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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 15th Mar 2021

Overnight News Roundup

The pathway to a post-Covid city

  • The office will shrink, but it won’t disappear.  The whole point of living in a dirty, overpriced, overcrowded city is to meet people and swap goods and ideas. Many offices will remain hubs of ideas exchange.
  • Ditching daily commutes — along with the season ticket, car, dry-cleaning and office lunches — would gift workers time and a de facto pay rise. Some could leave big cities for cheaper lives elsewhere: we may have accidentally found the magic bullet for moving good jobs to the hinterlands, even for healing the political rural-urban divide.
  • Once people spend all day in their home neighbourhoods, they can go within the space of an hour from working to shopping to childcare. This would be “work-life integration” rather than “balance”
  • The new urban catchphrase may become “the 15-minute city”, where all of life is close to hand and spaces are used nonstop.  Many spaces will become adaptable: an office by day, a youth club in the evening.
  • Even before the pandemic, cities had too many shops. Surviving shops may become showrooms and mini-warehouses, where salespeople aim to acquire long-term customers (and their data). Some shopfronts in prestigious places could be rented out short-term to pop-up tenants, such as retailers launching new collections.
  • The fading of retail will hurt landlords, city governments (whose tax income will sink) and shop assistants. The winners will be residents who can move into former shops. Dying shopping malls could become senior housing with upgraded food courts. Restaurants and bars — quintessential meeting places — have a bright urban future.
  • The home itself is going to change. Where possible, it will include a custom-built office or a communal co-working space. It may get green heating from sources such as the sewage system, as in Oslo. It will have its own built-in parcel drop box, or share a communal one.
  • Partly to make citizens happier, partly to combat more frequent heatwaves, cities are acquiring rooftop gardens. For example, Barcelona is encouraging residents to create communal rooftop gardens. In one swoop, an unused space can foster community and health, reduce loneliness, produce food, throw shade and save on air conditioning. Denver has more than 180 community gardens. But their creation cannot be ordained top-down, says Litt. Local people must be involved, for a commitment lasting many years.
The pathway to a post-Covid city
The path to the post-Covid city
The basic exchange that’s required is obvious: cities need to take space from cars, offices and shops and give it to affordable housing, community and nature. The city of the future may look a lot like the city of the past, just cleaner: bicycles, farms and 18th-century-style homeworking rather than flying cars. I’ve tried to distil the best ideas for the post-Covid city, focusing on rich-country megapolises such as London, New York and Paris. Developing-world cities have different problems, but much of what follows applies to them, too.
A tantalising glimpse of a post-vaccine world
The big threat to the “dream” scenario of governments being able to ease restrictions almost entirely as inoculation programmes end is the emergence of new variants that resist existing vaccines or cause worse symptoms and higher hospitalisations even among the young and healthy. Later rounds of jabs — booster shots against mutated strains — seem inevitable. Testing programmes may be needed for some time to hunt down new variants, and as an alternative to “vaccine passports” for those who cannot or choose not to be jabbed. Little by little, however, outlines of the post-pandemic normal are becoming discernible. Rich-world governments that are making good progress with vaccinations now need to prepare to donate their surplus doses to the developing world — to ensure they are not the only ones that can enjoy that brighter future.
Vaccine passports, travel, testing and new ways of getting a jab
What role could vaccine passports play in the pandemic?
After months of costly shutdowns, closed borders and curtailed personal freedoms, the concept of vaccine passports is gaining traction with governments eager to plot their path through the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of countries, including China and Israel, have already rolled out their own forms of certification ostensibly intended to ease future international travel or revive activity in hard-hit sectors of economies, such as hospitality.
British Airways calls for vaccinated people to travel without restrictions
British Airways’s new boss said vaccinated people should be allowed to travel without restriction and non-vaccinated people with a negative COVID-19 test, as he set out his ideas for a travel restart a month before the UK government finalises its plans. Holidays will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, the government has said, but before that, on April 12, Britain will announce how and when non-essential travel into and out of the country can resume. Sean Doyle, appointed BA’s chief executive last October, called on Britain to work with other governments to allow vaccines and health apps to open up travel, after a year when minimal flying has left many airlines on life support.
Buy one ticket, get a Covid jab free! Russian club Zenit St Petersburg launch extraordinary Covid-19 vaccination drive as they offer ALL supporters the chance to be inoculated ...
Zenit St Petersburg have made the Sputnik V vaccine available from Saturday Reigning Russian Premier League champions host Akhmat Grozny at home Fans can receive the Covid-19 jab at vaccination stations at the Gazprom Arena
COVID-19: Nearly 50,000 businesses sign up to offer rapid coronavirus testing for their employees
Nearly 50,000 businesses have signed up for the government's free workplace COVID tests, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. The government claims this is a vital step towards restoring normal life after the pandemic. Tests can give a result within 30 minutes - and NHS Test and Trace analysis suggests they have a specificity of at least 99.9%. Mr Hancock said: "We have built a huge asymptomatic testing system from scratch, which is an essential part of our plan to reopen cautiously.
Show must return! Protesters occupy French theatres to decry COVID closures
Dozens of show business workers are occupying theatres in at least nine cities in France to demand President Emmanuel Macron’s government reopen cultural venues and end a months-long halt to performances because of the coronavirus pandemic. At the Odeon Theatre on the Left Bank in Paris, the sit-in entered its eighth day on Friday as protesters rejected an additional financial support for cultural venues and artists pledged by the government a day earlier. Sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses and donated food are laid out in the 19th-century theatre’s ornate hall and velvet-lined balconies, while the 54 protesters share a single shower. “We’ve got everything we need to sit tight for several days,” said comedian Jennifer Catelain.
The expanding vaccination campaign
China aims to vaccinate 70-80% of population by mid-2022
China is aiming to vaccinate 70-80% of its population by the end of this year or mid-2022, the head of the country’s Center for Disease Control said Saturday. With four approved vaccines, China will vaccinate 900 million to 1 billion people, Gao Fu, the CDC head, said in an interview with Chinese state media broadcaster CGTN. “We hope that China can take the lead in achieving herd immunity in the world,” he said. Herd immunity occurs when enough of the population has immunity, either from vaccination or past infection, to stop the uncontrolled spread of an infectious disease like COVID-19.
Federal government adjusts phase 1b coronavirus vaccination rollout to include more Aboriginal Australians
Just over a week out from the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccinations for the phase 1b priority group, the Australian government has quietly changed the parameters to include more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote residents. The ABC understands the decision has been made to assist the logistics of delivering the vaccines to remote communities. It would mean vaccination teams who head to remote Aboriginal communities can immunise all adults over the age of 18 who want the vaccine, rather than just people over 55 or those who met the previous criteria for phase 1b.
Tunisia starts vaccination campaign with Sputnik V shots
Tunisia launched its vaccination campaign on Saturday, four days after receiving the first 30,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines. First up for a shot in the arm in the North African country were health care workers, soldiers and security officers, plus people over 65 and people with chronic health problems. The opening round of vaccinations was held in a field hospital set up in a sports complex in the El Mensah district of Tunis, the capital. Mehrzia El Hammami, a 54-year-old nursing supervisor at Bardo Hospital, was the first person to be inoculated.
US surpasses 100 million COVID vaccinations
More than 100 million people in the United States have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine jab, the national public health agency reported, as the Biden administration works to speed up vaccinations countrywide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said more than 101 million jabs had been administered since the country’s inoculation programme began late last year.
Trudeau: Every Canadian will be able to get vaccine by September
Every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so by the end of September Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, committing to a timeline he made late last year. In a news conference, Trudeau said drugmaker Pfizer will begin delivering one million COVID-19 vaccine doses every week starting on March 22, until May 10. “That’s gonna make a big difference,” Trudeau said. “Every dose makes a difference.” “Everyone who wants a vaccine in Canada will be able to get one by the end of September,” he said. The move doubles the current supply from Pfizer, officials said. Trudeau also announced that drugmaker AstraZeneca will be delivering 20 million doses by the end of the year.
Coronavirus: Chile becomes Latin America's COVID-19 vaccination champion
After being among the world's hardest-hit nations with COVID-19, Chile is now near the top among countries at vaccinating its population against the virus. With more than 25% of its people having received at least one shot, the country of 19 million on South America's Pacific coast is the champion of Latin America, and globally it is just behind Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. That's a far cry from the beginning of the pandemic, when Chile was criticized over its inability to trace and isolate infected people.
CVS expands its COVID-19 vaccine program to 29 states as more doses become available
It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Starting Saturday, eligible residents in another 12 states can begin booking COVID-19 vaccinations at CVS pharmacy. This week, the vaccines rolled out to CVS locations in Colorado ...
Biden says all adults in US will be eligible for coronavirus vaccine by May 1
Joe Biden said every US adult would be eligible for a coronavirus vaccination by May 1, as he touted “some real progress” in America’s fight against the pandemic and set the July 4 Independence Day holiday as a target for a return to some normality. The goals were announced by the president during his first televised primetime address to the nation, which combined a more optimistic assessment of America’s ability to tame the virus with an emotional appeal for the country to keep its guard up against the disease. “I need you, I need every American to do their part,” Biden said. “That will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but begin to mark our independence from this virus.”
UK could give 1 million Covid vaccine doses a day ‘within next few weeks’
Coronavirus vaccine stocks in the UK are expected to more than double, allowing for up to 1 million doses a day in the next few weeks, according to reports. All over-40s should have been offered their first vaccine by Easter, The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday, citing government sources. The paper said a “bumper boost” to supplies will allow the vaccine rollout to expand rapidly next week.
The ups and downs of vaccine manufacturing
Australia joins US, India and Japan in 'unprecedented' deal for coronavirus vaccines after historic Quad meeting
Scott Morrison has joined the first leaders' summit of Joe Biden's US presidency, forging a new strategic partnership and vaccination alliance with four of the Indo-Pacific region's most-powerful democracies. The US President hosted the video link-up from the State Dining Room of the White House with the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan. It was the first time the four-member regional grouping known as the Quad had ever convened with heads of government at the table. The partnership has had a faltering history and is usually viewed as a bloc to counter China. But in its latest incarnation, Quad members have given it a new, broader purpose to cooperate on what Mr Biden calls "practical solutions and concrete results" to global problems, including COVID-19, climate change and cyber security.
AstraZeneca again cuts coronavirus vaccine delivery targets in Europe
After a very public back-and-forth over unexpectedly tight COVID-19 vaccine supplies in Europe earlier this year, AstraZeneca said it would aim to deliver 40 million doses in the first quarter. Now, it's rolling the estimate back to 30 million doses, Reuters reports—about the same number that triggered the initial controversy. The company confirmed the shortfall in a statement on Friday. AstraZeneca originally committed to delivering 90 million doses to the continent during the first three months of the year, Reuters reports, but has run into problems getting its supply chain up to speed. In January, the company cut its delivery target to 31 million—and an outcry ensued. CEO Pascal Soriot went on the defense, but European officials were adamant. Eventually, AZ said it would push to deliver 40 million doses.
The right and wrong time to lift lockdown restrictions
All coronavirus restrictions lifted from New Zealand's largest city
All remaining restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland have been lifted after no locally transmitted cases of coronavirus were reported for two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. Ardern imposed a seven-day lockdown on the city of 1.7 million after a cluster of cases were detected domestically. The lockdown was eased earlier this month but some restrictions were retained, including limits on large public gatherings under an alert level 2 setting.
Fauci Warns Against Easing Covid-19 Restrictions
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned that the U.S. could experience another Covid-19 surge like Europe if it lifts restrictions too soon and called on Donald Trump to urge his supporters to get vaccinated. The government’s top infectious-diseases expert said on “Fox News Sunday” that the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations is improving while new cases in the U.S. have plateaued. Referring to Europe, Dr. Fauci said, “They always seem to be a few weeks ahead of us in the dynamics of the outbreak. Then they plateaued because they pulled back a bit. They thought that they were home-free and they weren’t. And now they’re seeing an increase.” His warnings came as some states, such as Texas, have begun allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity and dropping mask mandates against the advice of public-health officials. Mr. Fauci called the decision in Texas “risky and potentially dangerous.”
Statistics chief Ian Diamond hails wonderful' vaccine rollout but warns of new autumn wave of cases
Prof Diamond said case rate in England was down to 0.37 per cent - 6,000 a day But although it's lowest since September it is still far higher than last summer He agreed with CMO Chris Whitty that a new autumn wave was 'inevitable'
March and April are critical months in stopping another Covid-19 surge, CDC director says
The next two months could determine whether the US will experience another surge in coronavirus cases, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After months of devastation, steep decreases have been reported in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. More people are getting vaccinated, and the government on Monday released guidance on safe activities for fully vaccinated people. But now infection numbers have plateaued at very high levels -- with the US averaging 60,000 new cases daily in the past week. Multiple governors have eased safety measures despite health officials' warnings. Spring break events are kicking off across the country, threatening the potential for further spread of the virus.
Two months into COVID-19 lockdown, Portugal to gradually lift rules
Nearly two months into a lockdown imposed in mid-January to tackle what was then the world’s worst coronavirus surge, Portugal’s government announced on Thursday it would start to gradually ease its strict rules from next week.
German experts warn against lockdown easing as cases jump
German health experts warned on Saturday against any further easing of coronavirus lockdown measures as the number of cases jumped again, raising the possibility that infections could again reach peaks seen around Christmas by mid-April. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases predicted that the number of daily reported cases could exceed 30,000 in the 14th week of the year starting April 12. "An extrapolation of the trends shows that case numbers can be expected above the Christmas level from week 14 onwards," the RKI said in its current situation report. On Saturday, the number of COVID-19 cases rose by 12,674 and the death toll was up 239, with the number of cases per 100,000 over seven days jumping to 76.1 from 72.4.
Germany warned against easing lockdown as third wave of infections predicted to arrive next month
The number of Covid cases in Germany has been rising for the last few weeks Health experts warn restrictions are not enough to contain British strain Frustration building within the country at slow pace of vaccination roll out
Cyprus pulls back on wider easing of COVID-19 restrictions
Cyprus has put the brakes on a wider loosening of COVID-19 restrictions by keeping middle school students at home for two more weeks as the infection rate remains high partly because of how widespread the U.K. variant has become
Covid wave intensifies in Central Europe
The number of patients in intensive care has reached a new high in the Czech Republic, as several Central European countries struggle with a new wave of the virus. Czech authorities on Tuesday sent the first patient abroad for treatment in Poland as facilities struggled to cope. In Hungary, meanwhile, the number of cases in the current wave has surpassed the previous peak in December. Schools and most shops were closed on Monday amid rising infections. Cases are also on the rise in Poland, where the government recorded the highest number of daily cases since late November on Wednesday, with 17,260 new infections. A health ministry spokesman complained of "increased looseness" among Poles towards anti-Covid measures.
India reports biggest daily jump in COVID-19 infections this year
India reported the year’s biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases on Sunday, with 25,320 new infections, a day ahead of a lockdown in the western state of Maharashtra, the epicentre of the renewed surge. The just was the biggest since Dec. 16, according to federal health data. India is the third-most affected country globally with 11.36 million cases, behind the United States and Brazil. India’s COVID-19 deaths rose by 161 to 158,607 over the last 24 hours, Sunday’s data show, compared to an average of about 100 since early February.
New lockdowns
Police to enforce lockdown in central Indian city as infections surge
About 3,000 police will be deployed to enforce a week-long curfew and lockdown in the central Indian city of Nagpur from Monday after a 60% jump in coronavirus cases there, officials said. The commercial and logistics hub in Maharashtra state will be the first Indian city to go back into a wholesale lockdown since authorities lifted nationwide curbs in June last year. Officers will be watching traffic to stop unnecessary journeys and checking that most offices and shops, apart from groceries and pharmacies, stay closed, Nagpur police commissioner Amitesh Kumar said.
Draghi announces new Italian lockdown and fresh support for economy
Mario Draghi said his Italian government would launch a new economic package to support the country during fresh Covid-19 lockdown measures coming into force from next week amid a surge in cases. The prime minister said he would boost support for struggling workers and businesses, as well as tripling the number of vaccines being administered daily during a new lockdown that will last until the first week of April. “More than a year after the beginning of the health emergency, we are unfortunately facing a new wave of contagions,” Draghi said. “The memory of what happened last spring is alive, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again.”
COVID-19 situation in Paris area extremely tense: French PM
The COVID-19 situation in the Paris region is extremely tense and authorities are ready to take new measures, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Friday, but he did not announce a tightening of curfew or new regional lockdowns. Despite rising COVID-19 cases, the administration of President Emmanuel Macron has not to date declared a new national lockdown, opting instead to tighten measures locally in hard-hit towns like Nice and Dunkirk, but Paris has been spared so far. “I call on everyone, and especially those who live in the capital, to be extremely careful, wear the mask and respect social distancing. The aim is to reduce the pressure on the hospital system,” Castex said during a visit to a hospital.
AstraZeneca hesitancy - facts and fears
WHO backs AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and plays down risks
The World Health Organization (WHO) has backed the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after some European countries paused their rollouts following reports of the formation of blood clots in several recipients. “More than 335 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally so far, and no deaths have been found to have been caused by COVID-19 vaccines,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday during an online news briefing.
AstraZeneca finds no evidence showing increased risk of blood clots with COVID-19 vaccine
AstraZeneca Plc on Sunday said it had conducted a review of people vaccinated with its COVID-19 vaccine which has shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots. The review covered more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom. "A careful review of all available safety data of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and UK with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia, in any defined age group, gender, batch or in any particular country," the statement said.
Blood clots cause concern over Oxford coronavirus vaccine
Use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine should be temporarily suspended over serious blood clot concerns, heath authorities in Ireland say. Dr Ronan Glynn, the Irish chief medical officer, advised that the vaccine be suspended in the country from this morning. “This recommendation has been made following a report from the Norwegian Medicines Agency of four new reports of serious blood clotting events in adults after vaccination with Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca,” he said.
Netherlands joins growing list of EU nations to suspend use of AstraZeneca jab
The Netherlands has become the fifth country to pause its AstraZeneca roll-out Ireland halted jabs on Sunday, following moves in Denmark, Norway and Iceland Follows reports of 'serious blood clotting ' in Norway in people who had vaccine Piedmont in Italy has stopped using batch of the vaccine after a teacher's death Comes as Sir Keir Starmer, 58, received his first jab of the Oxford-made vaccine He issued statement saying vaccine is 'safe, effective' and urged people to take it
COVID-19: Ireland suspends AstraZeneca vaccine over clotting concerns
Ireland has temporarily halted its use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after some reports of blood clots. The move came after a review from the Norwegian Medicines Agency showed four new cases of "serious blood clotting in adults" had occurred after the jab, despite the World Health Organisation having sought to downplay concerns and urge countries to keep using it. The vaccine will continue to be administered in Northern Ireland, however, after the country's health body sought advice from the UK's medicine regulator.
Covaxin vaccine hesitancy in India
World’s biggest vaccine drive slowed down by lack of trust in India’s homegrown coronavirus jab
While burnishing its international image as a vaccine powerhouse, India’s domestic inoculation drive has struggled to convince its own people that a homegrown jab is safe, as Shweta Sharma reports
Disinformation wars
COVID-19: Misinformation wars on WhatsApp sees faith groups take on fake news
Faith groups are leading the fight against vaccine misinformation on what one called the "lawless wasteland" of WhatsApp. Messages spreading fake COVID-19 information are widely shared on the private messaging app. This is often through a simple "forwarding" feature that copies messages to other contacts. But the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and other groups have been pushing back on that disinformation. Sky News has been collecting and analysing messages to monitor what type of misinformation is shared on WhatsApp, while also speaking to groups which are tackling the problem head on.
Nurses fight conspiracy theories along with coronavirus
Los Angeles emergency room nurse Sandra Younan spent the last year juggling long hours as she watched many patients struggle with the coronavirus and some die. Then there were the patients who claimed the virus was fake or coughed in her face, ignoring mask rules. One man stormed out of the hospital after a positive COVID-19 test, refusing to believe it was accurate. “You have patients that are literally dying, and then you have patients that are denying the disease,” she said. “You try to educate and you try to educate, but then you just hit a wall.” Bogus claims about the virus, masks and vaccines have exploded since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic a year ago. Journalists, public health officials and tech companies have tried to push back against the falsehoods, but much of the job of correcting misinformation has fallen to the world’s front-line medical workers.