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

News Highlights

Mink population in Denmark to be culled to control coronavirus mutation spread to humans

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that Denmark may have to cull close to 17 million minks after it was found that a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals could spread to humans. Health authorities have found that the virus strains in both humans and the minks showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies which would potentially lower the efficacy of vaccines in the future.

Australia prepares to reopen internal borders with cases close to zero

The Australian state of Victoria, formerly a coronavirus hotspot, has now gone five days without a single reported Covid-19 case after having imposed intensive lockdown restrictions on its citizens for almost four months. States in Australia have begun easing regional border restrictions, with South Australia set to reopen its border with Victoria in two weeks and New South Wales expected to take a decision on border restrictions later today.

U.S. records over 100,000 Covid-19 cases day after election

Just a few days after breaching the 100,000 mark on October 30, the U.S. set a new unwanted record for the highest number of daily infections with over 102,591 cases recorded on Wednesday. Coronavirus hospitalisations also topped 50,000 for the first time in over three months even as the country continues to be in the midst of a bruising national election in which the winner has not been announced yet and controversy reigns.

Air pollution may contribute to 11% increase in Covid-19 death rate, study says

A new study conducted by researchers at Harvard University has indicated that people who live in areas with high levels of air pollution are more likely to die of Covid-19. The research focused on tiny particles less than 2.5 micrometres in size, which are spewed out from various sources, including vehicle exhausts. Researchers found that an increase of just one microgram per cubic metre increases the chance of death following Covid-19 by 11 per cent.

Lockdown Exit
When COVID Hit: America’s Nursing Home Nightmare
We report on how an elder care system already in crisis imploded under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, nursing homes became ground zero. By November, more than 60,000 nursing home residents had died of COVID-19, accounting for roughly a quarter of all fatalities nationwide.
Australia's Victoria reports no COVID-19 cases for fifth straight day
Australia's coronavirus hot spot of Victoria state on Wednesday reported zero COVID-19 cases for the fifth straight day as states began easing regional border restrictions, raising prospects of a faster return to normal. South Australia on Tuesday said it would reopen its border with Victoria in two weeks, while the country's most populous state of New South Wales is expected to take a decision on border restrictions later in the day. Victoria last week ago allowed restaurants and cafes in state capital Melbourne - home to 5 million people - to reopen after more than three months under a stringent lockdown but gatherings remain under tight control.
Will Melbourne ever be the same again post COVID lockdown?
Will Melbourne bounce back once it has conquered the coronavirus pandemic, or will COVID-19 leave lasting scars on the city, just as the virus appears to do on many of the people who survive it? On Wednesday, Victoria recorded its fifth straight day of no new cases of coronavirus and no deaths after Melburnians spent their first weekend out of lockdown. The pressure is now on for economic recovery, with businesses and the city hoping that people will now be confident to head back into the CBD.
Corporate New Zealand's quick to return to air travel providing massive boost to travel industry
Zoom may have been one of the buzzwords of 2020, but more and more New Zealand businesses are returning to a different kind of zooming: flying. Research from travel management company FCM Travel Solutions - which is part of the Flight Centre Travel Group - shows a staggering 56 percent of New Zealand businesses have employees and executives flying as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on internationally. That puts Aotearoa's rate six percent above the global average. Nick Queale, General Manager Flight Centre Corporate says FCM bookings show that after the first period of national lockdown and compared to the same time last year, travel bookings returned to 11 percent within one week, and 24 percent within five weeks.
Australia records one local COVID-19 case, New Zealand quarantine worker tests positive
Australia reported on Tuesday one locally acquired case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, while New Zealand registered its first community transmissions in more than two weeks, after two workers at a quarantine facility tested positive. Australia's most populous state of New South Wales reported the single case, although it and northeastern Queensland state said there were six infections among people returning from overseas and in quarantine. The result means that the southeastern state of Victoria, the epicentre of Australia's outbreak, has now gone four days without any new infections detected. With infections curtailed, South Australia said it would reopen the border with Victoria in two weeks. Anyone travelling from Victoria will have to quarantine for two weeks after arrival, said South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.
Exit Strategies
Covid-19: Scott Morrison buys 50 million doses of two more vaccines
The federal government has previously signed deals to buy two Covid vaccines Now Scott Morrison has signed two more agreements with vaccine companies Deals are for 40m doses from Novavax and 10million from Pfizer/BioNTec The government hopes to roll out a vaccine around Australia early next year
Ending England's lockdown in December is realistic, says medical chief
It is realistic that England’s forthcoming national lockdown can end on Dec. 2, chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Tuesday, as it is designed reduce COVID-19 transmission rates enough to move into less stringent measures. Whitty said that any decision on whether to extend the lockdown, due to come into force on Thursday, would be for government, but he had faith that the public would adhere to the new restrictions. Asked if there was a reliable chance of lockdown ending as scheduled on Dec. 2, Whitty said: “The aim of this is to get the rates down far enough that it’s a realistic possibility to move into a different state of play at that point in time.”
UK employers turn to temporary staff as COVID crisis mounts again
British employers cut their hiring for permanent positions for the first time in three months in October and relied increasingly on temporary staff in the face of a second wave of coronavirus restrictions, a survey showed on Thursday. The growing number of people looking for work pushed down starting pay, and the number of vacancies posted by companies seeking to hire workers fell slightly, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and accountants KPMG said. Firms appeared better prepared to operate through the new restrictions than they were in March, but the outlook was concerning, REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said.
Londoners hit the town one last time before new lockdown
Londoners shrugged off a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and flocked to pubs and restaurants on Wednesday night, hours before the introduction of a new month-long lockdown across England. While the UK’s death toll from the coronavirus rose on Wednesday by 492, the most since mid-May, London’s Soho entertainment district was busy with revellers seeking one last night out before lockdown. People will be ordered to stay at home from 0001 GMT on Thursday to combat a surge in new infections that scientists say could, if unchecked, cause more deaths than a first wave that forced a three-month lockdown earlier this year.
Partisan Exits
Tory-linked firm involved in testing failure given new £347m Covid contract
The UK government has awarded a new £347m Covid-19 testing contract to Randox, the Tory-linked private healthcare company whose testing kits had to be recalled over the summer because of concerns about contamination. The deal is a six-month extension of an existing contract and was agreed without other companies being invited to bid. It means the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has now approved transfers of nearly half a billion pounds in taxpayer funds to the Northern Ireland-based company since the pandemic began. Disclosed in a filing on a European contracts website, the award has prompted concerns about “cronyism” and calls for an independent inquiry into the £12bn spent so far on attempting to control the pandemic through the test-and-trace system.
England underestimates the costs of lockdown at its peril
Suppose there is nothing that governments can do to stop the spread of Covid-19. What then? It is not a hypothetical question, as England is discovering. “We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” the prime minister observed in Saturday’s Downing Street press conference. But humility learns from experience, and there was no sign of that in the measures he then went on to announce. In my opinion, the problem with lockdowns is that they are indiscriminate, ineffective in the long term, and carry social and economic costs that outweigh their likely benefits.
Simply breathtaking: There was NO full report on the economic impact of new lockdown
Tory MPs led by Sir Graham Brady demanded release of Treasury's assessment But Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary, admitted that no such document exists Prime Minister has since been accused of not taking a 'balanced' judgment
Continued Lockdown
Downturn deepens in Europe's lockdown-hit services sector
Services companies in Italy and Spain suffered a fresh fall in activity last month as restrictions to contain the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic hit businesses, according to a widely watched business survey. The IHS Markit flash services purchasing managers’ index dropped in both countries, with companies reporting sharp declines in demand and activity as a result of the pandemic, data released on Wednesday showed. The Spanish index was slightly better than most economists expected but still fell 1 point to a five-month low of 41.4 in October. Italy’s index fell below expectations to a four-month low of 46.7, down from 48.8 in the previous month.
Lockdown measures in West Bengal extended till November 30, schools and colleges to remain shut
Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, efforts are on to bring the country back on track by gradually easing out restrictions through the unlock procedure. But there are few states that are not taking any chances and want to extend the lockdown measures to the extent possible. Keeping in line with the guidelines of the Centre, the West Bengal government on Monday, November 2 announced the extension of lockdown measures in the state till November 30. According to the new guidelines issued by the state government, cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes will operate with 50% capacity. While swimming pools except for training purpose will remain closed.
Scientific Viewpoint
Scientists Scanning Household Pets for COVID-19
As COVID-19 cases surge in the U.S., one Texas veterinarian has been quietly tracking the spread of the disease — not in people, but in their pets. Since June, Dr. Sarah Hamer and her team at Texas A&M University have tested hundreds of animals from area households where humans contracted COVID-19. They’ve swabbed dogs and cats, sure, but also pet hamsters and guinea pigs, looking for signs of infection. “We’re open to all of it,” said Hamer, a professor of epidemiology, who has found at least 19 cases of infection.
Only a 'small chance' of a Covid-19 vaccine by Xmas: Oxford scientist says
Professor Andrew Pollard poured cold water on hopes of vaccine by Christmas Kate Bingham, the UK's vaccine tsar, also claimed next year was 'more realistic' Earlier today NHS boss said the health service was ready to roll out jab already
People living with high air pollution are 11% MORE likely to die after catching Covid-19
American researchers compared Covid-19 death rates with PM2.5 pollution Small increase in PM2.5 levels is related to significant increase in mortality rate A small increase in the level of the pollutant caused a 115 spike in death rate
Robin Shattock says 'we could be living with COVID-19 for years to come' | Imperial News
Imperial’s COVID-19 vaccine lead, Professor Robin Shattock, has told MPs we could be living with the virus for years to come. Professor Shattock, speaking to the Science and Technology Committee, said that a vaccine would make life much better and reduce fatalities but we are still likely to be living with the virus for the next few years. Professor Shattock, from the Department of Infectious Disease, also updated MPs on the progress of Imperial's vaccine. Professor Shattock said: "Right now we don’t know which if any of these vaccines will work, and what success will like, whether that’s success at preventing disease or preventing transmission. "One of the advantages of the technology we are developing is it can be used for repeated boosting immunisations, either to boost existing vaccines or itself.
Tiny air pollution rise linked to 11% more Covid-19 deaths – study
A small rise in people’s long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with an 11% increase in deaths from Covid-19, research has found. Another recent study suggests that 15% of all Covid-19 deaths around the world are attributable to dirty air. The available data only allows correlations to be established and further work is needed to confirm the connections, but the researchers said the evidence was now strong enough that levels of dirty air must be considered a key factor in handling coronavirus outbreaks. The new analysis is based on research reported by the Guardian in April, which has now been reviewed by independent scientists and published in a prominent journal. The consideration of additional data and more factors that may also influence Covid-19 death rates refined the rise in deaths from 15% down to 11%. Most scientists think it is very likely that air pollution increases the number and severity of Covid-19 cases. Breathing dirty air over years is already known to cause heart and lung disease, and these illnesses make coronavirus infections worse. Short-term exposure is also known to increase the risk of acute lung infections.
India's Covid-19 crisis likely under control by early 2021, say experts
India has passed the peak number of Covid-19 infections and, if current trends continue, should see a dramatic decrease in cases by February 2021, according to a panel of experts. The coronavirus epidemic in India may already have peaked and, if the use of masks and physical distancing measures continue to be effective at the current level, the epidemic will most likely have run its course by February next year, a government-appointed committee of scientists has said. These are the findings of a study carried out by a seven-member expert panel on the future course of the pandemic, research commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology. “Without a lockdown, the number of deaths in India would have overwhelmed the system within a very short timeframe, and would have eventually passed 2.6 million,” said M. Vidyasagar of the Indian Institute of Technology, chairman of the committee.
Scientists develop “ultrapotent” COVID-19 vaccine candidate
Scientists have developed vaccine candidate for COVID that produces “extremely high levels” of protective antibodies in animal models, an advance that may lead to a novel therapeutic to curb pandemic
COVID-19 tracker: Fosun pivots to BioNTech's 2nd shot for Chinese nod; AstraZeneca on track for 2020 data reveal
AstraZeneca fell short of its target to supply the U.K. with 30 million vaccine doses by September, the country's vaccine taskforce chief, Kate Bingham, said. Meanwhile, Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has reportedly hit manufacturing and quality control challenges. Singapore's Breathonix said its COVID-19 breathalyzer achieved at least 90% accuracy in an ongoing pilot study. Becton Dickinson scored a deal to provide millions of rapid antigen tests to the Netherlands. And the FDA on Tuesday warned that antigen tests could yield false positives if users fail to follow instructions closely. The worldwide case count passed 47.6 million Wednesday afternoon, with more than 1.2 million reported deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 dashboard.
Lockdown will be a letdown if we do not overhaul the test and trace system – it is time for a local approach
The Test and Trace system has repeatedly failed to deliver and a further lockdown will be a letdown unless that changes. Figures for the week ending 14 October show only 15 per cent of people getting results within 24 hours, down by half from the previous week; only 59.6 per cent close contacts of Covid-positive people identified; and of them, only 57.6 per cent reached. This contrasts with 94.8 per cent contacts reached of cases handled by local authority public health teams.
Denmark plans to cull its mink population after coronavirus mutation spreads to humans
Denmark will cull its mink population of up to 17 million after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans, the prime minister said on Wednesday. Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink which showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of future vaccines, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. “We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well,” Frederiksen told a news conference.
Coronavirus: 'Small chance' COVID jab will be ready before Christmas, Oxford vaccine boss says
The director of the Oxford vaccine trial has said there is a "small chance" a jab will be ready before Christmas. Vaccine trial chief investigator Andrew Pollard told the Science and Technology Committee he is "optimistic" the University of Oxford trial could present late-stage results, possibly revealing whether it works, before the end of the year. Asked if the vaccine would be ready by Christmas, he said: "There is a small chance of that being possible but I just don't know. "Our trials are only one of many that are going on around the world, a number of which may well report before the end of the year."
Delivery timetable of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has slipped, UK official says
The timetable for delivery of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate has slipped and Britain will receive just 4 million doses of the shot this year, the head of the UK’s vaccine procurement programme said on Wednesday. In May, Britain agreed a deal for 100 million doses of the vaccine, developed by Oxford University and licensed to AstraZeneca, with 30 million doses estimated for delivery by September 2020. Oxford’s trial chief said earlier he was optimistic that late-stage trial results of its efficacy could be presented before the end of the year, and that doses of the shot are already being made.
Coronavirus Resurgence
UK daily COVID-19 death toll rises by 492, most since mid-May
Britain recorded 492 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the biggest toll since May 13 and up from 397 on Tuesday, government data showed. The cumulative toll for those who died within 28 days of a first positive COVID-19 test now stands at 47,742. The daily figures also showed 25,177 new cases of COVID-19.
Greek government prepares more curbs to contain COVID-19 spread
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to announce new restrictions to curb a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, government officials said on Wednesday. Greece has reported fewer cases than most European countries but the number of infections has been gradually increasing since early October, prompting it to reimpose restrictions.
The US reported its second-highest number of new Covid-19 cases on Election Day, with more than 91,000 infections
The US recorded 91,530 new Covid-19 infections on the day many Americans cast their ballots, adding to a series of staggering case numbers reported within just the past week. The country's five highest days of coronavirus cases have all been recorded since October 29, affirming experts' warnings another surge is well underway and will only get worse. The nationwide seven-day average of new daily cases now stands at about 86,363 -- more than double what it was on September 4, data from Johns Hopkins University show.
Covid-19 drive to clear hospital beds left some of those discharged with unmet needs and no support
The drive to rapidly clear hospital beds at the start of the pandemic left some of those discharged unsupported with unmet care needs, research has found. More than four in five of those discharged between March and August 2020 (82%) did not receive a follow-up visit and assessment at home, with 18% of this group reporting an unmet care need, found a survey of 352 patients and 177 carers of people discharged during this time. Almost half (45%) of disabled respondents to the survey by Healthwatch and the British Red Cross reported unmet needs following their discharge, as did 20% of those with long-term conditions. Issues reported by those with unmet needs included problems accessing aids and equipment, a lack of consideration of their home situation and being unsure how to manage their conditions.
NI can access furlough scheme if lockdown needed, says PM
Northern Ireland can access the Government’s furlough scheme if it has to introduce lockdown measures at a different time from England, Boris Johnson said. The Prime Minister told MPs the NHS faced an “existential threat” from Covid-19. The South Eastern Health Trust, which includes the Ulster Hospital, said it had the highest number of Covid positive patients to date and was operating at 111% capacity.
UK coronavirus death toll soars by 406 with hours to go before lockdown
The UK coronavirus death toll has soared on Wednesday - with NHS England reporting 302 COVID-19 hospital deaths that occurred over 15 dates. 174 were reported last Wednesday. A record 44 new Covid-19 related deaths will be recorded later today by Public Health Wales according to Welsh Government minister Eluned Morgan.
Covid-19: NHS in England moves to highest alert level
The NHS in England has been placed on its highest alert level, bosses have announced. The move by NHS England means staff can be moved around the country, while patients may be sent to other regions for treatment if Covid threatens to overwhelm local services. Health bosses said they were seriously concerned, adding the NHS was facing a "very difficult winter". But they said they hoped lockdown would help avoid major disruption. Evidence presented at a press briefing in London suggested hospitals could take a maximum of 20,000 Covid patients before other services, such as routine surgery, would be disrupted. Hospitals are currently treating just over 10,000 patients - and are expected to get close to the 20,000-mark in the coming weeks, given the infection levels seen recently.
Nearly one-third of all intensive care beds in Spain occupied by coronavirus patients
A third of Spain’s intensive care unit (ICU) beds are now occupied by coronavirus patients, according to the latest report on the pandemic supplied on Tuesday by the Health Ministry. In total, 2,754 people are receiving intensive care treatment for Covid-19, 104 more than on Monday, and with 531 more admissions than discharges. Since the pandemic took hold in March, a total of 15,898 patients have needed ICU treatment for the coronavirus.
Spain under pressure to impose virus lockdown
With coronavirus infections rising, Spain's central government was under pressure Wednesday to follow the example of other European nations and impose a new national shutdown. The country has the second-highest caseload in the European Union after France. It has recorded more than 1.2 million cases so far and 36,495 deaths, including 18,669 new infections and 238 new deaths reported by the health ministry on Tuesday. More worryingly, pressure on hospitals is increasing with nearly a third of all hospital intensive care unit beds, 29 percent, occupied by Covid-19 patients.
COVID-19 reached community spread, impossible to wipe-off with just lockdown says Delhi Health Minister
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday said it is "impossible to wipe off" COVID-19 transmission through a lockdown as the virus has "spread through the community" and people should treat wearing a face mask as a vaccine till the real medication is made available. His remarks come amid a massive spike in fresh cases with a record 5,891 incidences reported on Friday, the third consecutive day when over 5,000 cases have been registered in a day. Interacting with reporters, the minister said that the lockdown was imposed in the beginning as "it was a new virus then" and its behaviour was totally unpredictable. "There have been a lot of learnings from the lockdown, and a lot was also said that after the 21-day lockdown the virus spread will stop or with temperature going to 40 degrees Celsius, it will stop.
After shunning lockdowns, Sweden now says its coronavirus situation is 'very serious'
Sweden says a maximum of eight people will now be allowed to dine together at restaurants or cafes, as the country faces a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths. "We see that the situation is heading in the wrong direction - the situation is very serious," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a press conference on Tuesday. He added that more patients were being treated in intensive care units for severe cases of COVID-19, and it was likely that fatalities would rise. One in five patients receiving intensive care was a COVID-19 patient, added Lena Hallengren, Sweden's minister of health and social affairs.
The UK can learn from Victoria how to bring its Covid second wave under control
The decision to go into coronavirus lockdown is not one that any government takes lightly as there are considerable economic and human costs. However, when virus transmission has spiralled out of control, most experts agree that there is little choice but to go down this path. As the UK likely begins its month-long lockdown on Thursday, and after the rapid soaring in cases that has occurred over the previous month, it’s perhaps appropriate to look to Australia, and particularly the state of Victoria, for guidance on how best to bring its second wave under control.
Jordan suffers Covid surge after early success against virus
Rates of new Covid-19 cases in Jordan have risen to among the highest in the world a few months after the kingdom appeared to have eliminated community transmission of the virus and relaxed most public health restrictions. As recently as three months ago, Jordan was counted alongside New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam as a coronavirus success story, after going weeks without detecting infections in the community and registering just over 1,100 cases and 11 deaths as of late July. On Monday this week the country of 10 million people announced it had detected a daily record 5,877 cases – one of the highest per capita rates in the world – with more than 80,000 detected overall. Nearly 970 people have died.
France's COVID-19 deaths rise by almost 1,000
France’s daily COVID-19 death toll spiked by 854 on Tuesday, an increase unseen since April 15, while the number of people hospitalised for the disease went up by more than a 1,000 for the fifth time in nine days. And if the number of new infections, at 36,330, was sharply down versus Monday’s all-time high of 52,518, the seven-day moving average of additional cases, which evens out reporting irregularities, reached a record for a second day in a row, at 43,438. France reinstated a one-month national lockdown on Friday to try and contain the resurgence of the pandemic but it generally takes two weeks for restrictive measures to have some effect.
Netherlands poised to tighten curbs to slow second COVID-19 wave
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday ordered extra lockdown measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Netherlands, and said the government is also considering curfews and school closures. The new measures, which include a ban on public meetings of more than two people not in the same family, were imposed amidsigns the epidemic had reached a second peak. Rutte said the government was strongly recommending that people not travel abroad for holidays until mid-January. “The number of new cases is falling, but not quickly enough,” Rutte said in a televised press conference. The new measures go into effect on Wednesday for two weeks.
Nearly 600 NHS staff are off work amid Covid outbreak at hospitals in Stoke and Stafford as six workers at trust test positive for coronavirus after sharing car without wearing masks
Nearly 600 NHS staff at hospitals in Stoke and Stafford are self-isolating. Trust reported nearly 1,000 staff are off sick amid the coronavirus pandemic. Six workers fell ill with Covid-19 after not wearing face masks in car share
France registers over 40,000 new COVID-19 cases, warns of under-reporting
France registered 40,558 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, compared with 36,330 on Tuesday and a record of 52,518 on Monday, health ministry data showed. The total number of cases increased to 1,543,321 but the ministry added that the number of new cases reported on Wednesday was a minimum number that could increase due to problems with data gathering. The ministry also reported that the number of people who have died from the virus increased by 385 to 38,674, compared with 854 on Tuesday but those numbers included a multi-day batch of 428 deaths in retirement homes. The ministry said there were 394 new deaths in hospitals over the past 24 hours.
New Lockdown
UK parliament approves month-long COVID-19 lockdown for England
British politicians approved a month-long lockdown in England, voting in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to try to prevent COVID-19 running out of control and overwhelming health services. Johnson insisted that the looming new coronavirus lockdown would end “automatically” in four weeks, as he tried to placate party critics over the spiralling economic fallout.
Lloyds and John Lewis axe thousands of jobs on eve of second lockdown
More than 3,000 jobs are being cut after a number of big employers launched redundancy plans on the eve of the second national lockdown in England. They include 1,070 job losses at Lloyds Banking Group, as well as 1,068 roles at Do & Co, an Austrian catering company operating at Heathrow airport, according to Unite, Britain’s biggest union which has hit out against the plans.
UK lawmakers vote in favour of month-long nationwide COVID-19 lockdown
Lawmakers in the United Kingdom's House of Commons have voted overwhelmingly to approve the government's plan to introduce a four-week nationwide lockdown in England in order to curb the coronavirus disease. During the vote on Wednesday afternoon, members of parliament voted 516-38 in favour of approving the lockdown, which will come into force on Thursday. Labour leader Keir Starmer had said earlier in the week that he would support the government's proposal to impose the lockdown in England.
Mass exodus of students is expected as lockdown starts
Students in cities across England could begin a mass exodus back to their families ahead of new lockdown measures coming into force on Thursday. Hilary Gyebi-Ababio, National Union of Students vice president for higher education, said students were "really wanting to go home". "There's a sense there could be a mass exodus," she told the BBC. It comes after Universities Minister Michelle Donelan urged students, in a letter on Monday, not to "rush home". Her message aimed to prevent these young people from travelling across the country to their families and potentially taking coronavirus with them, thus fuelling the pandemic.
Covid: Nine ways England's lockdown is different from last time
In March, you could only meet others from outside your household in a very limited set of circumstances. Meeting another person socially wasn't allowed until May. This time, you can catch up with a friend in an outdoor public place, like a park or beach, as long as you socially distance and neither of you is self-isolating. And this time, children of pre-school age are not included in the two-person limit, so those looking after youngsters can still have social contact.
Johnson refuses to rule out Covid lockdown extension for England
Boris Johnson has refused to rule out an extended national lockdown for England if the scheduled four weeks of restrictions fail to rein in coronavirus infections, telling MPs only that it was his “hope” to reopen the economy before Christmas. In a mixed message before an afternoon Commons vote on the lockdown, which is due to start on Thursday, the prime minister had earlier told the CBI conference that the restrictions would definitely end in four weeks.
Italy adopts ‘light lockdown’ similar to German model
The new measures due to be enforced with the new decree are modelled after the German ‘light lockdown’ measures, said Health undersecretary Sandra Zampa. “We don’t want to paralyse the whole country,
Italy brings in curfew, regional lockdowns
Italy has registered 30,550 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry says, up from 28,244 on the prior day. The ministry also reported 352 coronavirus-related deaths compared with 353 on Tuesday. A total of 39,764 people have now died in Italy because of COVID-19, while 790,377 cases of the disease have been registered to date. The Italian government on Wednesday announced a new set of anti-coronavirus measures including a countrywide curfew and tighter rules for regions with high infection rates.
Italy opts for ‘flexible’ lockdown to stem coronavirus
Rome announced late Tuesday night new restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but stopped short of a full lockdown, according to the news agency ANSA. The measures include a national curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., as well as piecemeal regional lockdowns based on the local epidemiological situation. While Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had already made public the broad outlines of the new health measures at the start of the week, the government has now officially signed the full text of the new law.
France ups its lockdown police patrols
France reinstated a one-month national lockdown on Friday (October 30) to try and contain the resurgence of the pandemic. Movement is restricted to 1 kilometre from one's residence, with exceptions for reasons such as work that cannot be done from home, family obligations and medical visits. Patrol commander Gilles Foliard said lockdown rules were generally being followed, but that they would be more strict in asking people to show certificates if they were traveling outside the 1-km zone. Violators faced an initial fine of 135 euros, and three violations over 30 days could be penalised by a 3750 euro fine and 6 months' imprisonment.
French bookworms denied their fix in lockdown
First, bookstores across literature-obsessed France were ordered to close in a new lockdown seeking to curb an alarming rise in coronavirus cases. A few days later, bibliophiles were dealt a further blow as the government banned supermarkets, too, from selling books in a bid to parry claims of unfair competition. Bookworms were left befuddled as store owners, authors and local politicians fumed.
France, Germany and England impose new lockdowns as pandemic fatigue seeps in across Europe and Covid cases soar
Europe is already seeing new Covid cases and deaths soar, prompting governments to roll out strict lockdown measures to slow the spread. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many epidemiologists in the U.S. have looked to Europe as something of a harbinger of what’s to come to the U.S. Now, epidemiologists and public health specialists are warning that the U.S. could share a similar fate as Europe if action isn’t taken quickly to counter the autumn surge.
Covid: The things we’re not being told as lockdown looms
Lockdown 2.0 is on its way, with ministers saying they have been left with no choice if lives are to be saved and the NHS is not to be overwhelmed. It seems to be an open-and-shut case. But as MPs prepare to vote on the lockdown a number of questions remain to be answered.
Lithuania to enter three-week COVID lockdown on Saturday
Lithuania’s government on Wednesday declared a three-week lockdown starting on Nov.7, to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus which has accelerated in recent weeks in the Baltic nation. Lithuania, which imposed a two-month lockdown in March, reported 639 new cases on Wednesday, three times more than the 205 daily cases reported on Oct. 20, bringing the total number of cases to 18,092 with 182 deaths. Europe has seen a second wave of COVID-19 infections with many countries, including France, Britain and Germany opting for new lockdowns.
Johnson says he is optimistic over medium term, despite looming lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said he was optimistic about the country’s longer term prospects despite the coronavirus pandemic presenting grave short-term problems. “While I am more optimistic now ... about the medium- and long-term future than I have been for many months, there can be no doubt that the situation before us today is grave, and the need for action acute,” Johnson said in a debate about whether to introduce a month-long national lockdown.
Coronavirus: Older children and teachers in England must wear face masks at school
All pupils and teachers at secondary schools in England must wear face masks in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, it has been announced. Under updated government guidance issued on Wednesday, staff and students in Year 7 and above have been told to wear face coverings in school communal spaces - outside of classrooms - where social distancing cannot be maintained. Face coverings had already been required for secondary school pupils within areas under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions in England, with those local restrictions now to be replaced by the national measures.
New lockdown, same economic victims: young, low-paid workers
As far as the labour market is concerned, lockdown 2 will be the same as lockdown 1: the main casualties will be young, low-paid workers employed by consumer-facing services. Retailing, hospitality and leisure make up around one-sixth of the economy’s output and anybody working in one of those sectors is more at risk of losing their job, of being furloughed and of not having their government-supported wages topped up by their employers.