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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 22nd Jul 2020

News Highlights

Coronavirus here to stay for years, expert warns

Speaking to the House of Commons' Health Committee, Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said that far from a return to normality by Christmas, as suggested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK would have to live with the coronavirus for many years to come and even a vaccine would not be able to eliminate it for good.

Cases drop in New Delhi but other states in India lock down again

For the first day in seven weeks, New Delhi recorded less than 1,000 daily cases of Covid-19 as the Indian capital finally seemed to get a grip on the pandemic. However, many Indian cities are still seeing very high numbers of cases and several states have opted to reimpose lockdowns. India last week became the third country, after the U.S. and Brazil, to cross the 1 million cases threshold and more than 28,000 Indians have already succumbed to Covid-19.

Covid-19 testing crunch likely in autumn, warns U.S. lab giant

Quest Diagnostics, the largest laboratory company in the U.S., has warned that it will be near impossible to scale up testing capabilities to meet the surge in demand likely during the autumn flu season. As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in states like California, Texas and Florida, lab companies are reporting delays of up to a week in getting results to people, by which time these people would have already passed the point at which they are the most infectious.

South Korean study finds people more likely to contract Covid-19 at home

A study by South Korean epidemiologists has suggested that people are more likely to get the coronavirus from members of their own family rather than from contacts outside. The study, which looked at 5,706 Covid-19 positive patients and more than 59,000 of their contacts, shows that only 2 percent of people caught the virus outside the home, while close to 10 percent contracted the disease from their own families.

Lockdown Exit
Brazil seeking COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca
Brazil is in talks with U.S. biotech firm Moderna Inc to possibly get priority in purchasing a potential COVID-19 vaccine that the company is developing, the country’s interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Tuesday. Pazuello said that Brazil also has an understanding with AstraZeneca for the firm to deliver 30 million doses of its potential vaccine.
NHS family who all fell ill with Covid-19 warn public not to take virus lightly as rules ease
A family of three frontline NHS staff who work at the same hospital and who all caught Covid-19 – taking them “to the brink of death” – are warning people not to take the virus lightly as lockdown restrictions are eased. Aryen Roxas, a surgical nurse at King’s College Hospital, London, developed a fever and a cough in March and began self-isolating at home, shortly afterwards testing positive for the coronavirus. Despite taking “every precaution possible” in the two bedroom flat she shares with her parents, her mother and father, who also work at King’s, also caught Covid-19.
Peru Restaurants Resume Operations as COVID Lockdown Lifts
Restaurants in Peru are accepting diners for the first time since closing four months ago at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. Under new guidelines, businesses on Monday resumed operations at 40% capacity. Tables were required to be at least two meters apart. Ruben Espinoza, chef and manager of the Punto Marisko restaurant, said he is excited about the reopening even if it's only at 40% of restaurant capacity because it's a start. The reopening of restaurants in the upscale Miraflores tourist district in the capital, Lima, attracted few diners as businesses begin to recover from the economic crisis created by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Argentine capital begins timid reopening after virus lockdown
Argentina began a timid reopening of economic activity in the capital Buenos Aires on Monday, relaxing coronavirus containment measures despite continued high infection rates. "We need to learn to live with the virus because if we don't, the economic damage will be worse than the damage done by the virus," Daniel Bailo, a vendor at a hiking and fishing store that opened on Monday, told AFP. The reopening of the greater Buenos Aires area, where 90 percent of Argentina's coronavirus cases have been concentrated, comes despite the country reporting more than 3,000 new infections a day.
Dutch coronavirus infections are increasing, health authorities warn
The number of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands is increasing, the country’s health authorities warned in an update on Tuesday. The Netherlands Institute for Health said that 987 people had tested positive for the disease in the past week, up from 534 the week before.
Coronavirus cases in California soar past 400,000, poised to surpass New York
California soared past 400,000 total coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as public health officials once again pleaded with residents to take shelter-in-place measures seriously. At midday, the case count in California jumped to 407,344 cases and 7,868 deaths, with the average number of daily cases in July more than double the average from June. “I don’t overread into the significance of that number,” said Mark Ghaly, California’s health and human services secretary, during a media briefing Tuesday. “I look at every day as an opportunity to do better and do more with our response to COVID-19.”
Canada authorities had expected recent spike in coronavirus cases - World News
A recent spike in coronavirus cases across Canada as the economy gradually reopens is worrying but does not come as a surprise to authorities, a senior official said on Tuesday. Deputy public health officer Howard Njoo - who expressed concern last Friday about the increase - told a briefing that the success of efforts to combat the outbreak was fragile and could be undermined by people becoming complacent.
Exit Strategies
Major airlines ask EU, White House to adopt new COVID-19 testing program
Major US and European Union airlines asked the EU and White House on Tuesday to consider a joint US-EU program to test airline passengers for COVID-19 as a way to allow people to travel once again between the United States and Europe. In a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence and Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, the chief executives of American Airlines, United Airlines, Lufthansa and International Airlines Group requested "the safe and swift restoration of air travel between the United States and Europe."
Coronavirus: Latin America struggles to contain the pandemic
The novel coronavirus continues its march across Latin America. More than 3.5 million people in the region are infected with SARS-CoV-2. With more than 150,000 deaths, Latin America has the second highest mortality rate. The consequences of the pandemic are a strain on the region's fragile health care systems and they have revealed serious shortcomings despite early and drastic government restrictions. The flattening of the curve still seems a distant prospect. Four of the 10 worst-affected countries worldwide are in Latin America, according to Johns Hopkins University: Brazil has more than 2 million confirmed cases, Peru and Mexico both have around 350,000, and Chile with 330,000. Smaller countries are also seriously affected, including Ecuador with more than 70,000 people infected and more than 5,000 deaths. Quito, the country's capital, is currently in crisis mode because intensive care beds are no longer available. Many people wonder whether the strict curfew imposed more than three months ago hasn't worked.
Are Spaniards the most willing adopters of face masks in Europe?
The sight of people without masks sitting at tightly packed outdoor tables in the Basque city of Hondarribia came as a shock to Santiago Moreno, the head of infectious diseases at Madrid’s Ramón y Cajal hospital, who went there on a recent trip. “I thought, if someone is infected, they will infect 25 others. The only ones with masks were the people from Madrid,” he remembers. Moreno believes that making face masks mandatory, even if social distancing can be respected, is a conceptual necessity. “By being so strict, those who don’t meet [the rules] will feel like they are breaking the law,” he explains. “It’s better for us to do too much than too little.” The spokesperson of the Spanish Association of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, María del Mar Tomás, agrees: “The only preventive measures we have at the moment are masks, distance and having outdoor meetings and contact.”
Mask-wearing plays big in Europe's post-lockdown protocol
France on Monday joined the ranks of European countries which have mandated the use of face masks in all indoor public places, in another sign that the face mask is playing big in Europe's post-lockdown measures to limit COVID-19 transmission. Before France, multiple governments - from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Romania to Slovenia, Albania, and Serbia - have already obliged their citizens to cover their mouth and nose in indoor public spaces. A dozen other European countries such as Britain, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland and Malta have mandated the use of face masks on public transport.
Coronavirus in Scotland: Quarantine rules lifted for travel to Spain
People who travel to Scotland from Spain will no longer have to go into quarantine for 14 days on arrival. The change, coming in later this week, was sanctioned after a review of infection rates in mainland Spain and the Spanish islands. The move opens the path for Scots to go on holiday in Spain, and for Spaniards to travel to Scotland. Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said further countries could yet be added to the list of "air bridge" destinations. But he warned that Covid-19 was "still active and still deadly" and added that further changes would only be made when it was "safe to do so".
How tiny Uruguay, wedged between Brazil and Argentina, has avoided the worst of the coronavirus
After watching the novel coronavirus emerge in China and spread to Europe, the country confirmed its first four cases on Friday the 13th — an apparently ominous opening for a disease that would soon burn a wide path through Latin America. But in the weeks and months that followed the March 13 diagnoses of four recent travelers from Europe, the nation of 3.4 million would keep the virus in check. Wedged between Brazil, suffering the second-worst outbreak in the world, and Argentina, where infections are now surging, Uruguay has reported just 1,064 cases and 33 deaths — unusually low numbers for a Latin American nation testing widely.
Partisan Exits
Chris Whitty blames poor planning for lockdown in bad-tempered health committee
The coronavirus pandemic was probably already in retreat before the full lockdown was imposed, the chief medical officer for England said as he insisted that there was no “huge delay” in government action. Chris Whitty said that “many of the problems we had came out of lack of testing capacity”. He blamed a failure to build up public health infrastructure in previous years for leaving Britain unprepared. In often bad-tempered exchanges at the health select committee, he said that the infrastructure could not have been “suddenly switched on” in the spring.
Will Increasing Coronavirus Cases Lead To Even More U.S. Lockdowns?
Hang those cloth masks out to dry and put ‘em away? Not so fast! We have mandatory masks already, and an ongoing debate about whether the ever expanding coronavirus won’t force governments to shut things down again. The coronavirus is causing some state and municipal governments to debate school openings. In the past two weeks, governments have closed down things like indoor dining and beaches. So far, the trend towards increasing lockdowns has stalled. Does that trend have any legs? UBS Global Wealth Management strategists think so. No more lockdowns, they say. The economy can’t handle it.
Botched U.K. Lockdown Exit Risks Making Disabled ‘Shielders’ Second-Class Citizens
A leading pan-disability charity is warning that U.K. government plans to restart public life and the economy after lockdown could represent the genesis of a segregated society, in which disabled people are shut away and unable to participate. On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of the potential for a “significant return to normality from November at the earliest - possibly in time for Christmas.” Though, as a result of lockdown, the U.K. Covid-19 daily death figure has decreased steadily over the past few weeks, globally, the number of new infections over a 24-hour period broke all previous records over the weekend, soaring to almost 260,000.
Leicester could have avoided coronavirus lockdown, mayor says
A lockdown in Leicester could have been avoided if local powers had been available sooner, the mayor has said. A spike in coronavirus cases in the city saw restrictions tightened again on 29 June. On Friday, Boris Johnson unveiled powers for councils to use targeted lockdowns in response to local spikes. But Sir Peter Soulsby said these were needed "three or four weeks ago", and could have saved the city from the government's "sledgehammer" approach. Mr Johnson said local authorities would be able to close shops, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces in certain postcodes, if there was a spike in cases.
Chris Whitty defends coronavirus lockdown lag in bad-tempered interview
England's chief medical officer gave uncharacteristic, bad-tempered interview Claimed there were 'operational difficulties' that prevented lockdown sooner Contradicted colleague Sir Jeremy Farrar who said it should've come earlier
German Jewish leaders fear rise of antisemitic conspiracy theories linked to Covid-19
A leader of Germany’s Jewish community has expressed alarm at the spread of antisemitic conspiracy theories relating to coronavirus in the country, including attempts to downplay the Holocaust. Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews, said Jews were increasingly being held collectively responsible for the spread of the virus and compared the situation to narratives around the plague in the Middle Ages. At high-profile demonstrations against coronavirus measures, figures such as the Hungarian-born financier George Soros have been blamed for starting the pandemic with the help of the German government in order to gain power and influence.
British ministers hold first face-to-face cabinet in months
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held his first face-to-face cabinet meeting of top ministers in more than four months on Tuesday, seeking to lead by example as he encourages Britons to return to work and revive the coronavirus-hit economy. The weekly meeting inside Johnson’s Downing Street office was replaced with video conference calls when the COVID-19 crisis threatened to run out of control. But in recent weeks Johnson has called on people to return to their workplaces, concerned that the economy, poised for recession, could be crushed over the long term by a lockdown that has kept millions at home for several months. Supplied with hand sanitizer and individual bottles of water, ministers were asked to attend a socially-distanced meeting, spaced out around a vast rectangle of tables inside a grand chamber in the foreign office. “Welcome to the Locarno Suite, which is the foreign office’s idea of a modest seminar room,” Johnson joked at the start of the meeting.
Middle East mythbusters fight dangerous 'infodemic' | MEO
Arabic pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are brimming with fake news stories on the novel coronavirus, from benign inaccuracies to full-throated conspiracy theories.
Spain to give 1.7 billion euros in coronavirus aid to developing countries
Spain will send 1.7 billion euros (1.5 billion pounds) in aid to developing countries to help them deal with coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting. Spain aims to help save lives and strengthen public health systems and also protect and restore rights and capacities, among other goals, Gonzalez Laya told a news conference.
Zimbabwe president announces curfew to curb coronavirus
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Tuesday that security forces would enforce a dusk to dawn curfew from Wednesday to combat the coronavirus outbreak. But critics and the opposition say authorities want to stop anti-government protests planned for next week by activists who say government corruption has worsened economic hardships.
Mike Pompeo attacks WHO in private meeting during UK visit
The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo launched an extraordinary attack on the World Health Organization during a private meeting in the UK, accusing it of being in the pocket of China and responsible for “dead Britons” who passed away during the pandemic. Pompeo told those present that he believed the WHO was “political not a science-based organisation” and accused its current director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of being too close to Beijing. Those present at the meeting on Tuesday said that Pompeo told his audience of 20 MPs and peers that he was saying “on a firm intelligence foundation, a deal was made” with China to allow Tedros to win election in 2017.
Continued Lockdown
Coronavirus pandemic 'showing no signs of slowing down' in Americas - PAHO
Carissa Etienne told a virtual briefing from PAHO's Washington headquarters that some Central American nations were seeing their highest weekly increase of cases since the virus landed, and that because of the high burden of infectious diseases and chronic conditions in the Americas, three out of 10 people - 325 million - were at "increased risk" of developing complications from COVID-19. "The impact of co-morbidities on the spread of the virus should be a clarion call to every country in the Americas: Use data to tailor your response and make health your top priority," she said.
Scientific Viewpoint
Are official figures overstating England's Covid-19 death toll?
Matt Hancock has announced an urgent review into how Public Health England (PHE) counts Covid-19 deaths after discovering what appeared to be a serious issue in how rates are calculated. Following the health secretary’s move on Friday, Yoon K Loke and Carl Heneghan, of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, wrote in a blogpost: “It seems that PHE regularly looks for people on the NHS database who have ever tested positive, and simply checks to see if they are still alive or not. PHE does not appear to consider how long ago the Covid test result was, nor whether the person has been successfully treated in hospital and discharged to the community.” A Department of Health and Social Care source summed this up as: “You could have been tested positive in February, have no symptoms, then be hit by a bus in July and you’d be recorded as a Covid death.”
People Are More Likely to Contract COVID-19 at Home, Study Finds
South Korean epidemiologists have found that people were more likely to contract the new coronavirus from members of their own households than from contacts outside the home. A study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 16 looked in detail at 5,706 "index patients" who had tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 59,000 people who came into contact with them. The findings showed just two out of 100 infected people had caught the virus from non-household contacts, while one in 10 had contracted the disease from their own families. By age group, the infection rate within the household was higher when the first confirmed cases were teenagers or people in their 60s and 70s. "This is probably because these age groups are more likely to be in close contact with family members as the group is in more need of protection or support," Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and one of the authors of the study, told a briefing.
Coronavirus: Scientists call for caution after study suggests warm weather reduces severity of Covid-19
Scientists have called for caution over a new study that suggests the severity of Covid-19 may be reduced during the warmer months of the year, and that dry indoor air may encourage its spread. Researchers from King’s College London analysed data from 6,914 patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in Croatia, Spain, Italy, Finland, Poland, Germany, the UK and China. They mapped this against local temperature and estimated indoor humidity and found that severe outcomes – being taken to hospital, admittance to ICU or the need for ventilation – dropped in most European countries over the course of the pandemic, covering the transition from winter to early summer.
Genes May Influence COVID-19 Risk, New Studies Hint
As COVID-19 continues its fateful march around the globe, researchers have seen patterns of characteristics tied to bad cases of the disease. Increased age, diabetes, heart disease and lifelong experiences of systemic racism have come into focus as risk factors. Now some connections to certain genes are also emerging, although the links are fuzzier. Combing through the genome, researchers have tied COVID-19 severity and susceptibility to some genes associated with the immune system’s response, as well as a protein that allows the disease-causing SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus into our cells. They have also turned up links between risk and a person’s blood type—A, B, AB or O. The findings are not cut-and-dried, however. Scientists caution that even valid effects may be small, although knowledge about genes involved in serious disease outcomes may help to identify therapeutic drugs. Complicating the work are the effects of social and economic inequalities that also increase risk and tend to be concentrated in populations with specific ethnic backgrounds and ancestries
Controversial 'human challenge' trials for COVID-19 vaccines gain support
The volunteers come from an advocacy group, 1Day Sooner, that has signed up more than 30,000 people from 140 countries. The group, co-founded by a 22-year-old, organized an open letter that was signed by 15 Nobel laureates and 100 other prominent researchers, ethicists, and philosophers, which it sent to U.S. National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins on 15 July. The letter urged the U.S. government “to undertake immediate preparations for human challenge trials” in young, healthy people, who are less likely to suffer severe disease from COVID-19. Among the signatories was Adrian Hill of the University of Oxford, whose lab developed one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates and plans to produce virus strains that could be used in the trials.
Oxford academic dismisses idea of deliberately infecting volunteers with Covid-19 to test vaccine
Professor Sarah Gilbert said it would not be safe for them to do a 'challenge trial.' No drug has been proven to stop the disease progressing, only to reduce death. The trial will need to rely on seeing whether vaccinated people catch the coronavirus in the community, which scientists fear will take too long. But Professor Gilbert is still confident in the end of year target
India coronavirus: Nearly one in four in Delhi had Covid-19, study says
Nearly one in four residents in India's capital, Delhi, has been exposed to coronavirus infection, antibody tests on a random sample of people suggest. The government survey said 23.48% of the 21,387 people whose blood samples were tested had Covid-19 antibodies. It suggests that infections in the city are much more widespread than the number of confirmed cases indicates. Delhi has so far recorded 123,747 cases, equivalent to less than 1% of its population of 19.8 million. At 23.44%, the number of infections would be 4.65 million in a city that size. A government press release says the difference shows that "a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic". It even says the figure of 23.48% may be too low because Delhi has several pockets of dense population. But it adds that "a significant proportion of the population is still vulnerable" and all safety measures must be strictly followed.
Local lockdowns will likely happen soon, says Belgian expert
As Belgium’s coronavirus figures are still rising, local lockdowns are likely to be implemented very quickly, said biostatistics professor Geert Molenberghs on Tuesday. It is advisable that some regions go into lockdown again soon, Molenberghs said on MNM radio. If that does not happen, the country is heading for a second, more drastic total lockdown, according to him.
As more doctors and nurses fall sick, it has become clear elimination is the best option
Just a few weeks ago, things were looking good. As a doctor working in a busy metropolitan Melbourne hospital, I was breathing a sigh of relief. We had largely avoided the horrors seen overseas, and our daily coronavirus case count was back to single digits. Restaurants were opening back up, retailers were welcoming customers back to their stores, and business owners around the country were starting to plan for a "new normal". What a difference those few weeks have made. Victoria is now in the grip of a new wave of infections, with community transmission higher than at any stage during the pandemic. Each day we see hundreds of new infections – mostly unrelated to known outbreaks. There are currently more than 140 people in hospital with the virus, with more than 30 in intensive care. These numbers are expected to rise.
How an early lockdown helped India: A doctor's perspective
When the 75-year-old gentleman exclaimed “The lockdown is a total failure”, I felt his outburst was justifiable. Despite being in complete isolation in his house for three months, he had been diagnosed with Covid pneumonia. However, what he did not realise was that despite his age and co-morbidities, he passed through most of the illness unscathed. He did not require ventilation, ICU or high-end medicines. Was he just one of the lucky ones? Actually, we are seeing a number of elderly and high-risk individuals who are recovering well from an infection that has proven fatal to many.
Antibody study finds coronavirus infections may have been 10 times higher in Bay Area
Nearly ten times as many Bay Area residents had been infected with the coronavirus by the end of April than the official tally at the time, according to a new federal study that analyzed antibody tests to determine how widespread the virus was across a handful of United States hot spots. The study underscores just how deficient testing for the virus was in the early weeks of the pandemic, when the vast majority of cases were never identified. At the same time, it provides further evidence that aggressive shelter-in-place orders protected much of the Bay Area, where researchers estimate only about 1% of all residents had been infected by the time the study was done. That number is surely higher now with the outbreak surging again
US lab giant warns of new Covid-19 testing crunch in autumn
Long delays in processing test results — which are taking more than a week to return — are exacerbating the situation and the time lag is expected to worsen in the autumn, when millions of Americans catch common colds and the flu. “There is no way that PCR capacity is going to double in the next three months,” said James Davis, an executive vice-president at Quest Diagnostics, in an interview with the Financial Times, referring to nasal swab tests that use polymerase chain reaction technology. Mr Davis said “other solutions need to be found” to detect positive patients in addition to nasal swab tests.
Coronavirus: 'Infection here for many years to come'
The UK will be living with coronavirus for many years to come and even a vaccine is unlikely to eliminate it for good, experts are warning. Wellcome Trust director Prof Sir Jeremy Farrar told the House of Commons' Health Committee "things will not be done by Christmas". He went on to say humanity would be living with the virus for "decades". It comes after the prime minister said last week he hoped for a return to normality by Christmas. Boris Johnson made the comments as he set out plans to further ease restrictions, including the opening of leisure centres and indoor swimming pools later this month and the prospect of mass gatherings being allowed from the autumn. But experts giving evidence to the cross-party group of MPs said it was important to be realistic that the virus would still be here. Sir Jeremy, a member of Sage, the government advisory body, said the world would be living with Covid-19 for "very many, many years to come". "Things will not be done by Christmas. This infection is not going away, it's now a human endemic infection.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Six Victorian prisons in Covid-19 lockdown as lawyers call for low-risk inmates to be released
Six Victorian prisons have been placed in lockdown after an officer working at a men’s jail in Melbourne tested positive for Covid-19, prompting calls from legal groups to release low-risk prisoners during the pandemic. The officer, who the Guardian understands is male, is employed by GEO, the private correctional services provider which operates the Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Melbourne’s west. While he had been in self-isolation since 16 July after learning he was a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case, five further facilities - Hopkins Correctional Centre, Langi Kal Kal Prison, Barwon Prison, Fulham and Loddon - have been placed in lockdown while Corrections Victoria investigates which other staff and prisoners he may have had contact with.
Coronavirus NSW: Three steps to avoid second lockdown
While the coronavirus pandemic continues to hold a firm grip on the state of Victoria, people in NSW are nervously waiting to see if they too are staring down the barrel of another lockdown. On Tuesday Victoria reported another 374 cases compared to NSW’s 13, as it heads into its third week of a six-week lockdown. Victorians are also preparing for a face mask mandate which will come into effect in the Metro Melbourne area and Mitchell shire at 11.59pm Wednesday. As coronavirus cases continue to spread in southwest Sydney, residents are concerned cases could be on the brink of exploding once again. However epidemiologist at UNSW and Advisor to the World Health Organisation Infection Control and Prevention Guidance Development Group for COVID-19, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, suggests there are three things NSW could do to prevent another lockdown like Victoria...
Hong Kong lockdown warning as Covid-19 cases spike, with 73 new infections
Hong Kong will have to impose a lockdown if the resurging number of coronavirus infections keeps rising, health authorities have warned, after 73 cases emerged on Monday following a record high at the weekend. In a sign of the toll the escalating health crisis is taking on medical workers, authorities admitted overworked staff at a laboratory had wrongly entered data that resulted in a woman mistakenly testing positive for the virus and sent to an isolation ward in hospital, while another patient with Covid-19 tested negative, although she was already being treated in seclusion. The government is ramping up its strategy to contain the spread of the disease, including requiring people to wear masks indoors at public venues and ordering civil servants to work from home. With isolation beds at public hospitals now approaching capacity, authorities are prepared to impose a lockdown.
Australia extends support amid COVID-19 outbreak
Australia will spend nearly $12 billion U.S. dollars to extend support for jobs by another six months helping to prop up businesses hit by the global health crisis. In an annoucement on Tuesday (July 21), leader Scott Morrison warned the support payments would continue, but be scaled down: "So our plan for those who aren't in a job is to help them get into a job or train them for a job. Our plan for those who are on JobKeeper in a business that is still eligible for that, is to maintain that support." The reduced payments for fulltime workers will be just over $1,000 dollars, a fortnight.
Countries look to lockdown again after easing of restrictions sees coronavirus cases soar
The coronavirus pandemic has surged again in some parts of the world, with many countries that seemed to have their outbreaks under control struggling to contain a rise in new infections. Worldwide confirmed deaths have now passed 600,000 and the World Health Organization said that 259,848 new infections were reported on Saturday, the highest one-day tally yet.
Regional Victoria's coronavirus cluster grows, but country lockdowns unlikely
There were 103 active COVID-19 cases in regional Victoria outside the lockdown zone on Tuesday — last week there were 32. Twenty-seven cases sit within the Colac Otway Shire area following an outbreak at the Australian Lamb Colac abattoir in the state's south-west. Colac Otway Shire Mayor Jason Schram wants the Government to lock down the region so extensive contact tracing can take place to help contain the spread of the virus. Premier Daniel Andrews said a lockdown was not off the table, but was not yet necessary.
Australia warns coronairus outbreak will take weeks to tame
A surge in COVID-19 cases in Australia's second-biggest city could take weeks to subside despite a lockdown and orders to wear masks, Australia's acting chief medical officer said on Monday as the country braces for a second wave of infection. The respiratory disease caused by the novel coronairus flared up in Victoria state in July, mainly in Melbourne, with a daily record of 438 new cases detected on Friday. Victoria's government has ordered about five million people into a partial lockdown for six weeks and told residents around Melbourne to cover their faces if they have to leave their homes.
Oman to impose curfew, travel bans for Eid holiday due to coronavirus
Oman will ban travel between all its governorates from July 25 to Aug. 8, a period that includes a Muslim holiday, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, state news agency ONA said on Tuesday. A statement from the Health Ministry described the measure as a “total lockdown” of all governorates. The Gulf state will also implement a daily curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the period, which includes the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday period. Shops and public spaces will be closed during the hours of curfew. Oman, a country of 4.7 million people, recorded 1,458 new case of infection on Tuesday and 11 deaths, taking the total tally to 69,887 cases and 337 deaths.
Austria reintroducing face mask requirement in supermarkets, banks
Austria is reintroducing a requirement that face masks be worn in supermarkets, banks and post offices because of an increase in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday. Austria went into lockdown early in its outbreak in mid-March and began loosening its restrictions a month later, even scrapping the requirement to wear face masks in shops and schools on June 15. Face masks are still required on public transport, in hospitals and pharmacies and at hairdressers. While the number of daily infections here was regularly well under 50 in May and June, it has increased in the past three weeks it was over 100 almost every other day this month. “There are areas of daily life where one cannot choose whether one goes or not - the supermarket, the bank, the post office,” Kurz told a news conference. “We have therefore decided that we will make face masks compulsory again in supermarkets, in banks, in post offices.”
Philippines to ramp up coronavirus testing as Duterte warns of arrests
The Philippines said on Tuesday it would ramp up testing for the novel coronavirus amid a sharp rise in infections and deaths since a lockdown was eased in June, while President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to arrest anyone not wearing a mask. The government aimed to test 32,000 to 40,000 people a day compared with the current 20,000 to 23,000, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a televised meeeting with Duterte. The Philippines has tested nearly 1.1 million people so far, but Duque said the aim was for 10 million people - or nearly a tenth of the population - to be tested by the second quarter of next year. “We cannot test every citizen as no country has done it even the richest, the United States,” Duque said.
Pakistan records lowest single-day COVID-19 cases
Pakistan on Tuesday reported slightly over 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus -- the lowest daily figure in the last three months, official statistics showed. With 1,013 new cases reported over the past 24 hours, the total number of infections reached 266,096, with 1,481 of them in critical condition, according to the Health Ministry data. This is the lowest daily figure of confirmed cases since May 14 when the country reported only 490 cases. Following a gradual decline in the number of fatalities, some 40 patients died due to the disease across the country, raising the death toll to 5,639. Nearly 70% of patients, or 208,030, have recovered so far. Health experts, however, cautioned that a sharp fall in the number of COVID-19 cases could be the result of fewer tests.
Coronavirus: 200 outbreaks hit Spain as more tourists go on holiday
Spain has been hit with at least 200 coronavirus outbreaks since it lifted its lockdown a month ago. The spike in cases since measures were eased on June 21 has fuelled fears there may be a second wave of the disease, MailOnline reports. And it comes as more tourists – including from the UK – are starting to fly out to its beaches for a holiday. Prime minister Pedro Sanchez has warned repeatedly of the dangers of a second wave, saying last month that ‘we must avoid it at all costs’.
New Lockdown
Delhi COVID-19 cases dip but more Indian states lock down
New Delhi recorded fewer than 1,000 coronavirus cases for the first time in seven weeks on Tuesday, even as more Indian states imposed restrictions to halt the spread of the pandemic. India last week became the third country after the United States and Brazil to hit one million cases but many experts say that with testing rates low, the true number could be much higher. More than 28,000 people have died, with the western state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai and its teeming slums, suffering the highest death toll followed by the national capital Delhi and Tamil Nadu in the south. A surge of 37,140 new cases in the past 24 hours has taken India’s number of coronavirus infections to 1,155,191.
Local lockdown concerns raised by Kent councillors
Power being passed to local council have been branded a "cop out" by one councillor as concerns over enforcing lockdowns are raised. The county's 14 councils have been given new powers to close shops, cancel events and shut outdoor spaces to manage local coronavirus outbreaks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement three days ago as 343 councils across England largely welcomed the move. In a virtual cabinet meeting yesterday, Kent County Council's (KCC) public health cabinet member, Cllr Clair Bell (Con), said: "The purpose of these powers is to enable councils to act more quickly in response to outbreaks where speed is paramount."
Southland brothers amid second Melbourne lockdown urge Government to have clear plan before introducing trans-Tasman bubble
Southland brothers stuck in a second Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in Australia are urging the New Zealand Government to take their time to get it right before introducing a trans-Tasman bubble. Paul and Matthew Emms, originally from Southland, have been living in Melbourne, Victoria, the epicentre of the pandemic in Australia. Coronavirus cases in the state have skyrocketed and a second state stay-at-home order has been put in place until August 19.