Pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels in the Derry and Strabane council area are to be placed under new restrictions to try and curb the spread of Covid-19. They will only be able to open for takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining, First Minister Arlene Foster said. It is part of a series of measures due to come into force next week, which will last for at least a fortnight. But Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill urged residents to comply immediately with the new rules. Meanwhile, Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital has suspended some services to manage Covid-19 patients.
Why a second national lockdown in France can't be ruled out
New coronavirus cases hit a record 16,000 in 24 hours, the French Prime Minister has said, so a second national lockdown in France cannot be totally ruled out. Defending stronger measures being imposed, Jean Castex said: “If we do not act, we could find ourselves in a situation like that of spring. That could mean reconfinement, and we must avoid it.” President Macron had earlier said a new confinement would not happen. Health Minister Olivier Véran, however, ruled out a suggestion by two Nobel economics prizewinners that a “preventative” lockdown is needed from December 1-20 to allow people to gather safely with families at Christmas. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee raised the idea in Le Monde, saying without it there was likely to be a spike in the winter due to a drop in temperatures and an increase in social and family events. Mr Véran said that new travel restrictions during the Toussaint holiday period may be introduced dependent on “what we do in the coming days and weeks”.
New York City Under Pressure; CDC Funds Stalled: Virus Update
New York faced pressure as middle and high schools reopened, infection rates in virus hot spots rose further and the city’s bond rating was cut by Moody’s. A $1 billion funding package to help the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fight Covid-19 has remained mostly unspent, people familiar with the matter said. Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said he’s disappointed that vaccine plans were discussed during this week’s U.S. presidential debate “in political terms rather than scientific facts.” President Donald Trump’s campaign moved a weekend re-election rally in Wisconsin after complaints by local officials.
Jordan reports 1,767 COVID-19 cases in its highest daily tally
Jordan warned on Wednesday it could be forced to return to a full lockdown, potentially devastating its fragile economy, after recording 1,767 new cases of COVID-19, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak. The country’s total number of confirmed infections now stands at 11,816, with 61 deaths since the first case surfaced in early March, Health Minister Saad Jaber said in a statement. Jordan, which had some of the lowest numbers of infections in the region in the first few months of the pandemics’ spread, has seen daily numbers rise alarmingly this month, with health officials saying the country now faced a community spread.
As COVID-19 resurges, Johnson pleads with UK: obey the rules
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the British people on Wednesday to obey rules imposed to tackle a rapidly accelerating second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, cautioning that otherwise a tougher lockdown could follow. New cases of COVID-19 are rising by more than 7,000 per day in the United Kingdom though Johnson is facing growing opposition to lockdown measures which have wrought some of the worst economic damage in at least a century.
New York worries over 20 coronavirus hot spots, Wisconsin sees troubling trends
Wisconsin, where U.S. President Donald Trump will hold rallies over the weekend, registered a record increase in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while New York state reported a worrisome uptick of positive coronavirus tests in 20 ‘hot spots.’ The 3,000 new infections reported in Wisconsin fanned fears that the sheer number of new patients could overwhelm hospitals. Florida, which has four times as many people as Wisconsin, reported 2,628 new cases on Thursday. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an emergency order easing licensing rules in a bid to bolster the number of healthcare workers able to deal with the mounting crisis.
French coronavirus cases near record levels again, with nearly 14,000 new infections
France on Thursday reported nearly 14,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, close to the record levels seen last week. The number of infections rose by 13,970 to a total of 577,505 cases, the health ministry said, more than the 12,845 reported on Wednesday and below a record of 16,096 on Thursday last week. The number of deaths increased by 63 to 32,019, in line with Wednesday and the trend of the past week.
New Lockdown
University lockdowns: a whole new way to fail young people
I distinctly remember the day in June when the boy cleared out his student flat and said goodbye to those few who were still living there. He had not been back since the previous term. While he packed and said his goodbyes, I found a place serving takeaways and ate at a table outside, before wandering into the “non-essential shops” in the town centre. It was only the boy’s second year, so this desolate end was not the final farewell to college life — but some of his friends would not be there next year. There were no kisses or bro-hugs, just a wave and a “maybe see you in London”. For the first time since lockdown, I truly saw the cost through his eyes.
Coronavirus UK: Plan to simplify 'confusing' lockdown rules with 'three tier' system
A three-tier lockdown system is expected to be introduced in England amid mass confusion over ever-changing rules in different parts of the country. It comes after even Boris Johnson had trouble explaining regional restrictions for the North East, mistakenly suggesting the ‘rule of six’ did not apply to gatherings outside. Now ministers are reportedly considering a simpler system which Downing Street hopes will help more people stick to the rules. It is expected to be split into three tiers – the first of which could involve strict lockdown measures such as completely closing bars and restaurants, iNews reports.
Europe's worst infection hotspot Madrid heads for lockdown
Madrid will become the first European capital to go back into lockdown in coming days after the region’s leader reluctantly agreed on Thursday to obey a central government order to ban non-essential travel to and from the Spanish capital. In order to fight a steep surge in COVID-19 cases, Madrid and nine nearby municipalities will see borders closed to outsiders for non-essential visits, with only travel for work, school, doctors’ visits or shopping allowed. A curfew for bars and restaurants moved to 11 p.m. from 1 a.m. However, regional chief Isabel Diaz Aysuo said she will appeal against the lockdown in the courts, meaning the uncertainty and fierce political squabbling that has exasperated the residents of Madrid is far from over. “We are victims of improvisation,” architect Jean-Pierre Moncardo complained, saying politicians had wasted time fighting each other instead of giving medics the funding they needed to fight the pandemic.
Coronavirus: Spain orders Madrid lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar
Residents in Madrid will be banned from leaving the city, except on essential trips, under strict new coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Spanish government. Madrid has 735 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, one of the highest of any region in Europe and double the national rate. But regional authorities said the decision had no legal basis, setting the stage for a political showdown in an area accounting for more than a third of Spain's 133,604 new cases in the past two weeks.
How A Three-Tier Lockdown System In England Could Work
Local lockdown rules are pretty confusing. Even the prime minister got them wrong. To ease some of the confusion, England could be heading towards a three-tier lockdown system as soon as next week, iNews has reported. Areas with outbreaks would be classified as ‘tier one’ and would be subject to the tightest restrictions. It’s believed this could involve a strict social lockdown in order to curb transmission. If you think of it in terms of a traffic light system, this would be a red area
New lockdown restrictions for Ibiza as French students complain of coronavirus risk
Ibiza will go into partial lockdown from Friday after coronavirus spread quickly on the party island which is normally popular with British tourists. Parties of more than five people will be banned, children’s playgrounds will be shut down and bars and restaurants will have to close at 10pm, the Balearic Islands government said. Authorities recommended that people stay at home for all but essential activities but did not make this mandatory.
Coronavirus pandemic: Madrid urgently requests more doctors amid spike in area
#Spain's Madrid region on Wednesday requested urgent help to hire hundreds of foreign #doctors and reinforce police as they registered 1,290 new #coronavirus infections and considered extending a partial lockdown to more areas.
Matt Hancock announces tighter local lockdown restrictions for Merseyside
Matt Hancock has announced a ban on mixing with other households in the Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough after a spike in coronavirus infections. The new rules will restrict social mixing for almost two million people. The health secretary said indoor mixing between households will be illegal, and guidance will advise people not to mix with others in outdoor public spaces such as parks. The measures mirror those introduced in the North East on Monday to tackle the spread of COVID-19. Downing Street said they would come into force on Saturday morning at one minute past midnight.
Madrid coronavirus: Spain orders lockdown amid rise in cases
The Spanish government has ordered a partial lockdown in the capital Madrid and surrounding areas badly affected by coronavirus after a rise in cases. Under the new restrictions, residents will not be allowed to leave the area unless they have to make an essential journey. However, Madrid's regional government says the lockdown is not legally valid. Greater Madrid accounts for more than a third of the 133,604 cases diagnosed in Spain over the past two weeks. On Wednesday, a majority of Spain's regional governments, who are in charge of healthcare, voted in favour of imposing restrictions in areas with more than 100,000 residents if they met three benchmarks - 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, 35% Covid patient occupancy in intensive care units and positive results in 10% of tests.
Europe's worst infection hotspot heads for lockdown
Madrid is to go into lockdown in coming days after the region's leader reluctantly agreed on Thursday to obey a central government order to ban non-essential travel in the Spanish capital that is Europe's worst COVID-19 hotspot. The Madrid region has 859 cases per 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), during a resurgence of the coronavirus in Spain, which was one of the worst-hit countries during the first wave.
Tougher lockdown measures being discussed for Liverpool, minister says
British Environment Secretary George Eustice said further lockdown measures for the city of Liverpool in north-west England were being discussed but no decision had been taken. “My understanding is that a decision hasn’t been made, but I am aware that discussions have been taking place about what further restrictions might be needed I think particularly around Merseyside, Liverpool,” he told BBC News on Thursday.
Madrid heads for lockdown after Spain announces new virus restrictions
Residents of infection hotspot Madrid are to be barred from leaving except on essential trips under new rules to fight the coronavirus resurgence, Spain’s government said on Wednesday. But regional authorities said the decision had no legal basis, setting the stage for a political showdown in an area accounting for more than a third of Spain’s 133,604 new cases in the past two weeks. “Madrid’s health is Spain’s health. Madrid is special,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference to announce the new regulations, due to come into force in days. The capital city, with more than 3 million people, and nine surrounding municipalities with at least 100,000 inhabitants each, are to see borders closed to outsiders for non-essential visits, the government said.