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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 16th Nov 2020

News Highlights

'Long Covid' cases cause damage to multiple organs, study says

A new study conducted by the National Health Service has indicated that people experiencing long-drawn out Covid-19 symptoms are showing signs of damage to multiple organs close to four months after initial infection. Health experts have estimated that more than 60,000 people in the UK have experienced 'long Covid,' with fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain being the most commonly reported symptoms.

South Korean citizens fined for not wearing masks as cases rise

South Korea reported 1919 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, the sixth consecutive day of more than 100 daily infections and the highest daily increase since September 4, as authorities tightened up restrictions and started fining people for not wearing masks in public. Several coronavirus cases have now been reported from hospitals, nursing homes, churches and schools in the Seoul metropolitan area, alarming government officials and health experts,

Festival of lights celebrated in socially-distanced Britain

Several thousand of Britain's Indian diaspora virtually celebrated the major Hindu festival of Diwali over the weekend, with normal festivities cancelled because of the second national lockdown in the UK. Temples and councils across the country took the celebrations online, with video streaming and virtual prayers replacing the usual gatherings of friends and family that has been made impossible due to the pandemic.

U.S. cases cross 11 million, with more than a million cases added in just one week

Several cities and states across the U.S. are implementing new restrictions to battle the new wave of coronavirus infections that have sprung up across the country, with more than a million cases reported over the last week alone. Chicago has imposed a stay-at-home advisory from today and New York is considering new restrictions to be imposed on bars and restaurants as well as mandatory remote learning in its schools.

Lockdown Exit
Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science
Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling. Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health.1 Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science. The UK’s pandemic response provides at least four examples of suppression of science or scientists. First, the membership, research, and deliberations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were initially secret until a press leak forced transparency.2 The leak revealed inappropriate involvement of government advisers in SAGE, while exposing under-representation from public health, clinical care, women, and ethnic minorities. Indeed, the government was also recently ordered to release a 2016 report on deficiencies in pandemic preparedness, Operation Cygnus, following a verdict from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Shock new figures fuel fears of more lockdown domestic abuse killings in UK
Calls to the UK’s largest domestic abuse helpline are rising “week on week” as new figures reveal that almost 50 suspected killings may have occurred during the first lockdown. The charity Refuge, which runs the National Domestic Abuse helpline, said it was “very concerned” by the continuing upward trend in demand for its services, with England a little over a week into its second lockdown. Separate data from Counting Dead Women, a project that records the killing of women by men in the UK, identified 35 murders, with another 12 strongly suspected cases between 23 March and the start of July, when Covid restrictions were largely lifted. The rate of killings, conspicuously steep in the opening period of the first lockdown, gradually lowers to levels similar to those recorded in previous years.
Fauci Says Pfizer Vaccine’s Trial Success May Boost Acceptance
The success of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine trial may help persuade more people to get inoculated amid a surge in new coronavirus cases, according to Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease doctor. Pfizer’s vaccine, developed in collaboration with Germany’s BioNTech SE, has “an extraordinarily high degree of efficacy -- more than 90%, close to 95%,” Fauci said in an interview. That could be a key factor in overcoming reluctance to take pandemic vaccines that have been developed at top speed.
Schoolcations Are All the Rage, Here's How to Take One
The pandemic has turned many parents into teachers, making remote learning challenging for the entire family. It’s especially tough for those who may still be going into their office and can’t be home to supervise, or if the homeschooling responsibility lies on the shoulders of one parent who may also be juggling working from home. The stress is tremendous. A new national poll of the U.S. workforce by Eagle Hill Research found that 65 percent of employees with children in remote learning situations are feeling burnout. Mom and dad need more than a “Calgon take me away” relaxing bath moment. Parents looking to exhale are finding relief with “schoolcations.” Families are loading up backpacks with school supplies, packing the laptop and hitting the road. Online learning can be done anywhere.
Dame Sally Davies: obesity scourge led to 50000 Covid death toll
Thousands of coronavirus deaths could have been avoided if ministers had tackled the obesity crisis, England’s former chief medical officer says today. Professor Dame Sally Davies blames the country’s high death toll on “a structural environment” that enabled junk food makers to encourage consumption. The UK has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world and the second highest in Europe, with nearly one in three adults obese. Obesity, defined as a body mass index greater than 30, raises the risk of dying of Covid-19 by 48%. Last week Britain became the first country in Europe to pass a grim milestone, reaching more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus on official figures.
'Just hugging was amazing': joy and tears as Victorian families reunite after Melbourne lockdown
As Mel McNamara drove from the Victorian mainland over the Phillip Island bridge, her eyes filled with tears. “My daughter, she asked me why I was crying,” Mel says. “I had to tell her that these are happy tears – I was just so grateful to be by the sea and going to see my family.” It had been four months since Mel last saw her mother Julie and stepdad Damian, both residents on the island. Victoria’s “ring of steel” had kept them apart, with the threat of a $5,000 fine for any Melburnian who tried to escape the confines of the city. Mel burst into tears again when she finally saw her mum.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Why has mandatory mask wearing taken so long?
The masks are coming. New Zealand's hard and early response to Covid-19 is finally adopting widespread mask use outside of lockdown. Justin Giovannetti writes about what changed in the halls of parliament to make it happen. Masks will become mandatory on Auckland transit and domestic flights next week following months of criticism by leading epidemiologists that New Zealand has been avoiding a simple measure to lessen the risk of new outbreaks. Chris Hipkins, the country's Covid-19 minister, was shying away from a mask mandate as recently as Thursday afternoon. The Government was relying on "goodwill" that people would follow suggestions and wear masks while also scanning QR codes diligently. Most people didn't heed the suggestion
Australia may see first week of no local COVID-19 transmissions
Australia’s three most populous states on Saturday recorded at least a week with no local transmissions of the new coronavirus, boding well for the country’s recovery from the pandemic after a flare-up marred an impressive early response. Victoria, the epicentre of the resurgence of the virus in recent months, recorded its 15th consecutive day of no new infections and no related deaths, two weeks after the state emerged from one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns. The second-most populous state’s deputy chief health officer, Allen Cheng, told a news conference that the run of zero cases was “about as good as it can get”.
How to reinvent cities for the post-pandemic world
The once mighty financial capitals of the world have been reduced to ghost towns as they suffer the effects of COVID-19. For more than a century, cities have been magnets for millions of people seeking work opportunities and the promise of a better life. But the COVID-19 pandemic is rewriting the way we live and work. City centres have been turned into ghost towns as people work from home. It could potentially leave lasting scars with shops, restaurants and services that cater to commuters being decimated.
How Australia brought the coronavirus pandemic under control
Kim Laurie worked as a florist for a quarter of a century before opening her own shop in Melbourne in July, just before the city was engulfed by a second wave of Covid-19 cases. Within weeks, Australia’s second-biggest city was reporting 700 new cases a day and Victoria’s state government imposed a second lockdown. “It was really devastating as I had no choice but to close the doors of the business for several weeks,” said Ms Laurie. Her flower shop is one of thousands of businesses hit hard by home confinement and nightly curfews, which lasted 112-days and have become hallmarks of Australia’s hardline approach to combating the pandemic. Corporate leaders have criticised the measures as too strict and economically damaging. But the zero tolerance strategy worked: no new locally transmitted cases have been reported in Victoria since the lockdown was lifted two weeks ago.
Exit Strategies
End of lockdown did little for incomes of UK's hardest-hit - study
The lifting of the first COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year did little to improve the incomes of people in Britain who lost out from the restrictions, and lower-earning households have borne the brunt of the hit, a think tank said on Sunday. With unemployment on the rise in Britain, the proportion of adults reporting a drop in incomes improved only slightly to 23% between July and September from 27% in the April-June period, the Resolution Foundation said in a report. Three-in-ten of the adults who took a sustained income hit were unable to afford some basic household costs such as heating and fresh fruit and vegetables, the report said.
Controversial US data firm Palantir could manage UK’s ailing Test and Trace scheme
US data analysis company Palantir Technologies could be drafted in to manage the UK government’s troubled COVID-19 Test and Trace programme, according to press reports. Palantir has been linked with the project for several weeks and the Financial Times is the latest to suggest that the company could get involved with the troubled project. Palantir was founded in 2003 by a team including paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and the company’s billionaire CEO Alex Karp. Taking its name from the “seeing stones” in The Lord of the Rings, Palantir is known for counter-terrorism work and fraud investigation with agencies of the US federal government.
Covid: Vaccine or no vaccine, we have to get through this first
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised the NHS will be ready to start rolling out the vaccine from 1 December if its passes its final regulatory hurdles. But that doesn't mean the epidemic will be brought to a sudden halt. There is a huge logistical exercise in vaccinating large numbers of people - the UK has bought enough for 20 million people. And don't forget, unlike the flu vaccine, this one requires two doses. Health and care workers along with older age groups will be prioritised. But given it takes a month from the first dose for an individual to get the full protection and the fact there are 12 million over 65s - nine in 10 deaths have been in this age group - winter is likely to be well gone by the time significant numbers are protected.
Restrictions will be needed beyond lockdown and over Christmas to keep coronavirus at bay
England will need ongoing restrictions to normal life after lockdown, with measures likely to last into December and over Christmas in order to keep the coronavirus under control, government scientists have warned. In a new analysis released by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Friday, scientists said the virus was now so widespread that without further controls lasting beyond the end of the current lockdown, infections would rise again to levels recorded at the start of the month.
Madrid Removes Lockdown For 10 Areas That Reduced Their COVID Rates by More Than Half
The Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid has made the decision decided this Friday to lift the restrictions across 10 areas in which the epidemiological situation has improved considerably in recent weeks and a downward trend is observed. The lifting of mobility and activity limitations will be effective from 00:00 next Monday, ‘they will remain in effect throughout this weekend,’ said a spokesperson . The areas where the restrictions are lifted are: Brújula and Las Fronteras in Torrejón de Ardoz; El Espinillo, San Andrés and San Cristóbal, in Villaverde; Guadarrama, in the town of Guadarrama; Rafael Alberti and Peña Pietra, in Puente de Vallecas; San Blas, in Parla; and Vinateros-Torito, in the district of Moratalaz.
Melbourne's COVID-19 restrictions are easing, but hundreds of refugees still face indefinite lockdown
It's been a tough year for Melburnians, who are now experiencing their first taste of relative freedom after one of the world's longest and harshest COVID-19 lockdowns. But for hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees living in Melbourne, their perpetual lockdown remains in place with no end in sight. After living in detention in Nauru and Christmas Island for six years, Minah, an asylum seeker from Iran, was moved to Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) in Broadmeadows 13 months ago. "For no reason, for no crime, I have to stay in detention," Minah said. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
Iran blames U.S. sanctions for vaccine payment problems
U.S. sanctions are preventing Iran from making advance payment to the global COVAX facility set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, the Iranian government said as the virus death toll kept climbing in the Middle East’s hardest-hit state. Battling a third wave of the coronavirus, Iran is considering imposing a two-week total lockdown in the capital, state media reported as the death toll rose by 461, close to a daily record, to 40,582 on Friday. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that Iran had identified 11,737 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the total number to 738,322.
More than 300,000 New Yorkers have fled the Big Apple in the last eight months
More than 300,000 residents have reportedly fled New York City from between March and October, report says. 295,103 residents filed change of address forms with the U.S. Postal Service, but the number of movers likely rises when considering multi-person households. Many residents relocated to New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester. Wealthy residents on the city's Upper West Side made 9,076 mail forwarding requests - the largest chunk in the city. Key factors included economic stressors, crime surges, concerns over local schooling and the pandemic
Asia Today: S. Korea begins fining people not wearing masks
South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began fining people who fail to wear masks in public. The 191 new cases Friday represented the sixth consecutive day above 100 and was the highest daily increase since Sept. 4, when authorities reported 198 new infections. More than 120 of the cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, where the coronavirus has spread in hospitals, nursing homes, churches, schools, restaurants and offices. The continuing spread has alarmed government officials, who have eased social distancing measures to soften the pandemic’s shock on the economy.
Coronavirus Long Haulers Tell Us Their Symptoms and the Aftereffects of Disease
Eight months and more than 50 million documented cases into the pandemic, there’s still much we don’t understand about SARS-CoV-2. We do know that the majority of those infected with the novel coronavirus display no or mild symptoms. Worryingly, a not-insignificant portion of the 20 million people globally who’ve recovered suffer lingering effects, including lung, heart, and nervous system impairment.
Partisan Exits
Before Joe Biden's inauguration, 70,000 more people could die from COVID-19
Biden's coronavirus advisor, Dr Michael Osterholm, warned on Sunday that the health care system in US could collapse in next few weeks due to COVID surge Osterholm said that he fears people could even start dying in the waiting rooms 'I think it is the healthcare systems breaking that will unfortunately bring us to a sense of reality of what we must do in the short term,' Osterholm said. His remarks come as a new model suggests up to 150K more people could die of COVID-19s before president-elect Biden is inaugurated on January 20, 2021. Model shows skyrocketing infections could add more than 8 million cases
To shut down or not shut down? Officials implement new coronavirus restrictions as cases skyrocket, but face angry backlash.
With the coronavirus raging out of control and hospitals nearing capacity, state and local leaders are facing once more the gut-wrenching decision of whether to order shutdowns. But many are finding the call much harder to make this time — eight months after cities and states last implemented weeks-long shutdowns — amid angry backlashes, deeply polarized constituents and dire economic consequences.
Communal worship ‘criminalised’ under lockdown, church leaders in England say
More than 100 Christian leaders have launched a legal challenge against the ban on communal worship in England under lockdown restrictions. They claim worship has been “criminalised” and the ban has “inflicted a terrible human cost” on congregations for whom collective worship is a core element of their religious life. The restrictions on public worship, they argue, breach article 9 of the European convention on human rights which protects the right to freedom of religion. The claim for judicial review by 122 church leaders from different traditions is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, an arm of the conservative evangelical organisation Christian Concern.
Water cannon fired at Frankfurt anti-lockdown rally
German police fired water cannon during an anti-lockdown rally in Frankfurt on Saturday and eventually broke up the gathering as rules like wearing masks and socially distancing were not observed. About 600 people from the loosely organized Querdenker movement that opposes the government’s measures to halt the rise in coronavirus infections took to the streets in Frankfurt. Police used water cannon to free up the route of the rally, which was blocked several times by about 300 people protesting against the Querdenkers. A police spokesman said the rally was broken up after protesters repeatedly disregarded rules on wearing masks and keeping a distance from each other.
'Freedom Movement': Why people are still protesting despite the easing of lockdown rules
With a young woman twirling a hula hoop as her floral-clad friend beats on a drum, people could have been mistaken for thinking they were entering a climate change rally in the city on Melbourne Cup day. But if they walked a little further into the crowd, they would have seen men throwing Nazi salutes and people holding signs denying the existence of COVID-19. In the thick of the scrum, a middle-aged woman, wearing a fascinator and dress, bellowed her protest.
Germany’s protests against coronavirus restrictions are becoming increasingly radical
Around 9:30 on a quiet Sunday morning late last month, a crudely made explosive device went off with a small bang and a flash in central Berlin near the building of an association of German scientific institutes. A note found nearby demanded the end to coronavirus restrictions. Just a few hours earlier, molotov cocktails had been tossed at the front of the Robert Koch Institute, the German federal agency responsible for controlling the virus. The incidents come against the backdrop of a growing violent undercurrent at large-scale street demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions, including one attended by 20,000 people Saturday in Leipzig. The developments point to an increasingly radicalized movement of virus skeptics in Germany, embraced by the country’s far-right extremist groups and energized by global conspiracy theories, notably those put forth by the U.S.-born QAnon movement.
Continued Lockdown
Socially distanced Diwali celebrated in UK under lockdown
Britain’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are celebrating their first ever virtual Diwali on Saturday, as the Covid lockdown has forced the cancellation of almost all normal festivities. Despite the usual gatherings of friends and families being impossible because of the pandemic, numerous councils and temples across the UK have instead taken the celebrations online, hosting video streams for the faithful to tune in.
Germany dampens hopes for swift end to winter lockdown
German government officials dampened hopes on Friday that an economically painful partial lockdown would be lifted promptly at the end of November, since infection rates were continuing to surge. The number of new daily coronavirus cases in Germany hit a record of 23,542 on Friday, around 1,700 more than on Thursday, bringing the total to 751,095, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported. “As things stand now we can’t expect any measures to be relaxed on Monday,” government spokesman Stefan Seibert told a regular news conference. National and regional leaders are due to meet on Monday to discuss whether November’s closure of all gyms and entertainment venues has slowed the disease’s spread.
Diwali under lockdown: How Hindus, Jains and Sikhs in the UK will celebrate the festival of lights this year
Preparations are underway for thousands of observers of Diwali in the UK, who will be forced to adapt their celebrations due to the coronavirus outbreak. The festival of lights is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world and will come with an unexpected twist this year as the national lockdown restricts people across England from visiting more than one person outside of their household – with a strict ban on anyone mixing indoors.
Making the most of a lockdown Diwali
Lockdown restrictions in England mean it's not possible to meet family members from different households or go to the temple for group worship. But it doesn't mean celebrations this year have to be any less enjoyable.
Jean Castex extends coronavirus lockdown in France till December
French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that the nationwide stay-at-home regime will remain in effect amid still disturbing indicators of the COVID-19 virus' evolution in the country. "Together with the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron], we decided this morning in the Council of defense and national security to keep unchanged, at least for the next fifteen days, the rules of lockdown intended to fight against # COVID19," Castex tweeted late on Thursday.
Italy extends partial lockdown as Naples hospitals struggle
Confirmed cases hit a daily pandemic high of nearly 41,000 and 550 people died of the virus in 24 hours, bringing the country's known death toll to 44,139. Italy has reported a total of more than 1.1. million virus cases.
Paris boulevards deserted as lockdown claims Christmas shopping trade
Boarded-up windows outside flagship branches of department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps bore testimony on Saturday to the impact of a COVID-19 lockdown in Paris. On what would usually be a busy weekend for Christmas shopping, only handfuls of people were out on Boulevard Haussmann, where the stores are located. “It’s sad. We are outside Galeries Lafayette and everything is closed,” said one would-be shopper, Emmanuelle Tiger. “They’ve put up (shop window) lights. That’s great, but we don’t feel the Christmas spirit at all.”
French PM says easing COVID-19 lockdown now would be 'irresponsible'
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said there would be no easing for at least two weeks of the country’s second COVID-19 lockdown, with the number of people in hospital with coronavirus now higher than at the peak of the first wave.
Police probe illegal party near Paris in breach of COVID lockdown
Police are probing an illegal party that took place at Joinville-Le-Pont near Paris, at which up to 400 people met up despite French COVID-19 lockdown rules banning large private gatherings. The Paris police department said on Saturday it had launched an investigation to find out who was behind the party, held in a large private house. Police said some partygoers threw bottles at them as they broke up the event in the early hours. Police added they had found that at least one of those at the party had tested positive for COVID-19, and urged others who were present to get COVID tests.
Germans should brace for 4-5 months of severe COVID-19 measures, minister says
Germans should brace for another 4-5 months of severe measures to halt the rise in coronavirus infections and should not expect the current rules to be eased quickly, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told weekly Bild am Sonntag. “We’re not out of the woods yet”, he said referring to infection numbers. “We cannot afford a yo-yo shutdown with the economy constantly opening and closing.” Germany has imposed a set of measures dubbed a “lockdown light” to rein in the second wave of the pandemic that the country is seeing in common with much of the rest of Europe. While restaurants are closed, schools and shops so far remain open. Data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday that the number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 16,947 to 790,503. Weekend figures tend to be lower as not all data is reported by local authorities.
New coronavirus cases drop sharply in France's second week of lockdown
New coronavirus infections and hospital admissions for COVID-19 dropped sharply at the end of the second week of a new nationwide confinement in France, health ministry data showed on Friday. The ministry reported 23,794 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 33,172 on Thursday and compared to 60,486 last Friday. The number of people going into hospital with the virus plunged to 24 from 737 on Thursday and the number of people going into intensive care dropped to just four from 96 on Thursday and more than 100 per day every weekday last week. The number of coronavirus deaths in hospitals increased slightly to 456 from 425 on Thursday. France also reported 476 deaths in retirement homes over the past three days, for a total of 932 deaths reported on Friday.
Coronavirus: France to restart remote lessons after threat of strikes over safety
Sixth-form colleges in France were ordered to draw up plans for the reintroduction of remote learning yesterday as President Macron sought to head off a revolt by teachers and pupils. Hardline teachers’ unions are calling strikes over what they say are inadequate health protocols and sixth-formers are organising sporadic blockades of their lycées to protest against crowded classrooms. Some demonstrations turned violent, notably in poorer Paris suburbs.
German economy taking hit from lockdown measures in November - ministry
Germany’s economic recovery continued until October but has slowed since August, the Economy Ministry said on Friday, adding that lockdown measures implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus hit the economy in November. The Economy Ministry said in its monthly report that the restrictions imposed from the start of November which have seen restaurants, bars and entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres close meant consumption was taking a hit. The ministry said it did not look like the recovery would end in the fourth quarter though, as long as restrictions remain limited.
COVID-19: Psychiatrists warn of coronavirus lockdown's toll on mental health
Psychiatrists are braced for a surge in demand for mental health care in the months ahead, as people struggle to cope during the coronavirus lockdown. The number of people experiencing severe mental illnesses and needing urgent care amid the pandemic has become a serious cause for concern, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has told Sky News. The group, which represents the UK's 18,000 psychiatrists, said members are concerned about the impact of the second lockdown and are calling on the government to ensure mental health services are properly funded and equipped to meet the anticipated increase in demand.
London gym owner fined £67,000 for refusing to close during lockdown
A London gym owner has been handed a £67,000 fine for refusing to close during England’s second national lockdown. Andreas Michli, 34, finally shut the doors to his Wood Green gym on Wednesday after police prevented customers entering. Haringey council issued multiple fines against Michli over his Zone Gym business and said it obtained a closure order. Alongside the £67,000 fine, Michli said the council was also seeking to recoup court costs of £7,500. Michli, who has owned the gym for five years, said he felt keeping it open was “the right thing to do socially, morally and scientifically”. “There were a lot of reasons why I didn’t close. I couldn’t actually find a reason why to not keep it open, other than there was legislation in place,” he told PA news agency.
Uneasy Under Coronavirus Lockdown, Pubs in England Count Days Till Christmas
At the Crooked Well, a neighborhood pub in south London that prides itself on its food, the Christmas menu is already decided. There will be venison and beef stews. But whether the stews will actually be served is another question. Under a new lockdown planned to last a month, pubs in England have closed again. From Nov. 5 to Dec. 2, restaurants, gyms and nonessential shops are being shuttered by the government’s efforts to suppress a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain’s first lockdown lasted more than three months, followed by an ever-changing array of restrictions since. No one knows how long this lockdown will really last.
Ending lockdown in December hinges on next two weeks, Sage expert warns
The next fortnight will be “absolutely crucial” in ensuring England’s coronavirus lockdown ends as planned on December 2, a Government scientific adviser has warned. Professor Susan Michie, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), called on the public to resist breaking current rules if they want to spend the festive period with loved ones. The announcement of a potential Covid-19 vaccine could spark complacency over restrictions, she said, stressing that the jab will make “no difference” to the current wave. It comes after documents released by Sage on Friday warned that a return to the tiered system of coronavirus restrictions will see infections rise again.
Britain to pilot COVID-19 tests for care home visitors
Visitors to care homes in parts of England will be able to get tested for COVID-19 under a new pilot plan aimed at reducing onerous restrictions in time for Christmas, the health ministry said Saturday. With England under lockdown until December, care home visits can still go ahead in certain circumstances, but official guidance states that screens, windows or “visiting pods” should be used to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. “I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time,” health minister Matt Hancock said.
Scientific Viewpoint
BioNTech vaccine scientist says jab could halve Covid transmission
The scientist behind the first potential Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials says he is “very confident” the jab will reduce transmission of the disease, perhaps by 50%, resulting in a “dramatic” reduction in cases. The German company BioNTech and the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announced to worldwide acclaim last week that their jointly developed vaccine candidate appeared to be 90% effective in stopping people from falling ill. Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of BioNTech, said he expected that further analysis would show that the jab is also effective in stopping spread of the disease, but probably not by as much as 90%. Certainty around its impact will not come until next year, he added.
COVID-19: Two new testing 'mega labs' planned for 2021
Two new "mega labs" to turnaround 600,000 coronavirus tests a day are planned for next year, as Boris Johnson tries to draw a line under losing two key advisers. The prime minister will make a "series of critical announcements", Number 10 said, following the sudden departure of aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. And in a bid to shore up support from "red wall" Tory MPs, he will hold a meeting with the so-called Northern Research Group today to "listen to their ideas" and convey his commitment to "levelling up".
Damage to multiple organs recorded in 'long Covid' cases
Young and previously healthy people with ongoing symptoms of Covid-19 are showing signs of damage to multiple organs four months after the initial infection, a study suggests. The findings are a step towards unpicking the physical underpinnings and developing treatments for some of the strange and extensive symptoms experienced by people with “long Covid”, which is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK. Fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain are among the most frequently reported effects. On Sunday, the NHS announced it would launch a network of more than 40 long Covid specialist clinics where doctors, nurses and therapists will assess patients’ physical and psychological symptoms.
Johnson & Johnson, U.S. government expand pact to support next phase of COVID-19 vaccine R&D
Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have expanded an agreement to support the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine candidate research and development, the company said on Saturday. Under the agreement the company will commit approximately $604 million and the HHS Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will commit about $454 million to support the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial evaluating Janssen’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate as a single dose in up to 60,000 volunteers worldwide, the company said in a statement
Recovering Covid-19 patients struggle to return to normal after hospital discharge, study finds
Surviving Covid-19 is hard enough for those who get severely ill from the disease, but returning to normal is a struggle, too, according to new research that found survivors were likely to face health and financial hardships even months later. A team of scientists led by Dr. Vineet Chopra of the University of Michigan Health System looked at 488 Covid-19 patients treated and released from hospitals in Michigan. They surveyed them about two months after their release, between March 16 and July 1.
New Zealand Study Reveals The Complex Psychological Toll of Pandemic Lockdowns
2020 has not been a good year for mental health. The emergence of a global pandemic has left many people fearing for their lives, stressing over their finances, panicking over the news, and yearning for their loved ones. While we're still not sure what the mental health toll will be, the World Health Organisation expects levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour to rise.
English COVID infections doubled in October - Imperial College study
English COVID-19 infections rose sharply in October with double the number of cases reported by the end of the month compared to the beginning ahead of the reintroduction of a national lockdown, a large study said on Thursday. The study, led by Imperial College London and known as REACT, showed that over 1 in 80 people were infected after more than 160,000 people were tested between Oct 16 and Nov 2, double that reported in early October. At the end of October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown in England, which came into force on Nov 5, after his science advisors warned that key indicators of the pandemic were going in the wrong direction.
Vaccine is inexact bonus for freight and freezers
Every challenge is also a business opportunity. Rolling out a potential Covid-19 vaccine is no exception. The shots developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which clinical trials have shown to be highly effective at preventing coronavirus, must be transported and stored at temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius or below. The daunting task for authorities eager to quickly deliver billions of doses across the world is a potential boon for those making freezers and handling freight.
How Do I Clean And Maintain A Reusable COVID-19 Mask? : Goats and Soda
Does putting a reusable mask in the oven for 30 minutes at 165 degrees Fahrenheit kill the virus that causes COVID-19 and other pathogens? If not, how do I clean it? The good news: Yes, baking your cloth or synthetic mask would probably kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Several studies have shown that the virus dies when exposed to 158 degrees Fahrenheit for a length of time somewhere between 2 1/2 minutes and an hour. The bad news: It may also singe your mask.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Czech Republic sees further decline in COVID cases, still among highest in Europe
The Czech Republic reported on Sunday a further decline in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths from daily highs seen in early November, but the country remains among the hardest hit in Europe during this second wave of the pandemic. Health ministry data showed 4,199 new cases were reported on Saturday, down by more than 3,500 from the same day a week earlier, amid tough lockdown measures, with 132 new fatalities, which includes revisions to previous days.
Mexico reaches one million COVID-19 cases, nears 100,000 deaths
Mexico has surpassed one million coronavirus cases, according to top health officials and recorded nearly 100,000 confirmed deaths. Mexican Director-General of Health Promotion Ricardo Cortes Alcala announced on Saturday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico now stood at 1,003,253, with at least 98,259 deaths from COVID-19.
Irish health chief concerned by unexpected rise in COVID-19 cases
An unexpected 10% rise in the five-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in Ireland threatens to reverse a recent sharp drop in the incidence rate of the disease to the third-lowest level in Europe, the country’s chief medical officer said on Saturday. Ireland was among the first European countries to reimpose tough nationwide measures last month to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, with restrictions on travel and the closure of non-essential retail more than halving the 14-day infection rate to 130 cases per 100,000 people.
Schools start closing — or delay reopening — as covid-19 cases jump across the country
Schools in some parts of the United States have started to close down and numerous districts are postponing plans to reopen in the face of skyrocketing community covid-19 cases, setting back efforts to try to reopen campuses closed since this past spring when the coronavirus pandemic began. Though the latest covid-19 surge is being blamed by health experts on social gatherings and not on schools, officials in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Topeka, San Diego, Sacramento, Minneapolis, D.C. and other districts have put off plans to soon reopen school buildings for the first time in the 2020-21 school year. Instead students will keep learning remotely at home, with no set date to return to school
Governors issue stringent new measures as US reports a staggering Covid-19 record of more than 184,000 daily cases
Coronavirus cases in the US will spike after Thanksgiving, further stressing health care systems and prompting new restrictions, an emergency physician said Saturday, as states continued to report soaring numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital, told CNN's Erica Hill he is "terrified" about what's going to happen this holiday season. "We're going to see an unprecedented surge of cases following Thanksgiving this year, and if people don't learn from Thanksgiving, we're going to see it after Christmas as well," Phillips said.
Biden aide says no U.S.-wide COVID lockdown planned as West Coast states advise against travel
President-elect Joe Biden’s top coronavirus adviser said on Friday there were no plans for a wholesale nationwide lockdown to curb the surging COVID-19 pandemic, while three U.S. West Coast states jointly called for a halt in non-essential travel. The warning against unnecessary transit came as the daily increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States rose to a record of over 177,000 on Friday, the fourth straight day a new all-time high has been set, according to a Reuters tally of figures from U.S. public health agencies.
Italy Does Not Need National Lockdown: Deputy Health Minister
Italian Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri discusses the status of the coronavirus pandemic in the nation, focusing on regional lockdowns, and the ability to distribute a vaccine. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Francine Lacqua on “Bloomberg Surveillance
Coronavirus: Italy extends 'red zones' as infections soar
Italy has added more regions to its coronavirus high-risk "red zones" as cases across the country hit a new daily record. Campania and Tuscany will join other regions placed under the strictest lockdown measures from Sunday. Authorities in Campania, which includes Naples, have warned that the health system there is close to collapse. Friday's announcement came as Italy confirmed 40,902 new infections - its highest ever daily total. It passed the one million mark earlier this week and there have been more than 44,000 deaths. The government's coronavirus consultant, Walter Ricciardi, told reporters that the country has "two to three weeks to decide whether to impose a new national lockdown".
Coronavirus incidence rate falls in 12 Spanish regions, but deaths continue to rise
Spain’s national coronavirus incidence rate remains high, but has been on a downward trend for the past week, according to the latest report by the Spanish Health Ministry. The daily report, released Thursday, put the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Spain at 504, down from the record of 528 registered on November 4. But it will be some time before this fall is reflected in the number of coronavirus fatalities. The Health Ministry added 356 deaths to the official toll on Thursday, up from 329 on Wednesday. This brings the average number of daily reported victims this week to close to 300.
Coronavirus deaths cast a pall over France, two weeks into a national lockdown
Two weeks into its second national lockdown, France may be seeing the first indications that it is bending the curve of coronavirus infections, but it could match or even eclipse the devastation of the spring before bringing the virus in check.
France Offers Another Glimmer of Hope on Covid
When Nobel Prize-winning economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee urged France’s Emmanuel Macron in September to impose a tough three-week circuit-breaker lockdown to halt the spread of Covid-19 in time for Christmas, they were politely ignored. Macron’s health minister, Olivier Veran, dismissed such planning as “pie in the sky” and said lockdowns were to be avoided. Six weeks later, the economists look prescient. Covid’s second wave has been brutal in France with daily deaths now averaging around 500 versus 70 at end-September. The number of patients in hospitals is above where it was at the peak of the first wave, and intensive-care occupancy isn’t far off. France may not be alone in this struggle, but it has the highest total caseload in Europe and the third-highest death toll behind the U.K. and Italy (unadjusted for population). On Oct. 30, the country began a national lockdown.
South Korea reports 205 coronavirus cases, above 200 for first time since September
South Korea reported 205 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight, rising above 200 for the first time since September, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday. Of the new cases, 166 were domestically transmitted and 39 imported. More than 65% of the locally transmitted cases were from Seoul and Gyeonggi province, a densely populated region near the capital.
Fed officials differ over economy's risks as coronavirus surges
For St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, the current surge in U.S. coronavirus cases can be controlled and the economy recover if households are just nudged in the right direction, exhorted in a ‘this-time-we-mean-it’ push to wear masks and take other steps that health officials have urged since March. New York Fed President John Williams says a full recovery will have to wait for a vaccine, with the health crisis putting a “question mark” on the economy until then. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari on Friday re-upped his support for a temporary lockdown to try to slow the spread and reduce deaths in an overwhelmed healthcare system, predicted a muted recovery if the virus remains uncontrolled.
Second wave, same strategy: Swedish COVID-19 czar defiant despite surge
Sweden remains steadfast in its strategy of voluntary measures and no lockdowns, the architect of its unorthodox COVID-19 response said on Friday, as the country battles a growing second wave of a disease that has now killed more than 6,000 Swedes. The Nordic nation of 10 million people, whose soft-touch approach to combating the virus has drawn worldwide attention - and harsh domestic criticism from some - has seen a surge in the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths in recent weeks. At 5,990, the number of new cases reported on Friday was the highest since the start of the pandemic. A further 42 deaths were also recorded, the most for around three months.
Istanbul mayor wants lockdown to restrain second virus wave
Istanbul’s mayor called on Saturday for a lockdown of at least two weeks to contain an “out of control” rise in coronavirus cases, and said virus-related deaths in the city alone outstrip reported nationwide figures. Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a leading politician in Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the country’s largest city must act fast and provide a clear picture of how the pandemic’s second wave is emerging. “This job is not like it was in the March-April-May period (during the first wave). The circle is getting narrower,” he said at the opening of a water treatment plant.
Biden coronavirus advisers nix national U.S. lockdown
The head of Democratic U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board said on Friday there was no plan to shut the country down and that the new administration’s approach will be targeted at specific areas. Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general tapped to lead the board, said doctors have learned a lot about how the virus spreads and what steps to reduce risk are effective. “We’re not in a place where we’re saying shut the whole country down. We got to be more targeted,” Murthy said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
India fears annual Diwali festivities will cause coronavirus surge
India fears annual Diwali festivities will cause coronavirus surge - The crowds filling shopping areas ahead of the Diwali festival of lights on Saturday are raising hopes of India's distressed business community after months of lockdown losses but also spawning fears of a massive coronavirus upsurge. People who've restricted their purchases to essentials for months appear to be in a celebratory mood and traders are lapping it up, said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders. "The past three days have seen a tremendous increase in customer footfall in shopping markets for festival purchases,” he said.
The business case for a short, sharp shutdown and why it likely won't work in Canada
The argument seems like a strong one: If Canadians would just follow the lead of countries and regions around the world that appear to have licked COVID-19 for now, not only would our health crisis be over, but so would our economic one. As epidemiologists like Peter Jüni, director of the applied health research centre at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, know, under perfect conditions, breaking the link in the chain of viral spread for a mere matter of weeks would stop the disease in its tracks. Like a forest fire on an island, as soon as the available fuel is gone, it burns itself out. "Theoretically if you have the possibility of doing a hard lockdown ... after nine days you see the effect kick in very reliably," Jüni said in a phone conversation Wednesday. "Stuff like that is theoretically possible."
COVID-19 infections are soaring. Lockdowns could be coming. A list of restrictions in your state.
As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise nationwide, some states are halting phased reopening plans or imposing new coronavirus-related restrictions. Several are putting limits on social gatherings, adding states to travel quarantine lists, mandating face masks and encouraging residents to stay home, as many did in the spring. Others are restricting business hours of operation and limiting restaurant capacity. Thirty-five states – plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – now require people to wear face coverings in public statewide, according to a list maintained by AARP. Utah and North Dakota joined the list in recent days, and Maine, Ohio and West Virginia strengthened their mandates this week.
Lockdowns possible as Illinois, Maryland and Washington governors weigh more restrictions
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said the state is at a “breaking point” and reinstated the country’s most restrictive statewide measures since the fall surge began, while Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced a two-week statewide “freeze” on Friday, which included curbing gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving. Other states are trying to avoid full-blown shutdowns by enacting almost every other kind of restriction, as the United States reported more than 177,000 new coronavirus cases, a record high for the third straight day.
Covid-19: Lockdowns Return and North Dakota Issues Mask Mandate as Records Fall
After months of resisting ordering the people of North Dakota to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings, the state’s Republican governor relented in an effort to stem a coronavirus surge that is among the worst in the U.S. and that threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospitals. Gov. Doug Burgum’s executive order Friday night came as a surprise and only hours before the state recorded new daily records for hospitalizations and infections. Throughout the pandemic, the former software executive had been leaving it to individuals to take personal responsibility for slowing the spread of the virus, beseeching the public during his weekly press briefings to wear masks but emphasizing a “light touch” by government.
‘Lockdown fatigue’ behind Delhi’s third Covid wave, experts call for behavioural change
Standing under the shade of an umbrella, Vinod Kumar is rolling out one paratha after another for office-goers in Delhi’s central district, just as he has done for 31 years now. But a mask is missing on his face. He doesn’t plan on wearing one either. “This coronavirus is nothing. I don’t believe it will harm me or my family. If something happens, it’s up to God to save us,” he says.
As Covid cases shoot up, Greece braces for tougher lockdown
Greece comes under tougher lockdown restrictions on Friday, a day after the country’s health authorities reported its worst performance since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Starting on Friday, a curfew is being imposed nationwide from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day in a bid to slow the virus’ transmission by preventing the public from engaging in non-essential activity outside the home, which has been much higher since the lockdown began last Saturday, compared to the spring.
New Lockdown
Italy to Continue Stop-and-Go Local Lockdowns Through Winter
Italy’s government is likely to extend its region-by-region lockdown system through the entire winter to counter the spread of the coronavirus while protecting the economy, the deputy health minister said. Pierpaolo Sileri, a lawmaker from the Five Star Movement, told Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua that the current decree dividing the country into areas of varying risk, with different restrictions on businesses and movement, will be extended beyond its current Dec. 3 expiration date. “We need to monitor these regions and, as I think exposure to the virus will decrease, we will see better numbers,” Sileri, a 48-year-old surgeon, said at his Rome ministry. “I do see an extension of that for the entire winter. Obviously this will help us avoid a national lockdown.”
Austria announces strict lockdown as virus cases soar
Austria’s government has ordered one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with chancellor Sebastian Kurz telling the public to “meet nobody” as the country battles a surge in coronavirus infections. “One contact is one contact too many,” Mr Kurz said on Saturday, as he unveiled a raft of restrictive measures that will put much of public and economic life in the alpine country on hold. An “around-the-clock” curfew will apply from Tuesday, with people only allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, travel to essential work or provide urgent care.
Austria's Kurz confirms national lockdown will start on Tuesday
Austria will introduce a national lockdown on Tuesday in a bid to bring its soaring coronavirus infections under control, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Saturday, confirming an earlier Reuters report based on a draft government decree. Non-essential shops will close and the current curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. will be expanded into an all-day requirement to stay at home, with specific exceptions such as shopping for essentials or exercise, Kurz confirmed. People should work from home wherever possible, he added. The lockdown is due to last almost three weeks, with the last day being Dec. 6.
Austria planning three-week lockdown from Tuesday, draft decree shows
Austria on Saturday ordered a three-week lockdown in a last-ditch effort to bring surging coronavirus cases under control and relieve the stress on the health service in time for retailers to reopen in the run-up to Christmas. The country had so far used a lighter touch in dealing with the second wave of cases than it did with the first outbreak, which it brought under control with a lockdown in the spring. A nighttime curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. this month but shops are open; cafes, bars and restaurants are limited to take-away service; theatres and museums are closed.
Coronavirus Europe: Draconian lockdowns slow down second waves
Most European countries were hit with a tsunami of new infections in mid-September after schools went back. Blitz of cases triggered domino effect right across continent, with nations one-by-one announcing lockdowns. Most of these nations are seeing infections either decreasing dramatically or flatlining, data shows
Lockdown 2.0: Food companies overhauled production to put more toilet paper, pasta sauce in stores
When rumors first began to circulate that the UK would go back into lockdown, Leanne Barnes despaired as bread and toilet roll flew off the shelves again at her local supermarket. But to her surprise, shelves were back to being fully stocked within a few days. Barnes stocked her pantry last time around with a few additional comfort foods - macaroni cheese, ravioli, soup and spaghetti. But as of last week, she said she felt no urge to stockpile goods. So far, consumers haven’t returned to the sort of panic buying frenzy that sent packaged-food manufacturers scrambling earlier this year.
Italy extends partial lockdown as Naples hospitals struggle
The regions of Italy that include the cities of Naples and Florence were declared coronavirus red zones Friday, the latest signals of the dire condition of Italian hospitals struggling with a surge of new admissions. The director of the National Health Institute, Gianni Rezza, said the stricter measures were justified by a “worrisome increase in hospitalizations” as Italy's rate of new confirmed cases reached 650 per 100,000 people. Confirmed cases hit a daily pandemic high of nearly 41,000 and 550 people died of the virus in 24 hours, bringing the country's known death toll to 44,139. Italy has reported a total of more than 1.1. million virus cases.
Coronavirus: Oregon and New Mexico impose restrictions
The US states of Oregon and New Mexico have announced strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 as the country faces growing outbreaks of the disease. Officials have ordered most non-essential businesses to close and urged people to limit their social interactions. On Friday, California became the second state to hit one million Covid cases, after Texas. On average, more than 900 people a day are dying with the disease in the US. Daily cases have topped 100,000 for the last 11 days and more than 67,000 people are currently in hospital.