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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 5th Oct 2020

News Highlights

India's 'model state' suffers setback as Covid-19 cases surge across the country

India crossed the bleak milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus and now only stands behind the U.S. and Brazil in total fatalities. On average, more than 1,100 Indians died everyday in September, while some states reported far higher deaths than others. Kerala, considered a 'model state' due to its effective handling of the pandemic, is now set to ban gatherings of more than five people to fight a recent surge in cases. The state reported 8,135 new cases on Thursday and has more than 72,000 active Covid-19 cases.

Loss of smell or taste most likely indicator of coronavirus, study says

A new study from University College London (UCL) suggests that a sudden loss of taste or smell is the most common indicator of having contracted Covid-19. Researchers found that four out of five people with a sudden loss of taste or smell tested positive for the coronavirus and that such symptoms should be considered globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing and contact tracing.

New restrictions in Tehran and Rome as coronavirus cases rise

Countries around the world have been seeing a surge in Covid-19 infections as the second wave of the pandemic sweeps the globe. Most public institutions - including schools, libraries, mosques, gyms and cafes, have been closed for a week in Tehran to battle rising cases of the virus. Health authorities in Rome have made it mandatory to wear face masks at all times when out of doors in the city, and in the surrounding region, as Italy registered more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since April.

Close to 20,000 Amazon workers struck with Covid-19 since March

Officials at Amazon have said that close to 20,000 of its frontline workers in the U.S. have tested positive for the coronavirus since March, close to 1.44% of the online retailing giant's 1.37 million strong workforce. The company has kept facilities open to meet rising online demand during the pandemic but has faced criticism from employees and unions for putting the health and safety of employees at risk.

Lockdown Exit
Booming Wuhan is full of smiles again
The Wuhan Sports Centre, which served as an emergency quarantine hospital at the height of the pandemic, reopened this week with a 10km run by 2,000 people dressed in patriotic red. The Chinese city that was the epicentre of the outbreak is booming again, with airlines adding flights to accommodate a surge of travellers for the first extended public holiday since January 23, when it was shut down as the outbreak raged among its 11 million people. Six months after the city lifted its shutdown, Wuhan is throbbing with life again. Streets are decked in Chinese flags to mark National Day and to show pride at having prevailed over the virus.
The way Italy handled its second wave is a lesson for us all
Now, while cases have spiked in other European countries, Italy is a picture of relative stability. The country reported just 40.4 infections per 100,000 people in the last 14 days. This is far less than Spain (325.9), France (241.8) and the UK (117.9), and even compares well with Germany (32.1), one of the nations that has best dealt with the pandemic. Italy’s death rate is low, too, at 0.4 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 over the last 14 days, compared, for instance, to Spain’s 3.3 deaths. While the UK, France and Spain have have all had to implement local lockdowns of varying degrees, similar measures haven't been necessary in Italy at all.
Exit Strategies
‘Exhausted’ teachers warn they have no additional funding to handle Covid-19
In England, headteachers have warned they do not have enough funding from the government to meet the extra costs of the Covid-19 crisis, leaving school budgets “in the lap of the gods”. The new president of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), Ruth Davies, said schools are being expected to implement Covid safety arrangements “without any additional funding at all”, placing pressure on “exhausted” school leaders. She called on the government to provide money for items such as personal protective equipment, extra cleaning, more staff and the physical adaptations made to schools.
Coronavirus: The difficulty of policing Covid-19 restrictions
In Northern Ireland, the PSNI has handed out about 800 spot fines of £60 or more during the Covid-19 pandemic - but finds itself in a debate over claims of inaction on face coverings. Not a single penalty has been issued in respect of masks in shops or on public transport since they became mandatory. In England and Wales (a population of 60m), just 89 fines have been handed out, showing this law is being enforced with a light touch across the UK. By his own admission, it is not a space the Chief Constable Simon Byrne wants his officers to rush into.
Germany makes people returning from Wales quarantine but not England
The German government has said that people travelling from Wales to Germany have to isolate for 14 days but travellers from England do not. In the advice given to travellers entering Germany, the German government said: "The United Kingdom has been strongly affected by Covid-19. In Wales and Northern Ireland there have been more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, which is why the German government has classified these regions as high risk areas. "Passengers travelling from Wales and Northern Ireland must therefore undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entering Germany. Those who can provide a negative Covid-19 test will not have to undergo quarantine."
Could home coronavirus quarantine really get more Australians to come home from overseas?
In Australia, completing two weeks of quarantine in a small hotel room has been the norm for returning travellers for months, but home quarantine is apparently on the horizon. The announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that some international travellers may soon be able to quarantine at home has given hope to plenty of Australian expats and may encourage more to come home. But with only returning travellers from some "safe" countries set to be eligible, where does that leave the others? And what of interstate travellers?
New Zealand refuses quarantine-free trips from Australia as ACT joins travel bubble
New Zealand will not reciprocate quarantine-free trips across the Tasman as the Australian Capital Territory joins Australia’s travel bubble with the country. On Friday, Australia’s deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, announced New South Wales and the Northern Territory would allow Kiwis to bypass the compulsory fortnight of quarantine on arrival from 16 October. On Saturday the ACT joined the scheme. But Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand would stand strong on its pledge to not open up until Australia, or specific states and territories, recorded a month without community transmission of Covid-19.
Covid-19 Vaccines Should First Go to Health Workers, First Responders, Group Recommends
Certain health workers and first responders should be the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available, followed by people with health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease, a special U.S. committee recommended. As supplies of vaccines rise, the committee recommended vaccinating groups like teachers, child-care staffers and transit workers. Only later should other groups and finally remaining Americans get vaccinated, the committee said in a report released Friday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Covid-19: Test and trace app incompatibility angers cross-border residents
People living near England's border with Scotland say they are angry that Covid-19 test and trace apps for the two nations are incompatible. Users living in one nation and travelling to the other can only use one app at a time. Barrister Brian Payne, who commutes to Newcastle from the Scottish Borders, called it a "significant failing". The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was working on "a technical solution".
UK tourists can visit just six countries without restrictions
With a second lockdown feeling imminent, if you are desperate for an overseas holiday a last-minute break could be your best bet. Yet, with Turkey and Poland being added to the UK’s quarantine list this week, our choices of where we can go (and not quarantine at either end) are quickly diminishing. Just six countries remain which UK visitors can enter without restrictions: Sweden, Italy, Greece, San Marino, Gibraltar and Germany (although the latter has restrictions for passengers from Wales and Northern Ireland).
As lockdown eases, Kenyan doctors warn Covid still lurking
Kenya is reporting a decline in coronavirus cases, and hospital admissions for Covid-19 have fallen sharply, but some frontline health workers say infections are going undetected and could even be rising. For several weeks, the health ministry has been recording between about 50 and 250 new infections every day, a sudden and considerable slump from highs approaching 900 in just late July. The government has responded by easing some of the strictest measures imposed to contain the pandemic.
India's contracting economy rebooting from coronavirus blow
Millions of distressed Indian manufacturers and traders are counting on the eagerly-awaited October-December festive season to rescue them from their coronavirus catastrophe. The government began easing a stringent two-month-long lockdown in June, but business still is only a quarter to a fifth of usual and customers are scarce, said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders. In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced $1.46 trillion in infrastructure projects to boost the sagging economy and allocated $2 billion to upgrading the country’s overwhelmed health system.
'The beers are cold': Australia to open up to New Zealanders after COVID border shutdown
New Zealanders will soon be able to travel to Australia without having to self-quarantine as COVID-19 infections slow and Canberra seeks to revive its ailing economy, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Friday. New Zealand citizens and residents would be allowed to travel to Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales and its remote Northern Territory (NT) from Oct. 16, without having to undergo the two-week quarantine required of Australians returning from other nations, McCormack said.
Unlock 5.0 Guidelines In India: From Lockdown Extension Till Oct 31 to School Resumption
In India, while the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued new guidelines for ‘Unlock 5’, allowing more relaxations outside the containment zones, several states, on the other hand, have extended lockdown in COVID-19 hotspots till October 31 to break the chain of coronavirus transmission.
Partisan Exits
Covid: PM has 'lost control of virus', says Labour leader
Boris Johnson's government has "lost control" of coronavirus, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said. Speaking to the Observer, Sir Keir accused the prime minister of "serial incompetence" over the virus. He has called for ministers to set out a new "road map" for dealing with Covid-19 until a vaccine is rolled out. A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister had already set out "a package of measures" that could be in place for the next six months.
Trump's White House event in focus over Covid spread
With Donald Trump now in hospital, there are growing questions about how he and his wife were exposed to coronavirus. A crowded Rose Garden event is coming under intense focus - last week's ceremony where Mr Trump formally announced his nomination of the conservative Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. City council member Brooke Pinto told the Washington Post it was "disappointing that the White House has flaunted not wearing masks and gathering large crowds".
Johnson sees bumpy COVID winter, but radical changes by spring
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday he expected the next few months of the COVID-19 pandemic to be bumpy, but that things would look radically different in the spring. Johnson said he knew many people were furious with him over perceived inconsistencies and confusion surrounding the local measures, but he was seeking to strike a balance between public health and the wider needs of society and the economy. He denied a suggestion that the local restrictions were not working given infection rates were still rising in the affected areas and there was no end in sight to the measures.
The Coronavirus and the Threat Within the White House
The contrast between Trump’s airy dismissals of the pandemic’s severity and the profound pain and anxiety endured by so many Americans has helped define the era in which we live. Hours before he announced the diagnosis, Trump claimed, in a speech recorded for the annual Al Smith Dinner for Catholic charities, that “the end of the pandemic is in sight, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country.” The Centers for Disease Control and other public-health institutions have long said that wearing masks is essential to minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. Trump has been of another opinion, a delusional one.
Spain’s poisonous politics have worsened the pandemic and the economy
The Infanta Leonor hospital, wedged between a motorway and a suburban railway, serves the dense working-class districts of south-eastern Madrid. Last month 402 of its 480 doctors signed a letter to the regional government warning that the hospital was in a state of “pre-collapse”, with 54% of its 361 beds and all 27 intensive-care spaces occupied by covid-19 patients. With 784 cases per 100,000 people in the past fortnight, Madrid is currently the worst-hit region in Europe. This is part of a broader national failure. On July 5th Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, proclaimed that “we have defeated the virus and controlled the pandemic.” Yet the country is once again Europe’s coronavirus black spot
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. “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.
Top Paris chefs in protest as restaurants face coronavirus lockdown
Paris's top restaurateurs vented their anger today as the French capital’s celebrated hospitality industry faced having to shut down to contain a surge in coronavirus infections. Health minister Olivier Veran has already ordered bars and restaurants in Marseille to shut for two weeks and last night warned that Paris could be placed on “maximum alert” from Monday, meaning similar measures there.
Doctors group says Turkey 'hid the truth' by reporting only those with COVID-19 symptoms
Turkey’s top medical association and the main opposition party on Thursday criticised a decision by President Tayyip Erdogan’s government to only publicly disclose new coronavirus cases if the patient is showing symptoms. Members of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said the policy, acknowledged late on Wednesday by the health minister, hides the true scale of the pandemic and was meant to keep the economy moving. In a press conference, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca appeared to acknowledge the government did not publish the full number of daily positive COVID-19 cases when he said it only tallies those who are symptomatic.
Continued Lockdown
'Go to your room for two weeks': lockdown toll on aged care residents
The residents of a Melbourne aged care home with no active coronavirus cases have been told that if they leave to visit a doctor, they must stay in their rooms for a fortnight upon their return. It is one of many homes across the city to introduce strict resident lockdowns to cut the risk of infections after coronavirus swept through Victorian aged care, where 637 have died with COVID-19. But some families and aged care experts warn forced isolation is taking a huge toll on the elderly, who are not the main risk of introducing coronavirus to homes, and may be as much about protecting the reputation of home operators as it is their residents.
Melbourne’s lockdown drove a sharp drop in national retail turnover in August
Victorian retail spending plunged 13 per cent in August as Melbourne’s lockdown forced businesses to close and shoppers to stay at home. The state’s heightened restrictions, which included curfews in the state’s capital and limits to how far residents could move from their homes, helped end a three-month retail recovery as national turnover dropped by 4 per cent in the month, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Numbers show lockdowns are a 'no brainer'. Letting people die isn't
COVID-19 has killed 890 people in Australia, 802 of whom were over 70, 669 of whom were in government-supported aged care. Estimates vary on how many would have died had we not locked down. “It’s easier to estimate the negative effects of lockdown, because we don’t see [the positive effects],” says Flinders University health economist Professor Jonathan Karnon. Australians’ mental health has worsened and the number of children in hospital with anorexia has dramatically increased. But the number of suicides in Victoria has remained steady. How much of the mental health toll can be slated to lockdowns, versus the general anxiety of a once-in-a-generation pandemic? The virus does seem to pose long-term health risks to even the young and healthy, but we won’t truly know what those are for years. The same is true for lockdown's long-term damage to children’s education and the job prospects of university graduates looking for jobs amid a recession.
Police increase patrolling in Australia's COVID-19 hotspot
Police in Australia’s coronavirus hotspot state of Victoria stepped up patrolling on Saturday as hundreds of people in the city of Melbourne breached stringent lockdown restrictions and flocked to beaches on the warmest weekend in months. Under the restrictions, nearly five million people in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, may exercise or socialise outdoors for a maximum of two hours a day, but must stay close to home. People must wear masks in public places. But television and social media footage showed crowds, many people without masks, at some of Melbourne’s beaches as temperatures soared ahead of summer in the southern hemisphere.
'The land that time forgot': months of lockdown grate in northern England
While much of England has enjoyed a return to some semblance of normality this summer, with the strictest coronavirus restrictions lifted, swathes of northern England have had just a few weeks’ respite from curbs. These northern boroughs and towns came out of lockdown with the rest of the country on 4 July, but just weeks later had local measures introduced preventing them from – to differing degrees – seeing family, opening businesses and visiting pubs or restaurants. There is an overwhelming feeling in these areas of having been forgotten, of “lockdown prejudice”, being left under restrictions when others have enjoyed the little freedom the country may experience this year.
5 charts on how COVID-19 is hitting Australia's young adults hard
The following five charts provide a snapshot of how COVID-19 is affecting Australians aged 18-24. Though the health impacts of the coronavirus fall most on the elderly, it is young adults that have been hit hardest by the economic and psychological costs of the pandemic response. The data for the charts comes from results gleaned from two major surveys run by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne.
Scientific Viewpoint
What If Pfizer's and Moderna's Coronavirus Vaccine Results Are Delayed?
Pfizer and Moderna are the two U.S. companies likely to first announce results from late-stage testing of their respective coronavirus vaccine candidates. But what if either company's results are delayed? Believe it or not, delays could actually be great news. The FDA will probably require that participants in late-stage clinical studies of COVID-19 vaccine candidates be monitored for a median of two months after the second dose of the vaccine. In addition, the agency is expected to require that the placebo groups of the studies have at least five cases of severe COVID-19. Pfizer and Moderna can control how they meet the first of these two criteria, but if there aren't enough participants in the placebo group who develop severe cases of COVID-19, they won't be able to seek EUA. If this scenario happens, it would mean that nearly all unvaccinated individuals in the late-stage studies aren't being infected by the novel coronavirus. That would be fantastic and point to a significant improvement in how COVID-19 is impacting the country. It would also mean that Pfizer and Moderna would have more vaccinated participants to evaluate the safety profiles of their respective vaccines. This could boost Americans' confidence in the vaccines.
Scientists study whether immune response wards off or worsens Covid
British scientists have launched a major study aimed at uncovering the critical role that human antibodies and other immune defences play in the severity of Covid-19 cases. Results could support some scientists’ belief that antibodies triggered by common colds could be protecting children against the disease. Alternatively, the study could confirm other researchers’ fears that some immune responses to the virus may trigger deadly inflammatory reactions that could bedevil attempts to create anti-Covid vaccines.
Coronavirus vaccine head: Less than half of the UK population could get vaccinated
Less than half of the UK population could be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the head of the country's vaccine taskforce has said. Kate Bingham said officials hope to give the vaccine to around 30 million adults - less than half of the country's population of 67 million. The head of the immunisation programme told the Financial Times: "People keep talking about 'time to vaccinate the whole population' but that is misguided. "There is going to be no vaccination of people under 18. "It's an adult-only vaccine for people over 50 focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable."
Military will be involved in distributing coronavirus vaccine, Matt Hancock says
The military will be involved in the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, Matt Hancock has said, as he confirmed the NHS Covid-19 app had been downloaded 15 million times. Speaking at the virtual Conservative Party conference, the Health Secretary said a Covid-19 vaccine was the "great hope". Reiterating Boris Johnson's comments about the "bumpy months ahead", Mr Hancock said the nation was "working as hard as we can to get a vaccine as fast as is safely possible".
China rolls out experimental Covid vaccine as it eyes global market
Beijing is set to expand a programme that administers experimental coronavirus vaccines as Chinese developers chart a risky path to dominating global supplies. In a surprise announcement last month, a representative from state-owned China National Biotec Group, or Sinopharm, revealed that hundreds of thousands of Chinese had already taken the company’s two leading experimental Covid-19 vaccines. The drugs were dispensed as part of a limited use programme that began with little fanfare by the Chinese government in July. The vaccines were administered even though final stage, or phase 3, trials designed to confirm overall effectiveness had not been completed. Details of the programme’s scope remain unclear, but government statements suggest use was originally restricted to frontline health workers and state employees travelling overseas to high-risk areas, including to work on projects along China’s Belt and Road infrastructure investment scheme.
India seeks up to 500 million coronavirus vaccine doses by July
India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccine by July to inoculate about 250 million people, health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday, as infections in the world’s second-worst affected country continue to surge. India’s has recorded some 6.55 million infections, with 75,829 in the past 24 hours, while COVID-19-related deaths have totalled 101,782, health ministry data showed. “There is a high-level expert body going into all aspects of vaccines,” Vardhan wrote on Twitter. “Our rough estimate and the target would be to receive and utilise 400 to 500 million doses covering (200 million-250 million) people by July 2021.”
In race for coronavirus vaccine, Russia ramps up rhetoric to defend Sputnik V
The investment fund’s head, Kirill Dmitriev, has taken aim at other labs seeking a vaccine using adenoviruses from monkeys or messenger RNA. After Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca resumed their coronavirus vaccine trial following a week-long pause because of an unexplained illness in a trial participant, Dmitriev issued a comment that he was “delighted” trials resumed. Unlike Sputnik V, their vaccine uses a cold virus from a monkey rather than a human. “At the same time, the suspension of trials clearly showed the fallacy of the approach, when entire countries exclusively rely on novel and untested platforms when choosing a vaccine for widespread use,” Dmitriev’s statement continued.
Moderna Covid vaccine spurs ‘strong immune response, no serious side-effect’ in older adults
A phase 1 investigational trial has revealed that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US-based pharmaceutical company Moderna elicited a strong immune response in older adults with no serious adverse effects, a study has claimed. The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is being developed by Moderna in partnership with the US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH). For the trial, 40 adults over the age of 56 were inoculated with the vaccine.
CDC identifies new Covid-19 syndrome in adults similar to MIS-C in kids
Adults can sometimes suffer from dangerous symptoms that resemble a coronavirus-linked syndrome in children, researchers with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. They're calling it multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults, or MIS-A, and say it's similar to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C. Like MIS-C, MIS-A is not obviously linked to coronavirus and sufferers may not show any other symptoms that would point to Covid-19 infection. But MIS-A has killed at least three patients and, similar to Covid-19, disproportionately hits racial and ethnic minorities, the CDC team said.
Here's what is known about President Trump's COVID-19 treatment
This afternoon, the White House announced that President Donald Trump received an experimental antibody treatment after a test revealed he's infected with SARS-CoV-2. He reportedly has mild COVID-19 symptoms, including fever and congestion, and he was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Later, the president's medical team confirmed he had started a course of remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to modestly help hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Numbers show lockdowns are a 'no brainer'. Letting people die isn't
COVID-19 has killed 890 people in Australia, 802 of whom were over 70, 669 of whom were in government-supported aged care. Estimates vary on how many would have died had we not locked down. “It’s easier to estimate the negative effects of lockdown, because we don’t see [the positive effects],” says Flinders University health economist Professor Jonathan Karnon. Australians’ mental health has worsened and the number of children in hospital with anorexia has dramatically increased. But the number of suicides in Victoria has remained steady. How much of the mental health toll can be slated to lockdowns, versus the general anxiety of a once-in-a-generation pandemic? The virus does seem to pose long-term health risks to even the young and healthy, but we won’t truly know what those are for years. The same is true for lockdown's long-term damage to children’s education and the job prospects of university graduates looking for jobs amid a recession.
Study reveals the most likely indicator of a Covid-19 infection
Four out of five people with sudden loss of smell or taste tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, new research has suggested. The findings suggest an acute loss of smell or taste is a highly reliable virus indicator, scientists say. They add that loss of smell or taste should now be considered globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing and contact tracing. Researchers at UCL and UCLH (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) assessed health data from primary care centres in London.
COVID-19 still likely to be spreading exponentially, UK says
British government scientists said on Friday it was still likely that a resurgence in the COVID-19 epidemic was spreading exponentially despite survey data that suggested a small levelling off in a recent sharp rise of cases. The Office for National Statistics had said there was some evidence that the steep increases in new COVID-19 cases, seen in recent weeks in England, was slowing down. But government scientists urged caution as they published a reproduction “R” number that had risen slightly to 1.3-1.6 from 1.2-1.5, meaning that on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 13 and 16 other people.
Kids And Superspreaders Are Driving COVID-19 Cases In India, Huge Study Finds
In the largest study ever of transmission patterns for COVID-19, researchers in India tested more than a half-million contacts of 85,000 cases to examine how and to whom the coronavirus is spreading. The first interesting finding: Children are spreading the virus amongst themselves and also to adults. Second: The greatest risk for infection among the people studied in the two southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is a long bus or train ride.
Pfizer chief hits out at politicisation of Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer’s chief executive has criticised the politicisation of a Covid-19 vaccine during the first presidential debate, as the head of the drugmaker in the lead to develop an inoculation said his company would move at the “speed of science”. Albert Bourla, who leads the company with the best chance of submitting a vaccine for authorisation before the US election, said he would not be pressured to move more quickly or slowly in what he described as a “hyper-partisan” year. In a memo to staff, seen by the Financial Times, he argued that the “amplified political rhetoric” around vaccine development and timing was “undercutting public confidence”.
Covid-19: What’s behind India’s coronavirus deaths?
India has confirmed more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus - a grim toll that ranks it third in the world behind only the US and Brazil. September was the nation's worst month on record: on average 1,100 Indians died every day from the virus. Regional anomalies continue as some states report far higher deaths than others - a sign, experts say, that the pandemic is still working its way through the country.
Older Australians deserve more than the aged care royal commission's COVID-19 report delivers
In Australia, amid the ongoing disaster in Victorian aged-care homes, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released its special report into the COVID-19 pandemic. This report finally states who is responsible for aged care — the federal government — finding its actions were “insufficient” to ensure the aged-care sector was prepared for the pandemic. But the report doesn’t offer us a clear picture of what went wrong and why. Importantly, its recommendations largely fall short and come too late.
Coronavirus Resurgence
'Circuit-breaker' lockdown looms for Scotland as Covid cases rise
Four more coronavirus deaths were reported in Scotland, as the number of cases of the virus increased by 764. Figures released by the Scottish Government also show 191 people were in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, including 23 in intensive care. The 764 cases represent 12.4% of newly tested individuals and a fall of 11 on the previous day’s total. A warning was issued that a so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown remains a possibility for Scotland. Doctors’ leaders have said that the NHS is set to experience its most difficult winter since it was founded in 1948, due to the pressure caused by coronavirus.
Surge of Covid cases in London health workers sparks fear of spread on wards
Covid infection rates among doctors, nurses, and other hospital and care home staff have risen more than fivefold over the past month in London, scientists have discovered. The figures – provided by the Francis Crick Institute – have triggered considerable concern among scientists, who fear similar increases may be occurring in other regions of the UK. Increasing numbers of infected healthcare workers raise fears that the spread of Covid-19 into wards and care homes – which triggered tens of thousands of deaths last spring – could be repeated unless urgent action is taken.
After avoiding the worst in spring, Italy’s south sounds alarm over Covid
In a characteristically stern but satirical video message last week, Vincenzo De Luca, the president of Campania, warned citizens in the southern Italian region that if the coronavirus infection rate continued to rise there would be another lockdown. He struck a more serious tone on Saturday after Italy’s most densely populated region, and one of its poorest, registered the highest daily tally of new infections in the country. After showing images of a crowd without masks outside a college and revellers in a bar where there was an outbreak, he said: “We must return to the strict behaviour of February, March and April, otherwise we get sick.”
Malaysia will not re-impose coronavirus curbs for now despite spike
Malaysia will not re-impose widespread coronavirus restrictions on travel despite a recent spike in infections, which a government minister said was partly caused by migrants from neighbouring countries. Malaysia imposed a nationwide lockdown in March but has been gradually lifting the curbs, though authorities have warned that they could be reinstated if daily increases in infections reached triple-digits. The Southeast Asian country has seen a steady climb in cases in the past week and on Saturday reported 317 new infections, the highest daily rise since it began tracking the pandemic. But security minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government did not see the need to reimpose the lockdown as the majority of cases were being reported in detention centres and isolated districts
Myanmar volunteers under strain as coronavirus toll grows
As Myanmar’s coronavirus infections soar, the work never seems to stop for volunteers who have stepped in to help carry those suspected of symptoms to quarantine centres or hospitals. Fatalities hit a new record for one day on Sunday with 41 deaths, bringing the total to 412 from only seven a month ago. The toll is now the third highest in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia and the Philippines, and both deaths and case numbers are doubling faster than anywhere in the world according to Reuters figures.
Northern Ireland reports double previous daily record of COVID-19 cases
Northern Ireland reported 934 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, more than double the previous record daily total registered two days ago in the British-run region. Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer had earlier described the surge in cases in the last two weeks as extremely worrying and advised the public to prepare for a potential second, shorter lockdown. “This is an extremely and deeply worrying time, we’re seeing a rapidly deteriorating situation in terms of the number of new cases, but also the number of admissions to hospital and intensive care units,” Michael McBride told BBC radio.
Poland's total number of coronavirus cases exceeds 100,000
Poland’s total number of coronavirus cases passed the 100,000 mark on Sunday, according to the health ministry’s Twitter account, as infection rates surge in the country which has reported daily records three times in the past week. While Poland’s total number of cases remains well below that in many western European virus hotspots, reaching 100,000 illustrates how the spread of COVID-19 has accelerated in a country which avoided the worst of the first wave and where in July the prime minister played down risks ahead of an election.
Paris at risk of total lockdown as Europe cases rise
Paris is in danger of going back into lockdown next week after the French government said the coronavirus pandemic was worsening in the capital. "Since yesterday, in the last 24 hours, Paris has passed the threshold that would put it in the maximum alert category," French minister of Health Olivier Véran said Thursday evening. France's "maximum alert" threshold is reached when the incidence rate reaches 250 per 100,000 people, at least 30% of intensive care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, and the rate among the elderly passes 100 per 100,000. The Paris region had already fulfilled the last two criteria.
Colombia's capital will see second, smaller coronavirus outbreak, mayor says
Bogota, the Colombian capital, will see a second outbreak of coronavirus cases, possibly between November and December, which will hopefully be less severe than the first wave, Bogota’s mayor, Claudia Lopez, said on Friday. “Most probably towards the end of the year, in November or December, we could have a second wave much smaller than the first,” Lopez said in a meeting with foreign press. The Andean country began more than five months of lockdown in March. It entered a much-looser “selective” quarantine phase - allowing dining at restaurants and international flights - at the start of September. On Monday the government extended the selective quarantine until the end of October.
Nearly 20,000 Covid-19 cases among Amazon workers
Amazon said that more than 19,816 of its frontline workers in the US have contracted Covid-19 since March. The number equates to 1.44% of its 1.37 million workers across Amazon and its subsidiary Whole Foods. Amazon had faced criticism from employees, unions and elected officials, who have accused the company of putting employees' health at risk. But the online retailing giant said its infection rate is lower than expected. Amazon has kept its facilities open throughout the pandemic to meet a surge in demand from shoppers stuck at home.
Russia Does Not Have Immediate Plans to Reimpose Nationwide COVID Lockdowns, Kremlin Says
Russia does not plan to reimpose lockdowns across the country for now despite rising coronavirus cases, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday. Russia reported 9,412 new coronavirus cases on Friday, its highest daily tally since May 23, pushing the national total to 1,194,643. Moscow, the epicentre of the outbreak earlier this year, registered 2,704 new cases overnight.
Germany sees highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since April
Germany has once again reached a new record in the rise of coronavirus infections over a one-day period, as concerns grow that the country might lose its grip on the pandemic as the colder months approach. The Robert Koch Institute, the national agency for disease control, said 2,673 more cases had been confirmed on Friday, the highest daily rise seen since the second half of April. Eight more people died after catching the virus, bringing the death toll to 9,503.
Another lockdown in Karnataka could be suicidal, say experts
In Karnataka, experts have frowned on medical education minister K Sudhakar’s warning that the government will have no choice but to enforce another lockdown if people fail to take precautions to check the spread of the pandemic and help curb rapidly rising Covid-19 infections in the state. Experts say a lockdown would be suicidal as the costs far outweigh limited gains since it will help reduce infections only temporarily.
Face masks become mandatory in Rome as coronavirus cases rise
Face masks will have to be worn at all times out of doors in the Italian capital Rome and the surrounding Lazio region, local authorities ruled on Friday in an effort to counter rising coronavirus infections. Italy on Thursday registered more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since the end of April. Lazio accounted for some 265 of those cases and has been increasingly concerned by the growing contagion. A number of other Italian regions, including Campania centred on Naples, have already made mask wearing obligatory outdoors.
Tunisia reports daily coronavirus record of 1308 cases
Tunisia recorded 1,308 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the health ministry said on Friday, a record since the start of the pandemic, prompting the government to impose a night curfew in two governorates. The total number of cases has jumped to around 20,000 compared with roughly 1,000 cases before the country’s borders were opened on June 27.
New Lockdown
Schools and mosques closed in Tehran as COVID-19 infections rise
Schools, libraries, mosques and other public institutions in Tehran were closed for a week on Saturday as part of measures to stem a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, state media cited authorities in the Iranian capital as saying. The closure plan, which will also affect universities, seminaries, libraries, museums, theatres, gyms, cafes and hair salons in the Iranian capital, came after Alireza Zali, head of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, called for the shutdown to help control the epidemic.
Police set up traffic controls as Madrid heads back into lockdown
Police set up controls and stopped cars on major roads into and out of Madrid on Saturday as the city went back into lockdown due to surging coronavirus cases. Some 4.8 million people are barred from leaving the capital area, while restaurants and bars must shut early and reduce capacity by half. The new restrictions, which started on Friday evening, are not as strict as the previous lockdown in March, when people were barred from leaving their homes.
Kerala, India’s ‘model state’ in COVID-19 fight, suffers setback
The southern Indian state of Kerala is set to ban gatherings of more than five people amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases, a setback for the state hailed by experts as a model in the fight against the pandemic. Indian media reports on Friday said the imposition of Section 144 of India’s penal code will be effective in Kerala for a month starting on Saturday, thereby banning any social or political gathering in the state. The measure was announced after Kerala reported 8,135 fresh cases on Thursday. It currently has more than 72,000 active COVID-19 cases, the third highest among Indian states, according to the reports.
Madrid regional authorities to lock down city in coming hours, source says
Madrid’s regional authorities will in the coming hours publish a decree to put the Spanish capital and nine nearby towns under partial lockdown, with immediate effect, a source from Madrid’s regional government told Reuters on Friday. By publishing the decree, the conservative-led regional government will reluctantly comply with an order from the central government to ban non-essential travel to and from the city to fight a steep surge in COVID-19 cases
Madrid officials reluctantly ready city for partial lockdown
Madrid's regional government has appealed against a national order that requires a partial lockdown of the Spanish capital just hours before a Friday night deadline for enacting the restrictions in the European coronavirus hot spot. The appeal asks National Court judges to outlaw restrictions on movement, social gatherings and commerce by arguing that the order by central authorities violates regional self-rule laws and that it provokes “totally unjustified” economic damage. Madrid is leading the resurgence of the virus in Spain which has Europe’s highest cumulative caseload — 770,000 since the onset of the pandemic