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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 17th Jul 2020

News Highlights

Unexplained Covid-19 resurgences baffle health authorities worldwide

Many countries around the world that had seemingly contained Covid-19 outbreaks within their borders have seen resurgences, sometimes without any clear indication of how the infection has spread, indicating hidden chains of transmission. To counter this, places like Hong Kong and Australia have again placed entire cities under lockdown like conditions.

Cases close in on a million in India as rural cases spike

India reported a new daily high of 32,6969 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, with total cases closing in on one million and 24,915 deaths. While the initial hotspots were major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, a large number of cases are now emerging from rural areas after hundreds of thousands of migrant workers returned to their homes from the cities, after being locked down for almost three months.

Indoor mask wearing mandatory from next week in France

French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, announced that from Monday July 20, citizens would be required to wear masks in closed or confined public spaces, especially places where physical distancing is impossible. The rule was supposed to be enforced from August 1, but has been pushed forward to July 20 due to concerns about renewed flare-ups of Covid-19.

Brazil crosses 2 million cases; U.S. sees record daily high

Brazil jumped from 1 million cases of Covid-19 to 2 million in less than a month, with the country averaging more than 40,000 cases per day for the last few weeks. Meanwhile, the U.S. registered 71,135 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, a new daily high, with new hotspots emerging in Florida, that alone recorded 13,965 cases.

Lockdown Exit
India coronavirus cases near one million, driven by surge in rural areas
The number of coronavirus cases in India neared one million on Thursday as infection numbers rose in the countryside, pushing authorities to reinstate lockdowns across several states. India reported a record 32,696 new cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 968,876 with 24,915 deaths, according to data from the federal health ministry. The country of 1.3 billion people is behind only the United States and Brazil in the number of confirmed infections and there is no sign yet of the curve flattening. India's testing rate is also among the lowest in the world in relation to its population. While major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai were among the initial hotspots of the virus in India, newer cases are emerging in rural areas where healthcare infrastructure is much weaker. A fresh lockdown was imposed on Thursday in the largely-rural eastern state of Bihar, where cases have been rising after thousands of migrant workers returned from cities following a strict lockdown to contain the virus spread.
Life after lockdown
The pandemic is still affecting some regions of Europe. “There is strategy called Hammer and Dance,” says Dr Leticia Kawano Dourado, a respiratory physician at the Hospital do Coração in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “You alternate between closing down and reopening with a focus on testing and tracing until we get a vaccine.” The strategy, outlined by writer Tomás Pueyo, has drawn a lot attention from experts. “During the Hammer, the goal is to get R as close to zero, as fast as possible, to quench the epidemic. But once you move into the Dance, you don’t need to do that anymore. You just need your R to stay below 1.” He explains, where R means the average number of people each person with a disease goes on to infect.
China leads coronavirus recovery as economy returns to growth
China has reported a return to 3.2 per cent growth in the second quarter, in one the world’s first major signs of economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded expectations in the three months to the end of June, according to data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The rise follows China’s first decline in decades, with GDP dropping by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 as the pandemic peaked in the world’s second-largest economy.
Quirky Campers reports boom in interest from New Zealanders post-lockdown
With international travel off the cards due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many New Zealand tourism operators catering to the domestic market are enjoying a boom. Quirky Campers is one of them - the campervan rental company is reporting a 1000 percent increase in visits to its website since January.
New Zealand Inflation Slows as Virus Lockdown Stalls Economy
New Zealand inflation slowed in the second quarter, falling toward the low-end of the central bank’s target range, amid a collapse in the global oil price and a stalling economy due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Consumer prices rose 1.5% from a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said Thursday in Wellington. That compared with 2.5% in the first quarter, but was faster than the 1.3% expected by economists. Prices fell 0.5% from three months earlier -- the first quarterly decline since 2015.
Half of British workers have restarted commuting, ONS says
The proportion of people in Britain travelling to their place of work rose to 50% last week for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown started, a survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed on Thursday. Another ONS survey of businesses showed 90% of food and accommodation companies had incurred extra costs because of safety measures implemented in attempts to reopen following lockdown.
London restaurants fret as going out goes out of style
Restaurants might have reopened, but the owner of Etta’s Seafood Kitchen in London’s Brixton Village market fears the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown may have changed customer behaviour for good.
Rising coronavirus infections threaten US economic recovery
Rising coronavirus infections across dozens of states are threatening the U.S. economic recovery, forcing businesses and consumers to freeze spending and keeping the unemployment rate stubbornly high. The government reported Thursday that retail sales rose a sharp 7.5% in June, but the positive trend was undercut by more recent data showing that credit card spending has stalled. A separate report showed that more than a million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week – a sign that companies continue to cut jobs as the virus slashes through the heavily populated Sunbelt.
Growing Wait Times for Covid-19 Test Results Hinder Virus Response
“You have no idea how many infections you have today,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and head epidemiologist for the university’s Covid-19 Testing Insights Initiative, which tracks testing trends. “But it also just puts you behind the eight ball. It delays your ability to intervene, and that’s the whole point,” Dr. Nuzzo added. “What’s the point of doing a test if someone doesn’t get a test result for two weeks?” Aside from tracking the virus, the purpose of testing and identifying cases is to isolate infected people and then quickly locate those they have been in contact with and ask them to self-quarantine before they further spread the virus.
UK boosts healthcare funding to ward off winter COVID-19 wave
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to pour 3 billion pounds ($3.77 billion) into England’s National Health Service (NHS) to try to ward off any resurgence of the coronavirus. Britain is the worst-affected country in Europe by COVID-19 with a death toll from confirmed cases of more than 45,000. The government has faced criticism over several different aspects of its response to the pandemic, including that it was too slow to impose a lockdown and failed to ramp up testing capacity quickly enough. In recent weeks, the country has eased lockdown restrictions as infection rates have fallen but the government said it must now begin to prepare for a potential second peak in cases over winter. “The Prime Minister is clear that now is not the time for complacency, and we must make sure our NHS is battle ready for winter,” a spokesman said ahead of a news conference by Johnson on Friday afternoon.
Coronavirus tracked: England’s infection rate is now five times greater than Scotland’s, latest data reveals
The coronavirus infection rate in England is five-times greater than that of Scotland’s, the latest data has revealed. Since mid-May, both countries have seen new daily coronavirus cases reduce significantly, though Scotland’s handling of the virus appears to have been far more effective. At their peak, both nations recorded a similar amount of new cases per day, with England recording around 73 new cases per million people compared to Scotland’s 63 infections per million people.
U.N. aid chief to G20 on coronavirus: 'Step up now or pay price later'
Coronavirus support to poor countries has been so far “grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted,” U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Thursday as he asked wealthy countries for billions more dollars in assistance. The United Nations increased its humanitarian appeal by more than a third to $10.3 billion to help 63 states, mainly in Africa and Latin America, tackle the spread and destabilising effects of the coronavirus. This is up from the world body’s initial $2 billion request in March, then $6.7 billion in May. So far, Lowcock said, the United Nations has only received $1.7 billion.
Exit Strategies
UK government orders halt to Randox Covid-19 tests over safety issues
The UK government has instructed care homes and members of the public to immediately stop using coronavirus testing kits produced by a healthcare firm after safety problems were discovered. Randox was awarded a £133m contract in March to produce the testing kits for England, Wales and Northern Ireland without any other firms being given the opportunity to bid for the work. Under the contract, the kits are sent to the public and places such as care homes and then delivered back to Randox to check swabs to see if individuals have the virus. On Thursday the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, told MPs: “We’ve identified some swabs that are not up to the usual high standard that we expect, and we’ll be carrying out further testing of this batch as a precautionary measure.
France speeds up plans to mandate face masks over COVID-19 fears
France accelerated plans on Thursday to make it compulsory to wear face masks in enclosed public spaces because of concerns about renewed flare-ups of COVID-19. President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that mask-wearing would be mandatory in places such as shops from Aug. 1, citing signs that the coronavirus was “coming back a bit”. But on Thursday Prime Minister Jean Castex said the order would take effect next week. Until now, it has been mandatory to wear face coverings only on public transport and in public spaces where social distancing is not possible. “We were considering implementing (this measure) on August 1,” Castex told the Senate. “I have heard and understood that this deadline appeared late or raised some questions, so the decree will come into force next week.”
One in FIVE Covid-19 patients are still not being contacted by NHS Test and Trace
NHS Test and Trace is still failing to find a more than a fifth of patients who test positive for Covid-19 — despite launching almost two months ago, shocking data revealed today. Of the 3,579 Covid-19 patients in England referred to the contact tracing programme between July 2 and July 8, just 2,815 were actually tracked down (78.7 per cent). A total of 618 people with the disease could not be reached at all by the tracers — who phone, text and email someone up to 10 times a day to get hold of them.
Coronavirus: South African communities are buckling under COVID-19 'storm'
There were some who thought South Africa would be spared the worst of the global pandemic, but the virus has taken root, spreading rapidly through the country's densely populated townships. In fact, South Africa has become the world's fourth-largest source of daily cases of COVID-19, with health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize simultaneously warning of a "coming storm" and a serious shortage of essentials like hospital beds and compressed oxygen.
German health ministers push for strict, local coronavirus lockdowns as needed
German states and the federal government have reached an agreement on "more targeted measures" to address localized outbreaks of COVID-19. One significant change is that entire districts will no longer be required to lockdown in the case of a localized outbreak, while quarantine and lockdown measures will be tightly limited to only targeted hotspots. Localized travel bans in and out of coronavirus hotspots may be enforced in cases where the number of infections continues to rise or when there is no certainty that a chain of infection will not continue to spread. The measures come as Germany — which has been less affected by the pandemic than neighboring countries — seeks to ward off a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Germany readies tougher lockdowns to ward off second wave: draft plan
Germany plans to allow for tougher lockdown measures to contain local outbreaks and ward off the threat of a second coronavirus wave, according to a draft agreement between the federal and regional governments. The new rules would include a ban on travel "in and out of the affected areas" to limit the spread of the virus, the document seen by AFP said. The plan is set to be finalised later on Thursday and comes as countries across the world are reimposing curbs on public life in response to a surge in new infections.
Spanish island closes party strip after rowdy tourists flout coronavirus laws
The Spanish island of Mallorca has closed its main party strip after drunken tourists were seen cavorting without masks, jumping on cars and chanting aggressively on the streets of a resort town. Authorities say such incidents, video of which was shared by a local journalist but hasn't been verified by CNN, are isolated, but they have raised concerns as Spain teeters on the edge of a fresh coronavirus surge. All of the bars on Punta Ballena street were closed as of Wednesday evening because the "mainly British tourists there, and the bar operators themselves," were not complying with the rules, a spokesman for the Balearics regional government told CNN. Authorities are "aware" of social media postings showing about 20 people dancing in the street, including on top of cars, added the spokesman.
France makes face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces amid 'signs of a resurgence' of coronavirus in Paris
PM Jean Castex said masks will be necessary in all public indoor areas next week Currently, masks only mandatory on public transport and certain public spaces Not clear whether there will be penalties for not wearing a mask in these areas Country's R rate is edging above one, health authorities warned last week
Nations scale back re-opening plans as Covid-19 numbers back on upswing
The latest research models show the number of US deaths projected to rise to over 150,000 by next month. "We've got to almost reset this and say, 'Okay, let's stop this nonsense,'" Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, told The Atlantic. In the US state of Oklahoma, the Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, who has often declined to wear a mask, said he had tested positive for Covid-19. The use of masks to slow the spread of the virus has become a political flashpoint in the US, where Trump had resisted wearing one until recently and at times mocked the trend. Stitt's state recorded a single-day record of 1,075 new cases, while its neighbor to the south, Texas, reported 10,791 new cases and 110 new fatalities -- both "new highs." Cases and death tolls continue to mount across the United States, particularly in the south and west, with Florida and California also hard hit.
Masks mandatory indoors in France next week (not August 1)
France is to make masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces from next week, and not from August 1 as was originally announced, the Prime Minister has confirmed. Jean Castex told the Senate today (July 16): “I have heard and understood that this [original] deadline appeared late and raised further questions.” From Monday July 20, the public will be required to cover their mouths and noses when in enclosed or confined public spaces, especially shops, and especially sites in which physical distancing is impossible. Mr Castex said: “We had envisaged that these rules would come into force [from August 1] because we are working preventatively, not in haste. But I have heard and understood that this [original] deadline appeared late and raised further questions. “The decree will therefore come into force from next week.”
China will allow cinemas in low-risk areas to open from July 20
China will allow most cinemas to re-open from July 20, the film administration said on Thursday, six months after they were forced to close as part of draconian measures to contain the novel coronavirus.
Under fire over coronavirus policy, Netanyahu announces money for all
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday a plan for government grants for all Israelis amid growing public anger over his handling of a coronavirus crisis that has taken a sharp turn for the worse.
EU unveils plan to counter second Covid-19 wave
The European Commission unveiled on Wednesday (15 July) a set of guidelines to strengthen the EU's response to a potential future surge of coronavirus infections - calling on member states to reduce the risk of a simultaneous seasonal-flu and Covid-19 outbreaks in the autumn. "The virus is still with us, but Europe is now much more prepared," said commission's vice president, Margaritis Schinas, referring to the new, localised, outbreaks appearing across Europe.
Coronavirus: Ireland puts brakes on easing lockdown amid 'real concern'
The Republic of Ireland has decided not to move forward to Phase 4 of its roadmap for easing lockdown amid concerns about the spread of Covid-19. "This virus has not changed, indiscriminate in its cruelty and relentless," said the taoiseach. "The concern about the rise in cases in recent weeks is very real, the R (reproductive) number has risen above 1 in this country," Micheál Martin said. "The international situation represents a growing worry." Mr Martin said the Irish cabinet had agreed that current public health measures should remain in place and the Republic of Ireland would not progress to Phase 4 of the agreed roadmap.
Partisan Exits
Outbreak: Lockdown protests explode in several countries
Major protests are breaking out against governments in several countries after coronavirus sparked fury over grievances including economic problems and alleged corruption or incompetence. Demonstrators have taken to the streets to voice their anger at perceived failures by leaders to rise to the unprecedented challenges heightened by the pandemic. A report from the Institute for Economics and Peace entitled Covid-19 and Peace reads: “The pandemic will undo many years of socio-economic development for several countries, exacerbating humanitarian crises and potentially aggravating unrest and conflict.” The IEP said that most of the indicators of its Global Peace Index (GPI) and Positive Peace Index (PPI) — which measures the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies — were “likely to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ukrainians 'tired' of lockdown, says president
Ukrainians are fed up with the coronavirus lockdown and the government should be cautious about extending it beyond August, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday. “Everyone is tired of this quarantine,” the presidential press service quoted him as telling government officials. Ukraine imposed strict restrictions in March but partially eased them in May to allow economic recovery. It has been extending the lockdown monthly, with current rules in place until end-July requiring people to wear masks and adhere to strict norms in restaurants and public places. “We need a clear framework for how we will continue it (lockdown), so that people have the opportunity to live safely, so that business can function, so that the economy does not stand at a pause,” Zelenskiy added.
Algeria plans law to protect medics as attacks, virus cases rise
Algeria is planning a law to protect health workers after an increase in "physical and verbal attacks" since the country's coronavirus outbreak began, as it registered another record number of daily cases. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called for new legislation after an increase in recent weeks of "physical and verbal attacks on medics, paramedics and administrative staff," according to a statement published on the prime minister's website. The incidents have also in some cases involved "acts of damage and destruction of public assets and medical equipment," the statement added. Algeria on Thursday registered 585 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to 21,355, including 1,052 deaths, said Djamel Fourar, spokesperson for the scientific committee monitoring the pandemic, during a daily press conference.
How Russian hackers tried to breach UK coronavirus vaccine research
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned that hackers linked to the Russian intelligence services are targeting UK researchers working on a coronavirus vaccine. The warning has been issued by the UK’s cyber security agency alongside its US and Canadian counterparts.
Scott Morrison says Australia cannot shut down to contain second wave of Covid-19
Scott Morrison says the response to a second wave of Covid-19 infections cannot be shutting the country down to try to eliminate the virus, and he’s moved to reassure people his government will not be withdrawing income support “for those in need”. With renewed debate around whether Australia should respond to the latest outbreak and a spike in community transmission with more forceful lockdowns, Morrison said on Wednesday elimination was impractical, but Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton told reporters it was an idea “worthy of consideration”.
Continued Lockdown
Illegal groups in Colombia using violence to enforce lockdowns
Illegal armed groups are imposing strict COVID-19 quarantines in parts of Colombia where the state has a weak presence, threatening and even killing those who don't comply, Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday. At least nine people have been assassinated in recent months for either refusing to abide by the restrictions or actively opposing them. One man, community leader Edison Leon, was killed in June after sending a letter alerting local authorities that members of a group called “La Mafia” were forcing residents to staff a health checkpoint in Putumayo.
UK sheds 650,000 jobs during coronavirus lockdown
The UK has shed more than half a million jobs during the coronavirus lockdown while employees worked fewer hours and earned less despite the government rolling out numerous measures to support the economy. The number of UK payroll employees fell by 650,000 in June compared with March, a 2.2 per cent fall, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics based on tax data. The statistics body said, however, that the rate of decline in employment had slowed in June compared with May. “There are now almost two-thirds of a million fewer employees on the payroll than before the lockdown, according to the latest tax data,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.
A Residential Area Remains on Lockdown in Beijing, China
An upscale residential area remains on semi-lockdown in Beijing on Thursday, July 16, 2020. China reported just one new confirmed case of the Covid-19 in the past 24 hours and two asymptomatic cases, as the U.S. struggles to fight the rising infections and deaths across the country.
Scientific Viewpoint
Can you get infected with COVID-19 twice? Experts say possibility is 'certainly real'
"The possibility of reinfection is certainly real," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told USA TODAY. "And one that I am seeing repeatedly on the front lines." Glatter says he has cared for a "number of patients" who suffer only mild initial infections, get better and actually test negative for the virus before experiencing a recurrence of symptoms. The intensity can be worse the second time, he says. "These patients develop difficulty breathing, leading to hypoxia, aches, chest pain, with recurrent and unrelenting fevers and chills," he said, adding that they then test positive again. Experts caution that it's been only a few months since the first surge of cases in China and around the world. The frequency and severity of reinfections won't be known until cases rise in the areas where there were a significant number of infections last winter, said Dr. Daniel Griffin, chief of infectious diseases at ProHEALTH Care in New York. "We are months away from knowing for certain if reinfections are possible or a significant issue," Griffin told USA TODAY.
Covid-19 cases will need to keep rising in NSW before restrictions are tightened, experts say
Coronavirus cases in New South Wales will need to continue rising at their current rates until at least the middle of next week before the government will consider further tightening social restrictions, public health experts have said. They argue the state’s capacity to rapidly respond to new cases has not yet been overwhelmed. As the cluster linked to the Crossroads Hotel in Sydney’s south-west grew to 40 cases on Thursday, the NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, would not be drawn on specifics in relation to potential further restrictions.
Coronavirus: Encouraging results in vaccine trials
Encouraging early results from clinical trials have raised hopes for an effective coronavirus vaccine. Studies in the US and UK suggest several experimental vaccines produce a good immune response in volunteers without serious side-effects. Nearly two dozen coronavirus vaccines are in clinical trials while another 140 are in early development. But some scientists are calling for volunteers to be exposed to the virus to accelerate research. Nobel laureates are among those who say it would make it easier to see if those who had received a vaccine were protected. They signed an open letter to the head of the US National Institutes of Health, saying these "challenge trials" could accelerate vaccine development. The race to create a coronavirus vaccine is certainly accelerating.
Scotland's children need post-Covid-19 mental health care, says report
Every child in Scotland will need additional mental health support as a consequence of measures taken to tackle the coronavirus crisis, according to the country’s children and young people’s commissioner. Speaking exclusively to the Guardian as he publishes Scotland’s comprehensive assessment of the impact of the pandemic on children’s rights – the first such review undertaken anywhere in the world – Bruce Adamson said the pandemic had sent a “very negative” message about how decision-makers value young people’s voices. He said Scotland has been viewed as a children’s rights champion but that efforts to involve young people in the dramatic changes being made to their education and support “went out the window as soon as lockdown came along”.
Russian state-sponsored hackers target Covid-19 vaccine researchers
Russian state-sponsored hackers are targeting UK, US and Canadian organisations involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, according to British security officials. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said drug companies and research groups were being targeted by a group known as APT29, which was “almost certainly” part of the Kremlin’s intelligence services. British officials would not say if any of the attacks had been successful in their goal of stealing medical secrets. They stressed, however, that none of the vaccine research had been compromised as a result.
Earlier lockdown linked to bigger reduction in Covid-19 cases – study
Imposing lockdown restrictions earlier has been linked to greater reductions in new coronavirus cases, a study has found. The research, published in the BMJ on Wednesday, also found that physical distancing measures, such as closing schools, workplaces and public transport, and restricting mass gatherings, were associated with a “meaningful reduction” in new Covid-19 cases. Based on data gathered from 149 countries and regions, the study found that on average the implementation of any physical distancing measure was associated with an overall reduction in Covid-19 incidence of 13%. A team of UK and US researchers compared the change in new cases of Covid-19 before and up to 30 days after implementation of physical distancing measures in the early stages of the pandemic.
Earlier lockdowns do cut Covid-19 outbreaks quicker, study shows
Researchers measured how Covid-19 cases changed in response to strict rules. They looked at five physical distancing measures including work closures. Britain was one of the slowest to introduce the potentially life-saving measures.
'Colour-blind' France avoids gauging COVID impact on ethnic minorities
While other nations had data showing a worryingly disproportionate infection rate among ethnic minorities, France had no such information due to a long-standing taboo on compiling citizens’ race intended to prevent discrimination. In the end, 42-year-old Delpierre turned to data compiled by Imperial College in London on Britain’s epidemic for clues about how the disease could also be affecting France. “They knew who was dying and who was surviving - we were still putting studies together,” said Delpierre, who began his career studying social factors in AIDS and now heads a team of researchers in Toulouse at the state National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM). French governments have long cherished their “colour-blind” policy. Census questionnaires, job applications and medical files avoid references to ethnicity or religion. But now – on the back of the global Black Lives Matter movement and heightened coronavirus suffering in immigrant communities – some campaigners in France say the policy can harm rather than shield minorities. “We’re too politically correct in France,” said Ghyslain Vedeux, who heads advocacy group the Representative Council of Black Associations. “Blacks, Arabs, immigrants, and more broadly poor people, were the hardest hit. Why not make it official?”
Coronavirus: Russian cyber spies attempting to steal vaccine research from Britain, US and Canada
Russian cyber spies are trying to steal research into coronavirus vaccines and treatments from Britain, the US and Canada, the three countries claimed on Thursday. The attack is ongoing, with British cyber experts working to defend research institutes, laboratories and other targets in the UK, according to a branch of the spy agency GCHQ. Organisations in other countries involved in the fight against COVID-19 are also allegedly being targeted.
Russia has been caught hacking into coronavirus vaccine projects
The UK, US and Canada have discovered hackers working on behalf of the Russian state launching attacks against coronavirus vaccine development projects. Criminals working for the hacking group Advanced Persistent Threat 29 (APT29), also known as Cozy Bear, have been caught attacking pharmaceutical businesses and academic institutions involved in vaccine development. Officials in the three countries believe these have been attempts to steal intellectual property and information about potential vaccine candidates. The hackers used “custom malware” that’s not been previously linked to Russia and a number of publicly known vulnerabilities in widely used software, such as VPNs. These have been accompanied with spear-phishing attempts that have looked to gather login details to “internet-accessible” parts of the organisations targeted.
From Hong Kong to Australia, COVID-19 spreads in unexplained ways
As countries across the Asia-Pacific region struggle with resurgences of the coronavirus, one data point is steering government responses: the share of cases with no clear indication of how infection occurred. These patients cannot be linked to other confirmed infections or existing outbreaks by virus responders, indicating hidden chains of transmission. A growing proportion of such cases in a city’s resurgence pushes governments, like in Australia and Hong Kong, to take broad and blunt action, returning entire cities to lockdown-like conditions. “You can hardly contain the outbreak because you have no idea where they will come out next,” said Yang Gonghuan, former deputy director general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “When there’s more cases where the origins are unknown, it adds to the difficulty for containment.”
Covid is spreading in unexplained ways, dimming containment hope
As countries across Asia Pacific struggle with resurgences of the COVID-19, one data point is steering government responses: the share of cases with no clear indication of how infection occurred. These patients cannot be linked to other confirmed infections or existing outbreaks by virus responders, indicating hidden chains of transmission. A growing proportion of such cases in a city’s resurgence pushes governments, like in Australia and Hong Kong, to take broad and blunt action, returning entire cities to lockdown like conditions.
Rising virus totals force rethink of bars, schools, tourism
Bars may be off the menu and many schools look set to remain closed for months to come as the new coronavirus causes more illness and death in many countries and the U.S. South and West. India's record daily increase of nearly 32,7000 cases pushed its total close to 1 million and led authorities to reimpose a three-day lockdown and night curfew in the popular western beach state of Goa, two weeks after it was reopened to tourists.
US researchers say heparin may neutralise Covid-19 virus
Based on research findings published in Antiviral Research, the drug may act as a decoy to prevent the virus from infecting human cells. SARS-CoV-2 works by using a surface spike protein to attach to human cells and begin infection. However, heparin can bind with the surface spike protein to potentially block the infection. This mechanism could enable the drug to act as a decoy, which may be delivered into the body via a nasal spray or nebulizer to interfere and lower the infection risk. According to the researchers, similar decoy strategies were observed to be beneficial in fighting other viruses such as influenza A, Zika and dengue. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute chemistry and chemical biology professor Robert Linhardt said: “This approach could be used as an early intervention to reduce the infection among people who have tested positive but aren’t yet suffering symptoms. But we also see this as part of a larger antiviral strategy.
Coronavirus: Oxford vaccine could provide 'double protection' - report
Researchers at the University of Oxford believe they have made a breakthrough in the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Human trials are reported to have shown promising results after the team discovered the jab could provide "double protection" against the virus. Blood samples taken from volunteers in phase one trials have shown the vaccine stimulated the body to produce antibodies and T-cells, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Spain campsite in lockdown with 250 tourists trapped inside after coronavirus outbreak
A Spanish campsite popular with Brit holidaymakers has gone into lockdown after two tourists tested positive for coronavirus. Around 250 tourists are said to be trapped inside the site in the seaside resort of Zarautz, which was immediately closed down. Police have now been called in to prevent anyone from entering or leaving without permission. Health officials closed the Talai Mendi campsite in Basque Country after detecting two positive guests. Now all 250 tourists will be tested for coronavirus. The site had only just reopened following the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown. Medical personnel started the tests yesterday and it is hoped the first results will come through today. Tourists will then be given the choice of either going home or staying inside the closed campsite for a quarantine period of between seven and 14 days.
Are stage 4 coronavirus lockdown restrictions coming to Victoria?
As Victoria grapples with more than 200 new Covid-19 cases each day, questions are being asked of the premier, Daniel Andrews, and the chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, about whether tougher restrictions – or “stage 4” lockdown measures – are on the cards. There is no definition of what stage four may involve given no one can predict what case numbers may look like in a month, let alone a week’s time, and therefore what responses may be necessary. This lack of clarity has prompted plenty of speculation about what might lie ahead. Scam text messages with false information have fuelled fears about what a stage four lockdown could entail.
How New Zealand could keep eliminating coronavirus at its border for months to come, even as the global pandemic worsens
Stringent border controls and mandatory quarantine give New Zealand a good chance to remain free of COVID-19 for months to come, according to our latest modelling. It’s been 76 days since New Zealand’s last reported case of community transmission, and our model shows the risk of an infectious person slipping through the border undetected remains very low. Provided the rules are followed, we would expect this to happen only once over the next 18 months — and even then, this person may not infect anyone else. New Zealand’s borders remain closed to everyone except residents, citizens and a small number of foreigners with special exemptions.
China reports 10 new coronavirus cases in mainland, nearly all imported
China reported 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the mainland as of the end of July 16, up from one a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Friday. Nine of the new infections were imported cases, involving travellers from overseas. Beijing reported no new cases for an 11th consecutive day. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in mainland China to date is 83,622. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.
Brazil coronavirus cases reach 2 million, doubling in less than a month
Brazil on Thursday passed the 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases mark, with little sign that the rate of increase is slowing as anger grows over President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the outbreak. Just 27 days have passed since Brazil, which has the world's second-largest outbreak after the United States, reached one million cases. In recent weeks, there have been nearly 40,000 confirmed new cases per day, according to government figures. By contrast, 43 days passed between 1 million and 2 million confirmed cases in the United States, where the spread of COVID-19 eased briefly in May before accelerating again in June, according to a Reuters tally. On Thursday, confirmed cases in Brazil totalled 2,012,151, while deaths numbered 76,688.
More than 71,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the US on Thursday, the most ever
For the first time, the numbers of coronavirus cases reported in the United States passed 70,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. There were 71,135 new cases reported Thursday, topping the previous high of 67,791 new coronavirus cases reported across the country two days ago. Florida reported 13,965 of Thursday's cases, the second most reported in a day in the state. As much of the country sees a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, the test results data that many cities and states depend on to make important decisions about resources and reopenings is lagging. Right now, tests are being done in much larger numbers -- a positive development -- but this increase is also slowing down results.
New Lockdown
Hundreds of millions in India back in lockdown as virus cases surge
Hundreds of millions of people in India are back into lockdown conditions as coronavirus cases surge in the country. More than 400 million people are impacted in three Indian states shut down, CNN reported on Wednesday. Lockdowns were also instituted in high-risk areas of localities in several other states, permitting only essential food supplies and health services, The Associated Press reported.
Lockdown 'should be lifted in 90% of Leicester'
Leicester's mayor has called for 90% of the city's lockdown to be lifted and said residents will be "very angry" if restrictions are extended further. A prolonged lockdown for the city was announced on 29 June after a spike in Covid-19 cases, with non-essential shops and schools closed. But mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said new data showed only 10% of Leicester had seen higher transmission rates. The health secretary is due to rule on whether to extend restrictions later. The Department of Health and Social Care previously said it "makes no apology" for trying to reverse infection rates. Sir Peter said the government had got local people into a "messy situation" by its handling of the restrictions. On the prospect of the local lockdown being extended, he said: "I think if we are told that, there are going to be an awful lot of Leicester people who are very angry indeed."
Indian states ordered back into lockdown as coronavirus cases surge
Coronavirus cases have surged in India, as the country is now expected to reach a million infections in the next days. A three-day lockdown will be going into effect as of Thursday night in the state of Goa, which is also implementing a night curfew until August 10, and a two-week lockdown has now gone into effect in the Eastern city of Bihar, as FRANCE 24’s New Delhi correspondent Diya Gupta reports.
India sends 375million people back into lockdown
India's 29,429 new coronavirus cases bring its total from 906,752 to 936,181 Health officials also recorded 582 new deaths, taking tally from 23,727 to 24,309 State of Bihar and IT hub of Bangalore are among areas to impose new lockdown
Unemployment rises to 22-year high as second lockdown fears stifle economic recovery
Australia has recorded the highest unemployment rate for 22 years, raising fears the “COVID-19 economic recession” will dampen prospects of an early recovery. Labour figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released Thursday showed Australia’s June unemployment rate rose to 7.4 per cent, a 0.3 percentage rise on the previous month. It was the highest monthly unemployment rate since November 1998 and prompted Prime Minister Scott Morrison to label the fiscal pain caused by the pandemic as Australia’s “COVID-19 economic recession”.
Leicester lockdown to be only partially lifted, Matt Hancock confirms
The confusion around the Government's coronavirus messaging was perfectly illustrated by two Cabinet ministers buying their breakfast at Pret A Manger on Tuesday. When Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, emerged from the sandwich shop wearing a mask – but the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove came out with his face uncovered – it showed that the ever-changing rules were flummoxing even those running the country. On Friday, Boris Johnson is expected to give another landmark speech, urging the nation to get back to work after the Governor of the Bank of England warned that people's "fear" of commuting was "holding back the country". Yet with Downing Street continuing to emit mixed messages about what the public should and should not do – and millions of workers still on furlough until October – some are starting to question the directions on the Prime Minister's latest road map....